ARTS EXPRESS FACULTY


In order to provide quality arts education and family productions, Arts Express hires high caliber arts faculty that share Arts Express’ values.  All instructors are either arts educators, meeting the qualifications for a Highly Qualified Teacher under the Federal No Child Left Behind standards, or are teaching artists who are trained by and under the supervision of Highly Qualified arts teachers.

DANCE FACULTY

CLAIRE ELISE HANCOCK Steeped in the arts from the time she was an infant, Claire Hancock has performed extensively both nationally and internationally. Special solo performances include those with Broadway veterans Ben Vereen and Liz Callaway. She has danced professionally with ODC/San Francisco and River North Dance Company in Chicago, and has been a guest teacher and choreographer for organizations such as the Limon Institute, Broadway Theatre Project, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, Arizona Theatre Company and Arizona Opera. She has served as rehearsal assistant for Ben Stevenson’s Three Preludes and End of Time, as well as George Balanchine’s Serenade and The Four Temperaments.  Claire Hancock received her BFA and MFA in dance from the University of Arizona, and holds a Master of Arts degree in European Dance Theatre from Laban in London, England. In 2009, together with colleague Ashley Bowman, she formed Artifact Dance Project, a Tucson based professional contemporary dance company dedicated to presenting dance with live music. Claire is co-artistic director, founding member and rehearsal director for the company. She teaches dance at Artifact Dance Project Studios, and is a PMA® certified Pilates teacher, qualified Fletcher Pilates® teacher and faculty member at Body Works Pilates™ in Tucson, AZ.
Simone Jolivet-Manuel, a member of that rare breed of Tucsonans actually born in Tucson. She received her BA from Northern Arizona University and her M.Ed in Elementary Education. Simone began dancing at the age of 7, she continued training over the years with workshops and conventions across the country with high-end choreographers - Savion Glover, Mandy Moore, Paula Abdul, JT Hornstein, Denise Leitner and many others. Currently Simone is in her 13th year at Salpointe Catholic High School teaching dance and coaching the pomline. Simone’s professional achievements include work with Dance Force-1 Productions, Gaslight Theater and Danswest Productions and the 2001 and 2005 Link Cotillions.
Debbie has worked in the Tucson area as an actress, choreographer, and director for more than 10 years. She has worked on high school productions such as Legally Blonde and Brigadoon. She has also been involved with community productions such as The Great American Trailer Park Christmas and Les Miserable

THEATRE/MUSICAL THEATRE FACULTY

Originally from Hermosillo, Sonora Mexico, Juan obtained his Bachelors and Masters Degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Arizona where he was the first prize winner of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition and the Rieman Opera competion. At the UofA he performed leading roles in numerous Operas from The Magic Flute (Sarastro) to The Barber of Seville (Don Basilio). Juan made his professional opera debut with Arizona Opera Co in 1997 in the role of Dr. Grenvil in La Traviata and since then has performed bass roles on and off with the company. In addition, he has sung professionally with Phoenix Metropolitan Opera, S.A.S.O and Wieck Chamber singers and Orchestra and has worked with world- renowned directors/conductors/coaches such as Tito Capobianco, Danielle Orlando, Richard Miller, David Jones, Paula Fan, and legendary bass, Jerome Hines.Equally at home in the realm of musical theatre, Juan is a regular with the Arizona Rose Theatre Co., where he has performed in countless original musicals, as well as numerous Arizona Rose Entertainment concert performances throughout the state. He received great reviews in his portrayal of Jesus in The Simon Peter Passion Play of Tucson in 2005 and in Arizona Onstage Productions’ pop chamber opera Lost.In the world of popular music he has recorded two CDs titled “It’s all about Love” and “Walk On” is the bass singer and founder of The Presidio Boys, a country/gospel male quartet. Outside the country, Juan sings regularly in recitals /concerts/ operas throughout Mexico, including the Alamos Festival. He was a featured bass soloist with the Liszt Academy orchestra in Budapest Hungary and was privileged to sing in the presence of president Maduro of Honduras and a number of distinguished guests. Outside of performing Juan enjoys stage directing and most recently directed Cinderella and Les Miserables for CYT as well as Esther and Amahl and the Night Visitors for Wieck Chamber singers and Orchestra. Juan also teaches private voice and works for TUSD in a project called Opening Minds through the Arts (O.M.A), helping to reinforce the curriculum through Opera. In addition, he can also be seen and heard on both local and national television and radio as a bilingual actor and voice over artist.

Armen Dirtadian No stranger to Tucson audiences, Armen has been performing as a singer and actor professionally for more than 35 years. He has performed leading roles with The Southern Arizona Light Opera Company, The Arizona Theatre Company, The Invisible Theatre, and The Gaslight Theatre. Mr. Dirtadian toured China on a 10 City tour with the U of A Jazz Ensemble, singing, The Best of Sinatra. Armen is an accomplished amateur golf champion having won numerous tournaments in Arizona and has played in ten USGA championships. Mr. Dirtadian is an inductee in the Pima County Sports Hall of Fame and The University of Arizona Wall of Fame. Mr. Dirtadian taught in TUSD for 28 years, the last 16 years of his career in Theatre Arts.
Richard Gremel is the theatre teacher at Empire High School. He graduated from the University of Arizona with a BFA in theatre education. Along with teaching, Richard is also a technical director for Live Theatre Workshop and a freelance lighting designer. Richard also enjoys playwriting and has  written several plays that have been seen on Tucson stages, as well as, 2 published plays that have been seen all over the US, Canada, and India.
I have a Bachelor of Arts, in Drama, from the University of Washington. My primary focus was acting. I also have an MBA from the University of Phoenix. It has long amazed me how handy a background in acting is in the business world.  After eleven years now as a Theatre Arts teacher I am similarly amazed at how useful a business degree is in the theatre. I have spent a fair amount of time in the classroom, most of it as a student, some as a parent, and eleven years as teacher. My philosophy of teaching is therefore composed of an amalgam of lessons taken from these viewpoints. The first component is to understand the different learning styles in the classroom and to make sure that each student receives differentiated instruction as necessary. The second component is to use structure and discipline to create a safe learning community where students can creatively learn new ways to extend their knowledge. I would emphasize empathy as the final piece of my philosophy. The ability to be aware of, understand, and be sensitive to the experiences and feelings of others is critical to the psychological, spiritual and moral development of theatre students.
Korby Myrick brings directorial her talents to Arts Express for the first time with The Hunchback of Notre Dame!  Korby has had an extensive career both off and on the stage – with a varied background as a professional singer, director, voice teacher, conductor, and pianist.  Performing in over 50 operas in numerous countries, directing for 10 years, and taking part in countless concerts, she is delighted to take on the unique challenge of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. She would like to thank her husband Richard for his unending support and inspiration throughout the years.
During 1970, 1971 and again in 1991, Ms. Simon was an actress for the Tony Award-winning Creede Repertory Theatre. She has been a Director for ATC’s Summer on Stage program and for 26 years was the Director of Desert Christian High School’s Award Winning Musical Theatre and Drama Department. In 2015, Ms. Simon coordinated and directed the first Tucson Sing-Off for the National High School Musical Theatre Awards.
José “Chach” Snook has performed in 46 states and 13 countries. For almost 10 years, Chach lived in New York City as a professional singer/actor and appeared in many shows including Forever Plaid and Altar Boyz. While in NY Chach was a member of the jazz a cappella group Pieces of 8. With Pieces of 8 he recorded 2 albums and was featured on United Airlines’ in-flight music. He is also a contributing writer for the Contemporary A cappella Society of America website, CASA.org. Chach and his wife, Jodi Darling, are voice teachers and perform many concerts in Tucson in addition to being soloists for the Arizona Choral Society. Chach has a Vocal Performance degree from Northern Arizona University and currently teaches choir and theatre at Flowing Wells Jr. High School. Most recently, he was named Top 5 Teacher of the Year for the State of Arizona by the Arizona Educational Foundation.

Compared to Chaplin's "Little Tramp", lauded by Marcel Marceau, Mime Artist, Rick Wamer creates compelling physical story telling by what some have called "body theatre". International audiences have been enjoying Rick's versatile brand of comedic, lyric, and contagious blend of physicality, story, character, monologue, ensemble, multi-media, mask theater around the globe for over three decades.


MUSIC FACULTY

Originally from Hermosillo, Sonora Mexico, Juan obtained his Bachelors and Masters Degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Arizona where he was the first prize winner of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition and the Rieman Opera competion. At the UofA he performed leading roles in numerous Operas from The Magic Flute (Sarastro) to The Barber of Seville (Don Basilio). Juan made his professional opera debut with Arizona Opera Co in 1997 in the role of Dr. Grenvil in La Traviata and since then has performed bass roles on and off with the company. In addition, he has sung professionally with Phoenix Metropolitan Opera, S.A.S.O and Wieck Chamber singers and Orchestra and has worked with world- renowned directors/conductors/coaches such as Tito Capobianco, Danielle Orlando, Richard Miller, David Jones, Paula Fan, and legendary bass, Jerome Hines.Equally at home in the realm of musical theatre, Juan is a regular with the Arizona Rose Theatre Co., where he has performed in countless original musicals, as well as numerous Arizona Rose Entertainment concert performances throughout the state. He received great reviews in his portrayal of Jesus in The Simon Peter Passion Play of Tucson in 2005 and in Arizona Onstage Productions’ pop chamber opera Lost.In the world of popular music he has recorded two CDs titled “It’s all about Love” and “Walk On” is the bass singer and founder of The Presidio Boys, a country/gospel male quartet. Outside the country, Juan sings regularly in recitals /concerts/ operas throughout Mexico, including the Alamos Festival. He was a featured bass soloist with the Liszt Academy orchestra in Budapest Hungary and was privileged to sing in the presence of president Maduro of Honduras and a number of distinguished guests. Outside of performing Juan enjoys stage directing and most recently directed Cinderella and Les Miserables for CYT as well as Esther and Amahl and the Night Visitors for Wieck Chamber singers and Orchestra.
Janice Deardorff is a native Tucsonan who received her Bachelor of Music from the University of Arizona in 1980 with a degree in Music Education. With 42 years of teaching experience, she has developed curricula in the public and private sectors throughout her educational career. Deardorff has a deep appreciation for American western heritage. Her passion for keeping alive frontier history, traditions, and values takes shape through teaching, the arts, and interactive experiences she designs to help others develop a similar appreciation. A singer-songwriter as well as a teacher, Deardorff enjoys sharing her original songs along with old-time cowboy classics that tell the stories of the West. She was recently nominated for the 2015 Crescendo Award through the Western Music Association (WMA). The WMA, an international organization, encourages and supports the preservation, performance, and composition of historical, traditional, and contemporary music and poetry of the West. Deardorff has recorded two western music CDs: Part of the West and Just a Horse. Both albums are being played on radio shows nationwide and internationally.
Hank is a performing artist, educator, and public speaker who’s influence is worldwide. Along with his wife Marie Sierra, he is a father to Nick and Sam. His highlights include: Founder and Director of Education, Global Learning Foundation; 2-Time Grammy Nominated Artist and Composer www.hankfeldman.com; Co-Author of Sam the Ant®, children’s book series, 2016 www.SamTheAnt.com; Redleaf Press Author, “Living Like a Child”, 2012; Inventor, iBG® (Intellectual Brainwave Games); Co-Founder, Context Method®, Contextual Educational Approaches; Public Speaker www.enriquecfeldman.com
Mike’s Work as a Pianist, Music Director and Actor spans over 30 years in Tucson, San Francisco and Japan. He currently works at the UofA School of Theatre as a Music Director/pianist/vocal coach and conductor for all Arizona Repertory Theatre Productions. Most recent credits: Rent, Cabaret, This, A Little Night Music, The Full Monty, Gunmetal Blues. He spent 17 years in San Francisco as a cabaret pianist/vocal coach and as an actor. He studied acting and voice at Studio ACT and The SF Academy of Performing Arts, both in San Francisco.
Crystal Stark is an award-winning pop/R&B singer. Crystal attended the University of Arizona where she graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Music Education. Crystal added AMERICAN IDOL FINALIST to her list of accomplishments when she tried out for the show during season 5. She sang back-up on tour with American Idol runner-up Katharine Mcphee on shows such as Jay Leno, Regis & Kelly, and The Today Show. She also worked as a DJ for the popular local radio station Mega Oldies 106.3, and was a TV host for the local television station “My Tucson TV 18.” In the summer of 2006, Crystal entered the gospel music competition, “Music in the Rockies” where she won first place “Best of Show” and was asked to perform at Disney World’s “Night of Joy” alongside Christian artists such as Kirk Franklin, Rebecca St. James, and Mercy Me. Crystal also won a recording opportunity with Indelible Creative Group for the track “Leave Everything Behind” which was featured on the top Indie Christian Artists of 2008” CD. Crystal can be seen selling out concerts around Arizona performing with the Tucson Jazz Society, the fabulous “Triple Threat” vocal trio, and her unforgettable jazz/soul/r&b group “The Crystal Stark Quintet.” She also serves as the music teacher at Acacia Elementary.
Mr. Lepore is the Director of Choral Activities at Ironwood Ridge High School. He is currently in his fifth year teaching in schools and has been directing musical ensembles for over ten years. A product of the Oro Valley and Tucson community, Mr. Lepore attended Copper Creek and Wilson as well as Salpointe Catholic. He went on to graduate magna cum laude from the Chapman University Conservatory of Music with two Bachelor of Music degrees in Vocal Music Education and Instrumental Music Education and a minor in Vocal Performance. While there he helped found the school's first contemporary a cappella group, SoundCheck and performed in seven ensembles. Since returning to Tucson, Mr. Lepore went back to his old stomping grounds teaching choir at Wilson and Salpointe and oversaw the musical and technical direction of Salpointe's musicals for the past four years.
Pete Swan is a bandleader, drummer, educator, vocalist and composer. Pete is the leader of Big Band Express and has been an educator in Tucson for over 25 years including the Director of the Pima College Jazz Program for five years. Pete's career includes a faculty position at the Port Townsend Jazz Festival under Bud Shank for 20 years.  Pete has had the opportunity to study with Jeff Hamilton, who made a huge impact on how he thinks of drumming. Through Jeff he has the honor to be an endorser for Crescent Cymbals. He has had the distinct privilege to have performed with a long list of notable artists including: Bud Shank, Bob Florence, Doug Webb, John Clayton, Kristin Korb, Judy Roberts, Greg Fishman and many others. Pete is currently running and promoting Big Band Express, a professional big band in the Tucson area. Pete has been running a concert and jam session for over 14 years on Sunday nights bringing in top talent from around the country and locally. He co-wrote the Essentials of Be-Bop Drumming with drummers Artt Frank and Chet Baker.