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Yoshito Sakuraba is the founding artistic director of Abarukas and an award-winning choreographer. Originally from Japan, Yoshito began his career in New York City and has expanded to presenting work in Germany, Poland, Italy, Spain, Israel, Mexico, and nationally across the U.S. including Joyce Theater, BAM Fisher, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Jacob's Pillow, Kaatsbaan, and McCallum Theater (Palm Desert Choreography Festival). He has received the Best Choreography Award at FINI Dance Festival in Italy, the Audience Award at Masdanza International Contemporary Dance Festival in Spain, and he's a winner of NW Dance Project's Pretty Creatives and Whim W'Him's Shindig.


In addition to his company repertory, he’s been commissioned by numerous companies including Bayerisches Staatsballett (Munich), DAF (Rome), Lamondance (Vancouver), Louisville Ballet, Ballet Arkansas, Ballet Des Moines II, Litvak Dance, Levy Dance, Pony Box Dance Theater, Modas Dance, Kit Modus, Nimbus Dance, Peridance Contemporary Dance Company, and Graham II. He seeks to inspire young artists in their artistic expression and has been invited to create works and teach at institutions such as Joffrey Ballet School, Alvin Ailey/Fordham University, University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Peabody at Johns Hopkins University, Marymount Manhattan College, Barnard College, Vassar College, DLNY, MOVE l NYC and Steps on Broadway Conservatory. Most recently he was commissioned by the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts in Michigan.


Simon Kuban is currently working on his North American debut for Ballet Arkansas, and ACPW Company in New York, and two choreographies for the production of Merge Dance Theatre in Australia. He is a professor and choreographer of contemporary dance at Conservatory Dance Center, Prague. Simon has previously created original works for companies and universities such as Codarts in the Netherlands, Delattre Dance Company and Palucca University in Germany, Skopje Dance Theatre in Macedonia, Bohemia Ballet, Ballet Prague Junior and Prague Chamber Ballet in the Czech Republic.


Simon runs regular workshops for The Ballet of Opera Graz in Austria, M1 Contact festival in Singapore, Eurovision Young Dancers Contest, International Contemporary Dance Workshop Prague, New Prague Dance Festival in the Czech Republic and many more. He danced in companies of Ballet Prague Junior, State Opera Prague, Ballet of South Bohemian Theater, Opera of National Theater Prague, Prague Chamber Ballet (Czech republic), Ballet d'Europe (France), Vortice Dance Company (Portugal)


Yuka Oba-Muschiana was born in Japan where she received her training from Hitomi Takeuchi Ballet School. In 2006-2008, she attended English National Ballet School in the UK where she also danced many soloist roles. Upon graduating, Mario Radacovsky invited her to join the Slovak National Ballet where she danced a variety of roles such as Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux by George Balanchine, Spring lead lady in Four Seasons by James Kudelka. Yuka was then invited to join Grand Rapids Ballet in 2011 where she has since danced many principal roles in ballets by George Balanchine, Marius Petipa, Yuri Possokhov, Ben Stevensen, Val Caniparoli, Christopher Stowell, Trey McIntyre, Adam Hougland, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa,Alejandro Cerrudo, James Sofranko, Nicolas Blanc, Katarzyna Skarpetowska, Daniella Rowe, Olivier Wevers, Mario Radakovsky, Jennifer Archibald, David Parsons, Jose Limon, Kirk Peterson, Brian Enos, Andrea Schermoly, Norbert De La Cruz and Penny Saunders.


Yuka has won many competitions in Japan including NBA All Japan Ballet Competition, Saitama All Japan Dance Competition, UB All Japan Ballet Union Competition, International Ballet Competition in Yokohama, and others. In 2013, Yuka had the honor of performing Olivier Wever’s The Sofa at the Joyce Theatre in New York and reprised her role in Seattle. Yuka performed Le Corsaire Pas de Deux in the gala at The National Theatre in Tokyo and the Pas de Deux from Le Carnaval de Venise in Fukushima. In 2014, Val Caniparoli choreographed Clara on Yuka for the world premiere of The Nutcracker. She also choreographed for Grand Rapids Ballet and others since 2015 such as Wave, Eriha, Death and the Maiden, Tomorrow Never Comes and Chansons de Bilitis. 2021 Virtual season Yuka had the opportunity to choreograph, direct and film her piece “sol and luna”.


Yury Yanowsky's career as a principal dancer with the Boston Ballet spanned over two decades. Yanowsky was the recipient of the first prize at the Prix de Lausanne and won the Silver medal at both the Varna International Ballet Competition and the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, MS.

Yanowsky's passion for choreographing began early in his dancing career and over the past decade he has had the opportunity to choreograph numerous ballets for Boston Ballet, Boston Ballet II, Carlos Acosta's "Premiere's Plus", Festival Ballet Providence, and international galas. In 2015, Yanowsky was awarded the Choreographic Prize at the prestigious Erik Bruhn Competition for his ballet, District. In 2016 he was commissioned to create new works for Boston Ballet and The Bundes Jugend Ballet Hamburg and was the guest choreographer for the Opening Night Gala for the Ballet Program at Jacob’s Pillow 2016.

Yury is currently on faculty at Harvard University and Centro Coreographico, Las Palmas Spain, Summer Program. He has also taught at Boston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Brookline Ballet, and Colby College. Yury holds a degree in Coreografia y Tecnicas de interpretation de la Danza from the Academica de Ensenanzas de Musica y Artes Enscenicas, Spain, 2009.


Trisha McGovern Freeney (violin) has been an Arts Partner of the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and Rockefeller String Quartet since September 2013. A native of Kansas City, Ms. Freeney completed her Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music where she studied Violin Performance with Benny Kim. She also holds Master of Music and Bachelor of Music degrees from the San Francisco Conservatory Music where she studied Violin Performance with Ian Swenson and chamber music with the late Mark Sokol. While a student at UMKC, she was awarded a fellowship with the Graduate Fellowship String Quartet and performed with that group for three years under the direction of Carter Enyeart.


Freeney maintains an active and varied career as an orchestral musician, solo recitalist, chamber player, and teacher, with performing and teaching experience throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area, Des Moines, Iowa, Wichita, Kansas, Saint Joseph, Missouri, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She has held the Assistant Concertmaster position with the Saint Joseph Symphony, and tenure violin positions with the Des Moines Symphony and Wichita Symphony Orchestras. Her most recent concert engagements include performances with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Texarkana Symphony, Kansas City Ballet, Des Moines Symphony, Wichita Symphony, Saint Joseph Symphony, Oakland/East Bay Symphony, Monterey Symphony, Marin Symphony, Santa Rosa Symphony Orchestra, Sacramento Philharmonic, and the Oakland Opera Theatre as well as subbing with the New World Symphony in Miami, FL. Notable teachers include Noah Geller-Concertmaster of the Kansas City Symphony, and Catherine Van Hoesen of the San Francisco Symphony.


Freeney has performed in violin masterclasses of Charles Castleman, Brian Lewis, and Ellen Jewett, and chamber master classes with Sadao Harado, Robert Mann, Jorja Fleezanis, and Mack McCray, as well as the Parker, Ying, Formosa, and St. Lawrence String Quartets. Highlights of her time here in Little Rock include performing Mendelssohn’s “Octet” with guest artist Tessa Lark in the River Rhapsody’s Chamber Music Series, performing as violin soloist alongside the ASO in Astor Piazzola’s “Winter” under the direction of Philip Mann, and performing in various small chamber ensembles with the New Deal Salon Concert Series directed by Tatiana Roitman. If not practicing or performing, Ms. Freeney is selling real estate or spending quality time with her husband Kirk and their two children Ava and Knox.


Linnaea Kathleen Brophy (violin), a violinist from Memphis, TN, has a versatile background as an orchestral player, chamber musician, soloist and teacher. In 2019, she joined the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and became a member of the Rockefeller String Quartet. She holds a Doctorate in Musical Arts from Stony Brook University where she was 2018 winner of the Stony Brook University Concerto Competition. While a student at SBU, under the auspices of the Emerson String Quartet, she formed the Anello String Quartet, which was hailed by the Woodstock Times in NY as “beautifully tonal, coordinated and balanced.”

A veteran of the violin concerto repertoire, Linnaea has performed as a soloist with the Nashville Symphony, the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, the Alabama Symphony, and the Vidin Sinfonietta in Vidin, Bulgaria. At age 14, she gave her solo debut recital at the Neue Gallery in Manhattan, in a concert sponsored by the Perlman Music Program. Prior to her appointment with the ASO, Linnaea gained orchestral experience performing with A Far Cry, a Grammy-nominated self-conducted chamber orchestra from Boston. She also served as concertmaster of the New England Conservatory Philharmonia during her studies at the New England Conservatory, working with maestros Stephen Lord and Hugh Wolf.

Competitions she has won include 1st prizes at the Music Teachers National Association Competition, Junior Division; the Curb Concerto Competition in Nashville; the Alabama Symphony Concerto Competition; and the Concerto Soloist Award at the International Institute for Conductors in  Bulgaria.

A familiar presence at summer festivals, Linnaea Brophy is an alumnus of the Juilliard String Quartet Seminar, the Keshet Eilon Summer Mastercourse, the International Holland Music Sessions, and the Perlman Music Program. Linnaea holds a B.A. and an M.M. from the New England Conservatory where she was awarded a Merit Scholarship as a student of Donald Weilerstein and Lucy Chapman.


Katherine Reynolds (viola) joined the ASO as principal violist and Arts Partner in 2000. She received a Master of Music degree from SUNY at Stony Brook (NY) and a Bachelor of Music degree from the St. Louis Conservatory. Katherine also holds a principal position in the Conway Symphony. In addition to teaching private lessons in Little Rock, "Kater" also teaches viola at the University of Central Arkansas. Most recently she was a member of the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra, Santa Fe Symphony and extra with the Santa Fe Opera Orchestra.


Jacob Wunsch (cello) joined the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and the Rockefeller String Quartet in the fall of 2019. Actively involved in orchestral performance, chamber music, and music education, he has made concert appearances across the United States, France, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Italy, and Austria. His accomplishments include 1st prize in both the inaugural Briggs Chamber Music Competition and the ASTA (American String Teachers Association) Competition. He has served as section cellist with the Ann Arbor Symphony, the Evansville Philharmonic, and the Owensboro Symphony.


A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Wunsch began cello studies at age four and his teachers at university have included Eric Kim, Richard Aaron, Michel Strauss, Jan Ype Nota, and Roger Regter. He received his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from Indiana University and the University of Michigan respectively. Through fellowship grants he has attended the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Colorado College Summer Music Festival, and the Garth Newel Music Center.


Wunsch received a full tuition scholarship to attend the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, The Netherlands for graduate studies, where he received his second Master of Music degree as well as Artist Certificate. Among performance and study, he conducted research and the transcription of works with the purpose of expanding the range of quality repertoire for cello ensemble for professionals and students alike. Wunsch is a dedicated cello educator and has teacher training certification.

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