Last updated: September 7, 2018

Betsie Andrews

ArtisTree Founder/Director/Instructor

Betsie Andrews, ArtisTree Founder/Director/Instructor

Betsie was raised in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and trained with Christine DeLazzaro White and Ronn Daniels in ballet, tap, and jazz from the age of six. In her teens, she was a charter member of the Ft. Lauderdale Civic Ballet Company. Since tap's resurgence across the country, she has renewed her love of rhythm tap studying with legendary tappers from all over the world.

She was director of Andrews Dance Studio 3100 for 20 years before founding ArtisTree in 1998. She is also Arts & Education Coordinator for Hutchinson's Fox Theatre and designs the Fox's By the Bus Informances for schools. She is also director of Prairie Nutcracker, a biennial holiday event at Hutchinson's Historic Fox Theatre, and serves on the Board of Prairie Nutcracker Foundation.

She received her elementary teaching degree from Principia College in Elsah, Illinois as well as majoring in International Political Science. She is also an alum of Semester at Sea (formerly World Campus Afloat).

After college, she danced professionally as a Rockette in New York's Radio City Music Hall, flew with Eastern Airlines, and taught school in Boston, Massachusetts and Rome, Italy. Marriage brought her to Hutchinson in 1975 where she taught 4th grade for two years in the Buhler District. She continued teaching arts programs at Union Valley School developing "ArtWorks" programs for schools.

She has choreographed for area high schools, Family Children's Theatre, Follies, Hutchinson Theatre Guild, and continues to perform locally.

Betsie and her husband George have two grown daughters responsible for the founding of Toddler Tree preschool and Studio 3100, and today are fellow gardeners of the ArtisTree idea.

 

2018-2019 Dance Branch Instructors:

Danika Bielek

Danika Bielek

Danika graduated from Arizona State University with a B.F.A. cum laude in Dance Performance/Choreography as a scholarship recipient. While at ASU, she benefited from training with significant instructors, companies and choreographers such as modern dance pioneer Daniel Nagrin, Kee-Juan Han, Madame Xenia Christova, Bebe Miller, Joe Goode Performance Group, "Uncle" CK Ganyo, Marion Kirk-Jones, and Cliff Keuter. In addition to training at ASU, Danika took classes at The Phoenix School of Ballet under direction of Kelley Brown and at the school of Ballet Arizona.

Danika's performance credits include dancing with Phoenix, Arizona's oldest modern dance company, Desert Dance Theater and Peak Ballet of Colorado Springs, CO. Other choreographers she worked with are Kelly Roth, David Rousseve, Bill Evans, and Rosangela Silvestre, founder of the exquisite Silvestre Technique. Later, she performed as a modern dance soloist with classical and jazz musicians and founded, choreographed for and danced in the Colorado-based modern dance company, Composite Dance Theatre.

Teaching is one of Danika’s greatest interests. She is honored to have over 20+ years working as a dance educator. Her specialties are contemporary and classical modern dance techniques. She is also experienced in teaching jazz dance, ballet, creative movement for children, dance for musical theatre, movement improvisation, dance history and dance composition. Most recently, she has been in training under the Dance for PD (Parkinson's Disease) program with the Mark Morris Dance Center (Brooklyn, NY) and founded Rhythm Connections for PD of Central Kansas.

Past positions include Dance Department Chair at Pikes Peak Community College (Colorado Springs, CO) and Executive Director and Dance Director of the Bethel College Academy of Performing Arts (Newton, KS). As a choreographer she has directed and choreographed for student companies, has guest choreographed for contemporary companies, and multiple college-level musicals and operas.

Danika is honored to be a part of ArtisTree's Dance Branch faculty since 2006, and a rehearsal instructor and dancer with Prairie Nutcracker since 2007. In addition to teaching at ArtisTree, Danika has recently started working at Barton Community College as the Performing Arts Dance Instructor/Coordinator. She is excited to start dancing through the next season!

 

Marla Blickhahn

Marla Blickhahn

Marla was raised in Anaheim, California and trained in the Los Angelos area in a variety of disciplines and teachers including jazz with Joe Tremain, ballet with Stanley Holden and ethnic dance at Orange Coast Community College.

She joined the staff of ArtisTree's Dance Branch in 2003 sharing the richness of her California training and teaching experiences.

She, her husband, Henry, Director of Christian Education for Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Hutchinson, and their son have lived in Hutchinson, Kansas since 1999.

Marla is also owner of Necessities, Past, Present & Future, a popular outdoor and indoor antique shop in Hutchinson's antique district & Voila! a vintage boutique housed in the Parkside Building adjacent to ArtisTree.

When she's not at home, in her shop, on ArtisTree's dance floor or the stage of a local theatre, she can be found reading a good book, at the movies, antique-ing or shopping.

 

Mara Whitaker Klenda

Mara Klenda

Mara began her ballet training at the age of three in Tacoma, Washington. She has studied with David Howard, George de la Pena, Rebecca Wright, Kimberly Glasco, Boston Ballet School, Wichita State University, and chiefly with Nancy Hervey and Jill Landrith at Nancy Hervey School of Ballet in Wichita, Kansas.

In 1989, Mara joined Ballet Wichita, formerly Metropolitan Ballet of Wichita, as a junior member. In 1995 she was promoted to soloist, and to principal in 1998. Her roles include Sugar Plum Fairy, Dew Drop Fairy, and nearly every other female role in "The Nutcracker", Effie in "La Sylphide", Mazurka in "Les Sylphide", "Paquita", Little Swan in "Swan Lake", Coppelia in "Coppelia" and many others. Mara created roles in Jill Landrith's "Merlin's Song", "Blue", "Torch", and others. Mara also worked with guest choreographers Sean Duus of Kansas City Ballet and Rebecca Wright, formerly of American Ballet Theatre. In 1999 Mara was awarded the Kansas Cultural Trust.

Mara has been a ballet teacher and choreographer in Kansas since the late 1990s. She loves to read and practices Pilates and yoga in her spare time.

Mara and her husband, Chris, are the proud parents of Digby, born in the fall of 2009. Digby is also growing up amid his extended ArtisTree family!

 

Jill Landrith

Jill Landrith

Jill Landrith has been teaching dance since 1978 and is the owner of the Jill Landrith School of Dance. She is currently on faculty in Wichita State University’s Dance Department lecturing in Dance History. Jill is the Artistic Director of Metropolitan Ballet, Inc. after being the Artistic Director of Metropolitan Ballet of Wichita (now known as Ballet Wichita) for twenty years, after being Associate Artistic Director for five years. She created an innovative introduction to dance and the arts open to all children five to ten years of age for Unified School District 265 in Goddard, Kansas, and directed that program for nine years.

Jill was a soloist with the Aachen Ballet in West Germany and a member of Ballet Met of Columbus, Ohio. While she was still in Germany, Jill appeared as a Guest Artist with noted choreographer Robert Wexler, and had many roles created on her by Thorsten Muller. It is her goal to make similar opportunities available for her students now. Jill's dance training includes extensive work with David Howard, Maggie Black, Rebecca Wright and Francoise Martinet in New York City, and Bill Martin-Viscount in Texas. Jill began her studies in dance with her mother, June Landrith.

Jill Landrith was featured in an article in the October 2004 issue of Dancer magazine. Recently, she was a guest teacher for the Washington Ballet School, and has also been a guest teacher for The Springfield Ballet, as well as for schools in New Jersey, Florida, and throughout Kansas.

 

Marie Maugans-Coleman

Marie Maugans-Coleman

Marie studied dance with Patrick and Jennifer Crommet from the Royal Winnapeg Ballet, Carol Iwasaki of Ballet West, and Annette Thornton, Artistic Director of the Newton Dance Center. She has studied with various dance teachers including Thalia Mara, William Christiansen, and Rosella Hightower.

She was a dance instructor and choreographer for over 25 years at The Newton Dance Center, Bethel College, and with Newton Community Theatre and a number of area high schools and colleges before moving to Hutchinson in 2005. Artistree has been her dance home ever since.

Full time she is a nurse practitioner at COMCARE of Sedgwick County. Her husband is Dr. Robert Coleman, a podiatrist in Hutchinson since 1985. Seven children and eight grandchildren keep her busy between working full time, gardening, and dancing.

 

Laura Rocco Mourn

Laura Mourn

Laura's dance training is rooted in ArtisTree (then Studio 3100) with "Miss Betsie" Andrews. While dancing at Studio 3100, she also studied under "Miss Marian" Fey, "Miss Kara" Davis, "Miss Lori" League, and "Miss Jacque" Eaton. In her early years as a dance instructor with Studio 3100, Laura was also a member of Mosaic Dance Group under the direction of Smruti Patel.

She began assisting dance classes under Miss Betsie while in high school & continued teaching dance at ArtisTree while attending college. She graduated from Sterling College with a degree in elementary education.

She and her husband, Justin Mourn, are charter members of Prairie Nutcracker.

In her 19 years in education, she has taught 2nd, 3rd and 5th grades, as well as junior highschool, in Kansas and Colorado.

She currently teaches agriculture education to area elementary classes as well as teaching her own children.

After living in Denver, Colorado and south central Kansas, Laura, Justin, and their children, Charis and Benjamin are pleased to find themselves back on the plains of Kansas and back at ArtisTree for her 14th year of dance instruction.

 

Remmington Phillips

Remmington Phillips

Welcoming Boys Ballet Instructor Remmington Phillips.

 

Sarah Zongker Snider

Sarah Snider

Sarah began her dance training at the age of 6 at Studio 3100 with 'Miss Betsie' Andrews. During her training with Studio 3100 and later with ArtisTree, Sarah also studied under 'Miss Emily' Skala Hull, 'Miss Katie' Williamson Flindall, 'Miss Melanie' Green, and 'Miss Marla' Blickhahn. She is also a charter cast member of Prairie Nutcracker.

Sarah graduated from St. Gregory's University, Oklahoma as a scholarship recipient and with a B.F.A sum cum laude in Entertainment Management with an emphasis in dance. While attending St. Gregory's, she trained under Liz Reiter, of the Gus Giordano Jazz Company, and Kim Oplotnik, ballet instructor from Oklahoma University. Sarah participated in St. Gregory's dance company and performed at several venues including the American College Dance Festivals.

After graduating in May 2006, Sarah was hired by St. Gregory's as their ballet instructor and beginning jazz instructor. Sarah also became the director of the first St. Gregory's University Dance Academy for students ages 4-16.

Sarah and her husband, Preston Snider from Amarillo, Texas, moved to Buhler in the summer of 2007. They have four children - two sons, William, born in 2013; Simon, born in 2011; and two daughters, Cate, born in 2008; and Anna, born in 2015 who spend much of their week with their dance teacher mommy and costume mistress grandmother (Kathy Zongker) amid their extended ArtisTree family.

 

2018-2019 Dance Branch Instructors

ArtisTree's 2018-2019 Dance Branch Instructors

Laura Mourn,  Danika Bielek, Mara Klenda, Sarah Snider, Betsie Andrews, Marie Maugans-Coleman, Jill Landrith, Marla Blickhahn, and Remmington Phillips