Director of Dance
Samantha Johnson was raised in Watkins Glen, New York, attending numerous dance schools, including Dance Experience, Glen Rhythm & Tumble, Filippetti’s Academy of Dance Arts, Leslie’s School of Dance and Ithaca Academy. She danced competitively and volunteered to assist beginner classes. She was involved with musical theater and choreographed several full musicals, while also performing in them, including taking the lead in Thoroughly Modern Millie. Sam also volunteered with the Lake Country Players, did competitive cheerleading for four years, and completed the arts track in school.
Following graduation, she went on to pursue dance as a major at SUNY-Fredonia. While working towards her BFA in Dance, Samantha studied with Samantha Kenney, Angelika Summerton, and Helen Myers. She also attended MiraCosta College (Oceanside, California) for dance studies for three years, working under Dave Massey and Teresa Avina. Samantha has taught dance professionally with Fit Kids America Inc., Leslie’s School of Dance, and Ariel’s School of Dance.
For Samantha, dance encompasses human history, culture, strength, expression, therapy, spirit, communication, passion, and skill. She would love to change the world positively through dance, and approaches it that way herself every day, with every class she teaches.
Dr. Nancy Kane
Dance Instructor, Irish Dance, Musical theater
A past president of the National Dance Association , Dr. Nancy Kane has acted and choreographed stage combat for Cortland Repertory Theatre (CRT) and Jean’s Playhouse (Papermill Theatre, NH) summer productions. Locally, she has performed with the Ithaca Shakespeare Company, the Savoyards (Gilbert & Sullivan), and other groups. In addition to her active professional performing/ choreographing/ directing career, she was a certified advanced actor/combatant with the Society of American Fight Directors and is a classically trained soprano with many musical credits in diverse styles.She is the Vice President of the Lloyd Shaw Foundation for the preservation and teaching of traditional dance and music, and she lectures in the Kinesiology Department of SUNY Cortland.
Caryn Christianson has a bachelor of music education degree from Syracuse University with a major in percussion and minor in piano. After graduating from college, Caryn went on to graduate work at Carnegie-Melon University and Ithaca College. She has studied with such renowned artists as Gordon Stout, John Soroka, Leigh Howard Stevens, Ernest Muzquiz and Michael Bull on percussion, and Tadeus Kerner on piano.
In addition to her work at TCFA, she is on the faculty of the Community School of Music and Arts (CSMA) and a volunteer at the Salvation Army. She has performed at CSMA, the Foundation of Light, the Ithaca Festival, the Apple Harvest Festival, Greenstar Coop, the Cornell museum, and numerous other venues.
Caryn has taught music since 1985, using traditional teaching methods combined with an emphasis on theory to give her students a solid foundation for many different playing styles, including classical, jazz, rock, and Latin. Some of her students’ accomplishments include playing drums in a Coca-Cola commercial; graduating from Eastman School of Music; scoring 95 and above on NYSSMA Level 6 snare drum solos; and scoring 100 or 28 on marimba solos.
Guitar, Autoharp, 5 string Banjo, Tenor Banjo, Country Fiddle, Dulcimer, Ukulele
William Gregg began playing piano when he was five years old. He went on to study organ, accordion, guitar, violin/fiddle, mandolin, banjo, Appalachian dulcimer, ukulele and autoharp. He also performs traditional American folk music. Bill regularly presents workshops at festivals such as the New England Folk Festival (NEFFA) and the Cranberry Dulcimer & Autoharp Gathering. He received the annual Leonard Reid Award for 2012 at the Mountain Laurel Autoharp Gathering in Newport, PA. In recent years he has taught several public group classes focusing on acoustic blues guitar.
Bill started composing for classical guitar in the early 1980’s when he first taught at TCFA. Since then he has continued to write for classical guitar including 24 studies in all major and minor keys as well as many duets and trios for guitar and other instruments. In the mid 1980s, he began composing for digital synthesizers, alone and in combination with acoustic instruments. In 1989, he appeared on a compilation CD, Visionaries: Selected New Music, Volume II. In 1990 he presented an electronic “symphony” at Cornell University and issued a solo album of electronic compositions, Voyage of the Heart. He has released three more CD’s of electro-acoustic music that have received worldwide airplay. He is now concentrating on writing and performing finger style guitar works, many in alternate tunings. Bill returned to the faculty at TCFA in 2003 and continues to enjoy teaching stringed instruments to young and old.
Born in Ithaca NY, trained in jazz in Philadelphia, PA and schooled in sacred/secular music in her ancestral homeland of Cuba, vocalist Venissa Santí traveled a long road to develop her signature musical style. She is a 2008 PEW Fellow, signed to Sunnyside Records. Venissa has taught voice lessons since 2001 and works with beginners, intermediate and professional singers to develop their sound and explore diverse and exciting repertoire and vocal technique.
A long time musician, Bo entertained European audiences in the 1970’s playing American folk music. Returning to the States in 1980, he played with the popular local square dance band the Razor Lickers, as well as the occasional solo performance. Over the years he has played many styles of music including blues, jazz, and rock and roll. Bo thinks that playing the ukulele is the most fun you can have on four strings and enjoys teaching and helping players improve their skills.