Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

September 5, 2013

CCP announces education classes available


CROSSVILLE — Cumberland County Playhouse Education Director and resident actor/director Weslie Webster has announced CCP's Mary Crabtree Education Program class offerings in dance, theater, tumbling and musical theater for 2013-'14. Classes are taught by experienced professional dancers, actors and singers, assisted by advanced student teachers.

Dance administrator and company member Aven Chadwell, now in her second teaching y€ear, and Playhouse resident choreographer Leila Nelson are the lead teachers for ballet and tap, respectively, and each teaches several levels of jazz and modern styles. Both women "grew up" in the CCP Education Program and trained with both resident and guest teaching artists, like Kirov Ballet-trained Eldar and Lilia Valiev, Broadway dancer/singer Jeremy Benton and past CCP leaders Kiersten Mays (tap specialist) and Jennifer Austin (jazz, modern specialist).

Chadwell, CCP's ballet mistress, graduated from Belmont University with a B.A. in art history and dance, trained four years with Nashville Ballet, and at the American Dance Festival. Concurrently, Nelson attended MTSU, and was invited to join CCP staff and company as full-time actor, director and resident choreographer, serving Tennessee's largest theater and musical theater audience. Chadwell currently is a lead dancer in CCP's The King and I, while Nelson has just closed a 10-week run in Dolly Parton's 9 to 5, in the lead role of Doralee, a very "Dolly-like" character.

CCP's acting, stagecraft and musical theater faculty includes Boston University grad Greg Pendzick (featured as Marius in CCP's Tennessee premiere of Les Miserables), and his spouse Lindy Eller Pendzick, now featured as Tuptim in The King and I, which stars fellow teacher Nicole Begue Hackmann as Anna. Performers in the current hit Man of La Mancha — Quinn Cason, John Dobbratz, Caitlin Schaub and Chaz Sanders — complete CCP's senior teaching staff.

Registration Day was held Aug. 10, but it is not too late to enroll. The fall classes begin Sept. 9. In addition to the strong core curriculum of ballet, pointe, modern, jazz, tap, musical theater and acting, Chadwell has added new weekday morning classes including "Joy of Dance" for the youngest dancers to develop coordination, motor skills and have fun on Fridays from 9:30 to 10 a.m. "Dancing for Life" (Fridays, 10 to 11 a.m.) is for adults who always wanted to dance but never had the chance or perhaps who danced as a child or teen and want to reignite the passion and conditioning. No previous dance experience is needed to learn basics of dancing through life in all seasons.

Chadwell also teaches Zumba on Thursdays from 5:30-6:30 p.m. She earned certification with Maria Browning, trained by Zumba's founder, Beto Perez. Zumba fitness is cardio-dance to rhythms from all over the world, with easy-to-follow choreography, and fun so one forgets the workout. Again, no previous dance experience is needed; just a smile and a spirit of fun.

For adults who want to hone acting skills and be more comfortable onstage, adult performance is on Wednesdays from 8 to 9 p.m. Audition skills (Thursdays, 5:30-6:30 p.m.) is ideal for high school students who need skills to choose music, monologues and pick up choreography quickly to ensure audition success. Tumbling classes will meet Wednesday 7:15 to 8:15 p.m. for Beginning Tumbling and Thursday from 4:15 to 5:15 p.m. for Intermediate and Advanced Tumbling. Both classes will be held at Stevie's Elite Athletics.

For the full schedule, go to and click on the tab "Education." For more information, call 484-5000, ext. 254, or email