Faculty

Karena Birk | Director

Karena Birk, Director of Dance Fremont

Karena was born and raised in Seattle, and started taking creative dance at age 3 after insisting on dancing around the living room to Swan Lake every single evening. She received the majority of her dance training at the Cornish Preparatory Dance Program, as well as at the Richmond Ballet, and the University of Washington. She holds an MFA in Dance from The Ohio State University, and a BA in Classics from the University of Washington. Before directing Dance Fremont, she has taught ballet and modern dance at many places, including the University of Washington Bothell, Bainbridge Dance Center, Interlochen Center for the Arts, The Ohio State University, and Cornish Preparatory Dance. Her professional dance experience includes performing with the Colorado Ballet, Lehua Dance Theatre, ARC Dance, Catherine Cabeen-Hyphen, Redd Legg Dance, and Seattle Dance Project. She has enjoyed the wonderful opportunity to dance works of Trisha Brown, Anna Sokolow, Antony Tudor, George Balanchine, Fanny Elssler, Wade Madsen, Deborah Wolf, Hannah Wiley, and many others. Her MFA studies focused on pedagogy, dance performance, notation, and history, and she holds a Teaching Certification in Labanotation. She has staged a number of historical works from their Labanotation scores, including Doris Humphrey’s The Shakers, Donald McKayle’s Rainbow Etude, and selections from Helen Tamiris’s Negro Spirituals.

Karena believes in the value of dance as a source of inspiration, self-discovery, expression, and fulfillment for everyone who studies it. Every dance student deserves the respect of being given quality training and curriculum, and the integrity of dance education at Dance Fremont has long been an inspiration to Karena. She is thrilled to have the opportunity to support and continue the excellence that Vivian, Mary, and the Dance Fremont community have built.

Steve Casteel | Owner

Steve Casteel, Owner of Dance Fremont

Steve Casteel was born in Tacoma and received his early training from Jan Column School of Classic Ballet. At age sixteen, he was selected to join Boston Ballet II where he spent the next two years training and performing. For ten years, from 1987-‘97, Steve danced with the nationally acclaimed Houston Ballet where he was promoted to soloist and performed many of the great classical works as well as works by many world-renowned contemporary choreographers.

In 2001, Steve received his B.F.A., summa cum laude, in dance from Cornish College of the Arts and completed his M.F.A. with a dance emphasis from the University of Arizona in 2004.

For over ten years Steve has taught dance and worked in dance administration helping to build the Northwest dance community. From 1997 to 1999 he worked for Washington Contemporary Ballet in Tacoma as Assistant to the Director, writing grants and handling public relations in addition to serving as ballet master. From 2004 to 2006 Steve was the Public Relations Coordinator for Next Stage Dance Theatre and co-directed their community outreach program “Unleashed Memory,” a movement project with memory loss/Alzheimer’s patients, as well as performing with the company. In 2006 Steve directed and helped to open The Dance School, in Everett, WA. In 2008 he became a co-producer for the popular biennial Men In Dance Festival in Seattle WA.

Steve has taught at various schools in the Northwest and California. Currently, he teaches at Cornish College of the Arts, Dance Fremont, Seattle University and the University of Washington. In 2012, Steve became the director of the Cornish Preparatory Dance Department.

Noelle Chun

Originally from Honolulu, Hawaii, Noelle’s movement background began with gymnastics and athletics. In college, while continuing to participate in collegiate athletics, she discovered dance which she pursued wholeheartedly. She went on to receive a BA in both Anthropology and Dance from Beloit College and later completed her MFA in Dance from the Ohio State University, where she performed in the repertory of Doris Humphrey, Anna Sokolow, Trisha Brown, and other contemporary choreographers.

Noelle’s choreographic and performance work has been presented nationally at City Center (NYC), Green Street Studios (Boston), Colby College (ME), Ohio University (OH), Southern Theater (Minneapolis), Ruth Page Center for the Arts (Chicago), and Velocity Dance Center (Seattle). Formerly based in Columbus OH, she was a resident artist at Feverhead, an experimental, interdisciplinary studio through which her dance projects were supported by fellowships from the Ohio Arts Council and Greater Columbus Arts Council. As a teacher she has taught dance in diverse environments including being on faculty at Ohio Wesleyan University and Ohio State University. Currently in Seattle, Noelle continues to perform, choreograph, and teach.

Kaitlyn Dye

KJ is an educator, performer, and truth seeker who lives by one life rule, momentum. Originally from the mountains of Maryland, KJ graduated magna cum laude from Slippery Rock University of PA with a BA in Dance. She has had the privilege of performing the works of Doug Varone, Robert Battle, Chad Hall, Jennifer Keller, Ursula Payne, Ellie Sandstrom, Marlo Martin and Paige Barnes, among others. KJ’s work has been presented in San Francisco, La Rouche College (PA), The BOOST Dance Festival (SEA), and the National American College Dance Festival at the JFK Center for Performing Arts (DC). KJ has danced for Seattle based companies The Three Yells and Badmarmar Dance, and currently creates with Michele Miller’s company Catapult and Maya Soto and Nico Tower’s recent project, Beautiful Carcass. KJ takes deep pride in being a dance educator, as she fosters empowerment and develops artistic agency in her classroom. She currently teaches a range of levels and styles at Bainbridge Dance Center, Dance Fremont and Velocity Dance Center, where she also assists as a Stage and House Manager for local artists.

Kim Holloway

Kimberly Holloway is a Seattle dancer, choreographer, and teaching artist who hails from North Carolina. In 2009 she received her BFA from Belhaven University. She has been honored to perform with artists including Michelle Miller/Catapult Dance, Shannon Stewart, Alana O Rogers, Eva Stone, and Maya Soto. Her work has shown at the Fringe Festival (Edinburgh), at the Folly Theater (Kansas City), AS220 (Providence, RI), and in Seattle at Velocity Dance Center, Fremont Abbey, and Seattle International Dance Festival. Kimberly is the recipient of the 2017 CityArtist Project grant from the Office of Arts & Culture, the 2017 Artist Project grant from Artist Life Guild, Cornish Arts Incubator Residency, and is an artist in residence at the Fremont Abbey. Kim is passionate about training dancers, young and old, and sharing a love of dance.

Mariko Nagashima

Mariko Nagashima is a dancer, teacher, writer, and general enthusiast of all things dance related. She grew up in Spokane, WA and later earned a BFA in Ballet and BS in Biology from the University of Utah. Since moving to Seattle in 2010, Mariko has immersed herself in the Seattle dance world. She has performed with numerous local companies including Coriolis Dance and Alana O Rogers Dance Company. As a teacher, Mariko shares her passion for ballet with children, teens, and adults at several Seattle studios. Mariko was also the Editor of SeattleDances from 2010 to 2016, and currently runs PAPR: Performing Arts PR, which works to increase visibility for local artists.

Mary Kay Bisignano-Vadino

Mary Kay Bisignano-Vadino, Instructor at Dance Fremont

Mary Kay Bisignano-Vadino has over thirty years of experience as a dance teacher. She has taught dance to people of all ages in a variety of settings and feels fortunate to be amongst the professional teaching staff at Dance Fremont. Mary Kay holds a Bachelors Degree in Dance from Western Michigan University and a Masters Degree in Choreography and Performance from U.C.L.A. While in Los Angeles she was recognized by the L.A. Arts Council for her choreography. Her professional dance experience began at The Chicago Dance Medium and inspired her toward a career of choreographing and teaching. As an independent choreographer in Seattle in the 90’s, her work was featured at New City Theater, On the Boards, Allegro Dance Festival, Arts Edge Dance Festival and Bumbershoot. Her work has also been performed in Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles.

From 1999-2009, Mary Kay choreographed and performed with Next Stage Dance Theater under the artistic direction of Dominique Gabella. This company of mature dancers provided a collaborative exchange for creative expression and an opportunity to work with local choreographers. She has choreographed for the Kaleidoscope Dance Company and Fremont DanceWorks Company. Mary Kay loves choreographing for these talented young dancers finding it to be some of the most rewarding work of her career.

Mary Kay also teaches creative movement and dance at the Salmon Bay School. She loves sharing dance with elementary school students and finds their curiosity and sense of humor refreshing. Mary Kay is a Certified Yoga Instructor (RYT), teaches at Taj Yoga and enjoys subbing yoga classes at a number of local health clubs. She also volunteers for Street Yoga, a non-profit organization bringing yoga to homeless and at risk youth and teens.

Away from the studio, Mary Kay dances through life with her husband John and their three amazing children Sophia, Anthony and Nicolas.

Mary Kay is passionate about teaching. Her students inspire her through their commitment to consistently work hard at finding the joy of movement while realizing their full potential through the shared experience of dancing.

Leigh-Ann Cohen-Hafford

Leigh-Ann Cohen-Hafford, Instructor at Dance Fremont

Ms. Cohen-Hafford has been teaching student and professional dancers for over 20 years. She has taught master classes, and guest classes across the USA and Canada. She was Artistic Director of Conservatory Ballet of Washington and of the Ballet Department at Washington Academy of Performing Arts. She served as a dance faculty member at Oakland University, MI, is currently on faculty at Cornish College of the Arts Dance Preparatory Program and is a sought after coach and guest teacher. She is excited to be on the Dance Fremont team and to share her knowledge and expertize.

Ms Cohen-Hafford’s teaching philosophy includes an emphasis on the basics of technique, placement, and posture as well as good form and line. She focuses on developing a dancers awareness of the importance of details in transitions and movement quality and encourages dancers to be musically aware, using phrasing to enhance their artistic choices. Her professional career training was Vaganova and Balanchine based and as a student she trained in both Cecchetti and RAD methods. Her diverse professional repertoire included contemporary ballets, the classics, Balanchine works and modern dance providing her with a diverse background and understanding of the essential requirements on ballet professionals today. She is passionate about teaching and considers each of her students and their individual technical and artistic needs.

During her extensive 15 year professional performing career she danced principal roles in numerous classical ballets as well as in works by some of the most eminent contemporary choreographers including Ashton, Balanchine, Butler, Cranko,Tetley, and Forsythe. She was honored to be chosen for the lead role in the Canadian première of William Forsythe’s “In the middle, somewhat elevated.” She toured and performed extensively nationally and internationally, travelling throughout Canada and to Japan, Taiwan, the Phillipines, Thailand, Malaysia, the UK and Israel. She danced with Ballet British Columbia, Ballet Jorgen, Metropolitan Ballet Theater and Pennsylvania Ballet and was an invited guest artist for numerous schools and companies.

Her choreography includes works for Ballet British Columbia’s Choreographic Workshop and for Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet’s Choreoplan. Her choreography has been presented by companies such as Conservatory Ballet of Washington, Olympic Ballet Theatre, Michigan Classic Ballet, Whidbey Island Dance Theatre, as well as by Cornish Preparatory Dance Company, and Trilogy Dance Company.. She has choreographed contemporary ballet solos for YAGP, all of which have been presented at the New York City finals. The solo “Allegretto” was performed by a bronze medal winner in the 2012 NY International finals.

Ms Cohen-Hafford has a diploma in Dance Training from George Brown College in Toronto and an Advanced diploma in Spanish dance.

Kitty Daniels

Kitty Daniels, Instructor at Dance Fremont

Kitty Daniels is internationally recognized as a master teacher who specializes in integrating and applying dance science and somatics principles to dance technique education. As Chair of the Dance Department at Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts from 1986 to 2015, she developed an innovative and progressive educational program that balanced rigorous professional preparation with student wellness. She began her professional career as a performer with ballet and modern dance companies in Europe and the United States including the Bill Evans Dance Company, Concert Dance Company of Boston and Beth Soll and Dancers. She has taught at colleges and intensive workshops nationally and internationally including the Bill Evans Summer Institutes of Dance and Teachers Intensives, London Contemporary Dance School, California State University Summer Arts Programs, University of Washington, and Boston University. She has presented her research and taught master classes at conferences of the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science, the National Dance Association, the National Dance Education Organization, DanceUSA, National Association of Schools of Dance, Not Just Any Body and Soul and American College Dance Festival Association. Her articles have been published in the Journal of Dance Education, the Journal of Dance Medicine and Science, Dance Teacher, Kinesiology and Medicine for Dance, and Kinesiology for Dance. She currently teaches at Dance Fremont, the University of Washington and in the Seattle Dance for Parkinsons Program.

Fiona Evans

Fiona Evans, Instructor at Dance Fremont

Fiona Evans began dancing ballet at the age of 4 and hasn’t stopped since.  Born and raised in Santa Fe, NM, she started her training under Andy Prince at Prince Ballet.  She continued her studies with Gisella Genschow at the Santa Fe Dance Foundation through high school.  In 1996, Fiona attended the Boston Conservatory and studied a mix of modern and ballet under Jennifer Scanlon, Yasuko Tokunaga, Donna Silva, Anamarie Sarazin and Elaine Bauer, among others.  She also studied with Marcus Schulkind outside of the Conservatory.

In 2001, after graduating with a BFA in dance, Fiona moved to New York City to continue her dancing.  In 2004, she joined Alan Good dance, who she closely studied with and performed with for 5 years.  During her time in New York, she also continued her ballet training with Christine Wright, Marjorie Mussman, Jocelyn Lorenz,  Zvi Gotheiner and Graciela Kozak.  In addition to dancing, Fiona also received her Pilates certification from Sal Anthony’s Movement Salon in 2004.  While in New York, she continued to study Pilates closely with Clarice Marshall and also studied with Deborah Lessen, and Maya Aubrey. Fiona continued to dance, perform and teach Pilates in New York, until 2010, when Fiona and her husband decided to move to Seattle.  In her 5 years in Seattle, she has choreographed and danced with Bellingham Repertory Dance as well as Relay Dance Collective and has taught Pilates at Pilates on 10th and Lift Pilates.  This past summer, Fiona attended Anne Green Gilbert’s Summer Dance Institute for Teachers.  Fiona loves helping dancers learn how to make clear connections in their body through the use of imagery, anatomy and rhythm.

Charlotte Hart

Charlotte Hart, Instructor at Dance Fremont

Charlotte Hart received her early training in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, Louisiana, performing with the New Orleans Youth Ballet.  She received her BFA in Ballet Performance with Special Distinction from the University of Oklahoma.  Performing professionally with Louisville Ballet, Augusta Ballet, and Ballet Nouveau Colorado (Wonderbound), she danced in classical, contemporary, modern, and musical theatre choreography, and guest performed nationally.  She has originated roles in works by Robert Mills, Amy Seiwart, Lee-Wei Chao, Chung-Fu Chang, Mary Margaret Holt, Jeremy Lindberg, Steve Brule, and Peter Powlus.  Before retiring, Charlotte performed with Oklahoma Festival Ballet as the Lilac Fairy in The Sleeping Beauty, as the Blue Girl in Les Biches, as the Pigtail Student in Graduation Ball, in Antony Tudor’s Fandango, and as a guest with the modern dance company Clawson Dance Initiative in Wichita, Kansas.

Charlotte has taught ballet in Kentucky, Georgia, Louisiana, Arkansas, Colorado, Utah, California, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Washington.  She spent two years as assistant director for the student company of Ballet Nouveau Colorado and eight years as the assistant coordinator for the OU SummerWind Youth Ballet. Her choreography has been performed by Augusta Ballet II, Western Arkansas Ballet, SWYB, Springville Ballet, the student company of BNC, and at the 2011 International WaTER Conference, and presented at SWRBA and OU’s Young Choreographers’ Showcase, and (directed) OU Composers’ Recital, Frame by Frame, and Degrees of Rotation. As répétiteur, she set Robert Mills’ In Between Dreams on the Oklahoma City Ballet company.

During graduate school, Charlotte was awarded the Ballets Russes Archive Fellowship, earned a Graduate Teaching Fellowship, won the Miguel Terekhov Award for Ballet Choreography, and completed Jack Anderson and Camille Hardy’s dance criticism workshop. Her thesis Joanna Kneeland’s Therapeutic Barre: A Qualitative Analysis explored task-specific warming up for ballet technique. Outside the studio, she taught and lectured for introductory collegiate general education dance courses at OU.  Charlotte graduated in 2012 with her MFA in Dance from OU after successfully defending her thesis entitled Joanna Kneeland’s Therapeutic Barre: A Qualitative Analysis, which explored task-specific warming up for ballet technique.  She currently teaches ballet in the Seattle area, writes and edits for SeattleDances, and lives in Edmonds with her husband, son, and two cats.

Stephanie Liapis

Stephanie Liapis, Instructor at Dance Fremont

Stephanie Liapis’ professional career as a performer, teacher and choreographer spans nearly 20 years and includes work with New York City based companies Doug Varone & Dancers and Nicholas Leichter Dance, Susan Marshall & Company, Nancy Bannon, the MET Ballet, Netta Yerushalmy, Faye Driscoll and Aquila Theater among others. She has been creating original works since 2008, weaving elements of digital media into her works. Her work has been presented in NYC, Detroit, Seattle, Phoenix, Dallas, Switzerland and Singapore. Stephanie holds a B.F.A. in dance from NYU Tisch School of the Arts and an M.F.A. in dance from the University of Washington. Stephanie has served as an Assistant Professor of Dance at Long Island University-Brooklyn as well as Adjunct Lecturer at Texas Women’s University, the University of Washington, Barnard College, Hunter College and SUNY Purchase College. She teaches workshops and sets her work both nationally and abroad.

Jasmine Morgan

Jasmine Morgan, Instructor at Dance Fremont

Jasmine Morgan was born and raised in Seattle, WA. She started her dance training at Pacific Northwest Ballet from age 7-11 years. At the age of 12 years, Jasmine discovered Dance Fremont and that became like her second home.

She danced in Fremont Danceworks Company from age 12-18 years performing in many lead and ensemble roles choreographed by Carla Maxwell (Artistic Director of the Limón Dance Company), Kabby Mitchell III (former soloist of Pacific NW Ballet), Hannah Wiley (founding Artistic Director of University of Washington’s Chamber Dance Company), Mary Kay Bisignano-Vadino (Dance Fremont Faculty), Mary Reardon and Vivian Little (Co-directors of Dance Fremont).

Jasmine’s love for dance has transformed into a passion to teach dance. She taught ballet to adults and children at American Dance Institute in 2006, volunteered at the YMCA teaching ballet to beginning adults and is currently teaching a dance class for people with developmental disabilities. Jasmine loves being with people, so being able to teach them her passion is a true joy.

Christine Weh

Christine Weh, Instructor at Dance Fremont

Christine Weh began her training in Portland, Oregon, with many influential teachers including Heather Renk and Mary Hunt. She performed as soloist and ensemble with Portland Community Ballet under the direction of Lila Zali protegé Cynthia Tosh. Christine earned her BFA in Dance cum laude from Cornish College of the Arts where she was fortunate to work with choreographers Mary Sheldon Scott, Pat Hon, Tonya Lockyer, and Gary Masters from the Limón Dance Company. Additionally, she has performed with Weaving Dance, Chimera Dance Theater and Sapience Dance Collective. She has studied Creative Movement under Gail Heilbron and Christine Juarez, and completed Anne Green Gilbert’s Summer Institute for Teachers in 2014. Christine has been teaching her love of dance in ballet, creative movement and modern techniques for over 15 years. She has served as faculty for many schools in the region including The Dance School (also serving as Director of Education), Dance Time and Woodinville Dance Academy. Christine is currently on faculty at Cornish Preparatory Dance, where she served as Administrative Assistant for 10 years. She is the Dance Specialist for Secret Garden Preschool and continues to perform locally in independent artist productions. Christine is eager to be a part of the inspiring faculty of Dance Fremont. Her teaching goal is to provide students of all ages with the necessary tools for accomplishment, joy, and participation in dance.