5000 Greenbag Road, Morgantown, WV 26501 info@morgantowndance.org 304-292-3266

Faculty

Faculty Biographies


 

Olivia Allen

Olivia Paige Allen holds a Bachelor of fine Arts degree in dance with special emphasis on dance science from the Florida State University, where she was awarded the Dickinson and Settle Scholarship for promising first year dance student and remained on the academic Dean’s list for four consecutive years. A native of Morgantown, West, Virginia Allen has performed original works by Rick Mcollough, Andre Zachary, Anthony Morgan, Robert Steele, Dan Karasik, Keisha Lalama, Josephine Giribaldi, Pearl Ubungen, Lauren Slone, Cecil Slaughter, Sharone Price and Peter Mertz at the Florida State University Dance department, the Morgantown Dance Studio and the American Dance Festival. Olivia Allen choreographed, shot, and produced the dance film Half- Heart which was selected to be shown at the 2016 DIGITECH film conference held at Florida State University. Ms. Allen has taught beginning to intermediate level dance classes at the Morgantown Dance Studio for four years. Interested in conditioning for dancers, injury prevention and recovery, Allen has worked closely with mentors such as Thomas Welsh, as a conditioning/ Pilates reformer coach and kinesiology tutor. Olivia is a certified Pilates Mat instructor and has worked as a physical therapists’ aide for 5 years, working towards her doctorate of physical therapy. Allen is committed to her performance career, pursuing a career in physical therapy to train dancers, and becoming a knowledge base of body work somatics.
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Tracy Cottrell

Tracy Cottrell began teaching dance classes at the age of 15, with a focus on preschool and acrobatics instruction. She taught classes at a local dance school for 6 years, while attending Morgantown High School and West Virginia University. After graduation from WVU with a degree in business Administration, Tracy moved to Pittsburgh where she worked for KPMG Peat Marwick and became a Certified Public Accountant. While living in Pittsburgh, she taught tap and jazz at the Pittsburgh Dance Academy. Tracy returned to Morgantown in opened her own dance school, Tracy’s Dance Company, in 1993. She operated her own studio for 6 years, teaching all genres and age levels. She sold her dance school in 1999, and became a 4th grade teacher at Easton Elementary in Morgantown. Tracy is now the Assistant Principal at Eastwood Elementary School. This is her second year teaching at Morgantown Dance. She has 4 children, ages 13, 18, 23, and 26. She enjoys weight lifting, running, hiking, kayaking, dance fitness classes, and travelling.

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Madison Hoke

Madison Hoke is from Fairmont, West Virginia. She is an alumnus of The San Francisco Conservatory of Dance. In San Francisco, she participated in work by choreographer Yuri Zhukov, from the San Francisco Ballet.
From 2013-2015, Madison was a member of Ensemble Batsheva under the direction of Ohad Naharin. During this time, she also created two pieces Batsheva Ensemble Creations.
After her time in Batsheva, from 2015-2019, Madison worked with Roy Assaf Dance Company, and Eyal Dadon of SOL Dance Company. She has had the opportunity to perform and teach work from all three companies, both in Israel and around the world. Madison has had the pleasure to work as rehearsal assistant and re-stage works of Roy Assaf and SOL Dance Company. She participated in many freelance projects, including Ohad Naharin’s BOLERO with dancer Natsasa Navotna, works by Ido Gidron, and choreographers Guy Shomroni and Yaniv Abraham.
Madison is also a certified Gaga teacher. She has taught Gaga in Israel, Russia, America, and China, as part of The New Beijing Dance Festvial. Her most recent creation, ‘Not,’ premiered in February 2020, performed by the students of West Virginia University. At present, Madison continues to teach, as well as, create work of her own.

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Mollie Mock-Kaufman

Mollie Mock Kaufman, originally from West Virginia, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Point Park University with a Bachelor of Arts in ballet and jazz. Upon graduation Mollie moved to Chicago and trained on scholarship at the Lou Conte Dance Studio: Home of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and as a summer apprentice with River North Dance Chicago. Mollie then went on to spend five seasons with Thodos Dance Chicago where she had the opportunity to tour nationally and internationally, was a master teacher for the company, and had two of her collaborative works, “Reflect” and “Exurgence” become part of the company’s repertoire. During her time at Thodos she had the privilege of performing works by Founder and Artistic Director, Melissa Thodos, Bob Fosse, Ann Reinking, Ron De Jesus, Lucas Crandall, Lar Lubivach, Brock Clawson, among many others.. While in Chicago, Mollie also worked with Kai Harding Productions, doing film work that has premiered at Film Festivals all over the nation. Mollie performed on Holland America Cruise Line through Stiletto Entertainment. She has taught extensively at studios in the Chicagoland area, Pittsburgh, and throughout the state of WV, along with teaching master classes on the intermediate, collegiate, and pre-professional levels. She has been on faculty at Point Park University’s International Summer Dance and Dance Masters of Pennsylvania, Chapter 10. She is currently a master teacher for the convention, AMBITION, and an adjudicator World Class Talent Experience.

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Ashley Marie Manzo

Ashley Marie Manzo began her dance training at Monica’s School of Dance in Fairmont, WV. Her family moved to Illinois where she studied with various studios and danced/competed High School Dance Teams. Ashley went on to be a graduate of Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville with a Bachelors of Sciences Degree in Theatre & Dance. During her 4 years at SIUE, Ashley participated in faculty shows, student productions, danced in rep by the MidAmerica Dance Company and was President of the University Dance Organization. She found her true passion in college, which was choreographing. Ashley received the FOTAD Scholarship and Provost Fine Arts Scholarship… her choreography “Whisper to a Scream” was chosen for the Faculty Choreographers Award and was presented at the American College Dance Festival. In school, Ashley studied a variety of dance forms including Graham, Horton, Release, contact improv and Laban. While at MDS, Ashley has choreographed for several shows including: The Nutcracker, Snow Queen, Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland, and directed her original works of A Sleeping Beauty and Romeo & Juliet. in 2014 her choreography performed by Jack Thompson “An Ode to the Human Transformation” rewarded Jack with the Jerry Rose Scholarship at the WV State Dance Festival. Ashley is also a FitTour Certified Modern Pilates Teacher and teaches Pilates/Core classes around the Morgantown area. She also created Marie Manzo Photography specializing in photographing dance. Apart from dance Ashley is an AST Certified Surgical Technologist and a Certified Ophthalmic Assistant at Regional Eye Associates. Ashley resides in Morgantown with her husband Beau and son Oliver.

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Hunter Moreland

Hunter competitively Irish danced for 6 years at the Quinn School of Irish Dance in Kalamazoo, Michigan. She competed across the country, winning many titles and advancing to the Open Championship level. She danced there until she came to West Virginia University and joined the WVU Irish Dance Team. She was part of the team for 2 years until she became the team captain. While at WVU, she decided to study abroad in Ireland at University College Cork, where she worked very closely with professional Irish dancer Margaret McCarthy. Here she had the honor of performing at Blarney Castle and for Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla at an Irish-British relations dinner in Dublin, Ireland. Outside of dancing, Miss Hunter spends most of her time studying to graduate with a Doctor of Pharmacy and a Master’s of Business Administration.

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Marcy Bowers Mossburg

Marcy Bowers Mossburg is a cum laude graduate of Point Park University where she was a Golden Key scholarship student. She has a BA in dance with a concentration in Ballet. She was a five-year dance faculty member at West Virginia University, where she also served as the Artistic Director and Principle Choreographer for the WVU Ballet Ensemble and Director of the children’s preparatory program. Marcy spent four years teaching at the Russell School of Ballet in Chantilly, VA. While in Virginia she choreographed for the Fairfax Ballet. She has been a guest choreographer and taught master classes throughout WV. A former member of the Morgantown Dance Studio faculty, she currently resides in Bridgeport, WV where she teaches for the Annabel Timms School of Ballet.

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Kinsey Novak

Kinsey was a recent company dancer with the Syracuse City Ballet performing principal roles as Vampire Queen in Dracula, Snow Queen, Dew Drop and Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker and Fairy Godmother in Cinderella.
Prior to Syracuse City Ballet, Kinsey was a principal dancer for Rafael Grigorian Ballet Theater (RGBT). She performed Carmen in Carmen, Cinderella in Cinderella and Audrey Hepburn in the RGBT original Lovely.
Kinsey is a graduate of the Boston Ballet Schools’ Pre-Professional Division and her additional training includes School of American Ballet (full scholarship), Harid Conservatory (full scholarship), Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Charlotte Ballet at the Chautuaqua Institute, Rafael Grigorian School of Classical Ballet and Binghamton University.
Kinsey won many awards and scholarships at prestigious competitions such as the Youth American Grand Prix and Cornell University Dance Sport Classic Ballroom Dance Competition.
She will be teaching ballet and pointe to our intermediate and advanced level dancers and will be offering character and latin dance styles training to our company dancers this year.

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Laurel Plitnik

Laurel Plitnik, a sophomore at Frostburg State University, first came to MDS when she was six weeks old being held in her mother Desiree Witt’s arms, and had been dancing and doing productions since. Her dance training has primarily come from Morgantown Dance Studio, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and Louisville Ballet. Laurel was a member of the Morgantown Ballet Company for four years before she started focusing on her loves of musical theatre and plant science. Laurel has participated in numerous ballets and musicals, including Cinderella (as Cinderella), Snow White (as Bashful), Peter Pan (as Tiger Lily and Nana), The Little Mermaid (as Ariel), Thoroughly Modern Millie (as Millie), Elf Jr. (assistant director and choreographer), and more Nutcracker’s (and roles in them) than she can count! Alongside teaching ballet and private lessons, Laurel also teaches piano and voice lessons to people of all ages. Her favorite part about teaching is when she can spark a dedicated and effortful attitude in all of her students.

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Ashley Schifano

Ashley Schifano has trained at Mindy’s School of Dance, AW Dance Company, West Virginia University, and Broadway Dance Center. Ashley has won numerous awards through dancing and choreographing. She is currently the head coach for the Westwood Middle School majorettes. Locally, Ashley was a majorette and varsity cheerleader in both middle school and high school. Ashley earned her B.A. in Dance from WVU in 2018. During her time at WVU she completed two different internships with Disney World in Orlando, Florida. While in Orlando, Ashley trained at Spotlight Dance Center. Ashley has also trained with the Radio City Rockettes for five years now. Ashley is currently working towards her Master’s in Elementary Education, at WVU. She is excited to become a member of the Morgantown Dance family this year!

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Miranda Straub

Miranda Straub is a native of Morgantown, WV. She began dancing at the age of 3 and has been fortunate to train with teachers such as Robyn Naugle, Erin Alvarado, and Terrill Mitchell growing up. While in college and graduate school, she continued her training largely with Angela Dennis as a member of Alchemy Dance Project while also taking classes with Yoav Kaddar and Renee Nicholson through the West Virginia University Dance Program. After graduating from West Virginia University with a masters degree in aerospace engineering in 2015, she has been working at the NASA Independent Validation and Verification facility in Fairmont, WV. She enjoys teaching in her spare time and is very excited to be teaching at Morgantown Dance Studio this year!

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Katie Tavolacci

Katie Tavolacci is a dance educator in Morgantown, WV who  recently completed her Bachelor of Arts in Dance from West Virginia University, where she was selected to perform in multiple performances. Katie has studied dance since the age of 3 and performed with the Augusta Youth Ballet Company for over 7 years, under the direction of Nina Scattaregia. From the age of 12, she became a student assistant and taught ballet to young students throughout high school. She has won scholarships to attend both Governor’s School for the Arts and Point Park College Summer Dance Conservatory. In 2018, Katie received her certification from American Ballet Theatre’s Teacher Certification program levels Pre Primary – Level 3 in New York City.

She is a member of NDEO and won the 2018 NDEO Undergraduate Student Scholarship to attend their national conference in San Diego. Katie has taught for the Boys and Girls Club, the WVU Summer Dance Academy, and is currently an instructor at Morgantown Dance Studio.

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Deborah Liberatore West

Deborah Liberatore West is a graduate of WVU with an undergraduate degree in Physical Education and Masters Degree in Special Education. She is a member of Dance Masters of America – certified by tests (written and oral) to teach dance. She has attended many dance conferences/conventions with instruction from many professionals including: Charles Kelley and the late Danny Hoctor. She is a former dance instructor for Virginia Chittum at the Virginia School of Dance and has taught tumbling through the Monongalia County Community Schools. She is the former dance instructor/sponser for the Steppin’ Stallions – a dance group at South Middle School. She is also a tap instructor for the “Motown Strutters” – a senior tap dance group.

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Desiree Witt

As resident Director for Community Productions and Artistic Director at Northern West Virginia Dance Council, choreographer Desiree Witt recently set the Wizard of Oz as a ballet at the Metropolitan Theatre in Morgantown, West Virginia. With over 30 years of teaching experience, Ms. Witt has a B.S. in Music Education and an M. Ed. in Dance Education from Frostburg State University.

Starting her own musical theatre camp entitled “Gotta Sing, Gotta Dance Musical Theatre Workshop” 14 years ago, Witt has worked extensively performing, directing, choreographing, producing, and/or music directing over 100 productions in various forms from choral music, musicals, ballets, plays, to variety shows.

She is recently past Vice-President of the Cumberland Choral Society, a member of MENC and MMEA and, holds a Maryland State Teaching certificate for Music K-12.

She is certified to teach Vaganova Levels I-VI through John White, Irina Kolpakova, and the late Jurgen Schneider. She is also certified to teach Leap N Learn. Ms. Witt supplemented her training at Ballet Theatre of Annapolis, Point Park University, and with Madame Darvash in New York City.

Ms. Witt’s ballet students have been placed in prestigious schools and companies such as The Joffrey Ballet, School of American Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre (Schenley Park), Point Park University, North Carolina School of the Arts and The Juilliard School.

In her home studio she trains dancers for the future of the dance world and has even choreographed for The Miss America Pageant.

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