Master Classes

For the fourth year, master classes in three styles of dance are being offered. Ballet, Contemporary, and Musical Theatre will give the dancers an opportunity to explore just some of the genres that dance has to offer. Dancers are also able to participate in an audition class. They are eligible for summer program scholarships and cash awards. Last year, over $5,000 worth of summer program scholarships and over $3,000 in cash was awarded to talented and deserving dancers.

2019 Master Teachers 

Gwen Baraniecki-Zwil and Melissa Carabrese

This year, former DDF scholarship recipients, Gwen Baraniecki-Zwil and Melissa Carabrese will be hosting seminars for dancers, teachers, and parents! On Saturday Gwen & Melissa will meet with the dancers to discuss common injuries for dancers and what exercises they can do to reduce their risk for injury. They will also be offering a seminar for parents and dance teachers on how to determine pointe readiness and how to support dancers if they are injured. 
Here’s a little background on these two talented and knowledgeable young ladies… 
Both Gwen and Melissa began training at Maxine’s Studio of Dance, became soloist members with the Vineland Regional Dance Company, & recipients of numerous scholarships from Regional Dance America Northeast & DDF. 
Gwen continued her training at Burklyn Ballet Theatre, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, The Ailey School, Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, CZ, and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London, UK where she obtained an Masters of a Science degree in Dance Science. In 2012 she received her teaching certification in the Horton Technique from The Ailey School. Gwen is an honors graduate from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with undergraduate degrees in Dance and Political Science. She has performed all over the world and is currently in Company E in Washington, DC for “Voyagers,” a work commissioned by the Kennedy Center. 
Melissa continued her training at Burklyn Ballet Theatre, Glenda Brown Choreography Project, Young! Tanzsommer Austria, and Mercyhurst University where she began her undergraduate Performing Arts degree. Melissa graduated from Rowan University with a Bachelors of Science degree to pursue her passion towards the career of Physical Therapy while continuing to perform as a guest artist. She graduated from Thomas Jefferson University with her Doctorate of Physical Therapy in 2018. She was a recipient of the Otho Davis Scholarship, member of the National Honor Society for Health Professionals, and currently a licensed physical therapist with an interest in the performing arts population 

Liz Fink-Rakoski – Contemporary Master Teacher for the Scholarship Audition

Liz Fink-Rakoski holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from Shenandoah University wher she was a recipient of the Excellence in Choreography Award. She has taught a numerous institutions including the University of Delaware, Washington College, 24/7 Dance Studio, and Elower Sicilia Productions…just to name a few. She is the co-creator of the annual workshop ‘Artistry Unleashed’ and her choreography has been performed throughout the United States, including the prestigious Regional Dance America’s National Festival in Arizona. Liz is the rehersal director for the professional dance company InvisibleWings Dance Project and has dance professionally with various companies. She has also been on faculty at the Maryland Council Dance Festival and a previous President to the Council. Ms. Fink-Rakoski is creative and innovative with her choregraphy and teaching style. 

Leonid Goykhman-  Ballet Master Teacher for the Scholarship Audition

Leonid is a graduate of the Academy of International Ballet in Media, PA and holds a B.F.A. in dance education from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia PA. He is in his ninth season and a lead dancer with the First State Ballet Theatre in Wilmington DE. He has danced principal roles in ballets such as “Don Quixote”,”Coppelia, “Romeo and Juliet”, “Nutcracker”, and many others. Leonid also works as a ballet teacher, coach, choreographer, and free lance artist both locally and nationally. 

Olivia Hall-Conley -Hip Hop Master Teacher

Miss Olivia grew up dancing at Dancers Two Inc. in Cape May, NJ. She studied all styles of dance but developed a love for hip hop in her teen years. She has performed on Royal Caribbean cruise lines as well as in Walt Disney World. Olivia has been teaching for several New Jersey studios in Cape May and Atlantic counties and is currently co-director of her mother’s dance studio, The Turning Pointe. In addition to her dance teaching, she works with special needs children at the Cape May County Special Services School. 

Zachary Kapeluck- Contemporary Master Teacher

Zachary Kapeluck from BalletX received training at Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, The Juilliard School, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Summer Intensive, and in the summer of 2011 he worked as a guest artist with Mary Miller Dance in Pittsburgh in the project titled Confluence. He graduated with a BFA in Dance from Point Park University, where he had the opportunity to perform works by choreographers such as George Balanchine, Gerald Arpino, Toru Shimazaki, Kevin Iega Jeff, Val Caniparoli, Jessica Lang, and Alejandro Cerrudo. He received training there from Doug Bentz, Kiesha Lalama, Garfield Lemonius, and Dana Arey. Zachary joined BalletX in 2013. 

Shannon Lynch – Musical Theatre Master Teacher for the Scholarship Audition 

Shannon Lynch trained with the Greenwich Ballet School in Greenwich, CT and the the Lorna London School of Ballet in Larchmont, NY. She has taught Ballet, Theater and Acting classes at the Delaware Dane Academy for the past 16 years. Local community theater credits include Legally Blonde at the Milburn Stone Theater and Kiss Me Kate with the Brandywiners at Longwood Gardens. Shannon recently co-founded Waterglass Art, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting and supporting the arts, in Chester Country, PA and currently serves as Creative Director. 

Christina Paolucci – Ballet Master Teacher

Ms. Paolucci trained at Boston Ballet School and performed with the company while still in high school. After graduating from Juilliard with a BFA in dance under the direction of Benjamin Harkarvy she joined New York Theatre Ballet and enjoyed many years of performing with regional and NY based concert dance companies. Christina was artistic associate of The Tallahassee Ballet and is a former executive director/associate artistic director of NYTB. She has staged and choreographed ballets, commissioned new choreography and provided successful artistic and fundraising consultation to dance companies, schools, emerging dancers and aspiring choreographers. She held a long-standing senior faculty position at Ballet School NY, and has been on the summer faculties of national programs such as Perry-Mansfield and Burklyn Ballet Theatre. Currently, Christina is on the ballet faculty in the BFA program at Montclair State University and is an instructor of ballet at County College of Morris and West Side Dance Center in New Jersey. She is certified in Progressing Ballet Technique and is a StretchSource™ master trainer. 

Bria Walton- Contemporary Choreography class 

Bria will be hosting a contemporary choreography class full of improv techniques. The goal of Bria’s class is to explore the movement and for the dancer to add a piece of themselves to the routine to create a remarkable story. Bria creates a safe space to learn, grow and take risks. She can’t wait to move with each and every dancer! Here’s a little more about Bria…
Bria Walton is a central Jersey native where she started dancing at a young age. Bria began her training with hip hop classes and quickly added many other styles of dance including ballet, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, and tap to her studies. After graduation, she continued her hip hop training at Academy of Phresh in Philadelphia under the direction of Smart Mark Boston.
Bria’s professional credits include Good Morning America, Pharrell Williams Sephora Fragrance Launch, and she was recently a featured dancer in Todrick Hall’s music video for his visual album. Bria has completed two seasons with Introspective Movement Project, under the direction of Sonia Pennington, where she was able to dance for Matthew Schuler at the Wawa Welcome to America Festival and the Philly Fringe Festival. In 2014, Bria completed one of her biggest projects where she was the co-choreographer for an Off Broadway production in NYC called Sound Syndrome. Bria recently moved back from Los Angeles and is traveling around the country teaching the next generation of dancers! 

Former Master Teachers

The Delaware Dance Festival has been fortunate to host Master Class teachers from across the country.
Lauren Anderson – Ballet

Lauren Anderson trained exclusively at Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy from the age of seven. She joined Houston Ballet in 1983 and in 1990 became the first African-American to be promoted to principal dancer at Houston Ballet – and one of the few African-American ballerinas at the head of a major ballet company anywhere in the world. In addition, Anderson received the Special Jury Award at the 1990 International Ballet Competition as well as the International Critics Award in Chile.

Anderson danced leading roles in numerous classical ballets. Her repertoire included works by George Balanchine, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Christopher Bruce, James Kudelka, and Trey McIntyre. Anderson created the title role in Ben Stevenson’s Cleopatra, and her performance as Cleopatra received accolades from international critics. Anna Kisselgoff of The New York Times compared her to the great Italian actress Eleanora Duse, and Christine Temin of The Boston Globe pronounced her “a powerhouse in interpreting the role that Stevenson created on her.” Ms. Anderson performed across the world as a guest artist, appearing in New York, Chile, Moscow, and Chicago.

In April 1999, Anderson was featured on the cover of Dance Magazine. She has also been featured in the magazines People and Pointe; as well as on the television programs “A&E Breakfast With the Arts,” “CBS News Sunday Morning,” and the game show, “To Tell the Truth.”

The Martin Luther King Foundation, Coalition of 100 Black Women, YWCA, by the Urban League, Delta Gamma Foundation, Texas Woman’s Chamber of Commerce, Houston City Council, and the Texas Legislature have honored her.  Anderson is also an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Anderson was awarded the Jefferson Award for Community Service in 2011. Anderson is the proud parent of Lawrence Bell Fitzgerald Turner.

The Delaware Dance Festival is extremely grateful that Lauren Anderson has taken time out of her busy schedule to join us as the 2017 DDF Ballet Master Teacher. We appreciate her sharing her expertise and passion for dance with all of us.

Jody Anderson – Musical Theatre

JODY ANDERSON is thrilled to be teaching for the Delaware Dance Festival this year.   As a principal dancer with the Kansas City Ballet for 16 years, Jody had the honor of performing some of the greatest works of the 20th Century. She was also hand-picked by Alvin Ailey to perform as a guest artist with his company The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. Jody is currently the ballet mistress at The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia.  Locally, Jody has choreographed for Candlelight Theatre, Wilmington Drama League, 3 Little Bakers The Brandywiners and the Ritz Theatre.   She also created original works for The Kansas City Ballet, Mid-Atlantic Ballet, The Rock School and the Delaware Dance Company.  Jody choreographed the West Side Story Suite in collaboration with the Curtis Institute, The Rock School and the Leonard Bernstein Trust at the Mann Center in Philadelphia, was honored to be nominated for a Philadelphia Theatre Alliance Barrymore Award for her choreography for Candlelight Theatre’s 2007 production of Chicago.  Jody also won the 2013 Barney award for her choreography for A Chorus Line and the 2015 Barney for Mame at the Candlelight Theatre, as well as the 2016 Broadway World-Delaware for outstanding choreography for The Music Man. Her best production, however, is her beautiful daughter, Julia.

R. Colby Damon – Scholarship Class Ballet Teacher

Colby Damon was born and raised in Richmond, VA, and received his dance training at the Richmond Ballet, Boston Ballet, and the Virginia School of the Arts. He has danced professionally for Sacramento Ballet, Mark Morris Dance Group, The Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Northwest Dance Project, and BalletX among others. As a choreographer, his works have been performed by BalletX, Pennsylvania Ballet II, Sacramento Ballet, Charlottesville Ballet, Ballet 180 , Bryn Mawr College, and Opera Philadelphia. Additionally, his worked have been selected to be performed at Pennsylvania Ballet’s SHUT UP & DANCE, The Current Sessions NYC, Vivadança International Dance Festival in Brazil, and the International Contemporary Dance Festival of Mexico City. As a teacher, he has taught in many institutions and universities such as University of the Arts, NYC Public School for Dance – Ballet Tech, and the Rock School, and has taught company class for Pennsylvania Ballet, City Ballet of São Paulo, Ballet Hispanico, Body Traffic, and BalletX. Colby graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in Performing Arts from St. Mary’s College of California’s LEAP Program. He is currently a dance educator, choreographer, and freelance performer based out of Philadelphia.

Jenna Edelstein – Scholarship Class Jazz Teacher

Jenna is from New Jersey, where she was trained by Maxine Chapman. She was a soloist with the Vineland Regional Dance Company, where she performed the leading roles in The Nutcracker Ballet as well as works by Choreographers Jonathan Phelps, Kim Chapman, Gina Gardner Walther, and Alan Hineline. Jenna was a Regional Scholarship winner at the Regional Dance America Northeast Festival for two years. She has also studied with the Pacific Northwest Ballet School and the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company.  She graduated with a BFA as a performance major form The Hartt School/University of Hartford, CT, which she attended on scholarship. She has been a guest performer with Configurations Dance Theatre and danced professionally with Contempra Dance in Wayne PA.  A master teacher and choreographer with the VRDC she has choreographed “Falling in Line”, “The Trouble with Time” and “Possession”. Jenna received the prestigious Monticello Award at the 2014 RDA/NE festival for her work, “The Trouble with Time.” This award allowed her to attend the RDA National Choreography Intensive on full scholarship, where she received the Choreography Connection award for the second time. Jenna had the pleasure of working with the Delaware Dance Company through this award. She is currently working as a preschool teacher with Vineland Public Schools and a supportive DDF Board Member.

Clyde Evans- Hip Hop teacher 

Clyde is an innovative and inspiring teacher of all ages. He has worked with numerous celebrities and has made several television appearances including working with the show America’s Best Dance Crew. He currently teaches throughout Philadelphia at both Wesleyan and Drexel Universities.

Gary Jeter – Jazz/Modern/Contemporary

Gary W. Jeter II began dancing in 1997 at Pebble Brook High School for the Performing Arts in Atlanta, Georgia, where he graduated in 1999.  Gary attended the Ailey fellowship summer program and he received a full director’s scholarship to the University of the Arts where he graduated in 2003 with a BFA degree.  After graduation he was asked to join Philadanco where he was a principal dancer from 2003-2007.  Gary has also worked with Fernando Bujones & Eddie Shellman in addition to dancing with Eleone Dance Theater.  Gary has choreographed works for Eleone Dance Theater, Danco 2, The University of the Arts, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet.  Gary danced with Complexions from 2007-2014 where he is still an artist in resident, and in November of 2013 premiered his first ballet for the company.  Gary joined Ballet X  in 2014.

Pasha and Kristina Kambalov- Partnering Class 

Pasha Kambalov will be teaching partnering at this year’s DDF while Kristina Kambalov teaches variations class. Pasha is the Founding Artistic Director of First State Ballet Theatre and Kristina is the Executive Director of the company. Both are former professional Ballet dancers and together have staged hundreds of shows for FSBT. 

Autumn Schneider – Scholarship Class Musical Theatre Teacher

Autumn is from Dover, Delaware where her love for the arts began growing up in a musical theatre family with a dance teacher/choreographer mother. She studied locally under the direction of a number of notable teachers including Judith Engelgau, Tatiana Akinfieva-Smith, Teresa Emmons, Victoria Voshell, Flossie Vogel and Dan Kaiser. Her professional career began at the Mill Mountain Theatre in Virginia and continued in regional theatres throughout the states, on board cruise lines and in Europe where she toured with Wolfgang Bocksch Concerts’ 42nd Street.  She has choreographed for theatres, schools, commercials and industrial events including but not limited to Clear Space Theatre Company, New Candlelight Theatre, Three Little Bakers, Delaware Ballet, Schell Brothers, The Grier School, and numerous dance competitions. Over the years, Autumn has been a faculty member for a number of studios, as well as a guest teacher. She has had the privilege of teaching for The Rock School, Cecil Dancenter, Delaware Dance Company, First State Ballet Theatre, Central Delaware Dance Academy, Delaware Dance Festival, and Sussex Dance Academy. Autumn is the co-founder and President of the Diane Drulis Foundation, a non-profit organization awarding scholarships to dancers to further their education in the arts. She currently teaches at The Rock School West, and is the resident choreographer at the Blue Moon in Rehoboth Beach. Autumn resides in Lewes with husband John, two children Dru Otto and Natalie Diane and her father, Mike Drulis.

Gary Taylor- Ballet 

Gary Taylor is  the founder and Artistic Director of the Winston Salem Festival Ballet, is recognized for his mastery of original works, innovative choreography, partnering, instruction, and performance After graduating from the North Carolina School of the Arts, Gary Taylor performed as a professional dancer throughout the southeast until retiring from performance in 2006. Gary then concentrated on choreography and teaching, earning many awards such as the Regional Dance America (RDA) National Choreographic Award in 1999 and 2006 and  the prestigious RDA Choreographic Commission Award in 2004.  The North Carolina School of the Arts honored him as the Outstanding North Carolina Teacher in Performing Arts from the North Carolina School of the Arts in 1999 and the High Point Area Arts Council presented him with the Mayor’s Teacher Support of the Arts Award in 2007. 

A versatile choreographer, Gary has created works for both ballets and musicals. He has served as faculty at many dance institutions including: North Carolina Dance Alliance, Lecon de la Danse, Tennessee Association of Dance, North Carolina School of the Arts, Dance Masters of America, and High Point University Fine Arts Center and Performing Arts Department. Gary has even taught Master Classes for the cast of Cirque du Soleil’s Delirium.  He is currently on faculty with Festival Dance Center, the home of the Winston-Salem Festival Ballet.


Alex Wong- Ballet 

Alex Wong was born in Canada and began his Tap and Jazz traning at the age of seven. At age ten, he started his ballet studies with the Goh Ballet Academy in Vancouver, Canada. In 2000, Alex won two Junior World Titles in Tap and Showdance. Awarded with the Royal Academy of Dancing Solo Seal, Alex won the Audience Choice Award and was a Bronze Medallist in the 2003 Genee International Ballet Competition. In 2004, he became the first Canadian to win the Prix de Lausanne competition in Switzerland, and later that year joined the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company.In 2005, Alex danced briefly with American Ballet Theatre before joining Miami City Ballet. In early 2007, Alex was promoted to the rank of soloist at MCB.

Alex’s repertoire of leading roles include Balanchine’s Symphony In Three Movements, Agon, Western Symphony, The Nutcracker, Twyla Tharp’s Push Comes to Shove, In the Upper Room, The Golden Section, Mark Morris Silhouettes, Edward Villela’s Don Quxiote, Paul Taylor’s Funny Papers, Bournonville’s Conservatory, Stephen Mills Hush, Anton Dolin’s Variations for Four and La Fille Mal Gardee. In 2009, Alex chose to audition for the FOX dance series, So You Think You Can Dance. He breezed through Vegas week and was chosen for the final Top 20 but was forced to withdraw due to contractual issues with the Miami City Ballet. However after his SYTYCD season five audition, Alex was promoted again to the rank of principal soloist at MCB. In 2010, Alex was offered yet another promotion to principal dancer at MCB but declined the offer in order to pursue another shot at SYTYCD. He went through another grueling Vegas week, but again made the Top 10 contestants for season seven, competing for the title of America’s favorite dancer. 

 Alex signed with Bloc Talent Agency in New York. By February 2011, Alex booked commercials and several print jobs as well as his first television job since SYTYCD as part of the dance ensemble for NBC’s new TV series Smash directed by Steven Spielberg. In the summer, Alex appeared on The Ellen Show, The Voice, danced with LMFAO, and was asked to re-join So You Think You Can Dance as an All-Star. Days before starting SYTYCD, Alex was sidelined with another Achilles injury and had to withdraw. During recovery, Alex focused on singing and acting and auditioned for American Idol, making it to the semi final Hollywood rounds. By early January following his recovery, Alex released his first dance single Crave on iTunes and Amazon, filmed his music video, starred in a short film shot in Los Angeles and was offered the Original Broadway Cast of Newsies where he played the role of Sniper.