Veronica Bone

Veronica Bone (she/her) is a dance artist from Indiana and currently based in the Berkshires. She graduated from Indiana University in 2018 with a BFA in Contemporary Dance and a certificate in Arts Administration. While in school she had the opportunity to learn from Bill T. Jones, Gallim, Batsheva, Vertigo company members and more, study Gaga technique in Israel for 6 months, and direct a collaborative student-led show with dance and theater students. Veronica moved to the Berkshires to work at Jacob’s Pillow for a summer, and happily decided to stay in the area afterwards. She was a founding member of the dance community, “Dancers of the Berkshires”, and helped organize the first 2 annual shows. She is currently a company member of “Qualia Dance Company”, a freelance choreographer and dancer, and the Community & In-School Program Manager at Berkshire Pulse, a center for dance and the creative arts in Housatonic.

Laura Cabrera

Laura Cabrera is a Mexican singer, who grew up in Veracruz, México and now lives in the Berkshires with her children Liberty and Gael. Laura has always had a passion for helping others and for getting to know the various cultures that surround us. Laura loves anything related to traditional Mexican music, art, and culture. Her goal is to share her cultural background with the local community and the rest of the world, as well as exposing the Latin population to the Berkshires’ culture, with its rich diversity of arts institutions and programs. 

On a personal achievement note, Laura is the co-founder of three Berkshire County groups. First, Amor A Nuestras Raíces (love to our roots), was a Hispanic artist collective that focused on promoting all types of artistic and cultural expression while appreciating and embracing each other’s diversity. . The experience learned through this project led to the formation of the second group named Latinas-413 whose mission is to empower Latinas to expand their social and economic outreach, serving as a bridge to resources available in our county. Latinas-413 aims to increase the representation of the voices, talents, and interests of Latinas across Berkshire County. 

Laura is also the founder of YO SOY ARTE (I am art). In this project, Laura focused on increased Latinx local artist representation in cultural spaces and activities.

Benjamin Court

Benjamin Court is dancer, musician, writer, and educator in Western Massachusetts.

I grew up in Western New York, where I played in several punk and experimental music groups. From 2010-2020, I lived in Los Angeles, where I studied Musicology and received my Ph.D. (UCLA, 2017). My graduate research explored the politics of musical “amateurism” – music by individuals who claimed not to know how to play music, but nevertheless became musicians. Among other topics, I have published articles about the semiotics of punk in the UK, racial formation in rap and punk in New York City during the 1970s, and the Scratch Orchestra’s politics of music education. I have also taught several courses in music, critical theory, and broadcast media for UCLA and Woodbury University. While In Los Angeles, I recorded music with the Unthem collective and began learning to dance Chicago Footwork. In 2021, I joined the Chicago Footwork crew Creation Global and began releasing self-produced Footwork music. My current projects focus on bringing together Chicago Footwork dancers and producers around the globe, as well as creating new educational opportunities for artists from Chicago to share their craft. In 2021, I joined the staff at Berkshire Pulse, where I love to take classes in music, hip hop, modern, and contemporary!

Madeline Despres-Chen

Madeline is a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist/Educator. She is certified in SomaSoul®: Somatic Therapy and Shake Your Soul®: the Yoga of Dance by LIFE Movement: Leven Institute for Expressive Movement, and she is registered with ISMETA: The International Somatic Movement Education and Therapy Association.

Madeline double-majored in psychology and dance at Bard College at Simon’s Rock and wrote her thesis on the healing benefits of Dance Movement Therapy. Following graduation, Madeline began training to become a Somatic Movement Therapist. She put a pause on her training when she moved to Shanghai, China to teach children English, dance, and drama performance. She lived there for four years and taught Shake Your Soul® at local studios in Shanghai before relocating to the Berkshires to complete her somatic therapy training.

As a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist & Educator, Madeline supports others in discovering a greater awareness and understanding of their lives using a mind-body healing modality that combines Body-Centered Gestalt Psychotherapy with the freedom of the expressive arts and the heart of contemplative practices. As a Shake Your Soul® Teacher & Facilitator, Madeline leads participants through a fluid dance repertoire set to world music that relaxes the nervous system, energizes the body, and awakens the soul.

Madeline teaches Shake Your Soul® weekly at Berkshire Pulse, and she meets with clients virtually in her private somatic therapy practice. Email or visit @theembodiedtherapist on Instagram for more information.

Gillian Ebersole

Born in Portland, Oregon, and raised in Denver, Colorado, Gillian Ebersole (they/them) is a dancer and choreographer, as well as a poet, dance writer, and researcher. Gillian graduated Summa Cum Laude from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles with a dual degree in Dance and English. Performed on stages in Los Angeles, Denver, and Paris, as well as across Berkshire County, their choreographic work merges a love for language and for movement. Gillian trained with Denver contemporary dance company Wonderbound, Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company, Whyteberg, Gibney, and Bill T. Jones. Most recently, Gillian has performed and presented work at multiple venues in Berkshire County, including Jacob’s Pillow, The Foundry, and Chesterwood. Drawn to the communal embodied experience. Gillian is a certified yoga instructor and has taught both dance and yoga in studios and community spaces. After moving to Western Massachusetts to work for Jacob’s Pillow, Gillian became a Teaching Artist Fellow as part of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Creative Youth Development program. Currently, Gillian works for Berkshire Pulse as the Marketing/PR & Youth Performing Arts Program Coordinator and is proud to be a member of their Modern Dance Faculty.

Sara Kiesel

Sara Kiesel is a seasoned educator specializing in arts for the young child. She has worked as a dance/movement specialist and Arts administrator, workshop leader, and teacher trainer. Her background in dance, movement therapy, creative arts and performance has given her a breadth of experience while working with hundreds of children, families and teaching professionals. Sara has recently been studying the effects of trauma on children and youth, with the aim of teaching simple techniques for self-care.

Sara is a gifted teacher with an empathetic and perceptive ability to meet the child where he/she is. Sara brings her knowledge of the child’s developmental, social and emotional needs to the table as she guides parents and teachers to better understand the child in their care. An experienced speaker and workshop leader, Sara engages audiences with her enthusiasm, joy for the role of the arts in education, and respect for the journey of the child whose perceptions and abilities are ready to be expressed. Understanding that all children have individual learning styles enables Sara to work effectively with all populations.

Bettina Montano

Bettina holds a BFA in Dance, Cum Laude, from Temple University.

In Philadelphia, she performed professionally with Philadelphia’s Sybil Dance Company, Artistic Director Eva Gholson, and Dance Conduit, Artistic Director Ann Vachon, for the reconstruction of Doris Humphrey’s “Dawn in New York.”

In the Berkshires, Bettina performed with choreographer Dawn Lane, Artistic Director Community Access to the Arts, as an independent choreographer and as a member of choreographer/film maker Laurie McLeod’s Victory Girl Productions with whom she performed extensively throughout the Berkshires, New York, and abroad.

Bettina’s dance training began with her mother Christa Montano, a student of renowned dancers Mary Wigman, Herald Kreuzberg, Martha Graham, José Limón and Louis Horst. Her early training continued under the direction of Truda Kashman, Martha Graham technique with Debra Zall, with various teaching artists at the Murray Louis and Alwin Nicolais Dance Lab and later with Educators/Choreographers Eva Gholson, Ann Vachon, Hellmut Gottschild and Marilyn Middleton Sylla. Bettina’s passionate belief in accessible dance education led her to teaching and inspired the creation of The Flowering Child Performing Arts Program in 1995 — which ultimately evolved into Berkshire Pulse in 2005. Bettina has been teaching classes in modern dance for students of all ages and levels throughout her 27-year directorship of the organization.

Shannon Nulf

Shannon Nulf (she/her) is a movement artist and arts administrator whose work reflects her commitment to human connection and community building. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan with a BFA in Dance and minors in Movement Science and Performing Arts Management. At U-M, she worked with artists Urban Bush Women, Rosie Herrera, and Joel Valentin-Martinez, U-M Faculty Missy Beck and Charli Brissey, and MFA candidates Fabiola Torralba, Sydney Schiff, Kelly Hirina, Jen Peters, and Melissa Brading. After graduating in 2021, Shannon worked as a Community Engagement Intern for the 2021 Summer Festival at Jacob’s Pillow and then as Community Engagement Fellow until September 2022. She has performed and presented work at multiple venues in the Berkshires, including Jacob’s Pillow, The Foundry, and Chesterwood. She currently teaches Ballet, Modern, and Contemporary at Berkshire Pulse, having studied dance education and pedagogy at U-M.

Alicia Ortwein

Alicia grew up in Long Island NY and graduated Elmira College in 2002 with a degree in Psychology.  She has homeschooled her son for the last 8 years with 2 more to go until graduation.  She loves to paint watercolors, sew, and craft.  Alicia is the owner of Upper Meadow Design Co, an Etsy shop where she sells her sewing creations.  She has been working at the front desk since 2018. She loves interacting with the students and watching her son dance here at Pulse!

Teak Welch

Teak Welch (They/Them) grew up in Dallas where they attended the Dallas Ballet Center for 15 years. They studied ballet, tap, jazz, modern, hip hop, and lyrical. They were a teaching assistant while there and went on to teach Musical Theater dance in their summer workshops for the next 4 years. They attended Booker T. Washington HS for the Performing and Visual Arts, where they split their studies between theater and dance.

Teak has been involved in professional theater since a very young age and continues to love this form of expression more than twenty years later. They grew up performing with their musical parents on the road and have appeared in many productions in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area over the years. They performed on an Equity stage for the first time at the age of ten in a production of Peter Pan as Michael Darling. To this day, they refuse to ever truly grow up. Some favorite roles include Hen in Giggle Giggle Quack- Dallas Children’s Theater National Tour; Kelli in Hands on a Hardbody; Bess in The Human Comedy; Dre/Rhiannon/Evelyn/Others in Precious Little; Anna (Original readings) in Creep: The Musical; Eveline in (Original reading), The Manufactured Myth of Eveline Flynn. And the cherry on top was dancing in the prominent LGBTQIA+ fundraising event, Broadway Backwards, in 2018.

Berkshire Pulse