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.”
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.
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.
Trinity Stevens has been studying dance at the Ashtabula Arts Center since 2013. She has appeared in their productions of The Nutcracker and spring dance concerts, and has assistant taught Creative Movement classes. Trinity attended The Celebrate Erie Summer Dance Intensive at Mercyhurst University in 2017, where she studied with Lesley Bories-Scalise and Lauren Stenroos. Aside from dancing, Trinity performs in local theater productions and studies music. She is working on attaining her Associate of Arts degree from Kent State Ashtabula.