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Meet the Dance Staff

Esther Katz, JCC Director of Performing Arts
Esther was trained at The Professional Children’s School in Philadelphia, PA. She has also studied at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Koresh Dance, University of the Arts, and Temple University where she was on a dance scholarship. Her ballet training includes both the Cecchetti & Vagonova methods. Her modern dance background is in Graham, Anthony, & Horton. Esther was a member of many independent dance companies in Philadelphia. She demonstrated for Philadanco company classes under Pat Thomas and taught ballet and modern dance at The Professional Children’s School for 7 years before moving to Omaha. She previously danced with UNO’s The Moving Company and was a founding member of Tbd. Dance Collective. Esther taught in the OPS Special Ed. Program before starting as the Dance Director at the J in 2006. This is her 15th year teaching at the JCC.  She is this years recipient of the Jody and Neal Malashock Award for Professional Excellence. 

Jessica Westerlin, Assistant Performing Arts Director
Jessica received early dance training in Seattle. She continued with Ballet Omaha, the Omaha Theater Ballet School of Dance and the JCC. Jess has a BA in Dance and has performed with the St. Olaf modern dance company, Companydance, the St. Olaf liturgical dance troupe, Leap of Faith, Omaha Dance Project, and the Omaha Theater Ballet’s The Nutcracker. She previously danced with UNO’s The Moving Company and Tbd. Dance Collective and actively participates in Dance Chance Omaha. This is her 11th year teaching, and her 6th year as the Assistant Cultural Arts Director.

Erin Alarcon, Dance Instructor
Erin Alarcon is beginning her 5th year teaching at the JCC. Erin graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in dance performance from Mercyhurst University under the direction of Tauna Hunter.  Erin was a founding member of Ballet NE, now American Midwest Ballet.

Courtney Baker, Dance Instructor
Courtney Baker got her dance training from the JCC and will be beginning her 11th year teaching here.  She was a founding member of the JCC Dance Training Company.  She holds a Bachelors and Masters degree in Music Education from UNO.

Domanic Brown, Dance Instructor
Domanic Brown is beginning his 5th year as an instructor at the JCC.  He is also the assistant director for South High School’s dance company – La Fuerza.

Leigh Chaves, Dance Instructor
Leigh Chaves is beginning her 4th year as an instructor at the JCC. She holds her BA in communication-journalism from Truman State University and a Master’s Degree in education from University of Central Missouri.  She currently dances with Rugged Soles here in Omaha.

Alyssa Donley (Grimsley), Dance Instructor
Alyssa Donley, an Arkansas native, is beginning her first year as an instructor with the JCC. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a BFA in Ballet Performance summa cum laude. She dances now in her 5th season with American Midwest Ballet (formerly Ballet Nebraska).

Alyssa Hansen, Dance Instructor
Alyssa grew up dancing in Omaha. Once she reached high school, she joined dance team, where she was a captain for two years. She also joined Omaha South High School’s dance program and became a member of La Fuerza Dance Company for 3 years. She has continued her dance education at UNO with a minor in dance while dancing with the UNO Moving Company. She continues to attend classes to challenge herself just like she wants to challenge her students. This is her second year at the JCC.

Madeline Koesters, Dance Instructors
This will be Madeline’s first year teaching at the JCC.  She is also beginning her first year dancing with American Midwest Ballet.  Madeline holds a B.F.A. in dance performance and choreography from the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri – Kansas City

Wendy Larson-Cooper, Dance Instructor 
Wendy Larson-Cooper former principal dancer with Omaha Ballet, she is beginning her 33rd year on staff at the JCC.

Lynne Nevin, Dance Instructor
Lynne Nevin holds an Associate Diploma through the ISTD Professional Teaching Examinations and has studied the Alexander Technique, she also has a BA in Art History from UNL. Lynne was a company member of Omaha Ballet.  She resumed teaching here at the JCC 10 years ago.

Jonnie Robinson, Dance Instructor
Jonnie Robinson is beginning her 3rd year as an instructor at the JCC. Jonnie was born and raised in Omaha and has danced since the age of 2. Previously Jonnie taught ballet, tap and jazz for children at Mildred Collins School of Dance.

Katerina Schweitzer, Dance Instructor
Katerina is excited to begin her 2nd year teaching ballet at the JCC. She graduated from the Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet and has Associate of Arts degree with Indian River State College.  She is also beginning her second year with Ballet NE, now American Midwest Ballet as a full company member.

Michaela Sherman, Dance Instructor
Michaela is beginning her first year teaching at the JCC. Michaela grew up dancing in the Omaha area and earned her BFA in dance from Stephens College in Columbia Missouri.  She has been teaching dance for the past 15 years and performed professionally in the Kansas City area.  Michaela is so excited to be a part of the JCC dance community.

Erica Snyder Masters, Dance Instructor
Erica Snyder Masters is beginning her 7th year teaching at the JCC. She graduated from Lake Erie College with a concentration on Dance.  Erica is the Director of South High Schools dance company, La Fuerza. 

Katie van der Mars, Dance Instructor
Katie van der Mars holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts in Ballet Performance from the University of Utah. She is a company dancer with the region’s professional ballet company, American Midwest Ballet. In her 7 years dancing with the company, she has performed leading roles including Titania in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, Sugarplum Fairy and Snow Queen in ‘The Nutcracker’, the principal female in George Balanchine’s ‘Valse Fantaisie’, and Princess Florine and Bluebird Pas de Deux from ‘Sleeping Beauty’. This will be her 5th year at the JCC.

Lauren Wichert, Dance Instructor
Lauren is excited for her first year as an instructor at the JCC. She holds a BA in English and a minor in Dance from Creighton University. Lauren currently dances with tbd., a contemporary modern dance collective. Lauren has been teaching dance around the metro for over 5 years.

Margaret Currie, Pianist
Margaret has accompanied dance classes at the JCC from 1991-1995 and resumed in 2012. She has also accompanied at the Omaha Academy of Ballet , School of Ballet Omaha, Daniel J. Gross High School and Brownell-Talbot. She holds a B.S. degree in Bible/Music from Faith Baptist Bible College and was a private piano teacher for 24 years.

Kathleen Griffith, Pianist
Kathleen is a full-time accompanist with Omaha Public Schools. In addition to teaching piano lessons, she regularly plays piano at area churches as well as with the JCC dance program, and volunteers her time as a board member of the Omaha Chamber Music Society. This is her 3rd year with the JCC.

Evelyn Lindgren, Pianist
Evelyn is a versatile and prolific musician whose performance history ranges from traditional classical repertoire to contemporary avant-garde.  She holds a BM in Piano Performance from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, attended the Tyrolean International Piano Academy in Innsbruck, Austria in the summer of 2015, and participated in the soundSCAPE Performance and Composition Exchange in Maccagno, Italy in the summers of 2016 and 2017.  Evelyn Lindgren is excited to begin her 3rd year as an accompanist at the JCC.

Bernadette Smith, Pianist
Bernadette is a long time Omaha musician.  She studied at the UNO and received a BA/MA - Double Major, in English & Music.  She has been accompanying dance classes since 1961, this will be her 12th year at the JCC.  She is a piano soloist since 1992 and played in the The Fontenelle Piano Trio and Misbehavin'.  She was a choir director from 1998-2014 and was a member of the Omaha Musicians Association and the American Guild of Organists.  Bernadette has been the music director for musicals around the city since 1999 and currently is the JCC Music Director among other places.  She has taught piano lessons since 2005 and is part of the Independent Music Teachers Organization. 

Anna Yuz-Mosenkis, Pianist
Anna Yuz-Mosenkis holds a masters degree in Music from Kiev, Ukraine. She has played for the JCC since the Fall of 1991.  She has taught piano lessons for many years and just began teaching Piano here at the JCC last year.