Faculty

Sarah Purvis, EDC Director, Ballet and Pointe Instructor

Sarah received her early training from the Erie Civic Ballet School under the direction of Arlene Ashton Hay, Robert Steele, and Sharon Filone. As a dancer, she performed with the Lake Erie Ballet Company in Classical Symphony, Concerto Barocco, Coppélia, Giselle, Swan Lake, and The Nutcracker.  Her choreographic projects include Untitled Baroque, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, It’s Still Rockin’ Roll To Me, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Peter Pan, The Sleeping Beauty, The Wizard of Oz, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Cinderella, and The Nutcracker. Sarah’s teaching/rehearsal experiences include the Lake Erie Ballet School (9 years), Villa Maria Academy’s Dance Department (16 years), Salt & Pepper Mine Company (1 year) Lakettes Gymnastic Academy (7 years), New Castle Regional Ballet (3 years), and Erie Dance Conservatory, now in its 16th season. In 1994, Ms. Purvis was the only former student chosen to teach at the Lake Erie Ballet School while completing her degree from Mercyhurst College in 2002. Sarah is currently the Artistic Director of the Erie Contemporary Ballet Theatre.  Ms. Purvis has held the positions of President-Elect, President, and Past-President of the Erie Dance Consortium, the 2009, 2011, and 2013 Co-Chair of the Erie Festival of Dance, held the position of Treasurer and President of and is currently the Vice President of prestigious Regional Dance America/Northeast, a national organization of dancers, teachers, and choreographers.

Kimberly Clear, Jazz Instructor

Kimberly Clear began dancing at the age of two, starting a life-long passion for dance and choreography.  After studying ballet, tap, jazz, and acrobatics with Linda Crehan, Patricia Behan, and Lucy Casell, Kimberly continued to develop her technique with Maryanne Majer-Dombrowski as a member of the Mercyhurst Preparatory School Dance Company. While a member of the company, she performed and choreographed many pieces for various school and public productions. Kimberly attended Allegheny College, studying all forms of dance, with an emphasis in modern dance, under Jan Hyatt and James Reedy, serving as Vice-President and member of the Orchesis Dance Company. Graduating from Mercyhurst College with a degree in English and Political Science, she worked in advertising and sales before beginning her teaching career. Kimberly has been teaching English for over 10 years in the Millcreek School District and was given the “Golden Apple Teacher of the Year” in 2014. Beginning her seventh year instructing Jazz at Erie Dance Conservatory, Kimberly feels honored to be able to share her love and passion for dance as a member of the EDC faculty.

Tara DeSanto, Ballet Instructor

Tara DeSanto began dancing at the age of two in Denver, CO.  At age 11 she began her training at Erie Dance Conservatory under the direction of Sarah Purvis, School Director. She performed roles such as “Peppermint” in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the lead role in Cinderella, and had the opportunity to travel and perform in Montreal, Quebec.  Tara began attending dance summer intensives and was awarded multiple scholarships to programs such as the School of American Ballet (SAB), Chautauqua School of Dance, and Boston Ballet.  At age 15 she continued her training as a full-time pre-professional student at Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.  While there she had the opportunity to perform with PBT in The Nutcracker and Cinderella.  At age 17 Tara was accepted into the prestigious trainee program at Boston Ballet, where she also performed The Nutcracker and Swan Lake.  Ms. DeSanto then took a position with Sarasota Ballet in Florida where she performed such ballets as George Balanchine’s Jewels and Theme and Variations, and Frederick Ashton’s Scènes de Ballet.  Tara has since retired from dance and is thrilled to continue teaching at Erie Dance Conservatory while attending Mercyhurst University in the fall of 2018.

Emily Emanuel, Acrobatics Instructor

Emily Emanuel has trained with the Erie Dance Conservatory under the tutelage of Sarah Purvis since 2004 and has been a member of the Erie Contemporary Ballet Theatre since 2010. She has performed in leading roles such as “The Snow Queen,” “Dew Drop,” and “The Sugar Plum Fairy” in The Nutcracker, a ‘Cygnet” in Swan Lake, and leads in Paquita, Les Sylphides and more. She has danced in Kijuanta Lucas’ Untamed, William B. McClellan Jr.’s Urgency, Melissa Bobick’s Holberg Suite and Starland, Jon Lehrer’s A Ritual Dynamic, Ashley Walton’s Aloft, Solace in Light and Abandon, and many more. She has worked with master teachers such as Alaine Haubert, Igor Burlak, and Melissa Bowman to name a few. She has been accepted to many summer dance programs like American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet, Point Park International Summer Dance Intensive, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. She has received scholarship opportunities from both American Ballet Theatre and Point Park University. This is Emily’s fourth year as a faculty member of Erie Dance Conservatory.

Danielle Kaiser, Ballet, Pointe, Modern, and Jazz Instructor

Danielle hails from Downingtown, Pennsylvania; an alumni of Mercyhurst College class of 2010 with a double major in dance and secondary education mathematics. During her college career she opportunities to work closely with artists such as Elena Estanol, Bill Evans, Erin Tisdale, Momix Dance Company, and Valerie Valentine. Throughout her college career, Danielle performed as a company member of SoMar Dance Works; in addition to being a dancer for the Mercyhurst Laker Shakers Dance Team and the Erie Bayhawks AAA NBA dance team. Upon college graduation, Danielle began work for Princess Cruises as a dancer, ballet specialist, and company performance manager. She was fortunate enough to sail the seas aboard the Dawn, Emerald, and Grand Princess performing 9-12 month contracts for four years. Danielle currently works as the administrative assistant to the Mercyhurst University Dance Department and the advisor to the dance club. She currently teaches ballet, jazz, and modern for Erie Dance Conservatory and is in her sixth season as the Rehearsal Director for Erie Contemporary Ballet Theatre. She has had the honor of choreographing for the Dawn Princess with Princess Cruiselines, Regional Dance America Northeast, Mercyhurst University Dance Department, Cleveland Ballet Conservatory, Erie Contemporary Ballet Theatre, and Erie Dance Theatre. This is her second year as the Mercyhurst University Dance Team coach, while also pursuing her MFA in Choreography.

Megan Lay, ECBT/EDC Intern, Lakettes Ballet Instructor

Megan Lay is a senior dance major at Mercyhurst University and is serving as the arts administration intern for Erie Contemporary Ballet Theatre’s 2018-2019 Season. She is a member of The Mercyhurst Dancers, has danced with SoMar Dance Works for two seasons, appeared as a guest artist with Lake Erie Ballet, and has participated in various outreach performances. Her mentors have proclaimed her as someone who excels academically, is an expressive performer, creative choreographer and superior in her improvisational skills.  Megan’s training is a blend of Balanchine, Cecchetti and Vaganova ballet techniques. She has studied jazz technique at Giordano Dance Chicago’s summer workshop and has attended three American College Dance Association conferences. In her final year at Mercyhurst, she will act as Co-President for the Dance Club. Megan aspires to one day use her skill set as an arts administrator in a dance company and eventually direct a dance not for profit organization. Megan is excited to continue working at Erie Dance Conservatory/ Erie Contemporary Ballet Theatre and teach Ballet technique to gymnasts at Lakettes Gymnastic Academy.

Ashley Lauria, Tap Instructor

Ashley Lauria began her dance training at the age of 7 with the Little Dance Studio under the direction of Catherine Little and Sandra Little Barnett. While there, she trained in jazz, tap, ballet, hip-hop, and contemporary as well as Irish dance and belly dancing for 21 years. She was a member of the Jazz Kids Dance Company and attended Project Dance in New York City and performed in Times Square. Ashley became a classroom assistant at the age of 12 and was faculty/instructor for the studio for 15 years. In high school, Ashley was a part of Villa Maria Academy’s advanced dance program all four years, received a dance scholarship, and received instruction from Erie Dance Conservatory’s very own Sarah Purvis. In college, Ashley was a member of Gannon University’s dance team and competed locally in jazz and hip hop competitions. From 2002 to 2010, Ashley worked with the Footlight’s Summer Theatre Program as the assistant choreographer. Also, in September 2012 to May 2016, she became an instructor for Triple Threat Studio, where she taught jazz and musical theater. More recently, Ashley was also an instructor for Lake Erie Ballet where she taught contemporary from April 2017 to February 2018. She has also been the varsity cheerleading coach at Blessed Sacrament school since 2011. Ashley also has a Bachelor of Science degree in Dietetics from Gannon University and a Master of Arts degree in Health in Wellness from Union Institute and University. She currently works as a registered dietitian, maternity care coordinator and lactation consultant at the Erie VA Medical Center. She is also an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and helps mothers and infants as well. This is her first season with EDC and she is looking forward to it.

Molli Jane Norman, Hip Hop Instructor

Molli Jane Norman, originally from Conneaut Lake, PA, began her dance training at the age of three with Miss Dreama’s Darlings. At the age of 9, she and her family moved to Erie, PA, where she began dancing at Paula and Judy’s Dance Connection, where she remained for over 5 years training in acro, jazz, ballet, lyrical, hip hop and adagio. She was also on the company dance team where she began competing in dance competitions. Once in high school, she joined the McDowell Center of Performing Arts and McDowell High School Dance Team under the direction of Stacy Garrastazu. After high school, she majored in Elementary Education with a minor in dance at The Indiana University of Indiana and she was a member of The Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s Dance Team. From 2009 -2012 she was captain of The Erie Bayhawks D- League Dance Team. During that time, she was also the Assistant Dance Team Coach at Dance Vibe Studios. Molli Jane was also a coach and a dancer at The Dance Worlds in 2011 and 2012. In 2012 she moved to Los Angeles, CA training at The International Dance Academy, Millenium Dance Complex, Center Stage Dance Studio, and The Edge Dance Complex. While there she worked in music videos, commercials and television shows. She also trained with celebrity dance teachers Willdabeast Adams, Janelle Ginestra, Dejan Tubic, Matt Stefannia, and G Madison. After returning home from California in 2014, Molli Jane became the Head Dance Director and choreographer for X-Cel Athletics Dance Team. This is Molli Jane’s third year with Erie Dance Conservatory.

Amy Sabol, Hip Hop and Jazz Instructor

Amy Sabol started dancing at the age of 3 in Erie, PA under the direction of Judi Green. Amy attended Point Park University as a dance major her freshman year and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a B.S. in Dance Education. During this time Amy was a member of the American College Dance Festival Association (ACDFA) and participated in a piece that was chosen to perform on the Gala Concert. As an instructor, she completed her student teaching with Forsyth County School District teaching creative movement and dance to students from kindergarten through high school. Amy has taught ballet and jazz at Dan & Company Studios in Atlanta, GA, ballet, tap, and modern at the Laurel Arts Dance Center of Somerset, PA, and ballet, jazz, and modern as an adjunct faculty member at the School for the Performing and Visual Arts at Central High School in Erie, PA. As a performer, Amy danced with the Atlanta Jazz Theater studying under the tutelage of Kenneth Green, Terrell Paulk, and Disney choreographer Robbie Mackey to name a few. Amy was also a member of Pat McGowan & Dancers in Pittsburgh, PA. Currently, Amy is a dance instructor at the McDowell Center for Performing Arts. This is Amy’s seventh season on the EDC faculty.

Brenna Shuler, Acrobatics Instructor

Brenna Schuler began training in gymnastics at age two in Rancho Cucamonga, California at Precision Gymnastics, and continued her career in Pittsburgh, PA at Meadowlands Training Center. She was a competitive level 10 gymnast upon graduating from high school and won event national titles throughout her time competing.  She has taught gymnastics and acro classes at Lori Allen Dance Center in Canonsburg, PA for three years during her high school years. Upon graduation she furthered her love for the gymnastics by accepting a scholarship opportunity at Gannon University where she is studying athletic training. She is entering her third year on the Acrobatics and Tumbling team at Gannon University, and she looks forward to teaching at Erie Dance Conservatory for her first year.

Kelly Stolar, Tap Instructor

Kelly Stolar is a native of the Buffalo, N.Y. area where she had the wonderful opportunity to learn and work alongside her mother who taught dance in the Greater Buffalo area for 55 years and had studied Tap with Sammy Davis, Jr. and Fred Kelly (Gene’s younger brother). Following graduation from Allegheny College with a B.A. in Psychology and Elementary Education, Kelly founded and voluntarily directed Spring Hill Dance Academy, a free dance program for over 10 years on Pittsburgh’s North Side. During this same time, she was also a dance instructor at Michele’s Dance Center. Since moving to Erie in 2000, Kelly has been an instructor at the American College Dance Festival, Kristin’s Dance Company, Mercyhurst College’s Summer Dance Experience, Mercyhurst University Carpe Diem Academy, and Mercyhurst North East Dance Institute. Kelly currently works at the Neighborhood Art House, and is a Tap instructor for Erie Dance Conservatory, Erie Dance Theater, and Sovereign Ballet. She is also the Artistic Director for “Tap Essentials” her performance and competitive Tap group. Kelly remains current with her dance skills by attending workshops on a yearly basis and has most recently studied with Corey Snide, Taja Riley, Andy Pellick, Chloe Arnold and Melinda Sullivan. Other Tap professionals she has trained with are Michelle Dorrance, Savion Glover, Derick Grant, Jared Grimes, Jason Janas, Lisa LaTouche, Elec Simon, Jimmy Tate, Aaron Tolson, and Danny Wallace.  Kelly is excited to join the faculty of Erie Dance Conservatory for her ninth season.

Mary Vicary, Ballet Instructor

Mary Vicary began training in classical ballet under the tutelage of Sarah Purvis at age 10 and trained at the Erie Dance Conservatory upon its conception in 2003 until 2008.  There she performed such roles as “The Sugar Plum Fairy” and “Dew Drop” in The Nutcracker, “The Queen of Hearts” in Alice in Wonderland, and “The Fairy Godmother” in Cinderella.  In 2008, while a junior in high school, Mary was accepted into North Carolina Dance Theatre as a trainee performing under the direction of Jean Pierre Bonnefoux and Patricia McBride. She had the opportunity to performed in George Balanchine’s La Sonnabula, The Four Temperaments, Who Cares, Jean Pierre Bonnefoux’s The Nutcracker, several original works by Mark Diamond including Snow White and Carnival of the Animals, and original choreographic works by David Morse.  Mary has been accepted and awarded many scholarships such prestigious summer programs such as School of American Ballet, Central PA Youth Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre, Nation Choreographic Intensive, and received the Regional Dance America National Choreographic Award in 2008 and 2009 and the Kim Robards Dance 2009 scholarship.  Ms. Vicary has taught at Erie Dance Conservatory receiving her Bachelor of Science and Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Gannon University.  She completed an orthopedic physical therapy residency at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, specializing in pediatric orthopedic and sports injuries.  She is currently a board-certified clinical specialist in orthopedic physical therapy and works at Shriners Hospitals for Children-Erie as a physical therapist and Coordinator of Clinical Research in the Motion Analysis Center.  She is also an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Physical Therapy at Gannon University, and has experience working as a physical therapist with the medical staff for USA Gymnastics.  Mary is delighted to return to her roots at Erie Dance Conservatory and continue shaping the dancers of tomorrow.