Rafaela Risco, Academy Director 

KBT headshot 2021 Rafaela full body .jpg

Rafaela Risco, a native of Cuba and now an American citizen, retired as a dancer after the 2009–10 season, and was the principal female dancer of the Kentucky Ballet Theatre since its founding in 1998. She was trained at the Vocational School of the Arts in Camaguey, Cuba. From 1989 to 1994 she danced under the direction of Fernando

Alonso in Ballet de Camaguey. From 1994-1996, Mrs. Risco worked with Ballet de Monterrey under the direction of Fernando Bujones. In 1989, Mrs. Risco received both the Gold Medal and the Grand Prix for best female performance in the UNEAC Competition. She has toured with Ballet de Camaguey to Brazil, Uruguay, Jamaica, Venezuela, Mexico, Martinique, and Guadaloupe Islands. Her classical repertoire includes Principal roles in Giselle, Cinderella, Wizard of Oz (Dorothy), Paquita, Coppélia, Don Quixote, Les Sylphides, Romeo and Juliet, Le Corsaire, Swan Lake, La Vivandiere, La Fille Mal Gardée, Dracula, Phantom of the Opera, Carmen, The Nutcracker, and many others. With her husband, Norbe, they have choreographed The Nutcracker based on the original version, Dracula, The Wizard of Oz, The Witches of Doon, Carmen, Phantom of the Opera, Peter Pan, Beauty & The Beast, The Night Before Christmas and The Little Mermaid. In 2017, Rafaela received the Distinguished Arts Educator of the Year Award from the National Society of Arts & Letters, Kentucky chapter. She is the Costume Designer for KBT as well as most of the staging for KBT’s productions. Mrs. Risco has been part of “Ballet Under the Stars” for 22 years. Since 2003 Rafaela has directed the KBT’s Academy.