May 26, 2021

Introducing the PHILADANCO! @ CityDance Teaching Faculty

We are excited to welcome PHILADANCO!, The Philadelphia Dance Company, to the 2021 CityDance School & Conservatory Summer Intensive lineup! PHILADANCO! will bring their signature Horton technique and modern dance training to our students in-person and online June 14 through 25, 2021.

Learn more about the PHILADANCO! @ CityDance Summer Intensive here.

Learn more and see our entire 2021 summer intensive schedule here.


PHILADANCO! Company Artists

Janine N. Beckles
A native of New York City, Janine started dancing at the age of six at Dance Theatre of Harlem, where she stayed for eight years under fellowship scholarship. She then continued her training at LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts and the Ailey School (performing "Memoria," "Hymn," and "Revelations,") both on full scholarship. Janine received a BFA in Dance Performance and a BA in Sociology from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. Janine was a National Foundation of the Arts award recipient in Modern Dance. A former member of Dallas Black Dance Theatre for five years. Janine has done some commercial work and also danced in the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards as a dancer for Beyonce. Janine is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She was selected to be one of the 2018-2019 Visiting Teaching Fellows for the School of American Ballet. Janine is currently a lead dancer and company Graham teacher going into her 11th season with Philadanco. She teaches Masterclasses while on tour at such places as USC Kaufman, UMASS Amhearst, UNC and other universities and colleges. She just completed the Martha Graham Teacher Workshop this past June. Janine is a newest board member of the Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers Association (PVLA). She is currently in graduate school studying to obtain her MBA with a concentration on Leadership. Recently appointed Assistant to the Artistic Director.

Mikaela Fenton
Mikaela, native to Southern New Jersey began dancing at the age of four. Her training with Chez Dance Studio under the direction of Roseann Mastrogiacamo Gatto sculpted her during her early stages of dance. She later was a part of the performing arts program with Paul VI Highschool under the direction of Courtney Daniels, receiving a scholarship in dance to further her education. While attending The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Summer Program, she had the opportunity to perform several works by Jonathan Lee. Mikaela, under scholarship, earned a BFA in Dance at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. During this time she has performed in works choreographed by Katie Swords- Thurman, Jesse Zaritt, Sidra Bell, Tommie Waheed-Evans, Kyle and Dinita Clark, Milton Myers and Meredith Rainey. Parallel to her schooling Mikaela joined Philadanco's D/2 under the direction of Donald T. Lunsford II prior to being accepted into Philadanco.

Joe Gonzalez
From Boston Massachusetts, Joe Gonzalez started dancing at Roxbury Center Performing Arts and graduated from Boston Arts Academy. Joe has participated in Boston Conservatory's summer intensive, American Dance Festival, Bates Dance Festival and twice at SpringBroad Danse Montreal.Gonzalez received his BFA from Boston Conservatory and premiered works in their choreography showcases and commissioned 2 works at Bryn Mawr College. He's toured nationally and internationally as performing artist with Philadanco, Anna Myer & Dancers, Prometheus Dance, #DBdanceProject and with Jo-Mé Dance as choreographer/ Co-Artistic Director. Joe is also Director of Philadanco's 3rd Company (D/3) and on faculty at Temple University and Boston Arts Academy.

Jameel Malik Hendricks
A graduate of the Philadelphia High School for the Creative & Performing Arts (CAPA) where he had the opportunity to receive his dance training. He was also presented with the Dance/Humanitarian/Congeniality award. Jameel attended "Eleone Dance Unlimited" as a scholarship student and was appointed the position of dance captain for "Eleone Connections". After graduating from CAPA, Jameel went on to continue his training in dance at Rutgers University at the Mason Gross School of The Arts, majoring in Dance Education. Jameel has also had the opportunity to attend at the "Rock School for Ballet" on a full scholarship.


CityDance Faculty Teaching Artists

Lorraine Spiegler
Founding Artistic Director, CityDance School & Conservatory

CityDance School and Conservatory Founding Artistic Director, Lorraine Spiegler’s professional dance career spans over 35 years as an educator, director and choreographer and embodies innovation in dance education at the national and international levels. Her work is deeply rooted in the global network/reality of multi-cultural expression and perspectives through myth, legend, lore, language and history. Strongly focused on training and performance excellence in individual dancers with an eye on identifying and nurturing talent and quality — Ms. Spiegler's mission is to recognize and promote individuals’ dance gifts while igniting future generations of dance professionals who will contribute to new directions and themselves innovate in the broader dance field.

Ms. Spiegler holds a B.A. date in Dance cum laude (1979) and two Masters, (1991) in Dance History and Arts Management from American University where she also served as a Dance Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Performing Arts. In 2003 she garnered the American University Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Dance Field.

Early in her career, Ms. Spiegler traveled to the Caribbean to teach in The St. Croix School of the Arts. She later served as an NEA artist-in-residence for the Caribbean Dance Company and School and in 1982 became the Artistic Director of Theatre Dance School and Company for which she also created an international exchange program with Bennington College and a scholarship program for talented Caribbean dancers to attend the prestigious July Program.

In 1991, Mary Day invited Ms. Spiegler to return to her alma mater, The Washington Ballet (TWB), as a full-time faculty member. In 1999 Spiegler became TWB’s first Director of Education and Outreach and co-founder of The Washington Ballet’s DanceDC Program with Septime Webre. Spiegler also created the “Dancing with Words' ' curriculum. There she also developed and co-directed “Cultural Partnerships for At-Risk Children and Youth Program: Dancing Toward Literacy” funded by the US Dept of Education for 50, 7th graders in Anacostia, connecting directly to TWB’s programming at the ARC.

Commissioned twice by the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) in partnership with the Kennedy Center as the Dance Director/Choreographer for “Music that Moves”  Program (in 1999,  2003) Ms. Spiegler worked in artistic collaboration with the NSO conductors towards the  realization of a classical music and dance program that highlighted qualities of classical music while showcasing  DC area talents from: The Washington Ballet’s Young Dancers and professional company, The Kirov Ballet Academy and Duke Ellington School for the Arts.

Ms. Spiegler’s international and intercultural dance exchange projects have taken her to the Caribbean, Europe and Latin America. Ms. Spiegler's Brazilian/American exchange work has been extensive. She created and implemented a new bi-lingual dance and language project based on her methodology “Dancing Toward Literacy”  for the Escola Americana in Rio de Janeiro (EARJ), has served as a choreographer-in-residence for Richard Cragun’s Ballet De Anima, as a Cultural Specialist/Artist-in-residence funded by the US Consulate in Rio for Dalal Achcar’s Compania Jovem do Rio De Janeiro (also taking the company to dance at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC) and co-creating with Goucher College Dance Department in Maryland an international study abroad course for American students:  “History and Practice of Brazilian Dance” connected to her other work in Rio de Janeiro with Escola de Samba Mangueira, Focus Cia de Danca, The Folk Dance Company of UFRJ,  Faculdade Angel Vianna, and Cia Deborah Colker.

Ms. Spiegler is the recipient of the 2013 Metro Dance DC Award for "Excellence in Education" for her role in the founding and development of CityDance Conservatory -- work that began in 2007-2008. Under her leadership and direction, CityDance School and Conservatory based at the Strathmore Music Center in North Bethesda has become one of the region’s most prestigious centers for pre-professional dance training. Conservatory Dancers continue to be recognized by various honors and accolades including awards at WBC, Vienna international Competition (Fanny Elssler), NYCDA, and finalist placements at YOUNG ARTS and Prix de Lausanne. From 2010 through to the present, CityDance has had an impressive presence at YAGP including--individual awards in classical and contemporary, ensemble and pas de deux, Hope, Grand Prix, and Best Teacher. Our dancers have also won medals at YAGP International Finals in NYC, and secured invitations to the YAGP gala in Mexico. Ms. Spiegler also coaches and choreographs for the YAGP dancers.

Spiegler continues to serve as a Board member for Rio de Janeiro/Maryland Partners of the Americas. She has served as a panelist for many organizations and conferences including the Dance USA Conference in 2000 in San Francisco, California co-presenter with Septime Webre, Martin Cohen, and Suzanne Callahan: “The Development of the DanceDC Evaluation Plan” and for The Kennedy Center's D.C. Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative in Washington, DC in 2001 on the panel for “Arts Partners Beyond the School Day” where she presented her paper “Problems and Possibilities of After-School Arts Programs”. Ms, Spiegler's publications include Dance Teacher Magazine: “7 Days: Building a Dance Curriculum through Cultural Dialogue.” April 2001, pp. 59-61 on her work in Cuba.

Keith Lamelle Thomas
CityDance Conservatory Faculty

Keith Lamelle Thomas is a graduate of The Baltimore School for The Arts. After graduating, Mr. Thomas received a full scholarship to Dance Theater of Harlem. He worked his way up the ranks to become a principal dancer. Mr. Thomas then went on to have a wonderful career on Broadway. Performing in such shows and movies as Ragtime, Red Shoes, Jellys' Last Jam, Harlem Song and Black and Blue, Mr. Thomas can also be seen in a few movies, Step Up, Malcolm X Stompin at the Savoy and The Producers. Mr. Thomas was awarded Broadway's Gypsy robe. For having the most shows. He was also awarded a Living Legends award. Mr. Thomas was an adjunct professor at Towson University, director of their Children's dance division, and he's had the pleasure of teaching, choreographing, assisting and consulting many seasoned and up-and-coming artists. In projects such as, Ruined, The 75th anniversary tour of Porgy & Bess, Sophisticated Ladies and Cool Papa's Party. Mr. Thomas is very grateful to become a part of the CityDance faculty.

Therese Gahl
CityDance Conservatory Faculty

Therese Gahl received the crux of her dance training from the Washington School of Ballet under the tutelage of Mary Day. When she was a young student, one of her many influential instructors in the program included Lorraine Spiegler. In 2007, she became a member of Ballet West II in Salt Lake City. She graduated with cum laude honors from George Mason University, where she received a Bachelor of the Arts in Psychology. In 2011 she started working at CityDance and has had many roles in the institution and has since expanded to teaching classes in ballet, pointe, modern and jazz. She has recently worked with a number of the Conservatory students in presenting her choreographic work at Sidney Harman Hall and the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington, DC. In 2017, she completed her diploma certification for Dance ICON Smart USA Method, International Consortium for Advancement in Choreography, founded by Vladimir Angelov. This fall she will be setting her own choreographic works at such institutions including Towson University and Georgetown University. In addition, she is a performing artist with Shu Chen Cuff’s Gin Dance Company and Stephanie Droycott’s Motion X Dance. She is looking forward to another great year as part of CityDance School & Conservatory.

Jacqueline Higgins
CityDance Conservatory Faculty

A native New Yorker, Ms. Higgins trained at the official conservatory of the Joffrey Ballet, principally under Ann Parson, Meredith Bayliss and Maria Grandy. She performed in New York with Sandra Genter Dancers at New York City Parks Department venues, Grant’s Tomb and on Wall Street; Barnard-Columbia Dance Concerts at Columbia University, the Joffrey Ballet’s Petrouchka at City Center Theater; The Chapin School Dance Club; Ballet Academy Youth Dancers at numerous high school theaters; and Bernice Johnson Dancers at the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

Ms. Higgins has taught ballet and pointe technique classes for over 15 years in the DC metro area and has re-staged and coached over 20 classical repertory variations to student dancers at the pre-professional level. In 2017, she joined the ballet faculty of CityDance School and Conservatory. Ms. Higgins follows the Vaganova curriculum, building strength and precision through meticulous attention to detail, while instilling the automaticity of its épaulement. In 2017 and 2018, Ms. Higgins enhanced her professional dance education by completing a teachers’ workshop covering the full Vaganova curriculum led by an MFA graduate of the ARB Kirov Academy in St. Petersburg and former principal dancer with the Moscow Ballet.

Since 2018, Ms. Higgins has participated in the CityDance Summer Intensives, teaching ballet and pointe alongside the guest faculty from the Dance Theater of Harlem and Koresh Dance, as well as with CityDance colleagues in the Vaganova for the 21st Century program. She is pleased to participate again for the upcoming 2020 summer dance intensives.

As a complement to teaching and coaching, Ms. Higgins has written proposals and won grants from donor organizations, including the Margaret Abell Powell Fund and the Humanities Council of DC. The Arts Club of Washington invited Ms. Higgins to produce and present a history, interview and performance of the Capitol Ballet Company and the Jones Haywood School of Ballet, the first professional caliber ballet school and company for African Americans in the country. On behalf of Doris Jones, the founder of ballet school and company, Ms. Higgins created and chaired the Capitol Ballet Studio, Inc., a new nonprofit organization to showcase pre-professional dancers and choreographers of color.  Ms. Higgins was a member of the Washington Joffrey Board, promoting a greater East Coast presence of the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, through small donor fundraising, large donor programs with the Kennedy Center, an auction and wine tasting at the Embassy of Costa Rica and boutique Mediterranean cruises.

Ms. Higgins has a Master of Arts from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and an AB from Columbia University, Barnard College.

Marie Renee McNair
CityDance School & Conservatory Faculty

Marie Renee McNair began her ballet training at The Washington School of Ballet in Washington, DC under the tutelage of Lorraine Spiegler, Septime Webre, Victoria Leigh, Rebecca Wright and Rudolph Kharatian. She trained there for six years. Marie was a recipient of the Virginia Johnson Scholarship Award. Marie also attended intensives at The Rock School (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), The San Francisco Conservatory of Dance (San Francisco, California) and the Dance Theater of Harlem Residency Program (Washington, DC).

Marie received her BFA from the Conservatory of Dance at The State University of New York Purchase College. She trained with Kazuko Hirabyashi, Megan Williams, Ted Kivit, Stephanie Tooman, Rosanna Seravalli, BettiJane Sills and Helen Pickett. She has choreographed for CityDance Conservatory, The Brooklyn Ballet's Counterpoint Festival and The Hoover Damn Collective (Brooklyn, New York).
Marie recently graduated from Dance ICONS Choreographic Institute with a certificate in choreography.

Along with teaching and choreographing for CityDance, Marie has worked as Costume Mistress and onsite summer camp manager as well. She started working in 2010 at the CityDance summer intensive and has set quite a few dances on the Conservatory and top level students. As a year-round faculty member, Marie teaches between 7 and 9 classes a year in ballet, modern and jazz. Currently, Marie is also Head of the Dance Department at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, DC.

Olga Aru
CityDance Conservatory Faculty

Olga Aru graduated from Kiev State Ballet Academy, Ukraine - ballet and dance pedagogy. International ballet competition diploma winner “Dance Without Borders” - Kiev National Opera, Ukraine.

She was mentored by Varvara Potapova, Honored Artist of Ukraine. Since graduation she has worked and guested with numerous international ballet companies such as Imperial Russian Ballet – Moscow Russia, Silesian State Opera – Bytom Poland, Cairo National Opera House – Cairo Egypt, Les Ballet Persans – Stockholm Sweden, Aleph Company - Rome Italy, Virginia National Ballet – Virginia USA. Her leading and soloist roles include Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, Night Walpurgis, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Tut Ankh Amon, Turquoise Land, La Femme and Heart of Snow Queen. Olga was a touring soloist, Youth Cast Audition Director and Assistant Choreographer in Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker production in North America.

Starting Summer 2018 Ms. Aru launched her independent Summer Intensive Program which she brought into eight cities nationwide – AruSi.

As a choreographer Olga re-launches Aru Dell'Arte March 2020 and dedicates it to digital dance projects to reflect times we are living in. Her short film created during the lockdown was featured and became a finalist in several international film festivals.
Her recent contemporary work of Mozart's “Requiem” was performed and live-streamed at Anacostia Arts December 2020, Washington, DC.

Since 2013 Ms. Aru became a member of CID – UNESCO. Her research work “Dance on the Edge of Century” also known as “Modern Dance For Different Generations” was represented at 37th CID Dance Congress in Athens, Greece 2013.

Alicia Canterna
CityDance School & Conservatory Faculty

Alicia Canterna began her Classical Ballet training with the St. Louis Ballet under the direction of the late Ludmila Dokoudovsky and Antonio Zalewski. Canterna moved to Washington, DC at 16 to continue her training, on scholarship at the Kirov Academy of Ballet. There she studied under Nikolai Morozov and Ludmila Morkovina. Upon graduation Alicia went to Shenandoah University pursuing a BFA in dance performance and a minor in Arts Management. Alicia is a proud founding member of Company | E in Washington, DC. She has performed works by Paul Taylor, Ohad Nahrin, Sharon Eyal/Gai Behar, Rachel Erdos, Kate Weare, Thomas Noone and Robert J. Priore, as well as many other renowned choreographers. Alicia was a cultural ambassador with Company | E traveling the world performing, choreographing and teaching master classes. While with the company, she acted as Rehearsal Director, Ballet Mistress and Choreographer.

Currently, Alicia is the Rehearsal Director and Ballet Mistress for SweetBird Productions. She has performed with the production company’s RockTheBallet, Romeo and Juliet and RockTheBalletX. Ms. Canterna is also a coach and teaching artists for young pre-professionals. Alicia accredits the growth of her career to her family, colleagues and engaging artists she’s had the pleasure to work with from around the world. Canterna is also a certified Pilates instructor.


Photo Credit: Julieanne Harris