At Berest Dance Center, we are proud to say that all of our teachers are highly educated and experts in their chosen craft. Our goal is to instill a sense of confidence and achievement in every student, and to provide an educational and exciting experience for all!
Private instruction and coaching are available at the Center. College audition pieces can be developed at a student’s request.
Founder and Director
Mrs. Berest developed her early love of dance as a child in Manhasset with her teachers Roy Kreiser and Brenda Morgan. She continued training in NYC at the American Ballet Theater School and the Martha Graham School, as well as through college while she earned her B.S. in Speech and Hearing Pathology and her M.S. in Special Education.
An innovator in integrating Dance in Education, in the 1960's Mrs. Berest initiated a program at Willowbrook State Hospital that combined communication skills with teaching children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Down’s Syndrome.
In 1979 she began the Berest Dance Center in Manhasset while working in the Manhasset public schools as a movement teacher and consultant in the Arts In Education Resource Directory. Before long the Berest Dance Center demanded her full-time attention, with over 100 classes, a faculty of 12 and a rotating roster of guest artists.
Olga founded the Youth Dance Theater in 1982 for students interested in developing performing skills and has since created over 100 children’s ballets presented in concerts, schools, and community functions. Participants must study ballet and are selected by auditions held at Berest Dance Center in late September. In December of 2005 Youth Dance Theater presented a holiday festival "Making Spirits Bright" joined by several local youth dance companies. This annual show raises toys for the 'Toys for Tots' program which donates gifts for less fortunate children.
Olga Berest presented the very first 'Celebration of Dance' festival in 1998. This was the beginning of a collaborative forum bringing together the leaders of dance education on Long Island. Celebration of Dance has since been taken over by the Long Island Dance Consortium and is now presented annually at the Long Island School for the Arts (formerly BOCES). Olga continues to take an active role in making Long Island a resource for dance education.
At age three Heather told her mom that she wanted to be a dancer when she grew up. She began training with her mother, and later attended North Carolina School of the Arts. After college she danced professionally with Neo Labos, Momix, Robert Wood, Margie Gillis, Patrick Corbin and Martita Goshen. In her 20’s she joined the internationally renowned Paul Taylor Dance Company. She danced for Mr. Taylor for 10 years.
Critics the world over have written about her artistry, lines, and unique stage presence which made her such a standout in Mr. Taylor’s works. Heather is thrilled to leave the pressures of international touring behind and give to the next generation of dancers.
Orion danced with Heather in Peter Pucci’s work as well as with Robert Wood, but most notably as a soloist with the Paul Taylor Dance Company (and Taylor 2) for 15 years. He has shown his own choreography across the US, and taught hundreds of master classes around the nation and the globe.
Mr. Duckstein is currently an Assistant Professor of Dance at Adelphi University.
Program Director, Berest and Beyond
Alison Busching grew up dancing in the Berest Dance Center. Later on she completed a Master's degree in Mental Health Counseling. Alison is thrilled to come along side her mother and sister in this brand new exciting endeavor, Berest and Beyond. The purpose of this unique program is to support, encourage and empower students who will be transitioning from high school to the next phase of life. Whether or not one chooses to pursue dance post high school, the skills, confidence and grace gained from studying dance provide a firm foundation from which young people can flourish. Berest and Beyond is a professional service offered at no charge by Berest to help students realize all that they possess as dancers and how to apply that possession to ease fears, bolster identity and achieve success.
Krista Billard grew up in Long Island, NY where she received classical training at The Berest Dance Studio, under the direction of Olga Berest. She has a a M.A.R. (Masters of Arts in Religion) as well as a BFA in art. In 2013, Krista Billard opened Eden Ministries under The Healing Tree LLC Pastoral Counseling center, which seeks to introduce dance to the Christian community as a form of therapy and inner healing. Through the discipline of sacred dance, individuals are drawn deeper into the presence of God and experience inner healing through worship. All training and therapy addresses the body, mind, soul, and spirit in accordance with the first commandment as the foundational principle for change, bringing a deeper revelation of the love of God.
The Berest Dance Center instilled in Celine Coles a holistic approach to dance and movement at a very young age. By the time she was in college, many of her peers were taking improvisation for the first time, while she had been studying it for years. Celine Coles graduated with a BFA in Dance from SUNY Brockport, during which she spent one summer studying at The Taylor School and another at the American Dance Festival. She studied internationally in Spain and Belgium taking workshops in Classical Ballet, Flamenco, Modern dance, and Sevilliana (a Spanish Folkloric dance form). While at SUNY Brockport, she was exposed to African and Irish Step Dancing. She decided to escape the cold and take a semester at the University of Hawaii in Manoa where she enrolled in Hawaiian Hula, West Javanese, and Philippine dance forms. She identifies herself as a Modern Dancer, however acknowledges that all these experiences have made her a strong choreographer and has influenced the person she is today.
These days you can find her teaching music and movement at a local pre-school where she heavily relies on her improvisational skills to develop a curriculum that is fun and diverse. Celine Coles has been choreographing for the Youth Dance Theater for the past two years, and is pleased to be joining us as a member of the teaching staff for the year 2020.
Since expressing her interest in dance at age three, Melissa has been exploring movement and performing ever since.
She received her training in ballet and modern at the prestigious Baltimore School for the Arts and received her BFA in Dance from Adelphi University where she graduated Summa Cum Laude.
At Adelphi she performed a wide range of roles from world-famous works by Jiri Kylian to classical ballet roles, and just about everything in between. Her most recent performance credit includes dancing "I Can Dream, Can't I?" in Orion Duckstein's re-staging of Paul Taylor's Company B.
Floryn began her training under Olga, Karen, Heather, and Cindy here at Berest as a young child. She went on to study Theater and Dance at Skidmore College, and has been a working triple threat performer since then.
She is a proud member of the Actors Equity Association, the union for stage performers, and has performed in the ensembles of musicals such as 42nd St., and in leading roles such as Velma in Chicago. Those are only two of the many productions Floryn has performed in nationwide, as well as with Tony winners here in New York.
Floryn most recently performed with Broadway and NYCB stars in American Dance Machine at The Joyce Theater. Floryn loves to share her passion for dance and performing, and is grateful she gets to make art with the incredible students at Berest!
Has been with Berest Dance Center since 1978. Karen began dancing at Springfield College in MA with Frank Hatchett and continued with Nat Horne in New York City, also taking classes at the Alvin Ailey School and Steps. While pursuing her MA in Education Karen danced with the African dance company Liberation Ensemble and performed with Dance EPIC (Educators and Performers In Concert). Karen has been teaching dance to children and adults since 1976 and recently retired from teaching in the Manhasset public schools as a Special Education teacher and Director of the After-School Dance program.
Ioanna grew up training at Berest Dance Center before going on to graduate Summa Cum Laude from Adelphi University with a B.F.A. in Dance (minors in psychology and French). While at Adelphi, she was privileged to perform in works by Gregory Askins, Orion Duckstein, and most recently in Paul Taylor’s Company B. She has also studied at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, the Paul Taylor School, and the Mark Morris Dance Center. Ioanna is excited to begin the next chapter of her life at Berest and is extremely humbled to be working alongside the faculty that inspired her to pursue a career in dance. Ioanna is a member of the Alsion Cook Beatty Dance Company in New York City.
Sharon has studied dance throughout the USA and Europe. She was a Radio City Rockette for 2 years, danced with the Nevada Ballet, the Lido de Paris, and in productions at the Sands and the Stardust in Las Vegas. She also performed on the Ed Sullivan Show and the Merv Griffin show and has been a guest artist and/or teacher with professional companies in Las Vegas, Philadelphia. Ms. Jones also owned and directed her own dance studio and company Nassau Dance Theater for 25 years.
Before his professional acting, dancing and choreographic career, Lancelot played football in Europe. He has performed with the Metropolitan Opera, with Indigo Dancers at the famous Kit Kat club on Broadway, and appeared in both Television and film.
Lance is a choreographer and assistant director for the hip-hop artist Reyn. He has choreographed several hip-hop numbers for the Knick City Dancers at Madison Square Garden and has received the award for outstanding tap choreography at the teen tap conference in NYC in 2000. Lance created and choreographs for Momz-N-Da-Hood, the world’s first hip-hop group of ladies in their 40’s & 50’s. Lance is pursuing a movie career as an actor/dancer/choreographer as well as writing a book soon to be published about his life.
Elena is currently a dancer based in NYC, training at the Ailey School and pursuing her bachelor's degree in Dance and Communications from Hunter College. Elena has been dancing since she was four years old but found her passion for movement at Berest when she was 12. Elena has trained at the School at Steps in the pre-professional program and attended the summer intensives at Ellison Ballet, ABT, Peridance, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and Irina &Maxim International Ballet. She has taught creative movement and ballet classes at the Gold Coast Arts Center and developed a dance curriculum for Oasis Day Camp in 2018. Elena was also a featured dancer in the animated music video "Dancing in a Room" by EZI. Elena works closely with Movement Exchange as a dance diplomat to find ways of making dance more accessible and inclusive for all populations. Most recently, Elena became an RYT 200-hour yoga instructor. She is humbled to be joining the faculty at BEREST to share the gift of movement in the very place that solidified her lifelong passion for dance.
Jess began dancing with her mother, Sharon Jones, at her studio from a very early age. It was here that her passion for dance and teaching began. She attended Long Island High School for the Performing Arts and continued to pursue dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, receiving a BFA in Contemporary Dance Performance. After graduating she received a fellowship with Lincoln Center Institute, working in New York City public schools with teaching artists. Here, she realized her deep passion for teaching. Jess continued her education at Bank Street College of Education, receiving her MSEd in Elementary General and Special Education. She spent eight years working as a 3rd-5th grade special education teacher and currently works as a program director, instructor, and advisor at Bank Street College of Education. She feels privileged to be working with the passionate students, families, and faculty at Berest.
Jaewon Kim is originally from South Korea. She studied and received a BA in dance from Chung Ang University in South Korea. Jaewon had the opportunity to perform as a soloist for Lee Ballet company after graduating college as well teaching students in the company. In 2005, she came to New York to study and attended New York Conservatory of Dance and Ballet Arts. She has performed with many artists including Kenny Larson and Natalya Stavro. Miss Kim worked in the Dance and Discovery Program in Manhattan as a dance faculty member teaching young dancers about creative movement. From 2006 to 2009, she joined the Eglevsky Ballet as a soloist. Jaewon Kim is joining the facutly of Berest Dance Center in Fall of 2022.