Teaching Artists are alphabetized by first name. Choose an individual’s name to read their biography.
Allison Bencar Delaney is an actor, musician and teacher originally from Cleveland, OH. 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!
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 Tennessee 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.
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.
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 TPAC’s education program 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 Season for Young People Guidebooks
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!
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 TPAC education programs including the Season for Young People. 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 Fort Campbell High School 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.
Carolyn German has been a theatre professional for over 35 years, having
worked as performer, director, producer, playwright, composer, improvisation artist, teaching artist, and corporate trainer. Since 2000, she has been the Producing Artistic Director of Theater Craft, Inc., which specializes in small-cast productions and new work.
Her award-winning work as a theatre maker boasts numerous projects across a variety of genres, evidenced by a few of her current projects. She wrote and directed The Curious Picnic, a play for very young children that will tour in schools during the fall of 2018. She directed and produced the workshop and full production of The Passion of Ethel Rosenberg, an evocative drama about the McCarthy-era convicted spy, and she was recently asked to write the screenplay for it.
For seven years Carolyn was the Supervisor of Theater and Music for Metro Nashville Parks Cultural Arts, cultivating arts programming for Nashville’s broad demographic. Her work included custom crafting content to maximize success for older adults, and working with Metro Parks’ Disabilities Program to create a performance program for adults with disabilities. She also managed the Z. Alexander Looby Theater, and created the Centennial Black Box Theater. Carolyn is a faculty member at the Nashville Jazz Workshop, where she created and teaches a series of classes for cabaret artists, including Cabaret Toolkit, Cabaret Repertoire, and Improv Comedy for the Musical Artist. As a corporate soft-skills trainer, and as a consultant in a variety of arts-meets-real-world capacities, Carolyn brings her extensive producer/project manager background, and her 35 years of creative arts experience to every project. Her resume also includes work across all business sectors (corporate, government, freelance, non-profit, and volunteer), and her leadership infuses each project with her signature characteristics of dependability and creativity. Carolyn’s expertise includes creation of content, soft-skills training, instructional design, and meeting facilitation. Her consulting expertise includes multi-use facilities and patron-focused programming.
In 1998 Carolyn founded Spontaneous Comedy Company, which still performs improv comedy for Nashville audiences and regional corporate clients.
Carolyn has worked with TPAC Education as the playwright, director, and producer of the award-winning play for young audiences, The Story Builders. She has served as a freelance producer and teaching artist for TPAC Education special projects.
Connye 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 Tennessee 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.
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, 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.
Born in Batesville, MS 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 50 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 TPAC Gala 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 shows to be performed at the Nashville Jazz Workshop and other venues.
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!
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, TN, 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, TN 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, TN 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 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.
Jamie Robbins London has worked as a teaching artist for TPAC education programs including Disney Musicals in Schools and Wolf Trap, as well as with Nashville Children’s Theatre and Metro Arts. She holds a BS in Liberal Arts/Theatre Education from MTSU. Jamie is also currently a program administrator at the Larry Keeton Theatre, which is housed in the FiftyForward Donelson Station and presents six musical productions each year in addition to special events and concerts.
Jen-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 music 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.
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 Musikverein 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 as a TPAC teaching artist with Wolf Trap Early Learning Through the Arts.
Jon Royal is an actor, teacher, and director who has been working with young people for over twenty years. Beginning in the summer of 1990 with the YMCA of Middle Tennessee, Jon has since has worked with several youth organizations, including The Bridge Program, and MTSU’s Theatre School for Youth. 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, 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, he 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. Jon 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. In 2016, he was a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation’s National Observership Class, in which he had the privilege of working with Liesel Tommy on the Public Theatre’s production of Party People. 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. Most recently, Jon directed the acclaimed Nashville Children’s Theatre production of And in This Corner: Cassius Clay and Smart People for Nashville Repertory Theatre in January of 2018.
Julia Marx began dancing at the age of seven and found her early training at the School of the Nashville Ballet. She received her B.A. in biology from Dartmouth College where she performed with the Dartmouth Dance Ensemble under artistic director Ford Evans. Julia received her M.F.A. in modern dance from the University of Utah. She has performed in works by choreographers Hanya Holm, Meredith Monk, Trisha Brown, and Tandy Beal. Julia was a performing member of San Francisco dance companies, ahdanco and peck peck dance ensemble as well as Boston-based Danny Swain Dance Company and Monkeyhouse Dance Collective, among others.
Julia has taught creative movement to young children for more than 15 years in schools, studios, after-school programs and community centers. She is passionate about teaching children to use the elements of dance to explore movement and their unique forms of expression. Julia is a registered dance/movement therapist and mental health counselor with a private practice as an expressive arts therapist using arts-based approaches to address social and emotional health issues for children ages 2 to 11. She brings this approach to her work as play therapist at Nurture House in Franklin,TN.
As a former special education teacher and autism therapist, Julia has developed a particular expertise working with children with disabilities and, currently teaches Rainbowdance, a group intervention designed to facilitate self-regulation, self-esteem, and social empathy in children and families with Metro Parks Dance and the Global Education Center. She enjoys sharing all these skills with the Wolf Trap Early Learning Through the Arts program as a TPAC teaching artist.
Julia is also trained in the Dance for PD model and teaches dance classes for seniors living with Parkinson’s disease.
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, DC. 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-to 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 preschoolers 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.
Marci Murphree comes 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’s education 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.
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!
Molly Brown, an NYC native, has found her way to Music City and is a songwriter focusing on using music to spread love and kindness into the world. She graduated from Wagner College in 2015 with a Theater Performance Degree. Songwriting highlights from the past year include performing at Nashville CMA Festival, WSMV Today in Nashville, RNBW Writers Round, Montauk Music Festival, as well as over 100 shows between Nashville and New York. She also participated in the 2017 and 2018 CRS (Country Radio Seminar) in Nashville & sang the Canadian National Anthem at the IACP Conference at the Gaylord Opryland convention center.
Before her move to Nashville, she enjoyed sharing her love of performing by working with kids. Through Light House Youth Theater Company, Molly worked as an assistant Choreographer and Musical Director. She also taught for one of their preschool programs called Drama Bee. Her favorite theater credit while living in the big apple was when she played the role of Victoria in the Stanley Drama Award-Winning play, Out of Orbit. Molly is excited for all the adventures ahead as a TPAC teaching artist with Wolf Trap Early Learning Through the Arts.
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 or to contact Neil, please go to his website, edtheatre.com.
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.
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 freelance 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.
Rachel Sumner has been a Teaching Artist with TPAC since 1994. Her background in performing is extensive. She is a prolific writer, singer and actor who has sung with 21-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 rachelsumner.com.
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 seven 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.
Rachel is a native of Nashville, having grown up and danced in and around the community for over 20 years. Rachel started dancing at the age of four in a small community studio and attended the School of Nashville Ballet through middle and high school. In 2002, she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Performing Arts with a Dance Emphasis from Western Kentucky University, and recently received her teaching certificate from the prestigious American Ballet Theatre.
Since her graduation, Rachel has worked professionally all over the southeast as a professional dancer, choreographer, costume designer, and teacher, but her love has truly been teaching. Her students and choreography can be seen yearly working with Moscow Ballet, Disney, Jazz on Tap, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Tennessee Dance Association, as well as other competitions and performances. Rachel is thrilled to join the Wolf Trap Early Learning Through the Arts organization, and is excited to bring the love and appreciation of dance to her new students.
Steve West has been actively involved in live music presentation for the past 25 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’s education program since 2003 and Disney Musicals in Schools program since its inception in 2012.
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, NY, Jr./Sr. High School for ten years and taught teacher in-service workshops at Southampton College, NY. 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 New York 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. She has acted in productions for Tennessee Women’s Theater Project, Groundworks Theatre, and The Boiler Room Theatre.
Tonya Pewitt Hinricher has been a teaching artist with Tennessee Performing Arts Center since 2014. She has been a professional performer in Nashville for 10 years. Tonya is a Middle Tennessee native who graduated from Middle Tennessee State University with a major in Speech and Theatre, and a minor in music. She has performed with The Nashville Shakespeare Festival, Street Theatre Company, The Keeton Theatre, Circle Players, and more.
Tonya has also studied theatre in England and Honduras. In Honduras she performed with an acting troupe for students in schools and orphanages, with a multilingual educational show the troupe collectively wrote together. With Street Theatre Company, Tonya has toured Middle Tennessee School with a show called No More Secrets, which focuses on child sexual abuse.
Songwriter, dancer, actress, educator Whit Hill grew up in New York City where her exposure to the arts sparked a love of creativity and learning that has endured throughout her life. She holds a BFA in dance from the University of Michigan, a master’s in performance studies from Eastern Michigan University and was the artistic director of People Dancing, a renowned Michigan dance company, for 14 years.
Through it all, she sang. After touring the country as a backup singer, she began writing songs of her own, and Whit and her husband moved to Nashville in 2008. Whit’s songs have won awards, been heard on television and continue to enrich her life and that of others. Whit works as a Words & Music songwriter for the Country Music Hall of Fame and as a TPAC teaching artist for the Wolf Trap Early Learning Through the Arts program. She teaches at the award-winning Nashville dance studio DancEast where she has inspired hundreds of children to embrace their creativity fully, fearlessly, and with great humor. Whit loves creating fun, silly, educational songs and simple dances for children of all ages. Her own two children—now adults—can attest to that. They were, by far, her biggest inspiration.