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Episode 15: Noelle Heritage

Noelle developed a love for dance when she was a young child. She started dancing at the age of seven training in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, modern, pointe and lyrical at a local NJ dance studio. Her love for dance led her to the Southern New Jersey Performing Arts Academy for high school, where she graduated with a dance certification in 2005. She was accepted into the dance program and graduated with a BFA at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA.


During her college experience, she worked with teachers who trained and performed with the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Doug Varone and Dancers, Lar Lubrovitch Dance Company, Mark Morris Dance Company and Limon Dance Company. When Noelle wasn't studying dance or performing, she was teaching ballet, tap, hip hop, and creative movement to children at a local Virginia Dance Studio. Once she graduated from college in 2009, she was asked to join CityDance Ensemble2 a company based in Washington, DC where she had the opportunity to perform in VA, MD, DC area and at the White House. In 2010, she was promoted to full time company member of CityDance Ensemble where she had the opportunity to perform on tour in Africa, Russia and Peru with works by Paul Gordon Emerson, Christopher Morgan, Paul Taylor, and more.


Noelle now finds herself back in New Jersey and back to her love for teaching. She has been a Guest Artist, teaching and setting work on students at G.C.I.T. Performing Arts High School for over ten years. In 2016 she opened her own dance studio to share her passion and artistry  with her students.


Episode 15: Diana Portes

Diana Portes has been dancing since the age of three, where she attended the Ronnie McLaughlin School of Dance, in Merchantville, New Jersey. She studied various styles of dance, such as: Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Pointe, Tumbling, and Modern. Diana was accepted into the Southern New Jersey Academy of Performing Arts, where the focus was mainly on Ballet, and Horton technique. Upon high school graduation, at just 18 years old, Diana moved to New York City and was accepted into The Alvin Ailey School of Dance on a scholarship.

In 2006, Diana attended Central State University in Wilberforce, OH. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in Business Management, while being on the Black Diamond and Black Diamond Dancing Belles college dance team, throughout her four years. After graduating college, Diana moved back to New York to pursue her MBA, at the Metropolitan College of New York. 

From 2012-2015, Diana was a member of the Philadelphia Soulmates dance team, for the Arena football team, the Philadelphia Soul. Her love of hip hop grew during this time. In 2011, she had her first teaching opportunities at Edge Dance Center and CaRu Entertainment, in South and Central New Jersey.

In 2015, Diana moved to Tampa, FL, and started teaching Jazz, Hip Hop, and Competition Choreography at Karl and DiMarco. In 2017, Diana became the full time Office Manager and full time dance teacher/ choreographer at K&D South where she received many awards for competitions such as Platinum, special judges awards, and overall placement awards. 


In the spring of 2017, Diana was accepted to be a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Cheerleaders for the NFL team, the Tampa Buccaneers. She was also asked to be a guest choreographer for the Philadelphia Wings Dance Team in 2021 and 2022, and elated to be the choreographer of Memphis in 2022. 


Diana Alexis Dance Academy was founded in 2020 by Diana Portes. Diana is thrilled to start a dance studio of her own, pass down the many dance experiences she has learned throughout the years, and contribute to the community.

Episode 14: Amanda Greene

Amanda Greene holds a BA in dance science from Goucher College and a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Northwestern University. She is a licensed Physical Therapist, a Board-Certified Clinical Specialist in Orthopedic Physical Therapy, and a Certified Orthopedic Manual Therapist with over 10 years of experience working with performing artists including dancers, musicians and actors.


She is a clinical specialist with the Johns Hopkins Outpatient Rehabilitation Network where she specializes in treating performing artists and hypermobility spectrum disorders. Amanda has presented at national and international conferences on the topics of performing arts medicine and hypermobility in dancers. She has published several research articles and serves as a peer reviewer for the Journal of Dance Medicine and Science.

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Episode 14: Andrea Lasner

Andrea N. Lasner is a licensed physical therapist and clinical specialist for The Johns Hopkins Hospital and The Johns Hopkins Outpatient Rehabilitation Network Clinic for Performing Artists at the Peabody Institute, and The Johns Hopkins Outpatient Rehabilitation Network Clinic at Green Spring Station. She completed her Bachelors in Health Science and Masters in Science of Physical Therapy from the University of Hartford, eventually pursing a Doctorate in Physical therapy from Arcadia University.


Additionally, she has completed extensive Pilates education and training leading her to being a certified teacher through Polestar®
Pilates in 2012 and a National Pilates Certified Teacher with comprehensive emphasis in rehabilitation. Prior to Physical Therapy, Andrea began her dance training in southern California at a young age. Moving to New Jersey in 2000, she attended New Jersey School of Ballet and was part of the Junior Company, mentored by Eleanor D’Antuono and Carolyn Tener Brown. She was then promoted into the New Jersey Ballet Company, under direction of Carolyn Clark and Paul McRae. While with the company, she performed Corps de Ballet roles and Demi-
soloist roles in works such as: La Bayedere, Nutcracker, Giselle, Tom Sawyer, Hansel & Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, Paquita, Cinderella, La Esmeralda, and included in an original work Gospel staged by Valentina Kozlova. When she located to Baltimore in 2009, Andrea was offered to be a guest artist dancing at Peabody Institute under the direction of Carol Bartlett performing with
Peabody Preparatory and original works choreographed by Meredith Rainey and Constance Dinapoli.

In 2013, Andrea became adjunct faculty at Towson University leading coursework in the Department of Dance where she is the lead instructor of coursework to collegiate undergraduates and coordinates the DanceFIT dance injury screens yearly to all dance majors. She has joined as adjunct faculty in 2020, at the Peabody Conservatory acting as the Clinic Manager for the Clinic for Performing Artists and lead instructor of coursework to music and
dance conservatory students. In addition to her clinical and leadership responsibilities, she is the Director of The Johns Hopkins Performing Arts Fellowship, a post-professional education
program focused on excellence in clinical care and research for the prevention and rehabilitation of performing arts related injuries.
Andrea presents annually at stat
e, regional, national, and international conferences, such as the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science, American Physical Therapy Association, Maryland Physical Therapy Association, Johns Hopkins Sports Medicine Symposia and CORPS de Ballet International.


She frequently supports the dance community by providing educational workshops and injury prevention lectures to pre-professional and professional organizations. She has been co-author on several dance medicine research studies and is a committee member chair for the American Physical Therapy Association, Performing Arts Special Interest Group since 2015.

Episode 13: Virginia Lensi

Virginia Lensi was born in Milan, Italy, and began her ballet training at La Scala Ballet School at the age of eleven. While there she performed roles in The Nutcracker, Serenade, Who Cares?, Les Sylphides, Paquita, and Gaîté Parisienne at Teatro alla La Scala.  Lensi also danced a soloist variation in Napoli Pas De Six and participated in La Scala Ballet School’s 2015 exposition, dancing the Rose Adagio from The Sleeping Beauty.

Lensi attended summer intensive programs at The Royal Ballet, Victor Ullate Ballet, School of American Ballet, and IBStage.  In 2015, she attended American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive in New York and was invited to join the ABT Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School with a full scholarship.

Lensi joined ABT Studio Company in January 2016, where her repertoire included Ethan Stiefel’s See the Youth Advance!, Liam Scarlett’s Untitled, Dana Genshaft’s Chromatic Fantasy, Alexei Ratmansky’s Paquita and Rondo Capriccioso, Marco Pelle’s Libera!, and Natalia Makarova’s La Bayadère pas d’action.

Lensi became an apprentice with American Ballet Theatre in November 2017 and joined the corps de ballet in January 2018.  Her repertoire includes Leto in Apollo, the Spanish Dance in Ratmansky’s The Nutcracker, a Harlot in Romeo and Juliet, the Spanish Dance in Swan Lake, and a featured role in Deuce Coupe.

ABT is grateful to Iain and Mariko Drayton for supporting the Dancer Fund in honor of Virginia Lensi.

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Episode 12: Iris Andersen Grizzell

Iris Andersen Grizzell is a graduate of Baltimore School for the Arts and holds a BFA in Dance from the California Institute of the Arts. Her training began at the Peabody Preparatory Institute with Dale Senhert, followed by Caryl Maxwell Classical BAllet with Caryl Maxwell and Caroline Denzler, and then Kinetics Dance Theatre with Dottie Fried and Donna Pidel. While attending Baltimore School for the Arts she studied under Norma Pera, Debra Robinson Deckelbaum, Sandra Lacey, Sandra Fortune, Stephanie Powell, Edward Stewart, and Anton Wilson. 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 England at the London Contemporary Dance School. She performed works by Laurence Blake, Douglas Nielsen, Tina Yuan Lems, Martha Graham, Liz Maxwell, and Francesca Penxani, among other, and participated in internationally broadcast calarts/MIT fashion show collaboration featuring technology and the arts in live performance at the Beverly Hills Hilton.


In her professional career in Los Angeles, California, Iris danced with the Pasadena Dance Theatre from 2003 to 2011, performing new works by choreographers that included Laurence Blake, Cynthia Yong, Leslie Carothers, Scott Putnam, Bill Evans, Andrew Tyson, Jeffrey Gerodias, Jodi Gates, and Glenn Edgerton. From 2004-2011 she danced with the Francisco Martinez Dance Theatre in both concert and outreach performances throughout Southern California.


Upon returning to Baltimore, Iris received first place for her work in Howard County Ballet’s Young Choreographer’s Showcase in April 2011. Locally, she has performed with Bowen McCauley Dance, the Campbell Dance Experience, and the Harford Ballet. Iris has also taught at Towson University as an adjunct ballet professor for undergraduate dance majors and for Towson University Community Dance for youth and adults. She was the Program Manager of the TWIGS program at Baltimore School for the Arts for nearly 12 years, for which she has also taught ballet, pointe, and modern to middle-school aged dancers in the TWIGS Dance Program. She has served as a faculty member of BSA’s Dance Department for over 10 years, teaching modern and ballet at a pre-professional level, before accepting the position of BSA Dance Department Head in the fall of 2022.

Episode 11: Elizabeth Lowe Ahearn

Elizabeth Lowe Ahearn is a Professor of Dance at Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland in the Center for Dance, Music and Theatre. A dancer, choreographer, Pilates instructor, and educator, she earned her B.F.A. and M.F.A. from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts under the direction of Lawrence Rhodes.


President of the American College Dance Association, she has served on the Association’s Executive Board as Vice President for Policies and Procedures and has served as both Chair and Dance Program Coordinator of the Dance Department at Goucher and on the faculties of the University of Washington and Carver Center for Arts and Technology.


Originally from Oklahoma, her early dance training was with Yvonne Chouteau, Joy Feldman, Conrad Ludlow, Bojan Spassoff, and Stephanie Wolf and continued her studies in New York with Bettijane Sills, Rachel List, June Finch, Valmai Stretton, Gus Solomons Jr., Linda Tarnay, and Rosanna Seravalli. Ahearn has performed with the Metropolitan Ballet Company under the direction of Conrad Ludlow and Joy Feldman, Ballet Oklahoma under the direction of Edward Villella and Bojan Spassoff, The Second Avenue Dance Company in New York City, Kinetics Dance Theatre, Surge Dance Company of Baltimore, and Ordinary/Extraordinary Dance Theatre. Her repertory has included experimental, contemporary, historical, and classical works by Agnes de Mille, June Finch, Robert Gladstein, Eleanor King, Daniel Levans, Conrad Ludlow, Doris Humphrey, Mark Morris, Bill T. Jones, Jan Van Dyke, Mel Wong, and Arnie Zane, and her own work has been presented nationally and internationally.


Elizabeth received her Pilates Teacher Certification in 1989 from the Pilates Studio under the tutelage of Romana Kryzanowska and Sari Mejia Santo and her Progressing Ballet Technique Teaching Certification in 2019 from Marie Walton-Mahon.

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Episode 10: Luciana Paris

Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Luciana Paris began her ballet training at the age of seven with Elena Perez.  From 1991-1996 she studied at the Colon Theater Superior de Art Institute with Katty Gallo and Raul Candal.  Paris is a recipient of a Colon Theater Foundation Scholarship, based on her outstanding qualifications at Colon Theater Superior Ballet Institute.  She won a Gold Medal at the Latin American Dance Competition in 1995.

In 1996, Paris was invited by Maximiliano Guerra to join Ballet Camara and tour with the company in Argentina.  She then joined the Teatro Colon Ballet as a soloist where she performed the role of Red Riding Hood in The Sleeping Beauty.

In December 1996, Paris joined Julio Bocca’s Ballet Argentino as a principal dancer and became Bocca’s dance partner.  Ballet Argentino’s Artistic Director was Lidia Segni, and William Burman as Ballet Master.  From 1997 to 2001, Paris and Julio Bocca danced together a vast classical, neoclassical and modern repertoire.

Paris went on many national tours in Argentina and international tours around the world with Julio Bocca and the Ballet Argentino, including Greece, Brazil, Italy, Spain, China, Japan, Germany, the United States, Israel, Thailand, France, Cuba, Panama, Singapore, and Chile.

Paris appeared at the 1997 Birmingham Ballet Gala in England dancing the Coppélia Pas de Deux with Julio Bocca.

Paris joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in October 2001. She was appointed a Soloist in August 2015. 

Paris created a Consort in Tharp’s A Gathering of Ghosts, Callirhoe’s Maid in Ratmansky’s Of Love and Rage, Snow in Ratmansky’s The Seasons, leading roles in Robert Hill’s Concerto No. 1 for Piano and Orchestra (World Premiere at New York City Center in 2002) and Jessica Lang’s ZigZag, and a featured role in Marcelo Gomes’ AfterEffect. 

She appeared with Project Ballet Theatre, Artistic Director Robert Hill, Artistic Associate Georgina Parkinson, at the Ballet Hawaii Neal Blaisdell Concert Hall (Honolulu) and at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center (Maui) – Hawaii, 2002.

Paris danced Twyla Tharp’s Sinatra Suite with Marcelo Gomes at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts Gala Opening in Las Vegas, March 20, 2012 and at the 2008 Kennedy Center Honors when Tharp was one of the six Honorees, broadcast on CBS on December 30, 2008.  Paris also danced Sinatra Suite at the New York City Center with José Carreño in 2006 – Carreño’s debut in Sinatra Suite – at the 2011 ABT Fall Season Opening Night Gala with Herman Cornejo, and at the 2012 Fall for Dance Festival at New York City Center, also with Herman Cornejo.

Paris’ guest appearances include the Don Quixote Grand Pas de Deux and Le Corsaire Pas de Deux at Teatro Ciudad de las Artes (Argentina) with Colon Theater principal Federico Fernandez (2012); Giselle in Giselle with Roddy Doble as Albrecht, with Southhold Dance Theater (2012); Tharp’s Known by Heart pas de deux and Gemma Bond’s Manner with the Ballet Manchester at the Southern Vermont Arts Center; the premiere of David Fernandez’s Libertango, with New York City Ballet principal Gonzalo Garcia; at the El Museo del Barrio Theater (New York 2012); the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Southhold Dance Theater’s production of The Nutcracker in 2010 with ABT’s Sean Stewart as the Cavalier, in the Houston Repertoire Ballet’s production of the same title in 2009, with former ABT Soloist Jared Matthews as her partner; and also in 2003 with Colin County Ballet’s production, dancing the Grand Pas de Deux with former ABT Soloist Jesus Pastor.

Paris also toured Spain as a guest dancer with Angel Corella’s company several times, dancing George Balanchine’s Who Cares? with Herman Cornejo, among other roles.

In 2012 American Ballet Theatre designated Paris as a Certified Teacher.

ABT is grateful to Jill S. Slater for supporting the Dancer Fund in honor of Luciana Paris.

Episode 9: 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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