MEET OUR TEACHING ARTISTS
Alvaro Asturias is a native of Guatemala, he obtained a B.F.A. from the Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design, and is a Master Teaching Artist with The Music Center. Through is work as a teaching artist, Alvaro develops bi-lingual visual arts programs for schools and museums. Hands-on activities with Alvaro Asturias provide insight into the crafts, stories and history of civilizations around the world. These multicultural workshops can include the construction of Guatemalan masks, Panchatantra puppets, origami, papel picado, Roman mosaics, Egyptian paintings and an exploration of a Mayan city. Each session incorporates historical elements and storytelling in order to deepen students' understanding of and appreciation for the artwork being created.
Beth Sussman is a Master Teaching Artist with The Los Angeles Music Center, The Kennedy Center, and Segerstrom Center for the Arts. In her student workshops, she uses music to covertly connect to academic subjects including reading fluency, symbols, comparing and contrasting, author’s intent and fractions. The kids are just having a great time all while implementing 21st century skills such as creativity, critical thinking, communication and community.
David Guerra is a Los Angeles native, he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre from University of California, Santa Barbara, and is a Master Teaching Artist with the Music Center. Mr. Guerra transforms each classroom into a theatre space, creating a level playing field for both the arts and academia. Mr. Guerra also teaches theatre in Dual Language Immersion programs, using the 90:10 language immersion model, which consists of 90% instruction in the target language (Spanish) and 10% instruction in English.
Joan Marie Harrison has worked extensively with children in the arts, focusing attention on honoring and challenging the best within each student. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she earned a B.A. in History from UCLA, studied at Otis/Parsons, received a B.F.A. in Studio Art from California Institute of the Arts, her M.F.A. from Cal State L.A., and is a Master Teaching Artist with the Music Center. Harrison’s workshops range from examinations of authentic artifacts from various cultures and traditions, such as textiles, masks, or animal sculptures, to STEAM arts integration programs at elementary and middle schools. An artist who has spent many years developing a wide array of age-appropriate workshops for students, Harrison offers lessons in drawing, painting, mask making, textiles, paper murals, clay structures, and environmental installations. An experienced educator as well as an exhibiting artist, Harrison can easily focus workshops to augment regular classroom curriculum.
Kristen Smiarowski holds degrees in dance and psychology from UCLA and UC Santa Cruz. She is a curriculum writer and educator who works in schools, senior centers, and community-based organizations. She serves as a Clinical Associate Professor of Dance at Loyola Marymount University. Her inclusive and welcoming dance workshops for babies, children and adults are based in Brain Compatible Dance Education, and they focus on the social, cognitive, physical and emotional benefits of dancing. Smiarowski’s workshops in schools are inclusive and welcoming and they focus on the social, physical, cognitive and emotional benefits of dancing. She emphasizes the development of self-expression, creative invention, communication, confidence, problem-solving and teamwork skills. Smiarowski engages students through a myriad of themes and topics, including cultural background and heritage, storytelling and improvisation. Any of these workshop concepts can be integrated into core curriculum areas such as Science, Social Science, Math, and Language Arts.
Lynnanne Hanson Miller’s workshops focus on traditional (folk) dance and provide a window into cultures of various ethnic groups. Content is chosen to suit grade and class levels, curriculum needs, scheduling requirements, and a school’s specific interest. Utilizing dance and music from various regions of the world, workshops engage students in content through a myriad of choices. Topics can include cultural background and heritage, storytelling, folkcraft, improvisation, and musical instruments. Any of these, as well as the dances, can be integrated into core curriculum areas such as Social Science, Math, and Language Arts.
Nani Agbeli is a Professor and Director of Ghanaian, West African Music and Dance at Pomona College. Nani taught Ghanaian drumming and dancing and led performance ensembles at Tufts University, Lane Tech College Prep, California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), Harvard University, and more. He is known for his energy, athleticism, and precision on stage, he is one of his generation's leading Ghanaian, West African drummers and dancers.
Peter Kors is a Master Teaching Artist with the Music Center. Kors adapts fables and folktales to guide students through a creative playmaking experience celebrating the joy of performing. For very young students Peter has developed a specialized curriculum focused on interpreting visual texts and steady beat rhythmic work.
Keith Berger adheres to no one “doctrine” of physical theatre. Sharon Diskin is one of the foremost practitioners of mime and physical theatre in the world today delighting audiences across the globe as part of the acclaimed mime duo, The Chameleons. Gifted teacher sand performers, The Chameleons have taught workshops and master classes in Physical Theatre and Mime throughout the U.S., including at Cornell University, the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Disney Animation Studios, various cultural institutions in Europe and Asia, and at hundreds of elementary schools throughout Southern California.
Debra Pasquerette is the Director of Creative Aging Programs at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. She has been with The Wallis since 2014 and was previously Manager of Community Engagement. Debra has worked in theater and arts management for over 30 years, including serving as the Director of Education at The Geffen Playhouse for 12 years. Debra is a writer, director and mixed media artist. She studied Performance Studies at Arizona State University and New York University.
Dan Oliverio has written books, plays, translations, and articles, as well as directed and produced plays in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Having taught for over 30 years, he’s led courses in theater history at American Jewish University and writing at the University of Southern California. His seminars about sexuality and relationships eventually led to his award-winning book, The Round World: Life at the Intersection of Love, Sex, and Fat. He is currently one of the co-hosts of the Big Fat Gay Podcast. Dan earned his bachelors from Cornell University and received an MFA in Stage Directing from the University of Texas at Austin.
William Nedved is a writer and writing teacher living in Los Angeles. He is the co-founder of The Gift Theatre Company of Chicago, a 21-year-old Equity ensemble. Recent collaborations include the original musical Wanderlust at Cal-State Fullerton; the audio play The Ravages with Theatre of NOTE; Medusa: The Musical with Deaf West Theatre at the Getty Villa; and the opera The Passion of McQueen at Boston Court Pasadena. He frequently adapts international films and television series into English for Netflix. He studied dramatic writing at the University of Iowa, the University of New South Wales, and the University of Southern California. He is also the former Associate Director of Communications for The Wallis. WilliamNedved.com.
Joan Rodriguez was born in La Habana, Cuba where he graduated from the Escuela Nacional de Arte with the “Best Graduate of the Year” award. His professional career began with DanzAbierta, and he went on to join Malpaso Dance Company. He became a political refugee in 2017 and relocated to Arizona, where he focused on creating, teaching, and producing multimedia projects. He has also served as a Guest Artist in Residency for universities and arts centers throughout the U.S. and has received awards in several dance competitions. In 2019, he joined Parsons Dance and choreographed an original work for the company as part of the 2019 GenerationNow fellowship program. Throughout 2020 and 2021, Joan has focused on freelancing in dance, teaching and videography. Joan has also showcased his own collaborative works at the Blacktinx Dance Festival, the Solo/Duo Dance Festival, and at NYC art galleries as part of mixed media performances. He has taught guest classes at The Juilliard School, New York University, Gibney Dance, Yale University, Hunter College, Akron University, and RWU. He was recently commissioned as a choreographer by Connecticut Ballet for their “Ballet Under the Stars” 2021 summer program.
Ingrid is a classically trained dancer, choreographer and educator. Her performance and choreography affiliations include the Edinburgh Festival, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Brooklyn Academy of Music and the California African American Museum. As a guest artist she performed at Stephen Sondheim’s Gala Benefit in NYC.
Cindy Rucker Trost is the Creative Director of the Meisner Institute, which sponsors acting programs worldwide. She is a producer, director, actor, and acting teacher with 35 years of experience in Radio, Television, Film, and Live Events. Cindy began her study of the Meisner Technique in 1995 at Playhouse West and began teaching at Playhouse West in 2012. While teaching at Playhouse West, she served as assistant director and cast member of Welcome Home Soldier, one of the longest-running non-musical productions in American Theater. In addition to acting, Cindy is also a writer and poet. “The Pandemic Rat Race,” written in response to a Staged Stories class prompt, was published in the online literary magazine Drunk Monkeys (June 2021-Vol.6, No.6). She is a staunch supporter of education programs in Beverly Hills and is a past president of the Beverly Hills Education Foundation. Cindy serves on the Friends of Greystone Board of Directors and is the Friends of the Beverly Hills Public Library Board Secretary.
Beth Sussman received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees at the age of twenty-one from The Juilliard School where she was on full scholarship. She has performed throughout North America and Europe including performances at Lincoln Center, The Ravinia Festival (home of the Chicago Symphony) and The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at The Los Angeles Music Center.
Beth has released two CDs: an all-Gershwin CD as well as “Just Desserts” which features short pieces by Chopin, Debussy, Brahms and other composers. A television pilot loosely based on her life was executive produced by Kelsey Grammer for Paramount Pictures Television for NBC.