ROBERTO VILLANUEVA, born in the Philippines, is the Executive & Artistic Director and Founder of BalaSole Dance Company. He has 30 years of professional experience in the field of dance as a producer, director, performer, choreographer, adjudicator and educator in the U.S., Europe and Asia, as well as over 25 years of professional background in business, financial, non-profit, operations, organizational and arts management.


Roberto currently serves as Director of Dance and Adjunct Professor at the College of Mount Saint Vincent (where he developed its dance program). He also holds a post as a full-time administrator at Fashion Institute of Technology. He conducts seminars and workshops for college/university dance programs covering topics such as audience engagement and creative process, basic financial literacy, strategic career planning, entrepreneurship, and leadership.


Roberto trained at the Alvin Ailey School, SUNY Purchase Conservatory of Dance and University at Buffalo, where he received his BA in Dance Performance. He previously served as an arts education and outreach administrator for the world-renowned Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH), leading a department that provides arts education to K-12 schools nationwide and community engagement programs. He also served as DTH's group sales manager for the company's annual New York seasons at New York City Center for the past five years.


Acclaimed nationally and internationally for his abilities as a dance artist, Roberto has been hailed "for the deftness and technical control of his dancing" (The New York Times). He has been described as "a poetic dancer" (New York Magazine), "powerhouse dancer" (New York Daily News), "breathtaking" (Swiss Newspaper La Liberté), “a phenomenal dancer” (Huffington Post), "an extraordinarily gifted dancer" (Attitude Magazine), "a small powerhouse" (The Village Voice), "a mentor with a mission" (Back Stage New York), "an experienced performer" (TheaterScene.net), "elegantly exquisite dancer" (Broadwayworld.com), and "memorable" (Art Times).


Roberto has produced and directed 20 New York City concert seasons for BalaSole Dance Company. He has performed at prominent dance venues including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Baryshnikov Arts Center's Jerome Robbins Theater, Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theater, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), New York Live Arts/Dance Theater Workshop, and Tribeca Performing Arts Center. He has worked with renowned choreographers such as Dwight Rhoden, Kevin Wynn, Milton Myers, and Eleo Pomare. He has performed with dance companies such as Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Company, Steeledance, Marie-Christine Giordano Dance, Pick of the Crop Dance, and Buffalo City Ballet.


Roberto has been commissioned to teach master classes and choreograph for various institutions including the Alpha Omega Theatrical Dance Company, Ballet Philippines, Airdance Philippines, University at Buffalo, East Carolina University, Glendale Community College, and University of the Philippines. He has served on the faculty of Dance Masters of America's Teachers Training School. He has mentored/worked with artists from renowned companies such as the Martha Graham Dance Company, Limón Dance Company, Elisa Monte Dance, Lucinda Childs Dance, Parsons Dance, Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, Philadanco, Joffrey Ballet, Les Ballets Trocadero De Monte Carlo, Donald Byrd/The Group, Ballet Frankfurt, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Twyla Tharp Dance, Sokolow Theatre/Dance Ensemble, The Isadora Duncan Dance Company, Giordano Dance Chicago, and Rockettes.

Roberto has received several recognitions/awards including a special scholarship from the school of Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater and the national title "Mr. Dance of America 1993" from Dance Masters of America.  He also received the 2011-2012 Harlem Stage Fund for New Work Award in New York City for the creation and development of his one-man show titled "Pieces of Me: An inside look at a dance artist's journey." In 2012, Roberto was nominated for The Outstanding Filipino American in New York (TOFA-NY) Award under the Arts & Culture category for his achievements as a dance professional. In 2013, Roberto received a "Distinguished Alumni Award" from the University at Buffalo's Theater & Dance Department for his contributions in the field of dance.


In 2013, Roberto served as a grant panelist for the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, appropriating funds made available by the state and city of New York for arts projects in Manhattan. He was also a presenter at the University of Buffalo's 2010 Coast to Coast Arts, Entertainment, and Media Symposium, as well as the National Dance Education Organization's 2010 and 2015 Annual Conferences.


Roberto's involvement in the Filipino-American community includes solo performances for events such as The Outstanding Filipino American in New York 2012 Award ceremony, Lani Misalucha's benefit concert in November 2013 at the Philippine Consulate General NY for the quake victims in Bohol and Cebu, and the 2014 Miss Philippines Quest USA, a franchise of the Miss World Philippines. In November 2019, he traveled to the Philippines on a mission project providing free master classes, workshops, lectures and performances to four premiere universities in Manila--University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, and De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde.


In addition to receiving certifications in Fitness and Pilates instructions, Roberto is also an AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE® Certified Teacher in Primary through Level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.


Roberto started college at the young age of 16 to pursue a degree in Accounting. At the age of 19, while in college, Roberto discovered and fell in love with the art of dance. This life changing discovery eventually led to a degree in Dance Performance.

After Roberto moved to New York City, he faced many heart breaking rejections at various dance auditions due to his small physique. But he persevered and was able to land jobs as a performer, which earned him critical acclaim from the New York Times and other prominent publications for his technical virtuosity.  Despite these successes, he faced the same financial hardship that have plagued many dance artists in the United States.

In order to obtain financial stability, Roberto tapped into his other gift as a person with a keen sense for business. For 15 years he held management positions in two major retail stores, an investment firm and a charity organization. He managed financial transactions and accounts in excess of $200 million, ran corporate operations, executed several organizational restructurings, launched a department, and implemented business policies and process redesign. Roberto's corporate positions afforded him the means to continue his artistic endeavors; but it also brought him to the discovery that there was an unwarranted disconnect between the artistic fields and non-artistic fields.

In July 2010 Roberto embarked on a philanthropic mission and founded BalaSole Dance Company, the only non-profit educational dance organization in the U.S. dedicated to bridging the gaps in the field of dance. Roberto personally funds at least 70% of the company's annual operations. The company has earned praises from publications such as The Village Voice, Attitude Magazine, Dance Europe Magazine, and Broadway World.

Roberto established BalaSole Dance Company because he believed there was a great opportunity and urgency to address the imbalances that he saw and experienced for at least 20 years in the field of dance. He knew that it was time to launch an "inclusive" and "diverse " dance company that would help artists seeking artistic freedom and mentorship, as well as those who might be overlooked or marginalized; elevate the professional field of dance; educate, connect and inspire people; as well as promote "individuality" and "self-worth." He also wanted to help the field of dance better articulate its value proposition and those in the field to have a more holistic understanding of the business of dance.

Roberto's role as a mentor in BalaSole Dance Company is one that he cherishes the most. "It is a great challenge to help artists find or hone their artistic voice and at the same time teach them how to be responsible artists, administrators, business people and leaders. But it is also a very rewarding experience." Roberto wants to leave a legacy of dance artists who not only set high standards in their chosen fields and inspire people to follow their passion, but also give, give back, and/or pay it forward to their communities.

Roberto's combined artistic virtuosity, professional experience and business acumen, as well as his ability to cast and execute a vision, are rare in the field of dance. This combination puts him in a unique position to inspire and mentor both artists and non-artists. Also, he is able to demonstrate the importance of employing a disciplined business approach in the field of dance.

To learn more about Roberto and his company, visit www.balasoledance.org.


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