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.

Emily Bryan: Ballet, Modern & Jazz

Emily Bryan is a dance educator, choreographer and performer. She holds an MFA in Dance from the University of New Mexico and a BA in Dance and English from Gustavus Adolphus College.

Emily has a passion for dance education and seeks to inspire and challenge her students to grow both physically in their technique and performance, and academically in their understanding of dance as an art form. She has taught in higher education at The University of New Mexico and Red Rocks Community College. In the public school sector, as the founding dance teacher at Parker Performing Arts School in Parker, CO. Emily has also served as a teaching artist in outreach programs at Colorado Ballet, in community and pre-professional programs at Keshet Dance Company in Albuquerque, NM, and in the private sector at Greater San Antonio Academy of Ballet in San Antonio, TX, among others.

Her choreographic works have been presented in many venues across the country and her academic research has been presented at the Congress on Research in Dance (now the Dance Studies Association). Emily has a long performance history that began with the Lincoln Midwest Ballet Company here in Nebraska, and now also includes works by Donna Jewell, Vladimir Conde Reche, Cynthia Gutierrez, Michele Rusinko, Melissa Rolnick, Erika Pujic,  Martha Graham (re staged by Eric Newton and Mary Anne Santos Newhall), Jose Limon as part of the American Dance Legacy Southwest Project, and with the Lawine Torren Dance Company in Solden, Austria to name a few. 

As a lover of all things surrounding the arts, Emily also has extensive experience in arts administration. She has held press and marketing positions at Keshet Dance Company, Lincoln Arts Council, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and American Dance Festival. 

Emily, her husband Austen, and two children, Addison and Jackson, recently moved to Omaha after 10 years of life in the Air Force. They are thrilled to be back in the “good life” and putting down roots in this great community!

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! 
 
Bailey Dickson: Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Contemporary & Rehearsal Assistant

Bailey Dickson has been an Instructor for Robin Welch and Rachel Vickrey for over six years. Ms. Dickson is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level V of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. Bailey is the Resident Choreographer and Rehearsal Assistant for Heartland Youth Ballet.

Ms. Dickson has also studied at the University of Oklahoma’s Summer Intensive, Regional Dance America’s National Choreography Intensive and trained with other highly-respected Master Class teachers including Elaine Bauer, Victoria Vargas, Michael Vernon, Mauro Villanueva and Leslie Crockett.

Ms. Dickson 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.

Ms. Dickson has choreographed several pieces that were chosen by Regional Ballet America and The Ballet Alliance 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.

Cheryl Lerner: Ballet

Cheryl Lerner comes to Heartland Conservatory of Dance with many years of experience in the field of dance.  She has spent a decade with the Omaha Academy of Ballet as an instructor and interim Executive Director. Prior to that, she was an instructor with the Jewish Community Center Dance Program for 20 years after serving as its Director for seven years.   

She received her early dance education in Madison, Wisconsin with summer study with the Dayton Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet renamed Philadelphia Ballet. She moved to San Rafael, CA to dance at the Marin Ballet, and study with Maria Vegh, whose methodology, developed at the Harkness Ballet, was a great influence on her love of teaching.  She continued her training on scholarship at the Houston Ballet and Ruth Page Foundation in Chicago before coming to Omaha in 1984 to dance and teach with the Omaha Ballet, under Robert Vickrey.  

In addition to her career in dance, she has worked as a program administrator for non-profit organizations and has served as a panelist for state arts councils in Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota.  She is excited to share her passion for dance with the staff and students at HCD.

Sophia Seger-Pera: Ballet, Jazz & Contemporary

Sophia Seger-Pera received her Bachelors of Arts in Dance and Bachelors of Science in Anthropology from Loyola University Chicago. Sophia grew up in Omaha and studied at Heartland Conservatory before continuing her dance education in college.

While at Loyola, she performed in numerous faculty and student pieces, including works by Sandra Kaufmann, Sarah Cullen Fuller, Mei-Kuang Chen, and Raúl Casasola, as well as a piece by alumna Anna Goetz, which was performed at the Loyola University Museum of Art. She also performed a solo titled "The Madness of Art," choreographed by J Lindsey Brown.

She is excited to be back at Heartland to teach!

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:

Susan Brooker - American Ballet Theatre & American Ballet Theatre William J. Gillespie School

Alan Hineline - Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet

Kim Sagami - Joffrey Ballet Chicago / Kim Sagami

Armando Luna - Armando Luna Dance

Robert Vickrey - https://www.pbt.org/the-company/artistic/artistic-team/

Nicole Cisler - Choreographer ​http://www.bremertondancecenter.com/meet-our-staff.html

Altin Naska - Artistic Director Chicago Music & Dance Festival International ​https://www.plainfielddanceacademy.com/the-owner

Ashlee Knapp - Ballet - New York City Ballet Director of Rye Ballet

Adrian Frye - Ballet - Principal Artist, Ballet West https://www.balletwest.org/dancers/adrian-fry​

Liz Reiter - Classical Jazz - Gus Giordano Pilates & Jazz Instructor Kansas City Ballet