Madeline Culpo (Miss Madeline)
Founding Director; Ballet & Pointe
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.
Lisa Iannacito McBride (Miss Lisa)
Director; Ballet, Pointe, Modern, Pilates, Junior Company Repertory
Lisa Iannacito McBride graduated from the School of the Albany Berkshire Ballet, with additional training from the Boston Ballet School and The Juilliard School. She received her BFA from the Conservatory of Dance at SUNY Purchase where she performed works by Paul Taylor, Jose Limon and Mark Morris, in addition to many roles in The Nutcracker. Upon graduation, she toured Spain with Ballet Contemporaneo de Burgos under the direction of Kazuko Hirabayashi. Lisa went on to perform with a number of New York City-based companies. She was a member and Associate Artistic Director of Riedel Dance Theater from 2006-2012. Jonathan Riedel created several solos for Ms. McBride who went on to stage his work for NYSSSA, Pace University, and the Albany Berkshire Ballet. From 2007-2012, she was a member of Lydia Johnson Dance, returning in 2017 for a guest appearance. During her time with LJD, she was a teacher for their school and company residencies at Peridance, as well as a rehearsal director. With Dances Patrelle, she served as Managing Director before performing and ballet mistressing for The Yorkville Nutcracker. Ms. McBride expanded upon her knowledge of movement by receiving her Pilates certification from the Kane School of Core Integration and her 200 Hour Vinayasa Yoga certification from mang'Oh Yoga. She was Studio Manager for mang'Oh Yoga from 2010-2015 and was invited to join their Teacher Training faculty in 2012. Miss Lisa has been on the faculty at Logrea Dance Academy, Ballet Academy East, the Mark Morris Dance Center, NYSSSA, Pace University, CK Dance, and Saratoga Springs Youth Ballet. Upon moving back to the Albany area, she rejoined the Albany Berkshire Ballet, performing in and serving as ballet mistress for their Nutcracker, Rockwell Suites, Midsummer Night's Dream, and repertory seasons.
Nancy Ropelewski King (Miss Nancy)
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.
Alicia Hornicek (Miss Alicia)
Pre-Ballet, Ballet, Pointe, Modern, Academy 1 & 2 Repertory
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.
Deirdre Duffin-Swindlehurst (Miss Dede)
Ballet, Pointe, Junior Company Repertory
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.
Kerry Piaggione (Miss Kerry)
Ballet, Pointe, Junior Academy Repertory
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.
Anna Acker (Miss Anna)
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.