Meet our Team
Kara discovered her love for dance in Akron, Ohio at the Dance Institute at The University of Akron. She studied as a full scholarship student at the School of Cleveland Ballet, graduated from the University Of North Carolina School of The Arts, and received her B.A. in Psychology, B.F.A in Dance Performance and M.A. in Arts Administration from the University of Akron. She went on to be a member of The Ohio Ballet, The Eliot Feld Ballet, Long Island Dance Theater, The Washington Opera, Toledo Opera, and The Cleveland Opera companies. Kara is a faculty member in the School of Dance, Theater, and Arts Administration at The University of Akron, where she teaches courses in Dance Education and Pedagogy. She recently co-authored a professional development series for teaching artists who work in K-12 settings, and directed the dance activities for Akron Children's Hospital's Dancing For The Kids and the Heinz Poll Summer Dance Festival's children's interactive. She served on the Board of Directors for Summit Artspace and NEOS Dance Theatre, and was a member of the Akron Symphony Orchestra's Education Committee, The University of Akron’s Arts and Culture Committee, and the Summit County Municipal Court's Citizen Academy. Kara currently serves on the Akron Public School's College and Career Academies steering committee.
Executive Director & Founder
Shauna Conzaman was born in Ravenna, Ohio and received most of her dance training at the University of Akron’s Dance Institute as well as summer training programs at The Rock School of Pennsylvania Ballet, Joffrey Ballet School, Cleveland Ballet School, and Pittsburgh Youth Ballet. Shauna danced professionally 4 seasons with the Ohio Ballet and 5 seasons with the Eisenhower Dance Ensemble (Michigan’s premiere contemporary dance company). She toured the U.S. and abroad with these companies and also guest performed with Groundworks Dance Theatre and Michigan Ballet Theatre. She has been teaching all genres of dance since 1996; six of those years as the assistant director of Kensington School of the Arts in Troy, Michigan. Shauna has been a lead teaching artist with ArtSparks since its inception and has now moved into roles as Director of Operations and Development. Besides her passion for her faith and family, ArtSparks' mission for children is a driving force in her life.
Director of Operations and Development
Artistic Director &
Lead Teaching Artist
Erica graduated summa cum laude from the University of Akron with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance and a Bachelors of Arts in Dance Education. During her time at the university she had the opportunity to perform in works by professionals from The Joffrey Ballet, Ballet Memphis, Hubbard Street Dance, Neos Dance Theatre, and Alexandre Munz’s S.A.F.E. Project and participated in community events with the Akron Children’s Hospital and the Rape Crisis Center.
Erica’s passion for quality dance education has led to some amazing experiences. She has attended the National Dance Education Organization’s national conference. She also attended intensive teacher training with the acclaimed National Dance Institute (NDI) in New York City as well as participated in NDI’s D.R.E.A.M Project for young dancers with disabilities. She has attended the Kennedy Center’s L.E.A.D Conference to learn about and advocate for accessible arts experiences as well as participated in workshops with AXIS Dance and Dance for Parkinson’s Disorder. Erica is active in committees within the Akron Public Schools and Cuyahoga Falls City School District that discuss and implement positive change for the children of each community. She has led teaching demonstrations for the University of Akron’s College of Education, Summit Education Initiative’s Readiness Summit, GAR Foundation’s Essential Exchange, as well as professional development workshops for Akron Public Schools.
Music Director &
Simon began studying music at the age of nine when he persuaded his mother to enroll him in piano lessons. A few years later he developed an interest in the guitar and eventually joined several bands as a teenager. After high school he attended Kent State and played piano for their Jazz Ensemble, ultimately graduating with a BS in Mathematics and Biology. Currently, he is the accompanist for Stow Community Church and the drummer for progressive rock band, Crown Kingdom. In his free time, Simon enjoys going on bike rides and playing tennis.
Egan has been a professional musician, educator, and producer for the past 20 years. He attended Columbia College in Chicago, IL, and received his bachelor's degree in Music Composition and Performance. Egan is a versatile performer who has worked with multiple nationally touring musical groups and has been involved in a variety of recording and production projects. Currently, he lives in Akron, OH and is closely working with local talent groups and artists such as Weathervane Playhouse, The Balch Street Theater, Umojah Nation and Temple Israel to create a larger platform for the Akron Arts Community.
Visual Art Coordinator
Sophia Fugate is currently a junior at the University of Akron pursuing a BFA in painting and drawing, a BFA in graphic design, and a minor in illustration. She has been dancing since age 4 across many studios including Martell School of Dance where she currently works as a desk manager. She has danced predominantly in ballet and hip hop.
Lydia Hacker has been a dancer for 19 years. She began her training as a competitive dancer, and she continued to pursue her love of dance at The University of Akron where she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Dance. Lydia performed with the University of Akron Dance Company and the University of Akron Dance Team and is currently a Company Dancer for CDP Company, a professional contemporary fusion company based in the Cleveland Area. She is also a dancer for the Cleveland Cavaliers Powerhouse Dance Team. Lydia has had the opportunity to perform as a backup dancer for Train, LL Cool J, and DJ Khaled. Lydia is passionate about dance education, and when she is not performing she is in the studio or the classroom, passing her love of dance on to her students!
Dynamite Duos Coordinator & Teaching Artist
Heather Knighton began her dance training at the age of 3 at Abby Dance Center in Barberton, Ohio. She received scholarships to attend the Joffrey School of Ballet and Kirov Academy of Ballet summer intensives and is a graduate of The University of Akron’s Dance Institute where she studied with professionals from the Pennsylvania Ballet, Cleveland San Jose Ballet, Jennifer Muller/The Works, GroundWorks Dance Theater, Ohio Ballet, and Dancing Wheels. She continued performing with the University of Akron Dance Company (UADC) throughout college and performed with the Pennsylvania Ballet and the Moscow Ballet in their productions of “The Nutcracker.” Heather has been teaching for the past 17 years and strives to make a positive impact in the lives of her students. She has choreographed for Regional and National Dance Competitions, and for Theatre 8:15’s Halloween, Broadway and Christmas Show productions. She is currently a dance instructor with Martell School of Dance and is continuing her education studying Psychology with a Concentration in Child and Adolescent Development with SNHU. Heather is thrilled for the opportunity to share her passion for dance
with the ArtSparks community!
Brittany Medlong is from Independence, Ohio. Her dance training began at the age of eight at Revolutions Dance Academy under the direction of Lisa and Tricia Bires. She continued her dance training at Baldwin Wallace University where she graduated with a Bachelors of Arts degree in Communication Disorders and Dance. During her time at BWU, she had the opportunity to perform in pieces by Sara Whale and Gregory Daniels. After graduating from BWU, Brittany took on the role of a Teaching Artist when she taught integrated dance classes throughout Cleveland at The School of Dancing Wheels. Brittany had the opportunity to participate in professional development workshops with AXIS dance company, an integrated dance company, and Race Forward, a non profit organization that champions racial equity in the media. She also had the opportunity to attend The National Dance Institute’s “Dream Week” in New York City. She continues to expand her knowledge as a Teaching Artist and Communications Coordinator by attending professional development seminars, master classes, and conventions. Brittany loves sharing her passion for dance through ArtSparks!
Early Childhood Education Coordinator, Communications Coordinator & Lead Teaching Artist
Abby Murray is a freshman at The University of Akron pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Corrosion Engineering. She graduated from Firestone High School in 2021 from the International Baccalaureate program and the Project Lead the Way Engineering Program. She started her dance training at 5 years old at the University of Akron’s Dance Institute. Through this program she has had many opportunities to train and perform with local dance companies like Neos Dance Theatre, Groundworks Dance Theater, and Verb Ballets. In addition to this, she has had the opportunity to be the Snow Maiden, in The Snow Maiden, which was her favorite role she has ever performed. Abby started as a volunteer with ArtSparks in the summer of 2017 and is excited to continue sharing her love of dance as a Teaching Artist with Art Sparks!
Chloe J. Redman is currently pursuing a Masters of Art in Arts Administration from the University of Akron and is a recent graduate from the university's dance program earning a Bachelors of Fine Art in December, 2020. From age ten all the way through high-school, Chloe trained at the University of Akron's Dance Institute under the executive direction of former Cincinnati Ballet dancer Christina Foise. Chloe is the Advanced Teams Coordinator and a Teaching Artist with Artsparks, a ballet and pointe instructor at Martell School of Dance and a Second Year Graduate Assistant with The National Center for Choreography at the University of Akron. Chloe looks forward to knitting her love of dance and organization together as she works towards her advanced degree and continues to pursue teaching and performing for years to come.
Advanced Team Coordinator & Teaching Artist
Dan Shiller is a percussionist from Youngstown, OH. He completed his BM in Percussion at The University of Akron, and his MM in World Percussion at Oakland University. Dan specializes in world music traditions, including Ghanaian xylophone, Steel pan, and conga drumming. He has done two study abroad trips to Ghana, West Africa where he studied music and dance traditions. He has worked as an accompanist throughout his entire college career, including a trip to the Mark Morris Dance Center in New York to train as an accompanist. Dan also freelances as a percussionist and music teacher. "I thoroughly enjoy playing for the Dynamic Duo's class, seeing how these kids benefit from dance and music education is what makes what we do, worth it".
Allison discovered her love for the art of dance as a child. She continued her education at The University of Akron where she earned her BA in Dance with a Business Cognate. She has performed with The University of Akron Dance Company, Ballet in Cleveland, Denise Nahat's San Jose Ballet production of The Nutcracker at Playhouse Square, and Real Edge Dance Company. Allison has taught and choreographed for several studios throughout the State of Ohio, and has been acknowledged for her creative approach to choreography.