Sophie Alpern

Sophie Alpern is a native New Yorker and professional ballet instructor. She trained at the School of American Ballet, Steps on Broadway, North Carolina School of the Arts, Houston Ballet Academy, and the Royal Ballet School. While at SAB, she performed with New York City Ballet in The Nutcracker, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, and Circus Polka. Sophie holds a Masters degree in Dance Education with a concentration in ABT Ballet Pedagogy from New York University, and is an ABT® Certified Teacher in Pre-Primary through Level Seven and Partnering of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Vassar College, where her thesis project was titled “The Perception and Role of Dance and Classical Ballet in the Liberal Arts Academy.” Sophie danced leading roles with the Vassar Repertory Dance Theater, culminating in the principal role in Balanchine’s Valse Fantaisie. She is also a graduate of The Brearley School in NYC. Sophie has been teaching ballet to children and adults of all skill levels in NYC for the past twelve years. She currently holds faculty positions at the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theater, and at the Steps on Broadway Youth Program. She formerly taught at LaGuardia High School, and has taught company class for Sarasota Ballet and Ballet Hispanico. She is excited to return to Berkshire Pulse as a guest teacher!

Rebecca Alson-Milkman

Rebecca Alson-Milkman makes dances about current political and social issues in intimate settings in order to promote conversation in change in our familial, local and national communities. She was the recipient of the 2016 Felix Award, which recognizes artists who have changed public perception of disability. Rebecca holds an MFA in Dance and Choreography from UCLA and a BA in Dance and Sociology from Wesleyan University. During her career in New York and Los Angeles, she has danced for and collaborated with many choreographers, including Heidi Latsky, Barbara Mahler, Stephan Koplowitz, Taisha Paggett, Cid Pearlman and Ana Maria Alvarez and had her work produced at multiple festivals and venues including Highways Performance Space, Studio at REDCAT and the Imagining Bodies symposium in Tallinn, Estonia. Her 2010 work, The Surveillance Solos was a director’s pick at the inaugural Santa Cruz Fringe Festival. Since 2007, Rebecca has been an active ally (and parent) in the disability and disability dance community, and currently serves on the board of Heidi Latsky dance.

Ruby Aver

Ruby Aver passes on the highest standards of classical ballet which she fully absorbed through my training and performing internationally. I applaud her for her commitment to the art of ballet.- Master Teacher David Howard

Ruby served as Associate Director and Ballet Director for the Berkshire Pulse Performing Arts Program from 2005-2017. Her extensive contributions included curriculum development, establishing policies and guidelines essential to interdisciplinary dance training for youth and teens, and mentoring of teaching artists throughout her tenure.

Ruby’s primary ballet instructor Ed Parish was trained by Bronislava Nijinska. Ruby was awarded a full talent scholarship to the Harkness House for Ballet Arts by master teacher David Howard, where she went on to apprentice with the Harkness Ballet Company. She performed as a soloist with the Chicago Ballet Company and Ballet de Caracas. She was a principal dancer for Het Scapino Ballet of the Netherlands, where ‘Firebird ‘ was set on her by choreographer Job Sanders.

In addition to classical ballet Ruby has performed contemporary ballet by Hans van Manen and Nils Christie, Jazz choreography by Matt Mattox and dance theater work by company members from Pina Bausch Wuppertaal Tanzteater. Ruby has taught for Bard College at Simon’s Rock since 2004 and guest teaches for The Florida Ballet and Brooklyn Ballet.

Nkoula Badila

Nkoula Badila ~*~ A multitalented artist/healer born into a traditional Congolese dancing and drumming Family. Nkoula grew up performing these dances with her 9 siblings at schools, community centers, block party’s and beyond, spreading the true beauty of her Kongolese culture for the world to see. Her family continues to share these gifts, teaching traditional dance and drum classes, storytelling, community theatre, and leading craft workshops. She is also part of a traveling Cosmic soul band“Ladymoon and the Eclipse” with two of her sisters. Nkoula also makes her own music (Nkodia) inspired by the traditional polyrhythmic Melodies from her homeland, and she is also the creator of her jewelry business also named “Nkodia” making custom handmade healing Adornments for people. You can find her Adornments online at The name NKODIA symbolizes the spiral and honors the patience of the outward process like the snail.

During our class sessions we will be learning different Traditional dances of Ancestral Africa, accompanied by live percussion. These movements will be celebratory of the celebration of life. The students will learn Dances of cultivation, rights of passage, cleansing, dance of warriors, and welcoming in royalty. We will weave in the lessons of the day and share reflections from what we learned to support a wholesome experience of the class.

Pamela Badila

Pamela Jackson Badila received a Bachelor of Science in Education and Creative Art at the University of Old Westbury in 1977. She taught African Folklore at Nassau Community College professionally for over seven years. In 1981 she went to tour the Ivory Coast with Les Guirivoires and visited Paris on an invitation from Le Grand Ballet d’Afrique Noir. She met Andre in Paris and subsequently joined the infamous Ballet Kodia. Pamela currently lives in Hudson NY where she continues teaching in the Arts.

Shakia Barron

Shakia Barron is a choreographer, performer, and dance educator whose work is rooted in the African Diaspora, focusing on Hip-Hop, House and other African diasporic dance forms. She graduated with her MFA in Choreography at Wilson College, she holds an Associate’s degree in dance and psychology from Dean College, a Bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Westfield State University, and she received the National Dance Institute’s teaching artist certificate in 2009.

Barron has choreographed and directed more than 50 Hip-Hop, modern, African and lyrical works that have been performed at Trenton Education Dance Institute, Rider University, the Princeton School of Ballet, Bates Dance Festival and Jacob’s Pillow. She has performed for numerous Hip-Hop events and has opened for concerts by Fat Joe, Jadakiss, 112, Charlie Baltimore, and Kima from “Total” and Omarion.

Shaan Battersby

Born and raised in Perth, Western Australia, Shaan began working professionally at a young age as a singer, dancer, actor and musician. She began her teaching experience in Australia as a young teenager, assisting with younger students and quickly moving on to independent teaching of students of all ages and abilities. Trained in the I.S.T.D. syllabus and with a BA (Hons) in Musical Theatre and a Masters in Teaching, Shaan is experienced in tap, jazz, ballet and acrobatics as well as an experienced vocal coach, music and acting instructor. She has recently relocated to the Berkshires after previously teaching and working professionally in Australia, South East Asia, New York and Los Angeles.

Ian Spencer Bell

Ian Spencer Bell has performed his solos at Boston Center for the Arts, Jacob’s Pillow, Poetry Foundation, and Queens Museum. Ballet ReviewDance Magazine, and The Yale Review have published his writing. For more than a decade, he led education programs for American Ballet Theatre. Bell trained at North Carolina School of the Arts, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and School of American Ballet and was educated at Sarah Lawrence College and New York University, where he received an MFA in poetry.  

Gail Belmuth

Gail Belmuth has 30 years of experience in communications and marketing for a wide range of corporate, political, and nonprofit clients. Currently, she runs a communications consultancy, with a focus on helping organizations through major transformations, including mergers and acquisitions, automation and digitization, and other drivers of rapid expansion.

Gail’s current and recent clients include Marsh McLennan, CVSHealth, Novartis, Montefiore Medical Center, Siemens, Xerox, Alcoa, International Rescue Committee, Accenture, ITT/Xylem, Deloitte and Ingersoll Rand. Gail is the former global chief communications officer for International Flavors & Fragrances, Inc. She also served in leadership roles at several global communications agencies, including Burson-Marsteller. 

Early in her career, Gail worked with reforming governments in the former Soviet Union and Latin America. She graduated from Brown University with a degree in Russian Studies and moved to the Berkshires from New York in 2015. Since moving to the Berkshires, Gail also served as Director of Advancement for Volunteers in Medicine Berkshires. 

Gail was introduced to the magic of Berkshire Pulse through her daughter, Cecelia, who was a tap and African drumming student here throughout middle and high school.

Lauren Berkman

Lauren is an actor, singer, and teaching artist based in upstate New York. She has performed and taught throughout the U.S. and internationally, from Argentina to Switzerland. After receiving her Bachelor of Music in Voice Performance from Boston Conservatory, Lauren went on to study theater at L’Ecole de Comédie Musicale in Paris, France. During her time abroad, she performed with companies American Musical Theater LIVE! and Broadway au Carré, bringing new musical theater works to France. She also taught children English through theater, and hosted a monthly Musical Theater Open Mic Night  for theater professionals and lovers alike! Since returning to the states in 2016, Lauren has enjoyed directing children’s theater, teaching, and performing throughout the U.S. Favorite performance credits include Into the Woods, Ordinary Days, Next Thing You Know, Rock of Ages, and singing at Carnegie Hall, Feinstein’s 54 Below, and on Radio France!

Berkshire Pulse