Winter Park, FL 32792
Dario co-founded The Center for Contemporary Dance and has served as its Artistic Director since 2001. He is an educator, humanitarian, and award-winning artist. A former dancer with Ballethnic Dance Company in Atlanta, Mr. Moore holds an M.A. degree in Dance Education from American University and has taught dance of all disciplines at various colleges throughout Central Florida. Named Seminole County’s Artist of the Year in 2006, Mr. Moore also leads teacher workshops for the Florida Dance Educator Organization. He has been featured locally on PBS Television, FOX News and the Daily Buzz Morning Talk Show; feature articles about Moore have appeared in the Orlando Sentinel, Orlando Arts Magazine and Orlando Home & Leisure Magazine. In addition to overseeing CCD’s dance programs and performance companies, he directs U-Turn Dance Company and Moore Dance Project.
Craig W. Johnson has more than 15 years of experience in arts management, arts marketing, fundraising and event production. A graduate of Rollins College, his philosophies in arts administration have been featured in university textbooks, international magazines, and local newspapers. Johnson co-founded The Center for Contemporary Dance and has served as its Executive Director since 2001; Creative Director for U-Turn Dance Company in Washington, DC (1994-2001); Development Director for the Little Red Theatre in New Jersey (1990-1994). He has served as a consultant for several Florida arts organizations, including Nao Dance, Emotions Dance Company, the Asian Cultural Association, Yow Dance, DRIP and Patelworks Dance Theater. He is the co-founder of the Florida Dance Education Forum, which ensures quality dance programming at the public school level. As Executive Director, Johnson has successfully launched partnerships and produced major projects with more than 50 Florida organizations, including the Orange County Arts Education Center, United Arts of Central Florida, the Orlando Public Library System, the Osceola Center for the Arts, Rollins College, Bethune-Cookman University and dozens of local public schools.
Douglas Horne danced professionally after studying on full scholarship with American Ballet Theatre (New York), Miami City Ballet (Miami, Florida) and Studio Maestro (New York). In June 2010 he was Bronze medal winner in the World Ballet Competition; and in June 2009 he was a finalist in The New York International Ballet competition. Additionally, he was semi-finalist in the renowned International Ballet Competition in Varna (Bulgaria) and won Gold in the senior classical division of the Youth America Grand Prix semifinals in Torrington, Connecticut where he was among the top twelve dancers in the senior contemporary division. In 2007 he won the Gold medal in the senior division of the Youth Dance Festival of New Jersey. Locally, Mr. Horne danced leading roles from 2009 to 2013 with Orlando Ballet in *Cinderella,* *Le Corsaire* and *Esmerelda* (pas de deux), *Don Quixote*, *A Midsummer Night’s Dream* and *The Nutcracker*. He also originated several soloist and principal roles in contemporary works. He appeared in a featured role in the Orlando Philharmonic’s 2012 production of *Carousel*. Mr. Horne teaches ballet technique, men’s classes, and partnering, and serves as director and contributing choreographer for the ballet performing ensembles at The Center for Contemporary Dance.
Dawn Branch is a native New Yorker and a graduate of the world-renowned LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts. She holds a BA in Media & Communications from State University at Old Westbury and is DEA Certified Level II. Ms. Branch was a soloist with the Bernice Johnson Dance Company and was a scholarship student with the Alvin Ailey American Dance School. She studied under the guidance of Mde. Darvarsh, Penny Frank, Denise Jefferson, Kevin Austin Hunt and Kevin Iega Jeff, the founder and artistic director of the Chicago-based Deeply Rooted Dance Theatre and artist-in-residence for Howard University’s dance major program. Ms. Branch co-choreographed with Michael Peters (choreographer for Michael Jackson) for “On Stage America,” performed with Ben Vereen at Avery Fisher Hall in New York and performed with Diana Ross at Central Park, also in New York. She was the rehearsal director for The Chocolate Nutcracker (Orlando, FL) performed with Moore Dance Project (operating out of The Center for Contemporary Dance in Winter Park, FL), and is the Founder and President of Dawn Branch Master Dance Series & Performances. Ms. Branch directs Dawn Branch Works, a contemporary dance company and resident artist at The Center for Contemporary Dance. Learn more at www.dawnbranchworks.com.
Jennia Shanley is a dance educator, choreographer and performer. She has over twenty years of training and educational experience. Ms. Jennia graduated Cum Laude with a B.F.A. in Dance from Florida State University. There she studied with internationally celebrated artists including Gerri Houlian, Dan Wagoner, Anthony Morgan, Lynda Davis and Suzanne Farrell. After graduation, Ms. Jennia performed with Staib Dance in Atlanta, GA. Originally from Chattanooga, TN, Ms. Jennia honed her passion for dance under the direction of Karen Smith at Baylor School. Professionally, she returned to Baylor as a member of the dance faculty. She was also on faculty at Ballet Tennessee and was a guest artist at various schools and organizations in Chattanooga. Additionally, Ms. Jennia owns Ascension Dance, LLC which brings exciting dance education to early childhood learning centers. Recently, her choreography “Restless Revolution” was a featured work at the Tennessee Dance Festival. Through dance education and performance, Ms. Jennia creates a learner-centered environment where students are both challenged and inspired. She believes dance is an enriching medium for physical, intellectual and artistic growth.
Janelle de Ment was born and raised in New Jersey, and studied dance under her mother Phyllis Papa, ex principal of the Royal Danish Ballet. She was later accepted into the Joffrey Ballet School in New York on a full scholarship. She started her professional life dancing for the Atlantic City Ballet and later Charleston Ballet Theater. She was brought on as a full time company member with the Orlando Ballet in 2010. Throughout her career, Ms. DeMent has performed numerous soloist and principal roles, including Titania in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, the Russian Girl in George Balanhine’s “Serenade”, the Dying Swan from “Carnival of the Animals”, and the Snow Queen, Arabian divertissement, and Sugar Plum Fairy from “The Nutcracker”, to name just a few. Ms. DeMent is also the on-call ballerina for Cirque du Soleil’s “La Nouba”, a position she has held since 2013. She is excited to be teaching technique, pointe, and choreographing for the ballet ensembles at the Center For Contemporary Dance.
Ellie Potts Barrett is an accomplished dance educator, performer and international choreographer. Ms. Barrett studied Modern Dance at Boston Conservatory, and received her BA in Dance from the University of South Florida. She composed the Modern Dance Syllabus for the Florida Dance Masters Organization, which will be used as a study tool for the testing of future Modern dance teachers in Florida. Ms. Barrett danced with the Ina Hahn Modern Dance Company, Boston Dance Company and Mary Anthony in New York. She has been an associate at the Atlantic Center for the Arts to Master Artists Merce Cunningham, Meg Harper and Elizabeth Streb. Ms. Barrett produced and choreographed BARRETTWERKS, a 2008 Modern dance concert presented in Orlando. Ms. Barrett is the 2008 recipient of the Central Florida Lifetime Achievement Dance Award, given by the University of Central Florida. In 2010, she choreographed the Orlando Philharmonic/Mad Cow Theatre production of Guys and Dolls which starred Broadway actor Davis Gaines. She was invited back to choreograph Carousel (2012), and How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (2013), and in 2014 La Traviata. She most recently choreographed Mad Cow Theatre’s production of Hair. Ms. Barrett is thrilled to be joining the talented faculty of The Center for Contemporary Dance. To learn more about Ms. Barrett, please visit www.elliepottsbarrett.com.
Dr. Margo Blake began training over 48 years ago. Her instructors included Lester Wilson, choreographer for “Saturday Night Fever,” and Michael Peters, choreographer for Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” and “Thriller” videos, and the original Broadway production of “Dream Girls.” She has appeared at Carnegie Hall, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Lincoln Center, and worked on the film “The Wiz.” She is a founding artist of the FreshStArts Program at Rollins College, and has owned two dance studios. Dr. Blake holds an H.D.D., B.S. and A.S. in Christian Education, an M.A.A.A. from Goucher College and a B.F.A. from Temple University. Her dance education includes studies in Ghana, West Africa and Katherine Dunham’s Cultural Technique Seminars in St. Louis, MO. She has been a company member with the Bernice Johnson Dance Company and Arthur Hall’s Afro-American Dance Ensemble. Dr. Blake has served as an adjunct dance professor at Rollins College and Temple University. Notably, she was the first African-American female Associate Show Director for Walt Disney World Entertainment, training both choreographers and cast members for Festival of The Lion King at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Dr. Blake is a Teaching Artist for OCAE, FAAE and is been a guest Consultant in African dance for the Clark County School District’s Equity & Diversity Dept. in Las Vegas, NV.
Ms. Gale received her BA from Florida State University where she majored in theater and dance. She has studied dance in its many forms from ballet, jazz and tap to African, modern/contemporary and ballroom. Ms. Gale has had the opportunity to take classes with Robert Joffery, Arthur Mitchell, Robert Barnett, Luigi, Al Gilbert, Reginald Yates, Myles Thoroughgood and Pamela Bolling, just to name a few. Students will see the influence of Gus Giordano and Bob Fosse in her jazz style as well. Ms. Gale owned her own performing arts studio outside of Tallahassee for 19 years prior to moving to Orlando, and taught jazz for the Summer Intensive at Orlando Ballet for 9 years. Although dance in its many forms has been a primary focus of Ms. Gale’s work and interest, she is also an actor, artist, writer and poet. Her articles and poetry have been published nationally in dance magazines with cover articles about Ballet Legend Fernando Bujones featured in Dance Teacher Magazine in 2000 and Dancer Magazine in 2003.
Kellina (Kelly) Rutherford began her technical career as a gymnast, practicing and competing from the age of three until 14. Kelly was introduced to the world of competitive cheerleading and dance through UCF All-Stars, where she used her skills as a gymnast to contribute to the success of the team. Under the tutelage of Julie Johnson, she progressed quickly, utilizing her skills as a gymnast to maximize her potential. After only a year of training, Kelly started her career as a professional dancer and has been training and performing ever since. In 2009, she received first place at the World Of Dance Tour in New York, NY as a part of Studio One Productions. In 2010, she also won first place at Worlds in Orlando, FL, the largest, most competitive international All-Star dance competition. Kelly also competed on the hit show America’s Got Talent Season 5 as a part of Studio One Young Beast Society. Her team achieved much success, making it to the competition’s top 5 finalists and touring the United States in over 20 major locations. Kelly has also toured the world performing with Fighting Gravity, a black light illusionist act that was one of the final 4 competitors on America’s Got Talent Season 5. Kelly is currently teaching hip hop to all ages, including instruction in House, Popping, Locking, Waacking, Breaking, Tutting and Street Jazz. She continues to broaden her dance vocabulary by taking a variety of dance classes and maintaining a student-like mentality. Kelly plans to further her dance career by taking advantage of her gifts, staying humble, and always giving back.
Sam Sinns has enjoyed an extensive career in musical theatre including roles in the Broadway national tours of West Side Story and Beauty and the Beast as well as dancing in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular in New York City. He has appeared regionally in productions at Houston’s Theatre Under The Stars, North Shore Music Theatre, North Carolina Theatre, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Gateway Playhouse, Artpark, and The Ordway in St. Paul, MN. Walt Disney World credits include Finding Nemo the Musical (Ensemble/ Dance Captain), Hoop Dee Doo Revue (Johnny Ringo), and Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage (Dancer). When he’s not on stage Mr. Sinns works for the Disney Performing Arts program as a resident director for Disney’s Broadway Magic workshops and as a teaching artist for DPA dance workshops. He also choreographed the Orlando REP’s 2013-14 season opening show, Ivy and Bean the Musical. Mr. Sinns is a member of Actors Equity Association and serves on the board of The Project Dance Foundation.
Christina Benziger essentially grew up in a dance studio and started teaching at age 15. Ms. Benziger has experience managing dance programs throughout Central Florida. For seven years, she owned and operated Dance Theatre Performing Arts, being awarded (and nominated multiple times) by the City of Titusville as Non-Profit Organization of the Year for her outstanding work with children and in the community. Former students have gone on to Broadway, Hong Kong, Europe, professional companies and even becoming owners of their own schools or companies. As an instructor, she continues to keep her own training up to date by regularly attending seminars and teaching programs, such as the American Ballet Theatre Certified Curriculum. Christina is proud to be a part of the team at The Center or Contemporary Dance where she finds great pleasure sharing her love of the performing arts.
Raised in New York City with roots in Puerto Rico, David Gabriel has been immersed in Latin dance and Music all of his life. In 2007, he began his formal training at Universal Mambo Dance Academy (Orlando, FL) and would go on to perform with the group in over a dozen shows throughout the country. In an effort to branch out into folkloric forms of Latin dance, David moved back to NYC and began studying at the Oriki Omi Oddara Afro-Cuban Dance Theater under the tutelage of Felix Insua. In 2012, after completing his B.S. degree in Education, David started DG’s Afro-Latin Dance Project. Since then, his company has performed in numerous events, such as the Latin Jazz Festival of Orlando, The Dance Happy Project, and The Creative City Project. David has taught his unique curriculum in workshops at Florida State University, The University of Central Florida, Embry–Riddle University, and was a featured instructor at the National Dance Day event at The Orlando Ballet School.
Tamiya Knight, a Florida native, is an accomplished dancer, teacher and choreographer. She began her dance training at the age of 5 and never stopped. She started her training in classical ballet and jazz. At the age of 20 she began training in hip-hop. Throughout her career she has worked with many award-winning artists in music, videos and on stage. She has traveled the world teaching and competing and currently teaches hip-hop to all ages at The Center for Contemporary Dance. She is excited and proud to be part of such an accomplished faculty.
Taylor May comes to us from the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. She spent five years as a “Performance Company” dancer at the Rocky Mountain Dance Academy studying Hip-Hop, Jazz, Modern and Ballet. In the summer of 2006, she attended the Summer Theatre program at Columbia College in Chicago. There, she took courses in Unarmed Staged Combat and Musical Theatre. Taylor graduated from Colorado Mountain College on the Dean’s List with an Associates of Arts Degree, which included advanced courses in Ballet and Modern.
Emily Scolaro is a professional dancer and dance educator. Emily began her professional dance training at The Florida Ballet Training Center and Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville, Fl. She graduated Magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance from the Florida State University. During this time she performed in works by Monica Bill Barnes, Stephen Koester, Lynda Davis, Gerri Houlihan, Tim Glenn and Anthony Morgan. She was a member of the University’s Dance Repertory Theater and this past year she was a company member of Ella Rosewood Dance. Emily has performed in New York City festivals such as DUMBO Dance Festival and Dance Gallery as well as internationally in London’s Cloud Dance Festival. She currently dances professionally with Mary Love Dance Projects in Winter Park, Fl.
Nikki Peña is an artist and educator. As a student she trained at Deborah Case Dance Academy in McAllen, Texas and Southern Dance Theatre in Boynton Beach, Florida. After high school Ms. Peña studied with numerous professors at Florida International University, Florida Atlantic University, and Valencia Community College. She also has had the opportunity to attend various dance festivals, including the American College Dance Festival in San Francisco, California and the annual Florida Dance Educators Organization conference. As a performer, she has danced with various Central Florida dance companies including U-Turn Dance, Patelworks Dance Theater, NAO Dance Collective, and Explore Theatre & Dance Co. While working with NAO Dance Collective, she had the opportunity to act as the Associate Artistic Director and Rehearsal Director. Ms. Peña was also the Artistic Director for Explore Theatre & Dance Co. for a summer production project. In the fall of 2012, Ms. Peña founded her improvisational dance company, Coby Project, and was accepted into The Center for Contemporary Dance’s Residency Program. She is excited to join the faculty at The Center for Contemporary Dance and share her passion for dance with the community.
Elizabeth Bernstein, a central Florida native, is currently finishing her Bachelors in Fine Arts in Dance at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She studied ballet at Orlando Ballet School under the direction of Peter Stark and Fernando Bujones and modern with fellow CCD faculty member Ellie Potts Barrett. She has attended training programs at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, The University of North Carolina School of the Arts, and has spent her past two summers studying at the American Dance Festival under the direction of Gerri Houlihan. Ms. Bernstein is finishing up her degree in dance under the direction of Donna Faye Burchfield while also establishing herself as a dance maker and educator. This year, Ms. Bernstein has worked with Jesse Zaritt, Katie Swords-Thurman, Douglas Becker, and Doug Varone. Additionally, she worked with Jillian Peña, No Face Performance Group, and Chelsea & Magda, a collective of New York and Philly based artists in association with Philly FringeArts. As a student herself, Ms. Bernstein continually strives to give back to her students while simultaneously learning from their diverse approach to movement exploration.
Kathy Follensbee received a B.S. in Physical Education from Florida State University and a Masters of Fine Arts in Choreography from Jacksonville University. She is the full time Dance Director at Dr. Phillips Visual & Performing Arts High School (DPHS – VPA) as well as an adjunct professor of Modern with Valencia College. Kathy is a past President of Florida Dance Masters (FDM) and the founding Secretary for the Florida Dance Education Organization (FDEO). She has served on writing teams for the Florida Next Generation Sunshine State Standards, Florida’s Race To The Top and Orange County Public Schools End of Course Exams (EOCs) for Dance. As the Dance Director of the DPHS – VPA, her students have won many honors and are now dancing in colleges, performing and teaching across the nation. Kathy has been named “Who’s Who in America’s Teachers” eight times; only 1% of teachers are awarded this honor more than once. Kathy has an eclectic background in movement. She was a Synchronized Swimmer and Dancer for the Louisiana World’s Fair Exposition in 1984, and is a Master’s National Synchronized Swimming Champion as well. She has judged dance contests and taught master classes throughout Florida and New York. After 30 years of service with the public school educational system, Kathy is passionate about bringing Dance Arts to all through a curriculum focusing on creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication skills that will serve all dancers for success in today’s global society.
Kathy has been married for 28 years to Bruce, who is a National Swim Coach of the Year & Hall of Fame Coach. They have three wonderful children: Reed, 24 – Army Cyber Warfare, Bryce, 22 – Coastal Carolina Soccer Scholarship & Marketing Major and Kayla, 19 – University of South Florida Dance Major.
Holly Harris is a dance educator, choreographer, and creative director with extensive work in both the dance and theatre world. She is founder and creative director of the most celebrated local annual event, National Dance Day Orlando. Ms. Harris founded Canvas Creative Movement Coalition in 2009 and recently worked as talent development and show director for Uncover the Color. Both companies allowed her to travel and premiere original works around the country. Locally, she has earned accolades as producer and choreographer of three short dance films, the original play Where the Sidewalk Ends, and the Orlando Fringe sell-out and award-winning show, Connected: An Interactive Experience. Holly continues to immerse herself in projects that engage viewers of dance, movement, and theatre in innovative ways surrounding interaction and visual stimulation. She has most recently spent time working with Orlando Ballet School and Mad Cow Theatre. She is excited to join the faculty and creative team of The Center for Contemporary Dance.
Master Teacher Angie Aldarondo is a classically trained mezzo-soprano, with a Master’s degree in Opera Performance from Loyola University New Orleans. Her undergraduate vocal training, also at Loyola University, was with Ellen Frohnmayer, from whom she received a high-caliber and rigorous education. Angie was a member of the New Orleans Opera Association for 5 seasons, and performed in 14 productions with the company. There she had the opportunity to share the stage with such greats as Placido Domingo, Susan Graham, Brian Hymel, and Rinat Shaham. In the summer of 2009, she completed a Young Artists’ Program in Brugge, Belgium, where she studied with Mark Schnaible and performed the role of Diana in Maury Yeston’s Nine. Soon after, she began teaching voice and piano privately. Angie has since established INSPIRE. Music Studio in College Park.
Maria “Olivia” Bryant is a native of Orange County, FL and graduate of Rollins College who has performed internationally as a vocalist. Maria traveled to Europe on a gospel tour, and throughout the Eastern and Western Caribbean Islands as a Lead Vocalist on the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. Maria is also a recording artist who has performed with such notable celebrities as Vickie Winans, Walt Whitman, Marilyn McCoo & Billy Williams Jr., Dennis Edward & The Temptations Preview, Tommy Ford, Jimmie Reid and Ray Hush of the Hush Brothers. Maria’s repertoire and teaching expertise encompasses Gospel, Opera, Broadway, Classical, Motown, R&B, Hip Hop, Jazz and Blues. In addition to fulfilling her musical career, Maria is a professional arts educator for Orange County Public Schools.