Madeline Cantarella Culpo (Miss Madeline)
Director-Founder and Artistic Director of the Albany Berkshire Ballet, is an alumna of the Juilliard School where she studied ballet with Margaret Craske, Antony Tudor and Alfredo Corvino and modern dance with Martha Graham. She is a nationally recognized teacher of dance, having taught throughout the United States, including at Jacob’s Pillow. She was featured in the November 1996 issue of “Dance Magazine” in an article entitled “Great Starts American Teachers Series” – “A Tribute To Teachers Who Have Produced Outstanding Results.” In addition, Mrs. Culpo has received three choreography fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Nancy Ropelewski King (Miss Nancy)
Ballet & Pointe
Nancy Ropelewski King is a graduate of the Cantarella School. Mrs. King was a principal dancer and ballet mistress with the Albany Berkshire Ballet for many years. At Jacob’s Pillow she taught classes and also performed in Coppelia with the ABB. Her choreography “Peter and the Wolf” has been performed extensively throughout the Northeast. Mrs. King along with Artistic Director Madeline Cantarella Culpo choreographed the popular “Cinderella” and “Mother Goose” ballets.
Ruslan Sprague has been dancing with the Albany Berkshire Ballet since he was three, cast as the changeling in their production of A Midsummer Nights Dream in ’93 all the way up to the Snow Prince in their annual production of The Nutcracker. Ruslan also studied with Darrell Puciarello from the Metroploitan Opera Ballet and attended several dance programs with Boston Ballet, as well as their choreographic workshop under the teachings of Helen Pickett and Jorma Elo. After dancing with Ballet West in Salt Lake City Utah, Ruslan has returned to the Berkshires.
Meghan Meczywor is a graduate of Dean College where she was a part of the Dean College Step Team. She started dancing at the age of three and moved onto competitive dancing at the age of five. Meghan was apart of the Cantarella competition team for three years and she has been dancing for 15 years. During the summer of 2018, Meghan spent a month at the Joffrey ballet school for a hip hop intensive.
Deirdre Duffin-Swindlehurst (Miss Dede)
Ballet, Pointe & Variations
Deirdre Duffin-Swindlehurst started dancing at age five under Madeline Cantarella Culpo and went on to be a principal dancer with Albany Berkshire Ballet. She joined the Pennsylvania Ballet in 1980, and rose to soloist in The Nutcracker, Coppelia, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Les Sylphides, and The Four Temperaments. Deirdre has appeared as a guest artist at Jacob’s Pillow and has toured the United States with Leonid and Valentina Kaslov and with Cynthia Gregory and her “Celebration Tour.” Miss Dede teaches advanced levels of ballet and is Ballet Mistress to the Junior Company in Albany.
Destiny Culpo (Miss Destiny)
Preballet & Ballet
Destiny studied at the Cantarella School of Dance beginning at the age of 2. Over the years she trained in ballet, modern, pointe, jazz, tap and pilates. She subsequently studied under the direction of Angela Whitehill at the prestigious Burklyn Ballet Theatre in summers. Destiny is an alumna of St. Joseph’s High School, going on to study Cosmetology and Business Administration at Mildred Elley. She has danced with the Albany Berkshire Ballet Company in their production of the Nutcracker performing roles from Reindeer through Waltz of the Flowers.
Jamie Stokes (Miss Stokes)
Jamie studied at Berkshire Dance Theater in Adams for 13 years; training in ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, and modern. She interned for 2 years under the guidance of Olivia Moran; beginning her teaching career in ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and tumbling combo classes to preschool level children. 2013-2018, she enjoyed teaching at Freedom Dance in North Adams, and has since been teaching ballet, tap, and jazz, at Studio North Dance Arts in North Adams. 2008-2017, she studied Cecchetti International - Classical Ballet under the direction of Karyn O'Tool, and often traveled to Cheshire Dance Center in Connecticut to take the exams. She had the privilege of being assessed Jacqueline Anderson, Betty Seibert, Denise Rinaldi, Beverly Feder, and Sylvia Palmer, and successful passed grades 2-9. She has participated in annual summer ballet intensives with Natalya Getman, and has taken master classes with the New York City Ballet at Williams College. Jamie works as a Personal Care Assistant and loves taking dance classes for recreation.
David Bovat (Mr. David)
Technique, Rhythm, & Style
Born and raised in West Springfield, Massachusetts, David Bovat has built a profession out of his natural ability to dance and to teach others. His journey began at the young age of seven under the direction and influence of Anita Oski Barrett. Throughout his career as a dancer, David has had the pleasure to study with Frank Hatchett and Anthony DeVecchi of the Northeast American Ballet, to name a few. David continues to take classes at Broadway Dance Center in New York City to broaden his passion and knowledge of dance with the purpose of sharing it with his many students and colleagues.
As an accomplished dance instructor, David continues building his career, developing choreography, and teaching for several dance studios and master classes in the Western Massachusetts area. One of the many positions he holds is Dance Director at Bay Path University in Longmeadow, Massachusetts. David continues to put his ability and knowledge of dance to good use as a Head Judge and teaching master classes for the Step Up to Dance tour. He is the Choreographer, Artistic Director, and Lead Dancer for many events such as the Tap Dancing Santas at Symphony Hall and the Dancing With The Local Stars for the Kiwanis Club of West Springfield and Agawam.
David has respectfully taught for the National Association of Dance Affiliated Artists as well as the Dance Teachers Club of Boston. Above all else, he prides himself as a choreographer and dance instructor. David has choreographed many pageants, talent competitions, and musical productions such as Rocky Horror Picture Show, Gypsy, Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Love and Beyond, The Cher Extravaganza, and most recently, Mr. Mambo. David M. Bovat continues to entertain, educate and inspire dancers of every age and physicality. His love for the art of dance is present in everything he puts forth.