Brenda dancing during the great disco era right here in Ashtabula at Sardi’s Disco. Her favorite New York hustle style included quick adagio and acrobatic movements. This was the time when couples began to dance together again after the freestyle movement of twisting and rocking. Hustle is the last partner dance to be born right here in America. Soon the hustle began to incorporate ballroom inspired steps and movements, such as the Cha Cha. With her partner, she taught and also competed in many dance contests from here to New York. She trained and taught ballroom dance at Marguerite Pivarnik’s Footworks Dance Studio of Ashtabula, competed for NBC’s Dance Fever, and had the pleasure of dancing on stage in Cleveland with the Arthur Murray Studio in the Dancing With The Stars Tour 2009 and 2010. Although this was just a warm up the audience act, what a thrill to see the stars up close and personal! She has taught at many venues, but is currently teaching the hustle and other American social dances at the Ashtabula Arts Center. Her motto is, “If You Can Walk, You Can Dance.”
Alison Dubsky began her ballet training at the Ashtabula Arts Center and finished her studies at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School and the Joffrey Ballet School. Upon graduation, she embarked on a professional career where she performed throughout North America. During her tenure as a professional ballet dancer, she danced with the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, the Joffrey Ensemble Dancers, the Sarasota Ballet, the Richmond Ballet, and the Alberta Ballet. Some of Alison’s favorite roles include the Black Queen from Checkmate, the Sugar Plum from The Nutcracker, Jiri Kylian’s Forgotten Land, and the principal couple in George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante.
Shelagh holds a BA in dance from Mercyhurst University. She received her dance training with the American Ballet Theatre School, the Joffrey Ballet School, David Howard, Melissa Hayden, and Finis Jung. She danced professionally with Long Island Ballet under the artistic direction of Brett Raphael before moving to Ohio. Shelagh has been the director of dance at the arts center for thirty-three years and has served as the artistic director of the arts center’s performing dance company, Ballet Theatre Ashtabula. Many of her former students have gone on to dance professionally in companies such as Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet, Momix, Alberta Ballet, The Montgomery Ballet, Sarasota Ballet, Hubbard Street 2, Les Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Alvin Ailey II, The Joffrey Ensemble, Verb Ballets, The Ohio Ballet, Elise Monte Dance, and Richmond Ballet. Shelagh’s students have also danced professionally for major cruise lines and in national tours of Broadway shows such as Mary Poppins and Billy Elliot the Musical. Other former students have gotten their degrees in dance from prestigious universities such as The Juilliard School, Butler University, Mercyhurst University, Ailey/Fordham, and the University of Cincinnati. Today, many of Shelagh’s former students have become artistic directors of dance companies themselves, or are on the dance faculties of dance schools around the country.
Lauren Hammond began her dance training at the Ashtabula Arts Center under the direction of Shelagh Dubsky. She began college as a ballet performance major at Butler University then ultimately chose to pursue education. Lauren has been teaching Jazzercise for five years and is an AFAA certified personal trainer.
Tim Kolman has been dancing for eight years, and trained with Ballet Theatre Ashtabula until his senior year of high school, going on to train with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s pre-professional program and dancing with their professional company in such productions as Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and Sleeping Beauty. He attended Mercyhurst University, completing his freshman year there. He now dances professionally with the Rochester City Ballet.
Clover Robinson began her dance training at age 3 at the Ashtabula Arts Center under the direction of Shelagh Dubsky. She earned her BFA in dance from Wright State University, where she performed with the Dayton Ballet and studied on scholarship at the Cleveland Ballet, under the direction of Dennis Nahat. She was also on faculty for the Dayton Ballet School and was a member of Dayton Ballet II. Furthering her career in Chicago, Clover performed with Ballet Theatre of Chicago and The 58 Group. She joined Hubbard Street 2 under the direction of Julie Nakagawa (Artistic Director, DanceWorks Chicago), and worked with choreographers Lou Conte (founder, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago), Robert Battles (Artistic Director, Alvin Ailey), Jessica Lang (Artistic Director, Jessica Lang Dance), Ron De Jesus (Artistic Director, Ron De Jesus Dance), Harrison McEldowney, and Ginger Farley, among many others. During her time with Hubbard Street 2, Clover was part of a trade mission and cultural exchange between the State of Illinois and South Africa. She performed for the Governor’s Delegation among other audiences in Johannesburg and Cape Town, and worked closely with African dancers in the cultural exchange. Clover retired from her professional career and moved home to teach dance at the arts center beginning in 2001. She has choreographed and directed rehearsals for the annual Spring Dance Concert, Straw Hat productions including Zombie Prom, Footloose, and Little Shop of Horrors, and for the Grand Valley Show Choir. Clover has been an instructor for Pymatuning Valley Schools and After School Discovery, and for Wild Fire Dance. In addition to teaching dance, she also works for the Ashtabula County Board of Developmental Disabilities as an Early Intervention Specialist.
Cassandra Serdula is originally from Austinburg, and is a 2009 alumna of Mercyhurst University. She began her training at Ballet Theatre Ashtabula under the direction of Shelagh Dubsky and Clover Robinson. While at Mercyhurst, she performed with The Lake Erie Ballet and Mercyhurst Dance Theatre and was coached by several distinguished dancers such as Laura Alonso, Valerie Valentine, and Vivi Flindt. Upon graduating, she joined The Montgomery Ballet in 2009 under Artistic Director Elie Lazar where she performed several of Lazar’s original works such as Carmen, Verdi Pas de Six, and Carmina Burana. In 2010, the company toured to Pietrasanta, Italy, with a mixed repertoire of works, performing 11 different ballets in one week. She has performed Balanchine’s Valse Fantasie and Who Cares? as well as several roles in the classics—Coppélia, Sleeping Beauty, Paquita, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, La Vivandière, and many more. Cassie also performed as a guest artist with Arova Contemporary Ballet in Birmingham, AL and has been a program assistant for National Dance Institute in NYC under the direction of Jacques d’Amboise. Most recently, she was a member of The Georgia Ballet under the direction of Alexandre Proia.
Meghann began training under the direction of Shelagh Dubsky at the Ashtabula Arts Center at age 6. She continued her studies with Clover Robinson, as well, in ballet and jazz. She went on to Wright State University’s dance program where she studied ballet, jazz, and modern dance. While at Wright State, she performed with Dayton Ballet II under the direction of Karen Russo Burke. Upon returning home, she guest-performed with the Verbs Ballet in Cleveland. Meghann completed her bachelor’s degree at Kent State University-Ashtabula while teaching dance at the arts center and other studios around the county. She has recently delved into the creative process of choreography for these studios and enjoys working in the contemporary/lyrical dance style. Meghann has also been seen in some recent musical theater productions at the Ashtabula Arts Center such as A Chorus Line, All Shook Up, Once Upon a Mattress, and Company.