"Simply Classique Series"

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Why Alma?

Husband and wife, Vilma Machin and Guillermo Leyva, share a passion for dance and a desire to see it honor both its history and its potential. They have gathered together a group of like-minded individuals who seek to create a dance performance company that will inspire and enlighten both those who perform and those who watch the performance. Using the Spanish term for “soul, spirit, heart”, they have formed the Alma Dance Theater, NFP (the “Organization”) to express the soul of ballet by presenting classical ballet danced to non-traditional music, such as Latin, blues, gospel, and jazz, in addition to classical. The Alma Dance Theater will seek to (1) broaden the public and community interest in classically danced ballet, (2) create unique dance pieces with the highest standards, and (3) allow the Organization to create an outreach program to educate and inspire peoples of all ages to both experience and appreciate the beauty of true classical ballet.

Ballet is an enduring art form, recognized by every country as an important part of its culture. The existence of a vibrant dance community is part of every great city in the U.S. The Organization seeks to be one of the foremost dance companies in the United States. It will stage both classical ballets and ballets that are new, creative, courageous and unique to the Organization will represent the cultural diversity of Chicago by introducing different musical styles such as Latin, jazz, gospel and blues. This approach will broaden the appeal of Ballet to a larger community of all ages. Parents will bring their kids to see the Organization’s ballet productions with the intent to provide exposure to music and the arts.

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The Directors

Vilma Machin, was born in La Havana, Cuba. She started her training at age of nine at the National Ballet School where she had 8 years of training. She graduated in 2001 at the top of her class as both Dancer/ Teacher, and joined the National Ballet Company under Alicia Alonso direction. She danced professionally with the Cuban Company for over 6 years , some of the roles included Giselle, Don Quixote, Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Les Sylphides, Ballo de la Regina ( Balanchine), and many other, including Alicia Alonso's Choreographies which she had the opportunity to stage for the first time as Romeo and Juliet, the magic flute to name a few. Vilma toured Europe, Asia, and Latin America with the Cuban Company. Later she traveled to United State where she danced with Miami Classical Ballet Company as a soloist for a season and performed Le Vivandiere, Bayadere, Swan Lake, Coppelia and many other roles . Later she joined Alma Dance Company as a principal, some of the roles included Dying Swan, Majisimo, Classical Symphony, Frankenstein to name a few. Vilma is Co-Artistic Director of Alma Dance Theater

Vilma has had teaching experiences both in Cuba and the United States at schools such as National ballet of Cuba, Chicago Academy for the Arts, School of Dance West, The Academy of Dance Art, Faubourg School of Ballet, State Street Dance Studio, Barrington Dance Academy where in addition of teaching she performed Nutcracker in a season. She has staged and choreographed projects as Suite of Bayadere, Don Quixote, Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Coppelia among other.

Since 2010 Vilma has coached many students for the Youth America Grand Prix Competition. In this competition her students have won in Chicago and New York finals. She had a student win the Grand prix award 2 years in a row, in 2011 in the pre-competitive age division and 2012 in the Junior age division. In 2010 – 2013 she had even more students wining in the Senior and Junior age division. In 2014 she had two pre-competitive students place in both the Indianapolis and Chicago regional, one of them won hope award, the other place 2nd, and one student even received a scholarship at the New York City Finals. In 2015 she had a student place 3rd in the Senior age division in Chicago regional and 2016 she had a student place top twelve in the Junior division in Indianapolis regional. Vilma plans to continue teaching her knowledge and experience gained through her many years of training.

Guillermo Leyva trained at the Professional school of Arts in Camaguey, Cuba. After graduated he began dancing professionally at the Ballet de Camaguey under Fernando Alonso direction. He joined this Company for 11 years as a principal dancer where he made several classic roles. Later he danced for 3 years with the Ballet de Monterrey in Mexico, under Ann Marie D’ Angelo, Fernando Alonso, and Fernando Bujones direction. He also danced as a principal dancer with Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, Lexington Ballet, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Illinois Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Ballet de Santiago, Chile, Ballet Royal de Wallonie, Belgium. He is Co- Artistic Director of Alma Dance Theater.

Guillermo has coached students for The Youth America Grand Prix Regionals and Finals resulting with his students placing and winning in both the junior and senior divisions, he was Awarded Outstanding Teacher in 2014 at the Youth America Grand Prix Indianapolis Regional.

Guillermo was born in a very poor and dangerous place and his parent decided to send him to the Art School in order to obtain a better education and future for him. Guillermo will be always grateful for what his parent did because it made him what he is today.

Guillermo’s dream as a child was directed his own classical ballet company and being a successfully choreographer. He also dreams with have his own Art Ballet School to help child with low income to get out of the streets and become Professional dancers. One of his goals it is to keep giving students all his knowledge and experience, which he has always done with deep love.

The Directors.

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"Giselle" *Guillermo Leyva-Meridith Benson* with Ballet Theater of Chicago

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"Dying Swan"  *Vilma Machin* with Alma dance Company