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.
Joan E. Van Dyke, B.A., M.S., M.F.A. (Artistic Director / Ballet) is an Associate Professor of Dance at Indiana University of PA and is the Director of Van Dyke & Co. and Mahoning Valley Ballet. She also taught ballet at the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts for 10 years. Ms. Van Dyke graduated from Indiana University, Bloomington, with an M.S in ballet with an emphasis in kinesiology. She studied the Pilates technique and Laban studies at the Laban Center in New Cross, London. She graduated with an M.F.A. in dance from Arizona State University. During her time in Arizona, she conducted extensive research on the effects of climate in young ballet dancers throughout the United States. She had a successful performance career, including numerous credits with the Bristol Ballet Company and with North Star Ballet Company in Fairbanks, Alaska.
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. For 30 years she has had been delighted to educate young dancers at all levels. April is a member of Dance Educators of America and is licensed by ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC.
“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