Meet the Faculty

Kristina Ancil Edwards, originally from Pittsburgh, PA, received her formal training with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, where she completed both the Schenley High School and Graduate Programs. She has danced with the Pittsburgh Opera, Louisville Ballet, American National Ballet, Chicago Ballet, Albany Berkshire Ballet, Peoria Ballet, Nomi Dance Company, Chicago Folks Operetta, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Winifred Haun & Dancers, and  ClancyWorks Dance Company. As a dance instructor, Kristina seeks to instill a love for movement, music, and coordination while developing a proper technical foundation and artistry. She has taught ballet, pointe, pre-dance, modern, and contemporary extensively throughout the Chicagoland area. Now, after relocating to the DC metro area, she has had the honor of teaching at BalletNova since 2015.

Dianne (Candy) Braden received a BFA degree in Dance from Texas Christian University, and has done graduate work in dance at American University. She has performed with the Fort Worth Civic Ballet, at Disney, and with the Jan Taylor Dance Company in Washington, D.C. Miss Braden brings her widely recognized strengths in tap and jazz to the faculty and is a founding member of BalletNova Center for Dance. Her choreography has been featured in several Center concerts.

Cindy Bragg grew up in Arlington, VA. Her dance training was grounded in Classical Ballet, but also included Jazz, Tap, Contemporary, Modern, Yoga, Stretch, and Pilates. She studied principally with Judith Rhodes Calgaro at Arlington Dance Theatre, but also at Maryland Youth Ballet and Joy of Motion. She continued dancing in college, performing at Radford University and then joining the Virginia Dance Company at UVA. Cindy has a Masters in Teaching from UVA, is certified to teach preK-6th grade, and has achieved National Board Certification. She has been teaching since 1992, when she began working as an apprentice dance instructor. She believes strongly that dance is for everyone and that Ballet can be a powerful tool both for self-expression and for learning how to be more mindful about our bodies.

Colleen Buck is a native of the Washington, DC area and enjoyed dancing in local musical theater productions as a teenager.  As a student at Boston University, she had the opportunity to begin formal dance training, studying tap, ballet, and jazz.   After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, Mrs. Buck worked as a technical writer for a northern Virginia engineering firm and continued her education at the University of Maryland, where she received a Master of Science degree in Civil Engineering.  After a successful career as an engineer and technical writer, Mrs. Buck returned to the dance studio and found her passion teaching dance to young children.  For the last 12 years, she has embraced the opportunity to pursue a true vocation, while still trying to grow as a dancer by taking classes weekly.

Silvia Burstein-Hendi was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she studied at the National School of Dance, obtaining her degree as National Teacher, and studied at the prestigious Teatro Colon where she obtained her Diploma as Professional Dancer. Ms. Burstein performed extensively in Canada with Le Ballet Classique de Montreal, Theatre Ballet of Canada, P.M. Ottawa Jazz and Le Groupe Lab (Le Groupe de la Place Royale). Ms. Burstein's teaching experience includes  Le Groupe de la Place Royale,  Elaine Hunter Dance School, Le Petit Ballet, Dance Educators, Atelier de Dance Carole Brouard, and Ottawa University. She choreographs and performs with Choreographers Collaboration Project.

Carole Ann Clark is co-founder and co-artistic director of The Ballet School in Salt Lake City, Utah. She received early training at the Briansky Saratoga Ballet Center in New York, from Oleg Briansky and Mireille Briane. From 1973 to 1980, she danced with Ballet West under the direction of William Christiensen, Bruce Marks and Toni Lander. For two years, Ms. Clark studied ballet instruction under Ballet West Ballet Mistress Denise Schultz, and from 1980 to 1987 served on the faculty of Ballet West Christensen Academy. In 1984, she completed the Teachers Seminar at the National Ballet School in Toronto, Canada. Ms. Clark has degrees in ballet and French from the University of Utah.

Sabrina Cohn, originally from North Carolina, moved to Washington DC for graduate school many moons ago and never left. Sabrina is a life-long devotee of music, movement, wellness, and bringing a playful sense of curiosity to most everything she does. She took dance classes from the age of three into her teens, and studied piano from the age of seven. After graduating high school from the the N.C. School of the Arts in piano performance, she went on to acquire advanced degrees in French Studies from American University, and Public Health from Johns Hopkins. She enjoyed a long and fulfilling career at The World Bank working in West Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe. Her passion for movement continued throughout adulthood, as she taught many styles of group exercise on the side while working at her corporate job — dance aerobics, step aerobics, cycling and more! — and then she discovered yoga. Since 2007 when she left the World Bank, Sabrina has been teaching yoga around the DC area to kids, adults, and special needs populations. Along the way, a friend who was on the Board at BalletNova convinced her it was time to reconnect to dance, and introduced her to the adult dance program at the studio. And it’s been a wonderful ride ever since! Outside the studio, Sabrina is a substitute teacher at Congressional School in Falls Church, and enjoys spending time in the kitchen cooking for family and friends, playing the piano, reading anything she can get her hands on, and dreaming away the afternoons on her screened porch.

Christiane Cristo-Ezewoko, originally from Brasilia, Brazil has extensively taught different age groups in Rio de Janeiro, Natal, and Brasilia, Brazil, and in the US, implementing interactive learning methods to increase student understanding of classical ballet techniques. Christiane's professional experience includes a soloist career at the Dance Theatre of Harlem, where she performed classical and neoclassical ballet, and received her early training not only in Brasilia, Brazil, but also at the Conservatoire de Danse de Paris, Alvin Ailey Dance School, and the School of American Ballet.

Shu-Chen Cuff was born and raised in Taiwan, where she studied with the Tsoying Dance Division in Kaoshiung, Taiwan's highly respected performing arts school. After relocating to the United States, she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Florida's New World School of the Arts (NWSA). Ms. Cuff performed at the International Dance Festival in Taiwan, Japan, and Malaysia. She performed professionally with the Miami Ballet (1996-1998), the Nevada Ballet Theater, (1998-2002), and Dana Tai Soon Burgess and Company (2003-2010).  Ms. Cuff taught at the Tsoying Dance School in Taiwan, and the Nevada Ballet Academy prior to joining the faculty at Arlington Center for Dance/BalletNova in the spring of 2002.  She is the Founder/Artistic Director of Gin Dance Company.

Alissa Dill trained at Metropolitan Ballet of Tacoma until she graduated high school. She then went to Grand Canyon University where she earned a BA in dance education and graduated with honors from the National Honors Society for Dance Arts. During her time in the dance department she was a member of the Ethington Dance Ensemble, student body vice president, and was named dance student of the year in 2012. Alissa has dance professionally with Terpsicore Ballet, Artifact Dance Project, Theater Northwest, and Convergence Ballet. Alissa has been teaching ballet, modern, and jazz for the last 6 years and is currently a performer with Gin Dance Company. 

Leslie Kidd Egge began her formal ballet training in South Florida with Magda Aunon, Victoria Leigh, and Lupe Serrano. She spent summers at the School of Pennsylvania Ballet. At the age of 15, she received a full scholarship to attend the National Academy of Arts in Illinois, studying under master teachers such as Petrus Bosman, Robert Dicello, David Keener and Francesca Corkle. At 17, she was offered a contract with Ballet West in Salt Lake City, Utah. She has performed in such works as La Bayadere, Swan Lake, Anna Karenina, Romeo and Juliet, Giselle, and William Christensen’s The Nutcracker. She also danced in contemporary ballets such as Balanchine’s Symphony in C and original works by Val Caniparoli and James Canfield. Following her career with Ballet West, Leslie earned degrees in English Literature and Political Science and is certified to teach Pilates and yoga.

Becky Epstein grew up in Westchester County, New York, where she began studying dance at a young age. She has always been interested in teaching.  She continued her dance training throughout college, and now has the pleasure of sharing her passion for dance with others. She graduated from James Madison University with a BA and a license to teach Dance.  Becky is trained in various styles of dance, but particularly enjoys teaching Creative Movement, Jazz and Hip-Hop.  She has extensive choreography and performance experience, and is a certified Pilates instructor. 

Pat Foreman - Instructor of Pilates, Stretch, and Nutrition for 10 years and Personal Trainer with American Council On Exercise and ACSM with specialty recognition in Nutrition for over 20 years.

Laura Franklin grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and began studying dance at the Chestnut Hill School of Ballet. She continued her dance training through high school and college. While in college, she expanded her knowledge through the fitness industry, getting certified as a personal trainer, yoga instructor, and in various other group fitness activities. She graduated from Montgomery County Community College with her A.A in dance in May 2015. She moved to the northern Virginia area in October of that year. She currently dances with fusiondance company and loves sharing the gift of dance with the next generation of dancers.

Fiona Green has been studying the performing arts for nearly 30 years. She has trained in a variety of disciplines of dance including ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop, contemporary dance, musical theatre and ethnic dance. Fiona grew up studying at studios throughout New Jersey and New York City with choreographers such as Ann Reinking, Wade Robson, David Howard and Ray Leeper. Fiona’s performance credits include dancing for the Neil Young/Crazy Horse Tour, the Jazz Dance America Invitational at Pace University in New York City, Madison Square Garden for the New York City Knicks and for the movie "Step Up 2." Most recently, she was on faculty at The Washington Ballet, Joy of Motion Dance Center, and Ballet NOVA where she teaches jazz dance. In 2013, Fiona graduated with her Masters in Integrated Marketing Communications from West Virginia University. Fiona is currently the Director of Content Marketing for realtor.com and continues to teach dance in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

Christina Huertas started dancing at age 15 in Tampa Bay, Florida. Huertas was in the contemporary company Collective Soul Urban Dance Project and assisted founder Eric Thomas. At age 16, Huertas began back up dancing for local artist Velez and Radio Disney’s Alexia Colon. Huertas started teaching hip hop and jazz in 2008 at Dance Evolutions dance studio in clearwater, Florida. Since Huertas has moved to Maryland, she has been a part of DC companies such as DCypher Dance, GWU’s Capital Funk (1st place 2010 Main Event Competition winners), Culture Shock DC Season 9, . Huertas has been blessed to dance with local DMV artist Kedasings, Mike Love for BET’s Blaze the Stage and also to choreograph for local artist Jono Musik and local hip hop company Kaution Dance Kru. Huertas’ passion is hip hop, jazz, and contemporary but she is also trained in ballet, lyrical, latin funk, dance basics and creative movement. Huertas currently teaches for Joy of Motion, Danz N Motion of Germantown, MD and Capitol Movement Inc. Currently Huertas has joined Capitol Movement Inc as a member and also is Director of Operations for Fierce Collabo Dance Company. As Huertas continues to grow, she shares her knowledge and passion with her students. 

Abby Leithart is originally from Gahanna, Ohio. She graduated with a BFA in dance from Wright State University in 2014, and was a member of the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company II (DCDCII) from 2010-2013. She joined DCDC, first company, from 2013-2015. In August of 2015, she moved to Washington D.C., and joined Company e. She has toured with "Speak Easy" by Robert J. Priore with Company e to Yekaterinburg, Russia, Havana, Matanzas, and Holguin, Cuba, and Baku, Azerbaijan. While in Baku, she was a part of Company e's Broadway Bound program. She has also toured to Sunderland, England to perform and set work at the Washington Old Hall for a site specific performance with Company e. She has had the pleasure of attending the Cedar Lake 180 summer intensive in 2014, the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago summer intensive in 2016, and the NW Dance Project's Launch Program summer 2017. She has worked with choreographers such as Donald Byrd, Ronen Koresh, Rachel Erdos, Keisha Lalama, Adam Hougland, Jon Lehrer, and more.  She has choreographed on DCDC, DCDCII, South Dayton Dance Theatre, Judy Dollenmayer Studio of Dance, and Dayton Dance Conservatory. Her piece "When Trust is Without Borders", performed by South Dayton Dance Theatre, won the Regional Dance America's Northeast Josephine Shwartz award for best emerging choreographer. Her submission of a solo she created, "Hidden Hope", was accepted into VelocityDC Dance Festival. She has continued sharing her love for dance by teaching at Metropolitan Dance Center in Arlington, VA, City Dance Conservatory in Rockville, MD, and Ballet Nova in Arlington, VA. 

Jeremy A. McShan has over 10 years of teaching and dancing experience at Dance Studios, Amusement Parks, Cruise Ships, Musical Theatres and Dance Teams including a vast range of dance from Jazz, Musical Theatre, and Hip Hop to Modern, Ballet, Tap, and Ballroom. He has been an instructor and choreographer with Imagination Stage, Contradiction Dance/Culture Shock DC, Joy of Motion, Atlanta Ballet, Metropolitan Fine Arts Center, and Fitness Centers around the area.  Currently, he is the producer/choreographer of popular DC Musical Revue Show J.A.M. the Revue.

Alexa Mengenhauser is originally from Reston, Virginia, where she began her dance training at Ravel Dance at the age of nine. During high school, she focused her studies on classical ballet as well as jazz while training under Nancie Woods at BalletNova. She had the opportunity to perform many of Woods’ ballets, as well as, compete in the regional competition of YAGP where she placed second in contemporary. Alexa continued her training at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet where she had the opportunity to perform many works, most notably Western Symphony and The Nutcracker, both by George Balanchine. She has spent many summers at CPYB as well as Ballet Austin and Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet. 

Harriet Moncure Fellows is a graduate of the University of Richmond.  She trained at the Richmond Academy of Ballet and was a leading dancer with the Virginia Ballet Theatre. Ms. Williams is a faculty member at The Academy of the Maryland Youth Ballet and has taught at Randolph-Macon College, George Washington University, Dance Place, and Dance Downtown.  She has choreographed for a number of regional companies and performed for many seasons with Perlo/Bloom and Company. Ms. Fellows is the Conservator of the work of the late Eric Hampton.  She also serves on the Board of Directors of Dance Metro DC.

Matteo Mangialetti (Music Associate & Pianist) is from Richmond, Virginia where he studied piano with Sonia Vlahcevic. Mr. Mangialetti began his career in dance collaboration at the Dance Department of Virginia Commonwealth University in 2006 and subsequently The Richmond Ballet, where he remained for 6 years. He also served as an Assistant Director/Pianist at The Greater Richmond Children's Choir and on the faculty of The Academy of The Metropolitan School School of the Arts in Alexandria, VA. Joining BalletNova Center for Dance as a pianist in 2012, he has also worked in the Dance Department of George Mason University, and as a company pianist for Chamber Dance Project. He has worked with dancers and teaching artists from BalletNova to Richmond Ballet to Houston Ballet to The Royal Ballet.

Lynne Mulligan studied dance, drama and voice at Laine Theatre Arts, Epsom, Surrey, England, a professional theatrical school. She received a teaching diploma from the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD) upon graduating from Laine.  Ms. Mulligan has extensive professional experience in the U.S. and England as a dancer, choreographer and teacher of ballet, modern and jazz. 

Carmen Perez began her training with the Ballet of Santiago, Chile.  She continued her studies with Ivan Nagy, Julia Prokofieva, and Alicia Targarona. As a soloist of the Ballet of Santiago, she was awarded the Medal of Outstanding National Talent.  Ms. Perez was the Silver Medalist of the Latino- American Ballet Competition and was a Semi-Finalist at the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi.  She has danced with the Tulsa Ballet Theatre, Dallas Ballet and with Ballet Dallas. 

Mark P. Rubin began his training with David Howard, Dolores Brown, Robert Christopher, and George Chafee for Ballet; Luigi, Fred Benjamin, Nat Horne and Ron Forella for Jazz; Joyce Tristler, Bertram Ross, and Milton Myers for Modern. Mr. Rubin is Lifetime Certified in the Floor-Barre® Technique, and studied with Zena Rommett, the Originator of the Floor-Barre®. He performed with Ailey II, the Joffrey Ballet, Bertram Ross Dance Co., the Batsheva Dance Co., Nat Horne Musical Theater,Yiddish Theater on Broadway,  and the Fred Benjamin Dance Co. He has taught in New York at Steps, the Zena Rommett Ballet School, and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, Ballet Academy East. Mr. Rubin is a certified Tai Chi, Qi Gong and Yoga teacher.

Elizabeth Spatz was born and raised in the Chicago area and began her study of dance at the Ruth Page Foundation with Larry Long and the Chicago City Ballet with Maria Tallchief. Upon graduating from Columbia College Chicago where she studied both arts management and dance, she relocated to New York City where she danced with Dura Mater, Joanna Mendl Shaw and Randy James Dance Works (RJDW). As a founding member of RJDW, Ms. Spatz performed with the company for nine years, eventually assuming the administrative roles of development assistant, rehearsal director and associate director.  As an educator, she has taught nationally and internationally at festivals, colleges and universities including George Mason University, Roger Williams University, and Northern Virginia Community College. Elizabeth completed her M.F.A. at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Michael Stokes has experience performing with National Ballet Company, Rhythm Nation Performing Arts of Texas, Conservatory of Classical Ballet and the Ballet Academy of Texas. He's auditioned and recieved scholarships from the School of American Ballet, The San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Cecchetti Council of America, the Juliana Schools, Gus Giordano Dance Center, Debbie Allen Dance Academy and The University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Maggie Sullivan is a native of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and began her ballet training with Kristin and Peter Degnan at the Degnan Ballet Center. She studied jazz, contemporary, lyrical, and modern dance under Tim Early, Carrie Ellmore-Tallitsch, and Lynne Mariani, and founded the Holy Redeemer High School Dance Team. She continued her studies at Mercyhurst University, under the direction of Tauna Hunter, where she received a B.A. in Dance Pedagogy, choreographed a number of works presented at the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center, acted as coordinator of the Liturgical Dance Ensemble, served on the Leadership Team and as an Ambassador for the university. She studied under ballet instructors Melissa Bobick, Michael Gleason, C. Noelle Partusch, and Lesley Scalise. In her career, she has performed roles in The Nutcracker, Coppelia, Etudes, The Firebird, Giselle, Cinderella, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Little Match Girl, as well as various contemporary works. She has taught a wide variety of dance classes in varying age and technique levels at the Degnan Ballet Center, Wilkes Conservatory, Encore School of Dance, Stage Directions Performing Arts Academy, David Blight School of Dance, The Pennsylvania Performing Arts Academy, The Dance Center at Brandywine Ballet, and Mercyhurst University, as well as master classes and community outreach demonstrations. She has performed with SOMAR Dance Works in Erie, PA and Connect The Dots Dance Company in Washington DC. She has most recently been the regional director of the Northern Virginia branch of Little People’s Creative Workshop, a theater arts program for preschool-aged children. When she’s not in the dance studio, she is photographing dancers for her website En Pointe Photography. She is thrilled to be joining the BalletNova dance faculty!

Meredith Swift began her training with the Washington School of Ballet. She trained with Victoria Lee, Lupe Serrano, Patricia Berrend, and Rudolf Kharatian. She spent her summers at the Ballet West Conservatory in Salt Lake City, Utah. Meredith continued dancing as she attended Brigham Young University expanding her abilities to ballroom dance. She received a BS in Human Development, and minors in Dance, English, and Portuguese. She went on to receive a Master's in Education and taught elementary school for several years in the Northern Virginia area. Meredith danced with the Gin Dance Company under the direction of Shu-Chen Cuff. Meredith has a 200-Hour Registered Yoga Teacher certification and teaches vinyasa yoga..

Veronique Kim Tran – From a very young age, Veronique has always been enamored with dance and movement. She began ballet training with The National Ballet of Canada and then studied Asian traditional dances with The Beijing Song and Dance Company in Beijing, China and at STSI Indonesian Dance Academy in Bali. She perused her passion and received her B.A. degree in Dance from The American University in Washington D.C. and is honoured to have studied with prominent dancers including Mark Morris, Mel Wong, Milton Myers of Alvin Ailey, Anne Parsons of Joffrey Ballet, Mimi Legat, and members of the Bolshoi Ballet in then Yugoslavia. She has danced professionally in numerous companies throughout the world including with Dana Tai Soon Burgess, Jan Taylor, Alexandria Ballet, Grant McDaniel in Italy David Rousseve/Reality in NYC, and Placido Domingo at The Washington Opera. Veronique is currently the Director and Founder of the non-profit, Circle of World Arts in which she also choreographs and performs for its resident dance company, Arabesque Dance Theatre, and teaches at its resident dance school, the Oriental Dance Academy.  She is also president of UNESCO’s International Council of Dance, Washington DC Section. She currently teaches, and choreographs at the Mosaique Center for Cultural Arts, The Yellow House, an arts initiative, hOMe Studios, and BalletNova.

Ann-Marie Turnage is a native Washingtonian where she received early dance training under Patti Hands of Patti's School of Dance in Arlington, Virginia.  As a teen and young adult her performances took her to stages from Minnesota, to Maryland, Virginia including Wolf Trap and Miami.  Her tap dancing is heavily influenced by the Gene Kelly style of tap.  

Constance Walsh (Associate Artistic Director) began her training in New Jersey with Michael Fokine Jr. The French School of Ballet and with William Inglis at the New Jersey School of Performing Arts. After working with Daniel Nagrin, Ms. Walsh moved to New York City to attend the Martha Graham School on full scholarship. Ms. Walsh danced with Martha Graham, Pearl Lang, Sara Rudner and John Goodwin. In NY she started her own company Lacey/Strom. Her work was chosen by Martha Graham to be in The Young Choreographers Series in 1975. She began her teaching career in the 1980s and in 1991 she started her own studio, Classworks, in Easton Maryland. Designing a four studio/theater space, she created a new company, Dance Harrison Street. Her work was honored by Gov. and Mrs. Glendening at the Governors mansion in 1998, and she served on the Maryland State Arts Council. 

Elizabeth Watson holds an MFA in Dance from the University of Arizona and has performed professionally with both ballet and contemporary dance companies. Watson has taught beginning through advanced ballet and modern dance classes as well as an intermediate contemporary ballet class at multiple studios.

Maria Watson is a professional theatre-director, choreographer and dancer. A New York City-based dancer and actor for 15 years, Ms. Watson studied with Ann Reinking, Chet Walker, Tony Stevens, and Chris Chadman. Ms. Watson was classically trained at the Washington School of Ballet and the North Carolina School of the Arts. In New York, she studied directing with Tony Award-wining director Vivian Matalon and at the Acting Studio with James Price. She served as Artistic Director of the Mohawk Theatre Guild in Massachusetts, Millbrook Playhouse in Pennsylvania,and as Director/Choreographer at the Forestburgh Playhouse in New York. Ms. Watson's professional jazz-dance company will debut this November at Joy of Motion in Washington DC.

Irina Wunder was born in Turkmenistan where she graduated from the State School of Dance. She holds a Masters degree in Dance Science from the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London where she also taught the conservatoire's community outreach creative dance program for young children. An accomplished dance scientist, Ms. Wunder brings a thorough knowledge of physiology, psychology, biomechanics and somatic disciplines relating to safe and injury free dance training.

Hilary Zeiss is a full-time barre, pilates and yoga teacher within the DC area. She pulls from other conditioning systems such as Alexander Technique, Franklin Method, and Feldenkrais. To her, mind-body conditioning is not just a workout, it is an insurance policy to keep the body whole and safe, a way to make all movement efficient and meaningful.