Meet Our Team
Executive Director, Founder
Connie Dienner is the founder and director of the Cavod Academy of the Arts, pulling together 30+ years of involvement in the Theatre Arts both in the United States and abroad, and the desire to foster a setting where creative people are accepted and their gifts nurtured. Connie’s undeniable passion for God, the students, and the community, is shared with a distinct vision of how excellence in the performing arts can be used to grow and advance the God’s Kingdom. This vision radiates through Cavod as student’s are trained and mentored to use their creative gifts in an inspiring and world-impacting way. Connie’s successful leadership was pivotal in several musicals to include Cavod’s own “Clever Holiday Title”, and producing Meredith Wilson’s “The Music Man”; impacting the local region for years to come. Her submissiveness to God’s direction and call, has revealed a growing Cavod family. “As the students and staff grow also in confidence, the achievement of excellence seems almost…..contagious!”
Tahnya has been dancing at various performing arts schools in the region from a very young age. Her passion for dance developed when she traveled and performed across the east coast on a mission trip at 14 years old. It was then that she discovered there was more to dance than looking good onstage… dance is a powerful tool that breaks cultural barriers and reaches the hearts of people without even saying a word. Tahnya has been with Cavod Academy of the Arts since it’s small beginnings. She has taught Hip-Hop, Modern, Worship Dance and Ballet. She has received much guidance from Carolyn Trythall, former owner of Lancaster School of Ballet. She has been taught under the professional instruction of Paul Sutherland (Joffrey Ballet), Brunhilda Ruiz (Joffery Ballet), Emily Borthwick (Contra Costa Ballet), Raymond Lukens (American Ballet Theatre), Christopher Hird (Boston Ballet), Franco De Vita (American Ballet Theatre). Tahnya attends the Cecchetti Council of America conference every fall and spring. She is certified in teaching Cecchetti through grade IV from Cecchetti Council of America. She is very excited about the potential Cavod has not only to raise up dancers with beautiful technique but dancers that can dance with excellence and purity unto the Lord. She has a passion to see the Kingdom of God influence the world with dance that is modern and relevant, instead of the world influencing the Kingdom. Tahnya and her husband, Richard reside in New Holland. They have eight young children.
Artistic Director of Theatre, Acting Instructor
Monica is thrilled to be serving as artistic director of cavod theatre as well as teaching and directing shows in its thriving, creative community! For the last 6 seasons, Monica has performed with Blue Gate Musicals on The Bird In Hand Stage. Past Blue Gate credits include: Karen Ledbetter and Queen Elizabeth in “Josiah for President”; Rosie in “The Confession”; and Eliza in “The Gut Life ”. Originally from Orange County, California, she obtained her BFA in Musical Theatre from California State University, Fullerton and then made her way to the East Coast via New York City. After spending 4 years in the Big Apple, she enjoyed 10 years performing with Sight and Sound Theatres here in Lancaster PA as part of the casts of Abraham and Sarah, Psalms of David, Voices of Christmas, In the Beginning, Jonah, Noah and more. Locally she has also had the pleasure of working with such companies as The Fulton Theatre, PRiMA Theatre, Servant Stage Company and Portrait of a Lady Summer Cabaret Series. Favorite roles include: Sarah in Abraham and Sarah, Julie in Showboat and Nimue in Camelot. She has also taught private voice lessons in her home studio, for Meadows of Hope Girls Home and cavod. Teaching thrills her because it gives her the opportunity to pass on knowledge and experience to the next generation of artists… isn’t the way God brings us together beautiful?
Artistic Director of Dance, Artistic Director of Citylight Dance Theatre, Modern and Worship Dance Instructor
Jill grew up right outside of Boston, and joined the Cavod Team after moving to Lancaster County in 2015 with her husband Joel who pastors a local church. Jill and Joel are passionate about ministry and have an adventurous 2 year old son named Ezra. Jill graduated from Roger Williams University with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance/Performance Studies and Secondary Education. She trained under Kelli Wicke-Davis and the Roger Williams faculty. During her collegiate studies she had the incredible opportunity to work with a variety of well-known artists from the New York area and beyond including; Sean Curran, Neta Pulvermacher, Jenny Rocha, Tiffany Mills, Carl Flink (Limon Dance Company) and Jennifer Conley (Martha Graham Dance Company). Post college she performed for dance companies throughout the Northeast including; Dendron Dance Company, Voices of Hope, Navarasa Dance Theatre, and Audra Carabetta Company. Jill co-directed Awakening Youth Dance Company in 2008-2010, and founded/directed Agape Dance Theatre in 2012-2015. She had the amazing opportunity to launch several original productions partnering with Vineyard Community Church of the greater Boston area, her favorite production being “Every Captive Free”, an original show based on a woman’s true story of human trafficking and how Jesus brought her to a place of freedom and redemption. Since joining Cavod, Jill has had the honor of directing the dance department and Citylight Dance Theatre (formerly Cavod Dance Company). She is passionate about how this ministry has a vision to use the artistry of dance to give God the glory. She has played a large role in fostering discipleship among the dance company, and has loved being able to grow as a choreographer creating dozens of original pieces while serving as artistic director. Jill predominantly teaches and choreographs modern or contemporary dance work, but has trained in many other dance genres, gymnastics, yoga, and acrobatics. Jill has always had a passion for dance, but her number one love is sharing the hope of Jesus with others. She believes the performing arts is a powerful tool to share this hope. Prior to becoming part of Cavod, Jill served as the Director of Children’s, Youth, & Arts Ministry at Vineyard Community Church in the Boston area, she was a preschool teacher for three years, and also taught dance at performing arts centers and schools all over Massachusetts. In the summer of 2012 and 2013 she traveled to Haiti to teach modern and worship dance while sharing the gospel. Jill is always striving to grow as an artist and teacher, and her desire is to instill the joy of artistic movement in others, while serving Jesus with her life and the gifts he has graciously given her.
Office Manager, Tap, Piano and Voice Instructor
Amy Rau brings a music education degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and over 2 decades of experience in musical theatre to Cavod. Both behind the scenes as musical director and pit musician, and performing on stage in operas, broadway-style musicals, and church productions, Amy gets excited about theatre! Favorite performance roles include: Sister Mary Wilhelm in Nunsense Jamboree, Della in Gifts of the Magi, Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro, and Claire in On the Town. Music directing credits include: Seussical the Musical, Annie, Singing in the Rain, Jesus Christ Superstar, Little Shop of Horrors, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, I Love You You’re Perfect Now Change, Cats, The Music Man, I Do! I Do!, My Fair Lady, and countless church productions. Amy has led worship for several churches, directed the Fred Waring Choral workshop for three years, and is a professional photographer. She is excited about being a part of Cavod’s mission behind the scenes as Office Manager as well as teaching tap, private voice, private piano, and music directing for Cavod Theatre, PRiMA, and Dutch Apple.
Front Desk Manager
Becky is Cavod’s Front Desk Manager and is thrilled to be helping to make the vision a reality. Becky comes to Cavod with years of managing experience in the workforce and in her family with her husband, Matt, and 4 children. She was drawn to Cavod because of her youngest son who had an interest in music and acting and now it has grown to include a love of dance. He found a place of belonging and encouragement at Cavod and Becky has done everything she could to give back to the organization and now manages the front desks and the Cavod Theatre lobby and house during productions. Her favorite part of the job is meeting all the new students who come through the front door!
Theatre Front Desk Manager
Melissa is active at Cavod at the Theatre Box Office– you may have seen her smiling face at one of our productions! She is happily married with four beautiful children and has run an in-home daycare for 16 years. She graduated from the Friends of Israel Bible Program in 1998 and has been working with children since she was 12 years old. She says her family has been truly blessed to have found Cavod and its amazing families three years ago. God is good!
Marketing & Public Relations Specialist
Mandee has been performing for almost a decade with companies such as Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble, Servant Stage, Piercing Word among others. Her favorite styles of dance are tap, jazz and contemporary although she grew up doing ballet for 8 years. Mandee holds a business administration degree from McCann School of Business and Technology.
She is passionate about helping businesses and ministries tell their stories on an online platform.
She strives to create an online presence for Cavod that people can connect with, sharing the heart and mission of the organization before you walk through the doors! Mandee enjoys making connections and cultivating relationships with others to grow the Cavod community. When Mandee is not behind the computer, she enjoys her role as a barista at a cafe in Lititz and as an events manager at SUPPLY in Manheim. She enjoys reading a good book, making homemade sushi, spending time with her family and church community. Mandee is beyond thankful for the opportunity to work alongside such a creative staff who create with purpose.
Artistic Director - Manheim, Account Manager, Early Dance Education Director, Dance Stage Manager, Ballet & Jazz Dance Instructor
Julie grew up just south of Atlanta, GA where she began dancing at the age of 14. Throughout high school Julie trained at Into the Light Ballet. Here she learned the craft of various dance techniques, but more importantly began fusing her passion of worship with her ability to move and create. After receiving her Associates in Biblical Studies, Julie moved to Houston, TX to dance with Ad Deum II. She spent two years with ADII and then apprenticed with Ad Deum for a full season. During this time Julie had the privilege of serving (performing, teaching, etc) through dance in various locations across the globe including, but not limited to: Hungary, Switzerland, Bulgaria, and The USA. Julie has also trained with incredible dance masters and choreographers including Steve Rooks, Durrel Comedy, Roxane D’Orleans Juste, Vincent Hardy, and more! Julie spent the beginning of 2018 with a group of passionate artists known as Bridge Dance Collective, teaching in the greater Houston area, and receiving her Barre Certification. She received her Barre Certification through the International Ballet Barre Fitness Association and enjoys leading motivational classes built with everyone in mind. In addition, Julie received her teaching certification through The American Ballet Theater National Training Curriculum in the year 2018. She enjoys teaching Ballet, Modern, Jazz, and various other dance techniques! Julie strives to maintain a positive class environment that focuses on proper form, dedication, and performance. She is thrilled to launch Ornate Dance Theatre this season and make new connections at Cavod’s new location in Manheim. Julie believes in cultivating a supportive community of like-minded artist, who are passionate about sharing the love of God through the medium of dance. Julie is delighted to be a part of Cavod Performing Arts.
Communications Specialist, Artistic Director of Cavod Ballet Theatre, Ballet, Pointe, Contemporary, and Modern Dance Instructor
Stephanie Morales has been studying ballet and modern dance since the age of 10 and has received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance from Belhaven University in 2016.
In 2005, she began taking her dance training seriously and attended Lancaster School of Ballet under the direction of Carolyn Trythall and the Viktor Yeliohin International Ballet Academy under Viktor Yeliohin. Here she trained with instructors Molly Carey, Matthew Metro, Kristie Beatman, and Viktor Yeliohin as well as danced numerous lead roles in classical ballet’s with Ballet Theater of Lancaster. Stephanie went on to attend Ballet Magnificat’s 4 week summer intensive in 2009 and 2010 to further her ballet training with the Ballet Magnificat company members.
While in college, she developed her technique, choreography, and teaching skills further under the direction of Cynthia Newland, Laura Morton, Caleb Mitchell, Ravena Tucker, Sol Nazario, Mia Whitehead, Erin Rockwell, Kristen Bower and Dr. Emily Wright. She worked with several renowned choreographers and guest instructors such as Steve Rooks, Vincent Hardy, Sheron Wray and Kim Nofsinger. She also presented several works in Belhaven Department Showcases and presented her Senior Research “On Display: A Look into Body Dysmorphic Disorder among Female Dancers” to the University as well.
Post college, you can find Stephanie working as a dance instructor in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She continues to pursue her passion in choreography by presenting works in local festivals, choreographing shows for Cavod Community Theater (Dr.Dolittle Jr., Beauty and the Beast Jr., Seussical, Lion King Jr., Mary Poppins Jr., and Gift of the Magi), creating and directing Wonder – a contemporary ballet for Cavod Ballet Theatre, as well as traveling to set works on companies. Stephanie also attended American Ballet Theater’s National Teacher Training and is a certified ABT NTC teacher in the pre-primary- level 3 curriculum.
Whether teaching, dancing, or choreographing, Stephanie’s passion is to instill the love of the art of dance into her students or audience. Her hope is to show the joy that dance can bring your soul. She believes that through hard work, dedication, laughter, and learning from mistakes, one can find an appreciation for dance no matter what you do in the future.
Outreach Coordinator of Citylight Dance Theatre, Hip Hop and Worship Dance Instructor
Victoria Glick has been dancing at Cavod since 2015. Her dance training includes Modern, Ballet and Hip Hop. Victoria has been a dancer on Citylight Dance Theatre since 2017 performing and ministering with the company, and she serves as the company’s Outreach Director. Victoria is an assistant teacher for the Early Arts preschool program, and this is her first year teaching dance classes for Cavod. Outside of Cavod she is active in her local church, this will be her third year leading a small group for 10th grade girls. Victoria has a big heart for discipleship and mentoring. She’s had the privilege of attending 5 different mission’s trips over the years. She is overjoyed at how Good God is, and she is really excited to be a part of the Cavod staff!
Modern, Jazz Instructor
Timnah Krauter has had a passion to dance since she started ballet at 6 years old. She started her dance training at Cavod in 2009 studying Ballet and Pointe, Modern, Contemporary, Tap, Hip Hop, Jazz, and Acrobatics/Tumbling. She has enjoyed leadership opportunities teaching dance and Acrobatics for Cavod’s summer arts camps, and has been a substitute teacher at Cavod since 2019 while going through the assistant teacher training program for several years. This upcoming season Timnah will be joining Ornate Dance Theatre, a pre-professional dance training program to grow in her dance technique, artistry, life skills and as a teacher. Timnah was a dancer with Cavod’s outreach team, Citylight Dance Theatre for 8 years. Her experience performing locally with Citylight and overseas (in Switzerland and Brazil) with Cavod Missions, has greatly given her an appreciation for the incredible way dance can be used to reach the world with Christ’s love. Her core desire and goal as a teacher at Cavod is to inspire others of any age to reach their fullest potential as a dancer.
Production Manager, Tap Dance Instructor
This is Bente’s sixth year teaching at Cavod Academy. She loves to teach at Cavod and really enjoys working with children and adults of all ages. She has trained for seven years in Hip Hop, Ballet, Pointe, Lyrical, Modern, Tap, and Jazz. In the past couple years she has been assistant choreographer for “Oliver”, “Meet me in St. Louis” and “Alice in Wonderland”. She has also danced in Cavod’s Dance Company for four years, Cavod’s production of “Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe” and “Oliver” the musical. She has managed for over 15 shows across Lancaster county. Some of her favorites were “Beauty and the Beast”, “Aladdin” and “Seussical the Musical”. She currently works as the technical director at Bird in Hand Stage putting up 2 show runs a year.
She is excited to have excepted the role of production manager for Cavod Theatre and to be even more involved in the theatre side of Cavod. She is always ready to learn new things and to see how God will use her teaching to glorify him.
Trainee Director of Citylight Dance Theatre, Ballet, Pointe and Worship Dance Instructor
Lillian began her pre-professional ballet training at the age of 13 under the direction of Marcia Dale Weary at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet for a total of four years. She went on to further her dance training after high school with the Miami City Ballet School under the instruction of Carter Alexander and Geta Constantinescu where she enjoyed performing in both classical, as well as several neo-classical works by George Balanchine. As Lillian’s heart began to increase for Christian ministry and worship dance she discovered Ballet Magnificat, a Christian ballet company based in Jackson, Mississippi where she spent two years studying dance in their trainee program before being promoted to Company Artist in 2012 which gave way to a seven-year touring career ministering, performing professionally, and teaching ballet all over the United States and world including the countries of Austria, Brazil, Germany, Honduras, Italy, and South Africa to name a few favorites. Today as a full-time ballet instructor at Cavod in New Holland and Manheim, certified in teaching Progressing Ballet Technique (PBT), with her strong integrity and love for the art form, Lillian desires to preserve the timeless classic technique of ballet and inspire students with her knowledge and experiences, ultimately hoping to aid in the reclaiming of the arts in her local community unto the glory of God.
Caleb Heckman got his start in theatre playing tuba in the pit orchestras for his homeschool group’s high school shows before making the leap to performing onstage, a decision he has never once regretted. Since then he has done over three dozen shows as an actor, music director, and pit musician, and has worked with many theatre companies around Lancaster County, including the Lancaster Academy for the Performing Arts, Susquehanna Stage Company, Servant Stage Company, PRiMA Theatre, Fulton Theatre, and, of course, Cavod Academy and Cavod Theatre! He music directed Alice in Wonderland Jr, Honk Jr, and Doctor Dolittle Jr for Cavod Academy, and has been seen on the Cavod Theatre stage as the Cat in the Hat in Seussical, Rooster in Annie, Boolie in Driving Miss Daisy, and Don Lockwood in Singin’ in the Rain, among others. He is very excited to teach and encourage young artists as they pursue the same passion he has discovered for theatre!
Ballet, Worship Dance, Friends In Motion Instructor
Jacqui has been performing in the theatrical arts all her life and began her pre-professional dance training at 12 years old. She trained with the Wichita Falls Youth Ballet under the instruction of Val and Mishic Liberatore for 6 years, while also performing as a member of the Wichita Falls Ballet Theatre. During her years there, she enjoyed performing in annual Nutcracker shows, original contemporary pieces, as well as other ballets such as Cinderella, Western Ballet, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Jacqui gained teaching experience at her home studio serving as an assistant teacher and an instructor at summer dance intensives. To further her growth as a dancer and Christian, Jacqui attended Ballet Magnificat’s summer dance intensive in 2016 and 2017, and Zion Dance Project’s intensive in the summer of 2019. During this time, she had the opportunity to train under Vincent Hardy, Randall Flynn, and Gabriel Speiller. Each of these experiences helped her connect her faith with her love of dance, and she learned to use art as a form of worship instead of something to be worshipped. After high school, Jacqui accepted a performance internship with Piercing Word in Pennsylvania, and she moved from her hometown in Texas to Lancaster in the fall of 2019. The internship was an amazing time for spiritual growth in Jacqui’s life, and following it, she chose to stay in Lancaster to continue her growth as an artist. During her time in Pennsylvania, Jacqui graduated with a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies, and has been accepted into the Sight and Sound Conservatory, which will have her performing in the premier production of David in 2022. Jacqui is so excited to begin teaching Ballet and worship dance again, as she feels that the best way to learn is to teach. She hopes to help her students grow in their technique as well as their faith and inspire them to use their gifts for Christ.
Creative Movement, Kinder Tap Instructor
Hannah Rau is a new teacher at Cavod and thrilled to be working with the early childhood students. Hannah has an Associates Degree in Early Childhood Education from Harrisburg Area Community College and has been working with children for more than 7 years. She also currently works as the childcare provider for Magic & Wonder in Paradise, PA. Hannah has dance training in Tap, Ballet, and Worship Dance. Hannah can be seen frequently in Cavod Theatre shows, and most recently performed the roles Meip in the Diary of Anne Frank and Cinderella in Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Hannah has a passion for helping children grow into the best people they can be and teaching art in all forms!
Ballet, Creative Movement, Worship Dance, Kinder Tumbling Instructor
Mariah has been studying dance at Cavod since 2011. Her training includes Ballet, Pointe, Modern, Contemporary, Acrobatics/Tumbling and Jazz . She has been a featured dancer in several of Cavod Theatre’s productions, including Annie, Seussical the Musical and My Fair Lady. Mariah was also a dancer with Cavod’s outreach team Citylight Dance Theatre for two years and she served as the rehearsal assistant for a year. Her love for the arts and traveling led her to utilize dance to share the gospel overseas with Cavod Missions in Switzerland and Brazil. This Fall, Mariah will be dancing with Ornate Dance Theatre, a pre-professional dance training and mentorship program. She is overjoyed to step into a teacher role at Cavod. She believes that the Lord is always guiding us to be exactly where he needs us, and it is only a matter of being willing to learn and open to taking a step of faith.
Acro, Tumbling, Kinder Tap Instructor
Shenandoah (Shenan) has trained at Cavod since 2012 and is excited to be joining Cavod’s faculty as an Acro, Tumbling, and Tap instructor this year. She has training in Acrobatics, Ballet, Modern, Contemporary, Jazz, Tap, and Hip Hop. Shenan has been a dancer performing with Cavod’s outreach team, Citylight Dance Theatre for the past four years, and performed with Catalyst Dance Company during their 2020/2021 season. She will be joining Ornate Dance Theatre, a pre-professional dance training program this upcoming Fall. Shenan has trained in Acro Dance under Acrobatic Arts’ certified teacher Jessica Rajski, and is excited to pursue her own Acrobatic Arts teacher certification this summer. Shenan has been a part of Cavod’s assistant teacher program since 2015 and loves watching kids grow in character, along with developing their skills as dancers and artists.
Alicia Burton is thrilled to be joining the Cavod Theatre teaching team! Alicia hails originally from Columbus, Ohio where she grew up attending Arts magnet schools. At age 10 she began performing in a multitude of community and professional theater and music venues. She studied voice and acting for more than seven years, and has a BA in Musical Theatre from Palm Beach Atlantic University with additional collegiate study in dance and visual art/design. After college, she spent seven seasons performing at Sight & Sound Theatres in Ruth, Miracle of Christmas, Joseph, and many others. She then relocated to Eastern Shore Maryland for several years where she taught privately as a voice and acting coach. She performed, directed, and taught with the Mar-Va Theater (Assistant Director of Little Shop of Horrors, Director of Godspell, Director of multiple sessions of theater camps, etc.,) and taught Literacy Through Creative Drama classes to 4-6 year olds in public schools with the Lenore Blank Kelner Company. Since returning to Lancaster five years ago, Alicia and her husband have been raising their two boys, and she works as the Mail Order Coordinator at the Bird-in-Hand Bakery & Cafe. She joined the creative community here at Cavod in 2018 performing in The Secret Garden (Lily), Cinderella (Madame), and Directing The Diary of Anne Frank. Some favorite past roles also include Natalya in Chekhov’s The Marriage Proposal, Gilmer in Godspell, Flipote in Tartuffe, Elizabeth in Miracle of Christmas, Grace in Annie, Snoopy in You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, and Queen Gertrude in Hamlet. Alicia is excited to share her passion for character study, storytelling, and collaborative creativity with students this year!
Music Instructor of Drums and Guitar
George has been playing drums since 1977. He did bachelor’s work in Jazz Studies with a Concentration in Percussion at the University of North Texas from 1983-86. He studied with Colin Bailey (Vince Guaraldi), Gregg Bissonnette (Woody Herman, David Lee Roth), Rick Latham (Quincy Jones), Clyde Lucas (Illinois Jacquette). George also toured as a drummer with Rhythm & Blues artists such as Little Joe Blue & Gregg Smith, and during that time shared the stage with names such as B.B. King, Johnny Taylor, Bobby Blue Bland, and host of others. George has been playing jazz, funk, blues, and sacred music in the Central Pennsylvania area for the past 20 years, working with artists such as Dave Wilson and Robin Work. His current creative musical project is a trio called The Go Particle. George has been playing and teaching guitar, bass, drums & piano for the past 20 years. He is currently the Music Director of Wheatland Presbyterian Church in Lancaster, and an adjunct professor for Lancaster Bible College. George has participated in many music training events both locally and internationally.
Hand-to-Hand Combat Instructor
Bio coming soon.