Guest Artist Bios
A Day of Dance – Saturday, February 24, 2024
Kristi Schaffner – Ballet
Kristi attended the University of Oklahoma as a teaching fellow where she received her MFA in modern dance (2011). She also has BFA in dance education from Kent State University (2004). Through a graduate student grant, she studied Laban Movement Analysis at the Laban Institute in NYC. Ms. Schaffner has performed with Jeslyn Dance Gallery, Clawson Dances, Junction Dance Theatre, and Tommy Parlon Dance Projects among others, and is a current dancer and Director of Education and Outreach for Dragonfly Dance Experiment. Her choreography has been presented across the country including Pittsburgh, Oklahoma City, Washington D.C., Annapolis, Baltimore, Salt Lake City and at the Howard County Dance Festival.
A passion for education has inspired her to create and implement dance curricula for both preschools and charter school students diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder.
Ms. Schaffner is a current adjunct faculty member in the dance divisions of Anne Arundel Community College and the Community College of Baltimore County and is a frequent guest instructor and performer in schools and community events.
Renee Gerardo – Modern
Renee’s first dances premiered in her living room and since then she moved on to create work that has been shown in Michigan, Colorado, North Carolina, New York and Maryland. She was born in, and grew up on the Missisauga and Anishinabewaki people’s land, also known as Midland, Michigan, creating and performing under the guidance of Linda Z. Smith. She has since worked with many inspirational guides such as Nancy Spanier, Alexandra Beller, Martha Myers, Kathleen Hermesdorf, Kendra Portier, David Dorfman, and Adriane Fang. She also performed in works by David Dorfman Dance, Sean Currán, Dance Exchange, and Monica Bill Barnes. Renee was a principal performer with The Moving Architects, white road/dance media and April Biggs as well as one half of The Achievements with Jenny Pommiss.
Eighteen years ago, in NYC she formed Renee Gerardo/ Dances, her work being featured at Triskelion Arts (NYC), Brooklyn Arts Exchange, WAX Works (NYC), and Spoke the Hub. She has also shown work at Movement Research/Open Performance and Dance Theater Workshop as part of The Kitchen’s Emerging Artist Program and was chosen to show work as part of the “I Heart Gibney” 25th Anniversary Show at Gibney Dance Center. During her NYC dancing journey, she became involved in triathlon for several years, racing and coaching and competing in Ironman, Half -Ironman, marathons, and the Ironman World Championships. A big believer in the intelligence and wonders of the body, she has been a Pilates teacher for 19 years and a MELT Method Instructor. Renee continues to create work in the DMV area where she now resides after receiving her MFA at UMD. Her recent evening length work, “telepathic maps” was presented in Spring of 2021 at University of Maryland.
Adrienne Kraus Latanishen – Hip Hop
Adrienne is a professional dancer, choreographer, and educator from Baltimore, Maryland. She is proud to have graduated with honors from The Community College of Baltimore County with her A.A. in Dance and The University of Maryland where she also graduated with honors with her B.A. in Dance. She dances professionally for Trajectory Dance Project, Molly Jean Kirkup Heer, and independently for herself. Previously, she also danced for BlueShift Dance (principal dancer), The Collective (dancer, choreographer, educator), B3W of New York City, Andary Dance (soloist, principal dancer), and withhart.dance.projects (founding member, assistant director, soloist, principal dancer). She’s been cast in two music videos by local artists, one of which she also choreographed, as well as a commercial for MAEV dog food. Adrienne was Director of Dance at St. Timothy’s School, a private and boarding school for girls and she choreographed as Artist in Residence at Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts for numerous years. Each semester she is excited to choreograph for the CCBC Dance Company. In all, she has been teaching for 20 years at rec councils, studios, public and private schools, colleges, and other organizations.
Recently, Adrienne choreographed for The Salem Players Theatre Company, Northeast High School, and Baltimore Composers Forum for several performances. In addition, she is honored to serve Baltimore County as a member on the Baltimore County Commission on Arts and Sciences.
Melinda Blomquist – Choreography/Composition
Melinda holds a M.F.A. in Dance Choreography and Performance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Master of Arts in Dance Pedagogy from Brigham Young University.
Melinda has presented her choreographic work at numerous venues nationally and internationally including the Mid-Atlantic and South-Central American College Dance Festival, Northwest Vista College, Towson University, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the Attakkalari Festival in Bangalore India.
Currently Melinda is a Professor of Dance at the Community College of Baltimore County, and she also serves as the Artistic Director for the CCBC Dance Company. Melinda has also worked with Trajectory Dance Project and with the Theatre and Music departments as a choreographer for Musical Theatre productions in Arizona, Texas and Maryland including The Fantasticks, Fiddler on the Roof, Good News, and She Loves Me. Melinda is involved in community outreach, focusing on promoting the importance of dance as art form in public education. She has provided workshops and master classes in Texas, Alaska, and Maryland to students at the Elementary, Middle, and High School levels. She currently serves as a member of the Board of Directors for Deep Vision Dance Company and as President of the Maryland Dance Education Association.
To learn more about the Dance Program visit: www.ccbcmd.edu/dance
Guest Artist Bios
A Day of Dance
Rena Bernardini – Washington Ballet teacher/ ballerina
Rena Bernardini is originally from Somers, New York. She began her training at the Westchester Ballet Center, studying everything from Ballet, Modern, Tap, and Jazz to Flamenco, Hawaiian, and Bharatanatyam. She then went on to study at the Boston Conservatory. Later, Rena had the opportunity to transfer to the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance in England, where she received her BA Honors degree in Dance and Performance. While abroad, Rena performed at the Royal Opera House. Additionally, she worked with English National Ballet’s Dance for Parkinson’s program, taking the professional development course and volunteering as a classroom assistant. Rena has also traveled to Mexico, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua with Juntos Collective to teach and perform in afterschool programs, nursing homes, orphanages, juvenile detention centers, and community centers.
After college, Rena continued to develop her teaching knowledge and skills through the ABT® National Training Curriculum program and is now a fully certified ABT® Affiliate Instructor. She has taught on faculty at many schools, including the Auer Academy and the New York State Ballet Training Academy. Rena also has significant experience teaching community engagement Classes, including public school residency programs and adaptive dance at Gigi’s Playhouse. Furthermore, Rena served as a co-director of the Fort Wayne Ballet Youth Company. Most Recently, Rena has completed her master’s degree in Arts Administration with a thesis centered on improving mental health within the ballet world.
As a professional dancer, Rena has danced with the Ballet Theater of Maryland, Fort Wayne Ballet, and New York State Ballet. She has been featured in many ballets, some of which include Coppélia (Lead Hour Soloist & Swanhilda’s Friend), Cinderella (Stepsister & Autumn Fairy), Paquita (Pas de Trois), and The Sleeping Beauty (Carabosse & Princess Florine). Rena has most enjoyed performing in Gerald Arpino’s Birthday Variations and Light Rain. Additionally, Rena performed Dew Drop Fairy as a guest artist for The Nutcracker at West Point’s Eisenhower Hall.
Robert Kleinendorst – Paul Taylor Dance Company
Robert Kleinendorst received his B.A. in Dance from Luther College in 1995. Immediately upon graduation, Robert moved to New York City to pursue a dance career. Robert attended daily classes at the Paul Taylor Dance Company while dancing for Anna Sokolow’s Players’ Project, Gail Gilbert Dance Ensemble, and Cortez and Co. In 1998, Robert was asked to join Paul Taylor’s second company, Taylor 2. Robert was then asked to join Mr. Taylor’s main company in 2000 in which he danced until his retirement in 2019. In his 21 years with Paul Taylor, Robert danced 98 roles in 77 of Taylor’s dances and originated 28 roles with Mr. Taylor. He also originated roles with choreographers Larry Keigwin, Doug Varone, Lila York, Doug Elkins, Bryan Arias, Pam Tanowitz, Margie Gillis, and Kyle Abraham. In addition to his performing career, Robert taught master classes domestically and abroad as well as teaching at the Taylor School in New York. Robert also took on the responsibilities of assistant rehearsal directing and administrating all of Mr. Taylor’s company auditions. Since his retirement from Paul Taylor, Robert received his MFA in Dance from George Mason University. He then spent one year as the Dance Department Coordinator and Artistic Director of The AACC Dance Company at Anne Arundel Community College. Robert is currently an Assistant Professor of Dance at Towson University.
Robert started his love for the arts in music and theatre. He was a vocal major at Luther College with the intent to have a career in musical theatre when he began taking dance classes and immediately fell in love. He finished his vocal major as well as adding a dance major with the intent of pursuing a career in concert dance. Throughout the years Robert’s love for music and theatre has never diminished. He was greatly utilized in character roles during his career with Paul Taylor and acting, imagination, and performance are key elements in his teaching and choreography. Robert has continued his love of music by singing and playing guitar and for a glorious 3 years, he was in a band that performed throughout New York City. Robert was also the company liaison for all live orchestras with Paul Taylor and he often creates and records his own music for choreography and class.
Adrienne Kraus Latanishen – CCF Teaching Artist
Adrienne Kraus Latanishen is a teaching artist for the Carole Cascio Fund for Mind Movement Dance Connections. Her dance career began at The Community College of Baltimore County where she graduated with her A.A. in Dance before earning her B.A. in Dance from University of Maryland, College Park. She has danced professionally for Trajectory Dance Project, Molly Jean Kirkup Heer, BlueShift Dance, The Collective, B3W, Andary Dance, withhart.dance.projects, and independently as a freelance dancer. She has choreographed for theatre companies, studios, high schools, Baltimore Composers Forum, and Maryland Opera Camp since 2011. For several years, AKL was the Director of Dance at St. Timothy’s School and Artist is Residence at Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts. Currently, Adrienne works at CCBC as adjunct dance faculty, a choreographer for their dance company, and the Performing Arts Coordinator for Continuing Education. In addition, Ms. Kraus Latanishen serves on the Baltimore County Commission on Arts and Sciences as the Chair of the Performing Arts Subcommittee.
Krystal Butler – Pilobolus Dance Theater
Krystal Butler- (Washington, DC) began her training at Duke Ellington School of the Arts under the direction of Sandra Fortune and Charles Augins in Washington, DC. She continued her education at Long Island University and earned a B.F.A. in dance. Krystal was a scholarship student at Alvin Ailey Summer Intensive, American Dance Festival, Earl Mosley’s Institute of the Arts, and Arke Danza. She was a member of INSPIRIT, a dance company, and Forces of Nature Dance Theater. Ms. Butler joined Pilobolus Dance Theater in 2010. She has toured and performed in over 30 countries with the shows, Magnifico Circus, Shadowland, and Shadowland 2 created by Pilobolus. In 2014, she joined the repertory company. Krystal continues to create, choreograph, and share her love for the dance art form. She recently finished her dance residency at the Kennedy Center called Office Hours.