Charlie Abel
Charlie AbelDance Department

Charlie Abel has been performing in ballet, opera, musical & dramatic theater for more than three decades. A former high-school wrestler and semi-pro baseball player, Charlie fell in love with ballet in his home state of Louisiana where he performed with the Louisiana Ballet. Since then Mr. Abel has performed with the Yugoslav National Ballet, New Jersey Ballet, and the Baltimore Ballet. Locally Charlie has appeared at Ford’s Theater, Folger Theater, The Kennedy Center and in three Helen Hayes nominated productions at The Keegan Theatre in Washington, DC. Mr. Abel has taught classical and theater dance at Dance Institute of Washington, Mid-Atlantic Center for the Performing Arts, Ballet Royale Institute of Maryland, and Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts. Currently Charlie is teaching at Metropolitan School of the Arts and for the last fifteen years at University of Maryland in Baltimore County.

Matthew Bassett
Matthew BassettTheatre Department Chair

Matt Bassett has served as Theater Department Chair of the Academy at MSA since 2013, creating the school’s acting curriculum and teaching classes including Fundamentals of Acting, Script Analysis, Scene Study, Shakespeare Monologues and Scenes, Classical Styles, as well as coaching and advising MSA students and alum. Since 2018, Bassett also serves as Artistic Director of The Hub Theatre, an award-winning professional theatre company in Northern Virginia. Bassett’s DC-area directing work has garnered multiple Helen Hayes Award nominations for direction and outstanding production and includes area and world premieres for The Hub (including 2017’s area premiere of The Happiest Place on Earth, followed by its Denver, CO premiere in Spring 2019 at The Aurora Fox Arts Center), Arts on the Horizon (multiple world premieres and HHA nominations for Outstanding Production for Young Audiences), Imagination Stage, The Logan Festival of Solo Performance, and Flying V Theatre, as well as educational direction for a number of universities and companies. Locally, Bassett has performed at The Hub, Ford’s Theatre, Washington Stage Guild, Bay Theatre, Bassett’s work as a playwright/creator has been seen at Columbus Children’s Theatre, Flying V Theatre and Arts on the Horizon (including work created with Tia Shearer). In addition to MSA, Bassett has also taught on the faculties of Montgomery College, the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts and Imagination Stage. Training: MFA in Acting from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Matt lives in Takoma Park, MD, with his family.

Joan Boada
Joan BoadaDance Department

A native of Havana, Cuba, Joan Boada trained at the National Ballet School of Cuba and danced with seven companies (including Ballet Nacional de Cuba, Ballet National de Marseille Roland Petit, The Australian Ballet, and Royal Ballet of Flanders) before joining San Francisco Ballet as a principal dancer in 1999. Major roles include Basilio in Tomasson/Possokhov’s Don Quixote, Romeo in Tomasson’s Romeo & Juliet, Bluebird in Tomasson’s The Sleeping Beauty, Albrecht in Tomasson’s Giselle, Nutcracker Prince in Tomasson’s Nutcracker, and Aminta in Morris’ Sylvia. He created roles in Possokhov’s Magrittomania, Fusion, and Diving into the Lilacs; Wheeldon’s Quaternary and Within the Golden Hour; and Tomasson’s 7 for Eight and On a Theme of Paganini, among others. In addition, Boada has performed lead roles in Ashton’s Symphonic Variations; Balanchine’s Prodigal Son, Bugaku, Square Dance, “Rubies”, Symphony in Three Movements, and Theme and Variations; Forsythe’s Artifact Suite; the pas de deux from Le Corsaire; Robbins’ Other Dances and Fanfare; and Tomasson’s Blue Rose, Chaconne for Piano and Two Dancers, Prism, and Valses Poeticos. Boada’s honors include an Isadora Duncan Dance Award for ensemble performance in 2003, and various awards at international ballet competitions in 1994 and 1995.

Mia Brice
Mia BriceDance Department

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Mia Brice began her dance journey at the age of three at the Edge School of the Arts in Queens, NY. She went on to continue her training at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art & Performing Arts, where she had the opportunity to be taught by renowned dancers and choreographers. After graduation, Mia attended the School of Dance at George Mason University and graduated with her Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance. During her time at the School of Dance, she had the ability to perform in various student choreography pieces and guest artist pieces, which include Soon Ho Park, Doug Varone, Lar Lubovitch, and Nacho Duato. She has choreographed three pieces at the School of Dance, all of which were premiered on the Harris Theater stage on George Mason’s campus. Her latest piece, “Pieces,” was selected to be performed at American College Dance Association and then was later selected to be performed at the national conference in Long Beach, California. She is currently a dancer with Afro-Feet, a collective of dancers who combine tap and African Gumboot dance.

Shu Chen Cuff
Shu Chen CuffDance Department

Shu-Chen Cuff, Founder/Artistic Director of Gin Dance Company was born in Kaohsiung, Taiwan where she established a well-rounded background in dance with training in Ballet, Modern, Chinese Opera movements, and various Chinese folk dances. In 1994, she immigrated to United States to continue her training and pursue her dance journey in U.S. In 1998, Shu-Chen received a B.F.A. from the University of Florida’s New World School of the Arts. Following college, she performed numerous classical and contemporary works while dancing with Miami Ballet and Nevada Ballet Theater. After relocating to the Washington, DC in 2002, Shu-Chen worked with Dana Tai Soon Burgess & Company and has left her footprints around the world, touring to Asia, Latin and Central America, and Europe. Shu-Chen also has been a guest performer and choreographer with BalletNova Center for Dance, the Metropolitan School of the Arts and Skye Ballet Center. Shu-Chen has a great passion to pass on her knowledge, experience, and her love of dance to young aspiring dancers. In this regard, she has taught at Ashburn Academy of Dance and Russell School of Ballet, and has been a guest instructor at numerous dance schools throughout Taiwan.

Heather Gifford
Heather GiffordMusic Department Chair

Heather Gifford currently serves as the Music Chair at The Academy, and has been a part of the MSA
music faculty since 2013. Originally from Alexandria, VA, she graduated from James Madison University:
Bachelor Degree in Music Industry, with a Vocal Performance concentration.  After graduating, she
performed professionally for 10+ years: Harrah’s, Las Vegas: Legends in Concert; Tropicana, Atlantic City:
Havana After Dark; Holland America Cruise Line; Main Street Theater, Myrtle Beach: Tribute in Concert.
She has prior experience in entertainment and event management: Venetian/Palazzo and Planet
Hollywood Resorts in Las Vegas; Gaylord National Convention Center in National Harbor MD. She has
Music Directed for ACCT: Seussical the Musical & Guys and Dolls. Heather enjoys performing locally
when time allows: Keegan Theater: Chicago (Annie/Velma us); LTA: Legally Blonde (Brooke Wyndam).
Heather is honored to be able to share her love for the performing arts and encourage the next
generation of performers.

John Henderson
John HendersonMusic Department

John Henderson is an organist, pianist, and composer based in the DMV. His background includes sacred music, musical theatre, chamber music, and art song. His compositions have been performed at venues including the Washington International Piano Series, the International Double Reed Society Convention, the Kennedy Center’s Page to Stage Festival, and Pope Francis’s Meeting with the Bishops of the United States at St. Matthew’s Cathedral. He currently serves as organist and music director at Saint Bernadette Catholic Church in Silver Spring, Maryland


Jenn Hopkins
Jenn HopkinsMusic Theatre Dance Chair

After many years working in New York she is happy to call the DC theatre community her home. There she has been fortunate to work with several companies including, Folger Shakespeare, Constellation, Rorschach, Taffety Punk, Longacre Lea, and Keegan. In addition to performing, she has been an educator both in the US and abroad; teaching Shakespeare and Musical Theatre courses in England and France. She currently serves as the Head of the Musical Theatre Dance Department at Metropolitan School of the Arts in Alexandria, VA. Her direction and choreography credits include 6 summers with Festival 56 in Illinois where she has choreographed Cabaret, The Full Monty, Gypsy, The Addams Family, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Mary Poppins. She also directed their productions of As You Like It, The Drowsy Chaperone, Sweet Charity, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Othello. For Providence College in Rhode Island she has choreographed The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Bat Boy, and Something Rotten. In DC, when theatre returns, she is slated to choreograph Hedwig and the Angry Inch for Keegan Theatre, The Nance for 1st Stage, and also direct The Theory of Relativity for George Washington University. She has a BFA in Musical Theatre from Webster Conservatory and an MFA in Classical Acting from George Washington University and Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Academy for Classical Acting.

Roger Jeffrey
Roger JeffreyDance Department Director, College and Career Advisor for Company Dancers

Roger C. Jeffrey was born and raised in New York City where he began his training at Bernice Johnson Cultural Arts Center in Jamaica, Queens. A graduate of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts, he received his B.F.A. from The Juilliard School under the direction of Benjamin Harkarvy. Mr. Jeffrey has performed in the companies of Bernice Johnson, Kevin Iega Jeff, Obediah Wright, Earl Mosley, Zvi Gotheiner, Twyla Tharp, Lar Lubovitch, Metropolitan Opera Ballet and with Mikhail Baryshnikov’s White Oak Dance Project. He has also worked with Dudley Williams, Eleo Pomare, Otis Sallid, Debbie Allen, Danny Tidwell, Ayodele Casel, D’bi. Young, Rasta Thomas, Sean Curran, Doug Varone, Richard Move and Mark Dendy. Mr. Jeffrey is a New York based freelance choreographer/director.

Inspired by his mentor Kevin Iega Jeff, he began to explore his artistic potential as both an instructor and choreographer at the Bernice Johnson Cultural Arts Center, Edge School of the Arts, South Shore Dance Alliance, The Ailey School, The Joffrey School, The Joffrey Concert Group, The Juilliard School, Peridance Center, American Ballet Theatre/Make a Ballet Program, Studio Harmonic, Elisa King and Dancers, CityDance Ensemble, Camille Brown and Dancers, Rasta Thomas’ Bad Boys of Dance, Dario Varcaro Dance Project, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, Verb Ballets, Collage Dance Collective, Philadanco!, BalletX, New York Hip-Hop Festival, Ballet Arabesque company and La Companyia to name a few.

Mr. Jeffrey has choreographed and or directed various theatrical productions including Death of the Diva featuring Amanda Seales, The Emancipation of Ms. Lovely featuring Ngozi Paul, Blood Claat featuring D’bi. Young, Gemini Rising and Da Kink in my Hair featuring Angie Stone, Melanie Fiona and Terri Vaughn to name a few. He is also the artistic consultant for Rasta Thomas and associate artistic director of Dawn Branch Works. In 1997, Mr. Jeffrey founded Subtle Changes, Inc., a nonprofit artist collective committed to the presentation, development, and exposure of the arts. The company has presented work for Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, Central Park SummerStage Harlem, E- Moves/Aaron Davis Hall, Judson Church, P.S. 122, DanceNow Festival, Theatre of the Riverside Church, JoyceSoho, Back Yard Dance Project, Bric and Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Out among others.

Maurice Johnson
Maurice JohnsonDance Department

Mr. Johnson has served as the Associate Artistic Director of DC Contemporary Dance Theatre (DCCDT)/El Teatro De Danza Contemporarea(TDC) since 2012. He is a teacher, educator, choreographer and performing artist. He graduated with honors from the University of KY with a degree in Public Relations. He started his professional dance career as a feature dancer in the opening/closing US Olympic ceremonies (Atlanta). He completed a six month National tour with the two time Grammy award winning music group “Arrested Development”. Further credits include: Jennifer Lopez and Gloria Estefan (White House performance) as well as the production teams of Michael/Janet Jackson and Paula Abdul to name a few.

Mr. Johnson started his teaching career in the Washington, DC area in 1999. His challenging and energy-charged classes have been defined as “unique”, “Inspirational” and “motivating”. His classes serve as a tool to educate and further develop students’ technical and artistic proficiency. Mr. Johnson is still very active as a professional student and performing artist. He has trained and performed with The Lexington Ballet, Alvin Ailey (school), Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, Classical Repertoire Dance Theatre (CRDT) and DC Contemporary Dance Theater. Mr. Johnsons work as been presented and taught in China, Germany and the US. He served as the Interim Artistic Director of Georgetown University Dance Company (GUDC) and former adjunct Professor at American University. Currently, Mr. Johnson is on faculty at Catholic University and the National Cathedral School (NCS).

Meredith Jones
Meredith JonesDance Department

Meredith pursued her formal dance training under Sandra Balestracci at the Eastern Virginia School for the Performing Arts. She continued her education at the University of Utah where she received a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in Ballet. While a student, she performed at the American College Dance Association and at World Dance Alliance in Puebla, Mexico. During her time at the University of Utah, Meredith also performed with Carolina Ballet. Meredith completed her Masters of Fine Arts degree in Dance at The University of Arizona where she taught various dance technique courses for majors and non-majors. Meredith was fortunate enough to perform in works by George Balanchine, Nacho Duato, Jessica Lang, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Alexei Ratmansky, and Christopher Wheeldon.

Meredith is a DanceAbility certified instructor and performed with DanceAbility International in Lisbon, Portugal. She volunteers with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute leading lecture series on various subjects like dance history, sociology, diversity and accessibility in the community. Meredith also coaches and choreographs routines for competitive ice dancers on Team USA, Team France and Team Poland for international competitions in the Junior and Senior Grand Prix ice dance circuit.

Roxanne King
Roxanne KingDance Department

Roxanne “Roxy” King is a tap dancer, teacher, student and tap company director based in Washington D.C. Roxy was a dance student at Metropolitan School of the Arts, where she also taught tap. She is a member of the first graduating class of the MSA Academy. Roxy is currently the Artistic Director of DynaMYTE, the junior company of Metropolitan Youth Tap Ensemble (MYTE). As a member of MYTE she had the opportunity to travel the country taking classes and performing at tap festivals. With the company Roxy has taught in Brazil at Tap In Rio, and The Tap Show festivals. Just this year she also taught master classes at the 9th annual D.C Tap Festival. As a student Roxy has just completed her freshman year at Montgomery College in Rockville Maryland. Just this past summer Roxy had the amazing opportunity to attend the 2017 Jacob’s Pillow Tap Program run by Michelle Dorrance, and Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards along with 24 other participants.

Wendy LevyAcademic Department

A native of the Washington metro area, Wendy Levy is a math and science learning coach with 6 years of experience at The Academy. With a Master’s Degree in Educational Technology from George Washington University, continuing education at the Harvard Extension school, and over 10 years experience working with young people, helping students to gain understanding and reach mastery is a priority and a passion. Building relationships with students to better meet individual needs and using all the tools available are of paramount importance and central to her instructional philosophy.

Jarrett Nicolay
Jarrett NicolayMusic Department

– Founding / Current Member of Washington DC Bands Virginia Coalition / Astra Via / My New Mixtape”

– Head Engineer at Georgetown Preparatory School North Bethesda MD

– Head Producer / Engineer at Underwater Wonderland Alexandria VA

– I’ve also had music featured in recent films such as “Blue Ruin” and “Waiting: A Documentary”.

Kirsten Noetzel
Kirsten NoetzelTheatre Department

Kirsten Noetzel works regionally as a Director and Teaching Artist. She serves as the Studio Acting Director at MSA as well as the Artistic Director for the MetroImprov company. Kirsten learned to teach at the Tony award-winning Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, MN in their Theatre Arts Training school. Regionally, she has directed for The Theatre Lab (As You Like It, The Magic Hour, Just Outside of Town, Ordinary Magic), Imagination Stage (Bye Bye Birdie, Unlabeled, The Pencil is Mightier, O Wonder, Aladdin), Montgomery College (The BURN), Metropolitan School of the Arts (4 A.M., Peter Pan, The Tempest, Legend of Sleepy Hollow) and The Hub Theatre (Emerging Writer’s Festival). Kirsten has been invited to speak about educational theatre at conferences sponsored by DC Collaborative and The Kennedy Center. In addition to MSA, she also serves on the faculties of Wolf Trap, Arts on the Horizon, Imagination Stage, and The Theatre Lab. Kirsten received her B.A. from Wheaton College and is an M.A. candidate in Theatre at the University of Houston.

Tom Pedersen
Tom PedersenPost Graduate/Gap Year Director

Thomas Pedersen, Director Gap Year/Post Grad program at the Academy, has pursued a finely integrated career as a singer, conductor, producer and teacher and has been seen in Mame, Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, Hello Dolly, Oklahoma, Carousel, The Pirates of Penzance, and She Loves Me with numerous stock, regional, and national companies. In 1982, he made his operatic debut with the Michigan Opera Theater, and in a ten-year span sang with the Detroit Symphony, Toledo Symphony, Toledo Opera, The June Opera Festival and The Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. He has been a soloist with conductors Maurice Abravanel, Leonard Bernstein, Antal Dorati and Robert Shaw. As Artistic Director of Theatre Ten Ten, New York’s oldest off-Broadway theatre, he produced and music directed over 20 shows, and has been Music Director at the Long Beach Civic Light Opera, The Library Theater in Warren, Pennsylvania, and the University of Michigan Opera Theater. He has been praised by Bruce Feld of the Los Angeles Times for his “zesty and innovative conducting” for Man of La Mancha and the Washington Post for his “expert and stylishly conducted” performances of The Music Man. Mr Pedresen has been Musical Supervisor/ Conductor for such stars as Barbara Eden, Shari Lewis, Gary Sandy, David Canary, John McCook, Rebecca Luker, Jana Robbins , Mel Tills and Pam Tillis. Most recently he has been on the creative teams for Kleptocracy, Jubilee and Newsies at Arena Stage. Last fall Mr. Pedersen was Conductor for the Alliance for New Music-Theatre of Vanek Unleashed in the Dupont Underground.

He recently retired as Head of the Music Theatre Division at The Catholic University of America, and is the Director of Music at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Kensington, Maryland.

Lauren SterlacciAcademic Department


Breanna Swetland
Breanna SwetlandAdministration