Faculty & Staff

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Diana Evjen

Director - born and raised in San Jose California, Diana has studied, trained and performed throughout the world. From the ages of 13 to 18, Evjen was invited to tour Paris, London, various cities in Spain, Ireland and Scotland as a soloist and corps member with the JOD Dance Company. A few of her classical credits include Nutcracker, Peter and the Wolf and Mid Summer Nights Dream. Evjen hold a BA in business and dance from Hofstra University. From classical to contemporary performances to dance competitions and master classes, dance has always played a huge role in Evjen's life. Recently and locally, Evjen has taught dance for the Miss Porter's school, the Hartford Conservatory and choreographed for Avon Old Farms High School.

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Rebekah Barnes

Assistant Director - has been teaching and dancing in the Farmington Valley for over 20 years. Prior to her current position at Evjen, Rebekah was the Artistic Director of The Master's School Dance Program for five years. She has always been passionate about dance and the performing arts and studied Musical Theater at the Hartford Conservatory in 2008. Rebekah has been a member of the Poet's Feet Dance Ensemble,  Hartford Youth Dance Initiative and is an alumna of the Evjen Elite Dance Company. Locally, Rebekah has choreographed & directed musicals at Avon Old Farms School. In 2014, Rebekah traveled to Recife, Brazil to teach dance at a school for underprivileged children and assistant direct a full musical theater production involving a collaboration of both American and Brazilian performers. Rebekah is passionate about creating a welcoming and safe environment where every dancer can learn, grow and be inspired! She hopes to instill her love of this beautiful art-form in all of her students.

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Tianna Oliva

Office Manager / Instructor - Tianna began her dance training at the age of 3 and has trained in Ballet, Lyrical, Contemporary, Jazz, Modern, and Hip Hop. She was a student of Evjen Academy for 10+ years and has also traveled to California to train alongside other professionals at the Millennium Dance Complex. Aside from her dance training Tianna has also been a part of Evjen Academy’s Office Staff since she began teaching for Evjen in 2015. Tianna has a true passion for working with children of all ages and is honored to be a part of the Evjen Academy team. 

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Kristen Greig

Instructor / Elite Choreographer - Kristen studied dance at the Greater Hartford Academy of Performing Arts, Montclair State University, and Anaheim Ballet (formerly known as Coast Ballet). She is a former title holder and scholarship recipient from Dance Masters of America (CT, NYC, and Nationals), the Nikolais-Lewis School and Broadway Dance Center. Kristen has been teaching for over 15 years and has taught in CT, NJ, and CA. Her students have won numerous overall awards and titles at competition. Many have gone on to dance professionally in every venue, from music videos to theme parks to Broadway. Throughout her career as a teacher she has received numerous choreography awards and was recently recognized as a Top Teacher by Star Systems National Talent Competition. Kristen is married to "Mr. Joel" and is the proud mom of Ethan and Madison. Miss Kristen recently moved out to California with her family and we are incredibly lucky that she continues to teach and choreograph for us remotely, thanks to the technology of Skype!

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Olivia Wilson

Instructor / Elite Choreographer - Olivia has trained in ballet, jazz, musical theatre, pointe, modern, lyrical, hip hop, contemporary, ballroom dance, acting and vocal training for over 15+ years. Olivia has been teaching dance in the Farmington Valley for over 10 years. She has held the position of choreographer for Avon Old Farms School’s musical productions, was the Assistant Director of The Master's School Dance Program, and was the head of the dance program at Valley Community Baptist Church. Olivia has traveled to California to train and further her dance education at Millennium Dance Complex. Most recently, Olivia has attended the Dance Life Teacher Conference and trained under many excellent teachers and choreographers. Olivia enjoys choreographing for the Evjen Elite Dance company where her choreography has won numerous awards at regional and national competitions. As a performer, some of her favorite rolls include "Lola" in Damn Yankees, "Hermia" in A Midsummer Night's Dream and "The Sugarplum Fairy" in The Nutcracker, and a lead dancer in “The Gift” at Valley Community Baptist Church. In 2014 she traveled to Recife, Brazil to work with underprivileged children through the performing arts. Olivia is a certified cosmetologist and works in a hair salon in Burlington, Connecticut when she is not teaching dance. Olivia enjoys working with students on choreography and fostering a positive environment to learn how to dance. She is so happy to be a part of the Evjen family!

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Kasandra Coviello

EveryBODYDance Leader / Instructor- Kasandra began dancing at age 2. She has studied tap, jazz, ballet, modern, and contemporary dance. Born and raised in Southington, CT she studied at various local studios including Evjen Academy of Performing Arts. She studied at the Greater Hartford Academy of Performing Arts High School where she was a member of the repertoire ensemble and performed at various locations throughout the country. During her time at the Academy she studied and performed with members of Pilobolus and was a member of Poet's Feet Modern Dance Ensemble from 2000-2007. She has been teaching dance for the past 6 years and also works as a therapeutic mentor and paraprofessional working with children with social and emotional challenges. She attended the Adaptive Dance Teacher Training Workshop at Boston Ballet School this past summer and is very passionate about sharing her love of dance with children of all abilities!

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Leanne Poirier

Instructor / Elite Choreographer - Leanne started dancing at age four and has trained in jazz, tap, ballet, lyrical, musical theater, postmodern, hip-hop, contemporary, improvisation and choreography/composition. Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Leanne attended UCLA, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with B.A. degrees in World Arts and Cultures/Dance and Communications. Upon graduation, Leanne was asked to join David Roussève's contemporary dance company, David Roussève/REALITY, and has been with the company for 9 years now. Her dancing has taken her around the world and given her the opportunity to perform in iconic spaces such as Jacob's Pillow and Brooklyn Academy of Music. Leanne has taught dance for 14 years around Ohio, Los Angeles, Connecticut and throughout the states while on tour with REALITY. She recently relocated to New York and is so grateful to get to continue working with her Evjen students remotely on Elite choreography and beyond. 
 

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Noor Taweh

Instructor / Elite Choreographer - Noor has trained in ballet, jazz, contemporary, lyrical, modern, and jazz since the age of three. She is a previous Evjen student turned teacher and choreographer! In college, she was a member of the UConn Dance Company for four years. She was also a choreographer for the company, responsible for the group's jazz and contemporary pieces. In her free time, she helps the local high school choreograph their musicals. Noor particularly enjoys mentoring students through their creative process and supporting them in their identity as artists and creators. She feels fortunate to continue to be part of the Evjen staff and community even after graduating college and as she begins medical school! 

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Cecilia Davis

Instructor - Cecilia began dancing at the age of three, training in ballet and tap and later began studying several other styles including jazz and contemporary. She has trained throughout Connecticut and New York with the Hartt School, Joffrey Ballet School , Radio City Rockettes, and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She has also competed in dance at the regional and national levels, attending the Youth American Grand Prix finals this past year. She plans to continue her dance education in college and pursue dance professionally.

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Olivia Zimmerman

Instructor / Elite Choreographer - With a father who attended the Juilliard School and a mother who toured with several
ballet companies, Olivia knew she would someday find herself in the performing arts.
Growing up just forty-five minutes outside of New York City, she trained intensively in all
dance styles at several local studios as well as studios in Manhattan, such as Broadway
Dance Center, Steps on Broadway, and Peridance Capezio Center.
During her professional career, Olivia had the privilege of dancing in several
commercials for companies such as Colgate-Palmolive and working in pre-production
for companies such as General Electric. Some of her favorite stage memories include
performing in choreography festivals such as Sybarite and Carnival.
It was during her time dancing professionally that Olivia found her passion for
choreography and teaching. Shifting her focus to dance education, Olivia graduated
with a BFA in Socially Engaged Art from Goddard College all while dedicating her work
to creating equitable dance education spaces. With her industry experience and
knowledge of the competitive dance world, Olivia identified a need in the dance
community for a convention that works to create inclusive and emotionally conscious
dance events. She joined forces with a team to develop, Embody Dance Conference, a
dance convention and competition on a mission to create safer dance environments.
When Olivia is not working on or traveling for Embody, you can find her teaching and
choreographing for local studios, as well as traveling around the country teaching
master classes, hosting workshops and setting choreography.
Olivia understands the responsibility dance mentors carry and holds that weight with her
in all of the dance education avenues she’s invested in.

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Sarah Thomas

Instructor / Front Desk - Sarah is a teen staff member and dancer at Evjen! She is 16 years old and has been dancing for 11 years! Sarah enjoys tap and contemporary, and loves to spend time with the little ones! She moved to CT in 2016 and has been a part of the Evjen team ever since! Sarah teaches our Teeny Balleriny and Prima Petite dancers!

"A fun fact about me, is I don't prefer furniture and love to sit on the floor!"

Additional Faculty Information Coming Soon For...

Libby Kroeger

Josalyn Cipkas

Erin Curry

Kelly Guberman

Claudia Gugliotti

Kyra Sardinas

Grace Zommer

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Rachel Russel

Instructor - Originally from Houston, Texas, Rachel spent her formative years studying the Royal Academy
of Dance technique and completed the Advanced Intermediate level. While attending the High
School for Performing & Visual Arts, Rachel was also a pre-professional company member of
Vitacca Dance. There she studied with Phillip Broomhead (Ballet Master), Fara Sciulli Bowen,
and Kelly Ann Vitacca (Artistic Director). She had the opportunity to work with chorographers
such as Andrea Dawn Shelly, Oliver Halkowitch, Elijah Gibson, and Dominic Walsh. After high
school graduation, Rachel moved to Hartford, CT to attend the University of Hartford-Hartt
School on a dance scholarship and graduated magna cum laude with a BFA degree in Ballet
Pedagogy and Dance Performance. While attending the University of Hartford, Hartt School,
Rachel was selected to work with guest choreographers all 4 years and had the opportunity to
work with Lucy Bowen, Claudia Schreier, Michelle Thompson-Ulerich, Francesca Harper, and
Ralph Perkins. In addition, Rachel performed diverse repertoire including classical excerpts from
Napoli, and Le Corsaire (Hilda Morales). Historic modern works by Jose Limon (Nina Watt) and
Martha Graham (Miki Ohara) which included: There is a Time, Dances for Isadora, Appalachian
Spring and Chronicle. She guested with Ballet Hartford in their production of Handel’s Messiah
(Betsy McMillian). In 2018 under the leadership of Artistic Director Stephen Pier, Rachel was
able to perform at the Joyce Theater in New York.
After graduating from college in 2020, Rachel accepted an apprenticeship with Ballet Hartford.
During this time, she has performed works by Vincent Hardy, Danielle Diniz, Stephanie
Gagliardi, Leyna Doran, Gilbert Bolden III and Kevin Jenkins. Artistic Director, Leyna Doran has
expanded the faculty to include Sarkis Kaltakhtchian, Renee Oliver, and Stephanie Gagliardi.
Rachel is currently in her second year with Ballet Hartford.

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Sydney DeBisschop

Instructor - Sydney DeBisschop has been a student and competition team member of the Evjen Elite Dance Company since age 8. She has attended various workshops, camps, and conventions and received training from choreographers from all around the country throughout her years as a dancer in order to further her learning and experience as a dancer. A fun fact about her is that her favorite style of dance is contemporary!