Michelle Jones Wurtz
Pottstown Dance Theatre — Owner/Director
Melange Contemporary Dance — Artistic Director
PDT Repertory Ensemble — Artistic Director
ContempraDance Theatre — Assistant Director
Michelle holds a BFA in Dance from the University of the Arts as well as an MPA in Non-profit Management from Strayer University. She studied with Barbara Sandanato who was trained by George Balanchine; Judith Jamison, former lead dancer of the Alvin Ailey Company and Milton Myers who was also a lead dancer at Ailey and now serves as head of the Contemporary Division of the world famous Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Michelle began her professional career during her junior year when she started dancing for Group Motion.
Michelle studied pedagogy techniques at The Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet and later became a master instructor. In 2004 she was chosen to be the first American instructor invited to the International Dance Festival in Ladek Zdroj, Poland where she teaches more than any other instructor. She has been asked to teach at various festivals throughout Europe.
Michelle continues to direct Melange, the Pottstown Dance Theatre, and assistant direct Contempradance; and her students were invited by the American Alliance of Performing Arts Educators to perform in London during the 2012 Olympic Games where a representative of the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (founded and partially funded by Sir Paul McCartney) saw her work and requested her instruction for summer of 2013.
Kelsey Nieckoski PT, DPT - Instructor
Kelsey is an alumnus of the Pottstown Dance Theatre. She holds a BA from Widener University where she majored in Psychology, Pre-Physical Therapy and minored in Fine Arts with a concentration in Dance Performance. While at Widener, she studied under Jessica Warchal-King and became a member and president of the Widener Dance Company. Kelsey began dancing at the age of three at Ginny Lee Dance Studio. At the age of seven, she furthered her training at Pottstown Dance Theatre where she joined the intensive program focusing on Vaganova ballet technique as well as tap, jazz, modern, and Irish dance forms. She studied in the Academy program under Michelle Jones Wurtz, and also privately under ballet masters Jerzy Golek, Phyllis Dersh Rudzitis , Andre Ustinov, and Elena Martinson. While a student at PDT, Kelsey had the opportunity to perform in London, England, during the 2012 Olympic Games. Kelsey has studied at a variety of summer intensive ballet programs including, The Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Berks Ballet Theater, Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet, Academy of International Ballet, and The Rock School Philadelphia. She also was a member of the Schuylkill Valley Regional Dance Company. While performing with SVRDC for 11 years, Kelsey performed many corp, soloist, and eventually principal roles including, Clara, Dew Drop Fairy, and Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker, Lise in La Fille Mal Gardee, and Mina in Dracula. Kelsey graduated from Alvernia University in 2021 with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy and now specializes in treating dancers and other areas of the performing arts. She recently achieved a certification in Progressing Ballet Technique and has enjoyed collaborating in both her medical and dance careers. Kelsey dances professionally with Melange Contemporary Dance Company.
Carol Hebert - Instructor
Carol Hebert graduated from the Hartford Conservatory of Music and Dance and received a BFA in Dance from the University of Massachusetts. She has taught at Hartford Conservatory, the School of the Hartford Ballet, and the New England Conservatory. As a member of the Deborah Carr Theatre Dance Ensemble, Ms. Hebert performed at the highly prestigious American Dance Festival in NC. She has studied with some of the most respected names in American tap dance including Brenda Buffalino and LaVaughn Robinson. Her students at the Pottstown studio enjoy her classes tremendously.
Marissa Anuzelli - Instructor
Marissa began her dance training at LeRoux School of Dance in Royersford, PA when she was three years old. There, she studied various styles of dance including ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, musical theater, and lyrical/contemporary. She was also part of the LeRoux Steppers competition team for three years. She graduated from Eastern University with a BA in psychology and a minor in dance. While at Eastern, she studied dance under Michelle Jones Wurtz and was introduced to even more styles such as African and Modern. She has performed as part of Dance the World in Disney World in the year 2017 and participated in the Big Apple Tap Festival that same year. She has also been part of numerous recitals and shows such as The Nutcracker, Philly Nutt Crak-Up with ContempraDANCE Theatre, and Jazzerella with Mélange Contemporary Dance Company.
David Heller - Instructor
David Heller, aka Dr. Moose, was born in Manhattan, Kansas (The Little Apple). Since 1999, David has developed his skills in breaking, popping, tutting and liquid dance. “There are too many dance memories that are my ‘favorite,’ but if I really had to pick two, one would be the first time I saw someone breakdancing in front of me when I was 17 years old. The second would be earning my doctorate/PhD in dance from Temple University.”
Over the last 20 years, David has competed in multiple dance competitions throughout the United States. David has choreographed dozens of dance pieces that have been showcased in Hawaii, Norway, France, and Philadelphia. He earned his PhD in Dance at the Boyer College of Music and Dance at Temple University in December, 2018. Currently, David teaches dance to undergraduate students at Temple, as well as studio classes and workshops in street dance styles throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey.
“I believe that dance, in any form, is a deeply ingrained impulse we all possess. I found my passion through a desire to express myself. Dance is my life. Therefore, I teach what I love, and I love what I do.” --- David Heller (Dr. Moose)
Krysta Bernhardt - Instructor
Krysta began her dance training in upstate New York where she studied Tap, Jazz, Ballet and Contemporary Dance with the Filippetti's Academy of Dance Arts and Vaganova method Ballet with the Rafael Grigorian Ballet Theatre. In addition to dance she studied music and spent many years performing as a singer, actress and dancer in regional theaters. Her passion for the arts led her from New York to Philadelphia, where she graduated with honors from the University of the Arts with a BFA in Musical Theater. At UArts she added to her dance training with studies in Musical Theater, Modern, and Improv Dance. Krysta has spent over 20 years working in the arts in the Philadelphia area teaching music, art and dance and she is thrilled to have the opportunity to share her love of dance with the students at PDT.
Madison Evans - Instructor
Madison began her formal training in acro/dance, and cheer at Studios on Main in Pennsburg, PA. There, she studied and trained in several genres of dance (ballet, contemporary, lyrical, modern, jazz, etc.). Madison was part of the elite competition acro/dance team, competitive cheer team, and the teen and elite competition dance companies. She performed and competed in many overall high-scoring groups, solos, and duos and received many special judges awards. Madison holds two titles at Aspire Dance Challenge as their talent title winner two years running. Additionally, Madison has studied musical theatre and voice and spent her high school years performing as a singer/dancer/actress and choreographer in several cabarets and musicals at Salem Christian School. She was selected to be a featured dancer and vocalist in the Freddy Awards broadcast on WFMZ Channel 69 and through the Freddy Awards, she received a scholarship to train at Pennsylvania Youth Ballet/Ballet Guild’s pre-professional summer intensive program. Madison also has trained in ballet at Premiere Dance Studio. Madison has danced professionally as a parade and mainstage dancer in Grand Carnivale at Dorney Park, Allentown, PA and Kings Dominion, Doswell, VA. She is currently a student at Eastern University where she is working towards her B.A. in Dance and B.S. in Business Administration with a Leadership Development Concentration. At Eastern, she has participated in dance concerts as both a dancer and student choreographer. She danced at the American College Dance Association conference in Erie, PA, and has been on the Eastern University Dance Team. Madison is currently also a member of Melange Contemporary Dance Company and she is excited to have the opportunity to share her love of dance with the students at PDT!
Rachel Noonan - Instructor
Rachel Noonan, an English & Dance major from Eastern University, has 18 years of dance experience, most of it spent at her home studio, Salisbury Dance Academy. Through SDA, she grew proficiency in numerous styles such as ballet, tap, jazz, modern, musical theater, contemporary, lyrical, and hip hop. She participated in a nonprofit organization called First Position Performance Troupe, dancing for numerous charity events, such as Relay For Life, which raises money for cancer patients, and Horizon’s, a local charity that provides supplies for children who need educational support. In FPPT, she danced at Disney World twice on their stage in Disney Springs and in the World Dance parade. Additionally, she spent 15 years in another nonprofit organization called Eastern Shore Ballet Theater. Through this organization, she found her love of performance and pointework, Some of her roles included the Queen of Spades from Alice in Wonderland, Snow White from Snow White, a Stepsister from Cinderella, Smee from Peter Pan, and the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker. In college, she participated in Eastern’s Dance Team and currently participates in the Eastern Dance Ministry (EDM). Rachel began her choreography endeavors in her high school drama club, creating dances for Alice in Wonderland Jr. and The Addams Family musical. As a senior in high school, she concluded her time at SDA through her choreographed solo In The Rain. Since then, she co-choreographed her piece "Hanging On" and choreographed her piece "Differences Aside", which was performed at the American College Dance Association (ACDA) conference at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pennsylvania. She co-choreographed a duet entitled "Be Thou My Vision" and choreographed her senior thesis, "Found Wandering". This thesis included 9 different pieces of movement and music, consisting of pointework, contemporary ballet, modern, and jazz. She is hoping move on to pursue higher education in dance and choreography upon graduation from Eastern University.
Brianna Sanders - Instructor
Brianna is a dancer and choreographer from Annapolis Maryland. She has been dancing in several genres for 18 years and choreographing mainly contemporary and jazz for nine years. Bri has also been training in acro and gymnastics since she was three years old. She has previously trained at Thrive Gymnastics (previously known as Severna Park Gymnastics (2007-2010), First Class Gymnastics (2010-2015), Level Dance Project (2015-2021). After graduating high school she continued her acrobatic training through college by maintaining skills that were developed in the earlier years of her career. She has recently been on the Eastern University Dance Team. Her recent performances include: 2023 Regional American College Dance Association conference (hosted at Mercyhurst University, Erie, PA), Found Wandering (hosted at Eastern University, Wayne, PA) and Fringe Festival (hosted in Philadelphia, PA). Brianna is a senior at Eastern University. She is currently working on her B.S. in Business Administration B.A. in dance. She is looking forward to joining the PDT community and sharing her love of dance and acro with her students!
Janet LaCava - Substitute Teacher
Janet was born in and lived in New York City and began teaching dance in 1973. She trained at New York City schools, starting with George Connelly Dance Center, in Queens with Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Acrobatics and Ballroom. She was a 1969, full scholarship recipient to the Joffrey Ballet School. Janet also attended Phil Black's Dance Studio, Broadway Dance Center, and other schools. Many of her students have, or had, careers in major ballet companies, professional theater, television, theme parks, cruise ships, Radio City Music Hall, Las Vegas, and other dance venues, as well as becoming dance teachers, studio owners and choreographers. Many of her students have graduated from top college dance programs including The Julliard School, N.Y.University, Tisch School of the Arts, Point Park University, and University of the Arts. Ms. LaCava performed professionally in night clubs, musical theater, and special events for major New York professional sports teams, on television, for the armed forces, plus has choreographed for regional ballet companies, theater productions and competitions, and winning several choreography awards at national dance competitions. Janet ran her own successful dance academy before retiring from studio ownership, after which she continued to teach dance at area dance schools. She was a member of Dance Educators of America, and a past guest instructor for National Association of Dance and Affiliated Arts, Inc. (NADAA). She founded and organized The Road to Broadway Talent Competition, and the Road to Broadway Pageants. Additionally, Janet worked as a stage manager for dance performances for dance schools and other charitable dance events, and judged for many, regional and national competitions in the USA, and Canada. Ms. LaCava has years of experience as an amateur competitor in ballroom, and performing arts dance competitions, winning many awards in the USA and the UK. Janet has written columns and articles on dance for newspapers and dance periodicals and magazines, is the former Vice President of Dancers for Dimes, a dance performance charity event to raise funds for the March of Dimes, and a past board member, Vice President, and later President, for the Arts Academy Elementary Charter School.
Sofia is a student at Dickinson College. She has studied dance for 12+ years with PDT and has mastered many styles including Ballet, Tap, Irish and Graham Based Modern. She has performed with the PDT Repertory ensemble in several productions including The Nutcracker, New World, The Best of PDT, Haunted Dance Theatre and she was an apprentice student dancer in Melange's production of Beyond Genesis. Her roles have included Clara, Flutes, Sugarplum, Snow and Flowers in the Nutcracker and she performed the solo role of Lead Child European in New World. She has danced at Carnegie Hall, auditioned for and was accepted to Jr. County Chorus and is the recipient of the Reading Music Foundation Esprit de Corps scholarship. In addition to dance she sings, plays oboe, enjoys writing and drawing and plans to go on to become a Paleontologist.
Sofia Bischof - Substitute Teacher
Megan Groth- Substitute Teacher
Megan is a student at Lebanon Valley College and has studied many dance styles for over a decade including Ballet, Pointe, Irish, African, Modern, Jazz, Breakdance, and Hip-Hop. She has danced in numerous productions with the Pottstown Dance Theatre Repertory Ensemble and has previously been featured in both Waltz of the Flowers and as the Harlequin Doll soloist. She also has performed at Lincoln Center and twice at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Megan currently studies sports medicine to become a physical therapist so that she may help other dancers with their injuries.
Owen Bernhardt - Substitute Teacher
Owen has been dancing at PDT since the age of 4 and has studied a variety of dance styles including Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Irish, Graham and Breakdance. He has been a part of several productions with the Pottstown Dance Theatre Repertory Ensemble. He was a featured soloist in the Nutcracker, The Best of Pottstown Dance, the Student Composition Concert and Jazzerella. He has also danced at Carnegie Hall in NYC. When not dancing Owen is a skilled musician who plays percussion, guitar and bass and is working toward becoming a certified audio engineer.
Emma Wenerowicz - Substitute Teacher
Emma has been dancing at PDT since the age of 5 and has studied a variety of styles including Ballet, Tap, Musical Theatre and Modern Dance. She has been a part of many productions with the Pottstown Dance Theatre Repertory Ensemble and was most recently featured as the Arabian Soloist in the Nutcracker. She has danced at both Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in NYC. Emma is currently studying education at Penn State University and has worked extensively with children at PDT as a teacher and mentor.
Jay Stolzenberg — Executive and Financial Advisor
Jay holds patents on numerous inventions used in varying industries. His knowledge of trademark, copyright, and patent law are invaluable when applying for grants, in kind donations, and gifts.