The CDE Staff

Frances Smith Cohen

Frances Smith Cohen

Artistic Director

Frances is a teacher, choreographer, administrator and dance graduate from Bennington College in Vermont. She was dance director of the Jewish Community Center in Tucson for 18 years, and directed the first touring dance company in Arizona, the Kadimah Dancers. In 1963 Frances helped create Arizona Dance Arts Alliance in Tucson and in 1972 she co-founded the dance program at the University of Arizona. She was the recipient of a National Opera Institute grant to tour regional opera companies as choreographer and assistant director. Plus, she was director of opera at George Washington University from 1981 to 1986. Frances began Wolf Trap in Arizona, the placing of performing artists in Head Start classrooms. She has been the regional director for this program since 1986. Frances was honored with the Outstanding Artist Fellowship Award for Choreography from the Maryland State Arts Council. She also created Dance Theater West with partner Susan Silverman, and directs Center Dance Ensemble, housed at the Herberger Theater Center. Cohen is the proud recipient of the 1994 Arizona Governor’s Outstanding Artist Award, the 2004 Women Who Care lifetime Achievement Award, and the 2010 Childsplay’s Pied Piper Award for her contributions to arts education. Most recently she was one of the final 10 recipients to receive the Arizona Cultural Keepers Award celebrating Arizona’s 100th birthday. She is co-author of “Dance Essential Skills” and “Performing Dance Standards” for the Arizona Department of Education.

Diane McNeal Hunt

Diane McNeal Hunt

Assistant Artistic Director and Education Outreach Director

Diane is recognized as a leading dance artist and educator by the Arizona and Southwest dance communities. Graduate from Arizona State University’s Dance Department, she enjoys a rich career that includes performing, teaching and choreographing for Center Dance Ensemble. Also, Diane is Founding Artistic Director for ELEVATE DanceWorks, with several of her company works selected to showcase nationally at danceXchange (Temecula, CA), Las Vegas Dance in the Desert Festival, MixMatch Dance Festival (L.A.), Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival and the BETA Dance Fest (Phoenix). Diane is a performer with A Ludwig Dance Theatre and enjoyed many wonderful years as an original company member of Desert Dance Theatre. Highlights of her performing include dancing original works of Cliff Keuter, Elina Mooney, Marion Kirk Jones, Kelly Roth and guest with Scorpius Dance Theatre. MarDi Dance Company, co-created in 1983 with husband/dance partner Mark Vanek, performs annually in Dia de los Muertos Festivals throughout Arizona and in El Puente Festival, featuring Diane’s original choreography inspired by dramatic masks created by internationally acclaimed artist Zarco Guerrero. Diane’s choreography is commissioned by Dulce Dance Company, Nicole Olson & Dancers, InSpiritus Dance Company, Arizona Pro Arte Ensemble, and Chandler-Gilbert Community College. A passionate artist/educator with more than 35 years of professional experience, Diane enjoys teaching workshops, master classes, residencies and choreographing for schools and companies. Recognized as “Dancing Diane” throughout Head Start and early childhood classrooms since 1986, she is a Master Artist/Assistant Director for Arizona’s Wolf Trap Early Learning through the Arts. This national level program positions Diane to model integration of performing arts with curriculum, provide teacher training through hands on residency work with the children, lead professional development workshops and train new artists. Also, since 1986, “Dancing Diane” teaches K-4th grade students the joys of dance as Performing Arts Faculty at Desert View Learning Center.

Diane McNeal Hunt

Howard Paley

Managing Director

Howard H. Paley, Managing Director, Center Dance Ensemble

Howard Paley is a seasoned marketing and fundraising executive with more than thirty-five years of experience serving non-profit organizations throughout the United States. He is a founding board member and the general manager of Phoenix Opera Company and the Southwest Vocal Competition. Howard is also a prolific western landscape photographer with over two-hundred works displayed in VA Hospitals and medical centers throughout the southwest and in the homes and offices of many private collectors around the world. Exhibitions of selected works from his two published photography journals were showcased at the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum, Jewish Community Center and Mayor’s Gallery in Tucson, Arizona. This New York transplant attended the University of Arizona and received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in 1978.

Daniel Davisson

Daniel Davisson

Production Manager & Master Electrician

Daniel has been working with Center Dance Ensemble since 2010. He comes to the company with many hats on. Daniel also works throughout the valley as a freelance lighting designer and stage manager. Currently he is the resident Lighting Designer & Master Electrician at Phoenix Theatre, as well as the Resident Production Stage Manager & Designer for Scorpius Dance Theatre. Daniel also teaches Dance Production at Glendale Community College where he designs and manages for the VERVE Dance Company. Daniel has worked for Conder Dance, Dulce Dance Co, EPIK Dance, AZ School of Classical Ballet, Bender Performing Arts and Metro Arts High School. Daniel is thrilled to continue another season with Center Dance working not only as the master electrician, but also now as the Production Manager. www.davissonentertainment.com

Michael J. Eddy

Michael J. Eddy

Lighting Designer

Michael has been very active in the Phoenix arts community: lighting for CDE, Black Theatre Troupe, Childsplay, Southwest Shakespeare Company, Arizona Jewish Theatre Company, Ballet Etudes, and Actors Theatre of Phoenix. Michael sits on the board for Scorpius Dance Theatre and also serves as adjunct faculty at Paradise Community College teaching Introduction to Lighting Design. Michael has worked regionally with Coconut Grove Playhouse, Florida Stage (Florida), Papermill Playhouse (New Jersey) Speakeasy Stage Company (Boston) Theatre League and The Fulton Opera House (Pennsylvania) and the Calgary Stampede. Michael is currently an Account Executive at Clearwing Productions. Michael would like to thank his beautiful wife Laura and his sons William and Kellan for their love and support.

Margret Emerson

Margret Emerson

Costume Designer

Margret is starting her 13th season with Center Dance Ensemble. Prior to that she was with Theater Works for 11 seasons and must thank David Wo for the life changing opportunity. Margret is fortunate to work with Frances Cohen and CDE; their talent inspires and amazes her.

Rachel Cohen

Rachel Cohen

(Story teller/Rehearsal Mistress)

Cohen has a Bachelor Degree of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Arizona and a Masters Degree in Reading and Learning Disabilities from Northern Arizona University. She has choreographed and performed in musicals with many community theaters around the Valley, including Theater Works, Tempe Little Theater, Mesa Encore Theater, Greasepaint, and Soul Invictus. She also enjoys singing with Voices of the Desert and is a member of their Board of Directors. Cohen is a special education teacher in the Washington Elementary School District and teaches jazz dance at Dance Theater West.

Karla Jean Frederick

Karla Jean Frederick

Stage Manager

Karla is in her fourth season with Center Dance Ensemble. She comes to Center Dance from Paradise Valley where she was the resident stage manager for the Arizona Jewish Theatre Company for their final five seasons. She is currently the Associate Production Manager for Phoenix Theatre as well as the production manager for Paradise Valley Community College’s Performing Arts Center and adjunct theatre management professor. She has been involved in the performing arts throughout the valley for the past 11 years. Karla has worked as a stage manager for such companies as the Arizona Broadway Theatre Co., Childsplay Inc., AJTC, the Hale Center theatre, Entertainment Events, the New London Barn Playhouse, the Royalty theatre, Phoenix Theatre, PVCC, and the Straw Hat Players. She earned her BFA in stage management from Minnesota State University, Moorhead and Northumbria University Newcastle England. Karla is very excited to be a part of the team.

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