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The Dance Center Faculty

 

Donna L. Muzio

Donna L. Muzio, Artistic Director & Founder

Ms. Muzio has been the Director of The Dance Center for over 44 years. Her unequaled dedication to her school, students, and instructors and her unique, thorough teaching style have brought The Dance Center a reputation as one of the top pre-professional and most widely respected training institutions in the tri-state area. While consistently working to develop and improve the Vaganova curriculum as it applies to her school, Ms. Muzio continues to teach classes and mentor students while implementing concise, structured classical schedules for her school and company to follow. As a result of this hands-on approach, The Dance Center continues to be one of the most current, successful dance schools, attracting talented, serious students seeking a classical ballet base, along with a challenging, varied performing experience.

Continuing with her mission, in 1979, Ms. Muzio founded the Brandywine Ballet, a non-profit ballet company. The Dance Center would become the official school for the newly formed company. In 1999, Ms. Muzio and Eddy Toussaint founded the Brandywine Ballet Theatre, the professional arm of the company, and Brandywine Ballet's Certificate in Dance Program, a unique partnership with West Chester University. Both of these non-profit programs have proved to be successful outlets for quality performing opportunities for both serious dance students and professionally recognized choreographers.

While Brandywine Ballet initially performed and concentrated on classical ballets, over the past few years, Ms. Muzio's goal for the school and company has been the development of artists who fit in the 21st century, i.e., classically trained dancers who are also exposed to contemporary and neo-classic choreography and influence. Ms. Muzio guides her students in their training by insisting they develop a strong, classical technique with professional-level, challenging classes daily. She couples that with the opportunity for them to develop their individual expression by working with guest choreographers and other master teachers. In addition to the in-house professional faculty, all dancers have the opportunity to experience new choreography and masterclasses with professionals from The Balanchine Trust, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Pennsylvania Ballet, Koresh Dance Company, BalletX, and Joffrey Ballet, to name a few.


Nancy Page

Nancy Page

Ms. Page trained at a young age at The Dance Center under the direction of Donna Muzio and was promoted to principal dancer with the Brandywine Ballet during her high school years. She won full scholarships to train with the Milwaukee Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Joffrey Ballet upon graduation. She apprenticed with the Pittsburgh Ballet before accepting a company position with Florida Ballet, where she danced the Gold Medal Pas de Deux, choreographed by world-renowned choreographer Norbert Vasak. She later became a member of the Tampa/Colorado Ballet dancing solo and principal roles in classical and contemporary works. Ms. Page eventually accepted principal positions with Sarasota Ballet and Ballet Eddy Toussaint USA, dancing many original, contemporary ballets that were set on her as well as performing the various classics such as Paquita Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker.

Ms. Page returned home in 1993 to teach at The Dance Center and also perform as a Principal Dancer with the Brandywine Ballet. In 1998, she was one of the first Principal Dancers in the newly formed Brandywine Ballet Theatre, the professional arm of the company, dancing alongside Zdenek Konvalina (presently with the English National Ballet) for 2 years. She eventually became Brandywine Ballet's Ballet Mistress in 2001 and has served in that position as well as Resident Choreographer since then. Ms. Page has been on faculty at The Dance Center since 1993, teaching ballet based on the Vaganova Method in the Elementary Division, Regular Division, and Professional Division of the school.


Tim Early

Tim Early

Tim Early has been on faculty at The Dance Center since 1993 and has also been a Principal Dancer with Brandywine Ballet Company during that time. Mr. Early has extensive ballet training and bases his teaching on the Vaganova Method of Ballet. In addition to dancing, teaching, and choreographing for the Brandywine Ballet Organization, Mr. Early is currently co-director of the Philadelphia-based Modern Company Opus I Contemporary as well as Resident Choreographer and Co-Artistic Director, alongside Donna Muzio, for newly formed Brandywine Contemporary. Mr. Early has also choreographed for Lafayette College, Moravian College, Temple University, and West Chester University. In addition, Mr. Early has served as the head of the Dance Department for the Performing Arts Institute in Wilkes-Barre, PA, for the past nine years in their prestigious summer program.


Jessica Morley

Jessica Morley

Jessica Morley is the daughter of Founder and Director Donna Muzio and former Principal Dancer with the Brandywine Ballet Company. Ms. Morley began her training at The Dance Center at the age of three. She was classically trained based on the Vaganova method of ballet, under the direction of Donna Muzio for fifteen years. During that time, Ms. Morley also studied with Nancy Page, Tim Early, Nana Badrena, Eddy Touissant, Cherie Noble, Patricia Brown, and David Kloss. Ms. Morley was one of the founding members of the Brandywine Ballet Theatre, the professional arm of the Brandywine Ballet Company, which was created by Donna Muzio and Eddy Touissant in 1998.

After graduating from Towson University in 2005, Ms. Morley returned home to join the faculty of The Dance Center. Under the mentorship of her mother, Ms. Morley is enthusiastic about the continual development of her skills as a dance instructor. Her teaching style is based on the Vaganova method to instruct her ballet students and uses this training as a basis for teaching other forms of dance. Outside of teaching at The Dance Center, Ms. Morley has earned a doctorate in School Psychology and has worked as a practitioner since 2009.


Kathleen Morley

Kathleen Morley

Kathleen Morley is the daughter of Founder and Director Donna Muzio and former Soloist with the Brandywine Ballet Company. Ms. Morley began her dance training at the age of three at The Dance Center, where she trained for fifteen years under the direction of Donna Muzio. During that time, Ms. Morley was classically trained based on the Vaganova method of ballet, studying with such teachers as Donna Muzio, Nancy Page, Tim Early, Cherie Noble, Nana Badrena, and David Kloss. Ms. Morley also studied jazz extensively during her training, both at The Dance Center and various schools in Philadelphia. In addition to her training, Ms. Morley has taught classes and workshops for The Dance Center's summer programs, assists in the organization and facilitation of The Dance Center's annual student recitals assists in administrative capacities for The Dance Center, and also serves as a rehearsal assistant for the Brandywine Ballet Company's annual production of The Nutcracker. This season is Ms. Morley's sixth year on faculty at The Dance Center.

Outside of dance, Ms. Morley earned a Bachelor of Science degree, cum laude, from St. Joseph’s University and obtained her Juris Doctor from Villanova University School of Law in 2009. In addition to teaching at The Dance Center, Ms. Morley works full-time as an attorney at a Philadelphia-based law firm.


Andrea Olazagasti

Andrea Olazagasti

Ms. Olazagasti began her dance training at Delaware Dance Company at the age of 9. Before graduating, she spent her final year studying at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. Ms. Olazagasti went on to dance for the Lousiville Ballet, Festival Ballet Providence, and most recently with First State Ballet, where she danced many leading roles such as Myrta and Peasant Pas de Deux from Giselle and Pas de Trois from Swan Lake. She has had works created on her, including Helena from A Midsummer Night's Dream and Evil Step Sister from Cinderella. In the 2013 Valentina Kazlova IBC, Ms. Olazagasti and her partner were awarded "the best interpretation of the compulsory piece" by Paolo Arrias of Boston Ballet.

In addition to dancing professionally, Ms. Olazagasti has extensive teaching experience in ballet, lyrical, modern, and jazz.  She has been a dance instructor for schools affiliated with the Louisville Ballet, Festival Ballet Providence, and First State Ballet.  For the upcoming 2015-2016 season, Ms. Olazagasti will be joining The Dance Center/Brandywine Ballet Organization as a Principal Dancer with Brandywine Ballet Theatre, in addition to joining our faculty. The Dance Center welcomes Ms. Olazagasti and looks forward to having our students benefit from her professional experiences both on the stage and in the classroom.


Madison Moore

Madison Moore

Madison Moore has been studying dance since the age of three. She joined the "The Dance Center" under the direction of Donna Muzio at the age of ten. While at The Dance Center, Ms. Moore studied Ballet, Modern, Lyrical, Jazz, and Hip Hop. Eventually, she auditioned and was invited to join the Brandywine Ballet Company, and quickly rose to become a member of the professional arm of the company, Brandywine Ballet Theater. Ms. Moore was selected to perform with the company in many ballets, both classical and contemporary, including The Nutcracker, Nancy Page's Beauty and the Beast and Dracula, George Balanchine's Serenade, and Meredith Rainey's Swan Lake. Most recently, Madison has studied Contemporary and Lyrical both at Koresh Studio and BalletX. Madison is currently a student at West Chester University and is in her third year of teaching at The Dance Center.


Jordan Bell

Jordan Bell

Ms. Bell began dancing at age three at the Blue Bell School of Dance. Her official training began at age seven under the direction of Donna Muzio at The Dance Center in West Chester, where she studied daily classes of Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical, Modern, and Hip Hop. Since becoming a member of the Brandywine Ballet Company at age eleven, she has danced many classical roles in The Nutcracker, Beauty and the Beast, and Dracula. Her most memorable role was as "Clara" in The Nutcracker. While at The Dance Center, Ms. Bell volunteered as a substitute teacher for Ms. Muzio and Rehearsal Assistant for Brandywine Ballet children's choreography. While with Brandywine Ballet, she studied and worked with noted choreographers Nancy Page, Meredith Rainey, Christopher Fleming, Christine Cox, Tara Keating, Matthew Neenan, and Tim Early, to name a few. Miss Bell is entering her 6th year on faculty at The Dance Center and is very much loved by all her students.


Thomas Grant

Thomas Grant

Thomas Gant is a graduate of Southern New Jersey Academy of Performing Arts, formerly under the direction of David Kloss, who was a Charter Member of Pennsylvania Ballet. In addition to his extensive studies with Mr. Kloss, Thomas also trained with Ronen Koresh and Melissa Rector of Koresh Dance Company, as well as with Delphine Del Bello, Nancy Page, and Christopher Fleming. Because of his experience and thorough understanding of David Kloss's true vision, Thomas has been appointed the regisseur of Mr. Kloss's extensive ballet repertoire, which is now in many regional and professional ballet companies across the tri-state area.

Mr. Gant works as a freelance artist, balancing family, dancing, teaching, and choreography. He has previously danced with Opus 1 Contemporary, Dance Del Bello, and BalletFleming. He is presently one of the Principal Dancers with Brandywine Ballet. Over the past 10 years, he has also developed an international relationship choreographing and teaching for Tainan City Ballet as well as Chung Hwa Arts High School in Taiwan. Thomas is a welcomed addition to the professional faculty of The Dance Center!


Genevieve Jacoby

Genevieve Jacoby

Genevieve Jacoby is an undergraduate student at West Chester University studying dance along with Political Science and Law. She currently serves as the Secretary for the West Chester University Dance Company, where she has many opportunities to choreograph and perform for the company.

Miss Jacoby's teaching experience is extensive. She has taught all ages and levels at the Conservatory of Music and Dance in Eagleville, PA, in ballet, tap, hip hop, acro, and lyrical. She also is a faculty member at Macrina Academy of Dance in Audubon, PA, where she started her training many years ago under the owner, Annemarie Macrina. Miss Jacoby has recently had the opportunity to perform in the professional realm by taking part in West Chester University's Department of Theatre and Dance Professors Devised Work entitled Carnival of Ruin.  


Beth DeVito Mondzelewski

Beth DeVito Mondzelewski

Ms. Mondzelewski was chosen to apprentice at 16 years of age with the Colorado Ballet. She then moved to Denver to join the company under the direction of Martin Friedman. After a short time as an apprentice, she became a proud member of the corps de ballet. She had the opportunity to perform in Denver and tour with company in full length classical and contemporary ballets. Ms. Mondzelewski danced professionally for several years until returning to Philadelphia to attend college where she received her BA in Fine Arts from the University of the Arts. For the past 20 years she has dedicated her life to performing, choreographing, and teaching in the PA, DE, and NJ areas. She now focuses her talent in the studio where she has the knowledge and experienc to connect with all students, young children through professional, in all genres of dance. The Dance Center welcomes Ms. Mondzelewski to our faculty as she is a seasoned teacher whose goal is to provide a high level of technique with a strong focus on implementing confidence in young dancers.  


Alaina Brown

Alaina Brown

Miss Brown began her dance training in West Chester under the direction of her mother, Kristin Brown, who was a principal dancer with Brandywine Ballet and, for many years, on faculty at The Dance Center. For 10 years, she was a member of a performing company in the area and danced ballet roles in The Nutcracker, Coppelia, and The Four Seasons, to name a few, as well as training and competing in lyrical, hip hop, and tap for many years at the New York City Dance Alliance. While she was training and performing, she also worked as an assistant teacher for pre-dance and elementary-level students in ballet, tap, and hip hop. While in high school, she was a member and assisted in choreography for the Henderson High School Dance Team. Miss Brown spent this past summer training with Donna Muzio, along with the entire Dance Center faculty, to become proficient in the Vaganova-based syllabus and style of The Dance Center.

Over the past year, in addition to dance, Miss Brown has had extensive experience working with young children in all capacities. She completed an Education Practicum Program in the West Chester Area School District, where she assisted teaching in classrooms, ensuring students stayed on task, helping them complete assignments, and eventually taught her own lessons. Her connection to young children in the classroom gave her a distinct advantage when teaching dance in the studio, realizing how elementary-level students see our world and learning how to best support them both artistically and socially.

“I love training and performing and am looking forward to passing on my teaching experiences and knowledge to the young children of The Dance Center.” Miss Brown will be teaching many of our of Pre-Dance and Elementary 1 classes, and we welcome her to The Dance Center’s faculty!


Patricia Perla

Patricia Perla, Pianist

Patricia has had a lifelong involvement with dance. She has designed and performed classical educational concerts for piano aficionados in New York and Pennsylvania, played for dance performances, rehearsals, and training classes, and directed and performed in musical productions for schools and churches.

Ms. Perla was Company Pianist for the Des Moines Ballet before moving to NYC, where she had the opportunity to play for leading dance teachers, including Maggie Black, Peff Modelski, Gelsey Kirkland, Steps, Broadway Dance Center, Ballet Academy East, and Joffrey School.

Ms. Perla has been playing for The Dance Center/Brandywine Ballet since 1990.