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Faculty & Staff

Our faculty share a common professional background, as well as educational philosophy. Our teachers and guest artists received their training and performance experiences in internationally recognized conservatories and dance companies, including American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, José Limon Company, Joffrey Ballet, The Harkness Ballet, David Howard, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, The Washington Ballet, The School of American Ballet, the Merce Cunningham Dance School, and the Radio City Rockettes. Together, they provide the highest quality dance training in a supportive environment that emphasizes communication and creativity between students and teachers.  Ballet Arts Studio is also proud to welcome guest artists and the diversity and fresh approach that they bring. 


Katie Bissinger

Katie Bissinger
Artistic Director; Lower School Ballet, Theater Dance, Tap, Choreography


Katie Bissinger has been dancing since she was 7 years old. She began her classical ballet training with Powers Dance Art Centre of Newburgh and Marya A. Kennett Dance Centre of Goshen, where she was a member of their Ballet Company. She later trained in New York City with Phil Black, Germaine Salsberg, Frank Hatchett and Sheila Barker.


Katie is a former Radio City Rockette and was dance captain of the first national tour of The Who's Tommy. She has performed in numerous national and European tours including 42nd Street, Annie Get Your Gun, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and My One and Only.  She has directed and/or choreographed many musicals at Stagedoor Manor, The Philipstown Depot Theatre, and Haldane High School.  She is a member of Actors' Equity Association and also has a BFA in Film/TV Production from New York University.


Katie has been teaching dance, including tap, theater dance, jazz, hip hop and ballet for over 35 years. 

Alex Bloomstein

Alex Bloomstein
Middle School Ballet, Upper School Ballet, Pilates

Alex Bloomstein began dancing in 1977. He was a full scholarship and fellowship student at the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival. He has studied ballet with Diana Byer, Benjamin Harkarvy, Choo San Goh, Marjorie Mussman, Janet Panetta, Igal Perry, and Rochelle Zide-Booth, among others. Alex studied modern dance at the Merce Cunningham Dance Studio. He also studied the modern technique of José Limon with Daniel Lewis and Hannah Kahn. He has studied the Martha Graham modern dance technique with Diana Hart, Mary Hinkson and Norman Walker.


Alex has also studied composition and choreography with a variety of teachers, including Bessie Schoenberg and Lynne Taylor-Corbett. Alex has performed his choreography, as well as the choreography of others, at numerous venues, including the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival and Dance Theater Workshop in New York City.


Alex has taught ballet technique, modern technique, composition and choreography, improvisation, and movement for actors in a wide variety of settings, including the Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, the Williamstown Theater Festival, Williams College, and Simon's Rock of Bard College. He has also taught musculo-skeletal anatomy, kinesiology, and movement assessment.

Laura Carella

Lili Tewes
 Modern, Choreography

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Lili Tewes is originally from Hamburg, Germany, and graduated from the Martha Graham School under the artistic direction of Janet Eilber, where she danced principal roles in several of Graham's ballets, including "Woman in White" in Diversion of Angels and "Pioneer Woman" in Appalachian Spring. She danced for RIOULT Dance NY, Sensedance, CES Danceworks, CRDance Company, has performed works by Martha Graham, Merce Cunningham, Pascal Rioult, Jacqulyn Buglisi, Virginie Mécène, Henning Rübsam, Caterina Rago, and collaborated on projects with Alastair Macaulay, New York Theatre Ballet, and the Buglisi Dance Theatre.


Lili was the director of the modern dance department at TANZWERK School for Ballet and Movement, served as the rehearsal director for Sensedance, Finleigh Zack Dance, and CES Danceworks, and was awarded a residency at K3 Center for Choreography at Kampnagel. Her work as a choreographer was featured at Tanztheater Wuppertal create and presented at the Martha Graham Studio Theater.


In the US, Lili has taught at Peridance, 92Y Harkness Dance Center, New York Theatre Ballet School, Western Connecticut State University, and was a teaching artist with the DanceREACH program. From the age of ten, Lili studied Hula under Kumu Hula Kalei'ulaokala Makekau to later join her company in Hawai'i and toured Europe and the USA.

Deanna Ford

Deanna Ford
Middle School Ballet, Jazz, Choreography

Deanna Ford began her classical training in Washington State. Upon her arrival in New York City, she continued her training, on scholarship, at the School of American Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, The Harkness Ballet and with David Howard. Deanna began her professional career as a soloist with the Hartford Ballet. She was also a member of the New Jersey Ballet. Deanna was a featured ballet dancer for Radio City Music Hall Productions, and was also a Radio City Rockette.


Deanna has been teaching classical ballet and jazz throughout the Northeast since 1998. 

Sara LaPadula

Sara LaPadula
Lower School Ballet, Contemporary, Choreography

Sara LaPadula began her dance training at 3 years of age in Westchester County. She is an alumni of Ballet Arts Studio, where she trained and performed with the Dutchess Dance Company as a Principal Dancer for 3 years. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and a Minor in Education.


Sara has performed works by renowned choreographers including Camille A. Brown, Uri Sands, and performed in a soloist role in Jose Limón's A Choreographic Offering. At UMass Amherst, Sara served on the Executive Board as President of Alive with Dance, where she worked to create a platform for presenting dance works and classes to students and members of the community. Sara is currently studying with the Limón Dance Company's Professional Training Program. She has a great passion and love for dance which she generously shares with our youngest dancers. 

Miriam Mahdaviani

Miriam Mahdaviani
Middle School Ballet, Upper School Ballet, Pointe, Choreography

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Miriam Mahdaviani began her classical training at the School of American Ballet, after which George Balanchine invited her to join the New York City Ballet (City Ballet). During her 14-year career at City Ballet, she danced in over 40 Balanchine ballets, and worked with other notable choreographers including Jerome Robbins, Lar Lubovitch, Twyla Tharp, Jacques d'Amboise, and Peter Martins. She performed leading roles in numerous Balanchine ballets, among them Jewels, The Sleeping Beauty, La Valse, Coppelia, and The Nutcracker. On screen, she appeared in the Dance in America series on PBS, and in City Ballet's movie of Balanchine's The Nutcracker.


Ms. Mahdaviani has choreographed several ballets for City Ballet as well as for major dance companies around the United States and internationally. Since 2004, Ms. Mahdaviani has been a visiting professor of dance at Vassar College, teaching ballet technique and pointe classes at the beginner through advanced levels. She also teaches master classes and workshops in Balanchine technique at ballet schools, college dance programs, and summer programs throughout the Northeast. 

Jennifer Nathanson

Jennifer Nathanson
Middle School Ballet, Upper School Ballet, Pointe, Choreography

Jennifer Fuchs Nathanson began dancing at the age of 4, and was formally trained at The School of American Ballet. In 1989, Peter Martins asked her to join The New York City Ballet (City Ballet).


During her career with City Ballet, Jennifer performed much of the repertory of George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, and Peter Martins, as well as dancing in the work of resident choreographers for the Company. She performed as a demi-soloist and soloist in many ballets, including The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, The Four Temperaments, and Vienna Waltzes. Jennifer can be seen as a marzipan in the film version of George Balanchine's Nutcracker.


After her retirement from City Ballet in 1995, Jennifer began teaching children's classes at Studio Maestro in New York City. She has been a ballet teacher for more than 25 years, and has taught throughout the Hudson Valley, including at Vassar College, the Community Dance Center, the New York Academy of Ballet, and the Dutchess School of Performing Arts.

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Marisa Paull Gorst
Marisa Paull Gorst  
Lower School Ballet, Middle School Ballet, Upper School Ballet, Choreography
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Marisa Paull Gorst was born in New York City.  She trained at the School of American Ballet and the Kirov Academy in Washington DC.  Most recently onstage in CATS the Musical, she has also danced professionally in the Las Vegas production of The Phantom Of The Opera and with New York City Ballet, Miami City Ballet, New Orleans Ballet Theatre, Dances Patrelle, Bergen Dance Theater, Westchester Ballet Company and Neville Dance Theater.


 In addition to her onstage career, Ms. Gorst enjoys teaching the art and discipline of classical ballet to all ages and levels. She has served on faculty at the School of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet in Colorado, as the Artistic Director and Head Instructor at the International Ballet School of Bled, Slovenia, and as the Director of Youth Dance at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY. She has also taught at Peridance, Broadway Dance Center, Studio Maestro in New York City, The Rock School and Logrea Dance Academy.  Ms. Gorst holds a BA from Smith College, graduating summa cum laude with Highest Honors in English Language and Literature.

Natalia Nieves

Natalia Nieves
Hip Hop, Choreography



Natalia Nieves has been in the dance, teaching, and choreographic world for about 15 years. She worked as a Hip Hop dance instructor at Downtown Dance Factory in New York City and has worked as a master class teacher at dance studios around the country including Carolina Dance Academy, Encompass Dance Studio, Modern Rhythms Dance Academy and Le Danse. She also toured with Tremaine Dance Conventions and DanceMakers as an assistant teacher. She has training in Hip Hop, Jazz, Jazz Funk, Latin Styles, Tap, Ballet, Partnering and Contemporary. She has worked closely with Tony nominated Broadway choreographers as an Associate and Assistant choreographer to create beautifully reviewed musicals. She has also worked with dance teams and after school programs to harness an inclusive education of dance.


Mary Pesacreta

Mary Pesacreta
Administrative Assistant

Mary Pesacreta graduated cum laude from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York with a degree in the sciences. She formerly worked in the development office at IBM and is a lifelong resident of Poughkeepsie. 

Fern Ricci

Fern Ricci
Administrative Assistant, Backstage Manager

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Fern Ricci joined Ballet Arts Studio staff as the Backstage Manager for the Spring Concert production in 2005. Since 2002, she has been the Choreographer and/or Costume Mistress for the Mahopac Middle School Theater Company's annual musical performance. She originated the role of The Mother with the Pinewood School of Dance Nutcracker and performed that role for 10 years. Ms. Fern has taken a variety of dance classes all her life and taught dance fitness classes at Allsport in Fishkill and Poughkeepsie. Happily retired from teaching school, she is enjoying her time sewing, reading, traveling, and dancing at Ballet Arts Studio.  

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