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Matthew Powell (Artistic Director)

Mr. Powell 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.

Constance Walsh (Associate Artistic Director)

Ms. Walsh 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.

David Arce

Mr. Arce received his early training from Ballet Yuma and attended Marin Ballet, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, RDA Craft of Choreography Conference, and San Francisco Ballet (SFB) School summer intensives on full scholarship. Upon completion of the SFB summer intensive, he received a full scholarship and stipend for the full year program. After becoming an apprentice with SFB, he was promoted to Corps and performed with the company for 12 seasons, touring domestically and internationally. After retiring from SFB, he was the artistic director of Juline Regional Youth Ballet for 10 seasons, and the Assistant Artistic Director of Mid-Columbia Ballet for two seasons, as well as being a staff writer for Dance Studio Life magazine for 5 years.

Dianne (Candy) Braden

Ms. 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

Ms. 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

Ms. 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

Ms. 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.

Gab Calderon

Ms. Calderon was born and raised in Queens, NY, but currently resides in the DMV area. She has almost a decade of performance, choreographic and teaching experience. She is trained in modern, contemporary, various hip hop styles, jazz, ballet, improvisation, musical theater, dance composition and methods of production. Ms. Calderon continued her training at renowned studios such as Broadway Dance Center, Peri Capezio Center and Stanford Dance Studio. She performed in Gina Zo’s Pouring Water music video and studied under Shane O’Hara, Rubén Graciani, Ryan Corriston and Broadway performer, Nancy Anderson. After completing her Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance from James Madison University, Ms. Calderon continues to improve her skills as she works in the dance field. Her mission is to engage students with rewarding dance experiences that expand their understanding of emotion and self-exploration, highlighting the importance of developing their own identity through movement.

Sabrina Cohn

Ms. 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

Ms. 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

Ms. 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 School in Japan. From 2016-2019 she founded and directed Western Wake Dance & Tumbling in Holly Springs, North Carolina, before relocating to Northern Virginia.

Courtney Lapenta

Courtney is an interdisciplinary artist and professionally trained contemporary dancer who was once a student of BalletNova when she was 8 and 13 years old. Born in Huntsville, Alabama, Courtney began dancing at the age of three and pursued the art professionally at Chapman University where she received a BFA degree in Dance Performance in 2018. Throughout her professional training, Courtney studied the techniques of Horton, Forsythe, and general improvisation under the mastery of Sean Greene, Holly Johnston, Alessio Silvestrin, Ilya Nikurov, and Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui. In 2019, Courtney relocated to Arlington, Virginia where she performed as a guest artist with Gin Dance Company, Motion X Dance, and Therese Gahl and taught young students dance in private studio settings and after-school programs. Shortly after the start of the pandemic, Courtney shifted her attention to visual art where she now is working independently as a commissioned artist, muralist, and performer who incorporates movement and dance expression into her work. It is her view the artistry is less about the medium but the purity of expression and experimentation. You will find this attitude interweaved in her class where music, bodies, and artistry are celebrated and curated.

Jeremy A. McShan

Mr. 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)

Mr. Mangialetti 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 spent six years at The Richmond Ballet. He served as an Assistant Director/Pianist at The Greater Richmond Children's Choir and on the faculty of The Academy at the Metropolitan School of the Arts in Alexandria, VA. 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

Ms. 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

Ms. 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.

Melanie Riffee

Ms. 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.

Becky Sorto (Epstein)

Mrs. Sorto 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.

Elizabeth Spatz

Ms. 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.

Veronique Kim Tran

From a very young age, Ms. Tran 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 honored 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.

Maria Watson

Ms. 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

Ms. 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.