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Arts in Education

Classical Kids

Our flagship in-school program, Classical Kids, reaches 10,000+ students annually in more than 70 elementary and middle schools. The program is offered for free to schools and consists of a school performance, study guides, and free tickets to a selected New York City Ballet or Philadelphia Orchestra performance at SPAC in the summer.

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SPAC Dance Project

The SPAC Dance Project is a multi-week arts education program offered during the school day to an entire grade level, giving young people the opportunity to build confidence, connect with peers, and achieve success through dance. The program culminates in a celebratory performance for the school as well as invited friends and family.

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Festival of Young Artists

The Festival of Young Artists is a free community event and online gallery that is presented annually to celebrate the creativity of hundreds of the Capital Region’s brightest young actors, dancers, musicians, singers, poets, and visual artists. Check out the current online gallery and learn more about the next live festival event!

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Summer Nights at SPAC

Our Summer Nights at SPAC program provides free transportation, meals, and amphitheater seating to hundreds of children and family members at select performances during the SPAC summer season. Working alongside local organizations that provide services to youth and families, we offer unforgettable, first-time experiences with the performing arts that many could not otherwise afford.

If you are involved with a Capital Region family, youth, and/or senior services provider and would like to find out more, please contact us.

Partnering Organizations

CEO – Commission on Economic Opportunity
Boys and Girls Club of the Capital Area
CAPTAIN Community Human Services
Franklin Community Center
The Charlton School
BCCA Backstretch Families
NY Race Track Chaplaincy
St. Catherine’s Center for Children
Foster Families of Saratoga County
Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady
Northern Rivers Family of Services
St. Luke’s Roman Catholic Church
Hometown Health Centers
Schenectady YMCA
Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Southern Adks
Capital District YMCA
Amorak Youth

Our AIE Team

Dennis Moench

Vice President of Education

Learn more about Dennis

Dennis has worked for the past 6 years to enhance and expand SPAC’s arts education offerings throughout the Saratoga, Adirondack, and Capital Regions. In his first 3 years as director, the program grew from reaching approximately 5,000 students annually to reaching more than 49,000. Prior to his arrival at SPAC, Dennis worked for 12 years in New York City as an AEA actor, and he performed on Broadway as well as in theatres across North America with the companies of Les Miserables, Mary Poppins, All Shook Up, and Fame. He studied theatre, music, and dance at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and he holds a BFA in Drama from NYU. As an educator, Dennis has worked for nearly two decades as a teaching artist in New York City and throughout the greater Capital Region and has developed and taught various courses in dance, theatre, and vocal performance.

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Jillian Zygo

Director of Arts in Education and Community Programs 

Learn more about Jill

Jillian Zygo has spent the last four years at SPAC supporting the department and helping it to expand. She is primarily responsible for Classical Kids and the SPAC Dance Residency, two of the fasting growing arts educational outreach programs in the Saratoga, Adirondack, and Capital Regions. Jill is a SUNY Geneseo graduate with a degree in Theatre and a minor in Musical Theatre.  She has been a professional performer since she was sixteen years old and has toured to 49 of 50 states with Broadway shows singing, dancing, and acting. While living in NYC, she was a founding member of the Child Guardian Union on Broadway (ONCE, ANNIE, LES MIS). She then returned home to Saratoga County where she has continued teaching and nurturing the love of the Arts.

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Linsey Reardon

Education Events Coordinator

Learn more about Linsey

Linsey joined the SPAC team in May of 2022. She helps plan and execute educational arts programs and initiatives, such as the Festival of Young Artists and the Summer Nights at SPAC program. Linsey’s experience in arts education advocacy, teaching, nonprofit administration, and community outreach along with her passion for accessibility and inclusion led her to her role at SPAC. She holds a BS in Interdisciplinary Arts for Children from SUNY Brockport. Linsey is a talented visual artist with specialties in painting and design. She is grateful to be a part of this incredible team!

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Mike Zygo

Arts Educator

Learn more about Mike

Mike is a former Broadway Actor/Musician and has performed, directed, and music directed all over the country. He was an original cast member/musician of 8-time Tony Award winning “Once” on Broadway and featured on the Grammy Award-winning Cast Album. He also performed in “School of Rock” on Broadway and myriad other productions Off-Broadway, National Tours, and Regional Theaters. Mike holds a B.A. in Music from SUNY Geneseo with a focus in Classical Voice Performance. He is currently the Lead Teaching Artist for the SPAC Dance Residency which allows thousands of local elementary school kids the opportunity to experience the life-enhancing benefits of dance every year.

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Elizabeth Woodbury Kasius

SPAC Dance Residency Musician

Learn more about Elizabeth

Elizabeth is a pianist, composer and drummer based in Troy, NY. She leads the world jazz group, Heard and the modern chamber ensemble, Red Canna, in addition to working regionally in area schools as an Arts-in-Education musician and educator. More about Elizabeth can be found at:

Brian Melick

SPAC Dance Residency Musician

Learn more about Brian

Musician, Educator, Author, Designer has been professionally involved in music since the early age of 13.  Featured recording artist on over 450 commercially released recordings on independent as well as major labels highlighted by his seven solo projects, “Percussive Voices” Hudson Valley Records (debut at 23 on the World Music Chart), “Diverse Elements”, “uduboy”, “In Motion”, “Diverse World”, “Perpetual Motion”, and “The Art Of Udu” Gene Michael Productions.  The Last three of which were released as sound libraries and are now placed with Universal Pictures, MGM Studios, Columbia Pictures, Fox Network, Discover Channel, TLC, and with Disney.  Very active educator offering Participatory Workshops, Master classes, Individual Lessons for all ages focusing on the World of Percussion, World of Udu, and Making and Playing Percussion Instruments Out Of Found Objects as well as lecturer on “Music as a Career”.  Highlights include two books and two instructional DVDs released to support his work on the Udu Drum (Nigerian Side Hole Pot Drum) “The How To of Udu” Alfred Publishing as well as “Making Percussion Instruments out of Found Objects” which has been the catalyst for a 15-week course curriculum that has been produced by Community Learning and continues to be sold throughout North America.  He holds several US Patents for his custom designed percussion stands and built and performs on the first ever Lego Drum Set which was featured in the international drum magazine Modern Drummer. Brian made a second Lego Drum Set for the permanent collection of Percussive Arts Society’s international percussion museum known as Rhythm! Discovery Center in Indianapolis Indiana. Brian maintains a very diverse recording and performing schedule throughout the US and Canada including producing his own 4-part concert series’. Visit Brian online at

Rachale Mullally

SPAC Dance Residency Teaching Artist

Learn more about Rachale

Rachale Mullally has studied dance since the age of 4 in Upstate New York. After learning under
inspiring mentors at a prestigious tap studio, she decided to continue her career and earn her BFA
in Dance Theater at AMDA Los Angeles. Upon graduating, she knew that teaching would be the
most rewarding way to pass on this new-found knowledge and love within the art. She feels
extremely inspired to have the opportunity to continue sharing her art and what she’s learned to
the generations of dancers to come.

Cristiane Santos

SPAC Dance Residency Teaching Artist

Learn more about Cristiane

Born in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Cristiane graduated summa cum laude from SUNY Albany with a BS in Human Biology. She has extensive training in Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis methodologies and has been certified in both since 2002. Cristiane danced and taught ballet and tap for seven years at Ballet Vera Bublitz in Brazil. She was accepted to Dance Theatre of Harlem (DTH) school with a full scholarship and joined the company’s Dancing Through Barriers Ensemble through which she performed in lecture demonstrations at public schools around the country, taught movement classes in NYC public schools, and performed with DTH during its 30th anniversary season. Cristiane has taught Gyrotonic and Gyrokinesis locally and in NYC at Studio Riverside, Steps on Broadway, and Ballet Arts at City Center, and has been a guest teacher for Ballet Hispánico School of Dance Summer Program, Hartwick College Dance Team, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Cristiane served as Co-Director of the National Museum of Dance’s School of the Arts. In 2020, Cristiane founded Saratoga Spring Youth Ballet alongside Joan K. Anderson. She is also a Dance Lecturer at Skidmore College. Photo credit Susan Blackburn

Frankie Soldevere

SPAC Dance Residency Teaching Artist

Learn more about Frankie

Frankie Soldevere (she/her) is an Upstate New York-based dance educator, choreographer, and scholar. She holds an MFA in Dance from SUNY Brockport and a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from Dean College where she was the 2016 recipient of the Board of Trustees Prize for the Joan Phelps Palladino School of Dance. Her legacy lives on at Dean as the Founder and President of Loose Screws, the Dean College Tap Team. She has performed professionally with Ryan P. Casey’s Off Beat tap company in their 2016 regional tour of “Unbound: a rhythmic romp through classic literature,” The Boston Tap Company, and Dropkick Murphys. Currently, Frankie travels nationally to set choreography, teach master classes, and adjudicate dance competitions.

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