Directors Meridith Benson and
Mario de la Nuez awarded
2018 YAGP "Best Teachers Award”
Meet Our Directors
Meridith Benson, Director
Meridith Benson began her professional career at the age of eleven. Since her auspicious debut at such an early age, she has performed with numerous major ballet companies internationally, including Makarova and Company on Broadway, the Washington Ballet, American Ballet Theatre II, Cincinnati Ballet, Ballet Chicago, Lyric Opera of Chicago (Principal Guest Dancer), and The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago.
Meridith has seen the world performing on the world’s most famous stages.She has danced the title roles in nearly all of the classic ballet repertoire including Giselle, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet; John Cranko’s Taming of the Shrew; Paul Taylor’s Aureole; George Balanchine’s Divertimento, The Four Temperaments, Concerto Barocco, Apollo, and Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux; and Gerald Arpino’s
Light Rain and Round of Angels.
Due to Meridith’s versatility in styles, she has been able work with the world's greatest choreographers and directors both from the past and the present, ranging from Frederick Franklin, Ivan Nagy, Natalia Makarova, Fernando Bujones, Gerald Arpino, Suzzane Farrel, and Robert Joffrey to today's Dwight Rhoden,
Val Caniparoli, and Desmond Richardson. She is known for her artistry, versatility, technical virtuosity, dramatic expression, and exquisite extensions, a particular gift that is without parallel.
Meridith has served as Associate Director and Prima Ballerina of Ballet Theater of Chicago. As a teacher, she continues to inspire her students through her passion for dance. Meridith taught at the School for Creative and Performing Arts for ten years and is currently an adjunct professor at University of Cininnati's College-Conservatory of Music, along with teaching, coaching, choreographing, and directing her dancers at de la Arts. In her personal life, Meridith shares four beautiful children with her husband Mario de la Nuez, where being a mother is her most challenging and rewarding job.
Mario de la Nuez, Director
Mario is a native of Havana, Cuba. As a child, he immigrated to the United States where he, his younger brother, and mother took up residence in New York City. There, he began his dance studies with the renowned teachers, Richard Thomas and Daniel Levans at the New York School of Ballet. Soon after completing his studies, he began a professional dance career that took him throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. He has danced with US Terpsichore, N.Y., Peri Dance NY, Ballet Binghamton, Ballet West, Tulsa Ballet Theater, Dance Theater of Harlem, Ballet Chicago, Cincinnati Ballet, and Ballet Theater of Chicago. Mario has performed in video, television, musical theater and opera as a dancer, choreographer, and director. In January of 1995, he founded Ballet Theater of Chicago with his wife Meridith Benson. The company received great acclaim for its performances of a diverse repertory, ranging from the avant garde to full-length classics in Chicago and throughout the United States.
We believe that dance,, first and foremost should be fun and inspiring. This emphasis is useful whether one is pursuing a professional career in dance, or trying to fulfill a lifetime dream of expressing oneself through movement. The road to achieve this can be exhilarating, mysterious, and difficult, yet extremely fulfilling. Above all, Mario believes that Art, and Dance in particular, is one of man's greatest and most important gifts.