Faculty

Nutmeg provides quality training in all areas of our curriculum and has an outstanding artistic faculty dedicated to maintaining the highest standards of classical ballet training.   All of Nutmeg’s faculty members bring to the classroom a broad range of experiences and each is acknowledged as a professional in a particular discipline. Click below to read the biographies of our instructors and guest artists.


 

Biographies

sharon_2011

Sharon Dante founded the Nutmeg Ballet in December 1969 and has developed a training program and performance curriculum which has attracted students from over thirty-four states and a number of countries around the world. Ms. Dante was responsible for the growth and development of the training program and its related performance curriculum. During her artistic career, she coached dancers who participated in international competitions in New York, Paris, Lausanne, Varna, and Moscow.

After graduating from Endicott College (‘64), University of Hartford (’66), and the Hartford Ballet, Ms. Dante became a de Rothschild Scholar at the Martha Graham School in New York City in 1967. She danced as a soloist with the Charles Weidman Dance Company, Rudy Perez Dance Company, and the Larry Richardson Dance Company, where she performed principal roles throughout the United States and Europe. Joining the Hartford Ballet as a performer, faculty member, and assistant to the director in 1969, she was instrumental in the development of that company’s educational programs throughout New England. Ms. Dante began her extensive study of the Vaganova syllabus of classical ballet training in 1972. She later became well known for her work based on this method – so much so that she has been featured on the cover of Dance Teacher Magazine in recognition of her training programs. She is one of the few Americans to have participated at the Moscow World Dance Competitions in the 1970’s and 80’s. The White House Commission’s Presidential Scholars Program has twice recognized her as “Distinguished Teacher.” Instrumental in the resurrection and re-opening of the Warner Theatre in 1984, Ms Dante was a founding member of the City of Torrington’s Economic Development Commission. She has proudly served several Mayors of Torrington in the role of Artistic Adviser.

From 1997-2001, Ms. Dante and Nutmeg Ballet’s Board of Directors initiated and completed a multi-million dollar capital project in downtown Torrington. In 2000, the Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts was proud to be the recipient of the Connecticut Commission on the Arts Governor’s Arts Award. Also, in 2001, the Northwest Connecticut Chamber of Commerce named her “Business Woman of the Year.”

Currently, Ms. Dante serves as Executive Director to the Nutmeg Conservatory turning over the position of Artistic Director to Nutmeg Ballet graduate, Victoria Mazzarelli, in 2010. She remains committed to continuing her long time relationships with many Nutmeg Alumni and current students whom she mentors on dance and extended career planning.

In November of 2014, the Northwest Connecticut Arts Council awarded Ms. Dante the CultureMAX award for her Artistic contributions. She is an avid golfer and a member of the Greenwoods and Eastwoods Ladies Golf League. Her mantra in life, inspired by former Governor Ella T. Grasso, is “Grow Where You Are Planted.”

Victoria

Victoria Mazzarelli was trained by the Nutmeg faculty for 14 years and with Ms. Dante as her coach, was awarded the only gold medal at the 1984 New York International Ballet Competition at the age of seventeen. Invited to join the Basel Ballet in Switzerland under the direction of Heinz Spoerli, she was quickly promoted to principal dancer. Ms. Mazzarelli not only had the opportunity to dance leading roles in much of the company’s classical repertoire, but also in works by distinguished choreographers such as Hans van Manen, Jiri Kylian and William Forsythe. Ms. Mazzarelli’s contact with Forsythe led her to join the Frankfurt Ballet in 1990 where she remained as a principal dancer until1996. During that time, she toured extensively and had the opportunity to work with Alonzo King, Ohad Naharin, Jan Fabre, and Saburo Teshigawara.
In 1996, she returned to Switzerland to join the Zurich Ballet as principal dancer. In the summer of 2000, Ms. Mazzarelli continued dancing as a guest artist with the Frankfurt Ballet and the Schauspielhaus Zurich and in 2001, she returned to Basel to join the newly formed Basel Ballet under the direction of Richard Wherlock.
Victoria Mazzarelli returned to Connecticut in 2003 to join the Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts as Associate Artistic Director where she currently teaches, coaches and choreographs for the next generation of dancers. Appointed as the Conservatory’s Artistic Director in 2011, Ms. Mazzarelli continues in this role to date and also serves as guest teacher for MOMIX and enjoys performing various engagements as guest artist.

 

Tim MeladyTim Melady was born and raised in Connecticut. Early exploratory movement dance, swimming, soccer, diving and acting lessons led him toward an athletic career in dance. At the age of thirteen, Mr. Melady started his formal ballet training at Nutmeg Ballet. He then went on to Graduate from the North Carolina School of the Arts. After apprenticing with the North Carolina Dance Theater while still in school, Mr. Melady became a charter member of Miami City Ballet. After continuing in the Balanchine repertory with Ballet du Nord in France, Tim returned stateside with his wife and first child and became a principal dancer with The Hartford Ballet. Recently, Tim has been performing with the internationally acclaimed group MOMIX. Mr. Melady is proud to say he has danced around the world, performing in over forty countries and on five continents. His twenty plus year professional career includes touring, performing, choreographing, coaching, and teaching. He lives in Hartford, CT. with his two children and is dedicated to sharing the art of dance to future generations of students.
JoanneAn award-winning choreographer and poet, Joan is in her 25th year on Nutmeg’s classical ballet faculty. She has guest taught and choreographed in Oslo (Kirkenaer Ballettskolen), Stockholm’s Swedish Ballet School, Reykjavik’s National Ballet School of Iceland, London (White Lodge, Royal Ballet School, RAD Teacher Training), Canadian cities and throughout the USA. She has served as Ballet Mistress to MOMIX and Ballet Mississippi, has taught at the invitation of Pilobolus dancers, university dance departments (Butler, SMU, U. of Utah and SUNY-Binghamton) and many studios around CT. Students she has co-trained have joined over 70 professional companies. Her choreography includes works for concert stage, sacred space, TV and outdoor sites. She has written for Pointe Magazine, and her poetry book “Playing With Gravity” (Antrim House, 2007) was followed by a poetry CD (2011). With her sister Kathi Byam, she performs in the duo “Flute Meets Poem.” Joan serves on the CT Dance Alliance Board of Directors.
SusanSusan Szabo (1979) Children’s Ballet Mistress, was trained originally by Sharon Dante and the Nutmeg faculty, and danced as a soloist with the Nutmeg Ballet from 1978 to 1982. Prior to that, she graduated from the Teachers’ Training Program of The Albano Ballet and continued to hone her teaching with extensive pedagogical training in the Vaganova method which she uses as a base for children’s training programs at Nutmeg. Joining the faculty in 1981, she has overseen the children’s rehearsals and training programs at the Torrington School of Ballet for the last 31 years. She remains a mainstay of the Nutmeg Ballet and is known for her extensive knowledge of the children’s syllabus.
EleanorEleanor D’Antuono has been Nutmeg’s Resident Coach for over 20 years. At age 14, she joined the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, later The Joffrey Ballet, and ultimately American Ballet Theatre, where for more than 25 years she enchanted audiences as prima ballerina. She appeared at the International Ballet Festival in Havana for several years and was the first American ballerina invited to appear as a guest artist with the legendary Kirov Ballet in Leningrad. She formed memorable partnerships with the premier dancers of the century, including Erik Bruhn, Rudolph Nureyev, Ivan Nagy, Fernando Bujones, and Royes Fernandez. Ms. D’Antuono was a principal faculty member of The Joffrey Ballet, having served as Director of The Joffrey Summer Workshop in San Antonio until 2005 and is Artistic Director of the New York International Competition since 1996. She joined the Nutmeg faculty in 1986 after working with Victoria Mazzarelli at the New York International Ballet competition. She is instrumental in the training of students and is responsible for group and private coaching in the classical ballet repertoire for the year-round residency program. She spends her weekends here in Connecticut with her loving husband John Vrabel.
Kirk PetersonKirk Peterson, presently Associate Artistic Director of Canada’s Alberta Ballet, has had a distinguished career with American Ballet Theatre as Principal Dancer, Artistic Director of ABT II, Ballet Master, and Principal Character Artist and as Master Teaching Associate for the main company, ABT II, The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at ABT and the ABT Summer Intensive. He was the innovative Artistic Director of Hartford Ballet for 5 years, assistant Artistic Director of the Washington Ballet and founding member of San Francisco’s OMO dancers. He has been a principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet, English National Ballet, Harkness Ballet, and the National Ballet of Washington and was a founding member of the Harkness Youth Dancers. He has choreographed over 55 ballets to consistently high acclaim and has worked in diverse theatrical mediums from ballet and opera to Hollywood, Broadway, London’s West End, television, and regional theatre. He was a bronze medalist at the 1972 Varna International Ballet Competition and appeared in the films “Center Stage” and “The Turning Point.” He was resident choreographer of Cincinnati Ballet for 6 years and is an official repetiteur for the Antony Tudor Ballet Trust. A long time associate and friend of Nutmeg Ballet, Kirk danced in Nutmeg’s first performance in 1970 and has since been teacher and mentor to many Nutmeg graduates who have gone on to successful careers in dance.
DonnaDonna Mattiello was trained originally by Sharon Dante and the Nutmeg faculty, graduating in the first Nutmeg Graduation Class of 1984. She continued her dance studies while attending Yale University. Upon graduating from Yale in 1988, she deferred acceptance to the University of Connecticut School of Law to dance with José Mateo Ballet Theatre (then Ballet Theater of Boston). Upon graduation from law school in 1992, she worked for the law firm of Shipman & Goodwin, LLP in Hartford, Connecticut for seven years prior to returning to her hometown to join the firm of Muschell & Simoncelli, LLP where she practiced law for six years. She lives in Torrington with her husband and their five children.
 Alexei Tchernichov received his early training at the Bolshoi Academy in Moscow and is a graduate of the Vaganova Choreographic Institute in St. Petersburg.  The son of Elena Tchernichova, former Principal Ballet Mistress of American Ballet Theatre, Mr. Tchernichov was a principal dancer with The Kuybeshev State Ballet and has taught and choreographed extensively across the U.S.  Alexei Tchernichov has a vast classical ballet background which he shares with Nutmeg Ballet  students in technique class and repertoire rehearsal. 
Karen KopfKaren Kopf was a dance major at Purchase, focusing on modern dance. Afterwards she was at an intense program at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for a short time. In 1992 she joined Coyote Dancers as a principal dancer. Coyote was a company that was an off-shoot of the Martha Graham Company, and had several dancers from the Graham company. Karen has spent the majority of her career teaching, as that is her passion.
Brian SimmersonBrian Simerson, native of Virginia Beach, VA has been with MOMIX since 1994 and has a BFA from NYU/Tisch 1991-1994, Brian was a principal of the Erick Hawkins Dance Company. Some of his choreographic commissions include Skidmore College, Northwestern University, NYU/Tisch School for the Arts, New York Ballet Competition, Jefferson Dancers, Portland. Brian is recipient of a fellowship from The Connecticut Commission on the Arts, followed by commissioned In 2008, Brian assisted director Daniel Ezralow creating the ceremonies for Pope Benedictus Papal visit to New York. In 2012 Brian created ‘Bach and Forth.” on The Nutmeg Ballet for Justin Tuck of the NY Giants.

 

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The Nutmeg maintains a complete guest artist program.

2015-16 Programs Brochure

Guest Artists

In addition to our year round professional faculty, Nutmeg has an ongoing guest teacher program that presents a variety of dance artists over the school year and at our summer programs. These teachers deliver a distinctive experience for our students. Our guest artists includes some of these regular guests and others. 
In addition several Nutmeg Alumni return on the guest artist program as well to teach and mentor.

  • Natasha Fielding Brooksher ’92
  • Josh Brooksher
  • 
Jonathan Eden ’03
  • Debbie Fratta
  • Emily Patterson Nicholas ’96
  • 
Thomas Nicholas
  • 
Andrew Parker
  • Quinn Pendleton ’03
  • Moses Pendleton P’03
  • 
Alexandre Proia
  • Dustin Shane ’03
  • 
Phillip Skaggs ’98
  • Andrea Spiridonakos ’94
  • SYREN Modern Dance Company

MOMIX

Nutmeg Alumni return on the guest artist program as well to teach and mentor during all of our programs. Other Guest Artists have included: Maria Youskevitch, Amanda McKerrow, Genadi Sevaliev, John Gardner, Catherine Battcheller, Jacqulyn Buglisi, Virginia Johnson, Barry Hughson (88 graduate)