Tony earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Michigan in 2007, and she performs and choreographs in many dance styles; among her favorites are modern dance and hip-hop. Tony also studied and danced at the Maggie Allesee Department of Theatre and Dance at Wayne State University and is pursuing K-12 Certification. She has taught at many national events, including the New Orleans African Dance Festival at Tulane University and she conducted outreach programs in the Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Public School Systems as a Teaching Artist. Tony continues to enjoy connections and collaborations with other artists in Pittsburgh and Michigan. She enjoys spreading her love of hip-hop and its history through teaching master classes and lecture demonstrations at the University of Michigan and Washtenaw Community College. Tony continues to make her mark in the dance field by teaching studio classes and competitive dance at multiple studios, schools and churches in the mid-west and east coast. She is inspired by Rennie Harris, with whom she has worked as Rehearsal Director for “Heaven” at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She has been a company member with People Dancing and is the founder and Artistic Director the Haus of Dance now based out of Jackson School of the Arts where she is also on the dance faculty.
Christina Sears MFA, is a performer, choreographer and educator with professional experience in many forms of dance, including ballet (Vaganova and American styles) modern, tap, jazz, improvisational performance, contemporary performance, and site-work. She is Artistic Director of People Dancing since 2000, and teaches in public and private settings. She earned a BA from University of Michigan, and later, after dancing professionally in New York City and London, obtained a MFA degree from State University of NY, College at Brockport. IN 2011, she joined the faculty at Eastern Michigan University. Other teaching in higher education include: Wayne State, Towson University and University of Michigan: Flint. She has expertise in choreography for Ballet, Opera and Musical Theatre and also in Laban Movement Analysis and Somatics. Recent choreographies include: Vocal Arts Ensemble, Eastern Michigan University Dance Company, The Factory Dance Co., Hillsdale College Dance Program, ArtLabJ Workshop, Detroit Dance City Festival, and for solo dance artists. Christina’s choreography was recently presented at the International Season of Dance, 2014 Diaspora Arts Festival at Cave Hill campus in Barbados, West Indies.
Angelina Dickinson graduated from Spring Arbor University in 2013 with a Bachelors of Science in Fine Art and a Minor in Visual Art. She has played the piano virtually her entire life, and taught both piano and private voice lessons for five years, as well as performing in numerous choirs and touring music groups. Angelina started dancing at age 2, taking on and off ballet and tap while growing up. Starting in middle-school through college, Angelina studied Irish Step-Dance at the Academy of the Arts under Jesyka Beers. She has performed in a number of locations, including Las Cruses, New Mexico and Carlos Pas, Argentina. Angelina has also studied ballet at Grace School of Dance and Jackson School of the Arts for the past 5 years. In addition, Angelina has studied historic contra-dance, folk dance and both traditional and informal ballroom dance. Angelina was in both an East Coast Swing club and a Latin Dance Club in college and studied folk dance abroad in Argentina, Bermuda and Spain. Angelina has participated in various dramatic performing groups debuting in a university play at the age of 12. She has performed and provided costumes for numerous plays at Spring Arbor University, where she is currently employed as Costumer. Her studies in theatre included directing, theatre history, stage-combat, costuming, script-writing, and stage hair/make-up and effects (such as prosthetic creation and application.) Angelina began teaching theatre in 2014 at PIONEERS Home School Co-op and since then has branched out to direct her own theatre as well as consult at several community theatres in the Spring Arbor area and teach guest theatre classes for Ballet 5:8 in Chicago. Angelina loves the creative processes wherever it can be found, and continually strives to better herself as both an artist and a teacher.
Dammy started dancing at a young age training in contemporary and modern. While studying psychology at the University of Michigan he danced with a branch of the international dance company Dance 2XS, eventually becoming one of the branches Co-Artistic Directors. He’s the former Creative Director of Next Level Dance Company, a youth and adult hip-hop dance company based in Detroit. Next Level competes across the Mid-West region and has taken 3rd place overall at Word of Dance Chicago twice, as well as placing and winning at various other competitions across the Midwest and country. They have earned two invitations to compete at World of Dance International Finals L.A., once in 2015 and again in 2017. Dammy loves working with both adults and children and is always looking to push dancers to think outside of their box and find their personal style.
Carmen Thompson was born and raised in Jackson, MI and discovered her passion for dance at the age of 8. She studied Jazz Technique for 3 years at Jackson College performing in several dance concerts during that time. Carmen has always been fascinated with using dance movement to worship and express the love of God. She has taught praise dance at her church VBS every summer and was inspired to create the “Glory be to God” praise dance ministry and has coordinated praise dance performances as well as performed at local churches in the Jackson area. Being very versatile, she also has love for New Style Hip hop. She attended teacher classes at the Jump Convention held in Detroit. She was a student at Jackson School of the Arts, moved on to assisting before becoming an instructor.
Bio to come!
Gayle E. Martin is a native of Ann Arbor and a graduate from the University of Michigan with a BFA degree in Musical Theater. She’s a Professor of Dance at Washtenaw Community College and for for the last 37 years has been performing onstage, dancing ,singing or acting. She also teaches preschool at Children’s Creative Center when she has directed a children’s musical every summer for the last 16 years. She is on the board of the Ann Arbor Civic Theater Company and has graced the stage of Encore as the Mute in Fantasticks, Bloody Mary in South Pacific, The Lion in The Wizard of Oz, Jenntte in Full Monty and she tap-danced in the musical Mary Poppins as a chimney sweep. She has also starred as Jane in a developmental musical called Into the Wild. She’ll be gracing Encore stage again in October, 2017 in Sweeney Todd. She has numerous certificates in the form of cecchetti and she was a member of the Ann Arbor Civic Ballet Company. She has also directed and choreographed many musicals and plays throughout the years.
Michelle is passionate about dance and loves working with young dancers. Currently she attends Washtenaw Community College and will transfer to Eastern Michigan University in Fall 2018 to continue to work on her BA in Dance Teaching and Studio Management. She has lead dance programs for young children at the Ann Arbor YMCA. Her credentials and awards include The Cecchetti Council of America, MI, 2010, Applause Talent Regional Competition, MI, 2011, Eighth Place Overall Winner and she attended the West Coast Dance Explosion Regional Convention in 2012. This is Michelle’s first year with Jackson School of the Arts.
bio coming soon
Jode Piotrowski, Art Program Coordinator has a business degree in Graphic Communications from Baker College. She also has a Child Development Associate from Jackson Community College. She owned and operated her own preschool, Happy Hearts Children’s Center for six years where she worked as the director and lead teacher in the classroom and she has worked at Northwest Preschool and in visual merchandising at Elder Beerman Stores. She has taught various art classes for Jackson School of the Arts, including on-site classes, summer art camps, as well as the After School Art Programs and is also the Director of Kids Create, an immersive preschool experience in the arts.
Carey studied Art and K-8 Education at Adrian College. As a Jackson native, she has spent the last eight years in Jackson teaching Art to Kindergarten through eighth graders. She enjoys implementing her art experiences and art history background in all of her lessons and classes. She strives to create a supportive classroom nature, teaching young artist that there are NO mistakes in art. Everyone in her classroom can create an original masterpiece that they can be proud of! In a variety of capacities, she has helped organize innovative art programs for young artists. Programs including Mural Clubs, Saturday Art Camps, Community service Art, and an Annual Chalk Mural Competition. When time is available, Carey is a painter who enjoys creating mixed media portraits.
Shannon Reif earned her Bachelor of the Arts while studying the Fine Arts of drawing and painting at Spring Arbor University. She found much success in the collegiate art circle, entering art shows and receiving many awards, such as Best of Painting in the Small College Art Exhibition in 2015. Also during her time at Spring Arbor, she volunteered as the Art Coordinator for the Center for Autism Spectrum Disorder and fell in love with teaching art to children. This led her to broadening her knowledge by taking classes in writing for children, child psychology, and children’s spirituality, in addition to her Fine Arts classes. Shannon strives to use art as a vehicle to help children see that they are creative, capable, and valued. She is currently pursuing a Masters of Fine Arts in Children’s Book Illustration online through Academy of Art University of San Francisco.
Kate Manville-Schwartz grew up and attended high school and college in Jackson County, MI. She graduated from the Spring Arbor University where she spent much of her time in the painting studios, developing her unique method of abstract soft pastel paintings on wood. After graduation, Kate taught art at 3e International School in Beijing, China and then at Al-Bayan Bilingual School in Kuwait City, Kuwait before returning to Jackson County. During the summer on her trips back and since then, she has spent much of her time in various teaching positions around Michigan including Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp near Muskegon, MI and at Creative Arts of Tecumseh in Tecumseh, MI. Since 2013, Kate has stayed home more to spend time with her 2 children and also chairs The Arts and Cultural Alliance of Jackson County. While in her current roles, Kate has continued to work in the arts and has showed in various exhibitions including How Bazaar, in it’s inaugural year downtown Jackson, MI, at The University of Michigan League in the spring of 2013, and in national shows such as the Annual Majestic Juried Competition near the University of Ohio and the Statewide Juried Art Exhibition at Ella Sharp Musuem. Publications of Kate’s art teachings include several Beijing magazines where her students were featured for her creative and innovative projects, as well as an international art and music curriculum that is currently in practice in Beijing, China, which has been researched and advocated for by Michigan State University and is featured in several young-children education college text books. Kate’s work can be seen at: www.katemanvilleschwartz.com
Alyssa Anderson is a recent graduate from Western Michigan University with a Bachelors of Art Degree. She was recognized for her outstanding work in Art Education with the prestigious Harry S. Hefner Excellence in Art Scholarship and the WMU Art Star Award. She also earned an Associates Degree of Science and Art from Northwestern Michigan College where she studied culinary arts and graphic design. Alyssa has had many unique and rewarding teaching opportunities. She was employed as a summer V.I.S.T.A (Volunteering In Service To America), where she worked with children and young adults to develop leadership and creative problem solving skills. She was also a student ambassador for the U.S.-Brazil Connect program, incorporating the arts within her lesson plans to enhance the English learning experience. Her most recent experience was developing and implementing lesson plans for Western Michigan University’s SMArt (Saturday Morning Art) program. The lessons introduced students to a wide variety to mediums, techniques, artists, and critical thinking skills. Alyssa is looking forward to teaching and applying her rich experiences to the Jackson School of the Arts!
Rhiannon Ragland is a Resident Artist at the Purple Rose Theatre Company. Her performance credits include Miles and Ellie, 33 Variations, On Golden Pond, Escanaba in Da Moonlight, Some Couples May, Boeing-Boeing, Our Town, Gravity, A Streetcar Named Desire, Apartment 3A and Growing Pretty. She made her directing debut with The Stone Carver, 2012 and was costume designer for Miles and Ellie (2013) and The Last Romance (2014). She choreographed the 2010 production of Gravity. Rhiannon is also an instructor of children’s and adult classes at Jackson School of the Arts and is a member of the Actors’ Equity Association.
Tory is a theatre artist and educator with 15 years of professional experience. She is a Royal Shakespeare Company/Ohio State University partnership-trained teaching artist. While earning her MFA in Acting from Ohio State, she trained with the RSC’s renowned education department in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. The innovative “Stand Up For Shakespeare” methodology provided a framework for her work bringing Shakespeare to K- 12 classrooms in central Ohio. Additionally, prior to graduate school, she worked for four years as a teaching artist at the highly regarded Columbus Children’s Theatre (Columbus, Ohio). She is a professional actor and director. Among her many credits, she is most proud of a production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, adapted for young audiences, which she directed in 2013 under the auspices of the RSC/OSU partnership. This production, along with a post-show workshop she created to complement the show, was experienced by thousands of K-12 students across central Ohio. Among her many acting credits, she spent three years performing in original musicals at Sight & Sound Theatres in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
Dr. John Lennox has trained in various forms of swordplay for over 25 years. Beginning with the katana, he later moved into the western weapon styles. Through his involvement in stage combat for theater over the past 29 years he began to study a myriad of weapons. He is a Fight Director for Art of Combat, an Honorary Fight Director with the Australian Stage Combat Association, and he has taught stage combat at Indiana University/Purdue- Ft. Wayne, Lansing Community College, Jackson Community College, Centenary College and Wayne State University. He is an instructor with the Historical Martial Study Society, as well as an expert level knife instructor for the School of Two Swords. Over the past few years he has focused on unarmed combat theory as well as fighting with knife and tomahawk. His recent research includes German smallsword and Aztec/Mayan combat systems. Since 2006 he has been teaching at workshops all over the world, including the Paddy Crean International Art of the Sword Workshop, The Shenandoah Project, the Symposium on the Western Arts of Swordsmanship through History (S.W.A.S.H.) in Leeds, England, and numerous workshops in Scotland, England, Finland, Ireland, Belgium, Germany, Australia, Mexico and Canada. He is the author ofA History of Stage Swordplay: Shakespeare to the Birth of Film, and has presented several lectures at symposiums and conferences. He is currently working on publishing a book on fight direction entitled Truth in Action. He is routinely called in to colleges and universities for workshops on historical combat and stage combat. John holds a PhD in Theater with cognate studies in historical fencing from Wayne State University.
Catherine Coffey began her theatrical career at the age of thirteen as a founding member of the Nebraska Girls Shakespeare Company. Since then she has performed with several companies including Angels Theatre Company and Flatwater Shakespeare Company in roles ranging from Juliet in Romeo and Juliet to Glory in Almost, Maine, to Chaperone in The Drowsy Chaperone. Catherine is also a musician and has written and performed original music for productions of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. An album of her original music will be released this fall. Catherine has also worked as a writer, director, and dramaturg for various productions, her dramaturgical work and research earning her the Kennedy Center Undergraduate Theatre Scholar Award in 2015. Catherine attended Hillsdale College where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Theatre and English. While an undergraduate student, she studied Shakespeare’s late romances abroad at Oxford University. She is currently working towards an MFA in Applied Drama at Eastern Michigan University.