ARTISTIC DIRECTOR & COMPANY CHOREOGRAPHER
Akasha Alvarez was born and raised right here in Bucks County. She grew up in this studio formerly known as The Spirit In Motion Ballet Theatre under the direction of Terri Garcia Lee. She also studied under the many artists at this school such as, Kristin Scott Naylor, Ryan Beck, Larisa Saltsova, Denise LaPointe, and many others. She soon found that dance was not only a passion of hers, but also her life calling when she started teaching and choreographing. Akasha graduated from West Chester University with a degree in Elementary Education and Dance. During her time at West Chester, Akasha was a key member of the University Dance Company and choreographed for the company four times. Her choreography was selected and presented at the regional conferences for the American College Dance Association (ACDA). Akasha has been the company choreographer for The Pennsylvania School of Performing Arts Company for over 8 years now. Akasha has performed at the Philadelphia Fringe Fest, with Ballet Magnificat, and been involved with ComeUnity's collaboration with Lustig Dance Theatre. She has also studied ballet, contemporary, jazz, modern, pointe, lyrical, theater dance, and tap. When Akasha is not at the studio, she is a first grade teacher at a local school district in Bucks County. Akasha has been teaching children dance for over 14 years.
STUDIO MANAGER & MUSIC DIRECTOR
Kyle Duke is a music director, teacher, vocalist and pianist from Bucks County, PA. In addition to serving as music director for productions throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Kyle is also an accomplished educator and private music instructor. After attending West Chester University, Kyle graduated with a Bachelor of the Arts in Music Education, with a focus in Vocal Pedagogy. He has taught in all levels of the K-12 school system in Pennsylvania and Connecticut, and operates a voice and piano studio where he teaches and collaborates with students of all ages and musical backgrounds. Kyle frequently works with the Bucks County Playhouse as Music Director of the BCP Youth Company and has had the opportunity to collaborate with many Broadway caliber directors, choreographers, and performers. Some of Kyle’s favorite productions he has worked on include Godspell (2012 Revision), and James and the Giant Peach, the Bucks County Playhouse’s adaptation of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Kyle is thrilled to be joining The Pennsylvania School of the Performing Arts as Studio Manager and Music Director. He will be overseeing the expansion of PSPA as it begins to create a music program to accompany its already thriving dance program. Kyle can’t wait to meet all of the PSPA family!
BALLET & DANCE PROGRAM ASSISTANT
Ann Corrao is originally from Westchester, New York. She has spent the last 10 years developing her teaching philosophy and practice as well as performing in New York City and Philadelphia. She began her dance journey studying ballet with Fronda Sobel, Simon Kasantsev (Bolshoi Dance Academy), and Diana White (former soloist of the New York City Ballet). She then received her BA in Dance from Muhlenberg College, concentrating in education, choreography, and stage management. Ms. Corrao was greatly influenced by her professors, Karen Dearborn, Teresa Van Denend Sorge, and Megan Flynn, to utilize her knowledge of creative movement pedagogy, somatic techniques, and knowledge of anatomy to create a unique ballet experience for her students. She has recently worked as an educator and choreographer for Standing Ovation Studios (Westchester, NY) and dances for the Megan Flynn Dance Company (Philadelphia, PA). Ann or, to her students, Ms. Annie has taught Creative Movement, Ballet, Pointe, and Modern dance for all levels in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. She has performed in works by Heidi Cruz-Austen, Jessica Lang, Trinette Singleton, Jeffrey Peterson, and Amanda Selwyn Dance Theater. She has also presented work at the American College Dance Association Festival and the International Dance Festival presented by Nickerson-Rossi Dance. Ann is thrilled to be finishing her dance graduate studies at the University of the Arts this fall, while teaching and performing in Philadelphia. She hopes to be a catalyst for her students and fellow emerging artists through her explorations, shared experiences, and joy of movement.
MUSICAL THEATER, TAP
Lester Holmes has had a memorable and successful career as a dancer/singer/actor/acrobat on and off-Broadway tours, in national tours and in theaters up and down the East Coast. He has performed on television, in nightclubs, in regional and dinner theaters, and has tumbled at the Met. In addition to his performance credits, Lester has been teaching ballet, tap, jazz, acrobatics, and musical theater for decades. He has taught at Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway and has, through the years, taught numerous master classes throughout the U.S. He had the pleasure of teaching and choreographing in Florence, Italy for three years, Lester once had his own studio and he taught dance at the Peabody Prep, Goucher College and Towson University for almost 2 decades. He is now actively teaching and choreographing in Bucks County and is thrilled to continue collaborating with artistic director Akasha Alvarez at the renowned Pennsylvania School of the Performing Arts.
BALLET, BROADWAY STARS
A Bucks County native, Julianne had the good fortune of getting her ballet training from a diverse group of seasoned professionals hailing from the Harkness Ballet, National Ballet of Cuba, Hungarian National Ballet and Kiev State Ballet to name a few. After several summers of pre-professional study at such schools as Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Nutmeg ballet, Kaatsbaan International Dance Center, Nashville Ballet and Joffrey Ballet, and being offered trainee contracts for the latter two, she apprenticed for a year under John White and Margarita De Saa at the Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet Society in Narberth, PA. Julianne received a contract with Northern Plains Ballet where she toured North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Minnesota performing such roles as Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker, and original contemporary works by Artistic Director Anthony Noa. Her other professional experience includes Hamilton Ballet Theater in NJ under Julie A. Caprio and original contemporary works with Alden Moves Dance Theater in NYC. Upon retiring her pointe shoes Julianne received a BA in Anthropology from CUNY-Hunter College where she discovered a newfound inspiration through the history of dance and its diverse global influences. While pursuing her degree Julianne taught, managed, and created programs in both gymnastics and dance in NYC. She studied ballet and Jazz with various renowned instructors at Steps on Broadway and Peridance Capezio Center. Julianne has been a teacher for over 20 years and values the education of youth above all else. A mother of four boys, she knows the balance of learning through encouragement and enjoyment yet maintaining quality and detail.
Mikey D’Astoli is a Dancer/Choreographer who is signed to Clear Talent Group agency. He
started dancing at age 13 with a focus on styles such as bboying, popping, house, locking,
vogue, waacking, and industry styles. Performances include opening up for American Idol’s
“Jax”, The Red Hot Chili Peppers 2017 Tour, The Cartoon Network Anti-Bullying Tour, Monsters
of Hip Hop, World of Dance, and Good Morning America. Mikey has been featured on Tv
commercials such as “Bop it Tetris”, “Juicy Drop Pop”, and “Jenga tetris”. You can find him in
music videos for artists Jax(LA LA Land), The Red Hot Chili Peppers(Go Robot), Youtube’ Niki
& Gabi (Hair Tie) and Vita Chambers(What If). He can also be seen in the Netflix series “The
Get Down”(Directed by Baz Luhrmann), where he plays the role of ‘Crash’. Also as a principal
dancer in the Feature Film “Going in Style”(Directed by Zach Braff), and in the TBS series “The
Last O.G” and more. Mikey has used what he learned throughout the years to derive his own
unique style, that consists of isolations and storytelling movements.
Kara Jonsson (Assistant Director) is an Artistic Administrator, Director, and Entrepreneur. Most recently she founded heARTwork by Kara Shea Jonsson: An online program for the career and personal development of performing artists. Her theatrical and administrative work includes; Assistant Director for the Off Broadway production of Assistants the Musical, Marketing and Community Engagement Associate for the Passage Theatre Company, Director of I and You: A Workshop Production, Company Manager at The Forestburgh Playhouse, and Instructor for the Trenton PEERS Youth Program. Kara is a graduate of Westminster College of the Arts at Rider University and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre. karajonsson.com @karasheajo
JAZZ/MUSICAL THEATRE & CONDITIONING
Moira Esposito is a founding member of Terri Garcia-Lee’s Pennsylvania School of the Performing Arts (PSPA) and is proud to see all of its amazing success for the past 25+ years. PSPA was her home away from home as she studied dance under the mentorship of Ms. Lee and all the incredible teachers that helped cultivate her love for dance and theatre. Moira graduated from West Chester University with a BA in Theater Arts: Technical Production and a minor in Dance. While she attended WCU, she was a prominent member of the dance program there serving in various positions of the dance company and choreographing for her peers along the way. Upon graduating, she spent many years as a full-time dance instructor in the surrounding West Chester area, teaching an array of styles to kids of all ages. Moira is now a proud mom to a wonderful daughter, Maeve, and is thrilled to have her second generation PSPA dancer a part of this amazing studio.
CONTEMPORARY/MODERN, BALLET, JAZZ
Kat Sullivan was born and raised in Bucks County and her passion for dance began at a very young age. Kat joined PSPA as a full-time company member in 2008, performing at the Philadelphia Fringe Fest and at ComeUnity in collaboration with Lustig Dance Theatre. She has attended multiple master classes in New York City, including, but not limited to, Steps on Broadway and the Rockette Summer Intensive. Under the direction of Terri Garcia-Lee, Kat soon found a love for film in addition to dance. She can't wait to meet the new members of the PSPA family!
WHITNEY KIMBALL LONG
Whitney is a New York City based Film and TV Actor. She is known for her work on Madam Secretary (CBS), Elementary (CBS), Limitless (CBS), and The Detour (TBS). Her years spent in the Theatre (NYC and Philadelphia) led her to the feature film Completely Normal, where Whitney co starred alongside Geneva Carr, playing the role of her sister. Most recently she can be seen recurring on the TV series Big Dogs (Amazon), and on Netflix, as Rebecca Wilks in the feature film A New York Christmas Wedding (produced by and starring Chris Noth). She recently wrapped the pilot episode of Nightbirds, playing the role of detective Linda Lupino, opposite Aida Turturro and the feature film The Noel Diary opposite Justin Hartley to be released on Netflix, November 2021. Whitney is a graduate of The University of the Arts and The British American Drama Academy and holds a BFA in Acting.
Ramona is from Berkeley, CA where she began her training at Berkeley Ballet Theater. She went on to earn a BFA in dance from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Ramona danced the principal role of ‘Betsy’ in Twyla Tharp’s Come Fly Away and went on to dance with the Tharp company creating new roles in addition to performing repertory works. She is a principal guest artist with Oakland Ballet and has also performed with Christopher Wheeldon’s An American in Paris, Dance Lab New York, Minnesota Dance Theatre, Claudia Schreier and Co, Post:Ballet, Sidra Bell, Cherylyn Lavagnino Dance and Phantom of the Opera (25th Anniversary Tour) among others. Ramona has taught for Pacific Northwest Ballet, as well as master classes in Tharp technique across the country. She is an adjunct ballet faculty at NYU’s Tisch Dance.
Michael Crawford is from Takoma Park, Maryland. He began dancing with prestigious schools, including the Maryland Youth Ballet and Kirov Academy, with summer intensives at The Rock School and San Francisco Ballet on full scholarships. In his senior year, he was accepted into the Kennedy Center’s Master Class Series, where he trained and performed with top international companies.
Mr. Crawford then moved on to the Washington Ballet where, in their top training program, he performed with the company under the direction of Septime Webre. Upon graduation, he went on to study and perform in the Professional Division of The Pacific Northwest Ballet under the direction of Kent Stowell and Francia Russell.
After Pacific Northwest Ballet, he danced with Dance Theatre of Harlem, Jose Mateo Ballet, Ballet Memphis, American Repertory Ballet, Connecticut Ballet, and Oakland Ballet. At these companies, he performed several ballets as a principal artist.
He has been privileged to work alongside top productions, such as “Guys and Dolls," "West Side Story," "Show Boat," and other musical performances at The Kennedy Center, as well as touring many other international stages. He has also worked as a principal guesting with The Washington National Opera, Adam Miller Dance Project, Kinetic Dance Works, TranscenDance Group, Brooklyn Ballet, and Ballet Neo.
While signed with New York Model Management, Mr. Crawford had the honor to internationally campaign. He has walked in several seasons of NYC Fashion Week. He also appeared in the feature film "Step Up" and can be seen on television in ABC’s production of “Forever.”
Michael is also an award-winning teacher and choreographer. He has been teaching and choreographing nationally and internationally for 10 years. He has coached many prize-winning students for competitions, such as Youth America Grand Prix, NYC Dance Alliance, and Showstoppers Dance Competition. He has taught at many studios including Broadway Dance Center, Metropolitan School of the Arts, Princeton Ballet, and many, many more.
MUSICAL THEATER, JAZZ
Courtney Copper is a former Radio City Rockette based in New York City. She was raised in
Pennsylvania and began dancing at the age of three. Courtney graduated Magna Cum Laude
from West Chester University with a degree in Education/Dance. While studying, she performed
with many dance companies including Brandywine Ballet. She went on to perform with the
Broadway tour of Annie Get Your Gun and several production touring companies. Courtney also
travelled the world with Royal Caribbean, Regent and Holland America Cruise Lines as a
dancer, singer and dance captain. You may also see her in many television shows and films.
Courtney has been teaching and choreographing for over 20 years, working with all ages and
styles of dance.
Sarah Warren, originally from Maryland, currently resides in Philadelphia, PA where she attended Temple University and obtained her BFA in Dance Performance & Choreography. Since graduation, Sarah has continued to perform professionally and teach at local dance and fitness studios. Sarah currently dances and performs with Nickerson-Rossi Dance, Putty Dance Project, Matter Movement Group, ARTIST HOUSE/Asya Zlatina & Dancers and a. dance theatre. She has also performed work for Blanca Huertas Agnew, Keila Cordova Dances, The InterACTion Project, Alana Melene Dances, ContempraDANCE Theatre, Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre and other artists in the Philadelphia and NYC areas. Along with dance, Sarah is a certified Bar Method instructor who enjoys merging both her dance and fitness backgrounds in her teaching.
FOUNDER OF THE PENNSYLVANIA SCHOOL OF THE PERFORMING ARTS
Mrs. Lee hails from NYC and is a proud member of all three professional unions: Broadway Actors Equity AEA -Screen Actors Guild - AFTRA. Her students have been cast on Broadway, National Broadway tours, NYC Rockettes, SAG Movies, National TV Series, Broadway Shows on the largest Royal Caribbean tours, and national television.
Lee has lived in Bucks County for over twenty-six years, inspiring her students to reach a new understanding and mastery of musicality in the arts and also reach their personal goals through the use of dance theater education. Many of her students are now living their dream performing on Broadway, in the Rockettes, film, national television, and many national and international tours. Lee founded PSPA with a mission to inspire in young people a lasting passion and appreciation for theater, dance, and music through artistic excellence, exhilarating performances, touching choreography, and dominant lifetime educational programs.
After graduating from the prestigious University of North Carolina School of the Arts, Lee moved to NYC with a scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet and The Gregory Hines - Frank Hattacht Dance studios next to The David Letterman studios on Broadway, now known as the famous " Broadway Dance Center"! Lee made her Broadway debut with The Three Musketeers - with Ed Dixon, Chuck Wagner, Liz Calloway - Mark Bramble - directed by Joe Layton & Tom O'Horgan. From there, she continued to perform in many professional productions including The Big Broadcast of 1944 with Harry James and his Orchestra, the revival of West Side Story with Jerome Robbins - Tommy Abbott Directors with Rex Smith & Luis Perez. Stops in Lee’s extensive professional career in Broadway, film, and TV commercials have allowed her to travel the world and perform with many great dance legends including Bob Fosse, Pat Birch (Grease), Lester Wilson, (Solid Gold) Billy Wilson, (The Sands Copa Girls) Michael Peters (Michael Jackson's Thriller), Judy Kaye, Eartha Kitt, and many others. Additional training throughout her career included the Neighborhood Playhouse Acting (Misner technique) and at Carnegie Hall in NYC. She also trained with Scholarships from The San Francisco Ballet, The Minnesota Ballet, The Pennsylvania Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Alvin Ailey, Steps, and The Broadway Dance Center.