MEET THE STAFF
Owner, Artistic Director, Instructor
Meghan began her dance training in Madison, WI, where she was a part of the Wisconsin Dance Ensemble and other performing groups in the area. Meghan decided to further her dance education by attending Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA. In 2001, she graduated Magna Cum Laude and most outstanding student in the Department of Fine Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Dance. Following college, Meghan was awarded a scholarship to study at the Giordano Dance Center, from there she became and apprentice with Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, and then a professional company member. With Giordano Meghan traveled the world dancing and had the opportunity to perform works by Randy Duncan, Gus Giordano, Nan Giordano, Christopher Huggins, Ron de Jesus, Jon Lehrer, Mia Michaels, Tony Powel, Davis Robertson, and many more. She also had the honor of representing Giordano on the cover of the August 2007 issue of Dance Magazine. Meghan completed her fifth and final season with Giordano in 2009. After her departure from Giordano, Meghan served one year as the Rehearsal Director and as a dancer for Piel Morena Contemporary Dance. Collaborating with this company Meghan became Co-Director of, and helped to create a very successful summer intensive dance program, International Contemporary Dance Intensive, which is now in its fifth year running. Meghan’s teaching career took flight at North Shore School of Dance in Highland Park, IL, where she became the head of the Jazz Department and Director of the North Shore Repertory Dance Ensemble. She has also been a Master Teacher and Guest Choreographer in the Chicago area and across the United States. Meghan feels very fortunate to be able to share dance with others through her performing, teaching, and choreography.
Assistant Artistic Director, Instructor
Jessica found her passion for dance at the age of four in her hometown of Sauk Prairie, Wisconsin where she trained at Kris Pickar’s School of Dance. She had the wonderful opportunity to be dance captain and choreographer for Sauk Prairie’s Executive Session Show Choir for their European Summer Tour in 2006. Jessica is a 2010 cum laude graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance. There she had the privilege to perform works by Susan Marshall Company and Jump Rhythm Jazz Company. Her choreography “Woven into the Texture of Vitality,” was chosen for the student choreography showcase. Jessica choreographed for the University’s productions of “Rent” and “Floyd Collins.” She was awarded the Chancellors Leadership Award upon graduating. She was the dance captain and performed at the Broadway Dinner Theatre in Wisconsin Dells during the summers of 2008 and 2009 as a singer/dancer in the productions of “Footloose,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “The Fabulous 50’s.” Recently Jessica choreographed for Sauk Prairie High School’s musical production of “All Shook Up.” Jessica is now the Assistant Artistic Director, Resident Choreographer and Instructor at Midwest Performing Arts in Waunakee, WI. Jessica is so proud of all the dancers for their hard work, dedication and love for dance!
Instructor, Administration Staff
Crystal Sutherland earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from Columbia College Chicago in 2016, focusing her degree on pedagogy. The Wisconsin native is trained in rigorous modern technique and others such as ballet, jazz, improvisation, and West African. She is educated in dance composition, production, theory, anatomy, history, and pedagogy from qualified professionals. She has been educated about Cunningham, Trisha Brown, Alexander, Graham, Humphrey, and Petronio technique. Crystal has performed in choreography during her time at Columbia under the direction of Taisha Paggett, Alicia Wilson, Rebecca Huang, Pamela McNeil, Dr. Lorenzo “Rennie” Harris, and Jessica Miller Tomlinson. Crystal has had the pleasure of being a choreographer, performer, teacher, and director with Madison Contemporary Dance for three years. Within MCD, she performed in pieces under the direction of Corinne Jones, Michael Knight, Natalie Nemeckay, Tyler Nemmers, Beth Piccolo, Kimberly Smith, and herself. Crystal is an award-winning choreographer and recently, her piece, “Remember My Name,” was selected for the final gala at Cathedral Dance Festival in 2019. Crystal loves sharing her passion for dance with her students and is incredibly proud of all of them!
Celia grew up in Monona, WI and started dancing at the age of three at Monona Academy of Dance. She studied summers on scholarship at Milwaukee Ballet, Joffrey Midwest, Orlando Ballet, and Ballet Hispanico. She danced professionally with the Milwaukee Ballet performing in several of Michael Pink's works including Dracula, Swan Lake, Scheherazade, and Nutcracker and also with The Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC). She has been teaching for over 14 years and has taught at Monona Academy of Dance, the Milwaukee Ballet School, in the Milwaukee Area Public Schools, in a demo-video in the Milwaukee Children's Museum, MSCR Programs, at DCDC Dance School, in the Dayton Public Schools, and Dance Academy LTD in Elm Grove, WI. She has also hosted a Summer Dance Camp at Cambridge High School choreographing for their dance team; as well as choreographed for the non-profit Dance Wisconsin. She graduated from Edgewood College with a B.S. in Business in 2010 and with an MBA in 2013. Currently, Celia is working for the University of Wisconsin Systems Administration (UWSA). Celia is very excited to be part of the MPA Dance family and be able to share her love of dance and teaching.
Jacob Brooks El is a Chicago native who began his dance training in 2002 at the Chicago Academy for the Arts under the instruction of Randy Duncan, Guillermo Leyva, Sandra Kaufmann, and the late Anna Paskevska. In 2006, he attended Columbia College Chicago's modern dance program under the direction of Margi Cole, Jeff Hancock, Carrie Hanson, and Emily Stein. He later on became an apprentice for Gus Giordano Dance and Luna Negra Dance Theater. He also attended Ballet Chicago under the intense training of Daniel Duel and Patricia Blair. Jacob has been a guest artist for such companies as, the West Indian Folk Dance Company, Momenta, Ballet Chicago, Chicago Festival Ballet, Dallas Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Les Ballet Grandiva, Madison Ballet, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, and San Diego Opera.
Michaela King began her dance training in North Carolina where she was born. She continued ballet with coaching and private instruction in Virginia throughout her high school years. During this time, Michaela attended summer intensives with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Chautauqua Institution, The Rock School, Carolina Ballet, and Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell. As a high school student, she had the opportunity to perform Serenade with Suzanne Farrell's company at the Kennedy Center. Upon graduating, she studied in the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Grad Program where she had opportunities to perform with the company. After two years, Ms. King joined the company and spent two seasons in the corps de ballet. Michaela then joined Madison Ballet where she is currently in her third season. Her repertoire includes roles in La Bayadere, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Cinderella, Le Corsaire, Nutcracker, along with soloist roles in mixed repertory programs. She is thrilled to share her love of dance with the Midwest Performing Arts community!
Celina Moll started studying dance in the Madison area when she was five years old and enjoyed performing with Stage Works Projects for many years. Celina has trained with Madison Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Visceral Dance Chicago, River North Dance Company as well as attending many master classes and competitions in Chicago and New York City. This past December, she graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a bachelor’s degree in dance and arts management under the direction of Joan Karlen, Michael Estanich, Jeannie Hill, and Pamela Luedke. Celina is excited to share her knowledge and love of dance with the MPA dance community!
Nicole Nelson is an advanced hip-hop dancer and excited to be apart of the MPA team! She values a global mindset, hard work ethic, and a sense of exploration in her students. Her pursuit of dance and sense of adventure have taken her beyond the Madison area and even the U.S. to cities such as Florence, Italy, and Buenos Aires, Argentina to participate in shows, workshops, and conventions. Her dance experience, however, began with musical theater, where she discovered her love of the arts, and dance in particular. She is excited to see her students on the stage, where her love of dance originally flourished.
Raised in Natick, Massachusetts, Abi Shepherd trained at the Walnut School of Ballet along with multiple competition teams. After moving to Fishers, Indiana to be closer to family, she trained with G.Scotten Talent Center’s competition team which led to her recent graduation from the University of Alabama with a BA in dance and an additional BS in Marketing. While in college, she was a scholarship recipient for Gus Giordano as well as Inaside Chicago Dance and was an intern for ABT summer intensive. She has choreographed/performed pieces that were presented in Dance Alabama!, Dance Collection and Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre. She also received a “best performance” award for her dance film “accept it or not, it’s gonna happen” presented at Dance Alabama Film Festival. She now is working on projects performing and choreographing with Madison Contemporary Dance.
Abigail Gerdes is currently a sophomore at Indiana University and is studying Contemporary Dance and Recreational Therapy. She was born and raised in Lake Mills, Wisconsin where she began her love and passion for dance at the young age of three. She has been trained in a variety of styles, including tap, jazz, ballet/pointe, modern, and hip hop through her home studio, Midwest Performing Arts, in Waunakee, Wisconsin. While at MPA, Gerdes performed with their Youth Performance Group as well as their seasonal Nutcracker performance under the direction of Meghan McDermott. Recently, she has made an appearance in Bodies in Bold, Sounding Bodies, SLIP Showcase, and New Moves, where she performed in multiple choreographic works under a variety of artists. Since being at IU, she has worked alongside a number of choreographers such as Elizabeth Shea, Erik Abbott-Main, Stafford C. Berry, Beatrice Capote, Selene Carter, Juel D. Lane, Eisenhower Dance, Stefanie Nelson, Robert Burden, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, and Dr. Prathiba Natesan Batley. This year, she co-choreographed a piece, “Unbind”, in the SLIP Showcase. Gerdes enjoys choreographing and teaching in her freetime and always looks forward to working with students. She hopes to dance with a repertoire company post graduation and also hopes to work as a Recreational Therapist who focuses on dance as a therapeutic practice. She is absolutely thrilled to be teaching at MPA and is excited to share her passion for dance with others!
Taylor Rudolph fell madly in love with Pilates in the middle of her very first class. She knew she wanted Pilates in her life for the long haul and started her teacher training program as soon as she could. She enjoys teaching as much as she enjoys practicing Pilates and tries to let that shine through in every lesson and class that she teaches!
Guest Instructor/Choreographer, Director of Inaside Chicago Dance Company
Robert Mckee is the Artistic Director of Inaside Chicago Dance. He is a former dancer in Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago and was a guest performer for several dance companies in the Chicago area. Robert began an interest in Choreography at a very young age. He often uses everyday experiences and emotions to inspire his unique blend of jazz and contemporary movements in his dances. Through his passion of movement exploration and a love for teaching, he has choreographed for his own company, studios, and Universities in the US and Europe. Driven to connect with dancers of all ages, Robert instills the foundation of technique and quality in any group he is working with.
Originally from Atlanta, GA, Joshua Blake Carter joined Giordano Dance Chicago in 2009 as a member of Giordano II. He then danced for seven seasons with GDC’s main company where he had the opportunity to perform works by Frank Chaves, Peter Chu, Ron De Jesús, Autumn Eckman, Gus Giordano, Ray Leeper, Ray Mercer, Mia Michaels and more. Joshua is in his eighth season as Director of Giordano II and he also acts as Operations Manager for the organization. As a choreographer, Joshua’s works have been celebrated nationwide. In 2009, he was selected as the winner of Wonderbound's (formerly Ballet Nouveau Colorado) national choreography competition, dancemakers2.0, and in the spring of 2013 he was one of six winners commissioned to create a new work for DanceWorks Chicago's DanceMoves choreography competition. Later in 2013, Joshua was awarded the Producers' Panel Prize by the Ruth Page Foundation for his work, Ripen. He’s created two original works for Giordano Dance Chicago and eight original works for Giordano II. Most recently, Joshua was nominated for a 2019 Regional Broadway World Award for Best Choreography for his work on Disney’s NEWSIES at the Paramount Theatre. Other commissions include Missouri Contemporary Ballet, Nomi Dance Company, Visceral Dance Chicago, and Artifact Dance Project as well as an original work for Embarq with Joffrey Ballet. Additionally, Joshua created the finale for the 2016 event Sing! featuring Elton John. Joshua has been an Artist in Residence with Brenau University, Glendale Community College, and Illinois State University.
Ryan Galloway is from New Richmond, IN and spent his early years studying tap, jazz, and hip-hop. He performed with the professional troupe Fever Inferno Hip-Hop Squad and also earned many titles at national dance competitions. He was introduced to contemporary dance in college at Indiana University, and was quickly cast in many guest works including Paul Taylor’s Esplanade, David Parsons’ Nascimento Novo, Larry Keigwin’s Runaway, and Ishan Rustem’s Long Story Short. He also performed at the National College Dance Festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and was awarded the Provost’s Award for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity in the category of Performing and Creative Arts. Ryan has performed with Elizabeth Shea Dance at the Boston Contemporary Dance Festival, the American Dance Guild’s Festival 2014 at the Ailey Citigroup Theatre, the Midwest Dance Festival, and as a guest with the Indianapolis-based Dance Kaleidoscope, directed by former Graham dancer David Hochoy. He is thrilled to make his debut with Giordano Dance Chicago as a Senior Performing Associate and looks forward to the rest of the season and many to come.
Alejandra started her formal dance education and training in her hometown of Monterrey, México. She moved to Chicago in the year 2005 and since then she has augmented her professional experience as a contemporary dancer, teacher, and choreographer in the Chicago dance community. González graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance Education with a Specialization in Ballet Technique Cuban Style training from The National Institute of Fine Arts in Monterrey, NL México. She became a Giordano Dance Chicago second company member in 2005, where she had the opportunity to work with acclaimed choreographers such as Tony Powell, Christopher Huggins, John Lehrer, Randy Duncan to name a few. In 2007, González became a company member for Luna Negra Dance Theatre under the direction of Eduardo Vilaro. A year later, González joined Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre for their 2008 season. Alejandra founded a 501c3 non-for-profit dance company, Piel Morena Contemporary Dance in which she acted not only as an Artistic Director and performer but was responsible for designing and planning curricula for professional dancers and upcoming dancers. González directed the dance elective program at Francis W. Parker School from 2014-2018 developing a growing interest in dance as well as a strong dance community in the school. Alejandra continued to hone her expertise as a dance instructor, choreographer, and director as evidenced by her extensive performance history. She has had the opportunity to train and help develop students in the execution of dance performances as well as, the history of dance theory and practices with an emphasis on dance performance art. “I strive to continually challenge myself through ongoing education to explore personal growth both as a teacher and an individual.”
Skyler Newcom embarked on his journey through dance in his hometown of Lawrenceville, GA under the guidance of Jeff Boss and Jamie Wardrop. After many years in the competition circuits of the southeast, he has fostered extensive training in ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and hip-hop. In 2015, Skyler accepted a scholarship to continue his training at the University Of Arizona School Of Dance. In pursuit of furthering his studies in all areas, Skyler had the privilege of performing works by Autumn Eckman, Nacho Duato, Jessica Lang, George Balanchine, Michael Williams, Sam Watson, James Clouser, Tamara Dyke-Compton, and Amy Ernst among many. Skyler was gifted the chance of performing with Hawkinsdance, a contemporary company out of Tucson, AZ, impacting and furthering the growth of the arts community as well. Since graduating with a B.F.A. in dance in May of 2019, Skyler has moved to Chicago to become part of the Giordano Family. He joined the second company as a Junior Performing Associate in the 2019-2020 season, and aims to grow and mature as an artist and performer in the wake of this beautiful opportunity.
Maeghan, named one of Dance Magazine’s Top 25 to Watch in 2010, was born in Baltimore, MD. She studied at the Baltimore School for the Arts where she performed works by David Parsons, David Grenke, and John Clifford. She received a full scholarship to Dance Theatre of Harlem, where she performed with the Dancing Through Barriers Ensemble. While in New York, Maeghan studied at Steps on Broadway and performed with Extended Dance Company, as well as off-Broadway under the direction of Tony-award winner, Hinton Battle. She has also participated in the Jazz Dance World Congress, The Miss America Parade, and Dancers Responding to Aids Benefit. In 2005 Maeghan received a full scholarship to GDS, and in 2006 became a performing apprentice. 2007 marked her first season with GDC, making this her sixth season. Along with establishing herself as a well recognized dancer, she has grown as a choreographer. Her work, “The Winner Is,” was performed opening night of Dance Chicago. In March her choreography was part of Youth America Grand Prix’s “Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow” tour. In May 2011 her choreography, "Angelica," was performed as part of Dancin’ Downtown at The Joyce where it received the Performance Award. This piece will be performed in NYC during the Central Park Summer Stage Festival.
Guest Instructor/Choreographer, Nutcracker Choreographer
A native of Prairie du Sac, WI, Ashley has been dancing since she could walk. Her early training was with the Kehl School of Dance, under Susan Marsden, Shannon Gallagher, and Jo Ann Janus. She was a member of the youth ballet company Wisconsin Dance Ensemble, under the direction of Jo Jean Retrum. With this company, Ashley danced roles in The Nutcracker, Coppélia, La Fille mal gardée, and Peter Rabbit Ballet. She also worked with choreographers Frank Chavez, Julie Janus, Tyler Walters, and Greg Begley. Ashley received a scholarship to study dance at the University of Arizona, training with Susan Quinn, Michael Williams, Sam Watson, Jory Hancock, Melissa Lowe, and James Clouser. While there, she performed in numerous Dance Department showcases and ballets including Paquita, Gershwin Medley, and Carmina Burana. Ashley completed her degree at the University of Minnesota, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Dance in 2004. Ashley has danced professionally with Kanopy Dance Company, Jazzworks Dance Company, Madison Contemporary Vision Dance Company, Continental Ballet Company, and Cities Classical Dance Ensemble. While Ashley loves to perform, her true passion for dance is teaching. She has over 20 years of teaching experience at various studios in Arizona, Illinois, Wisconsin, and the Twin Cities area. It is a dream come true for her to own a dance studio and she feels blessed for the success of Ashley Ballet Arts Academy. In ABAA's years of business, Ashley has enjoyed watching the studio grow and the students thrive, and inspiring a love for the ART and JOY of dance in the Twin Cities community. Ms. Burkland lives in Plymouth, MN with her husband Carl and three children, Charlie, Oliver, and Eden.
Owner, Executive Director
Dana has enjoyed being part of MPA since its beginning in 2012. She brings to MPA her organizational skills, her eye for color and costuming, and friendly disposition. You will often find Dana back in the costume room, her favorite of the new addition. “I love watching the students grow into young adulthood, and although are happy for them, am also sad to see them graduate.” Dana’s greatest joy has always been watching her two daughters grow through their love or dance and the experiences they are able to share with their students. Family has always been important and Dana relishes her role of “Nana” to her 6 grandchildren. Dana looks forward to her retirement….someday!
Claudine has been a resident of Waunakee since 1981 where she and her husband raised their 4 children. She came out of retirement this year to once take upon her teaching position at St John’s school. In addition to her work at MPA, she also works the front desk of the Waunakee Village Center. Claudine has become an international traveler, often visiting her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter in Germany.