Faculty

Faculty
Susan Chowning
School Director

Susan Chowning trained at the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, NC. Upon graduation, she continued as a scholarship student with the Harkness Ballet of New York.

While in New York, Ms. Chowning embarked on her professional career, dancing with Ballet of Contemporary Arts, Harkness Dance Theatre, New Jersey Dance Theatre, Westchester Dance Theatre, Festival Dance Theatre, American Repertory, Metropolitan Opera of New York City, Connecticut Ballet, and Omaha Ballet.

As a professional dancer, Ms. Chowning danced various principal roles including Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, and Belle in Beauty and the Beast (pictured above.) More about Susan…

Matthew Lovegood
Junior Company Director

Matthew Lovegood is an artist and ballet master at American Midwest Ballet. He also is the director of the AMB Junior Company.

Matthew received his early ballet training at Lake Erie Ballet School and Little’s Dance Studio, later studying at North Carolina School of the Arts, Chautauqua Festival Dancers, and Miami City Ballet School.

In addition to American Midwest Ballet, Matthew has also danced professionally with Ohio Ballet, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Lake Erie Ballet, and Omaha Theater Ballet. He has performed numerous leading roles within the classical repertoire.

As an instructor, Matthew has served on faculty at Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet, Lake Erie Ballet School, Omaha Theater Ballet School, True Dance Academy, and Motion41 Dance. He has been a guest instructor at schools throughout the United States including Mercyhurst University Dance Department, Walnut Hill School for the Arts, Brandon Ballet, Connally Dance Workshop, and many others.

Erin Alarcón
Junior Company Assistant Director

Erin Alarcón is a company artist at American Midwest Ballet and is the assistant director of the AMB Junior Company.

Erin began her training in Hackettstown, NJ, at North Jersey School of Dance Arts, where she performed with the New Jersey Civic Youth Ballet and worked as a teaching assistant. She then went on to earn her BA in dance performance from Mercyhurst University graduating manga cum laude. 

While at university Erin was coached by many wonderful artists including Laura Alonso and Bruce Marks. She also spent time training in The Netherlands under the direction of Valerie Valentine She continued her pedagogical studies by teaching the open dance classes at Mercyhurst. In addition to American Midwest Ballet, Erin has performed professionally with both SoMar Danceworks and Ballet Concerto.

At American Midwest Ballet, Erin has performed both principal and soloist roles in various classical ballets and contemporary works. In addition to her dancing, Erin has choreographed several works for the company including the full length ballet The Wizard of Oz. Erin has taught dance and choreographed throughout the Midwest during her years with the company and enjoys sharing the love of dance with her students and watching them discover who they are through their art.

Halle Clark
Dance for Media Arts, Regional Solo Program, and Ensemble Director

Halle Clark is a jazz, modern/contemporary, hip hop, lyrical, ballet and adult class instructor at AMB School. She is the program architect and director of the school’s Dance for Media Arts program, and director of the Ensemble and the regional solo program.

Halle is a graduate of the Youth Performing Arts High School in Louisville, Kentucky, where she received the Ford Award for the most outstanding performing artist. She holds a BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, Virginia, and a Masters of Science in Performing Arts Leadership and Management from Shenandoah Conservatory.

Halle has danced professionally and in residence with the Radio Disney Dance Team, Louisville Ballet Company, and Moscow Ballet, and in residence under the direction of choreographers including Stephanie Martinez. She has performed at the John F. Kennedy Center with the Washington National Opera and with Motion X Dance DC.

Halle has earned numerous choreographic awards in both the competitive sector with SDA and NDA, as well as the concert dance sector with the prestigious Rock School for Dance Education Choreography Award. She has more than 12 years of teaching experience across the country working in full-time institutions, summer intensive programs, workshops, clinics, and national and international competitions.

Kelanie Murphy
Youth America Grand Prix Solo Program Director

Company artist Kelanie Murphy is a ballet, pointe, jazz, creative movement, children’s pre-dance, and adult instructor at AMB School, and director of the school’s Youth America Grand Prix solo program.

Kelanie began her dance training in Crystal Lake, IL at Judith Svalander School of Ballet. She graduated magna cum laude with a B.F.A. in dance performance from University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance.

In addition to American Midwest Ballet, Kelanie has also danced with Madison Ballet, Minnesota Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, and Wylliams/Henry Contemporary Dance Company.

Kelanie previously taught at School of Madison Ballet, Ballet Institute of Atlanta, Minnesota Ballet School, and locally in Nebraska.

Katerina Schweitzer
Ensemble Assistant Director

Company artist Katerina Schweitzer is a ballet, pointe, jazz and modern/contemporary instructor at AMB School, and the assistant director of the Ensemble.

Katerina began dancing at her grandmother’s studio in New York at age three. She continued her training in Vero Beach, FL in both RAD and Vaganova methods.

Katerina studied at Gelsey Kirkland Ballet Academy (GKA) while concurrently earning her high school diploma and an AA from Indian River State College. At GKA, she trained under legendary ballerina Gelsey Kirkland and other renowned teachers. Katerina joined American Midwest Ballet in 2017 after one year at GKA’s studio company. She previously taught at Motion41 Dance and other studios throughout the area.


Vincent Brewer

Company artist Vincent Brewer is an instructor in ballet, modern, contemporary and boys’ class at AMB School.

Vincent has danced professionally with Festival Ballet Providence, The Suzanne Farrell Ballet, Island Moving Company, and Albany Berkshire Ballet. Vincent has danced Balanchine’s Tarantella and Glinka Pas de Trois, Bournonville’s Flower Festival at Genzano, and the role of Puck in Paula Weber’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Vincent completed early training at Albany Berkshire Ballet and Berkshire Pulse and continued his training at Indiana University, earning a bachelor’s degree in ballet and an outside field in religious studies. Vincent has completed teacher training with the National Dance Institute and the Mark Morris Dance for Parkinson’s Disease program, and has a 200-hour Kripalu yoga teacher certification. 

Elena Carter

Company artist Elena Carter is a ballet and pointe instructor at AMB School.

Elena began her pre-professional dance training on scholarship through the DanceChance outreach program at Pacific Northwest Ballet School in Seattle, WA. After ten years at PNBS, Elena graduated and moved to Tucson to pursue a dance BFA at the University of Arizona.  Elena graduated as the College of Fine Art’s Outstanding Senior and joined American Midwest Ballet in 2017. 

Elena has taught ballet, pointe and variations in studios throughout Omaha and Eastern Nebraska. 

Ryan Christopher

Company artist Ryan Christopher is a pas de deux instructor at AMB School.

Ryan hails from Golden, CO and spent his early years as an athlete before attending Red Rocks Community College where he first started to dance. Ryan trained on full scholarship at International Youth Ballet School and attended summer intensives at the Performing Arts Conservatory of Texas.

At American Midwest Ballet, Ryan performed numerous leading and featured roles in productions such as The Nutcracker, Paquita, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Giselle, and Swan Lake, as well as modern and original works.

Ryan also danced professionally with Ballet Ariel, Boulder Ballet and Ballet Vero Beach, and has appeared as a guest artist throughout Colorado and many other places in the U.S. Ryan is a also professional costume and prop designer.

Asiha Eona

Asiha Eona is a creative movement, children’s pre-dance, ballet, jazz, and tap instructor at AMB School.

Born and raised in Bellevue, NE, Asiha began ballet training at age three and started competing at regional and national levels by age eight.  She graduated from the University of Nebraska Omaha in 2014 with a degree in Accounting and Finance and has continued to teach dance since graduation.

While trained primarily in the RAD method of ballet technique, Asiha pursued many different dance styles including tap, jazz, hip hop, and contemporary.  She performed in Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker, led her high school dance team as captain her senior year, and was a Universal Dance Association (UDA) all-star.  Asiha is a Prime Dance Team member for the Omaha Beef indoor football team.

Amaris Giacoppo

American Midwest Ballet company artist Amaris Giacoppo is a ballet and pointe instructor at AMB School.

Amaris began her training in Tucson, AZ at the age of 10. She has extensive training in ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and lyrical dance forms. Growing up, Amaris spent her summers training on scholarship with the Ballet Arts school of Ballet Tucson, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Houston Ballet. Before coming to AMB, Amaris has danced professionally with Milwaukee Ballet 2, Nevada Ballet Theater, Hope Stone Dance Company, and Sandra Organ’s Earthen Vessels.

Natasha Gregory

Council Bluffs native and former professional dancer Natasha Gregory is a ballet and pointe instructor at AMB School.

Natasha trained at Omaha Theater Ballet School, and on scholarship at Kansas City Ballet’s summer program.

While dancing at American Midwest Ballet under its former name Ballet Nebraska, Natasha performed lead roles in A Midsummer Night’s DreamDracula, The Nutcracker, Snow White and Cleopatra.  She danced professionally at Omaha Theater Ballet, appeared on So You Think You Can Dance, and performed dance roles in Opera Omaha productions.

Natasha retired from dancing to start her family. Her passion is teaching the next generation of dancers and spreading her love of dance.

Amber McMichael

Amber McMichael is originally from Alma, Colorado and is a creative movement and children’s pre-dance instructor at AMB School.

While trained primarily in the Cecchetti method of ballet technique, Amber also has training in multiple dance styles including lyrical, jazz, contemporary, tap, and modern from The Spirit of Dance and Colorado Ballet Academy. She has performed in The Wizard of Oz, The Sound of Music, and several original productions. 

Amber began teaching ballet and tap through student teaching and choreography programs and has been teaching young dancers since 2012.

Shirley Nickel

“Miss Shirley” is usually the first friendly face you see at the front desk. She joined the staff of Motion 41 in 2009 and was instrumental in transitioning to the AMB School in 2019.

Her education and background in administrative work, coupled with many years as a dance mom, drives her concern for students, instructors, and parents.

A genuine love for all forms of dance enhances the experience for the entire AMB family. Miss Shirley has been a certified Jazzercise instructor for 36 years. She loves chocolate and spending time with her grandson.

Jacque Robinson

Denver native Jacque Robinson is a tap and jazz instructor at AMB School with over four decades of combined performing and teaching experience.

With a dance career that began in 1976, Jacque earned membership in Actors’ Equity Association at the age of nine. She trained in tap with such greats as Gregory Hines, Al Gilbert, Jason Samuels Smith, Chloe Arnold, Avi Miller and Ofer Ben, Harold “Stumpy” Cromer, Germaine Salsberg, Robert Reed, Tony Coppola, Patrick Roddy and Roxanne Nielsen. Her professional experience includes Annie, The King and I, Fiddler on the Roof, Grease, and many more.

After moving to the Midwest in 2001, Jacque taught dance and musical theater in Omaha, eventually opening her own studio. Jacque taught for many years at Motion41 Dance and other studios throughout the community. She has also taught at tap festivals in New York, Missouri, Colorado and Nebraska.

Jacque is also an accomplished jazz dancer and instructor with training from Gus Giordano and Cleo Parker Robinson. She has also attended teacher training seminars at Alvin Ailey, Joffrey Ballet, Traditions in Tap, and Finis Jhung in New York City.

Victor Smith

Victor Smith is a company artist with American Midwest Ballet and also serves as a ballet instructor with the AMB School.

Victor received his early training at the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts. After earning his Diploma in Dance with the Queensland Conservatoire of Ballet in Australia, Victor furthered his studies at Alegria Dance Studios in Sydney, Australia; the Boston Ballet School; Gelsey Kirkland Academy; Ellison Ballet; and Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. 

Victor has performed numerous leading roles with Baltimore Ballet, Charlottesville Ballet, Ballet Theatre of Maryland (BTM), and the Wilmington Ballet.

As an instructor and coach, Victor has been on staff at the Charlottesville Ballet Academy, BTM School, Wilmington School of Ballet, and Dance Theatre of Jacksonville (DTOJ). He has taught ballet to members of the US Figure Skating Association and has served as a guest instructor at many schools within the United States and Australia.

Michelle Strong

Michelle Strong is a ballet, lyrical, tap, and jazz instructor at AMB School. She also serves as a modern/contemporary company teacher at American Midwest Ballet.

She originally trained in Texas, and later earned her Master of Fine Arts in Contemporary Dance from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Michelle danced professionally with the Armstrong/Bergeron Dance Company, the Brazos Dance Collective, and as a pickup dancer with artists such as the Tikvah Company of Artists in Chicago, Illinois, and with R.E.D. (Real Edge Dance Company) in Akron, Ohio. She attended the American Dance Festival from 2007-2012 and performed works by Mark Dendy, Shani Nwando Ikerioha Collins, Gaspard Louis, Monica Bill Barnes, Mark Morris, Bill T. Jones, and Trebien Pollard.

Kendra Wright

“Miss Kendra” grew up dancing with the Omaha Theater Ballet, and came to join her mom, Miss Shirley, on staff at AMB School last year when she moved back home to Omaha. Miss Kendra helps with behind-the-scenes administrative work, scheduling private lessons, handling payments, and front desk activities. She is also a Jazzercise instructor and certified Life Coach.