After being an All-City High School football player and a violinist in the El Paso Texas All-City Orchestra, Ernest Tolentino combined his athletic and music abilities in college. Ernie received a B.M. in Music and Ballet Performance from the University of Texas at El Paso, he danced with Milwaukee Ballet and then the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre for fourteen years rising to rank of soloist. Ernie danced numerous major and principal roles in all Pittsburgh Ballet productions and was featured in classical and contemporary works by Marius Petipa, Patrick Fantz, Ohad Naharin, Domy Reitersoffer, Agnes DeMille, Anthony Tudor and George Balanchine, just to name a few. An audience favorite, Ernie’s athletic ability, dramatic characterizations, sensitive and skillful partnering have won acclaims from critics all over the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Taiwan. In 1992 Ernie founded The Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Dancers’ Trust, a career transition fund for retiring PBT dancers and remains the executive director. He is currently on the teaching staff of the Conservatory of Performing Arts at Point Park University and Carnegie Mellon University Pre-College Drama. Ernie is married to former Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre principal Tamar Rachelle, and they have two children.

Troy Patrick

Troy Patrick is a senior at Point Park University pursuing a degree in Musical Theatre with a minor in dance and is a graduate of the dance program of Butler Tech School of the Arts. He was the choreographer of The Path They Take in DCPs 2017 winter concert. He has been dancing for The Space Upstairs, under direction of Pearl Ann Porter for three years now. In that time he has been apart of The Pillow Projects and The Invisible Jazz Labs in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon. He has also performed in shows with Pittsburgh Musical Theatre and Laurel Ballet Theatre of Greensburg. 

Dan Karasik

Lauren Gerlowski

Daniel Karasik grew up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. At 17, he began his formal training in dance –– his thorough characterizations and sensitivity as a partner led him to study on scholarship at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York, the Nutmeg Conservatory and the School of Ballet Florida. Daniel is a graduate of Point Park University, where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. He has danced professionally in Pittsburgh, with the Georgia Ballet, and also with the Dayton Ballet.

As a dancer, Karasik has most enjoyed roles in George Balanchineʼs Serenade, Karen Russo-Burkeʼs and Dermot Burkeʼs The Nutcracker, Agnes DeMilleʼs Rodeo, Christopher Flemmingʼs The Whoʼs Tommy, Steven Millsʼ Five Flights Up, Stuart Sebastianʼs Dracula, and Susan Stromanʼs CONTACT. Currently, Karasik is the Artistic Director of the Morgantown Ballet Company and works as faculty at Morgantown Dance, and at Point Park University’s Conservatory for the Performing Arts; he also teaches and choreographs for the university’s International Summer Dance program. In 2011, Karasik premiered the Dayton Arts Project, a company that seamlessly integrated several art forms, such as choreography, dance, film, installation art, new and live music, and mixed media in exhibition. Having more than 40 commissioned works, Karasik’s choreography has been reviewed as “grace and beauty personified,” having “intellectual glamor” and being “a wonderfully effective series of dance essays.” Most recently, his work Volumes was in a performance named one of Pittsburgh’s “Seven Most Transportive Dance Programs of 2016. He has recently produced works for Bodiography Contemporary Ballet, Dayton Arts Project, Dayton Ballet, Morgantown Ballet Company, Dance Conservatory of Pittsburgh, Point Park University, Reed Dance II, West Virginia State Dance Festival and West Virginia University.

Lauren Gerlowski is from The Woodlands, TX where she studied dance at Boni’s Dance and Performing Arts Studio. During her last two years of high school, Lauren pursued dance seriously by attending the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City, as a Jazz and Contemporary Trainee. Currently, Lauren is pursuing her BFA in Dance (with a Modern concentration) and BA in Global Cultural Studies at Point Park University. She has been privileged to have performed in works by Jason McDole, Shana Simmons, Joanna Numata, Alan Sener, Mia Michaels, Karole Armitage, and Troy Powell among others. In 2014, she was invited to the United Nations to attend a conference and award ceremony for her dance on film piece, We’re Your Voice, Venezuela. Lauren’s film won first in her category, and she was titled a National Peacemaker.  She hopes to show and enlighten young dancers why dance as an art is important to our society, and how it can be used as a universal language to create unity. 

Nadine Troetschel

Sarah began her training in Ohio at the Ashland Regional Ballet where she performed many principal roles and served as Ballet Mistress.  She also studied at the Ohio Ballet, Cleveland Ballet, Washington Ballet, and attended numerous Regional Dance America Festivals.  Sarah received her B.A. in dance with a concentration in ballet from Point Park University, where she graduated magna cum laude and received the Pittsburgh Ballet Guild Scholarship.  For over a decade, Sarah has been an adjunct faculty member of Point Park University’s Conservatory of Performing Arts where she teaches ballet.  She also teaches ballet and pointe at Pittsburgh Musical Theater, and each summer she joins the amazing faculty of Carnegie Mellon’s Pre College Drama Program.  Sarah has been seen performing many prominent roles, and has most recently performed with H2O Contemporary Dance.   Sarah has staged several classical variations, and her original choreography has been seen throughout the area.  Sarah has recently started branching out into acting and modeling, and can currently be seen in a UPMC commercial.  Sarah is thrilled to be teaching at the Dance Conservatory of Pittsburgh where she can share her love of dance with so many wonderful students!

With over  25 years of experience in performing, teaching , choreographing and living LaSota empowers individuals in rereleasing the body and mind to create with purpose. In turn producing the ultimate performing experience. As a young dancer, Dana LaSota lived and performed in New York City—working and touring with Stephen Petronio Company, Luis Lara, Jeremy Nelson, Anahi Galante Dance Theater and others. She also studied and worked with Klein Studios, Dance Space and Movement Research. A native of Pittsburgh, Dana  worked, choreographed and performed with LABCO Dance, Pittsburgh Opera, the Dance Alloy and numerous local artists. LaSota received her Master's of Science in Developmental Movement and Motor Control & Learning from the University of Pittsburgh and continued on with the University as a faculty member from 1999 to 2003. Dana was co-founder of LABCO Dance. During LABCO’s 12 years, she  choreographed, performed and taught for the company as well as served on its Board of Directors. LaSota is  founder and conduit for the Pittsburgh Dance Network.  Dana, now a mother of four children, continues to find time to teach and choreograph while working with a variety of populations through movement.

Kristin LeBeau graduated with a BFA in Dance Performance, magna cum laude, with Distinction in Dance from The Ohio State University. She has taught dance and movement for Point Park University’s International Summer Dance Program, Dance Alloy Theatre, Civic Light Opera, Attack Theatre, the Winchester Thurston School, Carnegie Mellon’s International Dalcroze Eurhythmics Workshops, and as an adjunct professor at Seton Hill University. She has been a guest artist at Carnegie Mellon’s School of Music, Duquesne University, California University of PA and Waynesburg University. Kristin has conducted outreach programs for school students in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and New York City. Along with Attack Theatre, she has advised Pittsburgh area teachers how to incorporate dance and movement into their school curriculum. Most recently, Kristin implemented a music and movement program for Preschool and Kindergarten students at Westminster Nursery School.

Kristin’s performance experience includes work with Attack Theatre, the Opera Company of Philadelphia, Kristina Isabelle Dance and in the works of choreographers in New York, Philadelphia, Ohio and Pittsburgh. Her own choreography has been presented locally, as well as, in Philadelphia and New Jersey. Kristin is a native of Pittsburgh and, along with her husband, is happy to now be raising their three children in her hometown. 

Nadine Troetschel graduated from Point Park University with a BA in modern dance. She started dancing with Dance Conservatory of Pittsburgh in high school after being introduced to the instructors at a summer intensive program at Point Park.  Her experiences with Dance Conservatory of Pittsburgh resulted in an understanding and appreciation of the art form of dance, which then led her on to pursue dancing in college. Throughout Nadine’s college years she studied with many educators which expanded her knowledge with her dancing. Nadine also became a certified Pilates instructor through Power Pilates, certified in spinning and TRX. Nadine is excited to share her knowledge with the young dancers at Dance Conservatory of Pittsburgh.

Founder & Co-Artistic Director 
The Pillow Projects / The Space Upstairs 

Pearlann Porter is an American improvisational performing artist, visual-conductor, physical-poet and experimental filmmaker, Pearlann is a passionate instigator of new ideas in dance and an investigator of physical expression. Her medium is improvisational postjazz movement. Her canvases are Pittsburgh and Paris.

Pearlann is the Founding Artistic Director of The Pillow Project, one-half of The Ellipses Condition, and the Founding Director of The Space Upstairs, where she is a full-time Resident Artist and the regular host/creator of the long-running Second Saturdays jazz-happenings. She holds a BFA in Dance from Point Park University where she has been on dance faculty for 14 years. She has held artist residencies and/or created original work for The Dance Alloy, August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble, University of Southern Mississippi, Slippery Rock University, Dance Conservatory of Pittsburgh, Point Park University, LABCO Dance and TEDxGrandviewAve. Pearlann was named one of Dance Magazine's 25 To Watch in 2010, Pittsburgh Post Gazette's Best in Dance (2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014), Pittsburgh Magazine's Best of the 'Burgh (2013), and has been three-times nominated for the Carol R. Brown Creative Achievement Award. 

Pearlann currently lives in Pittsburgh and is writing a book on physical-jazz and her postjazz methodology with her partner/collaborator John Lambert.

Maria Vignone Slutiak, originally from Pittsburgh, has been an adjunct jazz faculty member at Point Park University since 2002. Prior to Point Park, she resided in Minneapolis, Minnesota where she was a prominent member of JAZZDANCE by Danny Buraczeski for almost a decade. She traveled extensively with JAZZDANCE and performed at venues such as Jacob’s Pillow, the Joyce Theatre and the Kennedy Center. While touring, she taught Master classes around the country, specifically at Jacob’s Pillow and at many dance festivals and universities. In Minneapolis, she taught at the University of Minnesota, Ballet Arts Minnesota and Zenon Dance Company & School. Locally, she teaches jazz at Arena’s Performing Arts Centre in Moon Township and has taught a couple of Master Classes at The Dance Conservatory of Pittsburgh. As a choreographer, she created a jazz work for Ballet Arts and has done several jazz and tap pieces for the Waconia Performing Arts Center in Waconia, Minnesota. In Pittsburgh, she choreographed a Phillip Pelusi runway show and has presented works for the Adjunct Productions at Point Park. Additionally, she has been the Rehearsal Director for several guest choreographers that have been brought to Point Park over the past fifteen years. To add, she assisted Danny Buraczeski when he set one of his signature works, “Swing Concerto”, at Point Park in 2005. Maria is delighted to be choreographing for DCP’s Winter Concert!

Pearlann Porter

Kristin LeBeau

Dana LaSota

Maria Slutiak

Ernest Tolentino

More faculty bios to come!

Please excuse the wait while we update :)

Additional Faculty and Guest Artist Bios will include-

Gretchen Lewis

Amanda Aiello

Valerie Gigliotti​​

Sarah Everhart

Faculty & Guest Artists