A native of Cali, Colombia, Juan Carlos Peñuela began dancing at the age of 12 with Incolballet, a ballet-centered secondary school. His teachers included artistic staff from the National Ballet of Cuba and several Russian ballet academies. After Mr. Peñuela’s graduation in 1986, Gloria Castro invited him to become a soloist with Columbia’s National Company, Ballet de Cali. During the seven years he was with Ballet de Cali, he danced throughout South America, Europe, and the Caribbean Islands. His repertoire consisted of leading roles in contemporary works as well as classical pieces, including the principal male in Les Sylphides, Colin in La Fille Mal Gardée, and Franz in Coppélia.
In 1993, Mr. Peñuela moved to the United States to join Ballet Arizona in Phoenix, where he danced several pieces by artistic director and choreographer Michael Uthoff, and also created roles in new ballets by Violette Verdy and Helgi Tomasson. In 1996, he joined Dance Theater of Harlem, where he performed in many of George Balanchine’s works, including The Four Temperaments, Agon, Allegro Brillante, and Bugaku, as well as a variety of contemporary pieces.
Mr. Peñuela then joined Pennsylvania Ballet in 1998-2004. He was featured in several roles in The Nutcracker, and in Lynne Taylor-Corbett’s Great Galloping Gottschalk. Most notably, he received critical praise for dancing the role of The Moor in Josè Limon’s The Moor’s Pavane. He also performed in new works such as Jeffrey Gribler’s Cricket Dances, Meredith Rainey’s Slight Shifts, and Matthew Neenan’s Sfrenato.
Juan Carlos then worked as a freelance dancer, ballet master, and répétiteur based in New York City, working with various companies and schools all over the US and abroad. He has rehearsed & staged full-length ballets such as: Giselle, Don Quixote, Paquita, Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Romeo & Juliet, Cinderella, Walpurgis Nights, Diana & Acteon, Flower Festival in Genzano, Les Sylphides, Spartacus, Carmen, Raymonda, and Le Corsaire, as well as works created by choreographers Chiara Ajkun, Meredith Rainey, Gloria Castro, and Diane Coburn Bruning, to name a few.
Juan Carlos is currently the Ballet Master of Ballet Hispanico Company in New York City as well Senior Ballet Master for the School of Dance. He teaches company classes at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and Alvin Ailey School. Mr. Peñuela is faculty member of Joffrey Ballet School and Marymount Manhattan College, both in New York City.