THE CREATIVE TEAM
Founder / Co-Creator
Merle Sepel’s experience as an international judge began in 1993 when she was appointed as one of only 180 examiners worldwide for the Royal Academy of Dance (an international examining body with a presence in 25 countries). In 2007 she was appointed as a judge for the American Academy of Ballet’s Performance Awards under the directorship of Mignon Furman.
Merle’s early and extensive ballet training was with Mignon Furman in South Africa. She went on to become a graduate and licentiate of the Royal Academy of Dance in London, and an Associate of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD). Her in-depth study placed special emphasis on anatomy as it pertains to the safety of young bodies in dance training. Additional studies included Ballet, Pedagogy, Notation, Character, Jazz, Modern, Spanish, Costume Design, Choreography and Dance History.
She has taught ballet for in excess of two decades, initially in South Africa and then the U.S. where she opened the Academy of Dance. She has trained numerous dancers, many of whom went on to pursue careers with professional dance companies such as Austin Ballet, Texas Ballet Theater, BalletX, Sacramento Ballet, California Ballet as well as to major in dance at distinguished universities.
In 1997 she founded the American Pacific Ballet Company, a nonprofit group whose mission is to bring dance to the community and provide performing opportunities and a training ground for aspiring dancers.
Merle worked for Mignon Furman for many years as a faculty member of the American Academy of Ballet’s Summer School of Excellence where she taught each year and was responsible for the teachers training course.
She is on faculty at California State University (CSUF) where she began teaching in 2005.
She has developed and published The Enchanted Doorway Adventures in Dance© series of 5 dance training programs for young children that encourage creativity while teaching the basics in an age-appropriate and safe manner. Since the inception, the programs have been successfully taught in South Africa, Israel, Mexico, Singapore, Greece, England, Holland, Portugal and Switzerland as well as throughout the U.S.
Founder / Co-Creator
REBECCA TSIVKIN is a graduate and licentiate of the Royal Academy of Dance in London, and is an Associate of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD).
Her RAD training included a 3-year, in-depth program that covered Ballet, Anatomy/Kinesiology, Dance Pedagogy, Child Psychology, Labanotation, Character, Modern and Dance History.
Rebecca has taught ballet in universities, private dance studios, and company schools for over two decades. Her students have gone on to attend advanced training programs in such places as the School of American Ballet (SAB) and the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at American Ballet Theater (JKO), and to dance in professional companies such as Ballet Austin, Sacramento Ballet and BalletX, among others.
Rebecca was on the teaching faculty at American Academy of Ballet, where she was also the executive coordinator and international judge for the Performance Awards program under the direction of Mignon Furman. In addition, Rebecca was the Head Children’s Instructor at the Gelsey Kirkland Academy, and has guest-taught across the United States and internationally.
Rebecca is co-director of Ballet Extensions NYC, and is currently on the faculty at Ballet Hispanico, teaching in both the General and Pre-professional Divisions.
BRIAN LOFTUS trained in London and Paris, and danced professionally with Sadlers Wells Opera Ballet in London and with La Grande Ballet Classique de France in Paris.
For 23 years he taught at Arts Educational School in London, where he was Director of the Student Dance Course. For 22 years he held “Open Professional Classes” in London’s Covent Garden, where many well-known dancers attended on a regular basis.
Mr. Loftus has been a guest teacher with numerous large ballet companies, including English National Ballet (formally London Festival Ballet); Rambert Dance Company; London Contemporary Dance Company; London City Ballet; Koblenz Ballet Company; Kiel Ballet Company in Germany and the Deborah Colker Company from Brazil. On the recent tour of the world famous “Trocks” Brian taught their company class.
Brian Loftus is now an international guest teacher of repute, lecturer and choreographer. He teaches regularly in London, Paris, Germany, Israel and Japan.
I have trained with Merle Sepel and Rebecca Tsivkin from the age of 6 to 18. I … can’t thank them enough for all they have taught me! They are a great team who complement each other and encourage you to strive for the best. I appreciate the push they put into creating a strong technical base. Not only do they concentrate on technique, but they want you to perform. I’m glad I trained with Merle Sepel and Rebecca Tsivkin! I wouldn’t be where I am without the efforts that they put into me. They are two people who care for their dancers and only want the best for them.Amanda Fairweather
I feel very fortunate to have been trained by Merle Sepel and Rebecca Tsivkin. They not only taught me the incredible athleticism it takes to dance, but also turned me into an artist. I believe that training with this program would make me a physically stronger dancer as well as expand my artistic quality.Andrea Yorita
A celebrated figure in dance accompaniment around the world, Steven Mitchell has accompanied and performed for some of the most recognized dance organizations. He is currently the ballet rehearsal pianist for the Metropolitan Opera in New York City. Previous to his work with the opera he devoted many years to educating New York‘s public school children to Musical Theater as music director and pianist for Rosie‘s Broadway Kids.
Steven holds a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from Houghton College, NY, a Master of Music in Piano Performance and a Master of Music in Piano Pedagogy from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX. It was in Dallas where Steven was introduced to ballet by the illustrious teacher, Thom Clower, at Ballet Dallas. From 1992-1998 he was a staff pianist for Boston Ballet Center for Dance Education; while there he performed as soloist and with Boston Ballet Orchestra. From 2000-2002 he held the position of Company Pianist for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre; from 2000 – 2004 he held the keyboard chair for the Pittsburgh Ballet Orchestra.
In New York City he has played at the major ballet schools including: Ballet Academy East, School of American Ballet, Broadway Dance Center, and Steps on Broadway. He traveled with Master Teacher David Howard with teachers training seminars in the U.S. (Salt Lake City, Worcester, MA, San Diego, Jackson, MS, Kalamazoo, MI) and Mexico City, Amsterdam, Oslo and Caracas.
He was class pianist for the Columbia Pictures film Center Stage, his music can be heard in the film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and will be heard in the ballet class scenes of the upcoming tv series on the Starz network Flesh and Bone. His music for ballet class can be found at www.danceables.com.
Brian Sepel was a fulltime professional musician employed as a dance accompanist by Cal State University Fullerton Theater and Dance Dept.
He was born in South Africa.
After starting his musical life playing in a variety of successful original rock and jazz bands, he built and ran his own recording studio, writing and producing audio for radio and TV advertising.
After moving to America he freelanced as a dance accompanist, playing piano for ballet, and percussion for modern dance classes at UCI, Chapman, IVC, Fullerton College, Santa Ana College and a number of smaller private studios, before settling down at Cal State University Fullerton.
Some of the higher profile Summer Schools he has played for are, for ballet, AAB and RAD, and for modern, Limon.
A few ballet luminaries he has worked with are: Mignon Furman (AAB), Barbra Arms (Ballet Russe), Glenn Eddy (Nederlans Danse ), Stephanie Saland (NY City Ballet), Brian Loftus (Sadlers Wells ).
A few modern luminaries he has worked with are: Donald McKayle, Risa Steinberg, Colin Conor, Louis Kavouras, Bonnie Oda Homsey.
Brian, together with his sister Merle Sepel, has combined all his skills as an accompanist, composer and recording engineer to produce The Enchanted Doorway series. Five titles, of narrated story with music and instruction, for teachers to use as a dance class for children ages 4 to 6. It is proving successful wherever in the English speaking world it is being used. It is also a perfect precursor to the International Dance Acclaim program.
Le Foulard choreographed by Robynne Edwards
Dame Rose choreographed by Heather White Hagar