Susan Gillis (Faculty Advisor)
Susan Gillis received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance from the University of Utah and a Master of Education degree from the University of Pittsburgh. While in New York City she danced with Virginia Laidlaw Dance Theater and the Shoestring Dance Ensemble. Former director and dancer with the Pittsburgh Dance Alloy, Susan has been producing her choreography independently and in collaboration with dancer/choreographer Judy Steel for the past 30 years. She has been the recipient of several choreography and video grants from the PA Council On the Arts, the Pittsburgh Dance Council, the Howard Heinz Foundation and the Pittsburgh Foundation. Her choreography has been seen on Public Television and her article "Developing Skills in Dance" was published in Focus on Dance XII, a 1992 National Dance Association publication. More recently she has developed the "Arts Education Project" which offers multisensory teaching seminars on the history of dance and has created "The Early Moderns" a multi-media CD-ROM on early modern dance history from 1880-1935. Susan's dance history tutorial can be found on the Web at: The Early Modern Tutorial. She is also the 2006 PA State Teacher of the Year for Dance/University level, the 2008 Eastern District Association Teacher of the Year for Dance/University level and her chapter on Introduction to Dance was recently published in "Diversity Across the Curriculum" (May 2007) by Jossey-Bass/Ankor Press.
Marissa Andreassi is a senior at Pitt majoring in psychology and planning to further her education at New York Chiropractic College. Having trained in dance since age three, Marissa studied under Lee Garrard at Lee’s studio in Butler, PA, for 15 years where she took classes and performed in recitals and pageants throughout her time there. She has been trained and evaluated in five levels of Cecchetti ballet and performs in the Pitt Ballet Club on campus. She also performed on the dance team for the Butler High School Sequinettes for three years and was a feature dancer as a senior. During her time as a sequinette Marissa had the opportunity to perform in the Fiesta Bowl Parade in Phoenix, AZ, and the Orange Bowl Parade in Orlando, FL, as well as at Cinderella’s castle in Walt Disney World. After winning the Pittsburgh Kickline Competition, the sequinette dance team had the privilege of taking class with the Rockettes. In Pitt Dance Ensemble, Marissa has had the chance to learn and experience a variety of dance styles and make new friends in the meanwhile. She is excited to be a part of the board for this coming year and can’t wait to perform in the future.
Emma is a senior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Sociology. She has been dancing since she was three at Pittsburgh DancExplosion and DancExplosion Arts Center, where she also worked as a teacher. Emma was a member of her studio's company for nine years. She attended many competitions and conventions where she took class from choreographers including, Marissa Osato, Travis Wall, and Caroline Lewis. Emma attended the Evolve Productions Intensive for two summers where she worked with choreographers from the Pittsburgh area including Sarah Parker, Pearlann Porter, and Gustavo Zajac. PDE allows Emma to keep learning and growing as a dancer. She is excited to be a part of the board, and is ready for another great semester of dancing!
Emily Cramer is currently a senior at Pitt studying German and Non-fiction Writing in hopes of becoming a teacher. She has been dancing since the age of 4 and is very excited about dancing with the Pitt Dance Ensemble again this year. Emily danced with the Laurel Arts Dance Center growing up where she traveled and performed as a member of the Senior Performance Company Team. Through Laurel Arts, she was able to teach dance class to preschoolers and first graders. Also, she was fortunate enough to choreograph a Christmas Show called the “Rhythms of Christmas” her senior year of high school. She has been trained in ballet, tap and jazz and has a little experience with contemporary and hip hop. Emily enjoys tap the most and will be choreographing another tap piece for the spring show this year. Outside of the studio Emily enjoys being a Resident Assistant and a member of the Pitt German Club.
JoAnna is a junior psychology major with aspirations of becoming a clinical psychologist. She has been dancing since the age of three at Ann Shade’s Dance and Fitness Studio. JoAnna left the studio at age eleven to begin competing with her middle school dance and majorette teams in the Tournament of Bands Tournament Indoor Association. She then danced and twirled with local independent team, Dance FX, from her early high school years into her freshman year of college until the team disbanded after the 2013 competition season. Currently, JoAnna coaches a local competitive middle school majorette team which is her pride and joy. She also thoroughly enjoys choreographing for the Pitt Dance Ensemble. JoAnna is thrilled to pursue her passion for dance and choreography through PDE, and she is honored to be a member of the board!
Joelle is a senior at Pitt planning to major in Clinical Dietetics and Nutrition with a minor in Dance. She began dancing at age two at Laura Lynn School of Dance in Gibsonia, PA. She took classes, competed and performed with the competition team around the Pittsburgh area. Joelle was also a part of the Pine Richland High School Dance Team that performed at high school sporting events and various camps. She choreographed and taught all dance styles at her studio and high school. PDE has allowed her to expand her dance experience through classes and performance opportunities while making amazing friends. She is very excited to be a part of the board and possibly choreograph for future performances.
Brittany Garvey is currently a junior at Pitt majoring in Natural Science and minoring in Dance. She has been dancing since the age of 6 at Lori’s Center Stage Dance Studio in Danbury, CT. Brittany was a member of the competition team there for 9 years competing both as a soloist and as a part of the team. In college she has been fortunate to continue dance as a member of the Pitt Dance Ensemble and is now a member of the executive board. She loves PDE because she is given the opportunity to learn from amazing dancers and choreographers from the Pittsburgh community and learn new styles that she has never seen before. Brittany can’t wait to continue to grow as a dancer and choreographer for this group for her next 2 years at Pitt
David a senior Exercise Science major and Dance Minor. Spent a year in ballet school as a child in Ohio and performed in The Nutcracker with the professional company. Then trained in competitive figure skating for 6 years until high school. He has done competitions in Nevada, California, Pennsylvania, and New York. David started dancing again when he came to Pitt for college by taking dance classes and joining Dance Ensemble and Pitt Ballet Club. He's performed as a soloist for Pitt Ballet Club numerous times, the Nutcracker Prince in The Nutcracker and the Lead Card in Alice in Wonderland. He has also danced in pieces by guest professional choreographers Jil Stiffel and Michelle Ramos for Dance Ensemble. He's also choreographed for PDE shows. He does volunteering for Pittsburgh Ballet Theater and is in school working towards being a Physical Therapist for professional dance companies.