Teaching Staff Profiles
Melisa Clark is a dancer, choreographer and educator based in Philadelphia, PA. She is co-founder and artistic director of PIMA Group, a non-profit dance and music performance company founded in 2001 (www.pimagroup.org). She has studied Brain-Compatible Dance Education with Anne Green Gilbert and the Kestenberg Movement Profile with Suzanne Hastie. Melisa is a certified yoga instructor through the Yoga Alliance and Child Light Yoga. As a movement educator, she has over 15 years of experience teaching students of all ages and levels. She taught as full-time dance instructor at the Chester Upland School of the Arts where she developed and implemented an arts-integrated dance program for grades Pre-K through 5th grade. She recently earned her MFA Degree in Dance/Choreography at Temple University. As the mother of a lively and vivacious two-year old, Melisa is excited to share the love of dance and creativity that brings so much joy to young movers!
Jimmy Clark - My work is almost exclusively pinched, which is to say I form each piece out of a single lump of clay, one of the earliest methods used to make pottery. I coat most of them with terra sigilatte, a shiny slip dating back to the ancient Greeks and fire them in a sawdust or pit-fire, which blackens them in unpredictable ways. My form inspirations are ancient pottery of all kinds, particularly pre-Columbian Latin America but also China, Eygpt, and more recently Greece. My approach to working with clay is in cooperation with the material where I attempt to “listen to the clay”. That is to allow the clay and the environment to help determine the ultimate size and form. This passive or intuitive method is complimented by firings that defy ultimate control. I consider myself but one of three integral components in the creation of a piece: maker, material and fire.
Jimmy Clark was Executive Director of the Clay Studio in Philadelphia for over 16 years. He also served as director of Peters Valley Craft Center in New Jersey. He has curated and juried numerous exhibitions including: Contemporary East European Ceramics 1992, Ceramics Israel 1995, and Cerámica Puertorriqueña Hoy/Today 1998. He was the US representative on the jury of the Ceramics Monthly International Competition in 1999.
He is a widely recognized ceramic artist and has written, and been featured in numerous articles in Ceramics Monthly, Studio Potter, and American Craft as well as many publications abroad. He has exhibited and taught workshops all over the world including: China, Germany, Curacao, Switzerland, Canada, Puerto Rico, Anguilla and of course throughout the US.
Jean E. Johnson has been in music for over thirty years. She studied privately under several esteemed instructors. Ms. Johnson has been a member of various choirs and ensembles, touring the US and Canada both as a member and soloist. Recently, she was a vocal coach for The Gate Called Straight, directed by Broadway Star and Grammy winner Stephanie Mills and composed by three time Emmy winner Bill Jolly.
Marcia Jones - This 2010 season, Marcia's paintings were exhibited in Lancaster, PA at the Pennsylvania College of Art and in Philadelphia, at the Annenberg Conference Center for Medical Education as part of a symposium mounted by the Arts&Spirituality Center, entitled "Am I My Brother's Keeper?" Marcia also mounted an outdoor exhibition of her student's work at Ned Wolf Park in Mt Airy. Marcia has taught and exhibited in and around Philadelphia for 25 years. She earned her MFA at Tyler's Rome Campus, and continued her affiliation with Tyler as faculty in Foundation Courses for 11 years. She resides in Mt Airy with her husband and paints in her home studio.
Peggy Leiby is a director and founding member of FiddleKicks, a percussive performance group based in Philadelphia since 1996. She has taught Appalachian clogging in the Philadelphia region since 1998. www.fiddlekicks.com
Rhonda Moore is a dancer, performance artist, educator and a founding member of the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. Moore has danced with Jamie Cunningham’s ACME Dance Company and began her dance career with intensive training in Dunham technique, performing with the Akosua Afro-Haitian Dance & Drum Troupe. Currently a teaching artist for the award winning Pierre Dulaine’s Dancing Classrooms Program, Moore previously served as Choral Director for the Singing City-in-the-Schools Program. Moore’s extensive international and domestic portfolios include conducting professional sound and movement workshops; creating site-specific interdisciplinary installations that integrate sound, movement and visual art through shared experience collaborative elaboration; teacher-specific professional development laboratories geared to generate curriculum development with a focused, integral inclusion of visual art, design, movement; and music and vocal concerts as jazz soloist in small combos as well as with chamber and full orchestral formations. She holds a BFA from SUNY Purchase, a diploma in classical piano performance from Hoff-Barthelson Music School in Scarsdale, NY. and full, permanent certification in Italian as a second language, conferred by the University of Sienna, Italy. Ms. Moore serves as adjunct professor, dance faculty at Boyer College of Music and Dance, teaching a variety of courses spanning from dance composition to the study of the development of jazz music and dance in the United States.
Janice Strawder received her MFA in Ceramics from Louisiana State University, and her BFA from Wichita State University, KS. She spent three years as Artist-in-Residence at the Florida Gulf Coast Art Center in Bellaire, Florida, then moved to Philadelphia in 1994 for an Artist Residency at The Clay Studio where she continues to teach. Janice has been instrumental in bringing national ceramic exhibits to the greater Philadelphia area, and has worked as curator and special projects coordinator for several national ceramic exhibitions and conferences. Most recently, Janice opened Manayunk Pottery, in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia where she produces her own work, and is developing a line of “Manayunk Pottery”.
Mariangela Saavedra has been working in Theater for 27 years, in cities across the country such as, Chicago, Washington DC, Wilmington North Carolina and Philadelphia, just to name a few. She is currently the Artistic Director and Founder of local Mt Airy Film and Theater Company- Casabuena Cultural Productions that produces plays and films with youth performers and professionals through out the year. Before that she was the Founder and Artistic Director of The Starving Artists Theatre Ensemble in Wilmington,and The Storytellers Theatre Company in Chicago. She has worked for the Tony Award winning Victory Gardens Theater, The Kimmel Center and was the Director of Drama and Voice at Cape Fear School of the Arts in Wilmington. She has always loved working with creative youth. This summer she also taught improv and scene study workshops to young performers in Old City at the Old Pine Community Center. www.casabuenacp.com
Timothy Yue has been tap dancing since 1987. He has studied tap with LaVaughn Robinson and Tabla (Indian classical drumming) with K. Prashant. He is a dancer and choreographer for Tap Team Two and Company, and has performed “Hoofing in America” at schools in seven states.