(NOVEMBER 14, 2020)

Christine Rocas joined The Joffrey Ballet in 2005.

Prior to joining The Joffrey Ballet, Ms. Rocas danced with Ballet Manila in the Philippines. While there, she had the opportunity to perform in The Nutcracker (Sugar Plum Fairy), Le Corsaire (Medora), La Bayadere (Nikiya), Swan Lake (Odette/Odile), Sleeping Beauty (Bluebird pas de deux), and Don Quixote (Dryad Queen). Ms. Rocas participated and won several prestigious awards from differing international ballet competitions. In August 2003, she received a finalist certificate in the Junior Division of the 9th Asian Pacific International Ballet Competition in Tokyo, Japan. She was also chosen as a full scholar in the 2004 Aberdeen International Youth Festival in Aberdeen, Scotland. In 2005, she participated in the Helsinki International Ballet Competition in Helsinki, Finland, where she became a semi-finalist in the junior division. During that year, she received the Arpino Award and was also the silver medalist in the New York International Ballet Competition.

Since joining the Joffrey, Ms. Rocas has performed in Apollo, Cinderella (Cinderella and Summer Fairy), The Dream, Giselle (Giselle), The Green Table, Light Rain, Les Présages, The Nutcracker, In the Night, Reflections, Pretty BALLET, Crossed, Age of Innocence, After the Rain, Stravinsky Violin Concerto, Romeo & Juliet (Juliet) and The Merry Widow.


(NOVEMBER 21, 2020)

Mr. Villanueva grew up in San Antonio, Texas. He began his dance training with Shawn Knife and later joined the University of Incarnate Word Ballet School. Mauro attended a summer course and consequently studied for two years at the Nutmeg Conservatory in Connecticut. In August of 2000, Mr. Villanueva joined the Joffrey Ballet as an apprentice and later received a full company contract. During his thirteen years at the Joffrey Ballet he danced ballets by world renowned choreographers, was a union representative for the artists, and was one of two dancers chosen to participate in the search for the new artistic director. He appeared as a representative for the Joffrey Ballet and on television and radio in Chicago, San Antonio, Los Angeles and Manila, Philippines.

Mr. Villanueva retired from the Joffrey Ballet to pursue a career as an independent artist, teacher, coach, and choreographer. He has worked for Barak Ballet, Intermezzo Dance Company, Ballet San Antonio, The Jacksonville Symphony and others. He has taught at the Colburn School, Edge Performing Arts Center, Regional Dance America Mid-States and Southwest Festivals, The New Orleans Ballet Association, and Eglevsky Ballet. Mr. Villanueva is also part of Cultivating Better Tomorrows, a company dedicated to educating dance communities in diversity and inclusion.


Julia Rhoads is the founding Artistic Director of Chicago-based Lucky Plush Productions, a MacArthur Award-winning dance-theater company recognized for its signature blend of technical choreography, casual dialogue, surprising humor, and socially relevant themes. Her work with Lucky Plush has toured to over 75 venues worldwide, including the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (DC), Joyce Theater (NYC), Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, TITAS (TX), ODC (CA), Wellesley Center (Auckland, NZ), and Teatro Las Carolinas (Havana, Cuba). Other choreography credits include Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, River North Dance Chicago, Steppenwolf Theatre, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and Lookingglass Theatre, among others. Julia is the recipient of an Alpert Award in Dance, given to one choreographer nationally each year, and fellowships from Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography, Chicago Dancemakers Forum, and Illinois Arts Council. Creation and touring awards include the NEA, National Performance Network, National Dance Project, and National Theater Project. Press features include Dance Magazine’s “25 to Watch,” Newcity’s “Players: The 50 People Who Really Perform for Chicago,” and best-of-year mentions from the Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, NewCity, Time Out Chicago, WBEZ, and the Chicago Sun Times. Julia is a former member of the Salt Creek Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, and XSIGHT Performance Group. She received her BA in History from Northwestern University, her MFA in Performance from the School of the Art Institute Chicago, and she is currently Director of Dance and Lecturer in Theater and Performance Studies at The University of Chicago.


(DECEMBER 12, 2020)

Louise Taitz emigrated to the USA from South Africa and settled in the Chicago Northern suburbs in 2000. Ms.Taitz studied multiple dance genre’s at the Performing Arts High School in Johannesburg SA and also trained under the tutelage of Royal Academy Of Dance (RAD) Major examiners Reina Berman and Joyce Myroff. Louise was awarded the Advanced RAD Ballet Diploma. After graduating Louise moved to London training at the Royal Ballet School prior to receiving a full time professional contract with the Israel Classical Ballet with whom she spent most of her professional career. As the Director of On Your Toes Academy of Dance in Buffalo Grove Illinois Louise spends most of her time in the studio working with students of all ages and levels. On Your Toes students have attended YAGP Finals in New York for the past 4 years. As well being a studio owner Louise also travels around the country as a guest Master Ballet Teacher and is a founder member of the “Dance Teachers Forum” – a USA Teachers training company. Ms.Taitz has extensive judging experience in the USA as well as Israel, Japan and Portugal and is on faculty with Energy Dance Competition with whom she also is the Master Ballet Convention Teacher as well as judging with Fly Dance Competition and also works as a judge and dance educator for Icon Dance Awards. Ms.Taitz is the USA Representative for “Conservatorio International de Ballet e Danca Annarella Sanchez” and is responsible for hosting USA auditions to attend this prestigious summer school in Portugal.


Raised in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, Ms. Wozniak trained with Sherry Moray, The Chicago Academy of Arts, and The Harid Conservatory. Prior to joining the Joffrey, she was an apprentice with Alabama Ballet. Ms. Wozniak has performed feature roles in the Joffrey’s productions of Celebration, Crossed, Confetti, Le Sacre du Printemps (The Chosen One), Light Rain, Lilac Garden, The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, Suite Saint Saëns, Monotones, The Man in Black, Incantations, The Green Table, and Nine Sinatra Songs. She has also performed in Lar Lubovitch’s Smile With My Heart and Othello (Emilia), as well as Yuri Possokhov’s Bells and Don Quixote (Mercedes). She has performed in George Balanchine’s Square Dance and a featured role in Stravinsky’s Violin ConcertoMs. Wozniak was selected to be in Pointe Magazine article “Standouts: Our 12 favorite performances of 2009” for her performance of “The Chosen One” in Nijinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps. In 2011, she was highlighted in the magazine Marie ClaireShe can be seen as a dancer in the feature film Save the Last Dance. Ms. Wozniak has a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Leadership from Northwestern University and is currently working on her Masters at the University of Chicago. Her other interests include music, books, teaching, running, yoga, cooking, and traveling.


(JANUARY 9, 2021)

Vera trained and received her diploma in the pedagogy of ballet and character dance from the prestigious State Academy of Art and Culture in Chelyabinsk, Russia. Ms. Zhukova was a principal dancer with the State Ural Folk Choir and Dance Ensemble from 1975 to 1981, performing in several countries around the world.  Ms. Zhukova was the artistic director of the Municipal Children’s Dance Theater in Ekaterinburg, Russia, for thirteen years. Under her direction, students of the dance theater successfully participated in competitions in the Czech Republic, Ukraine, Turkey, and Finland. She received the Russian Federation’s honorable dance teacher award in the year 2000. Several of Ms. Zhukova’s former students have pursued dance careers, either as professional performers or dance instructors. Ms. Zhukova is also the author of a book on dance teaching methods, which has been well received by dance instructors in her native Russia. Prior to founding Ballet Academy in Lincoln Park, she was the artistic director of the Dmitri Roudnev Ballet School of Chicago, where she also taught ballet and character dance. Her ballet teaching is based on the Vaganova syllabus, which has proven to be highly successful with young children. Ms. Zhukova enjoys working with children and strives to help her students achieve their full dance potential.


(JANUARY 16, 2021)

Born and raised in Tbilisi, Georgia, Ms. Jaiani began her training at the age of ten at V. Chabukiani Ballet School. She continued her studies in New York and in June 2003 was awarded a Bronze Medal at the New York International Ballet Competition. Since joining the Joffrey, she has danced leading roles in many ballets including:  Christopher Wheeldon’s Swan Lake (Odette-Odile),  John Neumeier Sylvia (Diana) , Orphee et Eurydice ( Eurydice)’ Stanton Welch’s La Bayadère (Nikia, Gamzati), Frederick Ashton’s Cinderella (Cinderella), Giselle (Giselle), John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet (Juliet), Krzysztof Pastor’s Romeo and Juliet (Juliet), Lar Lubovitch’s Othello (Desdemona), Cathy Marston’s Jane Eyre (Jane), Yuri Possokhov’s world premiere of Anna Karenina (Anna Karenina ) , Don Quixote (Kitri), Christopher Wheeldon’s world premiere of the Nutctacker (Golden Statue) , Alexander Ekman’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Ronald Hynd’s The Merry Widow (Henna Glawari),and the Sugar Plum Fairy in Robert Joffrey’s The Nutcracker. Ms. Jaiani originated the lead pas de deux in Edwaard Liang’s Age of Innocence and Woven Dreams; Possokhov’s Bells and The Miraculous Mandarin, Welch’s Son of Chamber Symphony; and James Kudelka’s Pretty BALLET. Other significant performances include George Balanchine’s Apollo (Terpsichore), Stravinsky Violin Concerto Aria II, The Four Temperaments (Choleric); Wheeldon’s After the Rain, Fool’s Paradise, Carousel A Dance (Julie); Wayne McGregor’s Infra; Jiří Kylián’s Forgotten Land (Black pas) and Return to a Strange Land; William Forsythe’s In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated; Possokhov’s RAkU; Liam Scarlett Vespertine ; Jerome Robbin’s In the Night(3rd pas) , Glass Pieces and Ballerina in The Concert; Justin Peck’s In Creases, Year of the Rabbit; Welch’s Maninyas; Antony Tudor’s Lilac Garden, Dark Elegies, and Operetta Star in Offenbach in the Underworld; Lar Lubovitch’s …Smile With My Heart; Ashton’s Monotones II; Gerald Arpino’s Sea Shadow, Round of Angels, Reflections, Kettentanz, Birthday Variations, and Viva Vivaldi; Nicolas Blanc’s Evenfall, Beyond the Shore and Encounter; Alexander Ekman’s Tulle, Joy; Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s Mammatus, Ashley Page’s Tipping point . In 2020 Jaiani was nominated for the best dancer award in the BENOIS DE LA DANCE for her portrayal of Anna in Yuri Possokhov’s Anna Karenina. In 2019 she was a part of The World of John Neumeier Gala celebration of John Neumeier’s 80th Birthday. In 2019 Ms.Jaiani performed at the DANCE OPEN Galla of International Ballet Stars. In 2018 Victoria joined Lar Lubovitch Dance Company 50th Anniversary Season at the Joyce Theater. In 2018 she guested with Huston Ballet as a Principal guest dancer for Stanton Welch’s Swan Lake in the role of Odette/Odile. Victoria’ s guest performances include Tbilisi Ballet Festival (Georgia),Dance Open (St Petersburg), Nijinsky-Gala(Hamburg, Germany)Joys Theater (New York), Stars of 21st Century(Paris),Monterrey International Ballet Gala (Mexico),NOLA (New Orleans), TITAS (Texas),Dance STL (St.Louis) among many others. In 2010, Ms. Jaiani was featured on the cover of Dance Magazine and was named “Chicagoan of the Year” by the Chicago Tribune Arts Critic. In 2012, Today’s Chicago Woman named her one of Chicago’s top women in the arts. In 2013, Chicago Magazine named her “best dancer.”