Faculty

Our Faculty 2012

George Warren, Artistic Director
Mr. Warren’s union affiliations are Actors Equity, Screen Actors Guild, Dance Educators of America, and the International Tap Association. He is a noted New York Teacher and performer whose students have appeared on Broadway and in National and International tours of “CATS”, “Phantom of the Opera”, “Tommy”, “Guys and Dolls”, “Les Miserables”, “Carousel”, “A Chorus Line”, “Gypsy”, at Radio City Music Hall, and in many movies and television shows. His last professional Musical Theatre appearance was the national tour of the Broadway musical “Whoopee” with Imogene Coca and Mamie Van Doren and still works with Brenda Bufalino and TAP City in NYC. George has been teaching in Central Jersey for 33 years and is very proud of his Center Stage family.

Susan Penaskovic Bednarski, Ballet
Susan is currently a company member of the Anglo-American Ballet and the Staten Island Ballet. She has taught ballet in New York at New York University, and at Kingsley Studios, as well as Saint Peter’s College and Raritan Valley Community College. She studies ballet with Catherine Kingsley and has studied at the Joffrey Ballet School, and jazz with jazz legend Luigi. She has a Master’s degree in dance from New York University.

Marlowe Davis, Jazz, Lyrical
Marlowe Scott Davis began his dance training at Center Stage. He was a member of their competition tap and jazz companies, Tap Cats and Sr. Cats. While competing he received several regional titles and one national title. Marlowe continued his dance training at North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC. After finishing school he received a scholarship to attend the “Alvin Ailey American Dance Center” in Manhattan. He performed with the Alvin Ailey company in their City Center season in NYC. He has also performed modern dance choreography by David Parsons, Paul Taylor and Merce Cunningham. After leaving the modern dance world, he toured Europe as a backup dancer for “103.5 KTU’s dance music Diva “Despina Vendi” and appeared in one of her music videos. Returning to the state’s he’s performed choreography by former Madonna dancer “Slam” and has done industrial performances for “Toyota.” Marlowe has appeared in an Off-Broadway musical “Thin Line.” You can also catch him every year in Manhattan’s annual Mega-Event “Broadway Bares.” on stage with such stars as John Stamos and Cyndi Lauper. He continues to work with a Jazz, Hip Hop dance company, and has also moved into modeling, posing for “HX Magazine’s” annual swimsuit issue. Marlowe is now a resident judge with the prestigious dance competition, Legacy Dance Championships

Lainie DeFranco, Ballet Department Director
Lainie began her studies at the Hartford Ballet Co., where she performed with the junior company and chamber ensemble. She graduated from Hartford’s two year teaching program. Ms. DeFranco has taught all levels of ballet for both adult and children’s professional classes for the Hartford Ballet, Syracuse Ballet Co., Metropolitan School for the Arts and the Princeton Ballet. Lainie is co-director of the Center Ballet Ensemble. Lainie has been teaching for Center Stage since 1985.

Mickey DeFranco, Jazz, CATS Company Director-Choreographer
Mickey served as choreographer for “Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego”, as well as the opening dance montage, for PBS television; Metropolis Studios, New York City. She is an active member of Dance Educators of America, and is the director of the national award winning Pre-Professional Center Stage CATS Jazz Company. CATS Alumni have appeared on Broadway in “Urban Cowboy”, “CATS”; Nationals Tours of: “Fame”, “Tommy”, “Footloose”, “Chorus Line”, “West Side Story”; Euro-tours: “Best of Broadway”, and the Liss Fain Dance Company in San Francisco. Her students have appeared on television and theatres around the country (including “Saturday Night Live”, “Unsolved Mysteries”, “The Today Show”),as well as commercials and industrials. She has done choreography for Resorts International Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, and was a Master Choreographer/Teacher for Dance Troupe, Inc.. A guest choreographer with Broadway Dance Center featuring Frank Hatchett, Finis Jhung, and Savion Glover (Bring in Da Noise) in American Heritage (NYC)

Elaine George Foulides, Voice, Piano, Musical Director
With a degree in Music Education, Elaine has maintained a career as a professional vocal coach, teacher, musical director and performer for more than thirty five years, focusing on vocal production, technique, and performance skills for both solo and choral ensembles. Her students have appeared on Broadway, in national tours, on television, in commercials, movies, and regional theatres. AS a performing artist, Elaine’s personal credits include Broadway, Off-Broadway, cabaret, dinner theatre, church and synagogue soloist, and numerous recordings. She also appeared with Labors of Love, in several benefits for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and was a featured soloist on their Christmas CD, Carols for a Cure.

Bruce Garahan, Acro
Bruce was a nationally ranked gymnast and springboard diver throughout high school and college. For ten years thereafter Bruce served as coach for a nationally ranked gymnastics team while also working as a professional acrobat. Bruce has performed as a high diver, bungee diver, and in a two man trampoline act known as Flash and Crash. He has performed in venues such as amusement parks, state fairs, NBA half time shows and circuses throughout the country. Television appearances include WONDERAMA, ABC’s THAT’S INCREDIBLE, ESPN, and several television commercials. Some of his antics can be seen on YOU TUBE – Just perform a search under his name.

Sue Garahan, Curtain Up, Jazz, Tap, Musical Theatre
Sue has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater Arts and is a member of Dance Educators of America. She trained extensively through the years in both New York City and London, England. Her theater credits include Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street, Val in A Chorus Line, Nancy in Oliver!, The Witch in Into the Woods, Gladys in The Pajama Game, Mona Kent in Dames at Sea, Nelly Forbush in South Pacific and Tiger Lily in Peter Pan. She is the director of many of our jazz and tap companies in both East Brunswick and Marlboro and has won many choreographic awards over the years. Many of her students have appeared on both Broadway and television.

Katrinka Geslani, Ballet, Hip-Hop, Jazz/Tap/Funk
Katrinka has been part of the Center Stage family since she was 9 years old. She was a member of Wild Style, Sr. Ballet Company, Sr. Tap CATS, and Senior CATS here at Center Stage. Katrinka furthered her training at summer intensives of various schools, including the Rock School and American Ballet Theatre. Having graduating in 2008, she is currently pursuing dual degrees in both dance and business and Rutgers University. Katrinka has also danced with Fr3sh Dance Company and currently dances with Ven15, an all girls hip hop performance group. Both company memberships have allowed her to dance in hip-hop showcases around the country; from Boston to New York to Washington DC to San Francisco. Katrinka’s passion for dance continues to grow everyday, and she’s excited to be sharing it with the Center Stage family that sparked it.

Pamela Susan Gray, Curtain Up, Tap
Pam has an extensive Dance and Theater background is thrilled to be a member of the awesome faculty here at Center Stage. She has studied and performed throughout New Jersey and continues her education in NYC and at the Princeton Ballet School with Director Kim Chandler-Vaccaro. Theater credits include Plays in the Park (Oliver), New Jersey Renaissance Festival (featured performer), Franklin Theater Ensemble (Bonnie, Anything Goes), Somerset Valley Players (Man of La Mancha) and Pam has appeared in and Choreographed “Godspell” several times in several different roles! Pam has also been a featured performer on television with the MDA Telethon and has choreographed many local High School productions and Pop Warner cheer competition dances. She is a proud member of the American Tap Dance Foundation and is company director for the East Brunswick and Marlboro Tap Kids! Pam also incorporates music and movement into the integrated pre-k class she works with for the North Brunswick Board of Education.

Elaine Harned, Voice
Elaine has a Masters Degree in Voice Performance and Pedagogy (teaching) from the Westminster Choir College. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she studied pipe organ. She has worked as a paid church soloist in New York City and has many years of experience as Organist/Choir Director. Elaine currently performs with a professional church group known as the Princeton Singers. She has been teaching with us since 1997.

Annika Higgins, Musical Theatre
Annika is a Center Stage alumnus who is thrilled to be back in the studio teaching for her third year. While Center Stage, she studied dance, musical theater and voice, and also assisted various teachers for over five years in tap, jazz, and musical theater disciplines. She has performed locally in a number of community theatre productions and many benefit cabarets. Currently, she is pursuing a degree Elementary Education with a minor in Musical Theater at Montclair State University, and is very happy to be part of the Center Stage family.

Leonie Higgins, Musical Theatre
Leonie is something of a Central Jersey musical theatre diva, having played lead roles in “I Do! I Do!,” “Guys and Dolls, “ “A Little Night Music,” “A Chorus Line,” “Gypsy,” and many, many more shows. She performed in several “Make-A-Wish Foundaton” benefits, along with such stars as Ben Vereen, and performs annually in Cabaret for Life, which benefits AIDS and Cancer victims. Leonie has a Bachelor’s degree in theatre from St. John’s University, and studied voice at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, and Dance at Farnworth, Hauer & Kelly in New York City. She is on the judging panel for Paper Mill Playhouse’s “Rising Star Awards”for High School Musical Theatre, and is a member of the Speech and Theater Association of New Jersey.

Jarred Humphrey, Jazz, Hip-Hop
Jarred Humphrey is a dancer/choreographer/instructor who has been recognized nationally for his creative and influential style in both the contemporary and tap dance genres. Jarred has trained with many prestigious dance companies including the Juilliard School, Houston Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre (ABT). Jarred has been a featured performer on ESPN2 national television. He has also performed in Battery Park with Tony Waag’s Tap City in 2008. Jarred was a featured dancer in the Urban Ballet Theatre’s presentation of the Nutcracker In The Lower. Jarred has been seen performing at numerous notable venues including Disney World, New Jersey’s State Theatre, and New Jersey’s own Roosevelt Park with the Plays-In-The-Park series. Jarred has also been an assistant teacher to Mike Schulster at New York City Dance Alliance (NYCDA). Before he began studying in New York he trained at Center Stage

Tannis Kristjanson, Curtain Up, Tap, Ballet
Tannis trained under George Warren for eleven years winning many competitive awards and becoming his valued assistant. She has spent the last fifteen years touring the country and performing as a musician and singer. Her song, “No Bitterz,” co-written with her husband, Ari Katz, was recently performed by Miss TK & the Revenge in the Oscar-nominated movie, “The Wrestler.” Her numerous choreographic projects include Annie, Wizard of Ox and Oliver and she has been very involved with the NJ Repertory Theatre while simultaneously raising her two young daughters here at the Jersey shore. We are so happy to welcome Tannis back to her Center Stage family.

Anne Krug, Ballet
Anne is a Center Stage graduate, having worked her way up through the Jr. CATS and CATS companies. As a member of CATS, she competed for national titles and at the Youth of America Grand Prix ballet competition. At the age of 14, she was awarded the New York City Dance Alliance Ballet Scholarship by Daniel Catanach. In her senior year at Center Stage, she performed the lead role of Sugar Plum in our bi-annual production of “The Nutcracker.” She has trained additionally at the Briansky Saratoga Ballet summer intensive, and at The School at Steps under the instruction of Leslie Browne. Anne performed with the Urban Ballet Theater and the Abrons Arts Center Dance Ensemble in Daniel Catanach’s production of “Nutcracker in the Lower,” and is a member of the Ensemble, and an apprentice with the Urban Ballet Theater. We are pleased and proud to welcome Anne back to Center Stage.

Matt Lopez, Hip-Hop
Matt Lopez was born and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire. He first started dancing at the age of 10 performing for a Filipino dance troupe in New Hampshire. He attended Northeastern University majoring in Theatre. Lopez later transferred to the University of Central Florida where he danced at Walt Disney World. Matt had the opportunity to perform with Hillary Duff in the Christmas Day Parade Televised on ABC. Upon graduating from Central Florida, he landed a job as the mascot for the New England Patriots. Matt now lives in New York City and is currently dancing with hip hop pioneer Robin Dunn, as well as NYC based choreographer Todd Shanks. Matt was recently featured on Live with Regis and Kelly’s Go-Go Segment on ABC. His other notable stage/television performances include dancing for Sean Kingston and Wyclef Jean on a kids programming show on PBS, as well as R&B artists Phill Kross and Matt Palmer.

Lauren Luthman, Jazz, Lyrical
Lauren started her dance training at Center Stage at the age of four. She started in the younger companies, and made her way up to the pre-professional CATS Company. She is currently enrolled at Rutgers, and has been on the Rutgers Dance Team for the past three years, which has allowed her to travel all over the country, dancing at football and basketball games, as well as competing in the Universal Dance Association. She is excited to be back at Center Stage, teaching in the place where it all started!

Peggy Milard, Hip-Hop
Peggy comes to us from Broadway Dance Center in NYC where she has taught children and teen programs. She has trained at Perfection Dance and the Blade-Hip Hop Conservatory in NYC. She has performed with the dance group Kappture Ent. where she eventually became choreographer and assistant in Artistic Development. She is a fun, humble person who blends all her experiences and shares it with her students. We are so pleased to have her join us at Center Stage.

Danielle Mondi, Jazz/Hip-Hop, Ballet, Curtain Up
Danielle is currently studying at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University working towards a BFA in dance. She was born and raised in Somerset, New Jersey where she trained in tap, jazz, and ballet, at Center Stage since the age of three. Mason Gross has engaged her in modern, another form of dance that she is quite fond of. Danielle has had the opportunity to work with various choreographers such as Paulette Sears and Julia Ritter to name a few. She is involved with various community theaters such as Plays in the Park and Villagers Theater. Recently Danielle was on stage in Carousel with the WYACT Company, making her first debut at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.

Tori Moots, Acting, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical/Contemporary
Tori is a Center Stage Alumnus, where she was a member of CATS, Tap CATS, and three years in the Pre-Professional Acting Class. She starred in the Center Stage mainstage show for all four years of her high-school, and also appeared in productions of “The Bald Soprano,” “The Laramie Project,” and “The Importance of Being Earnest.” She appeared for many years in Cabaret for Life, an AIDS benefit. Since graduating from Center Stage, she studied for two years at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City, taking classes in dance and acting, while simultaneously studying at Broadway Dance Center and Steps. She recently choreographed a school production of “Beauty and the Beast,” and will be returning next season as assistant director. Last spring, she completed her Bachelor’s degree in education at Rider University.

Beverly Rigby, Acting
Beverly has performed in regional and dinner theatre in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and California, including roles with New York Dinner Theatre, TheatreFest, and Montclair Operetta, where she was nominated for Best Featured Actress in a Musical, for Minnie Fae in Hello Dolly! She has also done improv and standup comedy at NY Comedy Club and Stand-Up NY, and voice-overs for Carpe Diem Productions. Beverly has a Masters Degree in Theatre from Montclair State University and her teaching credits include the Mercer County Performing Arts High School, Montclair State University – Gifted and Talented Program , The Shoestring Players, and McCarter Theatre. She is currently the theatre director for the Central Jersey Charter Arts School in South Plainfield.

Heather Robbins, Voice
Heather holds a Masters in Music from the University of New Hampshire, where she specialized in vocal pedagogy and performance, and has studied with Neil Semer in New York. Heather’s teaching emphasizes healthy vocal technique in a variety of musical styles. She has performed in opera (Eugene Onegin, Susannah), as an oratorio soloist (Gounod St. Cecilia Mass, Fauré Requiem, Duruflé Requiem), in a cappella jazz groups, and in professional choruses both in the United States and in New Zealand, where she also taught voice and sang with Canterbury Opera. Her students have won prizes in competitions and held lead and supporting roles in local musical theatre productions and opera. Heather sings with the vocal a cappella trio The Tritones, directs the Kingston Women’s Chorus, and is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, and the American Choral Directors Association.

Jennifer Zizza Taddei, Jazz, Lyrical, Hip-Hop
An alumnus dancer of Center Stage, Jennifer received a BFA in dance from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and has continued her training in New York City at Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, Broadway Dance Center and Steps. Her credits include performing in a music video on VH1, choreographing a Dairy Queen commercial, and performing all over the Tri-State area. Jennifer is the recipient of the prestigious Turner Choreography award and was the winner of an invitation to perform at ACDFA’s national dance concert at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. for her choreography.

Karina Teran, Ballet
Karina began her classical ballet training at the Instituto Nacional de Danza in Guayaquil, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance. Professionally, Karina performed for seven years, throughout Ecuador, for the renowned Jose Miguel Salem’s Danzas Jazz, in productions such as THE WIZ, THE KING AND I, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, ANNIE and Charles Dickens’, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, dancing the lead roles of Victoria in CATS and Sandy in GREASE. Other musical theater credits include JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, and HAIR. Her classical ballet solo roles include Clara in Ballet de Camera del Teatro Municipal de Santiago, Chile’s THE NUTCRACKER and Princess Florine in Southern Florida Ballet Theater’s SLEEPING BEAUTY Bluebird Pas De Deux. United States credits also include a fifty-three city, twenty-one state tour with Boston Flamenco Ballet, Florida Grand Opera’s production of AIDA, inaugurating Miami’s Carnival Center for the Arts, two Carnival Cruise Ship contracts and performances with the Staten Island Ballet and Ballet for Young Audiences in New York City, where she currently resides as a dancer and teacher of dance and Spanish Language.

Julie Johnson Thick, Curtain Up, Tap, Jazz
Julie is co-owner/producer of the Off-Broadstreet Theatre which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. She has choreographed over 75 musicals for the Hopewell Dessert Theatre. Julie is a member of the DEA and PDTA dance associations and has taught in NYC at the Ed Sullivan Theatre and Broadway Dance Center. Julie has worked at Center Stage since 1980 teaching tap, jazz and tumbling. As a performer, she worked with Mercedes Ellington and the late Gregory Hines in an open tap company and with Luigi’s Jazz. Julie continues to study with many teachers including Germaine Salsberg, Frank Hatchett and Luigi. Julie was the NJAIAW State Collegiate All Around Champion in Gymnastics.

Millie Torres, Zumba®
Millie Torres has been a licensed Zumba ® instructor since March 2008. She is also Group Fitness certified by AFAA (Aerobics & Fitness Association of America). She has taught at New York Sports Club, Bayshore Fitness and Wellness, L.A. Fitness, South Brunswick YMCA, Monroe Twp Adult Education Program. She also specializes in Zumba Gold ® program for Active Adults, teaching in Active Adult communities; Princeton Manor, Greenbriar at Whittingham, and Waterside Villas. Millie also teaches independent classes at Kendo Academy in Spotswood, NJ the for Highland Park Temple Sisterhood. In addition to Zumba® and Zumba Gold® Millie is licensed to teach Zumba Toning® and Aqua Zumba®. With Millie’s vast experience, we are pleased to welcome her to our faculty.

Brian Ust, Partnering Coach
An alumni of Center Stage Dance and Theatre Program (Voice, Acting, Jazz, Ballet and Tap “I took it all”…). Brian continued his dance training at Princeton School of Ballet dancing with PBII , Broadway Dance Center, Steps and Miami City Ballet. A former fixture in New Jersey theatre, singing and dancing in productions of “How 2 Succeed…”, “The Fantasticks”, “Godspell”, “Mame”, ”Carnival”, “Pippin”, “Annie Get your Gun”,” Little Shop of Horror”, “West Side Story”, “The Good Bye Girl” to name a few. Brian quickly moved on to the world stage performing in the international tours of “On the Town”, “Best of Broadway”, and “Guys and Dolls”. Returning from Europe he worked with Anne Reinking on the TV production of “Bye Bye Birdie” staring Vanessa Williams and Jason Alexander. He toured with A CHORUS LINE (Mike), SHOW BOAT starring Cloris Leachman and Dean Jones, MISS SAIGON, and DISNEY’S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. In addition: Productions of ”La Cage Aux Folles”, (Hanna), and “Bat Boy : The Musical”. He also performed as a guest artist with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Alabama Symphony Orchestra and danced a season with Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre

Stephen Waldrup, Acting
Stephen has been directing the acting program at Center Stage for 21 years. He has taught at the T. Schreiber Studio in Manhattan and does private coaching for NY & LA Actors. As a performer, he appeared at the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival in “A Man for All Seasons, ” “The Sunshine Boys”, and Shakespeare’s “Henry VIII”, “Othello”, “The Merry Wives of Windsor”, and “The Merchant of Venice”. In New York, he appeared recently in “An Ideal Husband”, “Once in a Lifetime”, “Ambrosio” and “I Am A Camera” at the T. Schreiber Studio, “On the Road to Holeness” at Theatre for the New City, “Dogg’s Hamlet/Cahoot’s Macbeth” with the 1010 Players, “The Bald Soprano” and “The Wailing Wall” with the Farrington Company and at the American Theatre of Actors. Stephen’s directing credits include “Four Dogs and a Bone” and “Birdbath” in Manhattan and “Zoo Story” for Black Box in Asbury Park.

Jason Warley, Jazz, Lyrical, Hip-Hop
Jason trained at Lehman College in NYC, Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, and Broadway Dance Center. He was the recipient of the Harkness Choreographer’s Space Grant at SUNY Purchase. He choreographed and performed in world tours with performing artists Shannon and LeClick, where he opened for such artists as Back Street Boys and EnVogue. He was featured with the students of the Joffrey Ballet School in “The Unbreakable Bond.” Last summer he taught workshops in conjunction with “Masahi Action Machine of Japan.” He is a member of Peter Pucci Plus Dancers, with whom he worked on a promotional world tour for IBM. Jason has also choreographed Ragtime Dreamgirls Smokey Joe’s Café, and Singin in the Rain (Summer 2009) for Play in the Park in Roosevelt Park, Edison.

Xander Weinman, TAP
Xander, a Center Stage Alumnus, is a dancer for the legendary Brenda Bufalino’s “new” American Tap Dance Orchestra and has danced in her shows, Primordial Memories and Sound Check, and in Tony Waag’s “Tap City.” He was dance captain for Emmy award winning choreographer Jason Samuels Smith’s ensemble for “Take it To the Stage,” and has danced for Cirque Du Soleil choreographer, Jared Grimes, in his show Broadway Underground at the B.B. King Blues Club. Xander has worked with choreographers Michelle Dorrance, Chloe Arnold and Lynn Schwab and has performed in Ayodele Casel’s Tappy Holidays. He dances with Germaine Salsberg’s “Les Femmes Plus” and is dance captain of Shelby Kaufman’s “Mazel Toes.” Xander has performed at Lincoln Center, Joseph Papp’s Public Theater (Joe’s Pub), Symphony Space and The Apollo Theater; he was a guest tap dancer on “Sesame Street” and “Today in New York.” Currently, Xander directs his own tap company in New York City, Sophisticated Sounds; he has had the privilege of sharing the stage with three of his greatest inspirations, Brenda Bufalino, Barbara Duffy and George Warren.

Kelli Youngman, Modern
Born in Seoul, Korea, Kelli grew up in North Brunswick, New Jersey. She began her training at Center Stage Dance and Theater School and earned her BFA in Dance from The Ailey School/Fordham University. Kelli has performed internationally throughout Guatemala and Mexico as a member of Juntos Collective and has worked with choreographers Robert Battle, Elisa Monte, George Faison, Samar Haddad King, Jacqulyn Buglisi, Lara Wilson, Abdur-Rahim Jackson, and Joanna Poz-Molesky. She has also performed works by Alvin Ailey and Paul Taylor. She most recently performed work by emerging choreographer Helen Hatch at the Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out Festival. Kelli is excited to return home to Center Stage in order to share and give back everything she has received as well as introduce dancers to the world of modern dance.

Kristen Youngman, My First Steps, Curtain Up
Kristen, a member of the Center Stage family for many years, began dancing with us at the age of three. Studying many disciplines of dance, she spent her years at Center Stage as a member of our Tap and Jazz Companies. At the age of twelve, Kristen had the opportunity to be an assistant for the younger children classes and soon discovered her true passion, introducing and teaching our youngest dancers to the world of dance. Since graduating, Kristen has worked with several day care schools and continues to work with our young ones during our Summer Musical Theatre Camp “Curtain Up”. With Kristen’s vast experience with young children, she is a great addition to our staff!