Barclay Gibbs is the Owner and Artistic Director of the Dance Conservatory of Maryland (DCM). Barclay received her early dance training at the Peabody Preparatory, Towson University's Children's Dance Division, the Baltimore School for the Arts, and the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. As part of her training in the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus, Barclay completed both the Advanced Ballet and Solo Seal examinations. Barclay performed professionally with Ballet British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada and with Charleston Ballet Theater in South Carolina. Barclay has performed in many classical ballets as well as in works by leading choreographers such as Jill Bahr, John Alleyne, George Balanchine and Paul Taylor. Barclay received a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree in Dance Performance graduating summa cum laude from Towson University. Barclay has taught and choreographed ballet and modern dance at schools throughout the mid-atlantic area including the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Towson University’s Children’s Dance Division, Baltimore Ballet, and the Peabody Preparatory of Johns Hopkins before joining Ballet Chesapeake in 2008, and becoming the the owner of the Dance Conservatory of Maryland in 2011.
Kait Weber received her early dance training at The Dance Center, the official school of the Brandywine Ballet. She went on to train at the Washington Ballet, Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Arts, and Wilmington Academy of Dance. Kait is a graduate of Towson University where she earned her BA in Mass Communications as well as pursued the Dance Performance major, graduating Cum Laude. While an honors scholarship recipient at Towson, she performed with the Towson University Dance Company and performed lead roles in the Nutcracker as well as several other classical and contemporary works. She also performed with the Baltimore Ballet in various productions and taught ballet, modern and jazz at the school for five years. Kait joined DCM and Ballet Chesapeake in 2010.
Sarah Brown received her early dance training at Towson University’s Children’s Dance Division, Rage Box Contemporary Dance Center, and Carver Center for Arts & Technology. She went on to train at Point Park University’s Conservatory of the Performing Arts as a Jazz Dance major, where she participated in master classes with a number of professional artists including Sonya Tayeh, Desmond Richardson, and Dance Theatre of Harlem. Sarah finished her schooling at Towson University, where she earned her BA in Mass Communications, Public Relations. She spent the past 4 years dancing and performing with the Baltimore Blast Cheerleaders and was Captain on the team for 2 of those years. Sarah loved the platform the team gave her and was humbled to be a part of their community outreach opportunities. Sarah has worked professionally in the event planning and marketing field for the past several years and joined DCM and Ballet Chesapeake in 2019.
Diane Brown studied ballet as a child at the Ellen Price Eckhardt Ballet School. In 1983 she began teaching ballet and creative movement for the Jarrettsville Recreation Council. She studied modern dance at the Baltimore County Gifted and Talented Camp under Leslie Weiss Timos. And studied jazz and tap at the Wally Saunders Dance School. While there she also studied ballet with Edward Stewart and Barbara Miller. She was asked to join the Wally Saunders Dance Company in 1982, and performed with them through 1984. Miss Diane entered Towson State University in the fall of 1983 on a dance scholarship and performed with the Towson State University Dance Company While a dance major at Towson, she studied ballet with Edward Stewart, Camille Izard, and Helene Brezeale. She studied modern with Andrea Lewis and Dottie Fried, and jazz with Patty Corday. Following knee surgery, she switched her major and received a bachelor’s degree in Health Science with a minor in Psychology in 1988. Her course work included anatomy and physiology, early childhood development, and program planning. In addition to her career as a health and wellness counselor, she taught ballet, jazz and creative movement at Harford Dance Center before joining the Dance Conservatory staff in 2000.
Algernon J. Campbell is originally from Savannah, GA. He began his dance training in Atlanta, GA, while attending Morehouse College, at The Ballethnic Academy of Dance where he was an apprentice. He has been taught by Sarah Yarborough, Stephanie Dabney, Kenneth Green, and other well-respected teachers. After graduating, he was accepted to the Ailey School Certificate Program where he graduated with a Certificate in Dance. He has performed at the Metropolitan Opera House, the State Theatre in Lincoln Center, and traveled to Japan to perform in Osaka. He danced with the Dallas Black Dance Theatre for 4 seasons where he had the opportunity to dance the works of Donald McKayle, Donald Byrd, Yuriko, Fred Benjamin, David Parsons, and many others. He teaches, choreographs, and performs in the Baltimore Area with Full Circle Dance Company and Morton Street Dance Center.
Returning to the Untied States after touring Europe as Ballet Mistress with "Rock The Ballet," Deborah Engerman took on the role of Director of Maryland Classical Dance Academy, along with teaching at Charm City Ballet and Susquehanna Dance Center. She trained early in life with the Baltimore Ballet under Wendy Robinson in the RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) tradition, passing her graded exams. Her classical studies also include training with Petrus Bosman, David Keener, and Christine Hennessy. Later, while pursuing her BA in International Policy at Dickinson College, she continued her study of classical ballet with the teachers of Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. Her dance training also includes Vaganova Technique, French Methodology, and the Dance Education Program at Towson University. Ms Engerman has staged ballets to include the Nutcracker and Swan Lake, Act II. Dancers trained by Ms. Engerman have earned professional contracts and danced with Universal Ballet, ABT, Complexions, The Washington Ballet, The Vienna Opera Ballet, the Boston Ballet, Nashville Ballet, Ballet Inc, Texture Ballet, Hubbard Street, and on Broadway. She has also been a coach to dancers succeeding at numerous international ballet competitions, such as The Prix de Lausanne, the Varna IBC, and The Youth America Grand Prix. Her student and, Adrienne Canterna, took the Junior Gold Medal at the 1998 Jackson USA International Ballet Competition. She is currently happy to continue to train dancers in MD and PA, while living with her husband and two dogs, in South Central PA.
Amber Leissler started training and competing in cheer and dance at the age of 7. She received an AA degree in Dance from Montgomery College and went on to complete her Bachelor’s degree in Dance at UMBC, where she performed and choreographed in a number of faculty and student works. Amber has been a member of a number of professional dance companies like Fierce Collabo, Major Definition, Natetion, etc. She performed in several events in New York City such as “World of Dance,” “Ladies of Hip-Hop Festival,” and the “Prelude New York” dance competition. Amber has also been a part of various small music video projects, concept videos (ranging in genre), promotional performances, teaching master classes, back-up dancing for recording artists and competing with open Adult Hip-Hop teams. Following various assistant coaching positions growing up, Amber continued to follow her dreams and has been a head dance instructor since 2013 and continues to fall in love with teaching and her students every day. She also started dancing for top Beyoncé impersonator in the country, Riley Knoxx and hopes to continue to perform all around the United States. Amber enjoys spreading the knowledge and culture of all dance genres, ranging from ballet, to hip-hop, to stretch and alignment and strives to give back to her community to spread the gift of dance!
Gail Melfi began her early ballet training in her home state of California. Under the direction of Rose Ann Sayler, she studied at the Menlo Park Academy of Dance, Silicon Valley. As a scholarship student, Ms. Melfi completed her formal training at the San Francisco Ballet School under the direction of Richard Cammack and faculty including Anatole Vilzak. Ms. Melfi began her professional career with Ballet Pacifica, Laguna Beach, founded by Lila Zali of Col. De Basil’s Ballet Russe. She studied under the private guidance of Natalia Krassovska. She then joined the San Antonio Ballet Company, directed by Vladimir Marek, dancing the company’s repertoire including Michael Uthoff’s Coral of the Sun, and Alberto Ginastern’s Concerto for Harp. Ms. Melfi was later invited to join the Cincinnati Ballet Company under the direction of David McLain and David Blackburn, performing classics such as Nutcracker, Coppelia, Swan Lake Act II, Giselle, Peter and the Wolf, Hansel and Gretel, Les Syphides, Sleeping Beauty, and George Balanchine’s Serenade and Concerto Borocco. Ms. Melfi worked with legendary Frederic Franklin in his setting of Tribute and Pas de Dix. Additionally, she performed Daniel Levan’s Concert Waltzes and David McLain’s Concert for Organ, Strings & Timpani and Winter’s Traces. Following her move to Baltimore, Ms. Melfi joined the Maryland Ballet Company, directed by Petrus Bosman of the Royal Ballet. In addition to the company’s classical works, she performed contemporary choreography including Lambros Lambro’s Sun Dances. Once again, Ms. Melfi had the honor of working with Frederic Franklin while performing Monotones I and II, and Napoli. Presently, Ms. Melfi is a faculty member of Dance Conservatory of Maryland, Towson University and Sudbrook Arts Centre. She joined the faculty of Peabody Dance in 2014.
Hans Nelson began his training under Joyce Morrison and continued full-time at the School of American Ballet (SAB) in New York City, the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC, and the Ecole-Atelier Rudra Béjart in Lausanne, Switzerland. His regular teachers at these institutions included Andrei Kramarevsky, Peter Boal, Vladimir Djouloukhadze, and Azari Plissetski. At SAB, Mr. Nelson was selected as one of four students to create an original work for the SAB Student Choreography Project. At the Vail International Dance Festival in 2000, he studied with Jacques Namont of the Paris Opera Ballet School and Pyotr Pestov of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. As a dancer, Mr. Nelson's répertoire included Les Sylphides (Poet), Giselle (Peasant Pas de Deux), and Swan Lake (Pas de Trois), among others. He has taught at The Washington School of Ballet and Mercersburg Academy, as well as at Ballet Royale Institute of Maryland under the direction of Donna Pidel. While at Ballet Royale, he choreographed and directed The Nutcracker, with additional Act 2 choreography by Mrs. Pidel and Christina Mielke (née Allen). Additional staging credits include Les Sylphides and original choreography. In 2015, Mrs. Pidel and Mr. Nelson cofounded Ballet Conservatoire XIV, bringing conservatory-style training to a small group of carefully selected dancers. In 2019, Mr. Nelson presented students for American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum Student Examinations for the first time. Each student achieved a level of distinction of Merit, Honors, or High Honors. Mr. Nelson continued to direct Ballet Conservatoire XIV from Mrs. Pidel’s retirement until the school’s closure in 2020.Mr. Nelson is an ABT Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 7 and Partnering of the ABT National Training Curriculum. He is also a certified Progressing Ballet Technique instructor.
Linda O’Brien is an award winning choreographer and instructor and has been teaching in the Maryland area for over 30 years. A graduate of Towson State University, she studied under Marilyn Gaston, owner and director of The Ballet Academy of Baltimore. In addition to teaching at The Ballet Academy of Baltimore, Linda has also taught at The Dance Conservatory of Maryland and Harford Ballet Company, Janette Brown Studio of Dance and is currently on faculty at A Step Ahead Dance Studio as well as DCM. Linda has been an adjunct faculty instructor at The Community College of Baltimore County, teaching classes in all levels of ballet, jazz and tap. She also acted as Assistant Director of their resident company. A member of Dance Masters of America since 1996, Linda has been tested and certified in Ballet, Modern, Jazz and Tap and has acted as Co-chair for their Scholarship program for Chapter 17. In 2016, she trained the recipient of the title of Miss Junior Dance for the chapter, who performed original choreography created by Ms. O’Brien. Linda is also an RYT-200 yoga teacher, currently teaching at Peace Yoga.
Shana O’Brien has been a faculty member at DCM since 2002, teaching ballet, jazz, tap and modern dance. A graduate of Goucher College with a degree in dance performance and choreography, Shana has performed in works set by dance professionals such as Steven Mills of Ballet Austin, Rachel Berman, formerly of Paul Taylor Dance Company, and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux and Christopher d’Amboise, both former principals with New York City Ballet. She has presented choreography in many diverse venues including the American College Dance Festival, the Maryland Council for Dance Choreographer’s Showcase, and the Youth America Grand Prix ballet competition. In addition to her training as a student at DCM, Shana has studied under Marilyn Gaston at the Ballet Academy of Baltimore, Laura Dolid of the Sudbrook Arts Center, and at the Rock School of the Pennsylvania Ballet. She has experience performing in such varied settings as the Nutcracker at the Lyric Opera House, musicals in regional dinner theater, and competitions held by Dance Masters of America.
Anita Johnson is a current student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, pursuing her B.A in Dance. She intends to attend graduate school for early childhood education. Anita has studied primarily ballet, tap, jazz and modern at several dance programs including Praise Ballet Academy, Perry Hall Dance, A Step Ahead Dance Center, CCBC and UMBC. Anita has taught classes with Belair Dance Academy, Dance Baltimore, and Dance & BMore, A Step Ahead Dance Center, and Perry Hall Dance, and she continues to teach classes at Dance Conservatory of Maryland and Forest Hill Dance. Anita has performed in various works set by choreographers including Peter Pucci of Pilobolus, renowned tap dancer Baakari Wilder, and Justin Lewis of The JaM Project and World of Dance. Anita is a member District Tap, a tap dance performing company led by Baakari Wilder and Lisa Swenton-Eppard. With the company, she has performed at venues such as the Kennedy Center, Dance Place, Atlas Performing Arts Center, Smithsonian museums, and Baltimore Theater Project.
Ashley Spears is a graduate of the Baltimore School for the Arts where her extensive ballet training has been in Vaganova, RAD, Cecchetti and Balanchine. She has studied the modern and jazz techniques of Graham, Cunningham, Horton, Fosse, Giordano, and Limone. After high school, Ashley moved to New York City to train as an apprentice to The Joffrey Ballet. In 2002, Ashley spent the summer at the Institute Nationale a Rouen in France studying both French language and culture as well as dance. Ashley is a graduate of Towson University with a major in English and a minor in French and is currently persuing further education towards physical therapy certification.
Paul Wegner received his bachelor’s degree cum laude from the University of Maryland. After training with Thomas Hanner, and on full scholarship with the Pennsylvania Ballet School, School of Richmond Ballet and Nutmeg Ballet, Paul went on to dance professional for several years with the Charleston Ballet Theater and to guest with Tampa Ballet, Buffalo Ballet Theater and Ft. Wayne Ballet. Since retiring from the stage over 10 years ago, he has worked as a full- time ballet instructor. Paul is coming to DCM from the Arlington Dance Center in Virginia.