Nancy Meeter Owens (Ballet, Modern) – Nancy began her dance training as a child in Southern California. She began her professional studies in ballet with Richard Ellis, Christine DuBoulay, and Rosemary Doolas, in modern with Nana Shineflug, Tara Mitton, and Anna Czajun, and jazz with Lou Conte, Claire Bataille, and Joel Hall. She performed and toured with the Chicago Moving Company for six years, and performed as a guest artist. Nancy received her B.A. in Dance Performance and Education from Northeastern Illinois University and her M.F.A. in Dance from the University of Iowa. Nancy was the Artistic Director for Mountain Shadows School of Dance in Great Falls, Montana. She also owned her own studio, The Montana Movement Center. She served on the Board of Directors of the Montana Dance Arts Association and worked for the Great Falls Symphony Association as a choreographer and Ballet Mistress. Nancy has also taught at St. Mary’s College and has been a guest teacher recently for several studios on the east coast.
Elena Oring (Ballet, Character, Folk) – Elena started to dance when she was four years old in the Chelyabinsk Pioneer Palace. When she was ten years old, she began studies at the Chelyabinsk Opera Academy – where she studied ballet, historic dance, and folk dance for eight years. Elena’s teachers were Sofya Tulubyeva and Svetlana Adyrhaeva from the Leningrad Academy – and other great teachers from the Chelyabinsk Opera Academy. Two of the best dance teachers in the city, Natalya Kartasheva and Igor Kitaev, were her teachers for folk dance. Elena danced at the Chelyabinsk Opera Academy when she was ten years old in La Bayadere, Sleeping Beauty, and Little Red Riding Hood, and later danced in The Nutcracker Suite, Glazunov Seasons, and secondary roles in other ballets. After a back injury, Elena began teaching in dance schools and gymnasiums in Chelyabinsk and Krasnodar. Since coming to the United States in 2012, Elena has been able to resume her teaching career at Abigail Francisco School of Classical Ballet, teaching character, folk dance and Ballet.
Andrea Cooper (Ballet, Tap) – Andrea began dancing at the age of three and hasn’t stopped. She has received training in tap, ballet and jazz. As a dance student she traveled to Atlantic City each summer to perform in Tony Grant’s Stars of Tomorrow on the Steel Pier. While majoring in textiles and design at the University of Maryland, she continued her dance studies with the University and participated in several variety performances. Upon graduating, and becoming an Air Force wife, she danced and performed with a local performing arts company in Texas. She had the opportunity to assist with the choreography as well as perform in the musical production Brigadoon. After traveling around the United States and Europe, Mrs. Cooper returned to the Washington D.C. area and has resumed her dance studies on a continuing basis, training in both NYC and Washington D.C. each summer. In April 2007, she attended the Dance Open Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Heather Oakley (Ballet) – Heather has been studying dance for over 30 years. She has studied with Abigail Francisco, Irena Prochotsky (Washington Ballet Center), Adrienne Dellas (Kirov Academy), and many others. Heather also majored in Ballet with an emphasis on performance at Point Park College in Pittsburgh, PA (Susan Stowe, Nicholas Petrov, Ron Hutson, and others). She has studied at the College of Southern Maryland pursuing a degree in dance. Heather has performed throughout Maryland, Virginia, and Pennsylvania in such ballets as Les Sylphides and La Bayadere as a soloist and in The Nutcracker as Snow Queen and Arabian. In 2009, Heather joined the D.A.R.E. after school program to teach high risk students the joy of dance. She continues to dance and teach throughout the area.
Anne Kerze (Jazz, Ballet) – Anne has been dancing for more than 30 years. She began her dance training at Burton Dance Studio, Connecticut Concert Ballet and The Hartford Ballet, spending her summers training in New York City. Anne was a scholarship student at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, attended workshops at Laban Centre London, and was accepted to the London Studio Centre. After returning stateside, Anne began dancing professionally with Footnotes Dance Theatre. In 2003, Anne moved to Key West, Florida, where she trained extensively with Gregory King, former soloist with The Joffrey Ballet. She performed with the Greg King Ballet as well as the Brazen Hussies contemporary dance troupe. Anne has taught children as well as adults for more than 15 years in Connecticut, Maryland, and Florida. She has choreographed for elementary, middle, and high school musical productions, and has been a guest teacher at summer performing arts camps. Most recently, Anne was the dance instructor for The American School Foundation, A.C. in Mexico City, Mexico.
Elizabeth Welsh (Theatre/Acting) – Elizabeth earned a bachelor’s degree in theatre with a concentration in directing before moving to Los Angeles. While in L.A., she pursued acting in theatre, film and television, as well as co- founding Athena Theatre, a non-profit Actor’s Equity Association theatre, where she was the Artistic Director. Currently a resident of southern Maryland, she looks forward to supporting and shaping a new generation of performing artists.
Barbara Smith (Pilates) – Barbara was a member of the dance theater in college and has been involved with various forms of fitness education for 30 years. She recently earned her Pilates mat certification and was previously a student of Pilates at Abigail’s. She has always had a keen interest in health and fitness and believes that Pilates is a discipline that can benefit anyone for life, and is a perfect way for dancers to improve their strength, balance, and focus.
Elizabeth N. Lawton, RYT200 (Yoga) – Elizabeth came to Yoga 20 years ago because of a sports injury. In 2012, she began teaching because she wanted to share what she learned with those people seeking more holistic approaches to healing. Her personal practice is inspired by the classic tradition of Ashtanga Yoga for aligning the skeletal and muscular body systems, enabled through breath-work and deep concentration. This focus heavily influences her teaching-style which emphasizes developing mind-body restorative practices for everyday living.
David Reesman, Creative Director – David Reesman was born in Pittsburgh, PA, graduating with a degree in Graphic Design. After years of retail advertising experience, he moved into the area of Visual Merchandising for a chain of retail furniture stores. His responsibilities included traveling between stores, setting the visual merchandising standards for the company, as well as the stylist for magazine editorials and a variety of advertising materials, many corporate television appearances on local design shows and HGTV. For the last few years David has decided to remain near home and has focused on building an interior design business of his own, taking the many years of experience in retail merchandising and passion for interiors and combining them. This has allowed him to work on a wide array of projects in both the private sector and business areas. Mr. Reesman’s discerning aesthetics deliver a remarkable and energizing staging. David has been working with Abigail Francisco School of Classical Ballet for the last four years as Creative Director, selecting music, costumes, scenery and creating the overall aesthetic for the school’s spring performance. In 2013 he began consulting with architects and builders to re-design and expand the school to better serve current and future students.
Becky Arden, School Administrator – Becky graduated from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA in 2011 with a degree in Journalism, with an emphasis in Broadcasting. She is a former student of Abigail Francisco, dancing under her for approximately ten to twelve years. She traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia in 2007 with Ms. Abigail to attend the Dance Open Festival and take classes with International Ballet Instructors. She continues to dance in Finale, Jazz and Alumni numbers in the annual Spring Production. Becky relocated back to Southern Maryland a few years ago after living in Philadelphia for eight years. She hopes to bring new, fresh ideas as well as continue the long-lasting traditions that have built Abigail Francisco School of Classical Ballet.