Accompanist

An important part of a PDT education is the cultivation of the relationship between dancer and musician, which is accomplished by the use of live piano accompaniment in nearly all its Pre-Professional and Adult Division classes.  Accompaniment is a special skill that not all piano players possess, but PDT is fortunate to have a very talented coterie of accompanists who add immeasurably to the dancers’ learning experience.


Clifford Casapao, a native of the Philippines, began studying the piano at the age of 6. He earned his bachelor of music degree in piano performance at the University of the Philippines under the tutelage of Prof. Augusto Espino. Upon graduation, he served on the faculty of the university’s extension program. Clifford started accompanying opera and musical theater, joining Philippine Opera Company and  Repertory Philippines for the production of Little Shop of Horrors, The Fantastiks, Blood Brothers, Into the Woods, Peter Pan and Hansel and Gretel. He was also a regular guest artist of Paco Park Presents and Concerts at the Park in Manila.  Clifford is a ballet repetiteur for the Royal Academy of Dance examinations in the Philippines and Los Angeles. He migrated to the United States in 2001 and was a music teacher at Princeton College Preparatory School in Van Nuys, California. He is currently working at the Pasadena Dance Theatre and California Institute for the Arts, School of Dance.  He also teaches advanced studies at the Colburn School for the Performing Arts.


Ukrainian pianist, Angelika Fuchs, started playing the piano at age 3 and since then it has evolved to be her greatest passion in life. Ms. Fuchs has studied in many prestigious music conservatories and academies in Ukraine, Hungary and the U.S, among which are the Liszt Ferenc Academy of Music in Budapest and the Manhattan School of Music in New-York City.  Throughout her studies, she gained much experience in teaching and performing. Ms. Fuchs has participated in numerous international competitions and winning top prizes, among them are the international Franz Liszt Piano Competition in Utrecht, The Netherlands and the Yamaha Piano Competition in Budapest, Hungary. Angelika Fuchs has performed throughout the world with many orchestras and world renowned conductors, such as Philip Entremont and Benjamin Ellin with the Saint-Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam.In addition to performing, Ms. Fuchs has been teaching privately for over 10 years in Ukraine as well as holding a position as a Maestra in the Franz Liszt Conservatory in Quito, Ecuador.  Ms. Fuchs has been considering teaching as her greatest passion and has always put her utmost attention to all of her students by passing down her own knowledge, abilities and above all, love for music.


Gerald R. Lishka (Substitute) holds Bachelor and Master of Music Degrees in Piano Performance from the University of Illinois and pursued postgraduate studies there and at Indiana University. He was a ballet accompanist at the National Academy of Arts in Champaign, Illinois, working with international dance stars and instructors including Lupe Serrano, Michael Maule, and Gwynne Ashton. Gerald was ballet pianist and guest artist for four summers at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and was ballet and modern dance pianist and composer for the Dance Department at Wayne State University in Detroit, where he also played for the Severo School of Ballet. He was head ballet accompanist at Indiana University, where he worked with Marina Svetlova, and was the official accompanist for the Louisville Ballet. In Louisville, he also accompanied ballet and modern dance classes at the Youth Performing Arts Center. He was a ballet and modern dance accompanist at the American Dance Festival in Durham, North Carolina. Gerald has recorded several records for ballet class on the Roper label in New York City.

Gerald is the author of four books, including A Handbook for the Ballet Accompanist, published by Indiana University Press, and is an accomplished landscape painter, with representation in San Gabriel area art galleries and exhibitions.


Mark Litver -- Mark attended the State College of Arts in Krasnoyarsk, Russia and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Piano. In 1984, he attended the State Conservatory in Tashkent, Russia and received a Masters Degree in Piano and Music Subjects. As a student of the Conservatory, he began working as a concert pianist with the State Philharmonic Orchestra and toured internationally to Germany and Poland as a soloist with the Philharmonic Orchestra. Upon graduation, Mark began working with the State Theater of Opera and Ballet and the State School of Ballet as a pianist and piano teacher. During that period he was sent to the Theater of Opera and Ballet “Bolshoi” in Moscow for additional training. He moved to Los Angeles in 1995 and attended the “Evans School of Languages” studying English and working as a pianist for the Lula Washington Dance Theater. He has been teaching piano at the “Evergreen Music Conservatory in North Hollywood, CA since 1996. Since that time he has been an accompanist at Santa-Monica

College Dance Department, Cal Arts Institute, UCLA’s Department of Arts and Culture, Pomona College’s Dance Department and California State University of Fullerton’s Department of Theater and Dance. He has also worked with such ballet masters as: Stanley Holden (Royal Ballet), Susan Jones (American Ballet Theater), Charles Maple (American Ballet Theater), Margaret Hills (Royal Ballet), Evelyn Cisneros (San Francisco Ballet), Finis Jhung (Ballet Techniques, New York) Marat Dukaev (Kirov Ballet) and Yuri Grigoriev (Moscow Stanislavski Ballet) as well as worked with such companies as: Les Ballets De Monte-Carlo, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Houston Ballet, California Dance Theater, Inland Pacific Ballet, Anaheim Ballet, Ballet PacificaHe works with Pasadena Dance Theater since 2003.


Nona Ter-Avanesova. People usually don't like their jobs.  I do, because my job is to play the piano.  I started my piano experiments when I was 5.  I am much older now, and my childish curiosity about the piano has turned into a love of playing, and this love is what I am doing for a living.  What's more, my fingers don't have a Russian "accent" like my language.

My English-language was recognized -- in 2009 I was invited to join the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.  My membership in this society has lasted eight years.  But in order to preserve my Russian, I hosted several shows and events and received a Certificate of Appreciation from the West Hollywood City Council in recognition of outstanding performance in the Russian Style Festival in 2013.  

Now I am among children, working as an accompanist in PDT's Conservator.  And when my dancers are smiling while I am playing music from the Nutcracker, I understand that art is universal --Nutcracker bridges all differences between my two countries.  And this is amazing!


Venezuelan pianist Pedro Manuel Toro began his musical studies under Professor Juan Bautista Carreño and was later admitted to the National Conservatory of Music Juan José Landaeta in Caracas. While studying at the conservatory, he earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from the Andrés Bello Catholic University.

From 2009 to 2010, Pedro studied piano accompaniment at the Centro Universale of Bel Canto in Vignola, Italy, and at the prestigious Centre de Perfeccionament Plácido Domingo at the Palau de les Arts in Valencia, Spain, where he took lessons with prominent pianists, conductors and singers.

He has performed as a soloist, chamber musician and pianist for ballet and opera in Venezuela, Germany, Italy and Spain. Between August and October of 2010, he worked as musical coordinator of the Teresa Carreño Theater in Caracas.

He was pianist and musical director of the pop-lyrical group Ankora in 2012, performing on several occasions with the Venezuela Symphony Orchestra and the National Philharmonic Orchestra. From 2011 until 2014, he served as pianist of the Teresa Carreño Ballet. He currently attends the artist certificate program in collaborative piano at Azusa Pacific University.