International Ballet Intensive


Dancer Feet

Danita Emma, Founder and Artistic Director, International Ballet Intensive

Danita Emma Danita Emma

Ms. Emma has more than 40 years of experience as a ballet teacher, coach, choreographer, adjudicator, and producer.  Her career has been shaped and inspired by her lifelong relationship with her mentor, the world-renowned Madame Darvash. She has taught company classes for the National Opera and Ballet of Bulgaria (Sofia), Burgas Opera (Bulgaria), Ailey II and Atlanta Ballet. She served as audition teacher and adjudicator for the Oakland Ballet.  She has taught for studios, performing arts high schools, colleges, festivals, regional companies and various auditions throughout the Eastern Seaboard including New Dance Group Studio (NYC), Garden State Ballet Company (New Jersey) and Harlem School of the Arts (NYC).

A native of Binghamton NY, Danita Emma began dancing at an early age.  She trained at the Pennsylvania Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and Boston Conservatory of Music. While training at the American Ballet Theatre, she suffered an injury that cut short her performance career.  She discovered her unique talent for teaching.

From 1979 to 1995 Danita Emma was the founder and Artistic Director of Whitney Ballet Theatre, Binghamton, NY. The company staged full-length story ballets, as well as original ballets by Ms. Emma.  As Artistic Director of Whitney Ballet Theater, she collaborated with Edward Villella, Vicente Nebrada, Judy Fugate, Mel Tomlinson, Anna Botofogo, Nancy Raffa and others. 

Ms. Emma served as assistant choreographer on Scriabin Quintet, choreographed by Momchil Mladenov and performed by a cast of principal dancers from the National Opera and Ballet and Bulgarian dancers based in the United States Opera. Other choreography credits include the Opera Frida composed by Robert Xavier Rodriguez performed by the Society of New Music (Syracuse, NY), and the Opera, Good Tidings of the Holy Beast composed and directed by Dan Locklair and performed by guest artist from Tri Cities Opera (Binghamton, NY).

Over the years, she has developed a sophisticated pedagogy for training classical dancers. Her approach to technique is both demanding and articulate, combining the best of ballet tradition with a deep understanding of the body. Her students have gone on to perform with companies such as Atlanta Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Dance Theater of Harlem and Orlando Ballet. Ms. Emma holds a B.F.A. in dance from Brenau University. She has held positions at Hobart and William Smith College, Syracuse University, Brenau University and University of Georgia. She designed and launched pre-professional summer dance intensives at SUNY Binghamton and Syracuse University.

In August 2012, Ms. Emma formed her own organization, International Ballet Intensive. IBI is dedicated to sharing the elegant science of classical ballet technique with professional and pre-professional dancers to enhance their capacity as performing artists through educational programs, performance opportunities and international cultural exchanges.  In 2015, Danita Emma was named a Fulbright Specialist in Dance. 

“Danita is a rare kind of teacher. Her refreshing approach doesn’t adhere to a particular “style” or “method” of ballet training, though it is based in solid pedagogy. Her wonderfully musical classes focus on the essence of ballet…as a technique, as a visual and performing art, and as an exquisite science. She tunes in to each dancer, helping each one to understand the mechanics of his her own body, thus allowing the artist to emerge. I wish I had had a teacher like Danita in my younger days as a dancer with New York City Ballet!”
Diana White, Former Soloist of NYC Ballet, Private Ballet Teacher, and Repetiteur for the George Balanchine Trust

“I had the chance to work with Danita Emma as she came twice as a guest teacher in the National Opera and Ballet of Bulgaria.  I was delighted to meet a teacher and ballet-master with such a profound understanding of ballet as a technique and art. Her classes have a very pure structure with a perfect balance between fast and slow, which both places the dancers body correctly and builds up important quality of the movements. As a ballet-master she has a very precise and artistic touch. Working with Danita gives the dancer the strength and self confidence required to be a performer.”
  Diliana Nikiforova, principal dancer of Sofia National Opera and Ballet; PHD of Theater Arts            

Momchil Mladenov, Artistic Director
Momchil Mladenov, Artistic Director
Momchil Mladenov, former principal dancer with the National Ballet of Bulgaria and The Suzanne Farrell Ballet. A native of Bulgaria, Mr. Mladenov trained in the Vaganova Method at the National School of Ballet in Sofia, Bulgaria, from 1984 to 1993. In 1997 he earned a B.A. degree from the National Academy of Music in Sofia, Bulgaria. His honors and awards include Laureate of Arabesque Competition and the prize for best performance in P.I. Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty, Perm, Russia (1998), Laureate of Masako Ohya World Ballet Competition, Osaka, Japan (1995), prize for Best Partner in "seniors" category at the National Ballet Competition, Dobritsch, Bulgaria, and a nomination for the prestigious award, “Crystal Lire,” in the field of performing arts. Mr. Mladenov first came to America as a dancer and Ballet Master at the University of Texas in El Paso, under the directorship of Ingeborg Heuser. He assisted choreographer Kathryn Posin and danced the lead in her production of Scheherazade, at Milwaukee Ballet. For the past five years, Mr. Mladenov has been Assistant Director of the Syracuse University Summer Dance Intensive, under the artistic leadership of Danita Emma. In 2010, Mr. Mladenov founded Cultural Bridges Association with its mission to expand the repertoire of Bulgarian ballet and enhance its standing by introducing the dancers to the diverse range of American Ballet. As the first project in 2011, Cultural Bridges presented The Suzanne Farrell Ballet and the National Ballet of Bulgaria in a shared program titled "Balanchine and Farrell: American Ballet for Bulgaria" at the National Opera House in Sofia, Bulgaria. In 2012, the second program featured Balanchine’s famed La Source performed by The National Ballet of Bulgaria dancers. In both projects, Mr. Mladenov choreographed and premiered two new ballets for the National Opera and Ballet of Bulgaria.Cultural Bridges 3rd project of American Ballet for Bulgaria 2013 was of their most ambitious projects to date. The program included works of George Balanchine, William Forsythe and Jerome Robbins performed by National Ballet of Bulgaria with a special featured performance of Ailey II. This rich tapestry of program illustrates the depth and diversity of American dance culture, with choreography ranging from neo- classicism to the African American influences. Currently, Mr.Mladenov is Associate Director of Metropolitan Ballet Theatre, Alpharetta, Georgia.