MEET THE DIRECTORS

 

Two ballet dancers performing a duet
PETER (PETE) COMMANDER

Peter Commander, who was born and raised in South Jersey, began his dance training at the age of four at the Arts of the Dance Centre in Vineland, NJ. Here he studied several forms, including ballet, tap, jazz, modern, clogging, and Irish-step. After ten years, Peter began school at the Southern New Jersey Academy of Performing Arts at the Gloucester County Institute of Technology under the direction of David Kloss, Althea Leslie, and Norman Taylor. That same year, he joined Let’s Dance Studio in Glassboro, NJ, where he met and began to study under one of his mentors, Darrell Williams.
 
After high school, Peter attended Goucher College, where he trained with Chandra Moss, Glenna Blessing, Linda Garofalo, Laura Dolid, and Juliet Forrest. Along with taking classes, he also performed in several of the dance department concerts and events in both faculty, student, and guest artist works. For many years, starting in 2007, Peter was heavily involved in both running and performing in Footwerx, a weeklong tap intensive and performance based out of Philadelphia and run by Darrell Williams. Peter taught and choreographed for Mid Atlantic Youth Ballet for five years and taught and choreographed at A Step Ahead Dance Center for two years. He was also a guest choreographer for The Nutcracker with Harford Ballet Theater for two years and a guest choreographer for North County High School. He is the co-founder of Charm City Ballet and is currently directing, choreographing, and teaching for the company and academy alongside Rebecca Friedman.

Two ballet dancers performaing a duet
REBECCA (BECCA) FRIEDMAN

Rebecca Friedman was raised in Columbia, MD where she began her dance training, at the age of four, at the Howard County Ballet. She studied there through high school, and some of her roles there included: the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, performed with Anton Korsakov from the Mariinsky Ballet in 2007, Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, Gretel in Hansel and Gretel, and Cinderella. In the summer of 2001 and 2002, Rebecca was a scholarship student at the International Summer Dance program at Point Park University. She was also named a 2005 Maryland Distinguished Scholar for both Academic Achievement and Talent in the Arts. Rebecca continued her dance education at Goucher College where she received a BA in Dance and a minor in Biology in 2009.
 
While a student at Goucher College, she performed in many original works by faculty and guest artists in residence, including Armando Luna, Dermot Burke, William Whitener, Alan Hineline, and Nilas Martins. Rebecca has served on the dance faculty at The Howard County Ballet, Teelin School of Irish Dance, and Mid Atlantic Youth Ballet where she taught and choreographed for four years. She was also a guest choreographer for Harford Ballet Theater for two years and a guest choreographer for North County High School. She is the recipient of a Governor’s Citation in recognition of her academic accomplishments and contribution to the arts in Maryland. Rebecca pursued graphic design in a graduate program at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 2013. She is the co-founder of Charm City Ballet and is currently directing, choreographing, and teaching for the company and academy alongside Peter Commander.

FACULTY

 

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IRIS ANDERSEN GRIZZELL

 

Iris Andersen Grizzell is a graduate of the Baltimore School for the Arts and holds a B.F.A. from the California Institute of the Arts. Her training began at the Peabody Preparatory Institute with Dale Center, followed by Caryl Maxwell Classical Ballet with Caryl Maxwell and Caroline Denzler, and then Kinetics Dance Theatre with Dottie Fried and Donna Pidel. She has trained with the Eglevsky Ballet, the Washington Ballet, and the Ailey School. During her four years at California Institute of the Arts, she was nominated for the Princess Grace Award and studied abroad in London at the London Contemporary Dance School.

 

Andersen Grizzell danced with the Pasadena Dance Theatre in California from 2003 to 2011, and from 2004 to 2011, she danced with the Francisco Martinez Dance Theatre in both concert and outreach performances throughout California. Andersen Grizzell received first place for her work in Howard County Ballet’s Young Choreographer’s Showcase in April 2011. Recently, she has performed with Bowen McCauley Dance, the Campbell Dance Experience and the Harford Ballet. She is currently the program manager of the TWIGS program at Baltimore School for the Arts, in which she also teaches ballet, pointe, and modern for the high school students.

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ELLEN BAST

 

Ellen Bast began her dance training in her hometown of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. While in high school, she performed with the Oak Ridge Civic Ballet Association in roles such as Aurora in Sleeping Beauty. In addition to dancing with ORCBA, she was a head counselor for their dance outreach summer camp and served as a teacher assistant for their pointe intensive. She also taught Pre-Ballet and Tap. Ellen then continued her dance training at Goucher College and received her BA in Dance in 2014. Since graduating, Ellen has performed locally with Chorégraphie Antique, Vaught Contemporary Ballet, and Howard County Ballet in roles such as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. She also served on the faculty of HCB and taught a variety of classes ranging from Creative Movement to Pointe, as well as open classes for adults. Ellen has been involved with Charm City Ballet since its founding and has appeared as Want in A Christmas Carol, the Rose in Beauty and the Beast, Abu in Aladdin, Flounder in The Little Mermaid, and Toto in The Wizard of Oz.

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TABITHA DISCHER

 

Tabitha began her training at The Dance Conservatory of Maryland and County Ballet Dance Studio. In 2011, she was accepted into the inaugural class of The School of Pennsylvania Ballet in Philadelphia, PA. While there, Tabitha performed with The Pennsylvania Ballet in George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker as a “Peppermint Hoop” and in Jerome Robbins’ choreography in the role of “Tin Soldier”. Tabitha was one of a small group of PA Ballet students chosen by Sandra Jennings of The George Balanchine Trust to perform with The Pennsylvania Ballet in George Balanchine’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Following her studies with The Pennsylvania Ballet, Tabitha returned to Maryland, and danced regionally with Harford Ballet Company, Ballet Chesapeake, The Danse Macabre, and Charm City Ballet, as well as guest appearances with several other companies throughout the Baltimore-Washington area. Some of her principal roles have included the Genie (CCB’s Aladdin 2017), Scuttle (CCB’s The Little Mermaid 2018), Ghost of Christmas Past (CCB’s A Christmas Carol), Lion (CCB’s The Wizard of Oz 2019), and Sugar Plum Fairy. Tabitha is also an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. Tabitha also received her Associates of Arts in General Studies with a concentration in Biology and Chemistry from Harford Community College in May of 2020 and is currently in nursing school.

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DEBORAH ENGERMAN

 

After returning from touring Europe as Ballet Mistress with Rock the Ballet, Mrs. Engerman took on the role of Director of Maryland Classical Dance Academy at Centre Pointe Performing Arts and also teaches at Susquehanna Dance Center near Lancaster, PA. She trained early in life with the Baltimore Ballet in the RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) tradition, passing her graded exams. Later while pursuing her BA in International Policy at Dickinson College, she continued her study of classical ballet with the teachers of Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. Her dance training also includes Vaganova Technique, French Methodology, and the Dance Education Program at Towson University. Mrs Engerman has staged ballets to include the Nutcracker and Swan Lake, Act II. Dancers trained by Ms. Engerman have earned professional contracts and danced with Universal Ballet, ABT, Complexions, The Washington Ballet, The Vienna Opera Ballet, Boston Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Ballet Inc, Texture Ballet, Hubbard Street, and on Broadway, among numerous others. She has also been a coach to dancers succeeding at numerous international ballet competitions, such as The Prix de Lausanne, the Varna IBC, and The Youth America Grand Prix. Her student, Adrienne Canterna, took the Junior Gold Medal at the 1998 Jackson USA International Ballet Competition. She is currently happy to continue to train dancers in MD and PA, while living with her husband and two dogs, in South Central PA.

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EVE HOLMES VARNER

 

Eve Holmes Varner began her dance training at the Edna Lee Dance Studio in Linthicum, Maryland where she studied ballet, tap, and jazz for 11 years. During those years, Eve competed at the local and National levels, culminating in her participation at Youth America Grand Prix in 2007. While in high school, Eve was active in Glen Burnie High School's nationally recognized Dance for the Athlete Program as both a dancer and choreographer. Eve entered Goucher College as a Dance Performance major in 2009 and graduated Magna Cum Laude in May 2013 after dancing abroad at the prestigious arts conservatory, Taipei National University of the Arts, in Taipei, Taiwan during her senior year. Eve danced with Ballet Theatre of Maryland for three seasons where she enjoyed such roles as the Snow Queen in The Nutcracker and Diamond Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty. She appeared as Jasmine in Charm City Ballet's premier of Aladdin and Ariel in Charm City Ballet's premier of The Little Mermaid. She also danced with Bowen McCauley Dance for several years. One of Eve's greatest joys has been teaching all levels of ballet and pointe technique for the last twelve years.

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CHANDRA MOSS-THORNE

 

Chandra Moss-Thorne began her dance training at the School of Cleveland Ballet under the direction of Daniel Job and Nicole Sowinska. Chandra attended Butler University graduating with a BA with honors in Dance Pedagogy. Chandra was a company member with the Dance Theatre of Harlem and The Cincinnati Ballet. As a professional ballet dancer Chandra delighted audiences in many leading roles including Beauty in David Nixon’s Beauty and the Beast, the Lead Pas de deux in Nils Christie’s Sync, Principal in Butler’s Carmina Burana, Choleric in Balanchine’s Four Temperaments, Fairy Godmother in Morgan’s Cinderella and Lead Mazurka in Franklin’s Coppelia. Her repertoire also includes works by choreographers Stanton Welch, Val Caniparoli, Kirk Peterson, Arthur Mitchell, Robert Garland and Geoffrey Holder. Chandra had the privilege of working with numerous Repetiteurs from the Balanchine Trust including Bart Cook, Victoria Simon, Elyse Borne, Susan Hendl, and Suzanne Farrell.

 

As a teacher, she has been on faculty at Goucher College, Towson University, Bryn Mawr College, Cincinnati Ballet Academy and as a guest teacher at numerous schools around the country. Currently she is a Visiting Artist at Stockton University and an Associate in Performance at Swarthmore College. Chandra was the coordinator for CincyDance! the outreach program of the Cincinnati Ballet Academy developing programming and teaching classes.


Chandra is a certified Pilates Instructor through Power Pilates. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and three children.

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BONNIE SCHULMAN

Bonnie Schulman, Physical Therapist, has been practicing in the Baltimore area for 35 years specializing in manual therapies, performing arts therapy, and orthopedic concentration. She has taught a variety of classes for even longer, including fitness, dance, aerobics, Pilates, and all forms of dance related exercise at colleges and dance studios. She is happy to share her years of experience with Charm City Ballet.