MEET OUR STAFF

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MARIA MERCEDES BARBELLA

Executive director and producer

Environmental designer graduated from the Centro Artístico Villasmil de León, Maria Mercedes has over 15 years of independent experience developing housing, office and commercial space projects. She worked for 29 years as assistant accountant and deputy director in TAECA (Todo Acerca Edificaciones, C.A.) a construction and earthworks company in Venezuela. In 2009, along with her partner, Candy Machado, she founded el Centro Integral Candy Jazz in Caracas (Venezuela) and since has served as executive director and producer of the academic year closing shows. In this role, she has supported the artistic growth of over 900 students. She is currently CEO of Candy Jazz Academy in Davie, Florida (United States), which held its first show "Expressions in Motion" in 2016.

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CANDY MACHADO

Artistic director - Jazz, tap and ballet instructor

She began her studies of ballet and jazz in Venezuela from an early age being taught by instructors like María Teresa Carrizo, Vicente Abad, Maruja Leiva, Caridad Espinoza, Laura Prieto and Mario Ignisi. She furthered her education in the United States having attended "Fusion Dance Company" in Miami, and in New York, “Morelli Ballet" with Lynn Simonson, "Steps on Broadway" with Fred Benjamin, Michael Owen and Ann Reinking, "Douglas Wassel School of Ballet and Theater Dance" with Michelle Assaf and Rick Atwell, "American Dance Machine" with Lee Theodore and "Broadway Dance Center" with Cecilia Marta and Frank Hatchett. She also danced with Joe Tremaine in Los Angeles and Cathie Roe in Santa Fe. She also studied percussion and piano in the "Pablo Castellanos" music school.

Candy Machado launched as a jazz dancer both in theater and on television with the Ballet Jazz de Caracas and RCTV (Radio Caracas Televisión), respectively.

In 1980, Candy, along with Clemencia Machado, founded Candy Jazz in Los Corales, Vargas state (Venezuela) and since dedicated over 35 years to teaching jazz, tap and ballet. She also partnered in 2009 with Maria Mercedes Barbella to found Centro Integral Candy Jazz in Caracas (Venezuela). During this time, she has worked as artistic director for more than 30 Candy Jazz presentations produced in Vargas, Caracas and Davie, Florida (United States).

Candy has also served as dance and jazz advisor for Siudy Garrido while preparing, year after year, hundreds of students as dancers for academic year closing performances in Caracas and Davie.

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CLEMEN MACHADO

Assistant director and choreographer – Jazz instructor

She began her tenure in the world of at classic ballet when she was 5 years old with Belkis Gonzalez and Teresa Chacón in Vargas state (Venezuela). She furthered her artistic upbringing with teachers as María Teresa Carrizo, Vicente Abad, Maruja Leiva, Caridad Espinoza and Laura Prieto in Caracas (Venezuela). She then entered the jazz world with María Luisa Bigott, in the "Escuela Jazzy" school with instructors from New York’s "JoJo’s Dance Factory" and in the "Cynthia Jazz Center" school; all in Caracas. She furthered her dancing formation in the United States having attended "Fusion Dance Company" in Miami, and in New York she enrolled in “Morelli Ballet" with Lynn Simonson, "Steps on Broadway" with Fred Benjamin, Michael Owen and Ann Reinking, "Douglas Wassel School of Ballet and Theater Dance" with Michelle Assaf and Rick Atwell and "Broadway Dance Center" with Cecilia Marta and Frank Hatchett.

Clemen performed with the RCTV ballet (Radio Caracas Televisión) under the direction of Cynthia Penn and, alongside Anita Vivas, she trained and prepared young artists starting in show business.  

Clemen developed her skills as an artist working with Mireya Power with her award winning oil painting in Puerto Rico: “A Orillas del Rio Amazonas”. Her artistry made her successfully develop large scale scenography in Vargas theaters. She co-founded Candy Jazz in 1980 in Los Corales, Vargas state (Venezuela) and since has dedicated more than 35 years to teaching jazz and preparing hundreds of students as dancers. She has also participated in numerous presentations showcasing her skills as a choreographer and artist in Venezuela, Tenerife (Spain) and Davie, Florida (United States).

 

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ALESSANDRA TORRES BAILAORA

Flamenco Instructor

Alessandra was born and raised in Venezuela - country with deep cultural Spaniard influence where she was introduced to the Flamenco World by the hand of 3 well known teachers: La China de Jerez, Siudy Quintero y Azilde Henriquez.

 At the age of seventeen became one of the principal dancers of “ La compañía profesional de baile Siudy Quintero”; with this professional company traveled and performed not only in the most important theaters in Venezuela but in the Pittsburgh’s Opera under the director Tito Capobianco. The same year, she received her bachelor degree in Mass Communication at the Loyola University in Venezuela (Universidad Catolica Andres Bello).

    With more than 30 years carrier, Alessandra have traveled around Spain to take classes, workshops and participated in Flamenco Festivals with teachers and dancers such as Ma. Magdalena, La China, Ciro, La Tati, Belen Maya, Carmela Greco, Domingo Ortega, Miguel Vargas, Daniela Tugues, Alfonso Losa, Maria Juncal, Rafaela Carrasco, Inmaculada Ortega, Manuel Reyes, Pilar Ortega, Úrsula Lopez, Marcos Flores José Ramos “El Oruco”, Juana Amaya , Javier La Torre, Andrés Marín, Ana Morales.

      She is director,principal dancer and choreographer of “Luna Calé” a professional dance company based in Broward that works flamenco from its more pure rhythms to the most modern fusions. 

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DAVID FONNEGRA

Ballet Instructor

David Fonnegra was born in Venezuela where he began his ballet studies at Ballet Teresa Carreno. At the age of 14, he became a

principal dancer with Ballet Nacional de Caracas and performed the leads in all the great romantic ballets

including Raymonda, George Sans, Swan Lake, Giselle, Romeo & Juliet and Don Quixote. While on tour in 1995, Mr. Fonnegrajoined the Miami City Ballet with its legendary founding director, Edward Villella. During his seven years at Miami City Ballet, he danced many principal roles in

their Balanchine repertoire in addition to the classics. In 2002, Mr. Fonnegra came to California dancing with State Street Ballet and Channel Island Ballet as a guest artist. In 2004 he joined  Diablo Ballet, where he continues to

perform and choreograph on the company. As a dancer 2004, he joined Diablo Ballet, where he continues to perform and choreograph on the company. As a dancer with Diablo Ballet, Mr. Fonnegra has been featured in The Legend of Taj Mahal, Petrushka, Who Cares?, Stars and Stripes, Once upon a Ballroom, and Jazz Fever to name a few. He continues to be a sought-after guest artist in the United States, Europe, and South America:as a performer, teacher, and choreographer. He has taught extensively in the Bay Area for almost a decade for such organizations as Lines Ballet, Contra Costa Ballet, Benicia Ballet, Ayak o Ballet School, Livermore Ballet school, Western Ballet, Diablo Ballet, and Peninsula Ballet Theatre as well as for New World School of the Arts (Miami), Ballet National De Caracas, and Houston Ballet.

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TATIANA TEJEDA

Hip Hop and Tap Instructor

Tatiana Alise Tejeda began dancing at the very young age of 2, starting off with simple classes of ballet, tap and jazz. As she grew older she started exploring more in contemporary, flamenco, musical theater, lyrical and hip-hop. Tatiana was apart of an award winning dance team all throughout middle and high at an Arts Conservatory school. As she was a “Florida State Dance champion” she taught a team of elementary students all styles of dance as a volunteer service. Tatiana is now a teacher of all amazing styles of dance and aspires to be a background dancer for artists around the country while being a full time college student!

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SONIA PALACIOS

Flamenco Instructor

Sonia is a dance instructor with expertise in contemporary, lyric and commercial jazz, and flamenco. Formed in prestigious academies with renowned instructors, long experience dancing, and/or performing in multiple shows over the past 22 years in Venezuela (Caracas and Vargas state). Great knowledge of flamenco. Choreographer. Good communicator and passionate about my job.

Director and flamenco instructor at the “Sonia Palacios” dance center. September 2014/March 2017 contemporary dance, lyrical, and flamenco instructor and choreographer at the “M&P” dance academy. September 2005/July 2014. Flamenco instructor and choreographer at the “Candy Jazz Academy”. September 1998/July 1999.

Education

“Siudy Garrido” flamenco technical workshop. April 2013. “Carmen Terife” flamenco technical workshop. August 2012. “Broadway Dance Center”. August/September 2010. “Pasion Flamenca” academy. October 1998/1999. “Candy Jazz Dance Academy”. September 1986/July 1999.

Experience

  • Dancer and choreographer, at the “M&P” dance academy. 2004/2014.

  • Acting and dancing at the “Hybris” mythical theatre group. 1995/2014.

  • Dancer at the “Candy Jazz Academy”. 1986/1999.

  • Choreographer at the “Candy Jazz Academy”. 1999.