Community Dance Academy Faculty
Melanie Atkins was born in Reading, England. She trained at Walnut Hill School of the Arts after her family moved to Massachusetts. After completing her education, Melanie joined Fort Worth Dallas Ballet, now Texas Ballet Theatre. She was soon invited to join Miami City Ballet in 1997, where she rose to the rank of principal dancer. In 1999, Melanie worked with Maria and Marjorie Tallchief in conjunction with The George Balanchine Foundation Interpreters Archive. The Archive preserves the choreographer’s legacy on video. In 2002, Melanie joined Boston Ballet as a soloist. Her repertory includes Marius Petipa’s The Sleeping Beauty (Lilac Fairy, The Countess) and Raymonda, Act III; Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker; August Bournonville’s La Sylphide; James Kudelka’s Cinderella (Stepsister); Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias (Marguerite); George Balanchine’s Prodigal Son, Serenade, Monumentum/Movements, Duo Concertant and Rubies; Helen Pickett’s Etesian; Jorma Elo’s Plan to B, Bronislava Nijinska’s Les Noces; and Jiri Kylian’s Falling Angels. Following her retirement from the stage in May 2009, Melanie was appointed Children’s Ballet Mistress and faculty for Boston Ballet School. She has staged the children’s roles for Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker, George Balanchine’s Coppélia and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Rudolf Nureyev’s Don Quixote and Ivan Lisak’s Le Corsaire. As a faculty member at Boston Ballet, Melanie taught at all levels of the school. She has prepared students for Boston Ballet School’s annual Spring Showcase and Next Generation performances. Melanie is excited to be back on the Walnut Hill School campus directing the Community Dance Academy.
Diane Arvanites (Modern)
Ms. Arvanites holds a BFA in Dance from the Boston Conservatory. She has taught and choreographed for Walnut Hill School for the Arts since 1988. Her work has been performed throughout the United States and internationally. Along with Tommy Neblett, she is the Co-Artistic Director of Prometheus Dance, a contemporary dance theatre company based in Cambridge, MA. Ms. Arvanites has received numerous awards for choreography. She is a long-time member of the dance faculties at The Boston Conservatory and The Dance Complex and is also a certified practitioner of GYROKINESIS® and Burdenko Water Therapy. Ms. Arvanites is interested in the artistic development of young dancers and is currently creating an ongoing project of international dance workshops and residencies for students taught by renowned performers and choreographers.
Elizabeth Bernstein (Jazz)
Elizabeth Bernstein is from Rochester, NY where she trained in modern dance at Enid Botsford School of Dance, and afro-carribean dance with Garth Fagan’s The Bucket Dancers. Elizabeth has been teaching jazz, hip hop, and modern dance to young children through adults for over 25 years. She is on faculty at Dancers Workshop in Sudbury, at Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, and teaches master classes in hip hop and jazz fusion throughout the Boston area. She is the founder/artistic director for the Hip Hop Mamas, a dance company that performs at area festivals and fund-raising events. She performed with the Body Language Dance Company of Boston, in several community theatre productions. and her choreography has been performed at Dean College and in a music video. Elizabeth holds a B.S. from Cornell University in Human Development & Family Studies, and received her M.B.A. from Penn State University. She also works at the Virginia Thurston Healing Garden in Harvard, MA in administration and marketing, and manages the benefit concert series.
Lindsay Brown (Ballet)
Lindsay is originally from Massachusetts and just moved back to complete her degree in expressive art therapy. She was dancing and living in Manhattan for the past four years. She began teaching dance while in high school, and before graduating she received her dance teachers certification from the Dance Teachers Club of Boston. She was a dance major at SUNY Buffalo for a year where she performed with the company and at the American College Dance Festival. Lindsay was then offered a spot as a full time Jazz and Contemporary trainee at the Joffrey Ballet School. After completing a year at Joffrey, she began performing with dance companies in NYC such as The Next Stage Project and Leon Dance NY. She spent years working and performing with the Hutchinson Collective dance company and still performs with them when it is possible. Lindsay also was on the faculty of the Wharton Music center in New Jersey as a dance teacher, teaching ages 5-14. Lindsay has received various choreography awards and was also the recipient of the Lillian Frances Viles Dance Scholarship.
Naoko Brown (Modern and Ballet)
Naoko Brown is a native of Nagoya Japan. At the age of six, she was introduced to the world of classical ballet by Michiko Matsumoto. She continued her training with Barbara Banaskowski Smith in Lansing, MI. While she performed with the students of the National Ballet School in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Naoko received her B.F.A in Dance from The Boston Conservatory. While there she performed works by Daniel Pelzig, Sean Curran, Lar Lubovitch and Jose Limon. She also attended the Boston Ballet Summer Dance Program, Ballet Intensive from Moscow and was a full scholarship recipient at Summer Stages Dance in 2012. She has performed with Urban Nutcracker, Zoe Dance, Quick Silver Dance and Michiko Matsumoto Ballet. Ms. Brown Currently dances with Prometheus Dance and Jo-Me Dance.
Katie Dunkel (Ballet)
Katie Dunkel trained in RAD Technique, at Walnut Hill Community Dance Academy, and the Lovett School in Atlanta, GA. She earned her BA in Dance from Hamilton College, where she performed works by H.T. Chen, Tiffany Mills, and Elisa Monte. She is a graduate of the Trinity/La Mama Performance Art Program in New York City, where she studied with Maureen Fleming, Tiffany Mills, and Lisa Race. Since moving to Boston in 2007, she has had the pleasure of performing work by choreographers and companies including Contrapose Dance, Falling Flight Project, Quicksilver Dance, and Danny Swain Dance Company. Katie was a company member with EgoArt, Inc. under the direction of Nicole Pierce for 8 years, before the company’s move to NYC in 2016. She has performed with Lorraine Chapman The Company since 2011. Katie has taught dance since 2001 and currently teaches at Arlington Dance Place, and has been a faculty member of Walnut Hill Community Dance Academy and Walnut Hill Summer Youth Dance since 2014.
Katie Kozul (Ballet)
Katie Kozul began her dance training at the Gold School in Brockton, Massachusetts under the direction of Rennie Gold and her mother, Kathy Kozul. She attended the Walnut Hill School for the Performing Arts and later went on to the Alvin Ailey/Fordham University BFA program. Kozul joined Hubbard Street 2 of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago as an apprentice in September 2012 and was promoted to company member in August 2013. She had the opportunity to perform works by Alejandro Cerrudo, Robyn Mineko Williams, Terence Marling, Ihsan Rustem, Bryan Arias, Loni Landon, Norbert De la Cruz, Alex Soares, and Gregroy Dolbashian. Katie is currently on faculty at The Gold School, Walnut Hill School of the Arts, Northeast School of Ballet, and has been invited to guest teach at several arts organizations in the area.
Mark Lawrence Grothman (Ballet)
Mark Grothman was born and raised in Madison Wisconsin. At age 11 he started his ballet training with Charmaine Ristow. He continued his training there until he was 18 with summers at the Boston Ballet and the Milwaukee Ballet. After high school he went to join the Joffrey Ballet and spent the 1985 season as an apprentice in the Boston Ballet. He then danced one season with the Fort Worth Ballet and joined American Ballet Theatre (ABT) in 1987. He finished out his career with ABT in 1998. During his tenure there he performed many of the classic full length ballets including, Romeo and Juliet, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Cinderella, Manon, La Bayadere, La Sylphide, and Don Quixote in which he performed the feature role. He also performed contemporary roles in ballets by Twyla Tharp, Lar Lubovich, Glenn Tetley, and was featured in Merce Cunningham’s Duets. Mark taught ballet with the Academy of Ballet Etudes in Norwalk, CT. He has been a member of the ballet faculty at the Walnut School for the Arts since 2011.
Bobbi Owen (Creative Movement and Music)
Bobbi Owen began studying the double bass at Cass Technical High School in Detroit. She attended Wayne State University where she received both Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in Performance. As a freelancer, she performed throughout Michigan with many orchestras, including The Flint Symphony, The Saginaw Symphony, The Windsor Symphony, and in pick-up orchestras for Harry Connick Jr., Bobby McFarrin, and Vince Gill. Ms. Owen has participated in the Aspen Music Festival, the Penn’s Woods Music Festival, and the Sound Symposium in Newfoundland. Additionally, she has taught Kindermusick; given private lessons for violin, cello, and bass; and served as an adjunct instructor of double bass at The University of Windsor.
Ashlie Swallow (Ballet)
Ashlie Swallow began her dance training with Shirley Kayne of Providence, RI and attended summer programs with Burklyn Ballet Theatre and the Limon Dance Company. Ms. Swallow attended Goucher College, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in both Dance and Psychology with a concentration in Dance/Movement Therapy. As an educator, Ms. Swallow has taught ballet technique to all ages and levels with consideration for anatomical development, psychological development, and the inclusion of critical thinking. Her knowledge of Laban Movement Analysis and Bartenieff Fundamentals also influences her work. For the past few summers Ms. Swallow has enjoyed collaborating with other dance teachers from across America at the Dance Education Laboratory of the 92nd Street Y/Harkness Dance Center in New York City. Alongside a lifelong study of ballet, Ms. Swallow’s interest in early modern dance as an American and feminist art form has led her to study and/or perform the work of Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey, and Jose Limon. She has also acquired training in the pedagogy of Horton technique with Ana Marie Forsythe of The Ailey School. Ms. Swallow has been instrumental in the staging of full length ballets and Shakespearean plays, and she has choreographed many of her own original works. Currently Ms. Swallow also teaches at the Newton Country Day School, and she is a member of the National Dance Education Organization.