Arts Center
Dedicated to excellence in the performing arts
Eagle Rock Plaza
627 Eagle Rock Avenue, West Orange, NJ 07052

973 669-1791
Established 1998
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Our Staff

Lisa Batchelor

Lisa C. Batchelor is celebrating her twentieth year as Director/Owner of Unique Performance Arts Center. Her training includes the Royal Academy of Ballet in England, Broadway Dance Center in NYC, and Dance Theatre of Harlem. She has performed in Los Angeles and for Norwegian Cruise Lines in Florida. She was the featured dancer in the 1998 Miss New Jersey Pageant. Lisa choreographed West Orange High School's production of West Side Story and choreographed industrial productions in NYC. Before UPAC, she taught at several schools and choreographed award-winning routines for their competition teams. Currently, aside from her duties at UPAC, Lisa teaches a dance program for special-needs children sponsored by the mayor of West Orange called Footsteps. For fifteen years she taught a pre-school dance program at Strawberry Hill Preschool in Livingston, NJ.

Kelley Arney

Kelley Arney is a Unique Performance Arts Center alumna and received her BFA in Dance at Mason Gross School of the Arts within Rutgers University. She has worked with choreographers Randy James, Keith Thompson, Chien-Ying Wang, Kim Gibilisco, Camille A. Brown, John Evans, and Zisan Ugurlu. In addition to working with these accomplished choreographers, Kelley has personally choreographed four original concert pieces and assisted Randy James in the creation of his piece "Hello Herman Hesse." She is also PMA CPT certified through Polestar Pilates. Kelley is extremely excited to be back at UPAC, teaching at her home away from home.

Julie Barnes

Julie Barnes is originally from Yorkshire, England. She moved to London at 16 years old to train at Arts Educational Schools in Chiswick on a Musical Theatre Course. Once completing the course she went on to work on the first national tours of Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Evita and Crazy For You. After that she was in the company of Oklahoma with Hugh Jackman at both the National Theatre and London's West End, which was also made into a movie. Also in the West End she played the role of Bombalurina in Cats, and was in the original production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. She was lucky enough to work at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford and did two seasons at The Chichester Festival Theatre, were she performed in The Seagull, Seven Doors, The Gondoliers, and Out of This World. She then made the move to Broadway to be in the original Broadway cast of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang where she understudied and played the role of Truly Scrumptious. After that she got to tour the U.S. in Spamalot were she understudied and played Lady of The Lake. She then went on to play the role of Carlotta on Broadway in The Little Mermaid, and then went on to join the company of Mary Poppins. Just recently she performed in Run For Your Wife at the Fireside Theatre playing opposite her husband; she has also performed at that theatre in 9 to 5 playing the role of Violet. Alongside performing she has always taught at various colleges and schools internationally over the years. She is the Associate Director of The Broadway Experience, a Triple Threat program for kids 11 to 18 years old that is based in New York. Last year she was fortunate to go to Japan with the program, which was an amazing experience. Julie loves that she gets to do both of her passions, teaching and performing, and is thrilled to be part of the Unique Performance Arts Center.

Maurice Chestnut

Newark, New Jersey native Maurice Chestnut began dancing at the age of five, under the direction of Mr. Alfred Gallman. He became a professional dancer at the age of nine as an original member of the New Jersey Tap Ensemble under the direction of Ms. Deborah Mitchell. As one of tap's brightest young stars, he was featured on The Sally Jesse Raphael Show in the "My Kid's A Star" segment, where he proudly proclaimed that he loved to dance and would keep doing it "until I die". He was a gold medalist in the NAACP Act-So competition and was crowned "Top Dog Performer" at The Apollo Theater. At the age of fourteen, the Newark Star-Ledger's arts reviewers named Maurice, "one of the twenty New Jersey faces to watch for in the new millennium". In 2003, Maurice was recruited by tap master Savion Glover to join the national touring company of the Tony Award winning Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk. Maurice received critical favor in that role. He has continued to work with Savion as a member of his Improvography and Bare Soundz tours, as well as performing in productions such as Classical Savion, Tappin' Into Monk, Invitation To The Dancer and on ABC-TV's Dancing With The Stars. Off-Broadway credits include Shades of Harlem, The Wiz, Bubbling Brown Sugar directed by George Faison at Atlanta's Fox Theater and Can I Hit That. Maurice has developed an impressive list of credits. In addition to performing with his own band, he is often invited to perform or tour as a special guest with such prominent jazz musicians as Christian McBride, Cyrus Chestnut and Thelonius Monk III. His high profile engagements have included the JVC Jazz Festival, the Playboy Jazz Festival, The Apollo Theater and Birdland, as well as appearances at Carnegie Hall and throughout Europe with the Geri Allen Trio. As a featured soloist and choreographer, Maurice skillfully uses these venues to further develop his signature style of "playing tap" as a "live instrument". He seamlessly weaves complex dance steps to interplay with musical notes, creating a powerful and distinctive energy that resonates with his audiences. Inspired by such hoofing greats as the Nicholas Brothers and Jimmy Slyde, yet equally influenced by and connected to urban culture, Maurice Chestnut dances with truth, soul and power. As his appearance on BET's 106th and Park demonstrated, watching him dance is like walking through Harlem in the 1940s...while bumping a hip-hop beat.

Tristan Duverglas

Tristan Duverglas is no stranger to UPAC: He was his sister's #1 fan during her thirteen years as a dancer with us. Tristan grew up in West Orange and is a 2011 graduate of West Orange High School. While in high school he was a member of the Surgent's Elite Gymnastics Academy. As a member of that prestigious club, Tristan was the 2011 regional champion on the vault and placed 4th in the All Around in New Jersey. After high school he continued his career at Penn State University where he was captain of the 2014-2015 Men's Varsity Gymnastics Team. At Penn State, Tristan's accolades included 2015 Big Ten Team Champion and 2015 All-American on the Still Rings. He graduated in 2015 with a bachelor's degree in Telecommunications and is now looking forward to teaching at UPAC.

Samantha Pankiw

Samantha Pankiw is a graduate of Unique Performance Arts Center. She attended Point Park University as a dance major with classes focused in ballet, modern, jazz, Pilates, and tap. She was privileged to perform in Moments choreographed by Carolyn Paddock at Point Park University as a freshman. She was an intern at Broadway Dance Center in NYC with the opportunity to train with top teachers and choreographers, culminating with a performance at Symphony Space. Samantha was a featured dancer in two theatrical dance shows at Six Flags Great Adventure, Dead Man's Party and The Guest List, choreographed by So You Think You Can Dance alumnus Ashle Dawson. She is currently a company member of BEings Dance, directed by Emily Bufferd. She has performed with BEings Dance at various venues including the Salvatore Capezio Theater at Peridance and the Paramount Center for the Boston Contemporary Dance Festival. In addition to performing and teaching dance, Samantha is attending Montclair State University as a nutrition and food science major. She is excited to contribute to UPAC's passion for dance.



Elise Sievert

Elise Sievert is a graduate of Butler University holding a BA degree in dance pedagogy. Since graduation, she has become a company member of BEings Dance, directed by Emily Bufferd, and has performed at many notable venues in New York City such as Symphony Space, Joyce Soho, and City Center. She has performed principal roles in The Nutcracker, Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty with the Lincoln Midwest Ballet Company and the Butler Ballet. Elise stars in several commercials and films including "Hidden", "Fall Repeat", "Lost and Found", "Camouflage", and "7 Months". She recently played opposite of Jonathan Kite ("Two Broke Girls") in the new series "U Drive Me". Elise was featured in several fitness videos including Denise Austin's Dance and Pilates Body Burn, Petrafit:Cardio and Total Body Toning. She has also appeared on "The Rachael Ray Show" as well as guest-starred on a couple of Investigation Discovery shows. She has traveled the world dancing with Royal Caribbean Productions and has performed in several theater productions including Meet Me in St. Louis, The King and I, One Singular Sensation and Oh What a Night. Elise has choreographed seven original ballets as well as contemporary pieces for several dance companies in New York. In 2011, she volunteered with ASTEP and traveled to India to volunteer at Shanti Bhavan, a residential school for children of poverty where she taught dance and English classes. She co-hosts a podcast available on iTunes called "Nothing Shines Like Dirt" and is producing a feature movie called "Roads to Olympia" currently in production. www.EliseSievert.com www.balletbirthdays.com

Melissa Wolfe

Melissa Wolfe was born in Baltimore, Maryland and has been dancing ever since. Since she moved to New York in 1997, she has performed with many groups and organizations, including The Next Stage Project at City Center, NYC and in Maui, Hawaii, Jana Hicks choreographer, Arte Danza in Tropea, Italy, Jason Parsons choreographer, Je Suis Toutes Les Femmes at the Bank Street theater NYC, Brian Thomas (BT) choreographer, and P-Funk the Company in NYC, Beverly Brown choreographer. Melissa was both dancer and choreographer with Under Construction & Company in NYC, and was dancer, choreographer, and director of Maryland Movement Theater at the Baltimore Museum of Art. She also trained at various times with Karen Katrinic, Lynn Simonson, Max Stone, Ray Leaper, Beth Goheen, Irene Dowd, and Wes Veldink. Early in her New York days, the desire to keep her dancer's body healthy led Melissa to the study and practice of Pilates. She apprenticed at Broadway Pilates for four years before receiving full certification from the Physical Mind Institute in 2001. She continued advanced training with Irene Dowd, Ron Fletcher, Michele Larson, and Deborah Lessen, and in 2004 Melissa completed Ms. Lessen's advanced teacher program. In addition to her ongoing Pilates practice, Melissa has also been studying advanced musculoskeletal anatomy and neuromuscular therapies under Irene Dowd since 2004, and uses this specialized knowledge, combined with Pilates inspired techniques, to inform her teaching and choreography. She has filled many teaching roles through the years for many organizations in many locales, including choreographer/instructor at The Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts in Baltimore, jazz and contemporary instructor at Broadway Dance Center NYC, assistant choreographer to Jason Parsons at the Pineapple Studio in London and the Paz Dance Theater in Seoul, South Korea, Pilates, anatomy, and conditioning instructor at NYC Dance Alliance, and contemporary dance, anatomy, and conditioning for dancers at ;pushing progress. Melissa also founded CAMP, Common Art Mutual Passion, an intensive exploratory summer camp and workshop for elite pre-professional dancers from across the US, Canada, and beyond. In addition to being CAMP director, she taught modern and contemporary classes as well as anatomy and conditioning for dancers.

Ashlee Wood

Ashlee Wood began her training at Unique Performance where she was an award-winning soloist for the UPAC Troupe. She holds a BFA in Dance from Montclair State University where she performed works by Martha Graham, Susan Marshall, Maxine Steinman, Lonne Morreton, Nancy Lushington, and Jay-T Jenkins. Ashlee has worked as a back-up dancer and choreographer for pop and R&B artists J-Mello, Lori Michaels, and Gia Bella, where she has performed at various events and premieres in New York City, New Jersey, and Six Flags Great Adventure. At present Ashlee choreographs and performs hip-hop, jazz, modern, and contemporary dance.

Lyndsey Wood

Lyndsey Wood is an alumna student of Unique Performance Arts Center, where she was an award winning musical theatre soloist as a member of the UPAC Troupe. Lyndsey continued her dance training at Broadway Dance Center and with the Monsters of Hip Hop network. She has studied many forms of dance, including ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, modern, and liturgical, but hip-hop is by far her favorite. Lyndsey always strives to bring out the best in her students. performance and to "Never Fake The Funk"! She is a graduate of William Paterson University with a B.A. in English Literature and a minor in Writing. Lyndsey currently is an early childhood teacher at Althea Gibson Academy in East Orange, NJ.