Training children, teens and adults in ballet, expressive movement, character, pointe, folk, hip hop and modern dance since 1983. We emphasize using art and life in worship before the Creator.
Teachers & Choreographers:
Gwen Prestwood, Director Gwen trained in the Cecchetti style of Classical Ballet. She has studied under Jeanne Hansberry, James Kenny, and Andrew Pap, Mikhael Murnane, Pam Smith, Randall Bane, Karen Seran and Yvonne Peters, and is a former member of the Devon Festival Ballet. She has danced at Good Samaritan since 1985, first as assistant director; and as director since 1996. As assistant to founding director, Valerie Henry, she was exposed to such diverse dance styles as Modern, Folk, Character, Lyrical and Mime. Throughout her career, Gwen has been privileged to dance with Steve Fry and Alyosha Ryabinov, to teach at various Christian dance conferences and workshops, and to reset and stage Valerie’s innovative choreography for Handel’s “Messiah”. In her earlier career she served as art instructor at Delaware County Christian School. In addition to directing the dance choir, Gwen leads a worship band team and is an avid gardener.
Jordan Benson has been dancing at Good Samaritan for 11 years, studying ballet, hip hop and modern, which is her favorite style. Her career goal is pediatric nurse. Jordan is a wonderful example to the kids of a positive encouraging attitude. She loves the different ways you can express your emotions and worship God in dance and loves teaching. "It is a joy to watch the kids as they grow in their skills. I am really looking forward to this year at dance can't wait to see what God has in store."
Elrena Evans has been dancing at the Church of the Good Samaritan since 1990. In addition to classical ballet, she has studied modern, jazz, tap, and various styles of folk including Israeli, Scottish, and African. As a teenager she trained and toured with Valerie Henry, and then continued her dance studies while at Bucknell University and Penn State. She holds a Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, and when not dancing or mothering her five children, can be found writing for publications like Christianity Today and Books & Culture or working on her next book.
Kelly Murray Farrell began her dance education at age three, training locally and later spending summers with Boston Ballet and Washington Ballet. She has performed with the Ballet Theatre of Maryland, West Chester Ballet Theatre, Brandywine Ballet Company, Wilmington Ballet Company, and ContempraDance Theatre. She toured throughout Poland as a guest performer at the Ladek Zdroj International Dance Festival, and later she performed in Washington D.C. under the direction of Miya Hisaka, Founder/Director of El Teatro de Danza Contemporanea de El Salvador. In 2008 Kelly returned to the Philadelphia area and founded Ballet 180. Kelly has led Ballet 180 in performances in the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA), Philadelphia Dance Collective, Philly Fringe Festival, Fringe Wilmington, Philly’s Got Talent, and in various public performances at local schools, churches, art centers, and other community events. Kelly received an award for her choreography through the Mordechai Anielewicz Creative Arts Competition, has served as a judge for the Main Line Talent Show, and was selected as a member of the Philadelphia dance community to learn the methodology of the award-winning National Dance Institute (NDI), which emphasizes dance as a means of building self-confidence and transcending cultural, physical, and cognitive barriers. Kelly is also an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level III of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. Kelly is grateful to be able to share her knowledge and love for dance with her students.
Catherine Momjian has been dancing at GSDA since 2007. She has a passion for dance and teaching. She desires that each of her students learn how to use their bodies to praise the Lord through dance. She has been trained in ballet, modern, pointe, Russian, and hip hop. She began as an assistant teacher and will continue as a head teacher.
Miriam Shera has been dancing at Good Samaritan since 2011. She has taken classes in ballet, pointe, modern, and hip-hop. Miriam enjoys working with kids and is excited to share her love of dance with them. Miriam has a keen mind for choreography and an ability to break down the steps to explain them to students.
Emma Smith is a graduate of Lancaster Bible College with BFA in Musical Theatre and BA in Biblical Studies. Emma had the privilege of studying with many past and present Sight and Sound staff, including choreographers Heather Grayberg and Wally Calderon. Her training has been focused on ballet, liturgical dance, and theatre dance, in addition to jazz, tap, and interpretive dance. Prior to college, Emma studied at the Good Samaritan Dance Academy, beginning at nine years old. Emma is excited to be returning to GSDA as a teacher and is looking forward to igniting passion for dance in the hearts of her students, encouraging them to strive toward excellence as an act of worship before the Lord.
Angela Commiskey moves to music everywhere and finds dance to be her greatest expression of worship. She began training and dancing at the Church of the Good Samaritan with Gwen Prestwood in 1997. Her other studies in dance have been with Valerie Henry, and Ballet Russe De Monte Carlo soloist, Edmund Novak, as well as at Koresh Dance, West Chester University and other West Chester area studios. Favorite forms of dance are hip-hop, modern, soul line dancing, and swing; she also enjoys ballet, tap, and ballroom. Angela has taught ballet, modern and hip-hop classes, as well as created many costumes for GSDA. She holds a Masters of Public Administration and is thankful to work in the nonprofit sector when not dancing.
Melody Stanert hails from West Chester, and holds her BA in Dance Pedagogy from Palm Beach Atlantic University. She has a passion for teaching and choreography, and has showcased her work throughout Southeastern PA and Southern FL. Melody trained under numerous instructors including Edmond Novak (Ballet Russe De Monte Carlo), and Eileen Houghton-Hebron (American Ballet Theater); she holds a certification as a Progressing Ballet Technique teacher, and is also an ABT® Certified Teacher in Pre-Primary through Level 3. She believes it is important for her students to pursue excellence as they offer their gift of dance to the Lord. Melody started dancing at GSDA in 1997, and has been teaching here since 2008.
Karen Watkins has been dancing at GSDA since 1991. She trained extensively with Valerie Henry, and has also studied at West Chester University, Paul Klocke Dance, American Academy of Ballet, and Master Classes under Elbert Watson, Cynthia Gregory, Pam Smith, Randall Bane and the At Marah Dance Company. In addition to studying folk, character, lyrical, pointe, ballet and modern, she has choreographed and performed in community theater productions, musical theater camps, teaches a homeschool drama class, and taught dance at other churches and non-profit organizations. Karen is a avid home cook as well as mother to three.
In addition, we have been blessed with Assistant Teachers who demonstrate enthusiastically loving Jesus with their dance.
Good Samaritan Dance graduates have been accepted and earned dance degrees at Palm Beach Atlantic University, Eastern University, Lancaster Bible College Musical Theater Department and YWAM School of Dance Ministries, plus others who continued dance studies and ballroom dance competition during college years. Our former dancers have performed with Sight and Sound Theater, Servant Stage, Roger Lee Dance Company, People's Light, SALT, contemporary companies in Moscow and Apex Dance Company. A talented, artistic and creative bunch, you might find GSDA alumni working in photography and art galleries, raising families, in youth ministry, marketing and law firms, managing teams at corporations, writing academic books, or accompanying classes at the Boston Ballet.