Faculty

Cheryl Lerner (Director) comes to the Omaha Academy of Ballet after many years of experience as a dance teacher and program administrator.  A former dancer with the Omaha Ballet, she served as Dance and Performing Arts Director at the Jewish Community Center, where she continued to teach for many years after leaving that post.  She received her early dance training with Tibor Zana in Madison, Wisconsin, later training with Maria Vegh and performing with the Marin Ballet in California.  She also danced on scholarship at the Houston Ballet and Ruth Page Foundation in Chicago.  She has worked as a program administrator for several non-profit organizations and has served as a panelist for arts councils in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota.

Mary Gill is a graduate of Creighton University with a Bachelors in nursing and a co-major in dance.  Mary has performed with OMDC, Creighton University and Omaha Community Playhouse.

Claire Goodwille is currently in her 5th season as a company dancer with Ballet Nebraska. She began her ballet training at Omaha Theater Ballet School of Dance. She spent summers training with Pacific Northwest Ballet and Ballet Austin. She also trained in Banff, Canada. Claire appeared in numerous Omaha Theater Ballet productions as both a student and apprentice. She has performed several times with Opera Omaha and Omaha Symphony.  In addition to dancing professionally, Claire has taught many different styles of dance for over five years, including ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, and modern. This is her first year as a faculty member at OAB.

Juliette Henning grew up in Akron Ohio. She received her training from the Dance Institute of Akron, Ballet Excel Ohio, Canton Ballet, Cleveland Ballet and North Carolina School of the Arts. She performed in children’s roles with the New York City Ballet and Atlanta Ballet as well. Her professional career took her to Milwaukee Ballet, Ballet Omaha and the Cincinnati Ballet Company.  Favorite roles include Clara and the Sugar Plum Fairy in “The Nutcracker” and Balanchine’s “Serenade”, under Suzanne Farrell.  She has also danced in music videos and with Opera Omaha.  Juliette has been teaching ballet and pointe for more than 15 in Omaha. She is also the Director of our own Omaha Dance Project.

Nichol Mason Lazenby, originally from Southern California, graduated from California State University of Long Beach with a BFA in Dance. She went on to dance professionally with the Disney Corporation, LA Contemporary Dance Company.   She obtained her Certificate in College Teaching and MFA degree in Dance/Choreography from The University of Arizona. Nichol was Dance Faculty at The University of Arizona and Pima Community College where she taught modern and jazz technique as well as choreography. Her work has been presented by numerous companies and theatres in California and Arizona.  Nichol obtained her Pilates Certification through Body Arts and Science International. She teaches Pilates privately and is a Guest Choreographer for The University of Nebraska Lincoln and Creighton University.

Penny Michonski is a graduate of Creighton University with a degree in music. She has taught at Omaha Academy of Ballet for thirteen years and has successfully completed exams in the ISTD system through the Advanced I level. She has performed with many local dance and theater groups.

Sheila Nelson received her training at the Omaha Academy of Ballet and at Creighton University under the direction of Valerie Roche. She has performed with Creighton’s dance company and served as a faculty member in its dance department. She was selected by the Nebraska Department of Education as a team member for Frameworks, a program which brought dance education to Nebraska schools. She has completed many exams in both the RAD and ISTD systems and holds full membership status in the Royal Academy of Dancing.  Sheila was Co-director of OAB from 2008-2014.

Lynne Nevin began her dance training in Lincoln with Flavia Waters Champe, and later continued her studies in Omaha with Valerie Roche. She received a BA degree in art history from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She holds the Associate Diploma through the ISTD Professional Teaching examinations and is a member and registered teacher with the Royal Academy of Dancing, London. Lynne has studied the Alexander Technique, a method for analyzing and improving movement patterns, in which she is preparing for International Certification.  She teaches dance at UNL and has served as a teaching artist for Lincoln’s Arts Are Basic Artist-in-the-Schools program.  In addition, she is a teaching assistant for “Dancing Classrooms”, a program of The Artery.  Her choreography has been presented through the dance departments of University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Creighton University and by OAB’s Omaha Dance Project.

Roxanne Nielsen is Executive Director of The ARTery – a local non-profit that brings the internationally recognized program Dancing Classroom to the area.  She served as Resident Choreographer and Director of Education and Outreach for the Omaha Community Playhouse for many years.  Roxanne has received numerous awards for choreography and performance and has worked at many local theatres and schools.  She has many years of teaching experience at area schools and community organizations including Boys and Girls Clubs, WhyArts?, Uta Halee, and others.  In 2004, she completed teacher training in New York with the National Dance Institute, founded by Jacques d’Amboise.  She was selected to be a Teaching Artist for the Diavolo Project: Nebraska, served as a teaching artist with the African Culture Connection, and is on the roster of Teaching Artists for the Nebraska Arts Council.  Roxanne trained in New York with Pierre Dulaine to be a Senior Teaching Artist for Dancing Classrooms.

Mary Royer is a graduate of Creighton University with a degree in Social Work and a minor in dance.  She performed in multiple ballets and shows with the Creighton Dance Department and took classes in modern, ballet, tap, and jazz.  Mary has continued her dance education by taking classes at the Omaha Academy of Ballet.

Elizabeth Shefter recently moved to Omaha from Chicago. She has trained at the Ithaca Ballet, University of Iowa, the Champaign Ballet, the Ruth Page School, and the Walnut Hill Academy and Boston Ballet summer programs.

Erica Snyder holds a Bachelor’s degree in Dance from Lake Erie College. She also studied dance at Indiana University, Purdue University and Cleveland State University.  In Omaha, she has danced with the UNO Moving Company and OAB’s Omaha Dance Project.  She currently teaches at the Jewish Community Center and South High School, where she directs the student group, La Fuerza.

Patti Zukaitis received her BFA degree in dance from Creighton University in 1974 and graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with an MFA in dance in 1986. She has performed with The Omaha Ballet, Creighton Dance Company and various choreographers in New York City and Omaha. Patti has been a teacher at OAB and a faculty member in the dance department at Creighton University since 1991. She holds the Associate Diploma through the ISTD Professional Teaching Examinations and served as Co-director of OAB from 2002-2014.