Faculty and Staff
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The Usdan faculty is composed of renowned and experienced practitioners and instructors dedicated to encouraging students to be creative in every endeavor throughout their lives. The Usdan staff works year round to create a memorable, transformative summer experience for all students. 

Our Faculty & Staff

Faculty & Staff

Executive Director

Lauren Brandt Schloss

Facilities Manager

Oscar Amaya

Director of Facilities

Anthony Amico

Senior Director of Student Affairs

Kerry Barnhart

Registered Nurse

Sally Cappy

Facilities Maintenance Technician

Al Chiavaro

Director of Marketing and Communications

Kathleen Drohan

Senior Accountant

Motaz Elzalata

Junior Groundskeeper

Marcos Flores

Senior Groundskeeper

Julio Garcia

Director of Education

Jillian Greenberg

Admissions Counselor

Stacey Jamieson

Transportation Manager

Courtney Kassinger

Office Staff

Kyra Leeds

Office Staff

Matt Mantione

Director of Development

Andrew Navarette

Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Lafiya Watson Ramirez

Registered Nurse

Elizabeth Scanello

Director of Student Supervision

Amy Schecher

Dean of Students

David Schecher

Dave Schecher returns to Usdan this summer for his 31st season. He is a trombonist, private music instructor and retired public school teacher who has also been the Director of The Long Island Brass Guild for many years.

Senior Director of Finance & Operations

Sari Sharaby

Interim Director of Education

Lindsay Smilow

Facilities Maintenance Technician

Richard Westcott

Admissions Counselor

Olivia Wise

Video Game Art and Design

Jason Gorman

Jason Gorman specializes in game design, 3D modeling, virtual reality, augmented reality, digital video and special effects, web and graphic design. He has been teaching in the Art Department at Nassau Community College for over 20 years, and also consults as an art director and graphic designer for clients including Apple.  Jason is a founding member of The Achilles Project and was coordinator for its Faculty Training Seminars.

Who inspires you/who do you admire in the industry?
Anyone who takes a leap and faces his or her fears -- especially those who then return to their beginnings and help others to do the same.

Music

Director Of Senior Bands

David Schecher

Dave Schecher returns to Usdan this summer for his 31st season. He is a trombonist, private music instructor and retired public school teacher who has also been the Director of The Long Island Brass Guild for many years.

Piano

John Patrick Murphy

Musician and scholar John Patrick Murphy holds a Masters of Music in Collaborative Piano from Manhattan School of Music and a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance and Music Education from SUNY Fredonia. His studies also include the Académie Musique Orford in Canada, the Golandsky Institute at Princeton University, and Orff-Schulwerk at Hofstra University. In addition to piano training, he holds the Colleague Certification (CAGO) from the American Guild of Organists.  In addition, John’s article titled “The Neglected Consolations of Franz Liszt” was recently accepted for publication in the Clavier Companion Journal.

Music Department Co-Chair, Trumpet

Michael Blutman

Michael Blutman enjoys a diverse career as a trumpeter and music educator. A graduate of Juilliard and the University of Maryland, his teaching, performing, and recording credits include: Ithaca College, Five Towns College, Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts, Sting, Orchestra of St. Luke’s, Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, Orpheus Chamber Orch, Broadway shows, and many others. Michael also co-founded the music education publishing company Pinnacle Music Press (www.pinmusicpress.com).

Conductor of Junior Orchestra, String Bass

Kageki Nagao

Conductor of the Senior Choruses

Karen Lehman DiMartino

Violin

Kiwon Nahm

Piano

Matthew Weissman

Matthew Weissman’s extensive performance career began at age 14, when he made his Carnegie Hall debut as a winner of the AMSA World Piano Competition — nearly five years after taking his first piano lesson. Since earning that title, Matthew has concertized in five countries, performed lecture-recitals in two states and holds eight first place titles in competitions. He has performed at the United Nations and at the Juilliard Evening Division and was lauded Salt Lake City Expositions 2012 Emerging Artist of the Year. He was also selected to represent the United States in the Cervantes Festival in Cuba and the Vladimir Horowitz competition in Ukraine. He is a honorary member of the American Liszt Society and is the recipient of the people's choice travel grant of Indiana University as well as receiving a scholarship from the National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts (NFAA). His artistry has been featured in many humanitarian projects raising money and awareness for today’s common causes, including the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation. A native Long Islander, Matthew has taught at four colleges including Nassau Community College and has adjudicated for NYSSMA/all-state grand piano showcase consideration.
 
What other departments are you most excited to collaborate with? 
Quidditch, Archery, Lego Design, Video Game Art & Design — the ones least associated with music.

Piano and Choral Coordinator, Piano Accompanist

Marilyn Lehman

Music Department Co-Chair, Conductor of the Junior Bands

Mark Bligh

Mark Bligh is the director of the Denton Ave Elementary Band (Herricks UFSD) where he teaches winds, brass and percussion for grades 3-5. The Denton Ave Band regularly attends NYSSMA Majors and consistently earns Gold with Distinction honors. Mark Bligh is an active NMEA member who has chaired several All-County festivals and presented at the Balanced Mind Conference. The past few years he conducted the Winds, Brass and Percussion sectional for the NYSSMA All-State Symphonic Orchestra and will conduct the 2018 SCMEA Division 1 Central All-County Band. Mark performs regularly as Principal Alto Saxophone for the Northwinds Symphonic Band, has performed with the Atlantic Wind Symphony as well as various chamber recitals. Mark is a past member of SCMEA and current member of NMEA, NYSSMA, NYSBDA and NafME.

Piano

Paula Berardinelli

Paula Berardinelli, Ph.D,  teaches Class Piano at both Hofstra University and Molloy College, and is the organist of St. Mary's Church in Roslyn Harbor. As a freelance pianist and organist, she has performed extensively in the classical, jazz and commercial genres, often serving as accompanist for pop artists such as Al Martino, Buddy Greco, Connie Francis, and Jerry Vale. Paula was featured at the Chelsea Center Concert Series, and appeared with the Minnewaska Chamber Music Society performing works for two pianos by Debussy, Gershwin, Faure and Bolling. She holds degrees from Hunter College, C.W. Post, and New York University. 

Percussion

Patrick Armann

Cello

Sue Lehr

Clarinet

Vasko Dukovski

Born in Ohrid, in the Republic of Macedonia, Vasko Dukovski began playing with sound at age five and started his musical education at the age of eight. His dedication to music and the clarinet earned him a Fine Arts Award from the Interlochen Arts Academy, which he attended before receiving a Bachelors and a Masters Degree from The Juilliard Schools of Music.  Today, he is a New York-based multidisciplinary performing artist ,composer and advocate of  contemporary classical and experimental music.  Vasko has collaborated with some of New York’s most respected ensembles including Argento New Music Ensemble, S.E.M Ensemble, Bang on A Can All Stars, and others. In addition to being a front man of his world music quartet, Tavche Gravche, Vasko, is a member of Either/OR Ensemble, Mise-En Ensemble, Lost Dog Ensemble and Ensemble. He regularly appears in Europe, The Middle East, North Africa, China, and extensively in the U.S. in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Symphony Space, BAM, Roulette, LPR, and Miller Theater at Columbia University, The Met Museum and MOMA.  

Flute

Zara Lawler

Flutist Zara Lawler— “an engaging, fluent, mellifluous soloist” (Houston Chronicle)—made her concerto debut with the Houston Symphony and her recital debut at New York’s Merkin Concert Hall. For the past 10 years, she has integrated dance and theater into her performances, with the innovative ensemble Tales & Scales, in collaboration with choreographer C. Neil Parsons, and in large-scale choreographies for flutes including E Pluribus Flutum, a work created for sixty dancing flutists. Recent  career highlights include the U.S. premiere of Il Cerchio Tagliato dei Suoni—Salvatore Sciarrino’s work for 104 flutists— which she directed at the Guggenheim Museum; and a Flute Jamboree—also directed by Zara—at the Kennedy Center.Zara is on faculty at Manhattan School and a member of both the New York Flute Club and National Flute Association.

Horn

Aaron Korn

Aaron Korn is a highly sought-after freelance horn player in the Tri-State area.  Returning to Usdan for the ninth year, he has previously held the positions of 2nd horn with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra in Israel and the Princeton Symphony in NJ as well as 4th horn with the Allentown Symphony Orchestra, PA. In addition to his role at Usdan, Aaron currently teaches at Hunter College and The Juilliard School - Music Advancement Program.  His performance career includes Broadway shows such as Cinderella and Rocktopia as well as the beloved Christmas Spectacular at Radio City Music Hall. He is a graduate of the Yale School of Music, where he received his Master of Music degree, and the Manhattan School of Music, where he earned his Bachelor of Music degree. 
        
Why did you choose to work at Usdan? 
I have taught at Usdan for the past nine years, and I always love my summers there. The students remind me of what I was like when I was their age, and I hope to be as inspiring to my students as my former teachers were to me.

Guitar, Rock Band

Zac Selissen

Zac Selissen is a guitarist, composer, arranger and teacher whose performance of the guitar has earned him mastery of a wide range of music – from rock and avant-garde to classical and tango. Since his 2015 arrival in NYC, he has composed and performed the music film, theater and modern dance pieces. Zac has also performed in off-Broadway productions of Death for Five Voices (Prospect Theater Company) Hair: A Tribal Love Rock Musical, Gilgamesh, and Kill Sister, Kill! (FringeNYC). Also a member of Duo Symphonious, Mayor Gavin Newsom awarded the group a Certificate of Honor for their performance of their original adaptation of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet.

What’s your most vivid/favorite memory of Usdan? 
It was amazing to see how everyone’s different personalities and backgrounds melded together to create a really positive and supportive atmosphere in my guitar studio last year

Piano

Andrew Ranaudo

Saxophone

Andrew Steinberg

Andrew R. Steinberg is a Boston-based saxophonist performing throughout North America, Asia, and Europe. Praised for his “beautiful tone” and “lyric playing,” Andrew has sought to perform neglected works as well as present premiere performances. An advocate of music that is equally gratifying and challenging, his repertoire focuses on works that highlight the “sound-of-sax” in ways never heard before, particularly in terms of tone color, range, and aesthetic approach. In addition to performing, Andrew lectures at venues including Boston University, New England Conservatory, Brookline Adult & Community Education, as well as the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Andrew  is currently completing his doctorate at New England Conservatory and is the Founder and Music Director of the Megalopolis Saxophone Orchestra.

What will be your focus for the upcoming camp season? 
This summer, Saxophone class will focus on team activities, including saxophone quartets and ensembles, as well as discussions of the saxophone repertoire and its rich history.    
 

Oboe

Cat Cantrell

Oboist and English Hornist Cat Cantrell is a nomadic musician who performs regularly across the US. In addition to her tenured position as 3rd Oboe and English horn for the Tucson Symphony, she performs around the world at various Festivals; with organizations including the Bergen Symphony, New Amsterdam Opera, the Sarasota Orchestra, and the New York Philharmonic as well as on movie soundtracks and even on “America’s Got Talent.”  Earlier in her career, as a Britten-Pears Young Artist , she travelled to the UK to work with esteemed conductors including Semyon Bychkov, Oliver Knussen, and Mark Wigglesworth on concerts for the Aldeburgh and Edinburgh Festivals and the BBC Proms.  

Music Assistant

Eder Garcia

Viola

Boris Deviatov

Boris Deviatov earned his Master’s and Doctorate of Music in the Ukraine. A member of the Leontovich String Quartet, Boris has appeared in the major concert halls of North America and Europe. As well, he is a winner of several competitions, both as a violist and conductor.

Artistic Advisor

Adam Glaser

Music Librarian

Evan Seickel

Discovery Chorus / Junior Chorus

Cyndi Feinman

Cyndi Feinman has been teaching music in the Roslyn Public Schools for over 12 years. In addition to leading chorus in the district’s Middle School, she directs the Spotlight musical. Currently, Cyndi is the chairperson for Division V All-County Mixed Chorus, and a co-chair for the NY/ACDA (American Choral Directors Association) Middle School Division. She also adjudicates NYSSMA Levels One through Six during NYSSMA season. Her greatest goal is to bring the joy of music— particularly vocal skills and choral music— to a new generation. She has received Orff levels from Trevor Day School and Hofstra University and Kodaly levels through the Hartt School of Music in Connecticut. Her studies also include “Music and the Brain training” and World Drumming Level I.
 

Why did you choose to work at Usdan? 
I believe in the mission and I believe that students should have a place they feel safe to experiment with things they love. 

Guitar

Jacinta Clusellas

Jacinta Clusellas is a guitarist, composer, and arranger originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is currently composing and arranging the music for “Azul Otra Vez” - a Spanish language folkloric musical based on Ruben Darío’s works. A graduate of the Berklee School of Music, Jacinta is a Teaching Artist at the New York Philharmonic and a participating member at the Carnegie Hall Music Educators Workshop. Her debut album “El Pájaro Azul" was recently released at the Consulate of Argentina in NYC.

Do you have any career news or events coming up? 
I have been awarded with a residency at Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts for this summer.    

Senior Orchestra Conductor

Nell Flanders

Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Assistant

Amram Svay

Low Brass

Jeremy Morrow

Jazz Ensemble Director

Sam Dillon

Art

Sculpture/ Cosplay

Chris Vivas

Chris Vivas returns to Usdan for the ninth year this summer. He was selected for artist residencies throughout the world, including The Shigaraki Ceramic Cultural Park in Japan; the Museum of Arts and Design in New York City, AIR Vallauris in France, and Babayan Culture House in Turkey. And, his ceramic sculptures have been exhibited throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. In addition to Usdan, Chris teaches at St. Joseph’s College and Suffolk County Community College.

What will be your focus for the upcoming camp season? 
Working with students to develop their own creations; spark their creativity; and offer challenging projects and puzzles tengage their minds as well as bolster their skill sets.    

Metalsmithing

Dana Neger-Lagos

Dana Neger-Lagos is a Master Model Maker, Jeweler, and Sculptor who has been teaching at Usdan for the past six years. For the first 14 years of her career, she designed and manufactured for the commercial jewelry industry. Designing and creating jewelry, belt buckles and accessories for companies such as Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Nautica, Calvin Klein, Wathne Ltd., QVC, Susan Lucci, Jeffery Stevens, and many more. She is a working artist in Smithtown, New York and, for the past five years she has been teaching at the Art League of Long Island; Plainview Old Bethpage School District; and Long Island Libraries Adult Education Program. Her artwork can be seen at East End Arts Council, South Hampton Cultural Center, West Hampton Beach, South Hampton Beach, Gallery North, Art League of L.I.,Sachem Public Library, Sweetbriar Nature Center and the Johnny Coltrane Jazz Festival.  She has a BFA in Jewelry Design and Silversmithing from Parsons School of Design in New York City.

What’s the most unusual or interesting part of the teaching process? 
The most interesting part of the teaching process are the children and their interpretation of a project. I can teach 15 students the same technique and get 15 different and wonderful versions of that technique.

Art Assistant

Melanie Berardicelli

discovery art, painting

Deirdra Hazeley

Sewing And Fashion Production

Bailey Whitney

Painting

Anna Vila

Comic Art, Painting and Drawing

Laura Lannes

Originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Laura Lannes is an award-winning illustrator and cartoonist living in New York City.  She graduated in 2015 from the School of Visual Arts, where she studied Illustration. Laura balances commercial work and passion projects including two comic books coming out in 2018: in the fall; one in the U.S., by publisher Retrofit Comics; one in Brazil, by Companhia das Letras.    

What are you most excited about for this coming summer season? 
I can’t wait to meet all the campers and learn about each of their particular interests and artistic leanings! 

Painting And Drawing

Sibel Selimler

Filmmaking

Juliana Paciulli

Art Assistant

Jordan Williams

Architecture, Designing with Minecraft

Oliver Valle

Drawing and Painting, Discovery

Lauren Ruiz

Lauren Ruiz is a research-based multimedia artist addressing ecological contamination and the corrosive effects of human activity. Her research currently focuses on the amount of artificial plastics that exist within the human body at a cellular level, and on water scarcity and its relation to the civil unrest.  She received a Bachelor of Science in Fine Art and Film Production at Hofstra University in 2012 and is currently pursuing her Masters of Fine Arts at Stony Brook University. As well, she currently teaches beginning drawing at Stony Brook University.

What other departments are you most excited to collaborate with? 
I would be excited to work with the Nature team and possibly bring in some projects that look at the environment or recycling, as part of a more social practice project with the students.

Art Assistant

Emily Kehrli

Ceramics

Cristalina DeNicola

Artist/Educator Cristalina Denicola is a high school art teacher in the Brentwood Union Free School District.  A Usdan alumna and graduate of Pratt Institute, Cristalina is sculptor specializing in ceramics. She enjoys working and building with her hands, believing that there’s something beautiful about creating work that starts from flat 2D static nothing and transforms into a 3D artwork that shows movement. 
 
Why did you choose to work at Usdan? 
Attending Usdan as a child inspired me to become an artist/teacher, and I wanted to give my students a similar positive experience.

Photography

Em Rooney

Sculpture

Reuben Lorch-Miller

Reuben Lorch-Miller is a multi-disciplinary artist with an MFA in New Genres from San Francisco State University. He approaches his work from a perspective of curiosity and experimentation, understanding that meaning is often found within the process of doing. For the past five years, he has been an active teaching artist with the Guggenheim Museum’s ‘Learning Through Art“ program; The Studio Museum in Harlem; the New York City Public Schools though “Studio in a School”; Eckford Street Studio; and Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts. He has also been a visiting artist and lecturer at Illinois State University (Normal); Rhode Island School of Design; Stanford University; San Francisco Art Institute; and Pratt Institute. Reuben has participated in multiple artist residencies and exhibited widely both nationally and internationally.    

What’s your most vivid/favorite memory of Usdan? 
Walking from the parking lot to the studio in the morning: The environment and the quiet...the birds and trees...also parading around the art area with our 10-foot tall collaborative puppet. 

Comic Arts

Melanie Jackson

Sewing And Fashion Production

Sonya Korder

Usdan alumna and freelance fashion designer Sonya Korder is the founding teaching artist of Usdan’s Sewing & Fashion Design program.  Over the past few years, she and her team have focused on applying real-life industry skills to educational.

Why did you choose to work at Usdan? 
As a student, Usdan provided a nurturing and accepting environment where I was able to pursue my interest in the arts. I chose to return to Usdan's Art Department to be able to recreate those special summer memories with the next generation of artists and learners. It has been exciting to grow with Usdan!

Photography

Jacklyn Eggleton

Painting & Drawing

Tom Brydelsky

Tom Brydelsky in an artist living and working in New York. His mixed-media encaustic pieces have appeared in numerous publications and televised features on art and home décor, as well as in group and solo exhibitions and many prominent public and private collections. Tom is also a seasoned museum educator and has served at many notable New York intuitions including The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; The Queens Museum of Art; The Hecksher Museum of Art; and the Parrish Art Museum. 

Have you won any accolades/awards in your creative profession?  
I’m recently received the Pollock-Krasner Award grant  -- a great honor.

Animation, Experimental Animation

Christine Roepken

Painting, Ceramics

Jodie Embleton

Art Assistant

Danielle Rubin

Chair, Art Department

Saul Chernick

Art Assistant

Elizabeth Rus

Painting & Drawing

Annie Ewaskio

Annie Ewaskio is a Teaching Artist at Studio in a School and Abrons Arts Center.  She has participated in solo and group shows at galleries across the United States, including Elijah Wheat, GP Presents, A.I.R., and Underdonk (New York); Zolla/Lieberman (Chicago); Texas Christian University (Fort Worth); and Current (Baltimore). Her work has appeared in publications including The Brooklyn Rail, The New Yorker, and New American Paintings. Annie is the recipient of two Kossak Painting grants; the Jerome Foundation Travel & Study grant,; and the William and Dorothy Yeck award from Miami University. Her residencies include The Arctic Circle Program and the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, NE. She has an MFA in Painting from Hunter College, and lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.

What are you proudest of in your career? 
Getting funding to go to the Arctic for research, and going to Bemis as a resident artist.
 

Art Department Coordinator

Jodie Embelton

Photography

Julia Forrest

Usdan alumna and Brooklyn-based artist Julia Forrest works strictly with film and prints and primarily in a darkroom she built within her apartment. She currently works as a teaching artist at the Brooklyn Museum; Medgar Evers College; Usdan Summer Camp for the Arts; and Lehigh University. Her career includes time spent as Photography Assistant to William Wegman and as a Photography Instructor at institutions including Lehigh University, Elders Share the Arts, Neward Museum and Medgar Evers College. 

Why did you choose to work at Usdan? 
I learned everything about photography as a child there. They played a big part in my artistic career!    

Lego Design

Kelly Schulte-Smith

Kelly Schulte-Smith has been an artist from the time she was quite young — always dreaming, exploring, solving and testing different art forms.  A graduate of FIT with an Interior Design focus, she works across myriad media including crochet, bead weaving, wire weaving, resin, polymer clay, fused glass art, stained glass and mosaic art.  Kelly is a member of the Art League of LI, SAMA, as well as LI Craft Guild.

What will be your focus for the upcoming camp season? 
Mixing art with science working with Legos.
 

Painting

Krista Biedenbach

A practicing artist and educator, Krista Biedenback’s passion has always been drawing and painting. She currently teaches drawing, sculpture and studio art courses at Hicksville High School and produces large-scale mixed media drawings and paintings out of her studio in Port Jefferson, NY. Krista’s past experience includes coordinating exhibitions for galleries in Manhattan and on Long Island, as well as serving as the Assistant to the Director of the Pollock-Krasner house in East Hampton. She is thrilled to be returning to Usdan this season for another summer of art exploration and growth with her students.    

Why did you choose to work at Usdan? 
Usdan is a magical place. From the beautiful surroundings to the enthusiastic students, it is a place for all to grow and learn from each other in the arts.

Painting & Drawing

Courtney Surmanek

A multidisciplinary artist and organizer, Courtney Surmanek creates installation artworks,performance-poetry, and community-based initiatives exploring law, trauma, public space, gender, and sexuality. They are currently a Fellow of the Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics’ EMERGENYC program and The Performance Project at University Settlement. They received a BFA in Studio Art and Arts Politics from New York University, focusing on the arts as a tool for social change, and have participated in art residencies with The Art & Law Program at Cornell University, the Center for Artistic Activism, and Gibney Dance’s Institute for Community Action. In addition to having a robust teaching background they have exhibited work, performed, and organized events in venues across New York, including the Bowery Poetry Club, Islip Art Museum, Judson Memorial Church, The Knockdown Arts Center, the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, the Living Gallery BK, the Lowline Lab, and Theaterlab. 

Why did you choose to work at Usdan? 
I am excited to work with youth at Usdan to continue my work closing the opportunity gap, instilling creative exploration and risk-taking in the youth I work with. 

Painting

Caitlin MacBride

Bookmaking, Sculpture that Moves

Sharela Bonfield

2D Open studio, painting

Kimi Mongello

discovery art, painting

susan conte

Chess

Chess

Brian Karen

Brian Karen is ranked within the top three percent of tournament chess players by the United States Chess Federation (USCF) and Federation Internationale Des Échecs (FIDE). Brian has had to demonstrate exceptional instincts at motivating, relating to, and teaching children chess. He has been the co-director of the acclaimed USDAN Chess program since 1997 and is coach at the three time Long Island Chess Champion Friends Academy as well as director of chess programs for the Roslyn School District, The Long Island School for the Gifted, and The St. Patrick chess program.

What other departments are you most excited to collaborate with? 
I have a bond with the archery department as many of the chess children take archery and the instructor Joe was one of my students when I started at Usdan.

Chess

Joel Salman

One of Long Island’s top 10 players, Joel Salman is a professional Chess Master who has been teaching chess to children in schools and libraries on a full time basis since 1994. The Long Island native joined the faculty of Usdan in 2003, where he co-chairs the Chess Department.

What are you most excited about this summer?

To have another opportunity to help established players improve their games, and the chance to introduce new students to the wonderful world of Chess.

Chess Assistant

Robert Spahn

Chess Assistant

Joe Beganskas

Creative Writing

Creative Writing

Sarah Gerard

Creative Writing

David Surface

Dance

Tap

Jessica Azenberg

Born and raised in New York City, Jessica Azenberg made her professional debut on ABC’s One Life to Live as “Baby Jessica.” A serious ballet student growing up, she trained at the School of American Ballet, Manhattan Youth Ballet, Ballet Academy East, Miami City Ballet and the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. She attended high school at the Professional Children’s School and received a B.F.A. in Dance from The Boston Conservatory. Since graduating college, Jessica has worked at many theaters around the country. Some of her favorite theatre credits include Spamalot (Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Geva Theatre), Hello! My Baby (Goodspeed Musicals), A Christmas Carol: The Musical (Pioneer Theatre Company), Hello, Dolly! (Cape Playhouse) and Thoroughly Modern Millie(Ogunquit Playhouse). In addition to performing, Jessica is a passionate dance instructor and currently teaches at Shuffles Broadway Tap and Musical Theatre School and Dance With Miss Rachel in New York City.    

Did you yourself attend Usdan?  
I attended USDAN when I was 8 and 9yrs old. My major was ballet and my minor was Tap. I actually started Tap Dancing at USDAN!

Broadway Jazz, West African Dance

Nia Lancelin

Ballet

Rachel Mazur

Dance Department Chair

Juliana May

Dance

Xan Burley + Alex Springer

Xan Burley + Alex Springer have been collaborating as performers, choreographers, teachers, and arts administrators since 2008. Their work has been presented by Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out; Center for Performance Research; Danspace Project’s DraftWork series; Movement Research at the Judson Church; Brooklyn Arts Exchange; DanceNOW Joe’s Pub Festival; and the 92Y, among others, and will be presented at the American Dance Festival this June. The dup were members of Doug Varone and Dancers until 2017 and have performed extensively with other artists in NYC and elsewhere. They have taught classes and created work for many university dance departments, youth programs, and professional companies, most recently for Zenon Dance Company in Minneapolis, MN, and were guest faculty at Purchase College from 2014-2017. In addition, Xan was on faculty as the teen modern instructor at the 92Y from 2011-15 and has held teaching positions at BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Cora Dance, Pave Academy, and Poly Prep Performing Arts Camp. Alex taught for the 92Y Summer Teen Intensive in 2011 and was on faculty at Bates Dance Festival in 2013 and 2016. Both teach frequently in the city at Gibney. They were honored to receive the 2015 Emerging Artist Award from their alma mater, the University of Michigan. This spring, the two are  teaching as Artists-in-Residence at the University of Maryland and caring for their baby boy, Jasper.

Why did you choose to work at Usdan? 
Summer programs were some of the most formative experiences for us. We look forward to sharing our love of dance with the future generation.

Dance/Choreography

Brian Brooks

Brian Brooks is a talented dancer, teacher and choreographer who founded and leads an eponymous dance troupe in New York City. He has created dances for Eliot Feld’s Ballet Tech, The Juilliard School, Boston Conservatory, The School at Jacob’s Pillow, Harvard University, and many others. Beyond his company, he has choreographed off-Broadway Shakespeare productions for Theatre for a New Audience including A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2013), directed by Julie Taymor, and Pericles (2016), directed by Trevor Nunn.  As well, Brian dedicated 12 years as a Teaching Artist at Lincoln Center Institute for the Arts in Education and has been on part-time faculty at Rutgers University and Princeton University. 

What other departments are you most excited to collaborate with? 
Any! All! My next research project will explore the intersection of dance and virtual reality – I love expanding my knowledge base and integrating my work with other disciplines.

Choreographer - Choreographic Institute

Angela Pittman

Dance

Diana Crum

Diana Crum is a Brooklyn-based choreographer, dancer, teacher, administrator and advocate. She has made site-specific work, commissioned by loveDANCEmore (Salt Lake City) and chashama (NYC). Diana has created platforms for multi-generational collaborative performance events, including On a Sunday Afternoon, (2016, Drew University) and AUNTS, nieces, nephews and grandparents (2014, Abrons Art Center). Currently, she serves as Movement Research Dance Makers in the Schools Program Director, and also works with organizations such as 92Y, Brooklyn Arts Council, and Brooklyn Arts Exchange as a teaching artist in NYC preK-12 schools. She has taught as Visiting Artist/Adjunct Faculty at Washington & Lee University (VA), University of the Arts (PA) & Hollins University (VA), among others.

What’s the most unusual or interesting part of the teaching process? 
The best part is getting to know the students.     
     

Costumer

Barbara Morse

Hip Hop

Jacqueline Selesky

A native of Long Island, Artist/educator Jacqueline Selesky was introduced to dance at Diversity School of Dance at the tender age of seven. Jacqueline is now with the elite Bloc Agency and has performed with Rita Ora on Live with Kelly; Good Morning America with Demi Lovato, and The Jimmy Fallon Tonight Show with Cardi B and G-Easy. She has also performed choreographed pieces by Bill T. Jones, Martha Graham, Jose Limon, and Frederick Earl Mosley, and was the lead soloist in Martha Graham's Daughters of the Night, Night Journey (Joyce Theatre, NYC). Jacqueline is in her third season with Asha Dance Company. She was privileged to travel to Steamboat, Colorado for a residency with the Antonio Brown Dance Company at the exclusive Perry Mansfield. She was the lead actress in The Truth Urban Theatre Group’s production of VIVA AFRICA, and has appeared in an Ultimate Ears Speakers commercial, Nutrafol Hair Care commercial, and Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It Netflix series. She was also a model and dancer with Mac Cosmetics. Immediately following graduation from Montclair University, Jacqueline was afforded the opportunity to teach in the Orange Public School District in New Jersey as a K-12 Dance Teacher. 
 
Who inspires you/who do you admire in the industry? 

I admire all of the choreographers I have worked with and aspire to work with in the industry as well as all the struggling artists that are grinding right along side me to be the best version of themselves.

Dance Ensemble, Dance Adventure

Gentry George

Dancer/choreographer Gentry George began his artistic studies at age eight with the Founder of The Community Book and Dance Academy Linda Agyapong. He went on to graduate from New World School of the Arts in 2008 and graduate from Juilliard in 2012.  A former Dance Artist for the Dance Theatre of Harlem, and Ailey II, Gentry is currently a Guest Artist at Randolph College; Central Connecticut State University; and Newark Arts High.  He also teaches Ballet and choreographs for the youth ensemble both at the Dance Project of Washington Heights. Gentry received a Level 1 ARTS award, given by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, and is featured on HBO’s “Masterclass.” He has presented work throughout New York, New Jersey, and Florida including NYC’s SummerStage; Dixon Place; HarlemStage Gatehouse Theater; The Wassaic Project; Jamaica Center for the Arts and Learning; Madiba Harlem; and Fort Tryon Park, among others.

Discovery

Counselor

Alana Weisenberg

Counselor

Christine Dookie

Counselor

Jake Lorefice

Discovery department Chair

Megan Marino

Counselor

Kayla McLaughlin

Counselor

Megan Sadlon

Counselor

Kayleigh Junz

Counselor

Melissa Barnett

Counselor

Kennedy Burgess

Counselor

Meryl Dickstein

Counselor

Kirsten Schmidt

Counselor

Patrick Wrynn

Counselor

Lauren Neimann

Counselor

Peter Downey

Counselor

Liz Jeffrey

Counselor

Madeline Mirenda

Nature

Lead Teacher - Organic Gardening

Dawn Cleary

Lead Teacher - Sustainable Art

Andre Feliciano

Lead Teacher - Nature, Ecology & Design

Steve Finkelstein

Steve Finkelstein has been teaching biology and AP environmental science at the Wheatley School in Old Westbury for the last 30 years. In that role, he participated in the Environmental Action Committee where he lead students to collect and send 3000 bicycles to Africa for sustainable transportation, among other socially conscious activities. He concurrently has been working as freelance percussionist for the last 25 years, earning over 25 album credits, as well as performing nationally and internationally including with touring with Mariah Carey, Mary Wilson of the Supremes, Grammy award-winning Latin jazz flute player Dave Vallentine, Selena, and many others He is the Lead Music Ambassador for the Friends of the Coltrane Home and a founding member of the Funk Filharmonik.  His career includes working for a dozen years as a national park ranger, resident naturalist, environmental education and interpretive design consultant, and environmental arts education specialist   
 
What are you proudest of in your career? 

Helping learners see the connections between their lives and the lives of the rest of the people, and we’re going to since we share the plan with, mixing art and science, Inspiring learners to use their heads, hearts, and hands to explore the natural world and take action to make a positive difference.
 

Recreational Arts

Yoga

Karine Falleni

Artist and yogi Karine Falleni has been practicing yoga for 20 years and instructing for 13. She has taught for Canyon Ranch and Miraval Resort in Tucson, AZ in addition to Charter schools, community outreach programs and local studios. Karine has done extensive trainings in yoga therapy, prenatal and Anusara. She has taught a wide range of classes including meditation, restoratives, and breathing, in addition to all levels of alignment based Hatha. She is passionate about bringing yoga outside of the traditional studio and making it accessible to all.    

What are you proudest of in your career? 
I'm just grateful to lead a life that allows me to pursue what I love.

Lead Teacher - games, hoops and nets

Chris Neimann

Aquatics Teacher

Sean Clark

Lead Teacher - Tennis

David Lake

Lead Teacher - Yoga

Edna Gruvman

Lead Teacher - Tennis

John Shrank

Lead Teacher - archery

Joseph Padro

Lead Teacher - Quidditch

Steve Ficurilli

Games, Hoops & Nets

Karina Aristy

Aquatics Director

Grainne Josaphat

Theater

Musical Theater

Erica Giglio-Pac

Lead Teacher - Tech Shop

Eugene Rossi

Musical Director

Les Dweir

Theater Costumer Assistant

Jenna Caretsky

Musical Director

Jack Kohl

Theater Costumer

Sherry Kfare

Musical Theater Director

James Crichton

A member of Actors’ Equity Association, James is a freelance actor and also serves as the vocal director of Beyond the Stage Studio in Plainview, NY. Previously, James worked as an actor at Woolly Mammoth Theater Company, Shakespeare Theater Company, Pioneer Theater Company, Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival, Prospect Theatre Company, and on the national tour of Peter and the Starcatcher. As a child, he studied Musical Theatre, Jr. Chorus, and Tap at Usdan and credits the camp for introducing him to the many musicals and plays he now cherishes as an adult.

Is this in keeping with your current work outside of camp?
 Yes, my entire life is devoted to the theater and the arts.
 

Theater Scene & Tech

ToniAnne DiFilippo

Musical Theater

Michael Janover

Michael Janover is a Long Island-based Musical Director/Actor/Composer/Arranger who regularly works in the theater as a music director and pit orchestra musician. He is a motivated and outgoing individual with a passion for and a belief that music can heal and connect all people.

Musical Theater Director

Jeffrey Hoffman

Musical Theater

Christopher Drobny

Musical Theater Director

Josh Kant

Musical Theater Director

Jordan Hue

Lemberg Music Troupe Director

Karen Van Houten

Theater Costumer Assistant

Amelis Escalante

Tech Shop - Lead Teacher

Ken Gilbert

Musical Theater Director

Marie Danvers

Musical Director

Brian Sweeney

Lemberg Music Troupe Director

Mike Schwendemann

Musical Director

Carol Prisamt

Carol Prisamt has been directing regional theater on Long Island for over 25 years.  She has worked with local theaters such as Broadhollow Theatre, Studio Theatre and Bayway Arts Center, directing shows including Other People's Money, Steel Magnolias, Breaking Legs, Sylvia, Veronica's Room and The Odd Couple, among many others. In addition, she spent several summers supervising a performing arts program for children and teenagers in the Hudson Valley where she produced and directed multiple musical productions and taught various acting classes. Carol earned her M.A. In English literature and teaches English languages arts.

What’s your most vivid memory of Usdan? 
My most vivid memory of working at Usdan was during the curtain call my Theatre Adventure students took after their performance of Junie B. Jones. The look of pride on their faces brought me to tears and is a moment I will always hold dear.

Tech Shop

Philip Charles Jordan

Musical Theater Director

Richard Bassin

Musical Theater Director

Carolyn Popadin

Musical Theater Director

Rob Gallagher

Actor/instructor Rob hails from St. Louis, MO, and first studied music and theater at the renowned Indiana University School of Music. After moving to New York in 1995, he starred as Javert in the Broadway production of Les Miserables, and also appeared in the role of Emile Debeque in the Broadway revival of South Pacific. He is currently adjunct professor of voice at Long Island University and Five Towns College.

What will be your focus for the upcoming camp season? 
Creating a fun and rewarding performance experience for the students.    
 

Chair, Theater Arts

James Incorvaia

Jim Invorvaia is a high school AP English and Theater teacher returning to Usdan for his 27th year.  A Long Island native, Jim lives in Westbury and leads the charge for Usdan’s Theater Department, planning, scheduling, and producing the Camp’s annual 35-day, 11-show season for 300-plus theater students.

What are you most excited about for this coming summer season?  
The whole season.

Lead Teacher - Tech Shop

Charles Kirby

Theater Scene & Tech

Dan Sussman

Tech Shop

Tonianne DiFilippo

Theater Scene & Tech

Phillip Jordan

Musical Director

Christina Pawl

Christina Pawl is a dancer, singer, and actor whose credits include performing in the Tony Award-winning production of CABARET, Meet Me In St. Louis, and the revival of South Pacific. As well, she has taught jazz dance at Broadway Dance Center, “Beginnings” workshops; Main Street Theatre; and Dance Alliance Roosevelt Island.

What's the most unusual or interesting part of the teaching process? 
That the students teach me as much as I teach them/being open to that. I love the discoveries that happen along the way.

 

Musical Theater Director

Warren Bloom

Musical Theater

James Beneduce

Lead Teacher - Tech Shop

Debra Warlan