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  Home > TPAC Education  > Teaching Artists > Teaching Artist Roster  

 

TEACHING ARTIST ROSTER

Teaching Artists are alphabetized by first name. Click on an individual TA's name to read their biography.
     
Allison Bencar
Alison Brazil
Amanda Cantrell Roche
Andrea Roberts
Anna Gorisch
Beth Anne Musiker
Beth Inglish
Carol Ponder
Connye Florance
Dann Sherrill
Ginger Newman
Ginger Sands
Holly Cannon-Hesse
Jen-Jen Lin
Jocelyn Sprouse
Jon Royal
Kathleen Lynam
Laurel Desmarais
Lauren Jones
Leandria Lott
Marci Murphree
Mia Rose Ernst
Neil Spencer
Pam Atha
Rachel Sumner
Rachel Rodriguez
Robyn Berg
Steve West
Stefani Paige
Terry Occhiogrosso
Tricia Berry


Allison Bencar

Allison Bencar

Allison Bencar is an actor, musician and teacher originally from Cleveland Ohio. With a degree in Dramatic Arts from Cleveland State University, Allison has performed, taught and directed throughout Northeast Ohio. She has acted both onstage and on-camera. Allison worked as an Actor/Teacher for The Great Lakes Theater for three years where she toured schools performing and directing Classic Theater for grades K-12. She also helped organize and run various theater camps for children during the summers between 2007 and 2011.

Since relocating to Nashville in January 2012, Allison has worked as a teaching artist for TPAC on various projects as well as the Disney Musicals in the Schools program. Allison has also worked as a vocal coach at The School of Rock in Franklin, TN.

When she is not acting or teaching Allison can be found writing, performing and recording her own music!

Allison loves bringing theater and music to children!!



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Alison Brazil

Alison Brazil

Alison Brazil is an international artist and educator. As a singer-songwriter, violinist, and dancer, she has had the privilege to tour her unique blend of soul, folk, pop and Latin music in North, Central and South America, as well as throughout Asia.  Originally from Louisiana, she now resides in Music City, where she regularly performs with her band, the Roots of Rhythm, the acoustic duo, Café Con Leche, and the Nashville Salsa Machine.  She has witnessed the power of the arts to tear down walls and build bridges while performing all around the world and also during the last 10 years of teaching, in Honduras and Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS).
Throughout her teaching career she has taught Spanish, Dance, and Music and has served as World Language Department Head, presented at the 2013 Advanced Placement National Conference and the TN Arts Commission 2016 Collective Impact Conference, designed curricula for Heritage Spanish-speakers for MNPS, served as a Demonstration School Teacher for teacher development, was honored for Community Service to the Latino Community, named 2016 Tennessee Performing Arts Center Teacher of the Year, and along with Meharry Medical Center worked to develop a course for bilingual high school students to study medical interpreting.  This has all done with the hope that her students would connect to others, find meaning in what they do, value unity in the midst of diversity, and create a multi-cultural citizenry committed to ending systems of oppression in the world.  
As a teaching artist, Alison Brazil continues to fuse her spiritual foundation of hope into both her teaching and her art in order to connect, inspire, and energize.  




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Amanda Cantrell Roche

Amanda Cantrell Roche divides her time between choreography, Teaching Artistry, writing, volunteering, dabbling in film and parenting two teenagers. She is the co-founder of Blue Moves Modern Dance Company, a democratically-run collective. Since its inception in 1989, she has remained a performing member and choreographer. Amanda often integrates journalism and dance by creating works that use excerpts of recorded interviews and narratives in her choreography to bring light to social justice concerns. Works in this vein include “Breaking the Bones:  A Plea for Tibet,” “Yearning to Breathe Free” (refugee and immigrant stories and issues) and “Divine Sparks” (featuring the stories of local activists and addressing the divine spark in each of us). Excerpts of “Yearning to Breathe Free” opened a plenary session of the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention in June 2014. Recently she began exploring creating short, social-justice films, including “Conversations with Our Mother” and “Towards Ayasofya’s Wisdom:  Turkey, Islam and the Gülen Movement”. 

  hLucent Vignette Photography

Amanda's contemporary dance training includes an eclectic mix of Graham, Cunningham, Limón, and Horton techniques, as well as research in GaGa movement, Countertechnique, Contact Improvisation, and Bartenieff Fundamentals. She has taken master classes with Denise Jefferson, Freddy Moore, Chuck Davis, Idan Sharabi, Peter Chu, Ana Maria Lucaciu and many others, and she continues to take ongoing classes with New Dialect. She holds a minor in dance from MTSU, where she earned an Honors Degree with majors in journalism and English.

Amanda believes in the power of authentic experiences with the arts to heighten awareness, cultivate understanding and invigorate both children and adults alike through discovery-based learning. She has been a Teaching Artist with the ArtSmart program of TPAC Education since 2000, and enjoys the privilege of working with a team of talented colleagues to develop and facilitate seminars for Teacher and Teaching Artist professional development. She is a Disney Musicals in the Schools teaching artist, and also the author of multiple HOT Guidebooks



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Andrea Roberts

Andrea Roberts

Andrea is a Middle Tennessee Native originally from Brentwood.  She earned her BFA in performing arts with an emphasis in dance from Western Kentucky University.  Andrea has performed under the direction of Broadway's Terrance Mann in the play “The Lost Colony”, and in 2013 “The Lost Colony” received an Honorary Tony Award and was recognized by the American Theatre League.  She has also worked in many regional theatre contracts throughout the North and Southeastern United States.   While in Chicago, Andrea was a company member and teaching artist for Chicago Moving Company (Dance) and Adler Danztheatre (Dance Theatre).  She was a teaching artist for Beacon Street Gallery (art gallery) and The Galaxie (multi arts facility). Andrea is the star instructor “Ms. Dre” on Rhino Records DVD series “It’s Hip-Hop Baby!” for children 2-6 years of age.  She is an independent contractor, dance educator, choreographer, performance/ production coach and coordinator, while pursuing her own passion for performance, multi- media, and art.  Andrea is in her 7th season with Epiphany Modern Dance Company and she is also a choreographer and company member for Blue Moves Modern Dance Company here in Nashville.  Andrea is excited to be working as a teaching artist for TPAC Education!




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Anna Gorisch

Andrea Roberts

Anna Gorisch is a professional actor, a published playwright, a classically trained singer, an enthusiastic student of dance and, oddly enough, an attorney. She graduated from MTSU with a degree in Speech and Theatre with a focus on Theatre Performance. In 2000, her short play, The Individuality of Streetlamps, won the Kennedy Center's National Ten-Minute Play Competition. Since then, she has continued to write, perform, and work with young people. She has only recently returned to Nashville after spending almost a decade in Washington, D.C., where she received her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. In 2014, she took a position at a small private school, where she developed an enrichment course in playwriting and quickly realized that her heart belongs to the arts. She is honored to rejoin the roster of brilliant Teaching Artists at TPAC Education, and looks forward to bringing the arts into the classrooms of Middle Tennessee once again.




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Beth Anne Musiker
BAM

Beth Anne Musiker has been part of Nashville’s artistic community for many years. In addition to continuing her own artistic career, Beth Anne has developed a career as an arts educator and trainer in the Nashville area with a considerable depth and breadth of experience. She works as a live performance coach, musical director/conductor for high school musicals, and as a Teaching Artist for local organizations including the Tennessee Arts Commission, and TPAC Education. As a lead TA for TPAC Ed she has been honored to teach students throughout the greater Nashville area. She has also guided teachers through TPAC’s Summer Institute and a variety of Teacher Workshops for both the ArtSmart and HOT programs. Beth Anne was honored to participate in TPAC Ed’s pilot program of Disney Musicals in Schools. She has presented at multiple Arts Education Conferences including, SCEA’s 2010 Arts & Education Forum: Arts @ The Core Of 21st Century Learning and the TAC’s Creativity in Education Institutes 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Under the auspices of TPAC Ed through a grant from The Broadway League, Beth Anne had the distinct pleasure of preparing students from Ft. Campbell H.S. to experience the national tour of Jersey Boys at TPAC. The Jersey Boys project inspired her to create, StageSmart Teaching Artists bringing the TPAC Ed teaching model to touring Broadway shows. StageSmart is now a proud member of The Broadway League, the national trade association for the Broadway Industry.

A graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in theater and a minor in art history, Beth Anne has trained extensively as a classical pianist and violinist, studied voice with top vocal instructors and spent many years in New York City as a working singer/actress/dancer. She has also had occasion to work as a director/choreographer, vocal arranger and record producer. Over the years she has lent her voice to jingles, voice-overs, animated film scores, theatrical productions and a variety of Country projects both live and recorded. She has performed many styles of music - from Rock to Broadway - and in virtually every type of venue- from small clubs to outdoor audiences of 12,000. Her Nashville debut was an appearance in the national tour of Roger Miller’s Big River, sharing the stage with Mr. Miller, himself.

Most recently, Beth Anne debuted a new interactive multi-media performance piece she created called, Defining Home, which explores the places, people and things we all call ‘home’ through music and more.

www.stagesmart.org
www.bethannemusiker.com



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Beth Inglish

Beth Inglish

Beth Inglish is an artist and emerging leader in Nashville, Tennessee who serves the community by creating spaces for people to connect. Whether she is hosting an art exhibition, creative workshop, community meeting, or campaign Beth brings creates a sense of belonging for audiences to be inspired by one another. She became a Teaching Artist with TPAC in 2014 and applies her Teaching Artist professional development in her creative process to connect people with the power of the arts.

In Beth's artwork she uses an “intuitive” painting process to express her creative energy within. Her instincts and energy lead the way, choosing colors by feeling and using line to create pathways that connect one moment to the next. She opens her heart to connect with the viewer in hopes that they feel what she feels.

“If I can tell their story through my story then we can discover that we’re not alone and walk together.”

Beth is also the founder of Tennessee’s largest creative network, The Nashville Creative Group. She has partnered with numerous organizations, nonprofits and community groups using her experience in business and art to bring people together online and offline. She uses digital and traditional media to shine a light on stories that positivity impact the community. Her critical eye and thoughtful process work together to help people achieve their goals creatively and collaboratively.

To learn more about Beth's work to build community visit bethinglish.com.


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Carol Ponder

Carol Ponder

Carol Ponder, a Southeastern regional performing artist by choice, has worked for over 40 years as a professional singer, recording artist, actress, and musician. As an educator, Carol has almost 30 years of intensive experience in partnering with classroom teachers to develop and carry out learning-through-the-arts curriculum. She has served the Nashville Institute for the Arts/Leonard Bernstein Center/TPAC Education in a variety of roles since 1988. 

Currently, Carol is touring My Father’s War, a staged reading with songs created and performed with her husband, Robert Kiefer, and adapted from her father’s WWII memoir as a fighter pilot in Europe.  They have performed Lt. Herschel Ponder’s story almost 100 times in seven states. Working with the Veterans Administration and other veterans’ organizations, they bring the performance, discussions, workshops and residences to veterans, their families, and communities. Their work is a proven catalyst for healing PTSD and other unseen wounds of war. My Father’s War, adapted from a primary historical document, also brings history to life for middle and high schools, colleges and universities. In addition, Carol performs Appalachian Roots, a one-woman concert of traditional songs and stories. Her many performance venues include The Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, The Ulster American Folk Park in Northern Ireland, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, and Caffe’ Lena in Saratoga Springs, NY. She has performed Appalachian Roots, sometimes with residencies, for six Aesthetic Education Institutes and many other education organizations.

Carol brings her perspectives and knowledge as a working artist to her work as an educator. Carol’s professional development clients (for artists, teachers, and administrators) include: Big Thought in Dallas, TX; six of the Aesthetic Education Institutes; the Empire State Partnerships Project in New York State; the North Carolina Blumenthal Performing Arts Center; Cleveland Young Audiences; the Common Ground Conference in Albany, NY; the first annual International VSA Artist Training; and the Annual Partnerships Conference at the Kennedy Center. She is a published author in the field, including Music from the Inside Out, a music curriculum based on the film of the same name, designed to foster collaboration between classroom teachers and music teachers.

Carol’s two professional paths – performing artist and teaching artist – are represented in awards and honors.  She has received 3 awards for music excellence, including the Tennessee Arts Commission's Individual Artist Award; and three awards for her TA work, including the first national TA Fellowship at the Montalvo Center for the Arts in California. She was one of six national members of the 12-member Lincoln Center-based Teaching Artist Mentoring Project (TAMP) and received a nomination-only Fellowship for artistic excellence at The Hermitage in Florida. 

Carol may be reached at 615-227-3876 or by email at myfatherswar@aol.com.

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Connye Florance

FloranceConnye Florance is a native of North Carolina and career professional in the performing arts who enjoys the stage and a roster of achievements including film, radio, television, Broadway and regional theater and studio recording. Along with accolades from Black Entertainment Television in 2000 as Jazz Vocalist of The Year, professional endorsements include Community Foundation of Middle TN and Southern Arts Federation, as one of the Southeastern Region’s most esteemed artists.

Skilled vocalist and actress, accomplished playwright and published songwriter, Connye’s audiences enjoy her enigmatic “velvet & wine” performances of classic and contemporary jazz as featured vocalist with The Modern Jazz Tuba Project and with her own outstanding ensemble of musicians at area jazz festivals, concerts and special events, including Germantown Performing Arts Center, The Renaissance Center, Phillippe Performing Arts Center, Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Cumberland County Playhouse and others.

She is honored to have shared the stage with a variety of notable artists, including Steinway Artist Beegie Adair, Grammy award-winners Randy Brecker, and Kirk Whalum and Tony award-winner Jennifer Holliday. Television and film credits include “Literacy Link” series for PBS, John Grisham's thriller, "The Client,” Ruckus Film's “Existo” and a variety of national and regional commercials including Ace Hardware, Warner Brothers Television and Major League Baseball.

A caring and dedicated educator, Connye is among the sought-after instructors of performance courses at Nashville Jazz Workshop. Additional workshop installations include: Cumberland University, Fisk University, Belmont University, Young Adult Theater Academy at River Park Center.


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Dann Sherrill
Holly Cannon-Hesse

Dann Sherrill is a percussionist and drum set player from Nashville, Tennessee. He plays Afro Cuban Percussion (Conga, Timbales, Bongo, and Guiro and Brazilian Percussion (Surdo, Pandeiro, Caixa, Quica, Tamborim and Repineque).. He is an in demand session drummer/percussionist in Nashville and has recorded many CD’s, jingles and publisher demos. He has performed or recorded with Steve Winwood, Michael English, Engelbert Humperdinck, Mel Tillis, Armando Perazza (Santana), Mose Allison, Arturo Sandoval, Hayseed Dixie, Mark Selby, Jamie O’Hara, Pete Orta, Alvin Slaughter. Dann and his percussion are regular fixtures on the live Latin music scene with the regions best Salsa dance orchestras such as the fabulous Willie Crespo and Salsarengue, Orkesta Eme Pe, Grammy winner Al Delory and Mambo ’98, Trabuco, Elena Garcia, Dalia. Dann also plays and records Brazilian music with Music City Samba, Ann Gonzalez, Rebekah del Rio, Som Brasileiro and Lori Mechem and Ritmos Picantes.
 
As much as he loves to play, Dann also has a great passion for teaching. He teaches ensemble classes at the Nashville Jazz Workshop and has a thriving private teaching practice and does workshops and clinic performances for schools. Among these are clinic/performances at both Western Kentucky University and Murray State University’s Day of Percussion, The Village Cultural Arts Center, Belmont University Percussion Department, as well as annual residencies at Chicago’s Gallery 87 Arts Apprenticeship Program.


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Holly Cannon-Hesse Ginger Newman


Born in Batesville, Mississippi and having lived in Texas, Louisiana, Alabama and now Tennessee, Ginger Newman is a born and bred southerner to the core!  She attended eight schools in twelve years and graduated valedictorian of her Texas high school. After Belmont University as a Vocal Performance major she went on to win the regional division of the Metropolitan Opera auditions.  Ginger has been a professional artist for thirty years: in that time she has toured all fifty states and been around the world in theatres, concert halls, convention centers and cruise ships such as the QEII, performing her One Woman Show! She has performed locally in many shows at Tennessee Repertory Theatre, Nashville Opera and as a guest artist with the Nashville Symphony and on board the General Jackson showboat. She performed with Mike Eldred for the TPAC Gala Fest de Ville in Jackson Hall and starred, to critical acclaim, in the Tennessee premiere of SOUVENIR-A FANTASIA BASED ON THE LIFE OF FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS.
She is an Adjunct Voice Professor at Cumberland University and she coached Jr. and Sr. Musical Theatre Majors as an adjunct professor at Belmont University (she also was the Musical Director for their production of SEUSSICAL!). For the past four years she was the Musical Director/Conductor for the University School Middle School production of their fall musical at the beautiful Ingram Hall. (Yes, there were 102 middle school students on one stage singing their little hearts out to SRO audiences!)  She is the Education Director of Green Room Projects which works with at-risk youth creating programs to empower them using theatre, music, and anything else we can come up with! Currently she is working on a new Cabaret show which will be coming soon…

As a TPAC Education Teaching Artist, her greatest inspiration continually comes from the works of art and the students who share their creative genius during the processes. Her own son, Daniel, shares her philosophy:  always listen, learn, laugh and love...not necessarily in that order!


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Ginger Sands

Award-winning performing and teaching artist Ginger Sands is inspired by a love of storytelling in all its forms. She has performed professionally as a singer, songwriter, band leader, storyteller, actress and puppeteer.

Active in both the education and arts communities, Ginger has been teaching and presenting arts-integrated programming to young children in schools and libraries throughout Tennessee as well on the West Coast for over 25 years.

Her independently released children’s CD, The Gift of Make-Believe, is a multi-awarding collection of songs “for the young and young at heart.” The Gift of Make-Believe received a Parent’s Choice Recommended Award, a NAPPA (Nat’l Association of Parenting Publications) Gold Award and was nominated as “Best Children’s Recording” by the Nashville Music Awards. Ginger followed the CD with a video version of “Make-Believe” which earned a Telly award for excellence in media.

  Ginger Sands

Since 2007, Ginger has been a teaching artist for the Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s nationally acclaimed Wolf Trap program, which provides arts-infused learning experiences for preschool children in HEADSTART. In these settings, she provides age-appropriate, interactive lessons which incorporate music, movement, theatre, poetry and puppets to support curriculum.

In addition to her role as teaching artist in educational settings, Ginger’s work as an independent recording artist allows her to perform for adult audiences at a wide range of venues. She is currently finishing up a new recording project titled Back to the Garden, a blend of folk and folk-rock songs celebrating gardening, nature and re-connecting to the land. This recording has been greatly inspired by Ginger’s involvement in sustainable local food issues.

Ginger Sands continues to explore various avenues of songwriting, performance and production in music and theater in the larger Nashville community. She is a member of the Americana Music Association, ASCAP and the Tennessee Association for Arts in Education. www.gingersands.com

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Holly Cannon-Hesse

Holly Cannon-Hesse Holly Cannon-Hesse began her studies at Middle Tennessee State University where she majored in Speech and Theatre with an emphasis on education, and minored in dance. She studied under the likes of Anne Holland, Nancy Turpin, and Rossi Turner learning a variety of disciplines, such as Modern, Ballet, and choreographic technique. Holly has continued her education at many Black Collage Dance Exchanges and many different workshops.

Always a dancer at heart, Holly has been performing since High School and continues to do so today. Holly began dancing with a small company in Murfreesboro Tennessee, under the direction of Rossi Turner. In 1994 she found a home with the local Blue Moves Modern Dance Company as a dancer and choreographer. Blue Moves tackles important social and personal issues in a very quirky and creative way that makes you laugh without diluting the seriousness of the message. Holly also performed with the Glen Fredrick’s Repertory Theater in Tsunami Echoes: Katrina Cries, a benefit for those devastated by the deadly storms. Holly has performed with the company Whispers. Whispers’ main goal is to shed light on the many social issues we face today. Holly can also be seen performing for many local events such as Women’s Works and Nashville Sideshow

Fringe Festival Holly has been working with children for over 15 years teaching dance, creative movement and the importance of health and fitness. Holly began teaching in Murfreesboro for the Extended School Program (ESP) in several local elementary schools. While in Murfreesboro, she also taught for the Governor’s School Program under the direction of Nancy Turpin. She then branched out to Smithville, Tennessee where she opened up her own studio, The Right Moves; A Studio Dedicated to the Arts. She offered classes in all the fundamentals of dance, but also had self-defense and guitar lessons readily available. She then moved to Knoxville, Tennessee for a year, where she found herself working for the highly reputable Rocky Hill Studio for the Arts teaching pre- ballet and African classes. Holly worked for the program KidSkills for six and a half years. She worked under the philosophy,”The Stuff Every Kid Should Know.” She taught dance and gymnastics while emphasizing the importance of health and fitness.

Holly has recently found herself back in the studio, working for Second Story Studio teaching young movers to find the inner artistry within. She works with many age levels and many different disciplines of dance. Holly is very excited to be working with the Tennessee Performing Arts Center’s Art Smart Teaching Artist residency program, which she joined in December 2006,as well as TPAC's Wolf Trap Early Learning Through the Arts program, beginning in 2011. She also found herself working with the pilot program of Disney Musical’s In Schools, in 2012, which offers a chance for children to experience theater first hand. Holly always looks forward to a journey of discovery while embracing both aesthetic and pre-school education.

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Jen-Jen Lin

Jen-Jen LinJen-Jen Lin holds an MFA in Dance and a MSA in Accounting. While in Taiwan, she was artistic director of the Lan-Yang Chinese Folklore Dance Company, a group that performed traditional Chinese dance and toured internationally. In the U.S., she danced in a modern dance company (Jan Erket & Dancers) in Chicago, taught dance at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA and at Trinity College in Hartford, CT.

In Nashville she founded Chinese Arts Alliance of Nashville (CAAN), and serves as its director. She choreographed and directed several evening length dance concerts (Our Stories, Moon Goddess, Touching Clouds, MuLan & Poetry, and Dragon Tales) at Ingram Hall, Vanderbilt Blair School of Music. She also choreographed “Qu Yuan,” with original music commissioned by Taiwanese composer Shueh-Shuan Liu and performance by the Blakemore Trio, worked with Chinese composer, Chen Qian, and Vanderbilt Wind Symphony to present “Snow Lotus,” and performed “Looking Back” with live musc from cellist, Felix Wang.

She was the choreographer for “Macbeth” at the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, and “M Butterfly” performed by ACT I Theater. She was the Carell Artist in Residence at the Harpeth Hall School in 2013. She teaches modern dance at Vanderbilt University’s Dance Program.

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Jocelyn Sprouse

Jocelyn Sprouse began playing the violin at age 4, and studied at Blair School of Music through high school. After receiving a Bachelor of Music in Performance at Indiana University, Jocelyn traveled to Central America to play in the Costa Rican National Orchestra for two years. In 1990, she returned to Nashville, joined the Nashville Symphony and became involved in recording work. Jocelyn has performed with the American Sinfonietta, touring internationally and recording five albums with the ensemble.

Now a mom of two, Jocelyn remains an active performer and teacher. She plays with many different organizations, especially the Nashville Symphony and the Nashville Chamber players, as well as serving as concertmaster for TPAC’s Broadway series. She is a strings teacher at the Linden Waldorf school and teaches violin and viola privately. Highlights of her career have been performing in the Musicverein in Austria, the Hollywood Bowl, the Super Bowl, as well as performing with Ray Charles and Led Zeppelin among others.

She has also enjoyed her experiences with teachers and children in the Head Start classrooms for many years.


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Jon Royal

Jon Royal

Jon Royal is an actor, teacher, and director who has been working with young people, for over twenty years. Jon got his start in the summer of 1990 with the YMCA of Middle Tennessee, and since has worked with a number of youth organizations, including The Bridge Program (1994-99) and  MTSU’s Theatre School for Youth (1998-2000). In 2000 he co founded the V.O.I.C.E.S. Arts Institute for Youth, with Dr Jette Halladay, in Murfreesboro, and served as its Artistic Director for three years.

Jon is a teaching artist for numerous arts educational programs including TPAC Education’s Artsmart program, Nashville Children’s Theatre, The Nashville Shakespeare Festival, and Street Theatre Company.  Jon has also taught master classes for youth and teens in Russia, Finland, and Latvia. In 2008, Jon became a staff member of Shakespeare Center Los Angeles’ Will Power to Youth program. He continues to work there, two months out of every year, providing guidance and instruction to teenagers as they mount a production of one of Shakespeare’s works. He also offers private lessons for students of all ages.

A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, with a degree in theatre Jon has been active in every phase of his profession. As an actor he has appeared in productions by Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Nashville Children’s Theatre, Tennessee Repertory Theatre and Actor’s Bridge Ensemble. In 2004 Jon won the American College Theatre Festival Regional Student Directing Award and a fellowship to study with Ming Cho Li and Constance Hoffman at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. He has also assistant directed numerous productions and served as a directing intern for Tennessee Repertory Theatre. Jon’s helmed shows for Street Theatre Company, Nashville School of the Arts, Belmont University, Nashville Shakespeare Festival Education, Will Power to Youth, People’s Branch Theatre, and Metro Board of Parks & Rec.

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Kathleen Lynam

Kathleen Lynam  Kathleen Lynam is the founder and principal puppeteer of Crafty Characters Puppet Troupe, established in 1989. Ten culturally diverse stories are presented to young audiences, K-3 throughout Tennessee and neighboring states. Literature and reading are stressed as the characters jump from the page to the puppet stage.

Commissioned puppets have been purchased by Vanderbilt University, Travelers Rest historic home and private individuals. Over 700 hand sculpted finger puppets were made by Kathleen and sold through CRIZMAC Art and Cultural Education Materials Catalog. In 1999, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts purchased a set of her puppets.

Workshops have been presented for university students, teachers, parents, and librarians nationwide. The workshops range from exploration of character, voice, movement, to hands-on puppet making. As a Wolf Trap Master artist, her workshop, "Let Your Voices Be Heard:  Using Puppets to Bring Stories to Life" has been presented across the country to educators by the Wolf Trap Foundation in Vienna, Va.   A workshop targeted for elementary school educators has been developed in association with the Kennedy Center in Washington, D. C. This workshop, "Meeting Famous Americans:  A History Lesson through Puppetry" will be presented again at the Kennedy Center in March of 2004.

Kathleen has been a Wolf Trap artist since 1991 and a Wolf Trap Master artist since 2001. Working with 3-5 year olds is her first love. She has developed numerous activities, songs and puppets for the preschool child that will foster a love for learning."Professor Smartypants", "Mr. Germ" and an assortment of nursery rhyme puppets are but a few of the magical characters that will keep pre-schoolers engaged, focused and on-task. These activities are directly connected to basic life, academic, or curriculum based skills. These songs, poems and stories can be found in her book, "The Keys to Your Imagination".

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Laurel Desmarais

Laurel DesmaraisLaurel is a movement educator and professional dancer/choreographer working in the field since 2007. She holds a BFA in Ballet Pedagogy from the University of Hartford and worked as a freelance artist in New York City for 8 years before relocating to Nashville. Most recently she has been presenting space is the place, an interactive dance project focused on challenging the traditional roles of observer and performer exploring themes of spatial awareness. Based out of her new studio in East Nashville, Maeva Movement, Laurel teaches classes in Pilates, dance and yoga.








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Lauren Jones

Lauren JonesLauren's passion for singing and acting began as soon as she could make sounds and facial expressions. Her love for singing with the vaccum as her microphone grew into a love for singing, acting and dancing within an ensemble when she was cast as Minnie Pearl in her fifth grade musical. Lauren was accepted into North Atlanta Performing Arts magnet school and graduated from The University of Georgia with Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and Drama.

She interned as a teaching aid for the performing arts summer camp at The Alliance Theatre in 2002 and went on to direct children's theatre and perform with multiple professional troupes. Lauren served as the first director of Georgia's Lil Red Ridin Thru Da Hood, a show encouraging good nutrition and exercise in inner city schools, and she toured the Southeast leading workshops and skits to promote anti-bullying with Atlanta's Academy Theatre. Currently, she is a teaching artist with TPAC’s Wolf Trap Early Learning Through the Arts program and with Nashville Children’s Theatre.

Lauren has worked professionally in theatre, television, film and sings in a wide variety of musical styles. Some of her professional credits include a featured role on the network series, Nashville, playing Jeanette in the equity production of Crowns, Taylor in Disney's High School Musical and Grace in Junie B. Jones. She has also performed with the National Black Arts Festival at the Alliance Theatre. Locally, Lauren has been a cast member in the Nashville Children's Theatre productions of Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Schoolhouse Rock, has performed with the Nashville Improv Company, and was last seen as Felicia in Street Theatre's production of Memphis.

Lauren loves working with young artists, leading students to explore all types of music and performance and using artistic expression as a tool for education and personal development.

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Leandria Lott

Kelsie CraigBorn in Huntsville, Alabama, Leandria is no stranger to music. Coming into a family of musicians, she was inspired from childhood to participate in numerous orchestras, camps and competitions. In 2012, she received her bachelors in Commercial Music Performance in violin from Tennessee State University.

Since then, she has applied her talents extensively, having traveled as far as the UK and Italy for workshops and classes. Closer to home, Leandria has shared the stage with renowned gospel artists such as Kirk Franklin, Kurt Carr, and Tye Tribbett and has worked on projects with Yamaha, EMI, and Live ON Stage. She tours with Tom Mason and the Blue Buccaneers, plays in Cotten--a funk fusion band, and enjoys playing in her string quartet, Prima Voce.

In addition to her private students, Leandria works with TPAC’s Wolf Trap Early Learning Through the Arts program as a teaching artist.

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Marci Murphree
Marci Murphreecomes with over 30 years experience as a dance teacher and choreographer for many fine arts organizations and schools, including University School of Nashville, Metro Parks, and Vanderbilt Dance Group. She teaches modern dance, ballet, tap, and drama for children and is a veteran Teaching Artist with TPAC Education’s ArtSmart program.  In 2007, Marci opened Second Story Studio for dance, yoga and related arts in West Nashville, offering an alternative to the traditional dance school fare with experienced teachers and a more contemporary, creative approach to instruction and performance. Marci was a featured dancer and founding member of the highly-acclaimed modern dance company Tennessee Dance Theater for 12 years, with glowing reviews from the Tennessean to the New York Times.  She performed in works by dance greats Charles Weidman, Doris Humphreys, Billy Siegenfeld and Dan Waggoner and in many original roles created by TDT artistic director Donna Rizzo.
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Marci was certified to teach dance through Chicago National Association of Dance Masters and Southern Association of Dance Masters. She continued to train extensively in dance, seeking out many of the best teachers in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, and Kansas City. An interest in theater led her to the late Ruth Sweet, well-known actress, master teacher, and director of The Acting Studio, Nashville's only acting conservatory. Marci was invited to join the faculty of as movement instructor for the actors, and went on to work with Jill Massie in it's resurrection as the Dramatic Arts Studio. Her desire to make a difference in the lives of young people led Marci to become Artistic Director of LifeWork Productions from 1995-2004 - writing, directing and producing shows to address personal and social challenges such as accepting diversity, teen stress and suicide, self-esteem and family issues. LifeWork shows, featuring some of Nashville's most talented young professional entertainers, were seen by tens of thousands of children in Middle Tennessee schools and public events. Throughout her evolving career, Marci's dedication to teaching dance has remained while her methods and motivation changed. She is recognized in Nashville for the development of a Creative Ballet curriculum for grades K - 12, designed to introduce students to ballet technique incrementally, while exploring the musical, theatrical and expressive art of dance. Many of her students have gone on to college dance programs and careers in dance and musical theater, and still others have opted to raise families and continue their relationship with Marci by bringing their children to her for dance lessons!

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Mia Rose Ernst

Mia Rose Ernst Mia Rose Ernst is a northern California native. Growing up in a musical family, she was bribed by her parents to sing third-part harmony in their western swing band and thus began her love for music and the stage! After graduating from California State University, Fullerton with a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in Musical Theatre, Mia went on to perform around the world with Holland America and Oceania Cruise Lines, as well as for Matt Davenport Productions, singing and dancing in several national tours. Locally, Mia has been seen in productions at Tennessee Repertory Theatre and Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre.

Songwriting is another passion of Mia's. She is an Americana/modern folk singer-songwriter and has just recorded her first full-length album, “Open Space.” Information on Mia's original music and upcoming shows can be found at www.miaroseernst.com!

Mia has always loved working with children and has done so in many different environments, from teaching music, voice, and theatre to one-on-one tutoring for children with learning disabilities. She believes that she owes most of her happiness and success to her early childhood introduction to the arts – so she finds it extremely rewarding to do her part to keep arts in school!


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Neil Spencer

Neil Spencer Neil Spencer is the founder and director of the Educational Touring Theatre (ETT). For over twenty years Neil has been writing, producing and performing curriculum- based, educational theatre programs for schools across the United States. He is currently touring schools with Giants of Electrical Science and Sir Isaac Newton: The Apple and Beyond, which he developed with the Adventure Science Center of Nashville. His other original, one-man programs include: Yukon Gold, Smoke & Fury: The Writings of the Civil War, The Turn of the Century Showcase, A Dream Within A Dream: An Introduction to E.A. Poe, and A Rendezvous with Jacob Brower. In addition to his works with the Educational Touring Theatre, Neil has performed at the Guthrie Theatre, Horse Cave Theater, Tacoma Actors Guild, and The New Classic Theatre. Neil has a BFA degree in Acting from the University of Minnesota, where he graduated summa cum laude. For more information, please go to his website, www.edtheatre.com, or you can email Neil at edtheatre@aol.com.

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Pam Atha

Pam Atha has been living and working in and around Nashville for over 20 years.  She holds a BSE in Dance Education from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, and an MAE from Cumberland University in Lebanon, TN.  She originally came to town to break into the music business, but was very fortunate to take a side step with Donna Rizzo and Andrew Krichels as a founding member of Tennessee Dance Theatre.  While dancing with TDT, she had the pleasure of also working with notable figures such as Bill Evans, Dan Waggoner and Billy Siegenfeld.  Other notable dance/theatre training includes Joe Layton, Danny Ezralow, Penelope Hanstein, Danny Herman, Louis Falco, and Danny Burzechski. 

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Pam attributes much of her artistic growth to the time she spent in Cherokee, NC with the seasonal outdoor drama Unto These Hills. Comprised of educators and long time returning cast and artistic staff members, artists were encouraged to experiment and grow freely within the confines of a resident company, in a camp-like atmosphere. As choreographer for over 20 years, she had the opportunity to work with a group of 20 dancer/actors, and production staff each season, to bring new life and energy to the dynamic native and modern based dances in the drama, which she researched and created. In Nashville, she enjoys a career as free-lance choreographer, teacher, and performing artist. In recent years, Pam has been adding more directing credits to her resume. Regionally, she has worked for The Rep, Nashville Children's Theatre, Chaffin's Barn Dinner Theatre, Boiler Room Theatre, Phoenix Rising Entertainment, Cumberland County Playhouse, Circle Players, North Carolina Theatre, and Flat Rock Playhouse the State Theatre of North Carolina.

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Rachel Sumner

Jon Royal

Rachel Sumner has been a Teaching Artist with ArtSmart since 1994. Her background in performing is extensive. She is a prolific writer, singer and actor who has sung with twenty-one piece orchestras, a number of bands and in musicals. She has acted in national television commercials, children's theater and radio commercials.

Since she moved to Nashville, Rachel has written and released eight award-winning recordings for young people. Shortly after she released her CD "Tap Those Toes", it was the number two top seller for all genres of music on CDbaby.com. Reviewers highly recommended it for libraries and multicultural programs. It was also honored with a Parents' Choice Award.

Since 2010, Rachel has produced her own weekly children's radio show called "Rachel's Fun Time." It airs in Indianapolis, IN and Nashville, TN.
In 2012, Radio Lollipop picked it up and began to air it regularly in 24 children's hospitals around the world.

If you would like to hear her music, find out where she is performing or learn about her keynotes, workshops and in-service training, stop by http://www.rachelsumner.com.

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Rachel Rodriguez

Jon Royal

Rachel Rodriguez is a singer, songwriter, mother and teacher. She has over 20 years of dance teaching experience and has been performing in one way or another since she was 7 years old. She grew up in Mid-Michigan, belting out traditional Mariachi and Country music, in her father’s band. He was her biggest influence, and always encouraged her to embrace and infuse all that she is into her music and songwriting. She honed her skills singing in honkytonks, at family events, fiestas, and festivals. While earning an Associate’s Degree in International Business, she also studied theatre and dance. After years of singing alongside her father, Rachel decided it was time to branch out to find her own voice, which brought her to Nashville, TN.

Since her arrival to Nashville, she’s had the privilege to work and perform with some of the industry’s top talent, on stage and in the studio. Rachel has established herself, in Music City, as an enchanting front woman, with her powerful vocals and versatile repertoire. She has taken her musical roots and has created a style of her own. The combination of her Latino heritage, rock n’ roll attitude and soulful voice give her a unique sound.

Rachel also teaches Creative Movement and Music at local schools and daycares. Her curriculum includes music, dance, and Spanish. She stays busy shining a light on Nashville’s diverse community, conducting school presentations, workshops, Song & Story times, and as a teaching artist for TPAC’s Wolf Trap Early Learning Through the Arts program. Inspired by the desire to introduce her own children to Spanish and their Latino heritage, she wrote and recorded a children’s album called “Songs for My Little Amigos”. It is a bilingual CD with fun, catchy songs, containing commonly spoken words and phrases used in every day interactions.

In addition to Rachel’s roles as wife, mother, and performer; she volunteers at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, is an Alumni member of the WMBA (Women’s Music Business Assoc.) and serves on the Inspire America/Nashville Advisory Board. She is passionate about nurturing children’s creativity and sharing her love of the Performing Arts. Nothing makes her happier than watching children experience of the joy of music and dance.

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Robyn Berg

FloranceRobyn Berg is an actor, director, professor and teaching artist. Recent credits include Portia in Julius Caesar with the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Magic with Blackbird Theatre, Sailor's Song with Actor's Bridge and direction of The Servant of Two Masters, Death of a Salesman and Leading Ladies at Lipscomb University and Proof at Belmont University. Robyn is an Adjunct Professor of Theatre at Lipscomb and Belmont and also teaches at Volunteer State Community College, Nashville Shakespeare Festival and TPAC's Artsmart and Disney Musicals in Schools programs. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Communications from Bradley University, a Master of Fine Arts in Acting from the University of Florida and spent many years in New York City and Chicago before finding her Nashville home in the fall 2009.

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Stefani Paige

West

Stefani has been performing on stage since she was a child, and she has always had a deep love for the performing arts. She participated in Odyssey of the Mind, a competitive acting, improv, and creative-thinking team from ages 10-14 and could never get enough of the thrill of the stage. She has performed on stages at the Nashville Rep, Chaffin's Barn, Missoula Children's Theatre, The Southern Literary Fest, Lipscomb University, and many others. In 2009, she kicked off her film career in Carrie Underwood's Temporary Home music video as the young mom, and has been doing commercials, films, music videos, and television ever since.

With an Associate's degree in elementary education, and a BFA in Acting from Lipscomb University, she finds no greater joy than combining her love for teaching with her love for the theatre. She is delighted at the opportunity to explore this magic of the with the students of Middle Tennessee!


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Steve West

West

Steve West has been actively involved in live music presentation for the past twenty-five years as a concert producer and venue owner. With his company Go West Presents, he has brought hundreds of concerts and events to the Nashville area in venues like his 328 Performance Hall, the Basement, and others. He is the producer of the annual 12South Concert Series in Nashville and the McGladrey Classic PGA Golf Tournament concert in Sea Island GA. He also plays guitar and sings with 60s and 70s rock and soul band Zig Zag Mojo. Steve is a graduate of Belmont University, and an alumnus of both Leadership Nashville and Leadership Music. He has been a teaching artist with TPAC Education’s ArtSmart program since 2003 and Disney Musicals in Schools program since its inception in 2012.




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Terry Occhiogrosso

Terry Terry Occhiogrosso has been an Arts-in-Education actor, director and teacher for many years in New York City and the surrounding metropolitan area, where she performed in the world premiere of Kelly Patton’s “A Child Goes Forth”. She ran the Theatre Dept. at Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. Jr./Sr. H.S. for ten years and taught teacher in-service workshops at Southampton College, N.Y. She was a co-founder and program director of Theatre Arts in Education, which produced and toured original curriculum-related shows in schools, conducted student and teacher workshops and artist residencies.

Her one woman show, Animal Crackers and Crumbs, was selected by the NY State Council on the Arts to showcase at an Arts in Education symposium in Saratoga Springs. She is also currently a Teaching Artist for The Nashville Shakespeare Festival and formerly for the YMCA artEMBRACE program, and has acted in productions for Tennessee Women’s Theater Project, Groundworks Theatre and The Boiler Room Theatre.

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Tricia Berry

TerryTricia Berry has been a teaching artist, actor, and director in New York City for the last decade. Tricia has performed with Puppetonia and Theater Garden, which produced and toured original curriculum-related shows in schools. She ran the Theatre Department at Brooklyn's Magnet School for the Arts and taught professional development for all public school theatre teachers with the New York City Department of Education. She also directed and choreographed with Tada! Youth Theatre and City Lights Youth Theatre with their Musical Theater Writing Residencies through the National Endowment for the Arts grant, which allowed students to write and perform their own musical based on their current curriculum.

One of Tricia's other passions is exploring the arts abroad. She has directed alongside Cecily O'Neill and Dorothy Heathcote in London, England and with Teach for India's Special Arts Projects on Maya, the Musical in Pune, India. Tricia received her MA in Educational Theatre from City University of New York and her BA in Theatre Performance from Western Michigan University. When she is not exploring theatre tools she can be found teaching yoga or playing her djembe. Tricia is very excited to begin teaching with Wolf Trap Early Learning Through the Arts.



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