Dana Cretsinger - Creative Director
MUSICAL THEATRE DIRECTOR, VOICE, CHOIR
Originally from Iowa, Dana Stephens started dancing at three and began performing on stage professionally when she was nine years old. By the time she finished high-school she had already performed many coveted female roles for numerous theatres nationwide. She studied Vocal Performance at Oklahoma City University which is world-renowned for its demanding and professional vocal training, producing award-winning vocalists such as Metropolitan Opera legend Leona Mitchell, Chris Merrit, Marquita Lister, Sarah Coburn, and Broadway superstars Kristin Chenoweth and Kelli O'Hara.While in Oklahoma she also studied dance under OCU's Patricia Oplotnik and Billie Thrash winning numerous awards in competitions. In 2007 she became teaching certified in Speech Level Singing (SLS Level 1) and KinderMusik. In addition to training and experience Dana owned, operated and taught piano, dance and voice at Academy of Music & Dance in Oklahoma. She has worked and collaborated with multiple, award winning recording artists. Many of her past students have recorded albums that have been featured on soundtracks or received radio air time and several are currently acting in shows in New York, dancing in Disney, performing in Branson, MO, or acting in film in California. After recently relocating to Houston and taking some time off to raise her children, Dana is excited to share her passion for the arts once again with students
Set and Prop Designer
Audrey is a native Texan, who has a love for all things creative. After attending the university of Houston, she put her own creative aspirations on hold to raise her 5 beautiful children, which she homeschooled for 10 years. During her homeschooling years, she practiced artistic photography and photographic processing, as well as teaching sculpting, mosaic and painting out of her home. She has been designing and creating unique, custom costumes and toys through her Internet business for the past 8 years, for over 500 happy customers. She was excited to be a part of the spark creative team, designing sets and props. She worked as the scenic painter for the Texas Repertory Theatre, and continues to work freelance for Houston area theatres. She's excited to share her passion for the arts with students.
Voice, Director of Musical Theatre
Mark is originally from Houston, TX and is excited to be joining the Spark team and providing education to the next generation of performers. Mark is a recent graduate of the Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre at the University of Oklahoma with a BFA in Musical Theatre, and is also an Alumnus of the Humphreys School at TUTS. Over his past 10 years of performing he has traveled Bi-coastally and many places in between to perform. Performance credits include: OFF-BROADWAY: Kissless (Cory) REGIONAL: Lyric Theatre of OKC: Assassins (John Hinckley), Oklahoma City Rep/ATC Tulsa: Pryor Rendering (Dewar), SRT: Merrily We Roll Along (Franklin Shepard), Rock of Ages (Stacee Jaxx), Nice Work if You Can Get it (Duke), Sooner Theatre- Bonnie and Clyde (Clyde)… and More. Mark has found himself spending lots of time on the theatre education side as well. In addition to working educationally at places like The Humphreys School, Stageworks, and The River Foundation, Mark assisted his good friend Tyce Green in creating his business Straight From New York. Providing Master Classes with Broadway stars to regions across the counry, Mark has worked along side artists such as Adam Pascal, Laura Osnes, Wesley Taylor and more. Mark hopes to bring his knowledge as an actor and singer to young artists in many different styles and techniques of performance.
Raised in a performing arts household in Houston, Katie was trained in piano, voice, acting, visual art, and dance as a child. Though she was first an on-camera actress, she discovered a love for musical theater by age 9 and began performing on stage. She attended HSPVA for dance, then was invited to be a Director/Choreographer's assistant at HITS in 2000. She taught acting and dance at Main Street Theater, expanding their outreach program to at risk youth in 2001 before pursuing a career in mental health. Katie worked for both the Arizona Department of Behavioral Health Services and the Regional Behavioral Health Authority during which time she piloted programming for at risk youth. In reprieve from her clinical work, she developed performing arts programs for at risk youth within the Quality Care Network as well as for other non-profit performing arts agencies. While still in Phoenix, she taught on-camera acting for Elizabeth Savage Talent, musical theater for Desert Foothills Community Theater, and was the resident Theater/Dance Teacher for Bella Vista Private School. Returning home, Katie resumed teaching while acting as the Senior Associate Director and Choreographer of Aeon Theatrix. She has since taught at Wildfish Theater, Main Street Theater, and The Shlenker School, among other places, and has been a guest teacher at TUTS and Houston Ballet. Katie now feels honored to be counted among the talented teachers at Spark and is excited to be sharing a passion for the arts with such truly amazing kids.
A California native, Amira has been performing and teaching theatre for over 15 years. In California she worked at noted regional theatre California Musical Theatre, in their Education departmen. She also ran her own private acting studio, Get Dramatic! Performing arts. She began performing early on, and by the time she moved to Texas had performed major roles in theatres all over the area, and continued performing in Houston, including a role in the West Coast premiere of “Nine Parts of Desire.” Other notable roles include 2 productions of “Macbeth” as Lady Macbeth, Trinculo in “The Tempest”, Marta in “Company” and many others. After moving to Houston Amira earned her Master’s degree in Theatre from the University of Houston with a focus in education. She had the opportunity to work and take workshops in New York, with Tom Lee of Handspring puppetry, and had an opportunity to study and expand her love of Shakespeare and classical performance in Chicago and with RADA in London. Amira loves teaching and helping students to find their own personal strengths through exploring theatre and performance.
Performing Arts, Choreography
Michelle Bowen is new to Texas but feels right at home here! She and her husband (Brad), and their six children moved from Idaho in August-- immediately following the final curtain on their most recent family production, Tarzan. Michelle has been directing and teaching Children’s music and performing Arts for the past eleven years and is excited to “get going” again! She has been the choreographer for many productions, but her favorites include; Bandito Rides Again, Tarzan, Aladdin, Wizard of Oz, and Beauty and the Beast. Her love for the stage grew when she was cast in Annie, Hello Dolly, Babes in Toyland, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (where she got to know her DREAM guy and future husband, Brad...), Bye, Bye, Birdie, Noteworthy Show Choir at ISU, and more recently Oklahoma and Thoroughly Modern Millie. She is the former chairman of Blackfoot Junior Miss (Distinguished Young Women) and enjoys doing custom graphic design work and photography. She has her own little “drama club” at home with six beautiful (and talented) children who also love music and performing.
Theatre, Shakespeare,Choreography, Dance
Desi Stephens is a Musical Theatre Major from Manhattan School of Music in New York City. She has been performing locally in the Houston area for the past four years in musicals, plays, competitive dance, and Shakespeare. In 2014 she became certified in Stage Combat. This past summer Desi was cast in the professional production of Hairspray at The MUNY in St. Louis Missouri where she was directed by Tony nominated director Dan Knetches and worked along side award winning actors Bryan Batt (Mad Men), Taylor Louderman (Peter Pan Live) and more! Aside from performing she's choreographed productions for HFAC (Zombie Prom, Seussical, Dinosaurs Before Dark) and Spark (Beauty & The Beast, Lion King, Seussical, Once On This Island). Desi is very excited to be back home in houston this summer to share her passion for the arts with Spark students before returning to pursuing her own creative aspirations in New York City!
Shakespeare, Stage Combat
Eric Domuret is an experienced actor and director both nationally and abroad. Eric received his BFA in Acting from Texas Christian University and an MFA in Theatre Directing from Middlesex University in London, England.
Some of Eric’s directing credits include Macbeth, You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown, The Miracle Worker, and The Crucible. Eric had the privilege of directing an original work Hildeguard: A Song of Surrender with Femme Sol Theatre Company. He has also written and directed Ismay’s Inquiry which was performed at Studio 7 in London, England. Eric was the fight choreographer for the Trinity Shakespeare Festival in Fort Worth for four seasons. His choreography for Macbeth was chosen by Mark Lowery as Dallas/Fort Worth theatre’s best choreography for the year.
Acting credits include Les Miserables (Jean Valjean) HFAC, Plaid Tidings (Jinx) MJR Theatricals, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (Bob Bradley), Duck Variations (George), Mountain Language (Sargent), Forever Plaid (Jinx), Forever Plaid (Frainkie) Troupe America Tour, Titanic: The Musical (Barret) Lyric Stage, Side Show (Terry Conner), Fool for Love, As You Like It, Henry V. In August of 2014 Eric will be playing the role of Dan in MJR Theatrical’s production of Next to Normal.
Eric is committed to theatre education. A proud father of five, Eric Domuret truly has a heart for sharing his passion with students of all ages. He had the privilege of being trained by Leon Rubin and Dame Janet Suzman of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He has studied playwriting with playwright David Edgar. Eric has also studied Meisner acting and acting pedagogy with Larry Silverberg of the True Acting institute. He has taught theatre at a number of private institutions and universities, and was a full time theatre teacher in the Texas Public School Systems for six years. In December, Eric will be presenting a workshop on the Greek Theatre and contemporary acting techniques at the IUGTE International Theatre Conference in Tuscany, Italy. Eric is currently the Assistant Professor of Drama at the University of St. Thomas here in Houston. You can contact or keep up with Eric on his website www.domuret.com.
Theatre Director, Percussion, Guitar
Mackenzie Haley is a native Texan who was raised in a family full of musicians and performers. She is a singer-songwriter, trained theatre actress, guitarist and professional percussionist. Mackenzie began teaching drum and guitar lessons 4 years ago and thoroughly enjoys watching her young students grow. Her areas of expertise include acoustic guitar, snare drum and Latin percussion. Mackenzie began acting on stage at the age of 10. Her family helped to found Tex-Rep, a Texas-based community theatre program. She has acted in over 15 stage productions.
Music, Voice, Choir
Kristin Sanderson is a wife, mamma, vocalist, and voice teacher/coach. She received her undergraduate degree in Vocal Performance and Music Education. Kristin feels blessed to have had many wonderful opportunities to share God's love through Music. She has traveled with The American Ambassadors Vocal group to 9 countries all over Europe, and South America. Kristin has had the opportunity to perform in countless vocal and theatre productions all over the United States. Kristin has been awarded and recognized by Texas Music Educators Association and National Academy of Singing Teachers. She had the honor of singing Handel's "Messiah" at the Famous "Carnegie Hall", under the leadership of Maestro John Rutter. Kristin has loved every minute of Performing and teaching both Classical and Contemporary styles. She is a certified Vocal Coach under Mr. Tim Carson's Vocal Artistry Team. She truly loves being able to teach with this very popular style incorporating great vocal production within the 'pop'/R&B genre.
Jazz, BALLET, LYRICAL, CONTEMPORARY
Haley is originally from Alabama, but after a summer internship brought her to Houston three years ago, she now calls Texas home. She is now married to a wonderful husband who blessed her with a step-son and son. A house full of boys keeps her on her toes! Haley took her first dance class at the age of three and it quickly became one of her greatest passions. Throughout the years she took multiple types of dance but ballet and lyrical were the forms she loved the most. Haley was always very involved in her studio as the teacher's assistant for many of the younger classes, and was also a member of the junior high and high school's dance teams of which she was captain for a year. After graduating high school Haley left for college and stopped dancing for several years, but it wasn't long before she found herself back in her home studio teaching contemporary, ballet and jazz classes as well as coaching the competition team. Haley has also worked as a pre-school teacher and as a worship leader for her church. Serving others, especially children, through art and education are two of the things that bring her the most joy. Haley is extremely excited to be joining the Spark team as a dance teacher and to have the opportunity once again to mentor kids in such a beautiful art as dance.
BALLET, TAP, JAZZ
Alyssa Giesemann is originally Minnesota, but moved to Houston five years ago. She has 15 years of experience with dance. She began dancing at the age of three taking all styles of dance and dancing competitively. Although Alyssa loves every style of dance, tap is her favorite! While on the high school dance team, she got the opportunity to work with the NFL’s Viking’s Cheerleaders and performed at halftime during one of the Minnesota Viking’s games! After graduating college she attended the University of Minnesota-Morris and got involved with the dance program there. Alyssa was the Teacher’s Assistant in their dance department, specifically working with the tap classes there on campus. Along with assisting, Alyssa spent three years choreographing routines for the dance team. After graduating college with a B.A. in Psychology, Sociology, and Political Science she moved to Houston to start teaching AP Psychology to high Schoolers. Within the high school Alyssa helps with school dance projects, and the senior dance video. Alyssa is beyond excited to be working at Spark to share her love of dance!
Cassidy Richards started dancing at the age of six in a local studio called Dana's Dance and Gymnastics under the direction of Dana Keuhl and Kara Nordin. After developing a love for dance at a young age she went on to continue her education through San Jacinto South, where she majored in dance with an emphasis in Mondern. There she became a member of the San Jacinto dance company where she had the opportunity to travel and perform in shows for; American College Dance Festival Association ( ACDFA), Dancers Against Cancer, Broadway Dance Center in New York and Houston Arts Festival. In 2012. Cassidy became a member of Vibe Dance Company where she had the opportunity to be in pieces for Tanoya Smith, Tyler Davis and Megan Sannet. Cassidy has danced in Music videos, concerts and continues toI learn and take classes as often as she can.
Advanced Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary
Ashley Clos is a choreographer, teacher, and freelance writer from The Woodlands, TX. She received a Master of Fine Arts degree in Dance from Sam Houston State University in May of 2017. Ashley’s choreography and research has been showcased at the Ailey Citigroup Theater in New York City, the American College Dance Association South-Central Adjudicated and Informal Concerts, and the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association Conference in Albuquerque, NM. During her time at SHSU, she was privileged to perform in works by Dionne and Andy Noble of NobleMotion Dance, Erin Reck of Recked Productions, Dana Nicolay of Nicolay Dance Works, guest artist Jane Weiner of Hope Stone Dance, as well as the late, great Jonathan Charles-Smith. Ashley currently lives in Houston, TX with her partner Stefan and their dog Junebug.
Practically ever since he was able to pick up a pencil, Ryan Shaw has been drawing. After many years of “cartooning” with pencil and paper as a hobby, and with the encouragement of friends and family, he decided to turn his love of drawing into his occupation. He worked hard to improve his skills, becoming a cartoonist, graphic designer, and published children’s book illustrator.
To date, Ryan has illustrated eleven children’s books for 4RV Publishing and LongTale Publishing, and in 2009 won 1st place in the nationwide ABC’s Children’s Book Competition. Ryan teaches drawing and illustration techniques for kids in grades 2 through 8 at Creative Writing and Illustration Summer Camps for iWrite Literacy Organization and Mark Kistler's Visual and Performing Fine Arts Camps.
It was through teaching at these camps that Ryan decided that he wanted to focus his talents more on inspiring kids directly to open up their creativity and imagination through drawing. In 2013, Ryan created Cartoon University (or “Cartoon U”) to help teach kids the building blocks of drawing cartoons through the use of shapes. With Cartoon U, he has created How to Draw books for kids of all ages that build upon this technique.
Ryan is member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators and works closely with the non-profit iWrite Literacy Organization.
The goal of Ryan’s lessons are:
* To inspire kids to expand their creativity and imagination through drawing.
* See for themselves the satisfaction in creating their own art, and cartoon characters
* Build their confidence to open doors to art, writing, and other activities they may have not thought were attainable.
Diana is originally from Managua, Nicaragua and grew up in Houston . She attended the University of Houston to study Journalism and Public Relations and is currently finishing her Masters in Marketplace Chaplaincy . After college, Diana began teaching Art in MECA (Multicultural Education and Counseling Through the Arts) and with Children's Prison Arts Project . She has 16 years experience teaching Art, Creative Writing and Journalism in Public and Private schools, was a mural artist for the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and educator for their Parent Center . Diana has curated many exhibits for local and nationally renown artists and exhibited her art locally during this time . She is currently developing a blog about people coping with loss and grief, When she completes her certification as a Chaplain she plans to open her own practice and working with creativity for healing .