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Team

Meet Our Team

Connie Dienner

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 Lapp

Creative Advisor

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.

Monica DePaul

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 5 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 Sadie in “Our Christmas Dinner”. 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?

Jill Hertzog

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.

Amy Rau

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.

Becky Haas

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!

Melissa Everett

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. Melissa is very excited to be teaching Early Arts this year. She says her family has been truly blessed to have found Cavod and its amazing families three years ago. God is good!

Julie Haney

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. 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 Academy of the Arts.

Stephanie Morales

Ballet Director, 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.

Bente Weaver

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.

Lillian Ortiz

Trainee Director of Citylight Dance Theatre, Ballet 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. Today as a full-time ballet instructor, with her strong integrity and love for the art form, Lillian desires to preserve its timeless classic technique, inspire students with her knowledge and experiences, and ultimately hopes to aid in reclaiming the arts in her local community unto the glory of God. Lillian received her certification in teaching Progressing Ballet Technique (PBT) the summer of 2020, is CLI certified, and outside of Cavod, also teaches Ballet as an Adjunct Professor of Dance at Lancaster Bible College.

Aaron Maier

Hip Hop Dance Instructor

Aaron has been teaching Hip Hop for four years and is excited about his first year teaching at Cavod! Aaron has been dancing since he was nine and is currently training under Elijah Morton of Morton’s Dance Center. Also enjoying modern, He has been a guest performer for Citylight Dance Theatre (previously known as Cavod Dance Company). He enjoys being able to really push his students while still having fun.

Jessica Rajski

Assistant Director of Citylight Dance Theatre, Acro, Tap, Worship Dance, Musical Theatre and Tumbling Instructor

Jess is thrilled to be back teaching for her 2nd year at Cavod Academy of the Arts. Her passion for dance and performing began at the young age of 8 years old when she joined Christian Youth Theater in Houston, Texas.  For the next 10 years Jess lived and breathed musical theater performing in over 25 musicals.  A couple of her favorite roles include Tiger Lilly in “Peter Pan” and The Witch in “Into the Woods”.   In addition to musical theater, Jess also trained in Circus Arts as an aerialist, acrobat, and hand balancer.

By the age of 16 she was performing professionally with Chimal Circus and by 18 teaching students in circus art and performance.  To further her dance training, Jess attended Texas Academy of Dance Arts for Ballet and studied under Rhodes Elliott of The Houston Ballet.  After high school graduation, Jess auditioned for and answered the call to travel throughout Europe for a 9-month tour with trEd Dance Company to share the gospel through athletic movement, original music, live sound and powerful dance to bring breakthrough and freedom to people’s lives.  Traveling with trEd for a total of 3 years provided Jess the opportunity to train in all forms of dance by many amazing professionals from all over the world.

After returning from tour, Jess started to pursue her passion in choreography and teaching by continuing to work with different companies around the country such as trEd Dance Company, Magnify Dance Company, and National Youth Theatre. She choreographed the show “Suessical the Musical” with NYT.  Jess was contracted to be the private choreographer for a Lone Star College theater program where she choreographed the award-winning shows “Hair Spray” and “Ghost”.

Recently Jess has received her professional Acro dance certification with Acrobatic Arts which is the most trusted and well known Acro training program in the world. Now she is in the prosses of writing her own full comprehensive Acro curriculum. God has given Jess so many opportunities to be creative and see her choreography performed throughout many countries all over the world.  Watching the progression of her student’s building skills, technique and character brings great joy to Jess.  Most of all Jess is thankful to be able to inspire and teach the next generation of God’s Athletes, the dancer.

Heather Moore

Ballet, Modern & Conditioning Instructor

Heather Moore grew up on the east coast, training under Pat Berrend, Jane Bittner and Runquio Du of the Washington Ballet. After moving to Pennsylvania to receive her B.A. in Dance from Eastern University, she performed with various schools and local companies throughout the Philadelphia region, working with choreographers including Stephen Welsh, Gwendolyn Bye, Mary Anthony and Chip Klose. Notable performances include “Symphony in White” with Ballet 180 at the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts, “The Nutcracker”, dancing roles including Sugarplum FairySnow Queen, and Dew Drop Fairy and “Sleeping Beauty”, dancing the role of Aurora for the Delaware Valley Ballet Theater. Additionally, she performed a self-choreographed solo and duet in Cardross, Scotland with the Phoenixville Christian Choir Tour. Since 2009, Heather has been teaching classical ballet, modern, and conditioning for dancers, as well as choreographing and directing classical ballet and contemporary works for students of all ages. She is passionate about the art of ballet and using her God-given talents to glorify the Lord through teaching excellent technique in positive ways. Heather is very excited to be a part of teaching the next generation of dancers at Cavod!

Victoria Glick

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!

Courtney Gruber

Tumbling Instructor

Coach Courtney a USAG Certified gymnastics coach. She has been a coach for competitive gymnastics for a few years. Courtney trained in gymnastics for more than 9 years. She has coached recreational level gymnastics and is also a certified instructor for the US Junior Olympic program! Courtney has a passion for helping gymnasts to achieve their goals and have fun while doing it!

Caleb Heckman

Acting Instructor

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!

George Yellak

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.

Megan Poff

Music Instructor of Voice

Megan Poff, a coloratura soprano, is most noted for her works in Baroque and 20th Century Music. She is currently serving in the Music Department at York College in Pennsylvania. Her previous collegiate experience was teaching voice and music literature at the University of Alabama in Huntsville.  

She holds a Masters of Music Degree in Vocal Performance from Lee University and a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Mars Hill College. She has had extended study with notable coloratura soprano, Chery Brendel, her former graduate vocal instructor at Lee University.  Her other instructors include Dr. Julie Fortney, a protégé of Burton Coffin, Karen Young, Rebecca Achenbach, and most currently, Baroque singer and musicologist, Julianne Baird. 

She worked professionally as a Young Artist with the Asheville Lyric Opera singing in recitals and fulfilling various ensemble roles in shows such as The Magic Flute, Madame Butterfly, Lucia di Lammermoor, and Carmen. She is also an alumna from the esteemed Brevard Music Center Janiac Opera Company, and had the opportunity to perform in shows such as Sweeney Todd, HMS Pinafore, Rigoletto, and Dido and Aeneus.

She was also a professional artist at the Schumann Liederfestin Zwickau, Germany. This allowed her to perform German lieder specific to Robert Schumann and sacred works in such venues as Das Robert-Schumann-Haus ist ein Museum in Zwickau and Leipzig respectively.

She has had the distinguished honor of singing The National Anthem at the Pentagon for the commanding officers of the Air Force for a promotional ceremony. Her most recent performance was in Broadway Theatre’s Rocktopia! as a soprano swing for NYCC’s choir. 

In regards to teaching, as a vocal pedagogue, she has taught many area professionals who have performed in local theater venues such as: Sight and Sound Theatres, Fulton Theatre, Dutch Apple Theatre, AMT, PRiMA, Hershey Area Playhouse and numerous National Broadway Tours. Her students have also found success in acceptance to competitive graduate music programs, National Television spots and most notably, Broadway. She is a member of NATS and is currently involved with helping facilitate the next round of auditions locally at the Allegheny Mountain Chapter. 

She is passionate about teaching all genres of music and has made it a mainstay with instruction to teaching voice. Historical reference, detail to communication with text, pedagogical technique are all foundational elements she instructs to her students.

Caleb Zimmerman

Hand-to-Hand Combat Instructor

Bio coming soon.

Questions?

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