2017 Judges


Kevin Gail Thomas

Kevin Gaël Thomas is originally from France and studied at Rosella Hightower’s International Ballet School and at Canada’s National Ballet School on full scholarship where he graduated in 2006 with honors. He also graduated with honors from the Music Conservatory in France for piano. He then danced for a year with Houston Ballet II before joining the Colorado Ballet in 2007.  Mr. Thomas was chosen to represent France in 2009 at the New-York International Ballet Competition and in 2010 at the Jackson USA IBC. Since then, he’s been dancing major roles such as “Peter Pan” by Michael Pink, The First Sailor in Jerome Robbins’s “Fancy Free”, the Jester in Ben Stevenson’s “Cinderella”, the Whip Boy in Glen Tetley’s “Rite of Spring”, Peter in Michael Smuin’s “Peter and the Wolf”, Benno in “Swan Lake”and the Nutcracker Prince in the “Nutcracker”. In 2016, Mr. Thomas  was promoted to Soloist. He has been teaching Ballet and Contemporary at the Colorado Ballet Academy since 2013. He has been choreographing his own work and created two pieces for the Colorado Ballet, “Nostalgia” in 2015 and “Riviera” in 2016. Boulder Ballet also presented his piece “Nostalgia” in 2016.

Jayne Persch

As a dancer, Ms. Persch trained and danced with Stuttgart Ballet American Ballet Theater and the Royal Ballet. She has created more than 40 works for small companies and chamber sized performance groups, worked with the Shubert Theater, Theater-By-the Sea in Broadway musical theater productions. Her choreography has been presented in Ireland, Italy, Denmark and France including Festival Off D’Avignon. As Artistic Director of the New Hampshire Contemporary Ballet Company, she was one of two choreographers for the MacDowell Colony Centennial Celebration, served on the rosters of both Artists-in-Residence and Arts-in Education and received the Governor’s Award for Artistic Excellence. Ms. Persch received a national award from the National Association of Science Teachers for her innovative Alternative Educational – Arts- in-School project, Let’s Create Together-The Planets. Internationally, she was appointed to the Faculty for the Pari Center for New Learning, (Italy) funded through the World Academy of Art & Science.  She is guest teacher for the Royal Danish Ballet School, The Danish National Theater School, School of Modern Dance, and Copenhagen Dance Arts, SEAD (Salzburg Experimental Academy of Dance) in Germany, and Northern School of Contemporary  Dance in Leeds, England.  Ms. Persch has taught at colleges, universities, public and private schools and conservatories including the University of New Hampshire, Southeast Missouri State College and Trinity College for Graduate Studies in California, California State University-Long Beach; Hart School, University of Hartford; Ballet Etudes, Orange County High School of the Arts, and Saint Joseph’s Ballet. Ms. Persch graduated with honors BA in Asian Studies and a Masters level in Counselling Psychology through Antioch-New England Graduate School and a Master of Arts in Dance at California State University Long Beach.  She is certified in the ABT National Training Curriculum and Feldenkrais based Self-Corrective Mechanisms. Ms. Persch is the creator of BRIAH Movement/Embodied Awareness – an anatomically based approach to movement and dance and the Artistic director of BRIAH Danse.  She is excited to be a member of the faculty, work and choreograph with the Colorado Ballet.

Dana Benton

Dana Benton was born in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, where she began her training with Lou and Pauline Zamprogna at The Dance Centre. At the age of 9, she was accepted to the National Ballet School in Toronto where she trained for eight years. Dana graduated from the National Ballet School with Honors in Academics and was awarded the Peter Dwyer Award for Excellence in Dance.  Upon graduating in 2000, Dana received a contract with the Alberta Ballet Company in Canada.  She spent one year with the company as an apprentice. In 2001, she joined Colorado Ballet as a Corps de Ballet member. In 2007, she was promoted to Soloist and in 2014, she was promoted to Principal. With Colorado Ballet, Dana has worked with many well-known choreographers and repetiteurs including Val Caniparoli, Bronwen Curry, Karina Elver, Judith Fugate, John Gardner, Thierry Michel, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Jessica Lang, Edwaard Liang, Donald Mahler, Amanda McKerrow, Luiz Ortiz, Janie Parker, Michael Pink, Brian Reeder, Domy Reiter-Soffer, Dwight Rhoden, Amy Seiwert, Ben Stevenson, Paul Sutherland, Lynn Taylor-Corbett, Doug Varone, Dominic Walsh, Shelly Washington, Septime Webre, Christopher Wheeldon and Lila York. Since joining Colorado Ballet, she has performed many Soloist and Principal roles.  Her notable roles include The Sylph in La Sylphide, Alice in ALICE (in Wonderland), Belle in Beauty and the Beast, Swanilda in Coppélia, Cow Girl in RodeoAve Maria Pas de Deux, Sugar Plum and Clara in The Nutcracker, Gulnara in Le Corsaire, Tinker Bell in Peter Pan, Pink and Aqua in Bruch Violin Concerto No. 1, Red Girl in Celts, Lucy in Dracula, Princess Florine and Diamond Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty, Pas de Trois in Swan Lake, Peasant Pas in Giselle, Flower Girl and Cupid in Don Quixote, Hermia and Peaseblossom in A Midsummer Night’s DreamFlames of Paris Pas de Deux, Bomb Squad in In The Upper Room, Lead Souvenir Lady in the Great Galloping Gottschalk, The Muse in Dominic Walsh’s Wolfgang (for Webb), The Angel in Lorita Travaglia’s The Angel of Buenos Aires and the featured role in Amy Seiwert’s Traveling Alone.  In 2015, Dana was one of Pointe Magazine’s top 12 “Standout Performances” of the year for her performance with Amy Seiwert’s Imagery in Traveling Alone. This is Dana’s 16th season with Colorado Ballet.


Ava Campbell

Ava Campbell is a Colorado native who attended Jefferson County Schools and graduated from Lakewood High School.  She graduated from Colorado State University with a degree in Music Education and a Minor in Music Performance with a violin concentration.

Ava has been a professional music teacher since 1984.  She has taught in Douglas County Public Schools, Littleton Public Schools and retired three years ago from Jefferson County Public Schools.  She has taught both general music and instrumental music: strings.  She has also spent many years teaching private and small group lessons.

Mrs. Campbell has played violin with the Metropolitan State University opera orchestra, Musical Moments Performing Ensemble and the Evergreen Chamber Orchestra.  She has been a member of the Jefferson Symphony Orchestra since 1985.


Hyun Kim

Pianist Dr. Hyun Kim is an active performer and educator both nationally and internationally.  She has performed throughout the United States at various concert halls and regularly appears on recital programs throughout Asia and South America.  She often collaborates for concerts with instrumentalists from numerous prominent orchestras throughout the United States, such as the Cincinnati Symphony, Colorado Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Dallas Symphony, and the New World Symphony Orchestras.  She has attended various music festivals as a fellow, including the Aspen Music Festival, Grandin Music Festival, the Festival de Musique de Sully et de Loiret in France, and the Lucca Opera Festival in Italy.

Dr. Kim’s passion for teaching has led her students to achieve regional and national competition awards as well as advanced university studies at major music programs.  She is regularly invited to give lectures and master classes at universities across the United States and abroad.  She received her primary musical education in piano performance in Korea and in France at the prestigious Paris Conservatory.  She earned a master’s degree from the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati and a doctorate from the University of Colorado Boulder.  She is currently the chair and director of Song of the New Generation in Asia, an association she founded to promote research and performance of contemporary music, and serves as a committee member in Brazil with the international music festival and institute Sintonize Produtora Cultural.  She also teaches and performs as a guest artist annually at the University of Santa Catalina in Florianópolis, Brazil.  Prior to her appointment as a faculty member of the music program at Metropolitan State University of Denver, she has worked at the University of Colorado Boulder and Miami University.

Tamara Goldstein

Pianist Tamara Goldstein enjoys a diverse career as a chamber musician, teacher and recitalist. From a musical family, she received her early training at the Pre­College Divisions of the Manhattan School of Music and The Juilliard School before earning performance degrees at Indiana University (BM), Juilliard (MM), and the University of Colorado (DMA). Since 1999, she has been on the collaborative piano staff of the Aspen Music Festival and School, assisting renowned string faculty and coaching and accompanying gifted students.

Tamara founded and served as Artistic Director of “Piano Celebration,” an annual interdisciplinary symposium in Denver that ran for the twelve years that she was Associate Professor and Chair of Keyboard Studies at MSU Denver. Tamara has traveled with recital partners for performance and teaching engagements on five continents and has served as a presenter and performer at numerous international conferences.

Closer to home, she has been a concerto soloist with many local orchestras over the years and served as pianist with Central City Opera, the Colorado Symphony & Chorus, the Colorado Chamber Players,  and on concert series throughout the region. Currently a guest teaching artist at Denver School of the Arts, Tamara is in high demand as an educator and competition adjudicator as well as a performer.

Paul Falk

Equally at home in Jazz, Music Theatre, Pop and Classical Music, Paul has been playing piano since the 1st Grade.  He completed his Bachelor’s Degree in Piano/Vocal and General Music at the University of Northern Colorado and Master’s Degree in Jazz Piano/Voice at Chicago College of the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.  As a pianist and accompanist, he has been active in Recital Performances, All State Choir/All State Jazz Choir Performances, Jazz Ensembles, Reading Sessions, Symphony Performances, Recording projects and Music theatre pits from Colorado to Illinois and New York.  Some Musical Theatre highlights include RENT, Motones vs. Jerseys, A Christmas Story & Next to Normal (CO Premier Casts), Making it on Broadway Workshops (NY/CO) and Broadway Intensive Workshops (CO).

Paul has served as Assistant Director of Purdue Musical Organizations, where he played for Glee Club, arranged and directed for Purduettes, Purdue Bell Choir and Specialty Vocal Groups.  Over the past 10 years Paul has been a vocal music director at Rocky Mountain High School (Grammy Signature School) and Windsor High School, along with serving as Tenor Section Leader in the Larimer Chorale, freelance accompanist/adjudicator and Music Director/Pianist at Midtown Arts Center.  Paul has had the opportunity to work with artists such as: Patricia Barber, Laurence Hobgood, Anton Armstrong, Judy Kaye, Game of Thrones Concert-Experience Choir, Terrence Mann, Stephanie J. Block, Kate McGarry, Judy Niemack, The New York Voices and Ben Folds.  He can be heard most recently on EP recordings by vocalist Mandy Harvey.

As a graduate of Northglenn High School in the Adams 5 Star School District, Paul is glad to be back home to serve as a judge for the TASHCO Young Artists’ Festival again this year.

Ryan Marvel

Ryan Marvel is a native of Colorado, growing up in Durango where he studied piano with the late Patricia Weaver at Fort Lewis College.  He attended NAU in Flagstaff, AZ for piano performance. With a classical background, Ryan began to explore composition and arranging at a young age.   In 2005, he released his first solo album, “Left Hand, Right Hand”, a collection of Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Gershwin, some original arrangements and two original works for piano, including the evocative “Rainfall”.  In June 2010 he followed with a record of all original material, “Possibilities”.  A “musical journey of personal reflection”, the album has been nominated twice for Album of the Year honors, by SoloPiano.com and Whisperings Piano Radio, respectively.  And in November 2013, his first seasonal album, “Winter” was released.   A collection of holiday music, the CD also features guest musicians on three tracks, adding flute, cello and didgeridoo.  The title track is a new original composition reflecting on the stillness and depth of the season.  The album was also nominated for Album of the Year honors by SoloPiano.com.

Ryan served as Director of Music and Choirs at Foothills Unitarian Church in Fort Collins, CO from 2006-2017.  Since moving to the area in 2005, he has performed around the Front Range as a pianist, including as a featured soloist with the Front Range Chamber Players.  Ryan performs house concerts frequently and is demand as a choral clinician. He maintains a full private piano studio, collaborating with students of all ages in areas of classical, jazz and original composition.  Ryan is an avid independent arranger and composer, and current projects include creations for SATB choir and collaborating with songwriters for studio sessions.  In his spare time, he loves to be outdoors biking, skiing and camping.  Passions include family, wolves, nature, red wine, really good coffee and sleeping until 11:00.  Ryan’s true love is daughter Elena Rose, affectionately called “Lanie”.