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.
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
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.
Sandra Davis Sandra is a native of Philadelphia and started her training at the Anastasi Dance Studio. She received her BFA in Ballet Performance from the University of the Arts in 2007. During her time at the University of the Arts, she studied under such instructors as: Christine Cox, Scott Jovovich, Andrew Pap, Eva Szabo, Ronen Koresh, LaVaughn Robinson, and Kim Bears-Bailey. She currently teaches at several area studios in NJ and PA. She was Artistic Director of Mid-Atlantic Ballet in Delaware from June 2018 to December 2021. Sandra also teaches ballroom dance for Dancing Classrooms Philly. She received her certification in Progressing Ballet Technique (PBT) in 2020. Sandra started performing with SHARP Dance Company in the spring of 2009 and was named Assistant Director in 2014.
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 danced with Koresh Dance Company in Philadelphia for twenty years where she traveled to perform and teach across the U.S and around the world. Fang currently teaches company class at Koresh and in their school in Center City. Fang is happy to be returning to teach at DVDA.
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.
Kelsey Voelker grew up in the greater Philadelphia area beginning her dance training under Lisa Wasserman for 16 years. She graduated from Towson University where she received dance training in the styles of Ballet, Modern, Jazz and Hip Hop. Her ballet training has been under the instruction of professionals including: Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell, and Catherine Horta-Hayden. Her modern training has been under the instruction of professionals Nancy Wanich-Romita, and Vincent Thomas, and her hip hop training under Quilan "Cue" Arnold. During her time at Towson, Kelsey also became captain and choreographer of one of the school’s dance teams styling in Hip Hop, Contemporary and Jazz where she led & choreographed performances for football/basketball games, school events, and competitions. In addition to teaching, Kelsey currently works in Marketing and Photography. Kelsey is passionate about teaching dancers on ways to strengthen their bodies, minds and creative abilities.
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.
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.
Angelica Spilis - Tap
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.
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.
Sophie Malin grew up in Boston, MA and Mason, OH. Sophie trained extensively in Ballet & Modern dance at Northern Cincinnati Youth Ballet under the direction of Oliver Arana (Cincinnati Ballet) and Susanne Payne (Dayton Contemporary). After relocating to Philadelphia, Sophie danced professionally with Alchemy Dance Company, SHARP Dance Company, and Klassic Contemporary Ballet Company. She also worked as a freelance artist for Blythe Smith, Evalina (Wally) Carbonell, Asya Zlatina and several others. Sophie has attended intensives at BalletX, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, Joffrey School of Ballet, Northwest Dance Project and Northern Cincinnati Youth Ballet. Sophie has a deep passion for teaching, including working as the Assistant Director/Artist in Residency at Wilmington Ballet in Delaware. Sophie joined Kun-Yang Lin/Dancers as an apprentice in 2019 and was a teaching artists in the CHI Dance program. In 2020, Sophie was promoted as a dance artist and as KYL/D’s Education Coordinator.
Ann Renhard Cole
Ann Renhard Cole studied on scholarship with Pacific Northwest Ballet School and the School of American Ballet. Her training in ballet, jazz, and modern, with esteemed teachers from companies including Joffrey, Ballets Russes, Kirov, New York City Ballet, and Royal Danish Ballet, gave her a well-rounded dance education. As a company member with the Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle and later, Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet in San Francisco, Ann enjoyed a career performing corps, ensemble, and soloist roles in classical and contemporary ballets. In addition to performing a core repertoire of Balanchine and Kent Stowell works, Ann enjoyed the opportunity to create original works with choreographers including Alonzo King, Lucinda Childs, Lynn Dally, and Ian Horvath, and participated in a gala performance with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland. After a back injury forced her retirement from the stage, Ann earned her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Texas at Austin while teaching and choreographing ballets in the Austin dance community. For many years she practiced environmental law and served as an attorney for the U.S. Court of Appeals. In recent years, Ann found her way back to the dance studio and served as Executive and Artistic Director for the non-profit, Wilmington Ballet Academy of the Dance. Her teaching is inspired by her varied background of experiences and a desire to help ballet dancers enjoy a high-quality, life-time engagement with dance that enriches and informs their other life pursuits.
Tiffany Clotaire, an experienced dance educator, received her training at Pittsburgh’s Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA) middle school and high school, majoring in dance. She honed her skills as a company member of Philadanco (D2) and received a BFA in Dance from Temple University, where she was awarded the Rose Vernick Choreography award. Miss Clotaire has over 15 year experience instructing in various dance forms at East Coast studios and schools. A sought-after guest choreographer, Tiffany crafts captivating pieces for showcases, and musical theater productions. Tiffany's dedication to nurturing confidence, fostering community, and promoting dance excellence continues to inspire her students to excel, all while maintaining a harmonious family life.
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 began her early training in her native Maryland where she primarily studied ballet. 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. Following a brief but fulfilling career as a ballet dancer, Jennifer moved on to dance with Bowen McCauley Dance in D.C. She 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. Ms. Yackel then 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. Jennifer moved to Philadelphia to join the Jeanne Ruddy Dance Company. She also danced with Chisena Danza and Dansefusion. Ms. Yackel was a prolific choreographer with her own dance company, JDYDance. During her many years teaching at DVDA, Ms. Yackel also taught dance in the Philadelphia public school system for the Rock School of education, where she took on a leadership role.
Talya Wasserman trained at Delaware Valley Dance Academy. She 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 also completed a dance intensive with David Parsons in New York City. While in college, Ms. Wasserman studied at the Pittsburgh Ballet. Talya has taught every level of ballet from Pre-Ballet through advanced, plus Jazz classes and in our camp programs. Many of you know Ms. Wasserman from her roles as Snow White in Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, Swanhilda in Copplelia and Alice in Alice in wonderland in our spring productions. Ms. Wasserman is currently a Physician Assistant in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.
Jenna Smith taught at DVDA for almost it’s entire existence. 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. She has taught 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. Ms. Smith Smith went on to receive her Masters in elementary education. 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 a teenage daughter, Evelyn.
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. 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. Ms. Wasserman had the opportunity to perform in a work choreographed by Noa Zuk and Ohad Fishof of Batsheva Dance Company. Ms. Wasserman supplemented her training with intensives and workshops with Parsons Dance, Keigwin + Co. and River North Dance Chicago. In her professional career, Hannah was a company member of contemporary ballet companies DanceSpora and DanceFusion, and danced with Ballet180. She also performed with freelance artists such as Barry Kerrolis, Blythe E. Smith, JDY Dance and others. Since moving to the U.K, Hannah completed her post graduate in elementary education and is an elementary school teacher with a leadership role in her school.
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.
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.