MARIA TORIJA, the Academy Director at BalletMet, was born in Madrid, Spain. Dr. Torija began her ballet studies with Lola de Avila, Luis Fuentes and Carmen Roche. At the age of thirteen, she was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to study for three years at the School of American Ballet in New York. After a short stint with the Ballet Nacional de España Clásico, she began her 20-year career as a dancer with the Deutsche Oper Berlin ballet company, currently the Staatsballett Berlin. During her time in Berlin, Maria performed in solo and principal roles in numerous classic ballets, including works choreographed by George Balanchine, Maurice Bejart, John Neumeier, William Forsythe, John Cranko, Jiri Kilian and Kenneth McMillan among others.
She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Ballet Teaching, and graduated summa cum laude with a Master’s and PhD in Performing Arts from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, in Madrid. She also has an extensive teaching resume. Beginning with the Opera Ballet of Deutsche Oper Berlin, she has served as a faculty member at the Palucca Hochschule für Tanz, Dresden. Maria has participated in seminars and has been invited to teach classes throughout Europe, Japan and Hong Kong and the United States.
While on the faculty of the Miami City Ballet and Miami City Ballet School, Maria taught dancing as well as classes on the history of ballet and other associated topics. She organized and conceived a popular program for the Open Barre at the Miami City Ballet, inviting the public to see a demonstration of the progression of professional ballet training. Maria came to BalletMet as the Academy Director, in 2017 from Marin Ballet the same school where Artistic Director Edwaard Liang received his early training.