Molly discovered her love of movement at an early age. She began her dance training when she was three, in a West African dance class in rural Wendell, Massachusetts. By the age of seven she was enrolled at the Gervais School of Performing Arts where she studied tap, jazz, ballet, and hip-hop. When Molly was thirteen, she discovered modern dance, and fell in love. Molly went on to dance and perform with the Amherst Ballet and Theater Company, where she remained until High School graduation in 2007, studying ballet, jazz, and modern intensively. Molly also attended the Bates College Dance Festival for summer intensives for three consecutive years, where she had the opportunity to study with master teachers such as Shonach Mirk-Robles, Martha Tornay, and Michael Foley in the styles of ballet, modern, jazz, improvisation, contemporary, and Caribbean dance. Molly attended Concordia University in Montreal where she majored in Contemporary Dance with a specialization in choreography, at the culmination of which she completed a B.F.A. thesis project on healing and preventing dance injuries. At the conclusion of her degree program at Concordia, Molly traveled in Europe for several months, where she walked the Camino Pilgrimage Trail nearly one thousand miles from the South of France to the coast of Northern Spain. Upon her return from Europe, Molly began teaching dance and conditioning classes back at home in Western Mass. Molly has worked as a personal trainer and taught many styles of fitness classes in addition to her work as a dance and yoga instructor. She is an Embodyoga 500 hour certified teacher, and is currently a candidate in Goddard College’s M.F.A. degree program in Interdisciplinary Arts, for the class of 2017. Molly has staged four full-length works of contemporary dance for the Amherst Ballet Theatre Company from 2013 – 2017. Her recent performance piece about religious intolerance, Parallax, received funding through the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and was performed at the Shea Theater Arts Center in April 2017. Molly now works as the Artistic Director of Amherst Ballet in Amherst, Massachusetts, where she continues to choreograph and produce work for the company and as an independent artist.
Liesl Swogger Upper School Instructor
Liesl Swogger grew up in Hanover, NH where she began dancing with Vicki and Pepe DeChiazza. She received her pre-professional training at Elmhurst Ballet School in England, and subsequently danced with Boston Dance Company, training there with James Reardon. While living in Boston she also had the wonderful opportunity to perform with Boston Ballet as a supernumerary in several productions including Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote. Over the years she has had the privilege of taking master classes with many artists – mostly memorably Dwight Rhoden of Complexions, and Mathew Rushing of Alvin Ailey. Her teaching career also began in Boston where she taught at Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre, Acton-Boxborough Dance Center, and several other area schools. After moving to the DC Area in 2006, she taught at Ballet Nova Center for Dance and Metropolitan Fine Arts Center. Liesl is an American Ballet Theater Certified Teacher, having successfully completed the ABT® National Training Curriculum for Primary through Level 5. She has degrees in Political Science and Graphic Design, and an MA in English Literature. In her non-dancing life she is a writer and graphic designer.
Hannah Kennedy Upper School Instructor
Hannah grew up in Hadley, MA and began training at East Street Ballet with Charlotte Doyle and Noble Barker. She continued her training at the Academy of Ballet Arts with Katherine Bervera. She returned to East Street Ballet with Director Barbara Kauff when beginning high school. While at East Street Ballet, she trained in the Vaganova method with Irina Vakhromeeva, Carlos Molina, and Donna Bonasera. She has attended summer ballet intensives at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and Syracuse University. Hannah has performed many lead roles from ballets including,The Nutcracker, Corsaire, Swan Lake, La Bayadere, Esmeralda, Sleeping Beauty, and The Magic Flute. Hannah is currently an honors student at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst studying Hospitality and Tourism Management. While at college, Hannah has taken classes and performed at UMass, Smith College, East Street Ballet, and Amherst Ballet. She enjoyed substitute teaching this past year at Amherst Ballet and is excited to continue teaching in the upcoming school year!
Maggie Buettner Lower School Instructor
Maggie Buettner has been part of the dance world since she was born. Growing up, her mother was her ballet teacher, which instilled a love of movement at a very young age. She grew up in Brattleboro, Vermont, dancing at the local studios in town. In addition to studying ballet, she has trained in modern,jazz , lyrical, tap, hip-hop, improvisation and composition. When the opportunity arose, at age sixteen, to add teaching to her resume, she jumped at the chance. She was hired as the ballet teacher at her home studio. In addition to teaching classes, this position included choreographing pieces for her students. Over these last four years she has taught and choreographed regularly for many studios both in her home state of Vermont and across the Pioneer Valley. Maggie has never stopped pursuing her dreams to be a professional dancer, choreographer, and teacher. She will be a junior at UMass Amherst this fall, pursuing a B.F.A. in Dance, while also working towards a B.S. in Public Health. Maggie is so excited to be part of the ever changing dance world, and to be able to share this excitement with her students. Nothing has been as rewarding for her as being able to pass along her love of movement to the next era of dancers.
Anna Stanforth Creative Movement Instructor
Anna Stanforth has been dancing since the age of 4 when she took classes with Charlotte Doyle at East Street Ballet. There she fell in love with expressing herself through movement. At age 7 she started her serious ballet training at Amherst Ballet, studying with Catherine Fair and later Sueann Townsend. Last year her ballet training came full circle when she worked with Molly Stamell in the Creative Movement program at Amherst Ballet. This time the joy came from teaching. Anna has worked with children these past several years during the summer, including teaching an English class at an elementary school in Peru. This summer she has been in Cuenca, Ecuador, helping at a circus camp, an experience that amplified her excitement for teaching her own Creative Movement class this year!
Josh Pearson Business Director
Josh Pearson graduated from Long Island University with a B.F.A. in acting. He continues to perform both nationally and internationally and loves every minute of it. He has worked for the American University in Cairo and the Financial Times, giving him a wide range of experience that he brings to Amherst Ballet. Josh has a wife who grew up dancing in Western Mass and a young son that makes him laugh every day.
Brandon Iles Front Desk Coordinator
Brandon Iles is a second-year graduate student at UMass Amherst earning a master’s degree in Applied Mathematics. Alongside his studies, Brandon enjoys exercising, listening to a wide variety of music, playing guitar, and computer programming. An Amherst, MA native, Brandon was just 3-years old when he began training gymnastics at Hampshire Gymnastics before moving to Hudson, MA to become a level 10 nationally competitive gymnast at the New England Academy of Gymnastics. After he graduates in May 2018, Brandon hopes to enter the field of data science. Feel free to visit Brandon’s website to find out a little more about him and to watch some of his gymnastics footage! http://brandoniles-com.stackstaging.com/aboutMe.php