The heart of Forest Dancing excellence begins with its faculty. Faculty members include working choreographers and teaching artists from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, the Conservatory of Performing Arts of Point Park University, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama, Kent State University and a variety of illustrious pre-professional programs – including the PA Governor’s School for the Arts and Steps on Broadway in New York. Students receive personalized instruction from experts who celebrate the joy of learning and a love for the art of dance.
Ms. Van Dyke is an Associate Professor of Dance in the Department of Theater and Dance, and affiliate faculty for Women’s and Gender Studies at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Professor Van Dyke serves as Artistic Director and Director of Curriculum for Van Dyke and Company and the Mahoning Valley Ballet. She holds an M.S. in ballet from Indiana University, Bloomington and an M.F.A. in dance from Arizona State University. Ms. Van Dyke was selected for the Distinguished Faculty award in the Creative Arts at Indiana University of Pennsylvania Ms. Van Dyke was appointed to the faculty of the former Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts where she served as ballet master. She is the founder and director of “Forest Dancing,” an intensive summer dance camp, and serves as resident choreographer for IUP Dance Theater. She has served as Vice President of Dance for the Pennsylvania State Association of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance and is a member of the International Dance Association “Corps de Ballet”, “World Dance Alliance”, and “Women and Dance L.L.C.”. Ms. Van Dyke was awarded Outstanding Professional of the Year in 2006 & 2009 and University Dance Teacher of the Year award for the Eastern District for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance in 2010. Professor Van Dyke’s interests include Dance Research, Cast-Based Approach to Choreography, Kinesiology, Feminist Theory and Dance, Somatics and Dance and the Alexander Technique and ballet. She infuses her pedagogy with an eclectic, multi-disciplined approach. Ms. Van Dyke is an invited choreographer and lecturer both nationally and internationally.
Jeffrey M. Rockland (modern / ballet) comes to our summer program after an extensive career. A former soloist with Atlanta Ballet and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Jeff danced soloist roles in many of the classic repertoire as well as contemporary works by many of this century’s most well known choreographers. As a teacher and choreographer, he was company ballet master for Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal and also served on the faculty of UC Irvine while attending as one of that programs only MFA Chancellors Fellows. From 1992-1999, he ran the ballet program at the University of Northern Colorado. While in Colorado, he formed Colorado Dance Theatre and the Greeley Conservatory of Dance. Jeff is currently on faculty in the Dance Department of Kent State University.
Michelle Van Doeren (Jazz) teaches jazz in the Conservatory of Performing Arts of Point Park University and Carnegie Mellon University’s PreCollege Program. She has also held faculty appointments at Steps on Broadway in New York, the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts, Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Drama, and Pittsburgh’s Creative and Performing Arts High School (CAPA). Michelle holds a Master’s of Arts in Teaching degree from the University of Pittsburgh. She also brings ten years of experience as a professional dancer, working on cruise ships and professional regional theater and dance companies in New York City, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Ohio.
April Cush (Tap) April has been the Director of her own studio, April School of Dance, for 30 years in St. Mary’s PA where she loves teaching young dancers of all levels. April is a gifted teacher who has been a treasured member of the Forest Dancing faculty since 2007. She is also a member of Dance Educators of America and is licensed by ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC. In 2018, April was awarded the Elk County “Hearts in the Arts” award for her dedication to providing quality education to young aspiring dancers.
“I love working with my fellow colleagues at Forest Dancing. They are such high-quality experts but also deeply caring people.”
– Michelle Van Doeren, Jazz Dance Instructor