Madeline Cantarella Culpo
Director-Founder and Artistic Director of the Albany Berkshire Ballet, is an alumna of the Juilliard School where she studied ballet with Margaret Craske, Antony Tudor and Alfredo Corvino and modern dance with Martha Graham. She is a nationally recognized teacher of dance, having taught throughout the United States, including at Jacob’s Pillow. She was featured in the November 1996 issue of “Dance Magazine” in an article entitled “Great Starts American Teachers Series” – “A Tribute To Teachers Who Have Produced Outstanding Results.” In addition, Mrs. Culpo has received three choreography fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Ballet Instructor, Ballet Mistress
Deirdre Duffin-Swindlehurst started dancing at age five under Madeline Cantarella Culpo and went on to be a principal dancer with Albany Berkshire Ballet. She joined the Pennsylvania Ballet in 1980, and rose to soloist in The Nutcracker, Coppelia, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Les Sylphides, and The Four Temperaments. Deirdre has appeared as a guest artist at Jacob’s Pillow and has toured the United States with Leonid and Valentina Kaslov and with Cynthia Gregory and her “Celebration Tour.” Miss Dede teaches advanced levels of ballet and is Ballet Mistress to the Junior Company in Albany.
Ballet, Pilates Instructor
Christine Geren began her training with The Northeast Ballet Company. Supported by dance and academic scholarships, she earned a BA in Dance from Mercyhurst College while also performing lead roles with The Lake Erie Ballet in The Nutcracker, Balanchine’s Serenade, and Alice in Wonderland. Ms. Geren is currently a principal dancer with the Albany Berkshire Ballet and has been a guest artist with the Ajkun Ballet Theatre. Her repertoire includes Carmina Burana, and The Rockwell Suites, as well as principal roles in Caprice, Nocturnes, Our Town and The Nutcracker with ABB and Chiara Ajkun’s Le Corsaire and Giselle pas de deux. Ms. Geren teaches ballet, pointe, variations and Pilates mat classes. She is certified under Romana’s Pilates with True Pilates New York for comprehensive apparatus and Pilates matwork.
Ballet & Modern Instructor, Ballet Mistress
Alicia Hornicek is a graduate of the School of The Albany Berkshire Ballet and has performed extensively with their professional company, notably in The Nutcracker, Cinderella and Carmina Burana. Ms. Hornicek has been teaching at the School for a number of years and teaches modern dance, and ballet for the Pre-Ballet levels through Advanced and Adult. She is also ballet mistress for the Academy Program. She holds a MA degree from Russell Sage College and is a practicing Physical Therapist.
Nancy Ropelewski King
Ballet Instructor, Ballet Mistress
Nancy Ropelewski King is a graduate of the Cantarella School. Mrs. King was a principal dancer and ballet mistress with the Albany Berkshire Ballet for many years. At Jacob’s Pillow she taught classes and also performed in Coppelia with the ABB. Her choreography “Peter and the Wolf” has been performed extensively throughout the Northeast. Mrs. King along with Artistic Director Madeline Cantarella Culpo choreographed the popular “Cinderella” and “Mother Goose” ballets.
Ballet & Modern Instructor, Ballet Mistress
Kerry Piaggione is a graduate of the School of The Albany Berkshire Ballet and has performed extensively with their professional company in The Nutcracker, Les Sylphides, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Mother Goose, and Madeline Cantarella Culpo’s Girl at the Mirror. She recently performed the role of Juliet for SPAC’s Classical Kids program, promoting classical dance in local schools. Ms. Piaggione minored in Dance at Hofstra University and holds an MA in Teaching from Union College. Ms. Piaggione teaches at the school and assists in rehearsals for both The Nutcracker and the school’s annual recital.
Ballet, PreBallet, Tap, Modern
Olivia Moran holds a BFA in Dance from Marymount Manhattan College in N.Y.C. with a minor in Arts Administration and has been instructing Dance Education for 20 years in Berkshire County. In 2013 she founded Freedom Dance where she was the Artistic Director and Lead Educator. Within these four years, she produced dozens of community workshops, performances and Dance Concerts showcasing a variety of forms of dance with the inclusion of live music and musical artists. After graduating college in 2002, she began to focus on Dance Education and spent 15 years as a Lead Instructor at Berkshire Dance Theatre where she was the faculty coordinator for their young children’s program. She also founded “move with me” a program to increase coordination skills in young children and taught in area pre-schools as a guest teacher for their enrichment programs. She also began the areas first “Youth Drum Group” exposing young children to African Inspired music, instruments and Dance. She has taught community engagement classes at Jacob’s Pillow and is passionate about teaching children of all levels and abilities. She began her training at the age of 10 at Berkshire Dance Theatre and went on to study with some of the best instructors in the country while residing in New York City including Classical Ballet with Virginia Johnson, Edward Ellison and Finis Jhung. She has performed original works choreographed by Jose Limon, and worked with Chet Walker on a Broadway inspired Jazz piece. Olivia studied Classical Modern with teachers from the Graham school, Alvin Ailey and the Limon Institute including Milton Myers, Joyce Herring, Elena Comendador and Maxine Steinman. She has taught a variety of classes from Classical Ballet, Creative Dance, Pointe & Variations, Tap, Jazz, Modern, Music Appreciation, Yoga, Pilates and a variety of Fitness and Yoga classes at Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires, Frog Lotus Yoga and area community centers and schools. She is also a certified Yoga Instructor and Massage Therapist and is trained in Thai Yoga Massage. She continues to attend training courses in dance education at Jacob’s Pillow where she also participates in community events, classes, workshops and performances. This is Olivia’s first season with SABB and is excited to be teaching Tap, PreBallet and Modern!
Anna Acker was born and raised in Albany, NY, where she began her ballet training at The School of the Albany Berkshire Ballet. She spent summers studying at the Boston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, and on scholarship to the Milwaukee Ballet. After graduating from ABB, Anna was offered academic and dance scholarships to study at the University of Missouri at Kansas City’s Conservatory of Music and Dance. There, under the tutelage of Professor Paula Weber, she performed principal roles in Raymonda, Les Sylphides, and Swan Lake, and danced in George Balanchine’s Serenade. She also trained extensively in the Horton modern technique. In 2006, Anna graduated summa cum laude with her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. The same year, she became a trainee for the Milwaukee Ballet, where she joined the company in performances of Don Quixote, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Nutcracker, and La Bayadere. In 2008, Anna joined the Minnesota Ballet, where she enjoyed 3 seasons performing Antony Tudor’s Little Improvisations, Twyla Tharp’s Sinatra Suite, George Balanchine’s “The Man I Love” pas de deux, excerpted from Who Cares?, and leading roles in Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, among others. Anna is also a certified pilates instructor, and has enjoyed teaching at various ballet and pilates studios throughout her performing career. She has been thrilled to join the faculty of the Albany Berkshire Ballet after returning to Albany in 2011 to take on her newest role as Mom to Ethan, who was born in January of 2012.
Lisa Iannacito McBride
School of the Albany Berkshire Ballet graduate, Lisa Iannacito McBride, received her BFA Degree from the Conservatory of Dance at SUNY Purchase, where she also won the Academic Achievement Award. She has studied at the Boston Ballet, and at Skidmore College with the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Company, and attended Walnut Hill and the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Danceon scholarship. Lisa was also a member of The Juilliard School’s first summer program. Following college, Lisa went on to perform with a number of New York City based companies, including Dances Patrelle, Lydia Johnson Dance, and Riedel Dance Theatre, where she also served as Associate Artistic Director. With the Purchase Dance Corps, she performed works by Paul Taylor, Jose Limon, and Mark Morris, and served as a rehearsal assistant for the company’s Nutcracker. Miss Lisa, who has served on the faculty at Pace University, Ballet Academy East, Mark Morris Dance Center, The Yard, and NYSSSA, is also certified in Pilates and yoga.
Ruslan Sprague has been dancing with the ABB since he was three, cast as the changeling in their production of A Midsummer Nights Dream in ’93 all the way up to the Snow Prince in their annual production of The Nutcracker. Ruslan also studied with Darrell Puciarello from the Metropolitan Opera Ballet and attended several dance programs with Boston Ballet, as well as their choreographic workshop under the teachings of Helen Pickett and Jorma Elo. After dancing with Ballet West in Salt Lake City Utah, Ruslan has returned to the Berkshires.