DELAWARE ARTS CONSERVATORY
Tracy Friswell-Jacobs started dancing and performing at the age of 2½. She studied ballet, jazz, musical theatre, and tap throughout her school career, and went on to graduate from the University of Delaware with a degree in Elementary and Special Education and minors in English and Theatre. For seven years, she taught a variety of subjects at the Cab Calloway School of the Arts in Wilmington, DE while still pursuing her love of performing.
Her favorite role to date is twice playing Audrey in Little Shop of Horrors. A blonde herself, Tracy says, "You have to be intelligent to appreciate the humor in playing a dumb blonde." Other favorite roles include Polly in Crazy For You, Rizzo and Sandy in multiple productions of Grease (for which she received a Stoney Award), Lola in Damn Yankees, Ruby in Dames at Sea, and Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Tracy also performs with her husband as ON TAP and has traveled the world entertaining on luxury cruise ships and on several tours with Charo and The Drifters.
On the other side of performing, Tracy has directed and choreographed numerous shows including the world premiere of Anything Cole at the Riverfront Arts Center in Wilmington, Gershwin, By George! (also at the Arts Center), Annie, The King and I, Bye Bye Birdie, The Boys from Syracuse, Anything Goes, Oklahoma!, The Wiz, and Cinderella for theatre companies in the Mid-Atlantic States. Choreographic highlights include having her choreography performed at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. in June of 2000 and at Lincoln Center in NYC as part of a benefit for the police and firefighters following 9/11. Tracy can be seen in numerous print ads, commercials, and industrial films for companies like QVC, Hershey Foods, Unisys, The Vanguard Group, CBS3, and Electronics Boutique. She can also be seen in the featured films Dead Poet's Society and Flying Blind.
Tracy has received much recognition in the Miss America pageant system, winning the 1994 talent award for her song and dance routine in the Miss Delaware pageant. The following year, she was the runner-up to Miss Delaware, winning thousands of dollars in scholarships. Through this organization, Tracy has performed at functions for The American Cancer Society and Rotary International and was involved with the pageant system for over five years as an executive director for pageant hopefuls. She currently judges preliminary pageants and choreographs for pageant contestants.
When not teaching at DelArts and performing, Tracy teaches theatre and dance at MOT Charter School in Middletown, DE. She is also the mother to Benjamin and Ella. She occasionally sleeps.
Laura Russo received her Associates Degree in Graphic Design from the Antonelli Institute of Art & Photography and her Bachelors of Fine Arts and Bachelors of Art Education from Arcadia College (formerly Beaver College) in Philadelphia, where she was selected as the Student Art Teacher of the Year. Laura also student-taught at the Philadelphia School for the Blind and has a published teaching unit of Native American art adapted for blind students.
For ten years Laura taught art and theatre for the Christina School District both at the elementary and middle school levels. To foster awareness and appreciation of the students’ abilities and talents, she organized student art exhibits and produced and directed several musical theatre productions. Her creativity was also exhibited in designing theatrical sets and costumes.
Laura studied theatre at the University of Delaware and has both extensive on stage and back stage theatrical experience. As a director, Laura has helmed productions of Li'l Abner, The Wiz, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Grease, and Seussical The Musical. She has enjoyed performing in many shows including You're A Good Man, Charlie Brown, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, The Roar Of The Greasepaint The Smell Of The Crowd, Cabaret, and Grease.
Other noteworthy credits include working for ten years alongside photographer Jo Vernon at the Photo Design Group, where her experiences included wedding album layout and production, working extensively as a hair and fashion model for Main Line Models, and holding the title of Modern Miss Pennsylvania 1985. While holding this title, Laura had the opportunity to work with the Special Olympics and the Make A Wish Foundation. Following her reign, she judged Modern Miss State Pageants.
Laura continues to work as a commercial painter, portrait artist, fine arts photographer, and portrait photographer, as well as playing the role of mother to her three children - Madison, Austin, and Carson.
Scott Jacobs received his degree in Musical Theatre Performance from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. He trained with June Taylor dancer, Jacque Jaeger, and with legendary tapper and Tony Award-winning choreographer, Henry LeTang.
Scott wrote, produced, choreographed, and performed in his comedy / tap dance show, ON TAP. As ON TAP he has traveled the world from Russia, Israel, and Thailand to Italy, Spain, Greece and Morocco (just to name a few), performing as a headline act on luxury cruise ships and has performed on several world and inaugural cruises. ON TAP has also toured with Charo, The Drifters, and Barry Williams (Television’s Greg Brady from “The Brady Bunch”), and has danced with the world renowned Harry James Orchestra under the direction of Fred Radke.
Prior to ON TAP, Scott performed as Donald O’Connor in the critically acclaimed Las Vegas production of That’s Entertainment Live! starring Debbie Reynolds and Rip Taylor and went on to star in the U.S. and Canadian tour of Singin’ in the Rain where he played the Donald O’Connor role of Cosmo. Other performing highlights include dancing on Celebrity Cruise Lines as one half of the tap duo, “Hot Foot”, dancing with tap dance legends Fayard Nicholas, Buster Brown, and Peggy Ryan, and with Tap Dogs in New York City.
Scott co-directed and co-choreographed the world premiere of Anything Cole and Gershwin, By George! at the Riverfront Arts Center in Wilmington, Delaware and full-stage productions of Annie and Seussical The Musical. He also danced his own choreography on Broadway at Lincoln Center, where the proceeds of that show went to benefit the New York City Firefighters and Police Departments. His performances and choreography have also taken him to Las Vegas' MGM GRAND, Harrah's, The Four Queens, and the Tropicana Hotel & Casino.
Scott has been seen in commercials for several Las Vegas casinos, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Harrah’s casino in Chester, PA, and was on the air for 10 years as a spokesperson for “The More You Know” for NBC. He also had the starring role in “Real Stories of the Highway Patrol - The Cabrallas Story.”
Scott’s tap routines have been represented by several title holders in the Miss America Pageant System and has consistently won top awards at performing arts competitions for the past several years. He has also taught master tap classes at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and for Maryland Dance Festival and was a guest choreographer at West Chester University. His choreography was also featured in the national tour of “Maurice Hines – Tappin’ Thru Life.”
Scott's favorite productions to date are his children, Benjamin and Ella.
Originally from North Carolina, Ryan Massey began his ballet training at the age of nine under the direction of Daphne Kendall. He later trained with Terilynne Knox and Lisa Leone at Dance Davidson. Ryan attended multiple summer programs including Carolina Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. At age 14, Ryan was selected for the Male Scholarship Program at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. There, he was mentored by founding artistic director Marcia Dale Weary, Nicholas Ade, Bruce Thornton, and Simon Ball. During his time at CPYB, Ryan performed in ballets including George Balanchine's Western Symphony, Alan Hineline’s Coppélia, and George Balanchine's The Nutcracker.
After 5 years of attending CPYB, Ryan joined the Ballet Theatre of Maryland as an Apprentice in 2018, was promoted to Soloist in 2020, and Principal in 2021. Since Joining BTM, Ryan has performed multiple roles including La Fontaine in American Southwest Carmen, and Snow King in The Nutcracker. Ryan is looking forward to reaching new heights in his 1st season with DelArts!
Originally from Frederick, Maryland, Candice Culmer-Smith began training in every discipline of dance at Mid-Maryland Performing Arts Center. She graduated Magna Cum Laude in May 2005 from Towson University with a BFA in Dance Performance, and was awarded the Jim Synder Award for Excellence in Dance. She was a member of the Towson University Dance Company and had the pleasure of working with Geoffrey Holder and Jawole W.J. Zollar.
Candice continued her training on scholarship at Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago and River North Chicago. She completed two seasons with the Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble in Denver, Colorado, where she had the privilege to tour nationally and internationally and work with Christopher Huggins, Roger Jeffery, Milton Myers, and Nejla Yatkin.
She was invited to teach at In Motion School of Dance in Bermuda where she served as their Jazz Director and Office Manager. There she had the pleasure of performing and choreographing with Bermuda’s greatest talent and collaborating to produce international events held on the island. She was also invited to choreograph and perform with Bermuda’s professional dance company, In Motion Dance Company, where she served as Rehearsal Director. While in Bermuda, Candice performed with Gilbert & Sullivan Society of Bermuda as a chorus girl and dancer in the musicals "The Producers" and "South Pacific." While in Bermuda, she graduated Summa Cum Laude from Drexel University with a Masters of Science in Arts Administration where she was awarded an Academic Excellence Award.
Candice is celebrating her 25th year of teaching and is proud to continue to serve the up and coming talent that DelArts has to offer. She is the busy Mom of two little ones, AJ & Avery, who keep her on her toes!
Nichelle Lanier is an awardwinning choreographer whose dance and teaching style have been inspiring creativity in her students for 15 years. Her performances include The Nutcracker on Broadway, Magic Music Days at Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando (1997, 2000), the 9/11 Benefit Performance for the Firefighters at Lincoln Center in New York City, and the world premiere of Anything Cole at the Baby Grand Opera House in Wilmington, Delaware.
Nichelle has traveled internationally as a dancer and teacher for workshops, performances, and competitions. She has previously coached the dance teams for Padua Academy, St. Mark’s High School, and has been the choreographer for the Glasgow High School Drama Club since 2005 (FAME, Little Shop of Horrors, Guys and Dolls, and GREASE).
Many of her students have gone on to do great things in the world of dance; performing on Broadway, cruise ships, joining professional dance companies in major cities like Chicago, and have been accepted into dance programs at prestigious colleges like Point Park University, University of the Arts, and The Boston Conservatory. Nichelle’s contemporary company was invited to perform her piece “My Life For Yours” at the Youth America Grand Prix International Finals in NYC in 2014.
Heather Ley-Wolfe Graduated from Cab Calloway School of the Arts in 2005 as a dance major and was a dance scholarship recipient. Heather has performed at Lincoln Center on Broadway, for Carnival and Norwegian Cruise Lines, at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, in The Liberty Bowl 2006 half-time show with the Beach Boys, and at the Boscov’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. She was a contestant in the Delaware Jr. Miss Pageant 2004 and returned to the pageant as a choreographer in 2005. As a competitive dancer and choreographer Heather won numerous awards locally and nationally.
Heather in an enthusiastic and motivational teacher with 30 years of dance experience behind her. She is a member of Dance Masters of America where she holds certifications in Ballet and Jazz. Heather is currently working on her early childhood certification.
When Heather is not at the studio she is on adventures with her two little boys.
Heather Reynolds grew up in Elkton, Maryland where she began dancing at the young age of two and a half. At age eight, she continued her training by joining the Delaware Dance Company, having Priscilla Payson as one of her first teachers. Heather has studied ballet, modern, jazz and theatre dance. She spent over fifteen years as a Performing Company Member with DDC, dancing in numerous productions including The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel & Gretel, and Peter Rabbit and Other Tails, to name a few.
Heather is an honors graduate from Wilmington University where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in Elementary School Counseling. Heather is very excited to share her passion and enthusiasm for dance with the students of DelArts.
Viveca begin her dancing career 25 years ago with Simon Dancers in Philadelphia. After moving to Delaware in 2000, Viveca continued her training at Cab Calloway School of the Arts under Alyson Cohen, and was a member of Cab Calloway's dance and musical theatre companies.
Viveca also studied at Philadanco in Philadelphia, Koresh Dance Company, the Tremaine Dance Company in New York, and other various dance workshops throughout the East Coast. Her performances includes Pieces of a Dream Dance Company Concerts, Wilmington Fringe Festivals, and other dance studios around the east coast.
Many years ago Viveca developed a love for hip-hop dancing, not just about how to express yourself, but how intricate the movements can be. Her hip-hop choreography has won numerous awards including first place overall high scores and special awards at regional dance competitions. Viveca continues hip hop dancing and teaching around the east coast for different workshops and intensives. In addition to teaching at Delaware Arts Conservatory, she teaches for Pieces of a Dream Dance Academy, Beat Addikts United INC., and is an assistant Coach for Padua’s Dance Team. Viveca believes in providing a challenging, yet fun and inspiring dance environment for her dancers.
Trey Gregg is an artist born in Maryland, raised in PA, and currently residing in Winterthur, DE. Trey recently graduated from Shenandoah University/Shenandoah Conservatory where he earned his BFA in Dance. Gregg has worked with choreographers such as Daniel Padierna, Erica Helm, Shylo Martinez, and Maurice Fraga and has worked with renowned choreographers such as Yoshito Sakuraba and Sidra Bell as the Director of Photography in her work "Inhabitant". He has worked with the world-renowned ballet company, Ballet Hispanco, and performed their work entitled "Batucada Fantástica". He is also seen in the movie “A Cupid For Christmas” as a dancer, directed by Blane Weaver. Gregg also is an emerging choreographer, developing his skills on wide age ranges, and has set works with Shenandoah Conservatory Arts Academy along with Kinetic Canvas: Andy Warhol directed by Lauren Carnesi. He is thrilled to continue his passion for teaching by joining Delaware Arts Conservatory. Trey believes that dance is for everyone, and is a form of self-expression without words.
Sara-Beth Miller has been dancing since age two. Early training included ballet, tap and jazz, with a later focus in lyrical and modern. Noted performances include the White Rabbit in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, and Dew Drop Fairy, Arabian, and Chinese in The Nutcracker.
Following her competitive and performing years, Sara-Beth began teaching while completing certifications for Early Childhood Education. Sara-Beth has been an advisor for a Behavior Modification Through Movement study and most recently was a Broadway League Educator Apple Award nominee for her outreach and dedication in connecting youth with performing arts. When not in the studio, she can be found cheering on her daughter, Reilly, at the soccer field or applauding the dance stylings of her daughter, Brianne, where anywhere is her performance space!
Aisha graduated from LIU (Long Island University) Post with a Bachelors in Fine Arts in Dance Studies. She started dancing at the age of 4 and has been trained in many forms of dance including ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, lyrical, modern, musical theatre, and contemporary, and African.
As a performer, she has worked with teachers from Alvin Ailey Dance Theater and Ballet Hispanico and was seen in "The Nutcracker" and at Symphony Space in New York. Her choreography has been seen in The Nutcracker, Hairspray, Rodger's and Hammersteins's Cinderella, and at Hofstra, Penn State University, and LIU Post. Aisha is also on faculty at MOT Charter School in Middletown, Delaware, where she teaches dance.
A teacher for over 20 years, Betsy Conner holds a BA in Music Education from Lincoln University with a piano performance concentration and a vocal minor. She was a student of pianist John Young and took summer master classes with Robert Goldsand at the Manhattan School of Music.
Betsy was Musical Director for many shows at Three Little Bakers Dinner Theatre where she was also Stage Manager. She has also musical directed shows in local community theatres and high schools. Her students have gone on to study at NYU, Syracuse, University of the Arts, Drexel and Catholic University and have performed in regional theatres such as The Walnut Street Theatre, The Arden, Candlelight, Three Little Bakers as well as in national tours, and have garnered awards such as the Bert Parks Special Talent Award at the Miss America Pageant.
Betsy was on the national tour of Fiddler on the Roof, where she had the privilege of working with Topol, Harvey Fierstein and Theodore Bikel. She also toured with Peter Pan starring Cathy Rigby, On Golden Pond, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Scarlet Pimpernel, and the first national tour of Blast.
Heather comes to Delarts with a Masters degree in Music Education with a concentration in Voice. In addition to years of experience teaching music to all ages, Heather has been the Musical Director or Choreographer for a number of regional and community theatrical performances including “Newsies,” “Mamma Mia,” “Annie,” “The Sound of Music,” “Mary Poppins,” and many more! Heather has also performed in a number of amazing roles in collegiate, community, and regional theatre productions including “Seussical” (Bird Girl), “Next to Normal” (Natalie), “42nd Street” (Peggy Sawyer), and “Legally Blonde” (Brooke Wyndham). She is trained in acting, dance, and, of course, vocal performance, and is excited to join the DelArts family as a voice instructor!
Ali began her dance training at the age of 5 and at age 11, she began her training at Delaware Arts Conservatory, where she studied tap, ballet, pointe, jazz, and lyrical. Ali majored in Human Development and minored in Dance at Washington College and graduated with her certification in Elementary Education. While in college, she was the president of the dance club and was a member of the college dance team. For three years, Ali directed an annual dance concert and choreographed original works of her own. She was also a member of the Washington College chapter of Delta Eta Pi, the National Dance Society’s honor society. This group brought dance into the community by organizing creative movement classes at local nursing homes and performing for community events. Ali is very excited to be teaching tap at Delarts, her favorite place growing up.
Barb, a former flight attendant with United Airlines, has been teaching art classes at DelArts for several years, and specializes in growing young artists into passionate teen artists, ready to tackle that next level! A graduate of Baldwin-Wallace College, Barb is originally from Ohio. At DelArts, she has worked backstage for recitals and Snow Queen productions, created the original costumes for and led the costuming department for the first several years of Snow Queen, and worked in the front office for a few years. She is an accomplished seamstress and designer, as well as excellent in home interiors, and even builds her own kitchen renovation pieces! Barb changes the art classes every year so as to encourage new and returning artists to pursue new learning in new styles. From Art for Kids and Portfolio classes to Fashion Design, Cartooning, Anime, and more, a class with Miss Barb is a must for your budding artist!
A native of Windsor, Ontario, Canada, Priscilla Payson began her early ballet training in the Royal Academy of Dancing ballet syllabus, completing both the children and majors examinations. Further training included the Canadian National Ballet School and the Royal Ballet School in London, England on a full scholarship. When she returned to Canada, she rejoined the professional “Windsor Light Opera Company” where she performed in numerous musicals. In 1962 she moved to Battle Creek, Michigan, teaching and performing with the professional regional “Barn Theater.” Before settling in Delaware, Ms. Payson was a member of the dance faculty at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, a soloist with the Louisville Ballet Company, and performed with the nationally known and award-winning “Actors’ Theatre” in Louisville, Kentucky. In 1978 she opened the Ballet Studio of Newark and in 1982 established the non-profit Delaware Dance Company. In 1993 she made the decision to relinquish ownership of the Ballet Studio of Newark to the Board of Trustees of the Delaware Dance Company. She was retained as Artistic Director, a position she held until 1999. In August 1999 Ms. Payson was appointed Administrative Director of the DDC, which she held until leaving in 2005. She has been teaching her curriculum at DelArts since 2008, leading to many students dancing professionally.
Barbara Elder is very excited to join the staff at DelArts as a piano instructor. She has a bachelors degree in Music Education from West Chester University with a minor in piano and also has a Masters in Education in Applied Technology from Wilmington University. She has taught general and instrumental music in several private schools in Delaware and Maryland before accepting a job with the Appoquinimink School District. Barbara has been with the Appoquinimink School District since 2007 and is currently the elementary instrumental director for Olive B. Loss, Lorewood Grove, and Cedar Lane Elementary Schools. In her spare time, she loves spending time with her family and friends, reading, and traveling. Barbara currently lives in Bear with her husband and 2 children.
Jaye Allison earned her MFA and BFA from Ashwood University, attended Philadelphia College for the Performing Arts (UARTS), and has a certificate in Arts Management from U of MA at Amherst. In New York City she trained at the Ailey School, Rod Rodgers Dance Company, the Performance Institute, and at Broadway Dance Center. Her teachers included the best in the modern, jazz, and tap dance arenas including Frank Hatchett, Maurice Hines, Hinton Battle, and Cecilia Marta.
Jaye performed and choreographed professionally with Philadanco, Philadelphia Civic Ballet Company, Power 99 FM Dancers, TapTeam II & Co., Dancefusion and fusion2. She also toured Europe as a featured tap and jazz dancer in “Le Jazz Expectac.” Some of her favorite dance performances include “The Virtual Quilt Project” that honored women in tap and chorus girl history, the THRILLER video for KYW-3’s Evening Magazine, Tweet Theater Production’s Walking Down on Broad Street, and performing as a soloist for Baba Olatunji at the Million Women March. Jaye also appeared on the silver screen in “Beloved,” “Rocky III,” “Mannequin II,” and “Taps” and was seen in a few 80’s music videos.
Katie is a recent graduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia where she earned a BFA in Acting with a minor in Creative Writing. She has been performing since the age of four in local and regional musicals, plays, film projects, and vocal performances. She also previously worked with a party character business and performed at numerous birthday parties and events as princesses, superheroes, etc. Recently, she had a leading role in a feature length film called By Deception on several streaming platforms, and has acted in multiple online advertisements on both YouTube and TikTok. As a teacher, Katie has worked with preschool students as well as elementary and middle schoolers to teach them about the joys and freedom of performing. Katie has a passion for creating art, and finding the ways that different art forms intersect. She strives to create positive, collaborative, and creative work environments with other passionate artists, focusing on expression and unique ideas. Her latest project was a multimedia performance art show called Silver Lining Renaissance, which was held on South Street in Philadelphia.
Laura Hannagan is a sought-after teacher and accompanist in the region. While having studied piano at the University of Delaware, she actually got her first job by teaching piano lessons in 10th grade. She feels a special affinity for teaching beginners, especially those of younger ages. Laura brings an incomparable combination of seasoned classroom experience combined with years of being a private instructor, arming her with a wealth of teaching style experience and knowledge. You can find her accompanying and/or music directing local musicals in several local community theaters, accompanying choirs, music camps, and playing in her church. Laura is excited to join the team at DelArts to help inspire and train the newest set of piano players!