Cornish Preparatory Dance Program instructors are committed to somatically sound principles of dance training integrated with thoughtful consideration of students’ mental and physical well being. Instructors are educated about dance science, the importance of a strong healthy body, and understand there is not one way a body is suppose to look for dance. These core values provide opportunities for all students to discover individual creativity within traditional disciplines integral to the art form of dance.
Amelia Bolyard is a native of Seattle, and received her dance training in the Cornish College of the Arts Preparatory Dance Program between 1986 and 1996. During that time she had the opportunity to study with Gwen Barker, Frank Bays, Tinka Gutrick-Dailey, Dannul Dailey, Pat Hon, and Magali Messac. In 1996, she studied modern in the Cornish College Dance Program under Wade Madsen, Deborah Wolf and Michelle Miller. While a prep student, Amelia had the opportunity to work extensively with Pat Hon, and performed a piece for Lois Rathvon. From 1995-2002, she performed with various local dance companies including: Ballet Bellevue, The Big Red Dance Company, The Bleeding Hearts Ensemble, ArtsyFartsy Theater, Civic Light Opera and Huerta Industries.
Amelia has been teaching ballet, modern, jazz, hip-hop, musical theater, creative and primary dance since 2004. Amelia’s teaching experience includes The Dance Studio in Everett, Cornish College of the Arts Summer Dance Program, The Ballet Studio in Seattle, and Gage Arts Academy Summer Workshops. She has worked as an artist-in-residence for the Seattle public schools, and has been involved in programs at Madrona K-8, Summit K-12 and Pinehurst K-8. Currently, Amelia teaches various ballet levels and Modern 1. She is also a member of the college’s theater faculty, providing musical theater dance instruction to Cornish College musical theater majors, and is the Outreach Coordinator for the CPD, facilitating alliances with Childhaven and The Boys and Girls Club- Rainier Vista. Amelia performs her original composed and improvised movement, music and poetry at venues and events throughout Seattle.
Program Director, Ballet
Steve Casteel was born in Tacoma and received his early training from Jan Column School of Classic Ballet. At age sixteen, he was selected to join Boston Ballet II where he spent the next two years training and performing. For ten years, from 1987-‘97, Steve danced with the nationally acclaimed Houston Ballet where he was promoted to soloist and performed many of the great classical works as well as works by many world-renowned contemporary choreographers. In 2001, Steve received his B.F.A., summa cum laude, in dance from Cornish College of the Arts and completed his M.F.A. with a dance emphasis from the University of Arizona in 2004. For over ten years Steve has taught dance and worked in dance administration helping to build the Northwest dance community. From 1997 to 1999 he worked for Washington Contemporary Ballet in Tacoma as Assistant to the Director, writing grants and handling public relations in addition to serving as ballet master. From 2004 to 2006 Steve was the Public Relations Coordinator for Next Stage Dance Theatre and co-directed their community outreach program “Unleashed Memory,” a movement project with memory loss/Alzheimer’s patients, as well as performing with the company. In 2006 Steve directed and helped to open The Dance School, in Everett, WA. In 2008 he became a co-producer for the popular biennial Men In Dance Festival in Seattle WA. Steve has taught at various schools in the Northwest and California. Currently, he teaches at Cornish College of the Arts, Cornish Preparatory Department, Dance Fremont and University of Washington.
Leigh-Ann Cohen-Hafford has been teaching student and professional dancers for over 20 years. She has taught master classes, and guest classes across the USA and Canada. She was Artistic Director of Conservatory Ballet of Washington and Director of the Ballet Department at Washington Academy of Performing Arts. She served as a dance faculty member at Oakland University, MI, is currently on faculty at Cornish College of the Arts Dance Preparatory Program, and Dance Fremont and is a sought after coach and guest teacher.
Her choreography includes works for Ballet British Columbia’s Choreographic Workshop and for Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet’s Choreoplan. In addition her choreography has been presented by Conservatory Ballet of Washington, Olympic Ballet Theatre, Michigan Classic Ballet, Whidbey Island Dance Theatre, as well as by Cornish College Junior Company, and Trilogy Dance Company. Leigh-Ann’s works have been performed at several festivals including Regional Dance America Gala Night performances in 1994 and 1999. She has choreographed contemporary ballet solos and coached Youth America Grand Prix New York City finalists. She received a Craft of Choreography award from Regional Dance America in 1995.
During her extensive 15 year professional performing career she danced principal roles in numerous classical ballets such as The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and Don Quixote as well as in works by some of the most eminent contemporary choreographers including Ashton, Balanchine, Butler, Cranko,Tetley, and Forsythe. She was fortunate to work personally with many of these choreographers as well as with distinguished ballet directors, teachers and choreographers. such as Laura Alonso, Patricia Neary, Alexander Grant, Reid Anderson and Vicki Simon. She was honored to be chosen for the lead role in the Canadian première of William Forsythe’s “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated.” Ms. Cohen-Hafford toured and performed extensively nationally and internationally with Ballet British Columbia. She danced with Ballet Jorgen, Metropolitan Ballet Theater and Pennsylvania Ballet and was an invited guest artist for numerous schools and companies.
Leigh-Ann has a diploma in Dance Training from George Brown College in Toronto and an Advanced diploma in Spanish dance. She continues to teach, coach, choreograph and stage works for many schools and companies in the Pacific Northwest and Canada. Ms Cohen-Hafford’s teaching philosophy includes an emphasis on the basics of technique, placement, and posture as well as good form and line. She works on developing an understanding of the rotation and length needed to the legs in all movements. She focuses on developing a dancers awareness of the importance of details in transitions and movement quality. She encourages dancers to be musically aware, using phrasing to enhance their artistic choices. Her professional career training was Vaganova and Balanchine based and as a student she trained in both Cecchetti and RAD methods. Her diverse professional repertoire included contemporary ballets, the classics, Balanchine works and modern dance providing her with a diverse background and understanding of the essential requirements on ballet professionals today. She is passionate about teaching and considers each of her students and their individual technical and artistic needs. With years of teaching experience in all levels of ballet she has had many opportunities to reevaluate the demands on students and professional dancers.
Lauran graduated from Northwestern University with a BA in Communications and a major in Dance. She has worked in a variety of administrative positions throughout the years including helping to develop and manage the Professional Training Program at The Actors Gymnasium (Chicago) as well as serving as the office manager for Playworks Therapy- a small, privately owned therapy clinic serving children birth - age 10. More recently she was involved with The School of Acrobatics & New Circus Arts (SANCA) here in Seattle working in their Every Body’s Circus Program.
Besides administrative work, Lauran has danced professionally in Chicago with companies such as Aerial Dance Chicago (formerly AMEBA) and Innervation Dance Cooperative. She is currently a member of The Cabiri which uses dance, aerial arts, and theatrical performance to bring the mythologies of extinct and endangered cultures to the community.
She has been the Preparatory and Summer Dance Administrative Assistant since April 2017 and is excited to be a part of the Cornish community!
Ballet Heidi Gans, trained at School of American Ballet before becoming a member of New York City Ballet in 1987. She performed at Lincoln Center and toured internationally with the company, working with world renowned choreographers and musicians, and dancing alongside some of the greatest movers on Earth. After leaving NYCB she pursued a career in physical therapy and since 1997 has been helping others avoid and recover from injuries and physical challenges at her PT clinic in Seattle. Heidi is thoroughly enjoying her return to dance as a teacher at Cornish and now passes her appreciation for the fruits of diligence, hard work, and shared beauty on to her students.
Ballet, Conditioning for Dancers
Dorienne Raynolds graduated from the University of Washington with a BA in Dance. Dorienne is classically trained and began her studies in the Royal Academy of Dance Syllabus. She completed with merit all exams and performed in the Solo Seal performance. She then when on to explore the world of modern dance and had the opportunity to perform great works by Zvi Gotheiner, Vaslav Nijinshy, Doris Humphrey, Lar Lubovitch and Jose Limón. She has also worked with local choreographers Corrie Befort, Rob Kitsos, Alice De Muizon, Hannah Wiley and Paige Barnes. She has presented her own choreographic works in 12 Minutes Max and Velocity’s Under Construction. She also went back to school to for her Apparel design degree and currently works as a clothing designer for Cutter & Buck. She is very excited to get back into the classroom.
Pat performed extensively for 10 years with ballet companies in France, Austria, Spain, and Germany. In 1983 she received the National Endowment for the Arts’ Choreographic Fellowship and since then has choreographed for the Atlanta Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Summer Inventions, Singapore Ballet, Ballet Concerto of Miami, Goh Ballet in Canada, Federal Ballet Company of Malaysia, Ballet Petit, and for dancers competing in the International Ballet Competitions in Jackson, Mississippi. Before coming to Cornish in 1978, she taught at the Morelli Studios in New York and in Florence, Italy. Pat began studying ballet at the age of 10 in her native Singapore and continued her studies at Rosella Hightower’s Centre de Danse Classique in France. She also studied Flamenco and Classical Spanish dance in Madrid, Spain, and performed with the foremost Spanish dance company, Antonio and his Ballets of Madrid, before coming to New York to attend the Joffrey School and the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. She has been teaching for 36 years as Professor in the Dance department at Cornish College of the Arts. Between June and December 2008, Pat was Head of Dance at the School of the Arts, Singapore, where she continues to teach in the summer.
Born in Bangkok, Thailand and adopted while still a toddler, Margaret’s love of dance began in Bainbridge Island, WA when she was two years old. Now an artist, teacher, and performer, her work is informed by the eternal balance between joy and sorrow, and her discovery of identity as an immigrant adoptee. She is grateful for opportunities to study dance at California State University, Long Beach; The San Francisco Conservatory of Dance; American Dance Festival, New York; and Strictly Seattle which have all enriched her experience. A graduate of Cornish College of the Arts (B.F.A. Dance, 2012), she has performed work by Wade Madsen, Alicia Mullikin, Noelle Price, Christian K. Burns, Alex Ketley, Elia Mrak, and most recently Mary Tisa in Tint Dance Festival. She has also performed with Au Collective as a guest artist. Margaret currently teaches at Bainbridge Ballet, Cornish Preparatory Dance, and Emerald City Dance Complex. She is inspired and by her friends, family, and students and is a lover of little birds, elephants, and cats.
Creative Dance, Ballet, Pointe
Christina Kennedy’s early training began in Maryland with Sally Tierney, studying the Cecchetti Method of Ballet. She received scholarships from the East Coast Cecchetti Committee and was named a Maryland Distinguished Scholar of the Arts. In her teens she performed at the Kennedy Center with the Dance Institute of Washington, under the Artistic Director Fabian Barnes. She was able to study at the Washington School of Ballet summer program, and the Dance Theater of Harlem’s Residency Program in Washington D.C. While earning her BA in Dance from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, she performed with the Phoenix Dance Company. She has also danced for Redd Legg Dance, Bad MarMAr, and Ashani Dances. After moving to Seattle she taught most recently at Exit Space Dance and is pleased to now be a part of the Cornish Prep faculty.
Creative Dance, Pre-Ballet, Ballet
Originally from Minnesota, Anne Motl began her classical dance training with the Stroia Ballet Company in Little Falls. In pursuit of her career, Anne relocated to Washington to attend Cornish College of the Arts, receiving a BFA in dance in 2002 and a Pilates Mat Certification in 2016. With fifteen years of experience teaching a wide variety of ages and levels at dance studios, preschools, private and public schools, it is Anne’s goal to make dance accessible and fun for everyone. She teaches many genres of dance including ballet, creative movement, jazz, and modern as well as modern partnering and choreography. She is currently part of the dance faculty at Cornish College Preparatory Dance, eXit SPACE School of Dance, Washington School of Dance, and West Seattle Performing Arts. Anne also teaches movement and dance classes at Open Window School, Secret Garden Preschool and the Bellevue Club. Her teaching style follows the traditional dance principles that she learned as an adolescent. She believes in teaching anatomically correct body positions in a healthy manner, and being hands on in the classroom. She nurtures students at the appropriate developmental stage, emphasizes the use of dance elements and introduces dance vocabulary weekly in her classes. From 2003-2009, Anne co-directed Northwest Dance Syndrome, a collaborative Seattle modern dance company. Northwest Dance Syndrome created several dance pieces, produced shows locally, were guest artists at several schools, performed at many festivals and created two dance films. Anne has performed works by many local choreographers including most recently, Kristina Dillard, Maya Soto and Alana O Rogers. She danced with badmarmarDANCE company from 2009-2016 and is currently dancing in a new ensemble called the Marlo Ariz Dance Project.
Christine Weh began her training in Portland, Oregon, with many influential teachers including Heather Renk and Mary Hunt. She performed as soloist and ensemble with Portland Community Ballet under the direction of Lila Zali protegé Cynthia Tosh. Christine earned her BFA in Dance cum laude from Cornish College of the Arts where she was fortunate to work with choreographers Mary Sheldon Scott, Pat Hon, Tonya Lockyer, and Gary Masters from the Limón Dance Company. Additionally, she has performed with Weaving Dance, Chimera Dance Theater and Sapience Dance Collective. She has studied Creative Movement under Gail Heilbron and Christine Juarez, and completed Anne Green Gilbert’s Summer Institute for Teachers in 2014. Christine has been teaching her love of dance in ballet, creative movement and modern techniques for over 15 years. She has served as faculty for many schools in the region including The Dance School (also serving as Director of Education), Dance Time and Woodinville Dance Academy. Christine is currently on faculty at Dance Fremont, is the Dance Specialist for Secret Garden Preschool and continues to perform locally in independent artist productions. Christine enjoys being a part of the inspiring faculty of Cornish Preparatory Dance, where she served as Administrative Assistant for 10 years. Her teaching goal is to provide students of all ages with the necessary tools for accomplishment, joy, and participation in dance.
Pre-Ballet, Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Composition
Vanesa Wylie graduated from Cornish College of The Arts in 1994 with a BFA in Dance. Upon graduating she worked and performed with many local choreographers including Kristina Dillard, Pat Graney, Michele Miller, Jessica Jobaris, Lynn Simonson and the Big Red Dance Company.
In 1998, Vanesa and her husband formed The Bleeding Hearts Theatrical Dance Ensemble where they directed, choreographed and self produced their own shows. Vanesa’s choreography has also been seen at Bumbershoot, The Fringe Festival, The Moore and 12 Minutes Max. In 2000 she began teaching and fell in love with it. She joins the Preparatory Dance faculty teaching Creative Movement, Pre-Primary and Modern. Vanessa has taught dance at The Dance School, Studio One, Immaculate Conception, The Country Day School and in the Snohomish School District. She recently joined the dance faculty of Vashon Allied Arts where she is teaching modern and ballet. Vanesa is passionate about sharing the experience of dance and we are happy to have her joining our summer faculty for another season.