Nina was born and grew up in New York City. She trained from the age of nine at the School of American Ballet in New York, and performed regularly in children's roles in many of New York City Ballet’s productions, including ‘Nutcracker,’ ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream,’ ‘Coppelia,’ and ‘Harlequinade.’ In 1984, she moved to San Francisco to join the San Francisco Ballet. She left San Francisco in 1991, first for France where she danced with Le Ballet du Nord, and then Montreal where she danced with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, retiring in 1996. While a student at SAB, she trained extensively in classical Pilates with the late Romana Kryzanowska, one of Joseph Pilates’ early students and his designated successor. Nina also teaches yoga, and is certified in the Iyengar method, having trained in Paris with M Faeq Biria, one of BKS Iyengar’s leading disciples in the West. She has taught yoga in New York, London and Melbourne, Australia. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Great Barrington.
Ballet | JAZZ
Melanie Najarian has been teaching dance in the Greater Boston area since graduating college in 2002. She holds a B.A. in Music from Clark University, where she danced with, choreographed for, and co-directed the Variant Dance Troupe. Following her passion for teaching dance, she earned her A.A. in Dance from Dean College. At Dean, she took classes in all styles of dance as well as pedagogy, choreography, and creative movement for children. She has since then danced with the SRO Players of Lowell and participated in Boston Ballet’s Adult Summer Dance Program. Before moving to the Berkshires, Melanie was the General Manager of Dance This Way, a full-service dancewear store in Concord, MA. She also co-choreographed the annual musicals at RJ Grey Junior High School in Acton, which included the junior versions of Guys and Dolls, Honk, Willy Wonka, Once On This Island, and Bye Bye Birdie. Prior to college, Melanie studied at the former Belmont School of Ballet.
STEFANIE LYNX WEBER
Stefanie is an action-based artist who specializes in dance, movement and performance. She has worked with many organizations such as Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, Barrington Stage Company, Berkshire Opera Company, Simon’s Rock College of Bard, Williams College, Berkshire Community College, BaRT Charter School, Terpsichore Dance Studio, Lenox Community Center, Berkshire Dance Theatre, Hudson’s Operation Unite, Hudson Opera House, East Harlem Union Settlement Association, Art in Odd Places, Somerville’s ArtBeat, and Cambridge River Festival; as an artist, educator, performer, or choreographer. Presently she is on faculty with Community Access to the Arts and Kinesphere Movement Arts Studio.
Stefanie is developing with collaborating artist Monika Pizzichemi, They Dance for Rain which is an on-going dance making and photography project in Nairobi, Kenya that works with arts-for-social-change organizations including: VOCAL, Shangilia, ACREF, artists at GoDown Arts Center and Sarakasi Trust. Exhibitions of photographic work from the project have been featured in various Tap Festivals through the US including Austin’s Sole to Soul Festival and the Beantown Tap Festival. Pittsfield, MA being their artistic home-base has invited exhibits at The Lichtenstein Center for the Arts and The Whitney Center for The Arts.
Stefanie is the founder and artistic director of the Creatures of Habitat Physical Poetry Public Performance Project and Pittsfield City Hoopla and is a performer with Nutshell Playhouse and Tap & Blues: Two White Girls & the Backbeat. She was a co-director and performer with the ethereal roving act of the Silver Swimmers (USA) from 2006-2013 and the Commonwealth Tap Collective based in Boston in 2008-09. A dancer with Caryn Heilman’s LiquidBody Dance for six years, Stefanie immersed herself in the the work of movement pioneer Emily Conrad. She collaborates frequently with various local and international artists, musicians and community development enthusiasts. Her work and development has been supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council and The Capezio/Ballet Makers Dance Foundation.
Stefanie is a certified Gyrotonic instructor, former Americorps Member, graduate of UMASS Amherst with a degree in Environmental Sciences (focus on toxicology), and has taken artistic residency with The Storefront Artist Project (02-06) and Dana Bixby Architecture . She was a scholarship student for the Jazz Traditions (97) and Leading Communities to Dance/Choreography Lab (03) programs in the Jacob’s Pillow Professional School. She is a an active board member of Tamarack Hollow Nature & Cultural Center in Windsor, MA and on the mayoral appointed Cultural Development Board for the city of Pittsfield.
In Spring of 2007, Stefanie was recognized as a “Young Woman Moving the Berkshires Forward” by the Berkshire Eagle newspaper and awarded certificate as an asset to the community by State Senator Benjamin Downing.
To learn more about Stefanie and her work, you can visit her website, Fertile Universe.
Cardio Groove-Combo | Cardio/Core
Mimi’s early career (pre-children) included practicing law, nonprofit arts administration and film and television production in San Francisco. While living in the Bay Area, Mimi studied ballet, modern dance, Afro-jazz, American show jazz, contact improvisation and tap. She performed with the Gloria Unti Modern Dance group for several years.
After moving to Austin, Texas in 1989, Mimi became a nationally certified ACE Aerobics Instructor and Personal Trainer. Mimi combined her dance experience with her knowledge of body mechanics to create a unique style of aerobic dance. After two years of intensive Iyengar yoga training, Mimi opened her own yoga studio in 1995. Mimi continued to teach in large fitness clubs throughout Austin and also maintained a vibrant personal training business. Mimi has taught every possible format of land aerobics including cardio-funk, cardio-yoga, step, Zumba, cardio-sculpt and circuit training. Mimi believes that it is imperative to keep growing and learning, and to that end she has received certifications in Indoor Cycling (Spinning), Advanced Mat Pilates, Zumba and Barre since moving to the Berkshires in 2004.
Locally, Mimi has taught fitness classes, yoga, Pilates and Zumba at Berkshire South Community Center, Simon’s Rock, Cranwell Resort, Berkshire Functional Fitness and Berkshire Pulse. Mimi also wrote and produced her own weekly radio show,” Mimi’s Morning Mojo” for WSBS.
Mimi is co-founder and managing partner of CATWALK Boutique which benefits Berkshire Humane Society, and she also sits on the Advisory Board of PURRADISE. Mimi lives in Great Barrington with her lovely husband Mark Lefenfeld and 2 Siamese cats (all rescues). Mimi fervently believes that exercise is the “fountain of youth” and plans to just keep moving.
MAX CHOIR DIRECTOR
Originally hailing from Montrose, NY, Sunhwa Reiner is a teacher, musician, and life-long learner. She is the choral and general music teacher at Monument Valley Regional Middle School in Great Barrington, MA, with a B.M. in Music Education from the Ithaca College School of Music. She studied piano for 7 years under Jennifer Hayghe, Gregory DeTurck, and Rumiko Isaksen and studied voice under Carl Johengen for 3 years. She has sang in several award-winning choirs, including the Ithaca College Choir, accompanied several vocalists and youth choirs, and participated in many music conferences around the country. Sunhwa is currently on the board of directors for the Association for Popular Music Education and works to promote popular music teacher education on college campuses. She is passionate about community collaboration and has been involved with several other community projects, such as the Berkshire Tree Sisters and the Word Project Improv Troupe through Berkshire United Way.
ART OF PERFORMANCE & COMPOSITION
Gina Bashour is a choreographer and performer with over 20 years of experience as a professional performer, choreographer, teacher, and coach. She has been choreographing nationally since 2001, and has been praised by the New York Times as a “powerhouse”.
Native to the Berkshires and based in New York, Gina was a founding member and performed both nationally and internationally with Palissimo Dance Theatre, Ashleigh Leite Dance, and The Kinesis Project. She also performed and collaborated with Jody Oberfelder & Company, Alethea Adsitt & Company, Alberto Denis, Paul Singh, and others. Gina performed with the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center, was featured as a principle dancer in the Off-Broadway production of Thin Line directed by Derek Mitchell, and has been commissioned nationally as a guest teacher and choreographer.
Gina studied at Jacob's Pillow, American Dance Festival, and holds a BFA in dance from Adelphi University. She has had the fortune to work with such dance legends as Carmen Delavallade, Gelsey Kirkland, James Truitte, Rebecca Wright, David Parsons, Sean Curran, and Marlies Yearby.
Gina Bashour brings the Art of Performance and Composition to Moving Arts Exchange. In a two-part series, Gina's classes offer tools to generate ideas, create movement, utilize improvisation, and enhance the individual dancer to become a more expressive, engaging performer.
MOLLY CHRISTIE GONZÁLEZ
Molly is an Assistant Professor in Dance/Dance Education at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and with the Five College Dance Department. She received her MFA in Dance Performance and Choreography and an MA in Dance Education with Pre-K-12 Teacher Certification from the College at Brockport, and a BFA in Modern Dance from the University of the Arts. Her teaching philosophy, choreography, and research is grounded in thirty years of experience in Katherine Dunham Technique and Philosophies. She was personally certified by Ms. Dunham in 2004 as a teacher, after having served as a technique demonstrator for her and other Dunham master teachers.
Molly’s artistic practice and training is dually rooted in modern dance and traditional dance and music languages. She has conducted research in Brazil, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Senegal which continues to inform her artistic and academic work. She co-founded Trio Dourado Brazilian Dance Company and Cuban Latin Cabaret Productions, and has performed, choreographed, and costumed a range of modern, Brazilian, Cuban and West African based companies. She has been Guest Artist for the College at Brockport’s Sankofa African Dance and Drum Ensemble and at SUNY Geneseo.
She has taught extensively within elementary through university level school and community settings for over twenty years, designing curriculum and directing programs for children through adults within diverse dance educational and performance environments, as well as in the Pilates and HIV/AIDS risk reduction education fields. Before joining the faculty at UMass, she was an adjunct professor at Morrisville State College, Bard College at Simon’s Rock, and Bard Academy, and developed the middle and high school dance programs at an arts-integrated Expeditionary Learning school in Buffalo, NY.