Iliana Lopez & Franklin Gamero were born in Valencia, Venezuela. They began their careers at Ballet Nacional Teatro Teresa Carreño. Both went on to dance at San Francisco Ballet, Cleveland Ballet and as soloists with the Deutsche Opera Berlin and the Deutsche Opera am Rhein in Düsseldorf. In 1987, they became Principal Dancers with Miami City Ballet, where they remained for 18 successful years.
As guest principal dancers, they performed for a variety of Ballet companies worldwide, accepting invitations to renowned dance festivals, as well as the annual Gala Of Stars in the World.
Not only masters of leading roles in classical repertoire throughout their career, they also won acclaim for performances of neoclassical works by Balanchine, Bejart, van Manen, MacMillan, Petit, Nebrada, Kylian, and Gamonet De Los Heros, among others.
During their years with Miami City Ballet, they originated many of the principal roles of that company’s repertoire, such as Carmen, Prokofiev Piano Concerto, La Casa de Bernarda Alba, D Symphony, Aria, Purple Bend, Concerto For la Donna, and Tobiniana.
The couple was recognized among the world’s leading dancers, and Ms. Lopez was featured on the cover of many notable dance magazines, including Dance Magazine (1997), Pointe Magazine (2000) and Dancer Magazine (2004).
After one New York City performance, the New York Times’s Jennifer Dunning wrote, “Mr. Gamero’s airy, easy multiple turns were among the afternoon’s greatest pleasures.” Of Ms. Lopez’s dancing, she critiqued, “Ms. Lopez was the strong principal ballerina, her arabesque big and her balance imperturbable.” The Miami Herald concurred, “Lopez and Gamero can take a movement that would look ordinary on other dancers and turn it into something pellucid.” Dance Magazine proclaimed, "Perhaps, with Iliana Lopez and Franklin Gamero, Miami City Ballet has achieved the success for Diamonds that Balanchine had originally wished for, surpassing even the legendary partnership of Suzanne Farrell and Peter Martins.”
Their dedication and passion earned them special recognitions including the Orden Arturo Michelena in Venezuela; the Key of the City of Baton Rouge in Louisiana, where they were declared ‘Honorary Mayor- President;’ the Proclamation of Miami-Dade County by Mayor Alex Penelas; and the Proclamation of Hialeah by Mayor Raul Martinez. Martinez declared March 12th, 2004 the Iliana Lopez and Franklin Gamero Day. They were also recipients of special awards by the Philharmonic Center for the Arts in Naples for their contribution to the arts in that region, and from the Jackie Gleason Theatre for their outstanding contribution to the Arts In the city of Miami Beach.
Earning a special level of recognition, Iliana was selected by the National Museum of Dance in the United States to put her pointe shoes in their permanent exhibition.
They performed for the Prime Minister of Israel, Isaac Shamir, Princess Caroline of Monaco, and former Presidents Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton, accepting a most honored invitation to the White House in Washington, DC. Since their retirement in 2004, Ms. Lopez has worked as Ballet Mistress and répétiteur (coach) for multiple companies, including Miami City Ballet, Ballet Gamonet, Ballet de Monterrey in Mexico, Ballet de Santiago de Chile, Ballet de l’Opéra de Bordeaux in France, and summer intensive festivals with Orlando Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Cary Conservatory, Carpe Diem Ballet in Rome, and Vail Dance Festival.
In 2012, they took the helm at Gulfshore Ballet School in Fort Myers as artistic directors, where they have strived to give their students the skills they need to reach their individual highest levels of achievement.
JIMMY GAMONET DE LOS HEROS (1957-2021) was a choreographer, ballet master, and artistic director. The works of Jimmy Gamonet de Los Heros have been performed throughout North America, South America, and Europe, and include nearly three dozen set on the dancers of Miami City Ballet. In 14 years as Founding Resident Choreographer and Ballet Master of Miami City Ballet, he created a signature style for that company, beginning with its opening performances in 1986.
Mr. Gamonet’s works were commissioned and under-written by AT&T, The Wolf Trap Foundation, The Catherine Filene Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, Jacob’s Pillow, Neiman Marcus, Barnett Bank of South Florida, The Firm of Steel Hector & Davis, and The Windmere Corporation, among others.
His work in ballet’s neoclassical style - both abstract and narrative - is noted and was rewarded at a national and international level. During his career, he received three separate Choreography Fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, including the prestigious three-year Fellowship in 1990, awarded to artists whose “work on a level of national excellence over time extends the aesthetic boundaries of the discipline.” His other NEA awards included a one-year fellowship in 1989 and a two-year Fellowship in 1994. The State of Florida also recognized his accomplishments with Choreography Fellowships in 1993 and 1995.
In 1997, Mr. Gamonet developed a course curriculum for an innovative Choreographers Workshop, with funding through the Catherine Filene Shouse Foundation. His mission was to build a training program with a final goal of educating, nurturing, and encouraging aspiring choreographers to continue serious work in the field of classical dance. The Choreographers Workshop was initiated as a three-year pilot program at Miami City Ballet with Mr. Gamonet as the Workshop Director.
For several years, Mr. Gamonet served as a member of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Dance Advisory Panel. He also judged the International Ballet Competition in Trujillo, Peru, multiple times from 1999-2019.
In recognition of his contributions to the art form, Mr. Gamonet was one of eight choreographers chosen in 1992 for the National Repertory Program, a program supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Philip Morris Companies, and the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund to subsidize choreographic acquisitions for American professional repertory companies. Under the National Repertory Program grant, the Ballet Concierto de Puerto Rico commissioned Mr. Gamonet to set a version of Carmen on its dancers, which received its New York City premiere at the Joyce Theater in 1995. The collaboration between the choreographer and the company continued: in May 2000, Ballet Concierto de Puerto Rico commissioned Pico Rico Mandorico, an original work based on a novel by acclaimed Puerto Rican writer Rosario Ferré. The ballet, made possible in part through a grant by the National Endowment for the Arts, premiered in Puerto Rico as part of an all-Gamonet program in March 2001. All-Gamonet programs were also presented in Bogotá and Cali, Colombia. In 2003, Mr. Gamonet began his first collaboration with Ballet Florida with the premiere of Jubilo, with music by American composer, Wynton Marsalis.
In 2004, he founded his own company, Ballet Gamonet where he had a successful eight-year run. Following that, the Peruvian-born Gamonet was approached to return to his homeland to take the helm as Artistic Director of the Ballet Nacional Del Perú. His success in elevating that company to international standards is now well-documented.
Among the most celebrated of his diverse works include the ballets Nous Sommes, D Symphonies, Purple Bend I and II, Concerto for La Donna, Reus, Miniatures, Divertimento Español, Romeo and Juliet, Movilissimanoble, Prokofiev Piano Concerto, Partita, Grand Pas Classique, Carmen and Jubilo. Acclaimed works that had special underwriting are La Casa de Bernarda Alba, with an original score by Broadway composer Richard Adler, funded in part through the NEA’s Creation & Presentation awards, and his Big Band SUPER MEGATROID, a Wolf Trap Foundation commission honoring its 25th Anniversary Season. Transtangos, created for the premiere of Miami City Ballet, is still recognized as a signature piece in its artistic development.
The critical acclaim achieved by Gamonet for his creative efforts led to many awards, including the 2000 Bill Hindman Award, given by the South Florida Critics Circle and the Theatre League of South Florida, for career artistic achievement and significant contributions to the artistic development of the performing arts; the Hispanic Heritage Council Award, given in recognition for his significant efforts between the people of the Spanish-speaking countries and the United States, and the 2003 Arts Recognition award, given by the Governor of La Libertad in Peru, for his ongoing contributions to the art form.
In his formative years, Gamonet was a leading dancer with Ballet Moderno de Camara, directed by Hilda Riveros; the Peruvian National Ballet, directed by Vera Stasny; Ballet Peruano, directed by Kaye Mackinnonde Pacheco; and Ballet de la Asociación Choreartiumde Lima(now known as Ballet Municipal de Lima), directed by Lucy Telge de Linder. He first choreographed for the latter two companies when he was just 17-years old. He was also a leading dancer with Ballet Du Nord in France. He received Gold Medals in both the Performance and Choreography categories at the 2nd International Dance and Choreography Competition in Peru in 1979 and, in 1980, participated in the 3rd International Ballet Competition in Osaka, Japan. In 1983, he won the highest award for Choreography at the Dance Competition of the Americas in Miami. He moved to the United States in 1980 to work with Oklahoma Ballet Artistic Director, Bojan Spasoff, and in 1985, began his celebrated collaboration with Miami City Ballet.
Prior to his career in civic engagement, Jorge Mursuli was a seasoned leader in human resources, organizational training and development, and operations management in Fortune 100 and not-for-profit organizations including Marriott Corporation, Sandy Corporation, Jenny Craig, and The Florida East Coast Railway.
As Miami City Ballet’s first Company Manager in 1987, Jorge was part of the successful team that helped catapult Miami City Ballet to national status. Dubbed by the press as ‘The Miracle Company,’ MCB went on to become and remains one of the country’s leading ballet companies.
Jorge’s focus on the not-for-profit sector resulted in the creation and management of seven successful not-for-profit companies throughout his career, including Ballet Gamonet, a successful South Florida company founded by the late Jimmy Gamonet de los Heros.
In 1998, Jorge led Safeguarding American Values for Everyone in a successful effort to secure and defend the passage the Miami-Dade County Human Rights Ordinance, making sexual orientation a category protected by law from discrimination. This experience involved engaging all sectors of Miami-Dade’s communities and their leadership. It involved fundraising from national and local high profile donors. as well as generating a high-impact communications and messaging strategy for what, at that time, was one of the USA’s most socially and politically charged issues.
In 2001, Jorge joined People For the American Way (PFAW) Foundation as the Florida State Director, soon becoming a National Vice President where he led efforts in election reform, immigration, public education, civil liberties, and civic engagement. Project highlights at PFAW include “‘The Numbers Project,” a free speech public art installation at Miami’s Freedom Tower, and “Your First Amendment is Showing,” a campaign in collaboration with Miami-Dade Public Schools to educate students and conduct related teacher training on First Amendment issues.
In 2004, Jorge went on to create Democracia USA (DUSA), a nonpartisan civic engagement organization that grew to become one of the most effective Hispanic voter empowerment and leadership training programs in the nation, and which grew to 11 operations in seven states. In 2008, Democracia USA brought more Hispanics to the polls than any other organization according to the national voter data analytics firm, Catalyst.
Following the success of DUSA, Jorge was approached to help organize the Dominican American community to create Dominicanos USA, with operations in NYC and Providence, R.I. The organization soon grew to become a leading civic organization in the Northeast U.S., electing the first Dominican-American to Congress in US history. The organization continues to operate today.
After years of raising non-partisan money for civic engagement, Jorge saw the need to encourage Hispanic-Americans of means to help Latinos better assimilate into the American civic landscape and founded the Latino Donor Collaborative, an effort to convene and organize Hispanic philanthropy for the purposes of participation in the U.S. electorate. Upon his departure, Jorge was given the title of Founder Emeritus.
Recognizing a common need across the state for the development of capital, Jorge co-founded the philanthropic Florida Alliance to engage Florida’s private funders in an organized, goal-driven manner. It continues statewide to discreetly convene Floridian donors and assist in the metrics-focused methodology to support Florida’s civic engagement infrastructure.
On a different note, and in an effort to make civic issues more accessible to Hispanic audiences, Jorge created and was a writer and Executive Producer for iLatino, a non-partisan political comedy pilot shot in collaboration with Norman Lear and Univision in Miami. The show enjoyed a short run as a centerpiece of Univision’s digital platform.
Jorge has served on the Board of the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, the National Board of the League of Conservation Voters, the Urban League of Greater Miami, and America’s Voice, among others. During a time of civic unrest in Miami, he held the challenging position of Chair of the Miami-Dade County Community Relations Board Task Force on Police/Community Relations.
Born in Cuba, Jorge Mursuli immigrated with his family to Brooklyn, New York in 1967. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Florida where he served as the President of Sigma Phi Epsilon, and Executive Vice President of the Interfraternity Council. He is a tapped member of Florida Blue Key. Jorge is a proud Rockwood Fellow, Class of 2007.
A successful economist by education, Hernan Marin graduated from the University of Carabobo, in Valencia, Venezuela with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics And later with a subsequent Masters in Finance. Marin has spent the majority of his career as an international business entrepreneur and has co-founded multiple enterprises throughout Latin America.
His diverse business acumen brought him to an array of fields that include retail and wholesale products, and consumer items as varied as footwear, greeting cards and paper goods. He has successfully grown several start-up ventures, including Falmaven C.A., Mapa C.A., and Metal Arroba C.A.
With a keen interest in new markets, Marin has traveled globally exploring new investment opportunities. His latest successes lie in the importing of raw metals used for an array of industrial purposes throughout South America.
Born in Colombia, Marin lived in Venezuela for 25 years, where he met his wife Franiel and raised their daughter, Nicole. It was through his wife that Marin was introduced to the world of dance, developing a love for the art form that has remained with him to this day.
Marin recently immigrated to the U.S., choosing to reside in Fort Myers, where the natural beauty and standard of living made Southwest Florida an attractive community in which to raise his family. It was only after being here that Marin clearly recognized Southwest Florida as fertile ground for business development and investment.
Marin’s understanding of the local economic opportunities, along with his appreciation for Artistic Directors, Iliana Lopez and Franklin Gamero, convinced him to bring his background in finance to the not-for-profit world as Chief Financial Officer and Co-Founder of Florida Gulfshore Ballet.