Staff Instructors

Robin Welch: Ballet

Miss Welch's professional career has spanned over 50 years and began in Spokane Washington with dance teacher Jane Larkin. At 15 years old she received a full scholarship and weekly stipend to New York’s prestigious Harkness House for Ballet Arts. There she studied with many of the most distinguished teachers of the time such as Pat WildeDavid HowardAubrey Hitchins, Barbara Cole and Ruth Petrinovic for ballet, Jack Cole and Matt Maddox for jazz, Stuart HodesJay Norman and Janet Collins for modern, Percy Borde and Pearl Premus for African Dance, Beatrice Kraft for East Indian and Bill Burdick for court dancing.
At the age of 17 Miss Welch became a member of New York’s Harkness Ballet and lived and toured throughout Europe and the U.S. During that time, Harkness Ballet was the resident company of the famous Monte Carlo Opera House in Monaco. During that time, she danced ballets choreographed by such luminaries as Sir Anton DolinAlvin AileyBrian MacDonaldJerome RobbinsJohn ButlerBenjamin HarkarvyTodd Bolender, Norman Walker, and George Balanchine
After Harkness Ballet, Miss Welch and Robert Vickrey, became founders and co-artistic directors of the Connecticut Ballet in New Haven. She also danced with Eglevsky Ballet, Dennis Wayne’s DancersPennsylvania Ballet and Jacob’s Pillow. While at the Pillow, she performed, taught and was assistant to master teacher Ben Harkarvey. Other teaching credits include Cornish College of the Arts, Yale University, Jacob's Pillow, Connecticut Ballet, Boston Ballet Summer Intensive Shizuoka Japans Maeda Ballet' and Omaha Ballet. 
Over the years, Miss Welch has compiled an extensive background as a performer, choreographer, coach, ballet mistress, and artistic director. She was co-founder, co-artistic director, and principal dancer for Connecticut Ballet, and principal dancer for Ballet Omaha from 1985 until 1991. She later served as its resident choreographer, ballet mistress and school director. With Bob Vickrey, she co-choreographed Ballet Omaha’s 1985 Nutcracker and in 1993 they created a spectacular new "Hollywood version" of TheNutcracker that celebrated movie stars of the era and the 1929 opening of Omaha's own Orpheum Theater. In 2007 she choreographed the 3rd Nutcracker of her career called the Imperial Nutcracker. This Nutcracker told the traditional story of Clara but placed it into the opulent era of Imperial Russia. It even included an actor in the role of the composer, Pyotr Tchaikovsky as a party guest. All in all, Miss Welch presented The Nutcracker at the Orpheum Theater in Omaha from 1985-2010.
Miss Welch founded and became the Artistic Director of Omaha Theater Ballet at The Rose Theater. While there, she fostered promising choreographers and their innovative works through her Confetti series, presented wonderful traditional favorites such as The Firebird and A Midsummer Night's Dream and choreographed a variety of pieces such as Dvorak Dances, Angel Dances (based on a Japanese legend), Romeo and Juliet and The Rainforest for which in 2010 she was awarded the Omaha Arts and Entertainment Awardfor Best Dance Production. In 2011 she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for her 35 years of contributions to dance in Omaha. 
Miss Welch now teaches for Rachel Vickrey at Heartland Conservatory of Dance where she continues to enjoy instructing and participating in the growth of dance students.


Deborah Carr: Ballet

Deborah brings the fire, enthusiasm and determination she demonstrated in her professional dance career to her teaching and choreography. Following an extensive performing career with the Boston Festival Ballet, Connecticut Ballet and the Omaha Ballet where she danced such wonderful roles as The Arabian and Dew Drop in The Nutcracker, the Waltz Girl in Les Sylphides and the lead in Filling Station by world-reknown choreographer Lew Christianson. After retiring, Deborah moved to St. Louis for a time and became a teacher and ballet mistress for Ballet Midwest.
Luckily for us, Deborah moved backed to Omaha where she joined the faculty of the school of Omaha Theater Ballet School and became an invaluable instructor. She also became both Choreographer and Ballet Mistress for the Company, and Director of the Student Company. When that organization folded, she became indispensable as a teacher, Ballet Mistress and Choreographer for Rachel Vickrey in the establishment of the Heartland Conservatory of Dance and Heartland Youth Ballet.  
Miss Carr’s critically acclaimed choreography for the professional company Omaha Theater Ballet included,Tango Café and Pridelands, for which she was the recipient of a chorgraphy award from the Nebraska Arts Council in 2004. Pridelands was more recently performed to great acclaim by Heartland Youth Ballet in 2014 at Mid-States Regional Dance America Festival in Chicago, Il.

Madeline Deavenport Stein: Ballet & Pilates

Madeline Deavenport Stein is originally from San Diego, CA, where she began studying at The California Ballet School. At age 16 she moved to Philadelphia, PA to train at The Rock School for Dance Education
Madeline has danced with The North Carolina Dance TheatreThe Pennsylvania Ballet and Minnesota Dance Theatre, as well as with Ballet NY, Avi Scher & Dancers, and New Chamber Ballet in New York City. Mrs. Stein was on faculty at the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance, and The Studio New Canaan in Connecticut, as well as Minnesota Dance Theatre & School in Minneapolis.
From 2012-2017 Madeline was the head ballet instructor at Dance By Kris in Cottage Grove, MN. Over her 5 years with DBK, Madeline passionately coached and pushed her students to new heights, while helping them to discover an appreciation for classical ballet technique. Mrs. Stein coached and choreographed for many dance competitions where her students received high accolades. Madeline received numerous special awards and choreography awards as well. In addition, Madeline is Pilates Method Alliance certified Pilates mat and apparatus instructor.

Katrinka Stayton: Contemporary, Ballet & Competitive Team Director (The Dance Lab)

Katrinka Stanton has been a freelance dance professional in the Omaha area for many years. She teaches ballet, contemporary, partnering, pointe, jazz, jazz/funk, leaps and turns, pilates, yoga and tumbling. Katrinka has choreographed for competitive teams, universities, opera companies, dance companies, high school dance programs and taught for ballet schools in the United States and France. Most recently, she’s specialized in ballet and contemporary competitive choreography for schools in the Omaha area such as The Dance Authority, Cherrie Anderson School of Dance, Tapio Dance Company, Dance Explosion and The Rose Theater.
Katrinka trained with Ballet Omaha, the Omaha Theater Ballet and the University of Iowa and over the years studied with a vast array of instructors such as Robin Welch, Bob Vickrey, Basil Thompson, Jeffrey Bullock, Terry De Mari and Elise Flagg. She also had the opportunity to attend special classes with such well known film, stage and actor/dancers as Tony Shephens and Anne Reinking at Steps on Broadway.
As a performer, Katrinka performed in The Nutcracker in Omaha with the Joffrey Ballet and Moscow Ballet and Dayton Ballet. She also performed Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Beauty and the Beast with Ballet Omaha and was a guest artist for many smaller regional companies.
Her limitless interests also led her to receive a Masters in Public Administration at Bellevue University and a Bachelor’s in General Studies in Speech Communication from the University of Nebraska in Omaha. She received various certifications in Pilates, and teaches Yoga. A woman of many talents, we are very happy to welcome her to Heartland Conservatory of Dance.


Sarah Cantoya: Tap, Jazz & Musical Theater Dance

Sarah Cantoya began her dance training at the age of 7 and within 2 years was winning top awards from various dance competions traveling through the region. Because of continuing growing enthusiasm for dance, she immersed herself in multiple types of dance including ballet, jazz, tap, modern, musical theater and hip-hop. She loves teaching all those styles but found a special love for tap, which eventually became her specialty. 
She took classes from several well-known performers and teachers such as Terry Forance (who danced with Janet Jackson, Cirque du Soleil, Mia Michaels, and Lady Gaga), Finis Jhung (New York Master Ballet Teacher and Author), Nick Lazzirini (the very first winner of the Fox reality show So You Think You Can Dance) and world famous Savion Glover (who amoung other things both performed and choreographed Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk).  
Sarah judged local auditions and competitions for schools as well as non-profits. For over 20 years, she's been teaching both group and private classes and her students work hard and feel acomplishment in her classes while also having fun! 


Liz Alford: Ballet

Elizabeth (Liz) Alford was born in Plantation, Florida. She began her dance training at Vivienne’s School of Ballet in St. Louis, MO at age 7. At age 9 she began training at the University of Louisville Dance Academy in Louisville, KY. As a student she was chosen for many professional roles with the Louisville Ballet such as “Snowflake”, “Flower”, and “Chinese” in The Nutcracker, and “Star” in Cinderella touring with them at age 14 and receiving outstanding reviews. At age 13 Liz began spending summers at various professional ballet schools including the ChautauquaBallet School, the School of American Ballet, the Houston Ballet Academy, and the Pacific Northwest Ballet School- all with scholarships. At age 16 she was invited to stay as a year round student at the School of American Ballet in New York City, the official school of the New York City Ballet. While a student at the School of American Ballet Liz was featured in the Columbia Pictures film, Center Stage. In November of 1998 Liz received her apprenticeship with the New York City Ballet. While at New York City Ballet Liz danced in George Balanchine’s “The Nutcracker”, “Stars and Stripes”, “Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto Number 2”, “Western Symphony” , “Gounod Symphony”, “Le Tambeau du Couperin”, “Valse Fantasy”, “Symphony inC”, and Peter Martin’s “Swan Lake”, Jerome Robbin’s “Fanfare”, Christopher Wheedon’s “Scenes de Ballet” as well as others.
After retiring from her professional ballet career with the New York City Ballet Liz received her Bachelors from Gordon College then moved to China with her husband. During her 10 years in China Liz taught Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical, and Hip Hop as well as choreographed and performed in various venues. Liz taught at Jazz Du Funk in Shanghai, TCG Nordica in Kunming, and many local gyms, dance studios, and international schools. In her 15 years of teaching Liz has taught students of all ages and all walks of life including teens living at a homeless shelter, adult students at gyms, dance studio students, and students at international schools. One of Liz’s greatest joys was teaching dance to victims of human trafficking living in safe houses. While in China Liz was the first place winner of the 2006 Beijing TV “Arts in our Land” competition in Southwest China.
Liz moved with her family from China to Omaha in 2014. She has been teaching advanced ballet at the Omaha Academy since 2015. She is entering her third year as an advanced ballet instructor at Creighton University, and she regularly teaches private lessons out of her home studio. 
In addition to teaching Liz has choreographed works for the Omaha Academy of Ballet, Omaha Dance Project, the Jewish Community Center, Creighton University, The Nebraska Opera Project, and UNO’s Hildegarde Von Bingen project.
Liz is excited to share her love of ballet and the Balanchine style with the students at Heartland Conservatory of Dance.
Julia MacKenzie Wiegert: Jazz, Tap, Musical Theater & Voice
Born and raised in St. Louis, Julia choreographed numerous musicals in and around the St. Louis area, including Kiss Me Kate, Fiddler on the Roof, Alice in Wonderland, Footloose, Legally Blonde, and A Christmas Carol (starring Robert Westenberg). She served as a Teaching Artist for the St. Louis branch of Dancing Classrooms, and worked as an Associate Director for BravO! National Dance and Talent Competition. Julia’s love of dance and the arts began at the ripe age of 3. She's trained and performed with many professional theatre and dance companies through the years, including STAGES St. Louis, The MunyMADCO, and Tent Theatre and was seen across the country singing and dancing with your favorite Muppets in the national tour of Sesame Street Live: Elmo’s Healthy Heroes! Now, she happily resides in Omaha where she has choreographed, taught, and performed at The Rose and is currently a Teaching Artist for Dancing Classrooms Omaha, and a Jazz/Contemporary/Musical Theatre teacher at Heartland Conservatory of Dance.

Bailey Dickson: Ballet, Tap, Jazz & Contemporary

Bailey Dickson’s primary training was at Ballet Omaha, Robin Welch Dance Arts and Heartland Conservatory of Dance with Robin Welch and Rachel Hartley. She has also studied at the University of Oklahoma’s Summer Intensive, Regional Dance America’s National Choreography Intensive and other highly-respected Master Class teachers including Elaine Bauer, Victoria Vargas, Michael Vernon, Mauro Villanueva and Leslie Crockett.

Bailey has performed with Ballet Omaha in The Nutcracker, Omaha Theater Ballet in The Rainforest and Cinderella and in Heartland Youth Ballet performances. As a member of Heartland Youth Ballet from 2011-2019 she danced roles in The Entertainers, Pridelands, Movementum and Vivaldi Concerto created by numerous national choreographers.

She has been an instructor at Heartland Conservatory of Dance for the past several years and recently became an ABT® Certified Teacher, by successfully completing the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level III of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.

Bailey also now serves as the rehearsal assistant for Heartland Youth Ballet under the directorship of Rachel Vickrey where she has choreographed several pieces that were chosen by Regional Ballet America to be performed in Festivals. She also created a piece for another RDA company, Nebraska Contemporary Dance Theater for which she received the coveted Monticello Award for Choreography.

Staff Instructors: 

Ana Crowell & Madison Ireland Sykes

Adjunct Instructors: Lauren Beitel & Brian Priesman

Lauren Beitel: Jazz & Contemporary









Lauren Beitel, a Lincoln native, teaches math at Omaha Central High School, where she also coaches the cheer and dance squads.  Lauren has her Bachelors Degree in Math and Masters Degree in Teaching from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she was a member and captain of the Scarlets Dance Team.  During college she taught at True Dance, and choreographed for their competition team and for local high school dance teams.

Lauren trained in ballet, jazz, contemporary, tap, and hip hop at True Dance, and was a member of the Lincoln Midwest Ballet Company, performing in their productions of the Nutcracker and Snow White.  In addition to her local training, Lauren competed at the regional and national level with her studio’s and high school’s competition teams.  She also attended summer dance programs with American Ballet Theater, Virginia School of the Arts, American Academy of Ballet, and NYU’s Tisch Dance School. Lauren has also performed in musical theater productions with Lincoln’s Pinewood Bowl. 

She is excited to share her passion for dance with her students at Heartland Conservatory of Dance

Brian Priesman: Acting Improvisations









​Brian is an Omaha-based Actor and Theater Teaching Artist. As an actor, he’s performed regionally and nationally. Favorite roles include “Hot Blade Harry” in Urinetown: The Musical, the Baker in Into the Woods, Don Pedro in Much Ado About Nothing, Charlie Brown in You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown, and Patsy in Spamalot: The Musical. Growing up, Brian studied both musical theater and dance (tap & jazz) at multiple studios throughout the metro-area. As a teaching artist, Brian has taught for the Omaha Community Playhouse, the Nebraska Theater Caravan, the Rose Theater, the Omaha Children’s Museum, and Why Arts? Brian studied Theater and English at the University of Nebraska and Acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Brian's greatest achievements are his two brilliant children, Tess and Ezra.

Guest Faculty & Choreographers:

Mauro Villanueva -

James Samson -

Robert Vickrey -

Miro Magloire -

Ryan Nye -

Nicole Cisler - Choreographer ​

Altin Naska - Artistic Director Chicago Music & Dance Festival International ​

Ashlee Knapp - Ballet - New York City Ballet

Adrian Frye - Ballet - Soloist, Ballet West​

Liz Reiter - Classical Jazz - Gus Giordano