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Meet the Faculty

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.

Lisa Clarkson has been involved in dance since she was a young child. She had a 10-year career as a full time professional ballet dancer, with Louisville Ballet, Lexington Ballet and Ballet Memphis, after completing her B.S. in Ballet at Indiana University. Lisa continued to perform in a community-based modern group in Memphis and as guest performer in smaller regional companies while preparing for physical therapy school.  Lisa began teaching dance while at Indiana University and has taught all levels, from creative movement, to conservatory, to adult dancers. Lisa also began teaching Pilates in 1998, and is a STOTT Pilates Instructor and Instructor trainer. Lisa graduated with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from University of Tennessee Health Science Center in 2014. She currently works as a Physical Therapist and Pilates instructor at Body Dynamics, Inc and teaches adjunct at American University in their dance department.  Lisa takes ballet class regularly at BalletNova, is an avid tango dancer and loves to travel. She is excited to join the BalletNova team.

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.

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.

 Leslie Durand received her early dance training in her mother's school of dance in Washington, Iowa.  In middle and high school, she studied classical ballet at the University of Iowa, where her most influential teacher was  Francois Martinet, a founding member of the Robert Joffrey Ballet.  She attended Northwestern University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism.  At Northwestern she was a four-year Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps scholarship student, and a member of the student dance company Graffiti Dancers.  During college she also studied ballet and jazz at Gus Giordano Dance Center in Evanston, Illinois. After five years' active-duty as a Naval officer, she returned to her beloved first profession, dance instruction.  Leslie has directed dance programs at the US Army Youth Services Center in Seoul, Republic of Korea; The San Marcos Civic Center in San Marcos, California, and at The American Shool in Japan.  From 2016-2019 she founded and directed Western Wake Dance & Tumblingin Holly Springs, North Carolina, before relocating to Northern Virginia.

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.

Sarah Ginnetti was born and raised in Tarpon Springs, FL where she began training early on in life at Patricia Ann Dance Studio in the styles of ballet, jazz, musical theater, tap, hip hop & lyrical.  Sarah continued her training in New York City while attending Marymount Manhattan College, where she received a B.A. in Dance Studies and Minors in Business Administration and Accounting.  Shortly after graduation, she performed and toured with Sesame Street Live! throughout the United States and Europe with the USO as a part of their Experience for Military Families.  Sarah’s teaching experience ranges from her time teaching at studios in New Jersey and her work as an assistant at Steps on Broadway in NYC.  Sarah is thrilled to be joining the Ballet Nova community!

Ana King trained with the Washington Ballet, and spent 15 years with competitive dance companies. She has more than 7 years teaching experience , as well as "a few tours under my belt." We are pleased to welcome Ana, who says "It is an honor to be part of such a talented, experienced, and prestigious team and I look forward to each and every experience with both the students and staff. " 

Danielle Moretti King was trained at The School of American Ballet (SAB) under the tutelage of Antonina Tumkovsky, Helene Dudin and Elise Reiman. Her other teachers includeSuki Schorer, Carol Sumner and Merrill Ashley. She received additional training at the Briansky Saratoga Ballet Center from Oleg Briansky, Mireille Briane and Michel Renault. Ms. King danced various children’s roles over several seasons with the New York City Ballet under the direction of George Balanchine. She has a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University and a Master of Arts from George Mason University. Ms. King is an American Ballet Theatre (ABT) certified teacher in PrePrimary through Level 5 of the ABTNational Training Curriculum. 

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.

Matteo Mangialetti (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.

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.

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 was born in Santiago, Chile and began her training with the Ballet de Santiago in the Teatro Municipal at the age of 11. After seven years of Russian training under Julia Prokofieva and Alicia Targarona, she joined the Ballet de Santiago Dance Company as a Corps de Ballet and danced in many of the classical ballets like Swan Lake, Coppelia, Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker, La Sylphide, Les Sylphides, Giselle (her favorite), and many others. After two years, Miss Perez was promoted to a soloist and continued dancing in the classical and contemporary repertoire under the direction of Ivan Nagy. As a soloist of the Ballet de Santiago, she was awarded the Chilean Medal of Outstanding National Talent, that is only given to a select few young rising stars. The award was given after Miss Perez received the Silver Medal at the Latino-American Ballet Competition in Trujillo, Peru and was a Semi-Finalist at the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi. After moving to the United States at the age of 22, she danced with the Tulsa Ballet Theatre. She then joined the Dallas Ballet and then with Ballet Dallas as a corps and soloist dancer. In 1991, Carmen Perez moved to the Washington, DC area, joined the Arlington Center for Dance (now renamed as Ballet Nova) and began her distinguished career as a ballet teacher. Since that time she has shared her knowledge of classical training to thousands of students, who refer to her as “Miss P”. During that same time, she has taught numerous seminars in places such as Dallas, San Antonio, Chicago, Virginia, and as far away as Santiago, Chile and La Coruña, Spain. Currently, Miss Perez teaches the pre-professional and adult programs at Ballet Nova Center for Dance in Falls Church, Virginia, as well as the ballet program at the Buffa Dance Studio in Burke, Virginia.

Matthew Powell (Artistic Director) received his training at the School of American Ballet, and danced professionally with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, San Francisco Opera, the international tour of West Side Story and more. As a choreographer, Powell was awarded a fellowship from the New York Choreographic Institute, an affiliate of New York City Ballet, and received a choreographic award at Regional Dance America. He has created works for Kansas City Ballet, Joffrey Ballet School, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Point Park University, Broadway Dance Center, the art exhibit 'Capturing Nureyev,' and worked as an on-set choreographer for BLOCH dancewear. Powell's ballet master credits include Royal New Zealand Ballet, Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, Slovak National Ballet, Oklahoma City Ballet and the television show Flesh and Bone, which aired on STARZ. His teaching credits include The Juilliard School, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Rock School for Dance Education, Ballet Hispanico, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, Broadway Dance Center, Peridance, Ballet Tech, Kansas City Ballet School, Trey McIntyre Project, Matthew Bourne, Karole Armitage, Billy Elliot on Broadway, Universities of Iowa and Alabama, and more. Additionally, Powell has worked extensively as an assistant director for opera productions across the country.

Melanie Riffee began her training under the direction of Oleg Tupine and Tania Rousseau in Springfield, Virginia, and went on to train at The Washington School of Ballet, Maryland Youth Ballet, and Boston Ballet School. Melanie also spent summers studying with Suzanne Farrell, Boston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and Canada's National Ballet School. Melanie performed professionally with Boston Ballet (2008-2012), with The Washington Ballet in Kirk Peterson’s Swan Lake (2015), and with The Suzanne Farrell Ballet (2012-2017). Melanie’s repertoire includes over 25 ballets choreographed by George Balanchine, in addition to ballets by August Bournonville, Harold Lander, Rudolf Nureyev, Mikko Nissinen, and more. She originated roles in works by Jorma Elo and Yury Yanowsky, and has also performed internationally with Boston Ballet in Spain, and with The Suzanne Farrell Ballet in Oman and Russia. Melanie received a Bachelor of Science from Northeastern University and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Psychology. She joined the faculty of BalletNova in 2018.

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.

Kyoko Ruch was raised in Vienna, Virginia. She attended summer dance programs at the School of American Ballet with an honorary scholarship, Miami City Ballet, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and The Rock School.  She pioneered in the Virginia Commonwealth University/Richmond Ballet trainee joint program and graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance and Choreography with a concentration in performance. She has performed professionally with Richmond Ballet, Von Howard Project, Helen Simoneau Danse, Company Danzante, Priore Dance, Gin Dance, Company E and I.C. Movement Project. She has worked with many renowned choreographers such as Lidia Wos, Joshua L. Peugh, Helen Simoneau, Stefanie Batten Bland, Malcolm Burn, Christian Von Howard and William Soleau. She has performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York, and has toured overseas to China, Russia, Cuba, Israel and Azerbaijan. Kyoko began her choreographic endeavors upon graduation from VCU while still pursuing her performing career. Her work has been performed in choreographic showcases and festivals in the DC/Virginia region. In her first international tour with her company, Kyoko Dansu she performed in the Dance Stages Shanghai Contemporary Dance Festival 2016. In March 2017, Kyoko Dansu performed in the Ciudad en Movimiento Festival in Havana, Cuba.  She was a recipient of the 2016-2017 Dance Metro DC Choreographers' Commission as well as a Kennedy Center Local Dance Commissioning Project recipient in 2017.

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.

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.

Amy Tsui began dancing when she took a ballet class as a physical education requirement while attending Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.  She loves all kinds of dance from ballet to ballroom and has learned from wonderful teachers in classes throughout the Washington D.C. region--at BalletNova and many other dance studios in the area. Catching the dance bug late in life, she has been working on her balance in ballet, jazz, and modern classes since that first ballet class and took dance classes even while getting her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. Amy took skiing as her other physical education requirement while at Cornell and is teaching skiing at Ski Liberty when she is not dancing and taking care of her 6- year old daughter.  She enjoys connecting to and teaching the youngest of dancers the joy and structure of effort in movement.  Prior to teaching dance to little ones, Amy was a reporter covering trade for the Bureau of National Affairs.

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 (Director of Enrichment & Adult Programs, Principal of the Pre-Professional Division) 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. 

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.