Our Faculty

Alamato

Alyona Amato

Classes: Modern, Ballet ,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.

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Carson

Nancy Podrasky Carson

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.

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Chavez

Stephanie Chavez

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. 

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kid

Anne Firmender

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.

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Goolsby

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!

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Larson

Linda Ann Larson

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.

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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.

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Muhlstein

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.

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Patterson

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.

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Pleasents

Julia Pleasants

Classes: Tap

Julia Pleasants grew up in a competition studio in Virginia, where she discovered her love of tap at age 6.  She holds a BA in English from Washington and Lee University and was one of the founding members of the University’s dance program.  She has taught tap independently and at several studios sporadically over the last 8 years.  When not tapping around her apartment and driving her downstairs neighbors crazy, she works full time at The Children’s Museum of Wilmington and devotes many hours to the Cucalorus Film Festival.

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Tracie Rabalais

Classes: Zumba

Tracie Rabalais began her dance education at the age of 5 in Burlington, NC. her background includes ballet, jazz, modern, and competitive cheerleading. In 2000, Tracie moved to Wilmington to attend UNCW, where she received her B.A. in Communication Studies. While at UNCW, Tracie performed with the UNCW dance team. Tracie also performed for six seasons with the Wilmington Hammerheads, and for two seasons served as the team’s head coach and choreographer. Tracie is also a member of Forward Motion Dance Company. She has performed in a number of events including Dance-a-lorus, the North Carolina Dance Festival, Celebrate the Arts, and Arts Sensation. Tracie is honored to be a part of the Dance Cooperative and is looking forward to another great year of dance!

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Sheier

Trilby Shier

Classes: Ballet and Jazz

Trilby Shier studied dance with the Ballet School of Chapel Hill under the direction of such choreographers as M’Liss Dorrance, Carol Edwards, Diane Eilber, Jennifer Potts, and Rebecca Amos. After graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill, Trilby began teaching at the Ballet School of Chapel Hill, where she developed a creative movement class for children with special needs and taught pre-ballet, creative movement, ballet, and jazz. Trilby taught at the Ballet School for ten years. She has performed with the Ballet Company of Chapel Hill, Jacques d’Amboise, Appalachian Dance Ensemble, and the Whirlwind Jazz Ensemble. Trilby has also toured with Amy Smith Pierce and dancers for the North Carolina Dance Festival and was a dancer in the film “Bolden” which is soon to be released.  Trilby has lived in Wilmington since 2005, performing in shows such as Dance-a-lorus, NCDF, Arts Sensation, and Arts Poetica. In addition to being a member of the Dance Cooperative faculty, Trilby is a Physician Assistant in pediatric surgery at NHRMC and with Cape Fear Pediatrics.

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Springer

Jennifer Springer

Classes: Jazz

Jennifer Springer has a BS in Dance Education from East Carolina University where she performed in faculty and student performances and was able to study dance abroad in Anguilla. For many years Jennifer has taught ballet, tap, jazz, and modern to many levels and all ages. She has taught dance in the Brunswick County Schools and coached the South Brunswick High School Dance Team. Jennifer joined the Dance Cooperative in 2004 and currently teaches jazz and performs while homeschooling her two boys.

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Williams

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 performed 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.