John Landovsky, Director, was born in Riga, Latvia. Mr. Landovsky's extensive performing career has affiliated him with several dance companies on the mainland and abroad, both as principal dancer and guest artist, including International Ballet Company, Chicago Lyric Opera Ballet, The Roland Petit Ballet in Paris, and Wurttenberg Stats Opera in Stuttgart, Germany. He has shared the stage with many renown artists including Rudolph Nureyev, Henning Kronstrom, Erick Bruhn, and Helgi Thomasson. Mr. Landovsky was the choreographer for ten years at Chicago's Candlelight Dinner Theatre where he won the Joseph Jefferson Award for best choreography. He danced for two years in the ABC television show Polka-Go-Round.
Mr. Landovsky has taught at many prestigious schools including the University of Illinois, National Academy of Arts in Champaign, Illinois, Edinburgh Festival in Scotland, Texas Christian University, and the National Music Camp in Interlochen, Michigan. He has served as the Artistic Director of Bartlesville Civic Ballet in Oklahoma, Duluth Ballet in Minnesota, and Ballet Hawaii.
With 37 years of extensive teaching experience, Mr. Landovsky has coached many of his talented students for important ballet competitions, including the well-known International Ballet Competitions held in Varna, Bulgaria; Helsinki Finland; and Jackson, Mississippi. Other international competitions include the Serge Lifar Competition in Kiev, Ukraine; the Prix de Lausanne Competition in Switzerland; the Youth America Grand Prix Competition in New York City; and the World Ballet Competition in Orlando, Florida. Mr. Landovsky coached the first place winner of the 2010 American Ballet Competition in Austin, Texas, Hawaii State Ballet's own Erica Wong.
Mr. Landovsky teaches with passion and dedication. He has inspired many of his successful students who now dance professionally in some of the most highly acclaimed ballet companies. Mr. Landovsky is very proud of his own school where the high level of training is seen year after year as his most advanced students graduate and the next level of students step into the most demanding roles in The Nutcracker.
GINA SURLES, Assistant Director, was born in Chicago, Illinois. Although her goal was always to become an actor, modern dance and ballet classes led to another direction. She studied ballet and modern dance with Larry Long and Richard Arve at the prestigious Ruth Page Foundation in Chicago, and at the University of Illinois studying with John Landovsky, Beverly Blossom, an original member of the Alwin Nikolais Dance Theatre, and Mary Price Boday. Modern dance styles included intensive training in the styles of Martha Graham, Jose Limon, Merce Cunningham, and Alwin Nikolais. Additional studies included Dance Composition, Music, Dance for Children, Anatomy for Dancers, Drama and Theatre.
After receiving her B.F.A. in dance, Ms. Surles continued training in New York City, primarily from Finis Jhung, and performed with the Larry Richardson Dance Company. Ms. Surles has also performed with the Illinois Dance Theatre, Beverly Blossom and Company, Duluth Ballet, and Ballet Hawaii.
Additionally, Ms. Surles has studied piano with Paulette Pacific for the past fourteen years, and has studied Music Theory and Music Composition at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. Ms. Surles has also returned to her first love, acting, and screenwriting. She has worked as an extra on films and television shows that include Mad Men, LOST, Off The Map, and Battleship. She has had roles in UH/Academy of Creative Media films that have screened at the Hawaii International Film Festival, Big Island Film Festival, Shanghai Film Festival, and the Ohina Short Film Festival. Ms. Surles is represented by the Kathy Muller Agency.
After a five-year break from teaching, Ms. Surles is happy to be back working with teens and adults, teaching Ballet Basics on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and teaching the Thursday afternoon Preballet class for four and five year olds.
Carrie was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. After watching Carrie dance around the house mimicking the ballerinas she would see in books and on television, her mother enrolled her in Hawaii State Ballet at age four. Carrie progressed through the levels of the Junior Program studying under both Gina Surles and John Landovsky, and became a member of the Junior Company. Carrie's true love was performing and she was given many performing opportunities as a member of the Junior Company where she danced many leading roles.
After graduating high school, Carrie attended Texas Christian University as a Nordan Fine Arts Scholar. As a dance major, her studies included ballet and modern technique, choreography, dance history, music theory, and creative dance for children. At TCU Carrie was given the opportunity to perform in original contemporary ballet and modern dance works, as well as in classical ballets such as Bournonville's Flower Festival Pas de Deux and Giselle. She was also honored to perform lead roles in original works by guest choreographers including the late Fernando Bujones' Pasion Y Fuego, Grand Pas Romantique, and as Princess Florine in The Sleeping Beauty.
In 2005 Carrie was invited to travel to Nagaoka, Japan as a Fort Worth Sister Cities ambassador, where she performed as Kitri in the Grand Pas de Deux from Act III of Don Quixote, and a solo role in Bujones' Classical Reflections. At TCU, Carrie also had the opportunity to choreograph and set her own original works, including her final project, based on Hawaiian folklore.
In 2007 Carrie graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.F.A. in Ballet. She is currently a performer with IONA Contemporary Dance Theatre. At Hawaii State Ballet Carrie teaches Junior Program ballet and modern classes, and Adult Beginner classes. She is also HSB's School Administrator.
Carrie hopes to instill a love for dance and performing, in any form, in her students.
Blake Yamasato was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. She graduated from Roosevelt High School as class of 2011 and is currently studying mathematics at University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Blake joined the Hawaii State Ballet pre-ballet class taught by Ms. Gina Surles at the age of five. By thirteen, her dream of joining the Junior Company became a reality. During her time dancing under Mr. Landovsky, she expanded her technical standing while developing her artistic ability. She has proudly performed in every Nutcracker performance since Junior II, and has danced many lead roles, including Arabian, Spanish and Flowers. She has especially enjoyed her chance to perform as the Mouse King. In 2010, Blake traveled to Austin, Texas along with Erica Wong, where they represented Hawaii State Ballet in the American Ballet Competition.
Blake is extremely proud to be back at HSB as the instructor for the Junior I-C and Junior II-B classes.
Tania Nicolai studied dance and gymnastics beginning from age three. She learned ballet and jazz under Pearl Kay and tap dance under Lettie Burns. Pearl Kay always stressed the importance of ballet as the foundation of all dance.
Upon finishing high school, Tania moved to Germany where she focused on classical ballet at the Tanzstudio Luley. Returning to the US to attend UC Berkeley, Tania continued to study ballet through classes at the university, and upon graduation she studied at the Contra Costa Ballet School in California. During her time at the university, Tania became involved with the volunteer component of the US Coast Guard where she became instructor qualified and spent her free time teaching over 5,000 children on boating and water safety. However, it was her career in the building industry that took her away from ballet for many years. Unhappy with not having ballet in her life, Tania found an architectural firm that would give her the time needed to pursue dance once again. In 2006 Tania came to Hawaii State Ballet where she had the privilege to return to ballet in classes with John Landovsky.
Tania teaches Preballet and Junior I level classes at HSB.