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Faculty and staff
JENNIFER AGBAY Jennifer is the celebrated director and founder of the Ballet Arts Worcester whose production of the Nutcracker graces the stage at The Hanover Theatre each November. She received a Bachelor of Science in Dance and Dance Education from New York University. While in New York City, Jennifer worked with several professional companies including The Washington Square Repertory Dance Company and the New York City based “Ballet for Young Audiences.” She was the director of dance at the Performing Arts School of Worcester, directed the Worcester Youth Ballet Company and choreographed all school productions including the Nutcracker. While at PASOW, Jennifer founded and directed Company X, created for professional dancers. Jennifer has served on faculty at the Boston Ballet School and has been invited to teach at the school’s Young Dancers Summer Workshop in past summers. She has also taught and choreographed in various private and public schools and as well as Assumption College. She was the former Artistic Director and Upper School Coordinator at Dance It Up! Dance Center in Grafton, as well as B.F. Brown Arts Vision Middle School in Fitchburg, MA and has served as one of Lincoln Center’s National Educators. She has been a dance instructor and choreographer for The Hanover Theatre’s Youth Summer Program since its inception. She was selected by The Pulse Magazine as one of Worcester’s 25 to watch in 2005.
AMY BURNS Amy graduated magna cum laude from Adelphi University with a BFA in dance. She had the honor of working and studying with Robert Christopher, Carmen DeLavallade, Gail Gilbert, Edisa Weeks and Rebecca Wright. Ms. Burns has danced in works by Robert Battle, Laura Bennett, Colin Connor, Danny Grossman, Deb Meunier, David Parsons, Pascal Rioult and Anna Sokolow. Amy currently dances with American Dance Legacy Initiative’s repertory company, Dancing Legacy, performing in the past year in Florida, New Mexico and New York, Fusionworks Dance Company and Sokolow Now, dedicated to performing the works and preserving the legacy of choreographer Anna Sokolow. Amy is also a freelance teacher working most recently at Brown University, Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School and Bak Middle School of the Arts in West Palm Beach, Florida. She is a Balanced Body certified Pilates instructor and teaches at RI Pilates Studio. When not dancing she spends most of her time with her three greatest accomplishments who go by the names Anthony, Eliana and Marcus.
JOANNE BUYNISKI Joanne began her costuming career by making Halloween costumes for her daughters. In fact, it was while costuming shows for her daughter’s theatrical productions that she discovered her passion for costume design and construction. When her family moved to Massachusetts in 2000, she began volunteering as a costumer at Worcester Academy and has since costumed 70+ shows for both their middle and upper schools. Her favorites include Shakespeare in Hollywood, Cabaret, The Mikado, Urinetown, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, The Miser, The Imaginary Invalid, and Metamorphoses, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Love for Three Oranges, and Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Once Joanne began teaching costume design and construction full time for Worcester Academy, she was able to take some very talented and dedicated students along with her on the joyful ride from initial sketch to finished costume. She has taught students of all ages how to sew, fit, combine colors and textures, and collaborate with set and lighting designers and directors. Joanne is particularly passionate about the psychology of clothing (why do we wear the clothes we wear every day?) and the history of dress by decade (especially the Victorian era and the 1930s). She also enjoys exploring traditional Japanese dress, the fabrics of Africa, and – most recently – neoprene and digitally-printed fabrics.
ISSA COULIBALY A master djembe drummer, originally from Mali, West Africa, Issa began studying the djembe and djun djun when he was 11 years old. Issa earned a reputation as a vocalist and mesmerizing performer while touring Africa and Europe before coming to the United States. He continues to travel from Maine to Puerto Rico facilitating retreats and performing as the lead drummer and musical director for a variety of African dance troupes, including Crocodile River Music’s troupe, Didakan. Issa’s performances, workshops, residencies, and drum circles are educational and fun for musicians of any age and range of experience.
JACQUELINE HEAD Jacqueline received her B.F.A. degree from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts and holds a Masters degree in Education from Lesley University. She began her dance training at the age of 3 at Charlotte Klein Dance Centers, where she later became a member of the Dance Company and an assistant dance teacher. Head has performed in the Boston Ballet and Dance Prism productions of the Nutcracker and in 1992 was a featured dancer in Paramount Picture's School Ties. While attending N.Y.U., Ms. Head was a member of the Second Avenue Dance Company where she performed in several pieces including the World Premiere of Nonsense with Some Noise by acclaimed choreographer and dancer Ann Reinking. Other accomplishments include performing for EJM Entertainment and with the New Jersey Red Dogs Dance Team and a member of the Washington Square Repertory Company in New York City. In 2000, Ms. Head received the Outstanding Choreography Award at the Showbiz Competition for her piece "Happy Phantom.” Head has taught and choreographed locally since 1997 and enjoys teaching many different levels and genres of dance. Head was an adjunct professor for Nichols College teaching dance for many years.
KIM HEYMANN Kim is a trained theatre technician and stage manager from the Boston theatre scene. She has worked on numerous productions and concerts with Stoneham Theatre, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and Reagle Theatre as a stage manager and lighting technician. She has worked with theatre educational programs at Stoneham Theatre and Groton School as a production manager, stage management mentor, and has taught workshops in lighting, makeup, and design. Kim received her Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Technology with a concentration in Technical Theatre from Fitchburg State University, and a Master of Arts in Theatre Education from Emerson College. She was a two-time semi-finalist in the Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival for stage management. She currently works at North High School in Worcester teaching mathematics.
ELISABETH HUGHES Elisabeth has performed and choregraphed in local theatre productions for the past 30 years. Stage roles include: Polly in Crazy for You, Ginger in 1940s Radio Hour, America in Radio Gals, Chiffon in Little Shop of Horrors, Aphra in Children of Eden, Chava in Fiddler on the Roof, and others. Film / Commercial credits include: Central Intelligence, Good Will Hunting, The Proposition, The Patient’s Repertoire, Reality Behind Closed Doors, and commercial work for Baker Cadillac, The Discovery Channel and Better Business Bureau. Elisabeth has instructed / directed / choreographed for Foothills Theatre, Performing Arts School of Worcester, Worcester Children’s Theatre, Theatre at the Mount in Gardner, and many other local theatre groups. She owned Performing Arts Theatre in Sterling for over 18 years, offering instruction in Dance, Theatre, Voice, and Music, and holds a BS in Theatre from Fitchburg State University. Elisabeth teaches at Mountview Middle School in Holden, and is certified to teach Middle School Language Arts, Elementary School (all subjects), and Theatre for Grades K-12.
JAMIE IRWIN-BROWN Jamie received her training at the Allegheny Ballet Academy and Boston Ballet with several summers spent studying at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. She was selected to perform corps de ballet roles in Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker and Swan Lake and was invited to tour in BBII’s production of Snow White. She went on to dance with Indianapolis Ballet Theatre and the Boston Dance Company where notable roles included the title role in Cinderella, Sugar Plum Fairy, Snow Queen, and Dew Drop in The Nutcracker, and Balanchine’s Valse Fantaisie and Minkus pas de Trois. Over the past several years, Ms. Brown has enjoyed sharing her passion as a teacher, choreographer and rehearsal coach for studios throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Her students have established themselves with professional ballet companies, in television and on Broadway, as well as continuing on to major in dance at prestigious universities.
NICK JOYCE Nick’s nearly four decade long career in audio spans the globe as a touring house mixer/monitor engineer/production manager for such artists as Miles Davis, Doctor John, Joe Satriani, Donna Summer and John Scofield. In addition to his touring repertoire, add such special events as the 1990 Earth Day in Central Park (to an estimated audience over 750,000), the rededication of The Statue of Liberty (with the Boston Pops, July 4, 1986 at Liberty State Park in New Jersey), numerous studio recordings, sporting events and 5 seasons at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee School of Music as audio designer and mixer for their musical theatre program. He brings his in depth knowledge and expertise of all aspects of audio to The Hanover Theatre Conservatory while starting his 10th year with The Hanover Theatre as the Head of Audio. He is the audio designer and mixer annually for A Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker, as well as the Youth Summer Programs.
LINNEA LYERLY Linnea holds a B.A. in Vocal Performance/Arts Administration from University of Maryland, College Park. Since moving to New England in 1998, Lyerly has worked in the Shrewsbury Public Schools as an Extended School Care teacher and Classroom Aide. She has been a Music Together parent at Pakachoag since 2004 and was so excited about the program and its benefits, that in 2005 she completed the Music Together teacher training. As the younger of her two children reached elementary school age, Lyerly was happy to be able to continue her involvement with Music Together by joining Pakachoag’s roster of Music Together teachers starting in the Fall of 2010.
KATRINA MCCORMICK Katrina studied ballet at Boston Ballet and Ballet Theatre of Boston. Katrina performed throughout the region with Ballet Theatre’s Youthworks. She has performed in The Nutcracker with both Boston Ballet and Ballet Theatre of Boston. She has acted as Ballet Mistress and Artistic Director of the Nutcracker at a local dance studio. Katrina is the mother of 3 young children, so she is thrilled to be sharing and teaching her passion of ballet again.
CHARLOTTE MCNUTT Charlotte began her studies of classical ballet in northern Virginia where she had the opportunity to study with many wonderful teachers including Thomas Russell, Edward Caton, Leon Folkine, and Oleg Tupine. She then went on to study and perform with the National Ballet of Washington, D.C., under Frederick Franklin and Ben Stevenson. In 1972, she moved to Annapolis, Maryland and became a founding member and dancer with the Ballet Theatre of Annapolis, now Ballet Theatre of Maryland, Maryland’s only professional ballet company. While performing with BTM, she danced many roles including the DewDrop Fairy, Grandmother, Arabian, Snow, Flowers, and Mother Gigone in the Nutcracker, and created such roles as the lead Temptress in Artistic Director Edward Stewart's 11th Commandment and the mother in Three Faces of Eve. Other roles include the Queen in Sleeping Beauty and the nurse in Romeo and Juliet. Charlotte served as School Administrator for the Ballet Theatre of Maryland School and taught there until 2006. She also worked as Ballet Mistress and Rehearsal Assistant for the Ballet Theatre of Maryland under the direction of the founding Artistic Director, Edward Stewart. In 2012, she moved to Massachusetts and was excited to be able to share her love for teaching with Ballet Arts Worcester.
Meghan Montaner is the director of education at The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts. In addition to her role in helping to open the 2300-seat Hanover Theatre in 2008 and The Hanover Theatre Conservatory in 2017, Meghan is a trained dancer, singer, and actress. For 13 years, she was the artistic director, producer, and choreographer for the Grafton High School Theatre Department where she made significant strides in production quality, student involvement and audience participation. She was the program director and intensives program coach for the Westborough Players Club Children’s Musical Theatre Workshop from 2003-2009 and previously taught classes for the Foothills Theatre Children’s Program. Meghan’s work with the Worcester Public Schools garnered a Community Partner Award in 2012 and the Goddard Scholars Community Partner Appreciation Award in 2014. Her ground breaking Adopt-A-School Program, started in 2013, gained national attention for its achievements in incorporating arts into the core curriculum. Meghan was asked to present the program to the Education and Engagement Forum at the 2014 Broadway League Conference in NYC. Meghan holds a master’s degree in theatre education from Emerson College where she was awarded the Dean’s Fellowship Award.
BRENNA ROBINSON Brenna recently graduated from Dean College with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Dance. While studying at Dean she trained in various styles (contemporary, modern, ballet, jazz, and theater); was given many opportunities to perform (opening number for the Patriots Game); and worked with choreographers like Rose Pasquarello Beauchamp, Julianne O’Brien Pedersen, Christina Berger, William Evans, Todd Shanks, and Robbie Mulrey. Brenna also studied at Broadway Dance Center under their Summer Professional Semester Program (2015). There she concentrated in commercial dance (jazz and contemporary); furthered her training and artistry; and performed in works by Derek Mitchell and Zanza Steinberg. Currently, Brenna is a professional dancer, choreographer, and teacher. As a member of Urbanity Dance Company, she works with choreographers such as Betsi Graves and Marcus Schulkind; performs in various shows throughout the season; and visits schools with the non-profit organization Young Audiences of Massachusetts. She also choreographs and teaches contemporary at various studios including Urbanity Dance, Paula Coffey Dance Center, and the Hanover Theatre Conservatory for the Performing Arts. While immerging herself in the dance world, she continues her interest in the potential of new movement and how improvisation and communication connects.
KELLY ROURKE Kelly is the education assistant at The Hanover Theatre and Conservatory for the Performing Arts. To her work, Kelly brings a love for the performing arts fostered over the course of 13 years spent studying classical ballet. She began her training at The Performing Arts School of Worcester and continued her studies at Ballet Arts Worcester. Kelly has been fortunate enough to work with esteemed instructors and choreographers including Madame Gabriela Darvash, Oleg Briansky, Danita Emma, Christopher Hird, Jolanta Valeikaite, and Jennifer Agbay. In addition, Kelly is a licensed Zumba Fitness instructor and teaches classes in the Central MA area. She holds a BA from Clark University and is currently a candidate for Master of Business Administration at Clark’s Graduate School of Management.
DENNIS TRAINOR Dennis is an actor, writer, director, and documentary film producer. Greater Boston Theatre acting credits include roles at Speakeasy Stage, Gloucester Stage, New Repertory, Company One, Lyric Stage, Foothills Theatre, and The Publick. He served as the Founding Artistic Director of the New York-based Rude Mechanicals Theatre Company, where he produced ten productions including Largo Desolato, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Endgame. Playwrighting credits include the plays I Coulda Been a Kennedy (NYC Fringe Fest) and Plug (Rude Mechanicals), and an independently produced T.V. pilot: Consenting Adults. For TV, he served as producer, writer, and the host of Acronym TV (Free Speech TV Network) for three seasons and he has produced, directed and written three documentary films: Manifest Destiny’s Child, American Autumn: an Occudoc, and Legalize Democracy. Op-eds and other writing have been published by Salon.com, Huffington Post, Truth Dig, among others. Member AEA.
ED WIERZBICKI Since his first performance in a fourth grade play about the power of reading for National Book Week, Ed has been hooked on acting and theatre. A seasoned arts educator, theatre director, and television producer, this two-time Emmy® Award winner is deeply interested in how creativity and culture enrich our lives—especially those of young people. He currently teaches and directs in the Theatre Department at Central Connecticut State University and The Center for New Media at Middlesex Community College. Ed has also taught at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, the Walnut Hill School for the Arts (Natick), and at Naugatuck Valley College (Waterbury, CT) where he received the President’s Merit Award-winner as Distinguished Teacher. As both a director and actor, Ed’s professional work has been seen on stages at the New York International Fringe Festival, Seven Angels Theatre, Hartford Stage, San Jose Rep, California Young People’s Theatre, Illustrated Stage, and Theatre Center Philadelphia. The former Artistic Director of the New Zenith Theatre, Ed led this Connecticut theatre for young audiences for ten seasons; bringing innovative stagings to both new works and children’s classics, including several New England premieres. Ed also writes and produces for Connecticut Public Broadcasting, and his arts segments have appeared nationally on various PBS stations. Ed received his training in acting, theatre, filmmaking, and arts education at Boston University and Marquette University (MS, BFA).