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Our Team

Administrative Team

Jess Bien

Director of SPAC School of the Arts

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Jess returns to upstate NY after spending the past 20 years in the Greater Philadelphia area as a performer and educator. She discovered her passion for the stage at a young age and has spent the rest of her life dedicated to pursuing the joy that comes from connecting with others through the arts. She has performed at Carnegie Hall under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle and has directed hundreds of students in musical theatre productions. She holds a BS in English Education from Temple University and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership from the University of Delaware. Her work in education continues with a focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. She is honored to take on the role of Director of the SPAC School of the Arts, as it represents the intersectionality of things she is passionate about: education, equity, and the arts. She is happy to be home again and grateful to be a part of making the arts accessible to everyone.

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Dennis Moench

Vice President of Education

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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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J. Michael Zygo

Arts Educator

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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. Mike is so excited to join the team at SPAC School of the Arts and to make music with all you wonderful people! Come join us at SOTA!!

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Jill Moffett

School Administrator

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Jill is at home in the arts world, having caught the desire to create early. Born and raised in Burnt Hills, NY, she loved being both on and behind the scenes. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Theatre from SUNY Potsdam, and her master’s from SUNY Albany, also in Theatre Arts. She has been on the stage in some form or another since the second grade at Charlton Heights Elementary school and never looked back.   From an early age Jill was civically minded and very aware that being part of the community where you live has a huge impact on the lives around you. Volunteering with and fundraising for local organizations keeps her in touch with the happenings of local businesses. Working with the students, families, and faculty of SPAC School of the Arts allows her to use her strengths of organizational skills, multi-tasking, and making people smile. The best part of any job. Seeing someone realize just how a dance step, or a line in a play, or even the correct chord makes sense in the phrasing for the first time is priceless. Being there from the beginning of that process, creating where to go next, and watching the student progress, is the most amazing and fulfilling experience a person can have in life.

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Frankie Soldevere

Arts Educator

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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. Frankie is thrilled to be joining the team of educators at SPAC School of the Arts!

Teaching Artists  

Lauren T. Berkman

Theatre and Voice Instructor

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Lauren is an actor, singer, and teaching artist originally from Scottsdale, Arizona. She has performed and taught throughout the U.S. and internationally, from Argentina to Switzerland. After receiving her Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from Boston Conservatory, Lauren studied theater at L’Ecole de Comédie Musicale in Paris, France. In Paris, she performed with companies American Musical Theater LIVE! and Broadway au Carré, premiering new musical theater works in France, and taught English through theater and song to children of all ages. Since returning to the states in 2016, Lauren has directed children’s theater and performed regionally throughout the U.S. Favorite performance credits include Into the Woods, Ordinary Days, Next Thing You Know, Rock of Ages, and singing at Carnegie Hall, Feinstein’s 54 Below, and on Radio France! She is thrilled to join the team at SPAC School of the Arts, and for the opportunity to work with the young artists of this community!

Mary Anne Fantauzzi

Dance Instructor

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Mary Anne has been a fitness professional since 1981 with certifications through AFAA, ESA and Balletone, eventually establishing Total Body Trifecta Fitness Studio in 1997. She was a New York City Ballet Workout instructor from 2001 until the program ended in 2011. Mary Anne is the president of the Capital Region’s Dance Alliance and the founding artistic advisor of its teen outreach program MOVE Dance. Her association with the National Museum of Dance was as a longtime volunteer. Thirty-two years later she was hired as its Docent Coordinator after retiring in 2018 as a mathematics teacher in the Saratoga Springs City School District.

Tina Fretto

Dance Instructor

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As a native Saratoga Springs jazz tap artist and educator, Tina has taught, performed, and choreographed throughout New York, New Jersey and New Endand over the last 30 years.

A protege of Brenda Bufalino, her work is influenced by the lineage and repertoire of the Copasetics Club – the original 21-member group of hoofers whose artistry laid the foundation for the jazz tap form. As a dance educator, she has taught ages 3 through adult in the genres of creative movement, jazz, tap, hip hop, and musical theatre dance. From 2002-2020, she was the owner/artistic director of Saratoga Jazz Tap where she mentored dancers, created new works, and produced concerts and annual festivals for National Tap Dance Day. She has had the privilege of teaching at dance studios and educational institutions throughout the Capital Region including the Emma Willard School, Russell Sage, and Skidmore College. As a performer, she has worked with musicians Chuck Lamb & Ria Curley, Brian Melick, Brian Patneaude, Danny Welchel, the Albany Symphony Orchestra, and the Alex Torres Orchestra, and performed at Jacob’s Pillow, The Troy Saving’s Bank Music Hall, The National Museum of Dance, and In NYC at Swing 46 under the auspices of Buster Brown, and Zinno’s with Barbara Duffy & Company. She has choreographed & directed for the American Tap Dance Foundation’s “Something’s-A-Foot”, Saratoga City Ballet’s, “The Nutcracker: Sweet & Swingin”, Saratoga Arts Festival, The National Museum of Dance Black History Month Celebration, Margo Mensing’s, “Stop Time: Louis Armstrong Celebration”, Saratoga Children’s Theatre, and Saratoga Springs High School Drama Club. Her passion is sharing the joy of dance & rhythm with people of all ages and abilities, uplifting and empowering them to experience the freedom of artistic expression. With a B.A. degree in Theatre Arts & Directing from the State University of New York at Albany, she is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Childhood & Special Education at Fordham University, with a focus on the impact of dance on the brain and neural synchrony. Tina is thrilled to be joining the team at SOTA!

Alex Grandy

Ukulele Instructor

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Alex is a local musician, born and raised in Saratoga Springs. He holds a B.A. in Music Industry with an emphasis on Audio Arts Production from SUNY Oneonta. After getting his degree in 2015, Alex began giving private guitar and ukulele instruction as well as managing the Saratoga Guitar Store. He went on to teach ukulele and chorus at the Waldorf School of Saratoga Springs. Currently, Alex teaches guitar and ukulele at Rural Soul Music Studio in Schuylerville. He enjoys being an active member in the music community as he continues his passion for teaching.

Patrice Hemsworth

Ballet Instructor

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Born and raised in NYC. Studied at the School of American Ballet for 11 years. Joined Chicago City Ballet at 17. Joined Feld/ Ballets NY at 24. After retiring from performing, became teacher and ballet master for Feld Ballet and the affiliate school Ballet Tech. Became director of faculty for the Ballet Tech school when the company disbanded. Retired and moved to Saratoga Springs last year after 34 years with Ballet Tech.

JP Hubbs

Piano Instructor

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JP Hubbs is a Queensbury native who has been fostering a passion for piano, singing, and music for years. He graduated from the State University of New York at Fredonia in 2015 where he studied piano, and participated in a variety of vocal and musical ensembles. JP stays connected with the community by accompanying local choirs and theater shows, as well as playing in a variety of bands and teaching piano lessons.

Johnny Martinez

Dance Instructor

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Johnny Martinez was born and raised in Brooklyn NY, moving up to Saratoga Springs almost 18 years ago.  He began his dance career in concert dance, performing with the Nanette Bearden Contemporary Dance Theater and the Annabella Gonzalez Dance Theater.  Johnny then found himself performing in musicals both regional and touring, performing in national and European tours of West Side Story and Damn Yankees.  Locally he has performed, choreographed and directed with the Homemade Theater, Glens Falls Community Theater, Capital Rep in Albany, Opera Saratoga, Adirondack Children’s Troupe, the Schenectady Theater for Children, the Lake Ave Elementary Drama Club, Nacre Dance Group, Saratoga City Ballet, Tango Fusion, MLK Saratoga and some featured commercials.  With wife and partner Diane Lachtrupp, Johnny co-directs Tango Fusion Dance Company and Studios teaching all forms of ballroom and partner dance to children and adults.

Kai Moses

Dance Instructor

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Kai found a love for dance and music at the tender age of 2, and never looked back. Growing up as a homeschooled student for most of her childhood, Kai had the freedom to explore and study various styles of dance, including contemporary, jazz, tap, hip-hop, and African dance styles. Kai discovered her love of theatre in high school, where she was enrolled in John Sayles School of Fine Arts. She got a role in her first musical, Guys and Dolls, and went on to perform in 8 different theatre and musical productions. She moved to NYC and graduated with her bachelors in Commercial Dance Studies and Communications, from Pace University in 2015. Currently, Kai is an Asst. Property Manager for a real estate development company, but she is excited to jump back into the world of creative arts, her true passion.

Deb Rutledge

Dance Instructor

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Dr. Deb Rutledge graduated cum laude from Ohio University, with a BFA in Dance in 2001. Deb began her professional career performing Modern dance as a soloist for many regional companies such as Ellen Sinopoli Dance Company, Maude Baum and Company Dance Theatre, Nacre Dance and Loose Change Dance Company. She began teaching dance at the age of 15 at The Dance Center of Queensbury where she taught ballet, tap and worked as a rehearsal assistant to the Artistic Director of The Adirondack Ballet Company. She went on to become a senior faculty member for eba Center for Dance, Youth Ballet Company and The School of the Arts at the National Museum of Dance. In addition, Deb worked as an Arts -in-Education curriculum development and grant writing for eba Center for Dance. In 2009, Deb received her Doctor of Physical Therapy and has worked in spinal clinics, neuro-developmental rehabilitation and gerontology in clinics and treatment centers throughout the Capital District. She completed her RYS -200 Yoga Teacher Training in June of 2016 under the tutelage of Meg Horan at Terra Firma Pure Warrior School, where she served as Anatomy and Physiology instructor from 2016-2021. In 2017, Deb received her Yin Yoga Certification under the guidance of Josh Summers.

Megan Stacey

Theatre Instructor

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Megan is a local Director, Performer, Artist, Educator, and Professionally Fun woman based out of Lake George NY. After receiving degrees in New Media and Theatre and Performance (with a concentration in Directing) from SUNY Purchase, she has taken her love for digital arts and experimental theatre across the creative fields, and the country. From serving as the Artist in Residence at the Billings Public Library in Montana, to acting as the Arts and Events Coordinator for the Ridgewood Event Center in Colorado, to devising immersive and site-specific performance at Historic Huguenot Street as the Arts and Interpretation Manager, she has found a way to foster creative communities wherever she can. You may also have caught her onstage at venues such as Dixon Place in NYC, or regionally at the Park Theatre, Cohoes Music Hall, Fort Salem Theatre, and Spa City. She now serves as a resident director for Saratoga Children’s Theatre, a traveling Educator for the World Awareness Children’s Museum, a performer for Historic Saratoga, and a singer/emcee for her duo act: Pat and Meg Live! She is delighted to join the School of the Arts, and the SPAC community as a whole, and cannot wait to see what we can make together!”

Olivia Walton

Theatre Instructor

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Olivia Walton hails from California’s San Francisco Bay Area. She started her theater career at the age of 12 in a middle school production of “Hello, Dolly!” Since then, she has performed in dozens of plays and musicals in schools and community theaters. Olivia has trained in improvisational theater and comedy for almost 20 years. Her passion for ‘prov started in high school, where she had the privilege to train for four years with two extremely talented Bay Area Theatresports (BATS) coaches. She played on the University of Oregon’s improv team, Absolute Improv for four years. She has been a Pro player with Comedy Sportz in Portland, Oregon and since moving to New York, worked with Mopco Improv Theater in Schenectady in both long form and Theater Sports formats. She is thrilled to be sharing her appreciation for listening, positivity, and teamwork in improv with the students at SOTA!

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