AD&M Performance Group Choreographers

Carrie Diamond, Founder, Artistic Director

Carrie Diamond, Founder, Artistic Director

Carrie Diamond, President, AD&M and Executive and Artistic Director of The Dance Hub; Artistic Director, AD&M Performance Group, is a 2019 Recipient of the Apogee Award for Excellence in Education. Her lifelong interest in dance developed early on by the mentorship of three individuals: Don Hewitt (ballet), Marilyn Allen Suleiman (choreography), and Virginia Storie-Crawford (modern dance). She later trained with Cecchetti master teacher, Margaret Craske, and such luminaries as Lawrence Rhodes, David Howard, and Benjamin Harkarvy. She danced professionally in New York City for over fifteen years and holds an M.F.A from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. After graduating, she founded New American Ballet Ensemble, a New York City company that promoted new music and choreography. She was an instructor for the Alvin Ailey School, the 92nd Street YM/YWHA, Peridance, and Marymount Manhattan College. In Santa Barbara, Ms. Diamond co-founded American Dance and Music in 2006 with Eric Valinsky, where she directed the AD&M Studio, AD&M Performance Group, and Moving To Learn, a curricular dance program for elementary school children. In 2017, the AD&M board of directors opened The Dance Hub, a thriving community dance space where Ms. Diamond serves as the executive and artistic director and principal ballet teacher for adults of all levels and ages. She is dedicated to bringing as many people as possible into and back to dance at The Dance Hub, whether they are 18 months or 84 years old.

Benjamin Harkarvy, Choreographer

Benjamin Harkarvy, Choreographer

Benjamin Harkarvy (1930-2002) is recognized as one of the major figures of international ballet. Founder of the Nederlands Dans Theater, he was also artistic director of the Dutch National, Pennsylvania, Royal Winnipeg, and Harkness Ballets. Mr. Harkarvy created works for the Joffrey Ballet as well as most of the companies with whom he was associated. Critic Clive Barnes wrote that he “possesses a rare quality of perceptiveness and taste that has made him one of the world’s greatest ballet masters”. At the time of his death in 2002, he was director of the Dance Division at the Juilliard School.

Carlos Fittante, Choreographer, Artistic Associate

Carlos Fittante, Choreographer, Artistic Associate

Carlos Fittante, Artistic Associate, specializes in Balinese and Baroque dance. He is a graduate of the School of American Ballet and has a BA in Dance from Empire State College (SUNY). He studied with ballet master Benjamin Harkarvy who created two ballets on him while dancing with the New American Ballet Ensemble. Other ballet credits include New York Theatre Ballet, Metropolitan Opera Ballet, and the Universal Ballet Company in Seoul, Korea. Since 1990, he has been the artistic director of BALAM Dance Theatre, a contemporary dance company inspired by Balinese theatre and founded by Islene Pinder. He has performed and studied extensively in Bali, Indonesia and in July 2000 presented his fusion ballet, Ramayana-Abduction of Sita, at the International Bali Arts Festival where it received critical acclaim. As a Baroque dance specialist he has been featured in a number of Baroque operas including soloist roles for New York City Opera’s production of Rinaldo, and the Boston Early Music Festival’s production of Thesée. He danced with the New York Baroque Dance Company as a principal dancer and rehearsal director. He has performed in Japan, Korea, Bali, England, Germany, Mexico, and
the throughout the United States.

Melinda Horwitz, Choreographer

Melinda Horwitz, Choreographer

Melinda Horwitz, choreographer, has performed and choreographed nationally and internationally over the past 30 years. Trained in ballet, jazz and modern dance techniques,
she is also a certified instructor in both Pilates and Gyrotonic. She is currently on the faculty of the Santa Barbara Jazz Academy and the Idyllwild Arts Song and Dance Program.

Lizabeth Skalski, Choreographer

Lizabeth Skalski, Choreographer

Lizabeth Skalski has been the Associate Director at Main Street Ballet in Woodbury, CT since 1999 where she teaches ballet, pointe and is the principal choreographer for the dance company. Her guest teaching credits include: The Hartford Conservatory; School for Creative and Performing Arts, Cincinnati, OH; Covenant Dance Studio, Brooklyn, NY; as well as schools in Canada, Taiwan and China. Rather than instructing students in any single ballet technique, Ms. Skalski’s teaching style uses the best aspects of the Ceccetti, School of American Ballet, French, and Russian schools which is reflected by her training from New York’s most innovative ballet teachers: Lawrence Rhodes, Finis Jhung, Nadine Revene, Igal Perry, Melissa Hayden and modern dance teachers Lar Lubovich, David Gordon, Lynn Simonson, Don Redlich, and Robyn Cutler. Ms. Skalski has created over twenty-five original contemporary ballets and original choreography for Oklahoma, Phantom of the Opera, Three Penny Opera and Oliver which have been presented throughout New York, Connecticut and by Ballet Santa Barbara. Critics in Dance Magazine, The New York Times and New York Newsday have heralded her work. As a dancer, Ms. Skalski performed throughout the United States and Asia with New York based Chen & Dancers, Baba Dancers as well as with Downtown Ballet, New American Ballet Ensemble, Santa Barbara Ballet Theatre and Carlton Smith Ballet Chicago. Ms Skalski holds a MFA in dance from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Aida Amirkhanian, Guest Artist

Aida Amirkhanian, Guest Artist

Aida Amirkhanian, guest artist, is a dance choreographer, performer, and teacher, as well as a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher. She graduated from the Mudra Performing Arts School under the direction of Maurice Bejart, and then worked and toured with his company for several years. Aida then moved to Canberra, Australia where she worked with many dance and theater companies in a variety of capacities for nearly 17 years. These included Human Veins Dance Theatre, Women on a Shoestring Theatre Company, the Meryl Tankard Company, and the Canberra Ensemble (now the Canberra Dance Theatre). She now resides in Los Angeles, where she has performed in several Kaleidoscope Dance Festivals, Fountain Theater’s Festivals of Solos and Duets, and been a featured guest in numerous other productions. In 2004 she was nominated for the Horton Award for the best solo dancer. She has previously performed in Santa Barbara on Beth Burleson’s concerts in the ’90 s. Ms Amirkhanian’s work has recently been seen in New York, Boulder, Colorado, and for the 4th time has been featured in a collaborative concert with the National Chamber Orchestra of Armenia in the fall of 2006.

Nathan Cottam, Guest Choreographer

Nathan Cottam, Guest Choreographer

Nathan Cottam was raised in Buffalo, New York, where he studied theater and music from an early age. He attended ballet class as a Sociology major at Brigham Young University and performed with the University’s ballet company. Following a summer intensive in Vermont in 2000 where he began to choreograph, Nathan first danced professionally with Northern Ballet Theatre in Nashua, New Hampshire. After a few years in the North East, he earned his MFA from the prestigious School of Dance at the University of Arizona. He also served as the Dance Director for Legacy Dance Theatre‘s 2008 production of Pioneer Legacy and performed in China on tour with Kim Robards Dance. In 2010, he was featured in AD&M Performance Group’s production of Carrie Diamond’s Wisperfal, performed in residence at the Lobero Theater in Santa Barbara. Nathan spent 2012-2014 in Belgrade, Serbia, where he danced with the National Ballet and formed his own touring company, Mannakin Theater and Dance. Nathan has created ballets for his company as well as the Oberlin Dance Collective in San Francisco and Peninsula Ballet Theatre in San Mateo, CA. Nathan is pleased to be continuing his collaboration with Carrie Diamond and American Dance and Music.

Bryan Carey Chung, Guest Choreographer

Bryan Carey Chung, Guest Choreographer

A choreographer and poet, Brian Carey Chung was a principle dancer with Karole Armitage’s Armitage Gone! Dance, and a company member of Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet and Dwight Rhoden and Desmond Richardson’s Complexions Contemporary Ballet. He has toured throughout Europe and the United States with said companies, and has taught master classes for both Lines and Complexions on tour. He was on faculty at Lines’ San Francisco Dance Center and has danced and/or lectured on dance at New York University, University of Hawaii, University of Arizona, and Stanford University. He served as ballet master to Ballet Folklorico de San Francisco, and was choreographic assistant to Dwight Rhoden for his 2005 New York season. As a writer, Brian’s publications include poems in Spoon River Poetry Review, Fourteen Hills, Modern Words, Open City, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Brian’s television credits include a guest appearance on the Whoopi Goldberg Show, four national commercials for VH-1, and a national ad campaign for Pfizer.

Mari Sandoval, Guest Choreographer

Mari Sandoval, Guest Choreographer

Mari Sandoval was trained in Spain and the U.S by such notables as Carmelita Maracci, Enrique “el cojo”, Carmen Mora, Inesita, Nana Lorca, Lupe del Rio and Roberto Amaral. Mari performed with Roberto Amaral’s Ballet Español de Los Angeles as principal dancer and was the company’s ballet mistress. She has performed in theaters such as the Lobero, Wilshire Ebell, Japan American, Fox, Smother’s, as well as numerous other venues throughout the U.S. and Canada. Mari Sandoval was a choreographer for the Bilingual Foundation of the Arts from 1987-2009, and she has created choreographies inspired by Garcia Lorca’s work such as Lorca, Child of the Moon, and opera, Yerma, Donna Rosita la Soltera, Blood Wedding, and Las Mujeres de Lorca, as well as many other annual productions produced in Spanish and English. Ms. Sandoval currently teaches flamenco to adults at various venues in Los Angeles. She currently studies with Inesita.

Susan Shaberman, Guest Choreographer

Susan Shaberman, Guest Choreographer

Susan Shaberman, choreographer, has been hooked on modern dance since she was cast as the matador in Ferdinand the Bull when she was 8 years old. Her other passion as a child was horses. After raising her own children, she continued her dance training at the University of California, and went on to earn her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts, NYU. Trying to satiate her cravings for more dance, she has studied extensively in the techniques of Graham, Cunningham, Limon, and Hawkins. In 1995 she formed an interdisciplinary company, Interplay, and became known for her trigger pieces, using electronic drum triggers to create instantaneous sound accompaniments, including musical tones, poetry, and musical tones, for her movement. Ms Shaberman’s work has been seen on both local and international (Avignon, Mexico, and Edinburgh) stages. Most recently she has performed her work in New York and Boulder, CO. She has yet to fulfill her other dream of owning a horse.