The highly skilled, qualified and dedicated faculty at Arts in Action is passionate about equipping students with skills of excellence in the arts. The formidable faculty brings the arts to life in a safe and nurturing environment. Every teacher is committed to help each student discover and develop their God given talents to their highest potential through structured, disciplined and comprehensive education with Christian influence.
Arts in Action’s Founder and CEO, Masterpiece Dance, Faculty & Choreographer
Arts in Action’s Artistic Director Masterpiece Dance Artistic Director Master Ambition Touring Company, Choreographer & Artistic Director
Joni Cantrell has an extensive background in the performing arts and 40 years of teaching experience. Joni is an extraordinary technician who has received numerous “Best Choreographer” and “Top Faculty” awards for her original choreographed works.
Joni has traveled as a judge for national dance competitions and as guest faculty for many dance workshops. She has served on the board of directors for the Pinellas Dance Teachers Association and her memberships have included Professional Dance Teachers Association and Dance Masters of America. Joni founded Suncoast Academy in Florida, Masterpiece Dance Ministries, Urban Stage, Artistic Discovery Camp, and 4th Wall Outreach in West Virginia. Joni was named “Hometown Hero” by WSAZ in 2003 for her ministry through the arts, however, she considers her greatest honors the Masterpiece hugs that she receives from the students daily. She remains passionate and dedicated to making an impact in the lives of children through the arts in the name of Jesus and welcomes students of all walks of life, age, religion, gender, and orientation to Arts in Action.
Pre Ballet-Tap Instructor
Kayleb “Kay” Jones
Dr. Eddie R. Bare
Kylie Collins is a Senior at Hurricane High School. Kylie started dancing at age 6 and is in her 12th year studying ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, and lyrical dance at Arts in Action. Kylie chose to take part in the studio assistant program and has worked her way up from trainee, junior assistant, assistant, intern, and begins teaching pre-ballet and tap this fall. She is in her 4th year with the Master Ambition Performance Company where she has served as co-captain of the group, which performs locally and competes at the state and national level.
Kylie has taken multiple opportunities to study dance with master instructors over the years. When time allows, she is active with the local Young Life group, enjoys Mission Trips and has been a volunteer at her church for many years in children’s church ministry, and has served as a leader for the middle school youth group. On a personal note, Kylie is pretty adventurous, has two sisters and a brother, spends most of her time outside of dance with her friends and church family, and aspires to attend nursing school at Marshall University next fall.
Sara Mick, Director and Faculty of Living Colors Visual Arts Program at Arts in Action WV
Sara brings a great passion to the table when it comes to exploring creativity among children! She graduated from WV State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Art and has found a variety of ways to share her artistic gifts with others. Being a teacher’s aide for Putnam County Schools has given her much joy and experience in helping others. She has greatly enjoyed volunteering at West Teays Elementary, where she taught art club and led several schoolwide projects. Some of her students had the honor of seeing their hard work hanging at the State Capitol and Tamarack! For years, photography has been a favorite medium for Sara, however she also enjoys ceramics, painting and drawing.
Her inspiration comes strongly from the adventures she and her husband have been blessed with while raising their three children here in Hurricane. Of course, their favorite place to be is outdoors. West Virginia’s scenery is a majestic example of God’s own beautiful artwork! Sara is grateful for this opportunity to spread God’s joy and share her creativity with the Arts in Action families!
OUR GUEST FACULTY
Jamie is a Lexington native and began his dance training at a private studio at the age of 10. He was later accepted into the School for Creative and Performing Arts (SCAPA) as a Contemporary Dance major. Throughout middle school and high school he was fortunate to compete for and win several regional titles (Jr, Teen, and Mr. Dance of Ohio) and was crowned “Grand National Champion” through the Dance Masters of America Organization. He was also accepted into the class of 2010 Governor’s School of the Arts program for the discipline od dance.
Jamie continued his dance education through college by attending Western Kentucky University as a Dance Major. During his time there, he was accepted into several summer intensives with companies such as Joffrey Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Dance Theater of Harlem, Inside Chicago Dance, Visceral Dance Chicago, and Deeply Rooted Dance Theater. After graduating, he began choreographing and teaching in Orlando, FL.
While in Florida he earned his certification through Dance Masters of America, and was also given the opportunity to become a judge
for Kids Artistic Review. After two years there, he moved back to his Old Kentucky Home where he has continued to grow as a choreographer and teacher. Jamie’s vision is to bring a new perspective on the importance of foundational technique training.
Sometimes it takes hearing the same correction in a new way for the information to stick. I would also like to share the importance of continued learning, “It’s never too late to learn a new skill, or even re- learn an old one!” Proficient in many genres, Jamie finds joy in teaching all styles of dance. Jamie is excited about teaching at Arts in Action where he is able to share in his faith and love of dance.
Heather Rose Zickefoose
Leah Copley Summers
Leah Copley Summers has taught ballet for the past 30 years. Leah studied with Dr. Mary Marcuzzi, along with many others as she attended pre-professional programs.
Leah graduated Cum Laud with her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Elementary Education at Marshall University in 1991. After receiving her degree, Leah began her career as a ballet teacher, choreographer, and artistic director, with the River Cities Dance Company.
She served as director for thirteen years working with both Marshall University and Shawnee State University to provide arts to the area community. Leah also worked as adjunct faculty at Marshall University and served on the faculty of the WV Governor’s School for the Arts during her time in the Tri-state area.
After moving to Cary, North Carolina Leah continued her career with the Cary Ballet Conservatory for 8 years where she worked as full-time faculty creating original story ballets and concert pieces. Moving to Lexington, KY Leah worked with the Bluegrass Youth Ballet and later became the founding director of the LDF Ballet Academy.
Leah’s greatest achievement has been the success of her students. Leah’s students have gone on to study at prestigious arts school and continued on to careers as professional dancers, teachers and choreographers.
Brienne Wiltsie Keehner
My name is Ella Blackwell and I am a current West Virginia University Dance Major as well as a member of the WVU Hip Hop Dance Team.
I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to perform in the 2019 Ascendance Showcase in Pittsburgh and danced in the opening act of a Kevin Gates Concert in Morgantown, WV.
Currently, I work as an instructor at two local competition studios in Morgantown. My favorite thing in the world is getting to share creative movement in a class environment where we can all learn from each other.
Matt Pardo holds a Masters of Fine Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2016) and an advanced honors B.F.A from the University at Buffalo (2007). He has danced for the Eisenhower Dance Ensemble, Groundworks Dance Theater, RG Dance Projects, and the River North Chicago Dance Company (apprentice). He was recognized as one of the “Top 100 Dancers in the World for 2010-2011”, one of 10 Americans, by Dance Europe Magazine. Pardo is also a proud member of the Actor’s Equity Union.
Teaching and choreographic credits include American Dance Festival, Elon University (assistant professor/Dance History), Shenandoah University (assistant professor/Modern Dance), Skidmore College (Visiting Professor), Broadway Dance Center, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, Centre National de Danse (Paris), Middle Tennessee State University, and Point Park University to name a few.
In 2011, Matt joined the Lucinda Childs Dance Company and spent 8 years touring as a company member and company class-instructor. During this time, he performed and taught for LCDC in more than 20 countries. His opera credits include the world tour of the Olivier award-winning Philip Glass opera Einstein on the Beach and performances with the Pittsburgh Opera in the Daughter of the Regiment, directed and choreographed by Séan Curran.
Pardo is a co-founder of the Pittsburgh-based organization The Blanket, which has been featured in Dance Magazine-online, Departures Magazine (American Express), Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and the US News and World Report, as well as on NPR-WESA shows in Pittsburgh. The Blanket has produced four evening-length productions since it was formed. These evenings of work showcased seminal artist Lucinda Childs as well as Bessie award-winning artists Christopher Williams (2018) and Beth Gill (2019). The Blanket has been funded by The Heinz Endowments, The Pittsburgh Foundation, Opportunity Fund, Arts Equity & Education Fund, PNC Charitable Trust, and The William and Catherine McKinney Charitable Foundation, as well as by private donors. Most recently (October 2021), The Blanket produced a week-long run of Lucinda Childs’ masterpiece DANCE at the Joyce Theater in NYC.
Publications include an article in the Journal of Dance Education exploring how to develop a practice of performance and an insert in the Genius Guide to College Dance Programs by Angela Carter. Pardo is an assistant professor of dance at James Madison University. For more information, please visit matt-pardo.com or theblanket.org