UCLA: Bachelor of Arts, Dance Choregraphy and Performance

USIU: Master of Fine Arts, Musical Theater

As a performer she has appeared in musicals such as “Hello Dolly”, “Chorus Line”, “The Apple Tree”, “Matador” as well as straight plays such as “in the Boom Boom Room” and “Molly’s Dream”. As a dancer she has danced for Pointer Sisters, Salt and Pepa, En Vogue, Debbie Reynolds, ATC, Mariah Carey and other European and American artists. She has toured Europe with a Belgian group (Magic Force) with a project called “Body and Soul”. The project’s goal has been to reach young people by giving them a choice of a healthier lifestyle without drugs and alcohol. The project received the backing of a major European record company, BMG Ariola, who released three singles of the group.

She started her choreographic work as a student, when she wrote, directed/choreographed and cast six of her own shows. After her studies she started choreographing for musicals as well as for ballet and modern companies. She was a dancer in Tokyo, Japan with the Gordon Bleu show when she got an offer to tour southern Europe in another show. She ended up in Germany in 1995 to choreograph the “Inside Out” world tour of Culture Beat.

Having made Stuttgart, Germany her permanent base she started choreographing for music groups, conventions, fashion shows, TV shows and beauty pageants. From 1996-2008 she also served as the Artistic Director/Resident Choreographer of Manhattan Dance Company at the New York City Dance School, Stuttgart. The Company consisted of 10-12 dancers plus guests and performed around Germany with artistic and commercial repertory.Marilena’s choreographic work for this Company has been awarded three times on an international level in 1997 in Freiburg, Germany and in 2003 in Glanz, Switzerland with “Firestarter” and in 2000 in Ettlingen with “Shimmering Light”.

Marilena is also a skilled event organizer, coordinating the “Hip Hop Summer Dance Festival” in which renowned american choreographer Marty Kudelka participated as a presenter. The event was successfully repeated in 2005, at the Holodeck Dance Center in Fulda.

2005 was also the year when she was contracted to choreograph two new Musicals (Hercules and Kafenion) to be performed at a chain of hotels in Crete, Greece.

In 2006 Marilena developed, choreographed and directed her first original musical, titled “A Day To Remember” presented at the Forum 3 Theater in Stuttgart to critical acclaim.

In October 2006 she was contracted as coach for musical theater and swing on the hit casting show POPSTARS on Germany’s Pro Sieben television network, which produced the Top-Ten pop group Monrose.

2007 was the year in which Marilena began focussing more of her creative and organizational energy on working in her native country of Greece with the project “Dance Art Festival”, coordinating a variety of workshops and performances.

Her independent company ART IN MOTION was created as a vehicle for organizing dance – related events, workshops, and performances in commercial and artistic settings. “Art in Motion” has seen rapid growth since it’s inception. In 2010 she choreographed the Thomas Gottschalk-hosted television show “Swinging Sixties”.In 2013 Marilena Grafakos and her ensemble ART IN MOTION premiered the modern ballet “Saga” in Forum, Ludwigsburg with the City Orchestra.
Marilena’s vast international teaching and choreography experience spans across many different dance styles, showing her versatility in the fields of jazz, modern, musical, dance theatre, hip-hop and partnering. She continues to teach workshops and seminars all over Europe and her work has been presented in dance companies (2012 and 2013  State Opera Ballet in Russe, Bulgaria), dance academies (Minkov Dance Academy, Winnenden, Germany) and universities (Stephens College Co, Missouri) around the world.