Faculty

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.

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, A.R.A.D

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.

Valerie Kuzmick Graufelds

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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.

Daniel Mayo

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Daniel Mayo is originally from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. He received his BFA in Dance from The Juilliard School where he performed works by Jiří Kylián, William Forsythe, Aszure Barton, and Eliot Feld, among others. Daniel danced with Atlanta Ballet from 2007 until 2010, performing many classical roles as well as works by choreographers such as Twyla Tharp, Darrell Grand Moultrie, and Bennyroyce Royon. He also performed in Lauri Stallings’ world premiere of BIG featuring Big Boi from Outkast. In 2010, Daniel joined the Montreal based company RUBBERBANDance Group under the direction of Victor Quijada. With RUBBERBANDance Group, Daniel performed throughout North America, Europe, and Asia, as well as participated in multiple film projects, most notably for Bravo!FACT. Daniel has also worked professionally as a guest artist with The Atlanta Opera, Dance Grand Moultrie, and Bennyroyce Dance Productions. For the past four years, Daniel has been a company member with BalletX in Philadelphia.

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 Dansefusion.  Before moving to Philadelphia, Ms. Yackel spent 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 a ballet 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. Aside from teaching at DVDA, Ms. Yackel teaches dance in the Philadelphia public school system for the Rock School of education 

Fang-Ju Chou

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Fang-Ju, born and raised in Taiwan, came to the United States to further her study of dance. She earned an Associate Degree of Dance in Australia from Queensland University of Technology Academy of Arts/Dance and received her BFA in Dance Education from the University of the Arts. She is trained in a wide variety of dance styles and stagecraft. Fang-Ju joined Koresh Dance Company in 1998 and currently travels to perform and teach across the U.S.

Jenna Smith

Ms. Jenna Smith is in her 15th year teaching at DVDA.  Jenna 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, specializing in ballet, tap, hip-hop, and jazz.  Jenna graduated Magna Cum Laude with her Associates in Liberal Arts in 2016.  Then, in 2019, Ms. Smith graduated Cum Laude with a B.A in Early Childhood and Elementary Education along with a teaching certification from DeSales University.  Jenna graced our stage in such roles as Peter in Peter Pan, the Snow Queen in the Nutcracker, the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland, Doc in Snow White, Dr. Coppelius in Coppélia, and the Witch in Hansel and Gretel.  Ms. Smith is the proud mother of little Evelyn, age 10.

Jessica Afflerbach

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Jessica Afflerbach grew up in the greater Philadelphia area.  She is a dance educator, performer, choreographer and recent graduate of Muhlenberg College. Her dance training includes ballet, modern, jazz and tap. Her ballet training has been under the instruction of professionals including Karen Dearborn, Megan Flynn, Heidi Cruz-Austin, Christine Jones and Kevin Jenkins.Miss Afflerbach has performed works choreographed by Trinette Singleton, Tiffany Mills and Heidi Cruz-Austin while she was at Muhlenberg. Jess's passion is for teaching young dancers through a creative curriculum of modern and ballet. Miss Afflerbach's dance teacher training came under the direction of Teresa VanDenend Sorge and Megan Flynn at Muhlenberg college, using the Anne Green Gilbert Creative Dance Curriculum.

Debbie Totten

Debbie 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.

Hannah Wasserman

Hannah 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. In her current professional career, Hannah is a company dancer in the Philadelphia contemporary ballet companies DanceSpora and Klassic Contemporary Ballet Co, and danced with the Paoli based company, Ballet180 for two seasons. She also performs with freelance artists such as Barry Kerrolis, Blythe E. Smith, JDY Dance and others. 

Angelica Spilis - Tap

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Angelica Spilis is the Artistic Director of Equilibrium Dance Academy. She is a Philadelphia native who studied dance at Temple University in the Boyer College of Music and Dance where she received her BFA (2012) and MA (2015) degrees in dance. Her Masters of Arts degree included many choreographed works and her written thesis called Dancing With Arthritis where she created a Somatics-based dance class for dancers who have arthritis. At Temple University, Angelica concentrated in Modern, Jazz and Improvisational Dance. Along with continuing her dance education, Angelica has taught at many dance studios in the Philadelphia area and performed for numerous dance companies, such as Philly Sirens, ContempraDance Company and Steven Welsh/SWERVE. Angelica’s intense tap dance training began at the Young Performers Theater Camp where she took tap class every day for six weeks during the summer. She attended this dance program for six years. Her training continued with such notable teachers as Jacob Guzman and David Guzman, who both starred in the Broadway musical Newsies. Angelica has showcased her tap skills at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival and for the Garden State Festival. She has also choreographed dances that were featured at Temple University, Disney World, Carnegie Hall, Spring UP Dance Festival and the ETC Performance Series. 

Kate Shaeffer

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Kate Shaffer graduated from Penn State University in 2015 with a bachelor in Childhood and Early Adolescent Education and minors in Special Education and Dance.  She currently lives in Telford, PA, and teaches 3rd grade at Vernfield Elementary School in Souderton Area School District.  She began her dance training at the age of 4, and studied at Delaware Valley Dance Academy until she graduated high school.  In college, she studied a variety of dance styles including modern, hip-hop, African, improvisation, and contemporary.  She also did a summer study abroad in Dublin, Ireland where she took daily dance classes as well as immersed herself in the dance culture of Ireland through shows and cultural experiences.  She is very excited to be back at DVDA to put her two passions, dance and teaching, together.

Talya Wasserman

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.

Cathrynne Reynolds

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Cathrynne received her early training in the Philadelphia area earning her B.A. in dance and minor in psychology from Eastern University in 2012. While at Eastern she studied ballet, pointe, modern, jazz, African dance, pedagogy, dance history, and dance composition and held principal roles in various works including Michel Fokine’s Les Sylphides. Cathrynne then performed for three seasons with the contemporary ballet company DanceSpora under direction of Heidi Cruz-Austin where she held various soloist and principal roles. Among others, her company credits also include performances with Christopher Fleming’s BalletFleming, Kariamu & Company, and guest performances including Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker. Cathrynne has also studied with Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, Peridance Contemporary Dance Company, Parsons Dance Company, and Ballet X.  Cathrynne has been teaching dance for fifteen years. Her choreography has been showcased in the Philadelphia Fringe Festival and has received various overall rankings and choreography awards at competitions. Cathrynne is an ABT© Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT© Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT© National Training Curriculum. She is also certified in Progressing Ballet Technique (PBT) and is currently on the roster of dance competition judges with Impact Dance Adjudicators.

Bridget Ansinn

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Bridget Ansinn has over 25 years of experience teaching all levels of ballet. For 16 years Miss Ansinn was the

director of Ballet Arts of Bucks County, which she founded, and recently sold. Bridget received her most formative

training from the noted Balanchine ballerina, Gloria Govrin. She studied on scholarship at the School of American

Ballet, and at Pennsylvania Ballet School, where she performed with the Pennsylvania Ballet Company throughout

her high school years. Bridget continued dancing at Point Park College while earning her BA in Anthropology from

the University of Pittsburgh. Shortly after graduating, she joined Ballet Theatre of Maryland, and for several years

also performed as a guest artist with Dance Theatre of Pennsylvania and Hamilton Ballet Theatre, while also

teaching. Once Bridget became a mother in 1999, she began to concentrate more of her time on teaching, including

the opening of her own studio in 2003. Miss Ansinn received teacher training from Finis Jhung in New York City,

Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet with Marcia Dale Weary, Darla Hoover and Melinda Howe, and early childhood

training with Beverly Spell. Bridget is a proud mother of three wonderful children, Allison, Carolyn and Timmy.