Ms. Joanne Thompson-Ray holds an esteemed certification and endorsement from the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum. She began teaching dance at the age of 16 and has performed with several companies including The Ram Island Dance Company, Ballet Interim Company, Luinis Afro Haitian Dance Company, and Di Renzo Ballet. She has trained with professionals including Henry Le Tang, Frank Hatchett, Trudi Gasparinetti, Phil Black, Ronn Forella, Betsy Haug, Robert Christopher, and Maurice Hines. Other training includes The Morelli Ballet School, Alvin Ailey Dance Center, and Staten Island Community College. She is a member of The Actor's Equity Association and performed in several off-broadway, children's theatre, and summer theatre productions including the National Tour of Dancin' with Bob Fosse.
Ms. Ray specializes in working with dancers ages 3-5 years old, but also has the rare cross-over specialization of training all ages from beginning to advance in technique in Ballet, Jazz, Tap and Musical-Theatre dance. Even more impressive, Ms. Ray is also experienced and highly qualified in teaching basic voice, piano, and drama. She taught for various dance schools in Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island including Leona Antel's School of Dance, Bonnie's School of Dance, Body Music Dance School, Dance World, David Sanders Dance Dynamics, and The Marya Kennedy Dance Center.
Ultimately, Ms. Ray went on to own and operate her own dance studio for twenty-five years, and recently sold her business to relocate to South Carolina. While she holds a specialization in working with 3-5-year-olds, she has taught professionals from The Chicago Ballet.
With a Bachelor of Music Degree in Vocal Performance from Stetson University and a Master of Music Degree in Vocal Performance from Louisiana State University, Sean O’Malley comes to CFPAA abundantly equipped to not only responsibly coach our male and female students towards optimal performances and auditions, but to also train our singers and musicians in the ever important technical skills necessary for optimal success in the music entertainment industry and/or collegiate platform. Included among those skills that CFPAA holds as non-negotiable is the skill of site-reading. O’Malley’s extensive background in Operatic vocal performance results in superlative levels of technical voice and piano training that garners deep respect for his work from his professional colleagues. His operatic performance roles include Conte Almaviva in Le Nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni in Don Giovanni, Larry Foreman in The Cradle Will Rock, Sam in Trouble in Tahiti, Vodnik in Rusalka, Boniface in Angelique, Samuel in Pirates of Penzance, and Antonio in Le Nozze di Figaro.
A gifted opera vocalist O’Malley is, but his singing talents in don’t end there! Musical Theatre performance roles include Ren in Footloose, Orin Scrivello, DDS in Little Shop of Horrors, Enjolras in Les Miserables, Mayor in Seussical the Musical, and Moose in Crazy for You. In addition, O’Malley was a featured Artist with the Opera Louisiane in Baton Rouge, served as a vocal teacher at Music Box Studio, Graduate Assistant for Louisiana State University, worked with Michael Shawn Lewis of Broadway’s Phantom of the Opera, completed a Visiting Artist residency for the Orquesta Sinfonica de Heredia while also teaching vocal master classes at the University of Costa Rica, and even served as Music Director for Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, Xi Nu.
O’Malley’s teaching has proven to be just as impressive as his reviews are nothing short of stellar. CFPAA parents who already entrust their children to his training methods agree, including Kim Rothberg, who states, “Mr. O’Malley is great at providing me the opportunity to be an active participant in my son's vocal training”
Unique to O’Malley’s pedagogy is his encouragement of parents as active participants in their child’s training. Parents of O’Malley’s students are not precluded from the music sessions. Rather, they are invited to sit in on, and times, be part of the session itself! This optional benefit afforded to CFPAA parents, combined with O’Malley’s years of experience in training singers and pianists, irrespective of experience, style, or goals, make him the ideal professional to head up our music department. In addition to being the head of our music department, O’Malley continues to serve as a Musical Theatre, Choir, and Piano Teacher at Carolina Forest High School.
Heather attended college in New York and earned a degree in Graphic Design/Advertising Technology. She worked in New York for a sign company for 12 years before relocating to Myrtle Beach in 2000. While raising two daughters, Heather and husband Rob own and operate a ceramic tile business. Her oldest daughter Jaime, lives in Charleston, and youngest daughter Nicole, recently graduated from Coastal Carolina University. We are so blessed to have Heather as part of the CFPAA family. She is like a mom to all of us, and she never lets things get to her. She is a role model for all of us at CFPAA. She has truly been priceless, and we hope she will be around CFPAA for a long time.
Heather currently serves as the Pro Tem General Manager of CFPAA.
Reeci knew from an early age that she had a passion for dance and would want to share that love by teaching. Theresa graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from University of North Carolina. Charlotte, with relevant courses in Choreography and Ballet Pedagogy. Theresa has years of experience teaching ages two-eighteen in multiple genres, including jazz, tap, ballet, hip hop, contemporary, and lyrical. Her competitive choreography has received high marks as well as placing in the top overalls. In 2016, Theresa was honored to receive a Best Choreography Award. Theresa has assisted in the choreography and staging of High Steppin' Country Pre-show for the past few years, and has quickly worked her way up the ranks to hold the position of Company Manager for CFPAA.
Marsha Roberts holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Exercise and Sport Science from Coastal Carolina University. She has extensive experience in coaching tumbling as well as cheerleading. Ms. Marsha was a team member at the Russellville Gymnastics Academy in Franklin, TN for three years. She also interned as a Gymnastics coach at Middle TN State University under Coach Gary Woodlee. In addition, she was an instructor and All Star Cheerleading Coach for 8 years at Tumblebeez in AL. She also teaches at Celebration resbyterian School. We are so happy to have Ms. Marsha to head up our tumbling program here at CFPAA, and her coaching has enhanced our competitive dance troupes immensely. Marsha has one son, Dylan, who attends Clemson University.
Kim Rothberg was raised in Horry County and is a graduate of Carolina Forest High School. She attended Coastal Carolina University and graduated with a Bachelors in Elementary Education. Kim has taught at Carolina Forest Elementary for 10 years, where she teaches fifth grade. She is a Robotics and Rubik's Cube team coach, as well as an assistant for her school's yearly musical productions. Kim was a South Carolina finalist for the Presidential Award in Mathematics Teaching in 2016. She is the proud mother of one son, Connor, who enjoys singing, dancing, and computer gaming. Kim is very thankful to be a part of the CFPAA family.
In addition to his directorship of CFPAA, Bryan Beaman is a professional director, producer, choreographer, dancer, and singer who trained at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music as well as East Carolina University. As a performer, he toured throughout the US and overseas with the Broadway Company of A Chorus Line, as well as performing at Fiesta Texas and Disney World. BHe has worked with the renowned Radio City Rockettes, Steve Gatlin, Rosie O’Donnell, and the World Famous Platters. Beaman has spent numerous years choreographing for Kennedy Entertainment for various cruise lines around the world, including the legendary QEII, the Carolina Opry’s Mainstage Show and Good Vibrations From 2001-2005 in Myrtle Beach, PG Productions, Myrtle Beach Chevrolet’s Commercial Productions, and Starlite Entertainment’s Lost in the 50s with the World Famous Platters in Branson, MI. Beaman has choreographed numerous national award winning pieces for the CFHS Show Case Show Choir, including selections from Rent, Hairspray, Mamma Mia, and Tarzan. This choir has consistently been honored as Best Show Choir, and receiving Best Choreography at every National event they attend. For CFHS, Beaman has choreographed the musicals Drowsy Chaperone, West Side Story, Newsies, and CATS, for which his work received critical state wide acclaim. For several years now, he has choreographed and staged High Steppin Country, Myrtle Beach’s longest running show. Beaman was also in charge of the direction and choreography of the professional commercial productions for Myrtle Beach Chevrolet. Beaman brings to any production extensive knowledge in all genres of dance, and even more knowledge in the area of professional performance. While serving as Director of Operations for CFPAA, the academy has won the Spirit of Encore Award, Top Dance Studio at Encore Dance Competition to the Stars, and the national Studio of Excellence Award, a national honor for select studios by the National Associaton of Dance Competitions and Conventions.
CFPAA opened its doors in August 0f 2009. In just seven short years, CFPAA student enrollment grew more than 600 % its first three years business, necessitating two expansions, one of which led CFPAA to the building it rests in today, a building specifically designed for and owned by CFPAA. During this time, CFPAA has consistently been named Best Dance Studio from the viewers of WMBF News as well as the readers of the Carolina Forest Chronicle. CFPAA has produced more than 30 alumni that are actively working as professionals in the world of entertainment and cite CFPAA as a major reason for that. In addition, CFPAA has won countless regional, state, and national titles including Best Overalls in Small and Large Groups in Small and Large, Best Choreography, Mr. Petite Dancer of America, National Mr. Junior Dancer of America, National Mr. Dance America, Miss Dance America, and National Miss Photogenic. CFPAA was named a Studio of Excellence by the national Association of Dance Competitions and Conventions. CFPAA won the Spirit of Encore Award in 2018, and most recently earned the distinction of Top Dance Studio at Encore Regionals in February of this year. Several CFPAA students have won full scholarships to colleges based on their dance ability as well as for participation in training at the Joffrey School of Ballet. But most importantly, CFPAA has become one large family, a community of people with a shared vision in how to develop not only the trained, technical dancer, but the spirit of that child as well.
The CFPAA Staff consists of the most highly trained and experienced professionals in the Pee Dee Area. At CFPAA, each instructor either holds a college degree in dance, and/or has extensive experience as a professional dancer. After reading their bios, we think you will agree this is a first class staff.
Louie Roberts-Bio Coming Soon
Megan Peslis-Bio Coming Soon
Mr. Joey Trail was the 2015-16 Horry County Schools District Teacher of the Year and went on to be named a South Carolina Honor Roll Teacher for being named South Carolina Teacher of the Year-Top Five for 2016-17. In 2015, he received the state Leadership Development Award from the South Carolina Council of Teachers of English, and in 2014, was named Regional Teacher of the Year by Barnes and Noble. Trail graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2012 from Coastal Carolina University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in middle level education. Three short years later, he became a Board Member of the Coastal Carolina University Board of Visitors.
Before entering public education, Trail had garnered seventeen years of professional experience in entertainment. A former Wesleyan Scholar, he was named National Male Vocalist in 1994, and was the top scoring finalist in the Silver Wings Recording Contract Contest held in Nashville. Joey Ray held the starring role in the national tour of Lost in the Fifties. He was a featured vocalist and dancer at the Carolina Opry in The Carolina Opry Live and Good Vibrations shows for five years before spending two years in Branson, Missouri, performing with Starlite Entertainment and the World Famous Platters. Joey Ray also performed with Steve Gatlin in Celebrate America, and Big Band Swing. He has traveled to over twenty three countries performing for various cruise lines, including Holland America and American-Hawaii Cruises, where he received critical acclaim with his cabaret, A Salute to Duke Ellington. He played Lamar in Godspell, Bully in Up from Slime, and a featured vocalist and tapper in Sophisticated Ladies. Joey Ray has appeared on WSLS/NBC, TNN, and RFD-TV. His proudest performance moment was getting the opportunity to sing with Patti Labelle. Trail has guest starred in A Night with Joe Garrell and Friends at the Theatre of the Republic, as well as starring in Amazing Grace-A Gospel Celebration at Charleston Music Hall. Joey Ray was the lead singer of the band Diversity, contracted with Beach House Entertainment for two years. Trail is a well known event adjudicator, judging numerous school and regional talent competitions, the Miss Sun Fun Pageant, a preliminary pageant to Miss South Carolina USA and Miss USA as well as the Miss North Carolina, USA Pageant.
Trail served as a teacher and eventually an instructional coach for Horry County Schools for six years while serving as General Manager of CFPAA. Trail now serves as the Owner and Director of Operations for CFPAA. He is responsible for our region's first chapter of the National Honor Society for Dance Arts and as a leading member of the National Dance Educator Organization, the ushering in of national dance standards for curriculum at CFPAA. While serving as Director of Operations for CFPAA, the academy has won the Spirit of Encore Award as well as Top Competitive Dance Studio. In addition, CFPAA has been named a national Studio of Excellence by the National Association of Dance Competitions and Conventions. Most recently, CFPAA received the "Backstage Award" from New York City Dance Alliance based on our great sportsmanship.
Bonnie Ryerson has had a rich and varied career as an actor/director. Passionate about theater from a young age, as a teenager she spent her summers working with writer/director Israel Horovitz at The Gloucester Stage Company as an actor and stage manager. She went on to attend The Boston Conservatory of Music as a drama major where she received her BFA. As a professional, Bonnie has worked at the Blackburn Equity Theater, The Lyric Stage, Worchester Foothills Theatre and The Dover Repertory Company. She toured a one-woman show, “Staying on Track”, for the National Cancer Society. She is a veteran of two national tours with the Hampstead Players. Her New York credits include, “Vital Signs” at the Samuel Beckett Theatre, “Montevideo” at The Harold Clurman, and “Perfect Crime” at The Duffy Theatre. As a commercial actor she has many national TV/Radio spots to her credit, Friendly’s Ice Cream, Parade of Shoes, Bally’s Total Fitness among them. As a teacher, Bonnie has worked at the Worchester Children’s Theatre, Sprouts Outreach, The American Dance and Drama School and the Performing Arts High School in NYC.
Eva Swontek-Tap, Ballet Instructor and Discover Dance Director: Eva began her training at the age of 8 in the Baltimore area taking classes at the former Kathleen's Dance Centre, The Ballet Theatre of Maryland and the Baltimore School of Performing Arts. She has studied under such names as Patsy Swayze (mother of Patrick), Fran Peters, Vyacheslav Mesropov, Frank Hatchet and the late Gus Giordano. In her teens she was accepted into the Dynamic Elite Performing Arts Company and competed at the national level for such organizations as Dance Masters of America, Dance Educators of America and Showstoppers. Eva's performing credits as a dancer include ballets The Nutcracker and Cinderella. As a singer/actress she has appeared in productions of No, No, Nannette, 42nd Street, and Alice in Wonderland. She has also appeared in commercial work and the TV program "Baltimore's Dramatic Makeovers"
In college Eva auditioned for and was accepted into the Towson University Dance Performance and Education Program enhancing her experience with hands on therapy work with people with special needs, movement analysis and choreography focusing on Modern Dance and Ballet. She has volunteered with public and private schools in both the Baltimore/Annapolis, MD and Myrtle Beach areas, as well as the Girl Scouts of America introducing children to the performing arts. She has been involved with the "Stars Over Waccamaw Talent Showcase" and has choreographed the Miss Conway High School Pageant, Blackwater Middle School’s Annie, and numerous competitions solos/duets. Ms. Eva holds a Dance Masters of America Certification.
If hindsight is indeed twenty/twenty, it is clear that the trajectory of John’s life in the performing arts was squarely set on him creating musical theatre. Born into a musical family, (his dad, Artie Ryerson, played guitar with jazz legend Charlie Parker as well as Elvis Presley! His brothers Art and Rich and sister Ali are accomplished musicians – Ali’s latest jazz flute cd reached last year’s Billboard top 10!). But the musical gene did not have the same hold on John as his siblings, as the ensuing years found him exploring other forms of expression. Today, John is as much a Songwriter/Musician as he is a Playwright/Actor – a good combination to create musical theatre! As an actor, John studied at The American Academy Of Dramatic Arts in NYC as well as with Lee Strasberg at the Strasberg Institute and the famed Actor’s Studio, NY and LA. He attended Wesleyan University as a Film/Music major. John has been a resident actor at The Bristol Valley Playhouse, The Bucks County Playhouse, The Arena Stage, Wash., DC., and enjoyed a couple of National Tours with The Hampstead Players. As a musician, John was the songwriter, lead singer and keyboard player for the band, STRUGGLE. STRUGGLE played the original band club circuit in Boston and NYC including the famed NY rock club, CBGB’s. The band produced two well received albums, and their video, “You Gotta Be Kidding”, played on MTV. Along with his wife, Bonnie, John created the Pied Piper Youth Theater almost twenty years ago. As co-directors, they have mounted more than fifty productions and have had the unparalleled pleasure of seeing young people grow and develop as actors and people. To their list of productions, John has contributed original plays and musicals: “Tech-night (The Day of The Big Show”, “The Record Release Party”, “A Christmas Carol”, “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory”, “Monologue Showdown”, “Alice In Wonderland”, “Jack and The Beanstalk” among others. His rock musical, “Piper’s Song” was produced at The Gene Frankel Theatre, NYC to enthusiastic audiences.