Maryland Performing Arts Center

  "Dance is a poem of which each movement is a word"

Kelsey Kocur King, Owner

Kelsey Kocur King

Owner & Artistic Director

Kelsey began training extensively in ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, modern, hip-hop, and pointe at a young age. She quickly gained recognition for her strength, flexibility, and stage presence, which she now works to instill in her students. As the Artistic Director, Owner, and Head Teacher at Maryland Performing Arts Center, she uses the knowledge she gained through her professional-level certification with Dance Masters of America to provide her students with the best education possible. The award-winning choreography she continues to set on her students, both individually and in groups, has made her a recognized choreographer and a sought-after master teacher in studios state-wide, companies such as Broadneck High School Dance Company and the Anne Arundel County Dance Ensemble, and the Anne Arundel County School system. She actively choreographs for MPAC’s East Coast Dance Company and also directs and performs with Essenza, MPAC’s resident traveling professional dance company. 

In addition to her love of dance, Kelsey also loves to sing. She received her vocal training from the renowned Peabody Conservatory and also from Eric Arceneaux, recording artist and founder of the “Arceneaux Approach,” a company he created so that he could offer vocal coaching to singers world-wide. He has worked with more than 100,000 singers in 80 different countries. He has also coached singers that have appeared on television. In 2010, Kelsey toured with Arceneaux and others as a backup dancer.

For the 2016-2017 school year, Kelsey has been chosen as Stevenson University’s Head Coach for its esteemed Dance Team. She conditions the team, recruits dancers, and sets choreography on them regularly for events like the annual Homecoming game and national competitions.   

Kelsey is Zumba and Zumba toning certified. She has also designed and patended a unique Barre class for adults called "Barre 360." It is because of her versatility, dedication, and love of her position that she has developed such strong, genuine relationships with each of her students, who are her motivation to continue to move, educate, and grow.   


Kristy Cooke 

General Manager 

Kristy has been part of the Maryland Performing Arts Center family since 2009. She has taken on multiple roles throughout the years, and during her time as a teacher, she attended three American College Dance Festivals in order to grow as a leader and bring back new knowledge and choreography ideas to her students after spending time with professionals from all over the United States.

In 2013, Kristy graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County with a degree in Dance Education. She also completed two years of teacher training through Dance Masters of America at Buffalo University and is certified to teach Zumba to both children and adults. In addition, she was formerly a member of Anne Arundel Community College’s Dance Company and also spent many years performing with MPAC’s professional dance company, Essenza.  

Kristy was promoted to General Manager at MPAC in 2015. As a result, she has grown close to many of our dance families. She loves interacting with our students and parents on a daily basis and to her, MPAC is a home away from home.   

 


Anton Wilson
Ballet Master
Director of Curriculum

Bio Coming Soon


Hannah Lafrance

Musical Theater Director & Dance Director Assistant

Levels: Beginner & Up 

Hannah’s journey began when she was ten years old in an Irish dance class. She began training in other genres such as ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, and hip-hop at local dance studios at the age of 15. Her love for dance solidified when she auditioned for a part in Arundel High School’s production of Beauty and the Beast, and when she was cast as the “Enchantress” and a dancer in the “Can Can” and the “Tango,” she found that she also thrived onstage. Upon her graduation from high school, Hannah came to Maryland Performing Arts Center to study under Kelsey King, whom she had long-admired as both a director and a dancer.  

 It was at MPAC that Hannah learned that she could sing. After receiving intense one-on-one instruction from Eric Arceneaux for two full years, Hannah began to teach musical theater classes which combined dancing, singing, and performing. She also became dance assistant to Kelsey and her students, and has been proud to perform with the MPAC Dance Company at functions such as the Ladarius Webb Charity Event.    

Hannah has actively furthered her training and development over the years, specifically as a member of the Anne Arundel Community College Dance Company under the direction of Linda Fitzgerald. She has spent much time attending the college’s dance program and also completed a Theatre course during her time at the school. She is a certified Zumba instructor and enjoys attending Master classes.  

In addition, she was chosen by Megan Morse Jans, director of the Dragonfly Experience, to teach the Dare Dancer program, an after-school event for students at Mills Parole Elementary School in Annapolis. Because of Hannah’s success with her students, she was chosen to teach the PVA program at Bates Middle School and Park Middle School for two years. Hannah’s love for the arts, performing, and MPAC encourage her to continue to expand her knowledge of dance and to design fun-filled classes for her students. 


Rebecca Houseknecht

Assistant Director

Levels: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced Ballet, All Genres 

Assistant Director Rebecca Houseknecht has spent the majority of her life training in ballet, jazz, and contemporary dance. She was accepted into the world-renowned Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC at a young age, where she excelled in her classes and received a first-rate education in classical ballet. Afterwards, she continued her training at the Maryland Youth Ballet in Silver Spring, Maryland. Rebecca was immediately offered a position with the Washington Ballet upon her graduation from high school. During her time with the company, she performed soloist roles in The Nutcracker, Le Corsaire, and Sleeping Beauty.  

Soon-after, Rebecca attended Towson University and became a co-captain of its acclaimed dance team. During her time as captain, the team won its 15th, 16th, and 17th consecutive national championships. She graduated from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management and a minor in both Business Administration and Psychology in 2015, and is currently working towards her Masters degree.   

Rebecca has been awarded numerous awards and is widely-recognized for her achievements. She earned a position as a finalist in the Youth American Grand Prix, was the American Dance Awards National High Score Winner, and was granted Dance Spirit magazine’s “Future Star” Award. She was also a winner of the Young Arts Program of the National Foundation for the Advancements in the Arts. In addition, she was a featured dancer in the award-winning dance documentary, First Position.

Rebecca Houseknight, Maryland Performing Arts Center

Christi Bleakly

Christi Bleakly

Ballet Department Head

Levels: Intermediate and Advanced Ballet, Pointe 

Christi Hahn, formerly known as Christi Bleakly, comes to us from Hatfield, PA. She moved to Annapolis, MD to pursue a career in ballet. Since then, she has danced professionally with the Ballet Theater of Maryland and other various groups. Christi has performed several lead roles throughout the years, including “Juliet” in Romeo and Juliet, “Odette” in Swan Lake, and “Clara” in The Nutcracker.      

In 2008, Christi joined the Maryland Performing Arts Center family as a teacher. In 2009, she was promoted and named head of the ballet department. With over a decade of teaching experience, she remains joyful as she teaches the art of ballet to her students. She was trained under Maxim Ponomarenko in the Vaganova Syllabus, and passes her knowledge on as she continues to train girls and boys of all ages.  


Maya Basik
All Levels & Genres 

Maya Basik, a Baltimore native, is a graduate of Muhlenberg College where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Dance. Maya spent her Junior year at Muhlenberg studying abroad in Arezzo, Tuscany as a student of the Academia Dell’Arte Conservatory Program, where she had the privilege of learning from various esteemed Italian and International Dance and Physical Theatre artists and professors. In 2014 and again in 2016, she danced professionally with the D.C. based Contemporary Dance Company “ClancyWorks” under the direction of Adrienne Clancy. ClancyWorks provided Maya with the opportunity to complete the Dance Educator’s Training Institute, which she accomplished successfully during her time with the company.  

In addition to her love for dance, Maya also has a passion for Yoga. She has completed the 200-hour level Yoga Teacher Training through YogaWorks (formerly known as Charm City Yoga) in Baltimore under Kim Manfredi. Maya has come to Maryland Performing Arts Center with a knowledge of dance and Yoga, which has lead to improvements in our students’ flexibility, strength, and ability to work together. 


Ben Prescott
Acrobatics Instructor & Fitness Coach

Ben Prescott earned his Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and his Master of Science in Exercise Science and Health Promotion with a concentration in Performance Enhancement and Injury Prevention from the University of Maryland. He is also the Assistant Director of the University’s Gymkana Troupe, a gymnastics-based performance and outreach program in the School of Public Health.   

In addition, Ben is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. He has over a decade of experience in teaching gymnastics and acrobatics. During his time at MPAC, he has trained our students, maintained their safety, and prevented injury. It is for these reasons that he is Maryland Performing Arts Center’s acrobatics instructor.