Our Faculty


Alyona Amato

Classes: Modern, Contemporary, and Improvisation

Alyona Amato (Suslova) was born and raised in Russia, Siberia.  In 2011 she won a grant to study contemporary dance at the American Dance Festival and decided to move to Wilmington where she joined The Dance Cooperative as a teacher, dancer and choreographer. Her background includes contemporary, modern, ballet and improvisation. She likes to create choreography and performances based on the dancer’s own individuality and experience. She believes everybody can dance, even if they haven’t danced since their childhood. As a teacher she pays special attention to the quality, strength and fullness of a dancer’s movement.



Nancy Podrasky Carson, Co-Founder

Classes: Ballet and Modern

Nancy Podrasky Carson received a Bachelor of Arts in Dance Performance from Northern Illinois University and went on to perform and choreograph with many regional companies before moving to Syracuse, NY. Nancy taught technique classes at various performing arts schools while performing and choreographing with the Syracuse Contemporary Dance Company. She also taught Modern and Jazz classes at Syracuse University in both the Theatre and Health and Physical Education departments. Nancy currently teaches technique classes, dance history, and choreography and UNC-Wilmington. She is a founding member, teacher, dance, and choreographer at the Dance Cooperative. Nancy recently taught Modern classes for the Carolina Ballet’s summer residency program at UNCW.



Stephanie Chavez Nedeau

Classes: Ballet and Stretch/Strength

Stephanie Chavez was born in Phoenix, Arizona.  After moving to North Carolina at a young age she began training in classical ballet at the Raleigh School of Ballet under Anne Vorus and Mary LeGere.  She was accepted into the Raleigh Dance Theatre where she performed in several pieces as a company member and had the opportunity to attend Regional Dance America and take workshops at The North Carolina School of the Arts.  She also had the privilege to dance with Carolina Ballet for their performance of the Nutcracker and Giselle. Stephanie teaches Ballet and Stretch classes at the Dance Cooperative and is an active performer in Wilmington.  She has a B.A. in Chemistry and a B.S. Biology and her Master’s in Biology from the University of North Carolina Wilmington.  Stephanie is also a certified Yoga instructor. 



Anne Firmender, Co-Founder

Classes: Ballet and Modern

Anne Firmender is originally from Stratford, CT and has called Wilmington home since 1998. She has trained at a number of prestigious schools including The School of American Ballet, California Institute of the Arts and Cornish College of the Arts (where she received her BFA in Dance summa cum laude).  She has taught dance in both public and private schools to students of all ages and backgrounds since 1982, including New Haven’s Performing Arts High School Educational Center for the Arts (her alma mater). Additional teaching residencies include New Haven Ballet, the Wilmington School of Ballet, the Educational Center for the Arts of New Haven, and DREAMS of Wilmington, an arts education program serving impoverished youth.  Anne’s choreography has been performed in a wide range of venues, including the North Carolina Dance Festival, Dance-a-lorus, and innumerable benefits and community showcases. A founding member of The Dance Cooperative, where she served as School Director for many years, Anne organized two annual events: Community Dance Day and the Emerging Choreographers’ Showcase, for which she has mentored multiple young dancers. In addition to her artistic background, Anne has many years’ of experience working with special needs youth, including children on the autism spectrum and with mental health issues. She continues to choreograph and teach throughout Wilmington.



Rachael Goolsby

Classes: Yoga and Modern

Rachael Goolsby loves yoga, dance, her friends, and family (among other things!) She is passionate about sharing her loves with new and old friends alike. Strongly rooted in these art-forms, she continues the study & practice of yoga and its philosophy, which never fails to feed her teaching in unexpected ways. It gives her great joy to perform and choreograph with the wonderful and talented dancers of the Dance Co-op and other members of Wilmington’s dance community. She looks forward to assisting you in integrating yoga and dance into your life!


April McLaurin Headshot

April McLaurin

Classes: Jazz and Hip Hop

April McLaurin began dancing at the age of 3 at Dance Arts Studio Academy of Performing Arts in Morehead City, NC where she studied many styles of dance under Julie McBarron and Hazel Collins.  While attending UNC-Charlotte for her BFA in Photography, April continued studying dance at the University and at the North Carolina Dance Theatre. Through joining the Dance District in 2011, she became a member of EleKtriK Dance Crew studying under Lisa D. Wright performing for various events and shows around the Charlotte area including Charlotte Style Magazine’s 25 Most Stylish Event and Taste of Charlotte Festival.  In her last two years of college she had the privilege of being the head choreographer and show producer for a sorority dance group that competed in UNC-Charlotte’s annual “Airband Dance Competition” in 2013 and 2014. April moved to Wilmington shortly after graduation and attends classes at the Dance Cooperative regularly.


Sue Meier

Sue Meier

Classes: Ballet

Sue Meier teaches all levels of ballet. She started her training in Midland, MI, studying ballet, jazz, and musical theater. Sue danced and taught in Sweden before continuing her training in ballet and modern at Michigan State University. Sue studied and taught in NY and NJ before moving to Wilmington.



Kate Muhlstein

Classes: Modern, Jazz, Strength/Stretch, and Improvisation

Kate Muhlstein is a Texas native with a BFA in Dance from Sam Houston State University. Since graduating, Kate has performed with the Rednerrus Feil Dance Company, Forward Motion Dance Company, and the Dance Cooperative. Kate moved to Wilmington in July, 2007, after attending the American Dance Festival in Durham and falling in love with North Carolina. Kate choreographs and dances any chance she can.



Brittany Patterson

Classes: Ballet and Modern

Brittany Patterson has been dancing since the age of 5 and began choreographing as a teenager.   She danced as an apprentice for Demetrius Klein Dance Company in Lake Worth, FL and has presented her own work in New York, NY in conjunction with DKDC.  Brittany studied dance at SUNY Purchase for two years before changing career paths.  Brittany has a BA in Literature from SUNY Purchase and a Masters in Social Work from Simmons College.  She moved to Wilmington in May, 2011 from Boston, MA and has enjoyed reentering the dance scene in Wilmington with performances in North Carolina Dance Festival and Dance-a-Lorus 2012. Brittany has choreographed for North Carolina Dance Festival 2013 and started teaching ballet and modern at The Dance Cooperative in 2013.


April Scott HeadshotApril Scott

Classes: Ballet and Modern

April Scott grew up in Frederick, MD and began her dance training at Mid-Maryland Performing Arts Center. She received a BA in Dance and Psychology from Goucher College, and later, a BA in Visual Arts from University of Maryland. She had taught and choreographed for various studios in South Carolina and Maryland and performed with regional dance companies including Goose Route Dance Theatre, Renacer Dance Company and 365 Dance Company. April moved to Wilmington in January 2015 and is excited to continue teaching, dancing and choreographing at The Dance Cooperative.



Linda Ann Webb

Classes: Ballet, Modern, and Jazz

Linda Ann Larson is a Dance Cooperative core member and an MS analytical chemist. Her dance background includes a BFA from SUNY Purchase and 20 years performing in NYC with various modern dance companies and recording artists. Eight years in Wilmington have provided her with unique opportunities to present her work including NCDF and Dance-a-lorus. Linda’s approach to choreography and teaching incorporates intricate timing and expansive use of musicality and athleticism to encourage the dancer to reach their peak potential. Her extensive background in Graham and Pilates has shaped her approach in how she guides an individual to physically achieve their goals as well as mindfully maintain a healthy approach to dance and a healthy body.



Samantha Williams

Classes: Modern and Stretch

Sam fell in love with dance through her high school’s dance program. She went on to receive Bachelors of Arts in Dance from UNC Greensboro. While there she had the opportunity to study at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland, UK and fell in love with dance all over again. Her senior year at UNCG she was lucky enough to work with Helen Simoneau, Loren Gronendaal and perform in Martha Graham’s ‘Steps in the Street’. Following graduation she was awarded a place at the University of Chichester’s MA Dance Performance program in 2010. In a turn of events, she found herself in Wilmington, NC and at the Dance Cooperative. She is grateful for the community and support she has found here and looks forward to sharing her passion and experiences.