En Avant School of Dance Alumni
Kate Westerlund Kosharek grew up in Eau Claire, WI and danced at En Avant School of Dance for 12 years. She also took classes and performed at the Wisconsin North Youth Ballet. For several summers after graduating high school, Kate taught Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Modern and Improvisation at En Avant, running the intensive program as her summer job.
Kate graduated in 2005 with a BFA in Dance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. While living in Milwaukee, she was a member of Wild Space Dance company, which sparked her passion for site-specific choreography. In 2006, Kate moved with her husband to beautiful Jackson Hole, Wyoming. She currently works at Dancers’ Workshop, a multifaceted non-profit dance organization that presents companies such as New York City Ballet, Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane, Cedar Lake Ballet, Diavalo, Alonzo King/Lines Ballet, among others. At Dancers’ Workshop Kate is the Dance/Fitness program director, teaching dance and Pilates full time, and is also a performing member of the resident company, Contemporary Dance Wyoming. In 2008, Kate co-founded Hole Dance Films production company, directing choreography for numerous dance films that have played in festivals across the U.S. and Europe. Kate is a proud mother of Weston who was born in 2013. She attributes the successes in her dance career to the foundation that was created by the classes she took from Mary Liz Gilbert and Heather Schwahn. To them both, she will be forever grateful.
Anthony LaGuardia is a Singer / Dancer / Actor / Choreographer based in New York City. He is a born and bred midwestern spirit from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and spent a lot of his time at En Avant from ’06 – ’09 learning from what he regards as some of the best teachers and dancers he’s ever had the pleasure to work with. In his time at En Avant, Anthony both took a repertoire of classes and choreographed for the yearly recitals until the end of his senior year at Memorial High School, and after being a proud En Avant team member, he went on to attend The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City where he graduated with an Associates degree in Musical Theatre and a focused and honed skill set worthy of the industry.
Since starting his professional career in New York, Anthony has worked consistently in and out of the city. Regional: “Hairspray” (Fender), “Dreamgirls” (Dave) at The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina and “42nd Street” at Merry-Go-Round Playhouse. International Tours: “Chicago” 2012/2013 onboard the Allure of the Seas with Royal Caribbean Productions/NAMCO (Bailiff, Spirit of Fosse, Mary Sunshine u/s), and “Blue Planet” with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. National Tours: “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” 2013/2014 with NETworks Presentations (Assistant Dance Captain, Swing, Lefou u/s, Monsieur D’Arque u/s, Carpet u/s). Currently Anthony is back in New York, assisting dance classes, choreographing for dance schools and competitions, and avidly working to pursue his career goals and dreams.
If you’d like to follow Anthony on his endeavors, check out his website anthonyjlaguardia.com. Look for Anthony when he periodically returns to En Avant to guest teach and hold workshops for the En Avant team!
Kari Mosel hails from Eau Claire, Wisconsin where she grew up riding horses, climbing trees, and tripping over her own feet. Kari started dancing at the en Avant School of dance at age 5, and continued for 13 years, developing a passion for dance that would shape her life. She received her BFA in Dance from the University of Minnesota in 2004. In 2002 Kari began her professional career with an apprenticeship for Shapiro & Smith Dance. She became a full company member in 2006, while serving as tour manager and understudy for ANYTOWN, a nationally toured work. Kari also serves as Shapiro & Smith’s administrative assistant and board treasurer. She is entering her 12th year with the company. In 2005 she became a principal company member and teaching artist with Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater (SPDT), performing with them nationally and internationally for the past 9 years. Kari has assisted SPDT in workshops and residencies that range throughout the educational and healthcare fields. She was SPDT’s company manager from 2009-2011 and currently serves as their video editor and archivist. Throughout her career Kari has had the pleasure to dance with Time Track Productions, Kat D and the Paneer Project, Marciano Silva dos Santos, Jim Lieberthal, Black Label Movement, Jenny Pennaz, Julie Warder, Cade Holmseth, Taja Will and apprentice for Zenon Dance. Kari is a recipient of a 2013 McKnight Artist Fellowship for Dancers, administered by Northrup at the University of Minnesota and funded by the McKnight Foundation and was nominated for a SAGE Dance Award for “Outstanding Performer” in 2012. In addition to performing she choreographs her own work on a smaller scale, and has been regularly commissioned by The University of River Falls Dance Program. She also works as free-lance photographer and videographer throughout the twin cities and is in her third season as a performance coach for the Hudson High School Gymnastics Team.
Gemma began her dance studies when she was six years old at En Avant School of Dance in Eau Claire, WI, moving to Duluth, MN in high school to study, perform and tour with the Minnesota Ballet. Gemma graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a BFA in Dance in 2014. While at the University she had the privilege of performing the works of artists such as Helen Tamiris (under the direction of Dianne McIntyre), Donald Byrd, Nora Chipaumire, Uri Sands and Larry Keigwin. Gemma has attended various summer intensives with American Ballet Theatre, the Minnesota Ballet, Donald Byrd (Seattle, WA), and Velocity Dance Center (Seattle, WA). Gemma currently dances with Contempo Physical Dance, an Afro-Brazilian Contemporary company under the direction of Marciano Silva dos Santos, based in Minneapolis, MN. She also dances with Threads Dance Project, a contemporary company under the direction of Karen L. Charles, also based in Minneapolis.
Amirah “Amy” Sackett
Amirah “Amy” Sackett’s love of dance began at En Avant School of Dance under the direction of Mary Liz Gilbert. The excellent training she received, as well as the professional production of En Avant’s dance recitals, provided a strong base as she moved into the professional world of dance. Heather Schwahn and Amy regularly traveled to the Twin Cities to take class from hip-hop choreographer, Anthony Cherry, and performed at numerous events around the Twin Cities together with the company Jam and Co.
Amy graduated with a B.F.A in Dance from the University of Minnesota and has studied at Tisch School of the Arts in NYC. Amy has performed and had her choreography featured locally, nationally, and internationally. She has opened for hip-hop acts including Bow-Wow, Mario, Ashanti, Talib Kwalei, DJ Funk Master Flex and Dead Prez, just to name a few. In 2003 she had the honor to work and perform with Hip-Hop Heroes and Innovators at the Walker Arts Center. There she had the privilege to learn from hip-hop dance legends and originators The Electric Boogaloos and vice president of the Rock Steady Crew, PopMaster Fabel. She co-founded the hip-hop dance company Collective with whom she choreographed, performed, and taught with for seven years. Amy has been an active participant and 2009 -2010 dance curator for B-Girl Be, a festival for women in hip-hop started in 2005 in collaboration with Intermedia Arts. There she was able to meet, perform, study and cipher with some of the world’s greatest women in hip-hop dance including B-Girl Asia One, Rokafella, Collective 7, and B-Girl Aruna. Amy was honored to receive a Jerome Foundation Travel/Study Grant for 2008-09, which allowed her to travel with fellow dancer and recipient Lisa Berman to Rotterdam, Holland. She choreographed and performed at the National History Museum in Amsterdam and attended many shows, battles, and workshops in Holland. Amy was honored to teach at the prestigious St. Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists from 2008-2013, instilling her passion for hip-hop culture to high school arts students. In 2011-2013 she curated her own show called “The JOINT Project” in an effort to push hip-hop artists to create work outside of their comfort zone at Intermedia Arts. Most recently, Amirah was honored to receive the prestigious Sage Cowles Award “Best Ensemble Performance” for the performance of her choreography “Mourning in America”, the title of the music video she also choreographed and performed in with rapper, Brother Ali. Amirah looks forward to traveling to Bangladesh in November 2014 as part of Next Level, a hip-hop cultural exchange program by the U. S. State Department and University of North Carolina. Amy believes hip-hop culture, as a whole, gives voice to those often unheard and is a way to uplift, inspire, and bring change to those communities that need it the most.
Kaleigh Knutson started dancing at En Avant at the age of 8, and continued for 10 years, later becoming part of the En Avant All-Star Competition team. She was also a four-year member on the North High School Varsity Dance team where she was named the 2012-2013 Miss Badgerette of the Midwest as well as a member of the 2011, 2012, and 2013 All-State Team. She is currently attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studies Kinesiology and is a second year member on the University of Wisconsin-Madison Dance team.
Alexandra Ausman is currently a resident of New York City, were she is working in the fashion industry as an assistant buyer. But she has also found success as a professional dancer and musical theater actress, a passion she continues to follow.
Alexandra began dance lessons at En Avant when she was four years old. What began as Ballet & Tap classes grew into a love of performance. It wasn’t long before Alexandra was cast in her first show, “The sound of Music,” with the Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild. Alexandra continued to perform in numerous stage productions and ballets within the Eau Claire community. Among her favorites were Baby June in Gypsy, Wendy in Peter Pan, Diana in The Nut Cracker and The Naughty Doll in Babushka’s Doll.
During high school Alexandra was selected as a singer/dancer with the Kids From Wisconsin, and toured throughout the Midwest and performed at the Wisconsin State Fair. During the school year she was a member of the Memorial high school dance team. Upon graduation she attended the Conservatory of Theater Arts at Webster University in St. Louis and earned a BFA in musical theater.
Alexandra had many performance opportunities during this time, and was often cast in roles that highlighted her dancing skills. Her strength in dance, as well as her ability to sing, opened many doors. She performed in professional summer stock productions of Cats and Anything Goes, to name a few. She also originated the role of the mother in the US premier of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and performed at Busch Gardens as a singer/dancer.
Shortly after graduation Alexandra was cast in the Regional Tour of “Cabaret”. This earned Alexandra her Equity Card and she was able to join the Actors Equity Union as a professional theater actress. A highlight of the tour was performing at the Ordway Theater in St. Paul, where her family was able to see the show.
Since then Alexandra did some additional touring and eventually moved to New York City. Characteristics she developed as a dancer led to some fun and exciting opportunities. She has worked as a dance instructor in New York and choreographed for musical theater productions. On the opposite end of the spectrum she was a singer and keyboardist with a rock band, which took her into the recording studio and also led to work as a backup singer. Alexandra has appeared as an extra in movies and TV, and was selected to perform on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon for Battle of the Instant Bands, where she sang with the winning band.
Elizabeth Dickson, a native of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, began her training at En Avant Dance under Heather Schwann and Mary Liz Gilbert, Minnesota Ballet Duluth, and Minnesota Dance Theater. During the summers, Elizabeth participated in summer intensives at Milwaukee Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Minnesota Dance Theatre, Magnus Midwest, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. In May 2013, Elizabeth graduated with high honors from the University of Iowa with a BFA in dance. While at Iowa, she had the opportunity to perform her own choreography for the American College Dance Festival as well as perform works by Alejandro Cerrudo, Clebio Oliveira, Jennifer Muller, and resident professors. In the fall of 2013, Elizabeth was honored to join Thodos Dance Chicago for her first season as a professional dancer.
Karin has danced with En Avant School of Dance for the last 20 years beginning at age four. She has also trained at other studios including Minnesota Ballet in Duluth, Ballet Arts Minnesota, and Minnesota Dance Theater in Minneapolis. Karin attended Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi, where she graduated cum laude with a BFA in Dance in May of 2016. During her tenure there she had the opportunity to work with numerous choreographers, guest artists, and faculty members. While attending University, Karin was also part of Belhaven’s Dance Ministry Ensemble, an outreach group that performed at various venues within the Jackson community. Karin attended many summer intensives including Minnesota Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Minnesota Dance Theater, and TU Dance. She has also taught several classes in intermediate/advanced ballet and modern at En Avant. Karin is currently a company artist with Alternative Motion Project in Minneapolis under the direction of Kristin Howe and Joanne Lees. She would like to thank Heather Schwan and Mary Liz Gilbert for their unwavering encouragement and support. Karin will always call En Avant her home.