Artistic Director, Owner | Young Dancers Programs, Ballet, Jazz, and Modern
Kate Marchessault has been on the faculty of Casco Bay Movers since moving to Maine in 2000. She holds undergraduate degrees from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in Dance and Psychology. Kate trained extensively at Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, Walnut Hill School for Performing Arts, and with masters such as Adrienne Hawkins, Fred Benjamin, Milton Myers, Lynn Simonson, Sam Kurkjian, Coleman/Freedman, and Jeannette Neill. Performance credits include Adrienne Hawkin’s Impulse Dance Company, Perla Furr’s Choreographer’s Group, Ram Island Dance Company, Art Moves Dance Company, and Rhythm Factor Dance Company. She has taught, choreographed, and performed in New York, Brazil, Boston, and throughout northern New England.
In addition to sharing her love for dance at Casco Bay Movers, Kate is a professor of Jazz dance at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, and serves as Artistic Director of Portland Youth Dance Company. She is certified in the Simonson Method of Training, Progressing Ballet Technique, and she completed a 200-hour yoga training with Yoga Blue Fitness in 2020. For many years, Kate has been involved in training young dancers in preparation for performing and teaching careers. Her broad range of dance vocabulary and passion for movement make her classes an inspiring experience.
Afro Beats and Hip Hop
Veeva Banga is a South Sudanese dancer. She has a passion for sharing her cultural dance with people locally. She’s taught at local studios like Hustle and Flow Studio, Bright Star World Dance Studio, Living Room Dance Collective, Portland Youth Dance, and is thrilled to join the faculty of Casco Bay Movers. https://www.veevabangadance.com/
Jazz, Ballet & Musical Theater
Vanessa Beyland holds a BFA in Dance from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. In addition to teaching at CBM, she is also currently on staff at the University of Southern Maine, Portland Ballet, and Portland Arts and Technology HighSchool (PATHS). Her performing and choreography credits include work in the Northeast with school, community, and professional companies, including Portland Ballet Company, PORTopera, Dramatic Repertory Company, Stages, Lyric Music Theater, School House Arts, Windham Center Stage, USM, and others. A member of Portland Ballet Company from 2002-2011, she is now a guest artist with PBC and is excited to share her love of dance with those at Casco Bay Movers.
Laurie Chiasson has been a faculty member of Casco Bay Movers since 1989. She first danced as a young child in Connecticut with a former Rockette, Jane Hart. Beginning in the early 1980s, she began taking jazz classes with Sheila Bellefleur and continues to this day! Laurie studied ballet with Nancy Durham and took numerous jazz, modern and African classes and workshops with master teachers such as Luigi, Gus Giordano, Arther Hall, Eva Von Gencsy, Jeannette Neill, and Lynn Simonson. Also, it was during the ’80s that she started tapping with Karen Marino and Billie Johnston in the company known as Portland Rhythm Tap. Laurie’s passion for tap inspired her to continue her studies with Pamela Raff in Brookline Massachusettes as well as attend master tap classes with Lady Dianne Walker, Josh Hilberman, Germain Salsberg, Barbara Duffy, and she even survived a class with Savion Glover!
From 1984 to1990, Laurie owned and directed her own studio in Augusta, Oak Street Dance. She has taught and performed extensively throughout New England with Casco Bay Movers Dance Company, Rhythm Factor, and is the founder and artistic director of Rhythm and Sole Tap Dance Company which was established in 2007; dedicated to traditional and contemporary tap. In addition to her dance career, Laurie is an artist and educator. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern Maine with a B.F.A, completed the prestigious E.T.E.P. program, and received her Masters in Education in Teaching and Learning. Laurie currently teaches art for the Gorham school district. She lives in Portland with her husband, Larry, and son, Noah.
Emily Getchell brings over 15 years of teaching experience with her to CBM, specializing in modern, jazz, and contemporary dance. She has had a lifelong appreciation for dance, wellness, and the arts and is passionate about helping students grow in their technique, performance quality, and love of movement. In addition to her dance training, she has completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training and is currently working as an Integrative Health Coach, Doula, and Financial Adviser. Growing up in Pennsylvania, Emily trained with the Harrison Dance Studios and The Rock School of the Pennsylvania Ballet and received a full scholarship to the PA Governor’s School for the Arts with a ballet concentration. Emily has performed with the West Chester University Alumni Dance Association, Contempra Dance Theatre, Village Productions, PA Academy for the Arts, Loose Screws Contemporary Tap Company, and Melange Contemporary Company, joining them at the Ladek Zdroj International Dance Festival in Poland in 2010. Since relocating to Maine in 2010, she has performed with the Portland Symphony Orchestra, Terpsichore Dance, and Indiedanceworks.
Ballet & Pointe
Founder and artistic director of Ballet Bloom Project, a project-based contemporary ballet company, Rose Hutchins holds a BFA in Dance with a ballet emphasis from Utah Valley University. Currently located in Maine, Rose has danced, taught, and choreographed across the nation for more than a decade, earning the respect of those she works with for her expertise, work ethic, and artistry. Some notable achievements include her award-winning choreography Degas; her choreographic work Embark, featured at Regional Dance America/Pacific; and her scholarly research “Sociopolitical Influences on the Creation of the Ballet Giselle,” which was published in The Journal of the Utah Academy of Sciences, Arts & Letters, with the distinction of “best paper” in the arts division. Rose is currently pursuing an MFA in Dance with an emphasis on contemporary choreography and performance at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.
Modern and Contemporary Forms
Alexandra James is a Southern Maine native, maker, mover and mother. As an independent artist, she’s engaged with improvisation and interdisciplinary investigation, the interrogation of pedagogy and craft, seeking liberation through the integrity of embodied knowledge and the sharing of practice. In addition to her role at Casco Bay Movers, Alexandra serves as Bates Dance Festival’s Director of Training Programs, and is a professor of dance at Colby & Bates College. Her work has been presented in Chicago, New York, and South Africa, with a teaching practice that carries her nationally. She earned her BFA from the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago in 2009. . Photo by Sèan Alonzo Harris.
Hip Hop, Jazz, Modern, and Tap
Elizabeth thrives on spreading her excitement and passion for dance with kids and adults of all ages. As a lifetime student, she’s studied ballet, jazz, modern, clogging and hip hop. While earning a marketing degree and a dance minor from George Washington University, a love of hip hop was born at Culture Shock DC. She was further inspired by teaching at-risk youth in the DC metro area. Since returning to Maine in 2007, Elizabeth has taught throughout Southern Maine and continues her community outreach work with Mayo Street Arts, Boys and Girls Clubs, Learning Works, Free Summer Lunch, Slim Peace, and in Portland area schools.
Elizabeth is the founder of Portland Youth Dance’s all hip hop crew, Dynamix, and the infamous event, The Exchange. She has taught Hip Hop at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, and continues to train with top choreographers across the country. She loves to share the history and foundation of hip hop in her classes. Elizabeth is also a certified Leap n’ Learn instructor, she uses the curriculum in her Dance Imagination class.
Elizabeth’s youtube page: http://youtube.com/user/egoulet3
Alycia Miner is a passionate tap dancer and choreographer who studied in the greater Boston area. Although she studied many dance styles growing up, teaching and choreographing tap gives her such joy and fulfillment. Her choreographic pieces have received top recognition including choreography awards and top score placements. Alycia is a company member of Touché Taps, a professional educational tap company under the direction of Shaina Schwartz. As Captain of the company, Alycia had many opportunities to study, travel, and perform across New England including at the nationally known tap events Beantown Tap Festival and Jersey Tap Festival. She loves to challenge herself by continuing to learn from the tap masters around the world such as Sarah Reich, Lisa La Touche, Ian Berg, Josh Hilberman, and Ryan Casey to name a few. In addition to Touché Taps, Alycia has studied under Thelma Goldberg as a member of her advanced adult ensemble “About Time Tappers”. Alycia graduated with a Masters in Data Analytics in 2020 and relocated to the Portland area with her family. Outside of dance, she is a Data Analyst at Covetrus in Portland, ME. Alycia is looking forward to sharing her love of tap in Maine!
Amanda Preble is a hip hop choreographer and instructor based out of several studios in Southern Maine. She holds a Bachelors degree in Communications from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut. It was at Quinnipiac that she developed her skills on the school’s competitive hip hop team and served as a captain and a choreographer. Her performance experience includes nine consecutive seasons of dancing for basketball, including two years professionally for the NBA-D League. In March of 2011, she was a finalist for the New England Patriot’s Cheerleaders. Amanda travels to Boston and New York City several times a year to continue her training in hip hop and other styles of dance. She has trained with the likes of Twitch, D-Trix, Sheryl Murakami, Neil Schwartz, and Chio.
Wendee Rogerson began her professional dance career at the age of thirteen, training with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. As she discovered her passion for modern dance, Wendee went on to train and perform with The Toronto Dance Theater. In 1991 she moved to New York City to study with Risa Steinberg of The Jose Limon Dance Co. Wendee has been a member of The Carolyn Dorfman Dance Company ( CDDC ) for the last 15 years, touring the US and Europe and also serving as the rehearsal director. When Wendee is not dancing, she is a Pilates and fitness instructor and runs her own studio in Stonington, Maine.
Dance Imagination, Pre-Ballet, Contemporary, Jazz & Modern
Beyond going nuts to Led Zeppelin LPs as a toddler, Rachel has studied and performed dance for over 30 years, including ballet, jazz, modern, contemporary, and contact improvisation. She has studied with world-renowned teachers, such as Nancy Stark Smith, Ray Chung, and Kirstie Simson, and regularly travels to Boston for continued training. She spent 2 years at Earthdance, an improvisational dance retreat center, where she began teaching contact improv and composition, and has been a proud dancer and choreographer for Collective Motion dance company since 2007. Rachel holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from Boston College, is a trained transformative mediator, and has worked extensively with teenagers in the criminal justice system. She fosters creativity, individualization, and confidence in her students, and trusts in the transformative healing process dance can bring to people when given the opportunity. She still goes nuts to Led Zeppelin.
LarryLee has been dancing since the earth was cooling. He has been associated with CBM for over thirty years, and Maine State Ballet for over twenty-five. Company credits include Atlanta Ballet, Ram Island Dance Company, Concert Dance Company of Boston, Ballet New England, Ballet Arts Minnesota, Zenon Dance Company, Minnesota Dance Theatre, and various pickup companies. He’s worked with many modern, jazz, and ballet choreographers, and danced in countless dances of others as repertory companies were his career choices. Performed lots of contemporary and classical ballets, too. LarryLee is grateful and thankful just to be able to continue dancing.
Kate Whalen has been dancing since the ripe old age of 4 studying tap, ballet, and musical theater jazz. She studied with Spotlight Vermont, the Vermont Conservatory of Ballet, and the University of Vermont. She has taken master tap classes at Steps in New York City as well as with Lisa Hopkins, Jeannie Hill, Josh Hilberman, and Michelle Dorrance. Kate taught tap, ballet, and musical theater jazz at Spotlight Vermont for 14 years as well as tap at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts. In addition to teaching, Kate has always been very active in theatre beginning with her first show in 1985. She has performed on stage in countless shows and has enjoyed the new challenges of being a director and choreographer, most proudly taking on those roles for Lyric Theatre Company’s Mary Poppins in Vermont. Kate relocated to the Portland area in 2019 and is thrilled to share her passion and love of dance, especially the joy of tap, with her new community in Maine.
Martha James, Office Manager
Founder of Casco Bay Movers Dance Studio and Guest Jazz Faculty
Sheila Bellefleur is the Founder (1981) and Artistic Director of the jazz ballet company Casco Bay Movers. With extensive training in jazz, her studies also have included Tai Chi Chuan, Mime, West African Dance, Ballet and the Alexander Technique with master teachers and choreographers in Europe, Africa, North and South America. Along with directing and teaching at the Casco Bay Movers Dance School, Sheila has taught at the University of Southern Maine, Bates College, Ram Island Dance Center, Universidade Federal Do Rio Grande Do Norte (Brazil), The American College of Greece, and The International Dance Project in Athens. In 1988, she received an Artist in Residence Grant from The National Endowment for the Arts through the Partners of the Americas to teach, choreograph and research dance in Brazil.
Sheila has served on the dance panel of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, studies anatomy for dancers with Irene Dowd in NYC, and is also a faculty member of the Coffee Mill Dance Studio in Key West Florida. Her instruction is based in ballet technique with a wide variety of jazz styles ranging from lyrical and cool to funk and blues.
Adult Repertory Group Instructor – Spring 2020 (on pause)
Brian Crabtree has been dancing and making dances for over thirty years in Boston, New York City, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and his beloved hometown of Portland, Maine. For eight years he was a dancer in Ram Island repertory Dance under the direction of Daniel McCusker. There he performed in the works of several choreographers including Lucinda Childs, Doug Varone, Maida Withers, Yvonne Rainer and Mr. McCusker. He formed an independent group to show his own early dances called Random Moves Dance Collective. He moved to Boston in 1994, and produced several projects of his own and in collaboration with Marjorie Morgan, Caitlin Corbett, Jody Weber, and Audra Carabetta.
His dances have received support and recognition from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, Cambridge Arts Council, Dance Umbrella, Somerville Arts Council, and This That Productions.
He has shown work at Dance Complex and Green St. Studios and has twice been a resident artist at Boston Center for the Arts. His dances have been favorably reviewed in the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, and Boston Phoenix. He returned home to Portland in April of last year.
Guest Faculty – Jazz
Debi Irons is a dancer/choreographer/educator with over 33 years in the contemporary dance world. She created a method of dance education called VARIANT in 1988 that fosters personal creativity and expression along with healthy technique and movement vocabulary. Debi inspires self-motivation in life through dance, guiding each individual to aspire toward their own unique potential; teaching correct yet natural technique in variant dance forms for a broad foundation. Debi is trained in modern, jazz, ballet, acrobatics, afro-Brazilian, street, tap, choreography, improvisation, and musical theatre dance. All are used in her teaching. She continues to study, collaborate and produce, challenging herself as an artist and human being. Debi has choreographed, performed, and/or taught on both coasts of the United States, in Brazil and Japan. Her VariantJazz (contemporary) method of dance education combines technique with self-expression and creativity. She works all over the state of Maine, including at Bates College, and has had a studio for 24 years in Norway, called ART MOVES, also home to outreach performing and teaching programs of the same name.
Irons has danced for jazz musicians and worked with many artists, presently for Esduardo Mariscal in his LUZ; Back to Brasil with Daielma Santos & Art Moves Dance Co. was fun; MID-LIFE RIOT with Santos and Sara Whale is a dream project. She is collaborating with composer Philip Jackson on ACORDA!(wake up!) which began at Bates College in 2011 and has taken them across the United States and into Brazil so far – in search of an ideal.
Guest Faculty – Contemporary/Heels
Viki received most of her professional training in Los Angeles on a Tremaine National Scholarship & in the San Francisco area with some of the most talented choreographers and educators. She has been a guest judge for Dance Masters Nationals in San Jose, CA. Victoria also filmed a commercial with Star Wars George Lucas, performed for Tom Hanks, and danced on the TV pilot More than Entertainment. In California, Viki wrote & directed Amour Du Mal (an original play told through dance) for Visual Rhythm Dance Company. For years, she was guest jazz & hip hop instructor at San Jose State University, as well as a teacher for several amazing studios which included student Nick Lazzarini who emerged as the winner of SYTYCD first season. Some of her former students have gone on to Broadway and successful careers in dance.
Upon returning to her native State of Maine, Viki received awards & accolades for her choreographies, scholarships to Millenium Dance Complex in L.A., and filmed a television commercial with Blake McGrath of SYTYCD. The pinnacle of her career occurred January 2007 when Mia Michaels honored Viki with a BDC scholarship.
Kelsie Steil is a dancer, choreographer, and outdoor educator living in the Portland, Maine area. She graduated from Plymouth State University with a Bachelor’s in Adventure Education and Dance in May 2018. There she received the Contemporary Dance Ensemble Award for her achievements in choreography. Kelsie has had the joy of living, dancing and creating internationally; her most recent major work was a three-part film project based in Lithuania. She is grateful for where she started her creative life, which was in public school dance and theatre programs where otherwise arts education would be inaccessible to her. Knowing the powerful effects that dance and creativity had on her growing up, she often works with youth to help foster that experience. Here in Maine, she enjoys dancing, teaching and creating work regularly while working seasonally as an outdoor educator for Rippleffect. Her happy places are open studios, open seas and any place she can laugh and eat good food with good people. https://kmsrandomdesigns.