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Our Teachers

Susan Martinelli Shea

Susan Martinelli Shea is the president and founder of Dancing with the Students, a 501c-3 non-profit organization which teaches ballroom dancing, manners and respect to inner city students. She started with one school in Philadelphia in September, 2005, and has added schools every year. Her former career as a special education teacher spanned fifteen years and five states. Sue is a proud graduate of Boston College and holds a masters degree from Johns Hopkins University.

K. O'Rourke (Director of Programming / Lead Instructor)

Since 2007, K.O. has been working with Dancing With The Students and feels blessed to be able to work with such a fine company. She is an actor, choreographer, and teaching artist. Recent choreography credits include: Emma (*Barrymore Nomination, Outstanding Movement & Choreography), Arcadia, and QED (all with The Lantern Theater), Ceasar’s Palace O’Fun (Walnut Street Theater), and The Consul (The Philadelphia Opera Collective).  Favorite teaching artist credits include: Delaware Theater Company (Summer on Stage Movemnt Instructor), People’s Light & Theatre (Summerstage Movement Instructor and Theatre School), The Governor’s School of New Jersey, Luna Stage, Villanova University, Theatre Exile, Theatre Horizon, and Delaware Theater Company’s Summer On Stage.  Acting credits: The Philadelphia Theater Company, The Wilma, People’s Light, Lantern Theater, Bristol Riverside Theater, EgoPo Classic Theater, Mauckingbird, Teatro DelleDue (Italy), and Maple’s Rep (Missouri) to name a few.  She is a faculty member for the department of Theater & Dance for West Chester University and Community College of Philadelphia, and is the Education Associate at The Lantern Theater Company.  Education: B.A., Montclair State University.  M.A., Villanova University. Proud member of The Actors’ Equity Association.

Colleen Hughes (Instructor/Troupe Coach)

Colleen is a Philadelphia-based actor and teaching artist. She has been working with Dancing With The Students since 2009. After training at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in NYC and receiving her BFA from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, she came to Philly where she has worked with companies including EgoPo Productions, Ombelico Mask Ensemble and the Wilma Theater. In addition to working locally, Colleen has also traveled extensively with Enchantment Theatre Company on several national tours. She is most interested in collaborative, ensemble-based work and she specializes in physical theatre.

Samantha Bellomo (Co-Founder & Artistic Consultant)

Samantha is currently the Resident Director at People’s Light & Theatre in Malvern, PA. She has worked on numerous productions as a fight director, choreographer, assistant director or director. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband John Bellomo and their son Enzo. She has worked with the McCarter Theatre, Arden Theatre Company, Lantern Theatre, Delaware Theatre Company, Act II Playhouse, Mauckingbird Theatre Company and Villanova Theatre. Samantha teaches at Drexel University, and is a multi-Barrymore nominee for Outstanding Choreography/Movement.

Tori Mittelman

Tori is a local actor, director, playwright, and teaching artist.  She is a proud graduate of the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point’s BFA Acting Program. She has toured with the National Theatre for Children and worked with various theaters around the Greater Philadelphia Region. She has  studied with the Pig Iron School for Advanced Performance Training, worked at the Wilma Theatre as a Literary Intern, and Assistant Directed under Damon Bonetti for He Who Gets Slapped with PAC. She is highly interested in Physical Theatre that comes from an ensemble approach. This is her first year teaching with Dancing With the Students and she couldn’t be more excited to join such an incredible family of dancers!

Jenn Rose

Jenn Rose grew up dancing in Allentown, PA and continued to study dance and theatre at West Chester University.  Jenn has trained in ballet, modern, jazz, hip hop,  tap.  She has taught for the Rock School, Ursinus College, Temple University, and is currently teaching at the University of Pennsylvania, the Philadelphia Ballet School, and Millennium Dance Complex Philadelphia. Jenn is the founder/artistic director of Loose Screws Contaporary Dance Company and has been commissioned to set new work for Ballet Fleming, Drexel University, 213 Productions, and multiple dance studios throughout the country.   Jenn has choreographed over 20 regional theatre productions with a few of her favorites being Spring Awakening, Little Shop of Horrors, and Avenue X.  She is currently performing with Take It Away Tap Company and Loose Screws. Jenn is grateful to be inspired everyday and looks forward to what is yet to come…

Janine Merolla

Janine Merolla received her BA in Theatre from Bucknell University and her MA in Theatre Education from Emerson College. Once she moved to Philadelphia, she began her work as a teaching artist apprentice with Philadelphia Young Playwrights. Since then, she has worked with Theatre Horizon, Music Training Center, First Person Arts and Walnut St. Theatre. Janine is also an actor who has worked at The Candlelight Theatre in Wilmington, DE, Uptown Theatre Alliance and the Ritz Theatre in New Jersey.

Eric Scotolati (Instructor)

Eric graduated from West Chester University with his Bachelor’s Degree in Performing Arts and has been living and working in the Philadelphia area ever since. Eric has been working as a dance teacher with Dancing with the Students since 2011 and loves working with such a great program where he gets to teach ballroom dance to so many wonderful and talented children. He is also professional Philadelphia-based actor. As a member of The Curio Theatre Company, Eric has acted in such productions as The Weir, No Exit, Twelfth Night, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Euridyce, Lord of the Flies, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, and Great Expectations. In 2011 Eric was awarded Best Actor in a Play from Broadway World’s 2011 Philly Awards.

Nadira Beard (Instructor)

Nadira has been with Dancing with the Students since 2009. She is an acting and playwright teaching artist for the People’s Light and Theatre Company theatre school programs. As a member of the original New Voices Ensemble (PLTC), she has performed in professional productions such as Peter Pan and Grim Tales. Nadira has been enjoying working with the arts since she was introduced to it at the age of ten when she had the opportunity to participate in a residency at her middle school. Nie believes that it’s important to give back and share her love of the arts with our youth. And working at Drexel Neumann Academy, in Chester, the city where she was born and raised, it is a gift worth giving over and over again.

Taysha Canales (Instructor)

Taysha is a native New Yorker working as a theater professional in the Greater Philadelphia area. She is an alumnus of Arcadia University with a B.F.A. in Acting. She’s worked with various companies in the city including The Arden Theatre, Dragon’s Eye Theatre, Simpatico Theatre Project, Azuka Theatre, and The National Constitution Center. She is an Epic Theatre Ensemble Artist (NYC) as well as a teaching artist with The Arden Theatre, Interact Theatre and Philadelphia Young Playwrights.

Karina Balfour (Instructor)

Karina received her B.A. in Acting from CSU Fresno and her M.F.A. in Acting Pedagogy from the University of Alabama before moving to Philadelphia. This is her first year working with Dancing with the Students and she is thrilled to be a part of this program. She has acted professionally with several theatres in the tri-state area including: Bootless Stageworks, The Eagle Theatre, New City Stage Company, Hedgerow Theatre, Renegade Theatre Company, Tribe of Fools, EgoPo and the National Constitution Center. Karina is also and adjunct theatre instructor at the Community College of Philadelphia.

Peter Andrew Danzig

A recent graduate of Villanova University’s masters in theater (Acting Scholar) is a local Philadelphia actor and can be seen regionally as well as New York and Atlantic City. His work in Philadelphia has garnered him a reputation for his versatility as a vocalist and physical theatre practitioner. As a theater instructor he has worked for Philadelphia Young Playwrights, Philadelphia Department of Recreation, the Esperanza School, Summer on Stage and the Arden Theater Company. He’s thrilled to join the amazing artists through the Dancing with the Students program!  Recent theatrical credits include work with Philadelphia School of Circus Arts, Ivan Warren Productions, EgoPO Classic Theatre, Simpatico Theatre Project, Noh Theatre Project, Philadelphia Public Theatre, Philadelphia Theater Workshop, Walnut Street Theater, PGLTF, 23 Piece Productions, Philadelphia Young Playwrights, Represented Theater Company, Philadelphia Dramatist Center, Triangle Theatre, Full Circle Theater Group, Philadelphia Theater Company, Philly Pops Festival Choir, Kimmel Center, Rep Radio. Television/Film: Blue Bloods, ParanoiaPAN AMOne Life to LiveHeatwaveRomeo and His Juliet (Sundance Film Festival). M.A. Villanova University,  B.A. Theater, Temple. AEA/SAG-AFTRA.

Mike Dees (Instructor)

Mike is Barrymore Award-winning actor, and a local teaching artist. A former substitute teacher for the School District of Philadelphia, he has also taught theater for the Wilma Theater, Arden Theater Company, Azuka Theatre, Theater Horizon, 1812 Productions, and Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival.  Mike has worked with students in countless area schools, and also helps to train classroom teachers and fellow teaching artists about arts integration. Education: BA in Psychology from LaSalle University, MA in Theater from Villanova University.

Leah Holleran (Instructor)

Leah Holleran has felt so lucky these past two years to find an artistic home in the performance community of Philly! She graduated from Muhlenberg College in 2012 with a major in Theatre and minors in Music and Creative Writing. Since then, she spent the past 3 years performing in national tours with Enchantment Theatre Company (and last year, Company Managing the tour of Harold and the Purple Crayon in addition to playing Harold!). She is trained in acting, dance (ballet, tap, jazz), voice (she will always have a soft spot for musical theatre, her first doorway into the performance world), and since recently, circus aerials (trapeze, ropes, silks). She has worked and performed in Philadelphia with Enchantment, Tribe of Fools (Antihero, Two Street), Luke Allen Productions, The Stagecrafters, and Vulcan Lyric (regional premier of Heathers: the Musical), Brotherly Love Theatre Company (catch her in HOME in June!), and Curio Theatre, where she teaches dance over the summer. Her latest endeavor has been co-creating a street performance/counter-protest piece in support of Planned Parenthood, which has really affirmed for her that art can make a difference, and is thrilled to be part of a program like Dancing with the Students, which continues to affirm that fact time and again!

Matthew Hultgren (Instructor)

Seven years after first teaching for DWTS, Matthew is overjoyed to be returning to Philadelphia! He is a certified Voice and Dialect Teacher, offering private lessons and group workshops, as well as coaching professional theater productions. Recently, Matthew was a Teaching Fellow for Moscow Art Theater in Russia, where he completed his MFA in Voice and Speech Pedagogy at Harvard University/ART Institute. Matthew has taught acting, voice, dialects, and dance in 7 states and 3 countries, for institutions such as: American Family Theater; American Repertory Theater; Music Training Center; Northwestern University; Project Rainbow; State Theater School of Krakow, Poland; Tufts University; and Walnut Street Theatre School. Matthew has also performed as an actor with 11th Hour, Amaryllis, EgoPo, Flashpoint, People’s Light, Prince Music Theatre, Media, Shakespeare in Clark Park, and Walnut Street.