Lisa Wasserman, Artistic Director

Lisa Wasserman has been teaching ballet in the Delaware Valley area for fifteen years. Originally from New Jersey, Miss Wasserman began her dance training at Irine Fokine School of Ballet and on scholarship at the New Jersey Ballet School. She continued her training at New York City Ballet’s renowned School of American Ballet, at American Ballet Theatre School and the Pennsylvania Ballet School. Miss Wasserman began her professional dance career with apprenticeships at New Jersey Ballet and Pittsburgh Ballet. She then toured the country as a soloist with Omaha Ballet and Ballet Arizona, and as a principal dancer with Des Moines Ballet. Miss Wasserman has worked closely with distinguished choreographers Peter Anastos, Loyce Houlton, and Jean-Paul Comelin. She has choreographed such ballets as The Four Seasons, Orpheus in the Underworld, and Peter Pan. Additionally, she created a full-length Nutcracker, as well as the crowd pleasing Alice in Wonderland and the brand new Evening By the Lake. Miss Wasserman is a Magna Cum Laude graduate of Temple University. She would like to thank her husband, Michael, and her 3 beautiful daughters for their love and support in building DVDA.

Charity Eagans DiEmedio

Charity Eagens DiEmedio began her dance training at the age of seven at the Valley Forge School of Dance. She then trained at the Rock School of the Pennsylvania Ballet. Miss Eagens became a trainee with the Hartford Ballet before joining the Pennsylvania Ballet Company as an apprentice in 1996. She was promoted to the corps de ballet in 1998 where she danced until her retirement in 2005. Her featured roles included the Lead Butterfly in Midsummer Night’s Dream, White Cat and Energy Fairy in Sleeping Beauty, Pas de Six in Taming of the Shrew, Calliope in Apollo, the Spring Fairy in Cinderella and the trio in Lynn Taylor Corbett’s Great Galloping Gottschalk. Charity has performed in most of Pennsylvania Ballet’s repertoire including Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, Giselle, George Balanchine’s Rubies, Serenade, Who Cares?, The Nutcracker and Slaughter on Tenth Avenue, Alvin Ailey’s The River, Peter Martin’s Fearful Symmetries and Mathew Neenan’s Vicissitudes. When not teaching, Ms. DiEmedio enjoys spending time with her 3 little dancers Isabella, Ava and Olivia.

Tara Caponigro Halikiopoulos

Tara Caponigro Halikiopoulos, A.R.A.D. is an accredited dancer with the Royal Academy of Dancing, London. She received her ballet training from the late Alison Gjermo, A.R.A.D. and Alexi Yudenich of Russia. Tara also trained with Victor Moreno of the Ballet Russo and Shaun Doyle from Joffery Ballet. Tara was offered numerous scholarships to dance with Philadelphia Civic Ballet, Ballet Lubbock of TX and attended classes at The Pennsylvania Ballet, Princeton Ballet, Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway in NY. After joining Ballet South in South Jersey and rising to the level of Principal Dancer, she was also asked to become their Ballet Mistress. Some of Tara’s featured roles include “Sugar Plum Fairy” in the Nutcracker, Cinderella, “The Wicked Queen” from Snow White, “Aurora” from Sleeping Beauty, “Peter” in Peter and the Wolf. Tara is a high school Math teacher. During her time teaching at Paul VI High School in NJ, Ms. Halikiopoulos instituted a ballet program at the school and produced several school plays such as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, The Sound of Music and Bye Bye Birdie. She was the choreographer for Big the Musical, Annie and 42nd Street. When Tara is not teaching dance she spends her time with her husband, Nick and their two children, Sophia and Isaac.

Hannah Wasserman

View More: http://carolinemorrisphotography.pass.us/hannahHannah Wasserman was trained at Delaware Valley Dance Academy. In 2008, Hannah earned a full scholarship to study at the prestigious Pennsylvania Governor’s School of the Arts where she studied jazz, ballet, and modern dance. Ms. Wasserman graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.F.A. in dance and education from The Ohio State University in 2013. At OSU she studied many forms of dance including West African dance, improvisation, Gaga, partnering, modern and ballet. Hannah had the honor of performing in numerous concerts, including three consecutive years in the prestigious Drums Downtown, Dance Uptown, student concerts, and independent projects. Most recently, she had the opportunity to perform in a work choreographed by Noa Zuk and Ohad Fishof of Batsheva Dance Company. Ms. Wasserman has also trained with Parsons Dance, Keigwin + Co. and River North Dance Chicago through workshops and intensives. Currently, Hannah is a company dancer in the Philadelphia contemporary ballet company, DanceSpora and the Paoli based company, Ballet180.


Valerie Kuzmick Graufelds

Valerie Kuzmick Graufelds began her ballet training in the Philadelphia area at the age of four. Several years later she began studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet in Narberth and at age twelve was awarded a scholarship to train in John’s White’s Vaganova program. Following high school, Valerie danced as a guest artist with the University of the Arts and several local companies and troupes. She then danced in New York for three years before returning to Philadelphia to attend college. Her featured roles included leading parts and solos in Don Quixote Grande Pas de Deux, The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Paquita, Swan Lake, and several other ballets, as well as original choreography. In addition to teaching ballet classes, Valerie continues to dance as a soloist with DVDA. When not dancing, Ms. Graufelds enjoys spending time with her husband and  two young boys and daughter.

Jennifer Yackel

Jennifer Yackel resides in Philadelphia, where she was a member of the Jeanne Ruddy Dance Company.  She also currently performs with Chisena Danza and XT Danscollective.  Ms. Yackel spent the past three years working with the Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company, where she performed in theaters all over New York State as well as doing Arts in Education work in local schools. She taught at the Arts Center of the Capital Region and presented her own work in collaboration with fellow company dancers and local musicians. Although she has always had a love for modern and contemporary dance, Jennifer’s early training was primarily in ballet and she enjoyed a brief but fulfilling career as aballet dancer. During high school Ms. Yackel participated in the Kennedy Center Master Class Series for Promising Young Dancers and received a medal at the Youth American Grand Prix. Upon graduation, Jennifer trained with the Richmond Ballet before joining the Ballet Theatre of Maryland. It is there that she fell in love with teaching and choreographing. In her three years there, Ms. Yackel was a primary teacher and choreographer in the school playing a vital role in its restructuring.  Jennifer moved on to freelance with Bowen McCauley Dance in D.C. and then moved to New York City where she studied at the Limon Institute and the Ailey School. At the Ailey school, she performed Kylian’s “La Cathedrale Engloutie” and worked with Jeanne Solan.  She performed with Neville Dance Theater and one of her favorite experiences in the city was performing with musician Paul Zunno at Symphony Space.

Natalie Stairiker

Born and raised in the Philadelphia area, Natalie received her professional training at Point Park University’s Conservatory of the Performing Arts in Pittsburgh where she strained with Nicolas Petrov, Patricia Wilde, Kenneth Johnson, Susan Stowe, Judith Leifer, Doug Bentz, Jodi Welch, and Ron Tasson. Natalie received a leadrole her freshman year in the original children’s musical Pied Piper and danced numerous roles in ballets and original works in the university dance company. After graduating with a B.A., Natalie moved home to continue teaching and choreographing throughout the area. She spent her first two years as Temple University’s Dance Team Coach training the girls to compete on a national collegiate level. Natalie continues to choreograph the musicals for Montgomery Theater Project, where she started her senior year in high school. In addition to teaching, Natalie continues her studies with Koresh School of Dance in Philadelphia, Broadway Dance Center NY, and Steps on Broadway NY. Natalie and her husband are the proud parents of three beautiful girls.

Jenna Smith

Jenna Smith_newMs. Jenna Smith is in her 10th year teaching at DVDA.  Ms. Smith grew up training with Lisa Wasserman. She supplemented her dance training with summer dance intensives at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Briansky Ballet Center, and DeSales University. Ms. Smith graced our stage in such roles as the Snow Queen in the Nutcracker, the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland, Doc in Snow White and Peter in Peter Pan. Ms. Smith is the proud mother of little Evelyn, age 6.


Julie Wright

JWright2015Julie Wright is native to northeastern Ohio where she received her initial dance training and performance experience with Northeast Ohio Dance under Brenda and Christopher Stygar. She graduated Cum Laude from DeSales University with a B.A. in dance where she had the opportunity to continue training in ballet and modern dance techniques, as well as perform works by artists such as Gregory Dolbashian and Timothy Cowart. Ms. Wright has been fortunate to have supplemented her dance training with intensive programs at schools such as Paul Taylor, The Joffrey Ballet School, and Ballet Met. Since relocating to Pennsylvania, Julie has had the pleasure of connecting with talented Lehigh Valley artists, and is excited to continue performing for choreographers such as Trinette Singleton and Sarah Carlson. Julie has taught ballet and creative movement to students in various areas of the country since 2006. She possesses a love for performance, kinesiology and dance somatics, and continues to work diligently to share her passion for movement with dancers of all ages.

Talya Wasserman

Talya Summer 2015

When not in college to  become a Physician Assistant, Ms. Talya Wasserman teaches Pre-Ballet 2, Ballet 1, Jazz classes and our camp programs. Most of you know Ms. Wasserman from her roles as Snow White in our Spring 2010 production and Swanhilda in our 2012 production of Coppelia. Talya has supplemented her dance training at DVDA with summer intensives at Burklyn Ballet Theater, S. Carolina Summer Dance Conservatory and Syracuse summer dance intensive, where she has studied with former principal dancers with American Ballet Theater and New York City Ballet. Miss Wasserman recently completed a dance intensive with David Parsons in New York City.

Debbie Totten

12011283_10101358160567448_1035039798503372303_nDebbie Totten has been teaching and choreographing for over 20 years. She studied ballet and modern dance in college and received a B.A. and teacher certification from SUNY Brockport, NY in Arts for Children with an emphasis in dance. Ms. Totten is the Director for Li’l Peeps Preschool and teaches the 4/5 year old class. Debbie is aBoard member for S.T.A.R.S at Pennridge High School and choreographs for their musicals. She is really enjoying the opportunity of working with Ballet 2 students and being a part of DVDA.

C13407127_10209381822403699_7396814418032495532_nourtney Klinger – Hip Hop

Guest Faculty:

Barry Kerollis

BarryKerollisHeadshot BW

Barry Kerollis was born in Philadelphia, PA. He trained at the Chester Valley Dance Academy in Lionville, PA and on scholarship at the Kirov Academy of Ballet and the School of American Ballet. Mr. Kerollis began his career with the Houston Ballet and later joined Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, WA, where he continued to dance for seven seasons. Barry currently works as a freelance dancer based out of Philadelphia.

Mr. Kerollis has danced Puck in Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mercutio in Maillot’s Romeo et Juliette, Cassio in Duran’s Othello, and leading roles in works by Balanchine, Connor, Dove, Forsythe, Kylian, Morris, Quijada, Robbins, Seiwert, Stroman, and Tharp. Barry has created original roles in works by Caniparoli, Landon, McIntyre, Neenan, and Welch. He has performed in New York at the Guggenheim Museum for their Works and Process series and at the Joyce Theater. Barry has performed in a gala for First State Ballet Theatre’s Arabesque Festival and at the Vail International Dance Festival.

As a freelance artist, Mr. Kerollis has worked as a principal guest artist with Rochester City Ballet. He has also worked with American Ballet Theatre, Alaska Dance Theatre, Russian Ballet Theatre of Delaware, Ballet X, and Avi Scher and Dancers. He is featured in dance documentary; Dancing Across Borders, dance book; Where Snowflakes Dance and Swear, Jordan Matter’s blog for New York Times Best Seller; Dancer’s Among Us, and Bob Rizzo’s instructional dance video; Ballet with Style. In 2001, he was selected as a finalist in the Youth America Grand Prix competition. Mr. Kerollis teaches master classes around the country and is an aspiring choreographer. His work was most recently performed in the Philly Fringe Festival. He was commissioned to create a work for Seattle’s “Men in Dance” festival and has created four works for Pacific Northwest Ballet and it’s school in the company’s annual choreographer’s showcase.