The CDE Staff

Frances Smith Cohen

Frances Smith Cohen

Artistic Director

Frances Smith Cohen is a teacher, choreographer, administrator and dance graduate from Bennington College in Vermont. She served as Dance Director at the Tucson Jewish Community Center for eighteen years and directed the first touring dance company in Arizona, the Kadimah Dancers. In 1963, Frances helped create the Arizona Dance Arts Alliance and in 1972 she co-founded the dance program at the University of Arizona. Frances served as Director of Opera at George Washington University from 1981 to 1986 and was the recipient of a National Opera Institute grant where she toured regional opera companies as a choreographer and assistant director. Frances began Wolf Trap in Arizona which places performing artists in Head Start classrooms and has served as Regional Director for this program since 1986. Frances is Artistic Director of Center Dance Ensemble – the resident dance company at Herberger Theater Center. Working with, Susan Silverman, she also created Dance Theater West in Phoenix – the academy of Center Dance Ensemble and Story Book Ballet Theater bringing the joy of dance to students of all ages. Frances was honored with the Outstanding Artist Fellowship Award for Choreography from the Maryland State Arts Council and is the proud recipient of the 1994 Arizona Governor’s Outstanding Artist Award, 2004 Women Who Care Lifetime Achievement Award, and 2010 Childsplay’s Pied Piper Award for her contributions to arts education. She was one of only ten recipients to receive the Arizona Cultural Keepers Award in celebration of Arizona’s 100th birthday. Frances Smith Cohen 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 McNeal Hunt is a leading dance artist and educator within Arizona and the Southwest dance communities. As a graduate of Arizona State University’s Dance Department, Diane has enjoyed a rich career that includes performing, teaching and choreographing for Center Dance Ensemble. She is Founding Artistic Director for ELEVATE DanceWorks and several of her works have been showcased nationally at danceXchange (Temecula, CA), Las Vegas Dance in the Desert Festival, MixMatch Dance Festival (Los Angeles), Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival and the BETA Dance Fest (Phoenix). She is an original company member of Desert Dance Theatre and has performed with A Ludwig Dance Theatre. She has also appeared as a special guest with Scorpius Dance Theatre. Her dancing highlights include performing original works of Cliff Keuter, Elina Mooney, Marion Kirk Jones and Kelly Roth. In 1983, Diane co-created MarDi Dance Company with her husband and dance partner, Mark Vanek, performing annually in Dia de los Muertos Festivals throughout Arizona and in El Puente Festival that features Diane’s original choreography inspired by the dramatic masks of internationally acclaimed artist Zarco Guerrero. Diane’s choreography has been commissioned by Dulce Dance Company, Nicole Olson & Dancers, InSpiritus Dance Company, Arizona Pro Arte Ensemble and Chandler-Gilbert Community College. She is a passionate artist/educator with more than 35 years of professional experience. She enjoys teaching workshops, master class, residencies and choreography and is recognized as “Dancing Diane” throughout Head Start and many other early childhood classrooms. Diane is also a Master Artist/Assistant Director for Arizona’s Wolf Trap Early Learning through the Arts – a nationally acclaimed performing arts curriculum for children– where Diane provides teacher training through hands on residency work and conducts professional development workshops for new artists. Since 1986, “Dancing Diane” has brought the joys of dance to K-4 students, as Performing Arts Faculty at Desert View Learning Center.

Diane McNeal Hunt

Howard Paley

Managing Director

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. Howard is a founding board member and general manager of Phoenix Opera Company and the Southwest Vocal Competition. He 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. This New York transplant attended Hofstra University and graduated from the University of Arizona with 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

This is Margret Emerson’s thirteenth season with Center Dance Ensemble. She is inspired and feels fortunate to work with Frances Smith Cohen and the entire dance company. Before coming to CDE, Margaret worked at Theater Works for eleven seasons and describes her experience working with David Wo, as a life changing opportunity.

Rachel Cohen

Rachel Cohen

(Storyteller/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

This is Karla Frederick’s fourth season with Center Dance Ensemble and she is excited to be part of the team! She comes to CDE from Paradise Valley, where she was Resident Stage Manager for the Arizona Jewish Theatre Company during their final five seasons. She is currently Associate Production Manager for Phoenix Theatre, Production Manager for Paradise Valley Community College Performing Arts Center where she is also serves as an Adjunct Theatre Management Professor. Karla has been involved in the performing arts throughout the Valley for the past eleven years working as a stage manager for Arizona Broadway Theatre Co., Childsplay Inc., AJTC, Hale Center Theatre, Entertainment Events, New London Barn Playhouse, Royalty Theatre, Phoenix Theatre, and the Straw Hat Players. She earned a BFA in Stage Management from Minnesota State University, Moorhead and Northumbria University, Newcastle England.

 

 

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