As Director of Dance, Courtney Kierl-Bourman feels most passionate about seeing The Culture House dancers grow in their craft as they change society for the better through art. “A student grows from a toddler who doesn’t know a plié from a tendu into a strong dancer who can go out and compete with other top-level dancers. It’s rewarding to see a student's excitement for dance increase and to see him or her come to admire and appreciate the excellence of dance,” Courtney says.
Courtney teaches classes throughout the week, in addition to rehearsing dancers and choreographing for Störling Dance Theater. She also oversees student productions and end-of-year recitals. Courtney has been an instructor of ballet at The Culture House since 2005 and became Director of Dance in 2010.
As a dance educator, Courtney instructed ballet for ten years at the American Dance Center in Overland Park, Kansas, and has been on the faculty of the Regional Dance America Mid-States Festival, Kansas City Ballet’s Reach Out And Dance Program, Project Dance New York, Project Dance Kansas City, American Academy for Dance and the Kindred Arts in Santa Monica, California, Culture House Artist Development Program, the School of Ballet Omaha, and the Louisiana Dance Festival.
Courtney's formal dance training began in Kansas City with Kathy and Dennis Landsman and continued with scholarship study at the San Francisco Ballet School where she trained under influential master teachers Larisa Sklyanskaya, Irina Jacobson, Jonathan Watts, and Henry Berg. She went on to a professional career with the Kansas City Ballet, Ballet Omaha, and was formerly a premiere soloist with Tulsa Ballet Theater. She appeared with companies as a principal guest artist and was a featured dancer with modern company Storling Dance Theater for seven years. With a performing career spanning three decades, Courtney was sought out by choreographers for her versatility and artistry. During her career, she had the opportunity to perform the works of twentieth-century choreographers such as Val Caniparoli, Lila York, Laura Dean, Charles Moulton, Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Ann Reinking and Robert North and was privileged to dance leading roles in full-length classics as well as principal roles in ballets by George Balanchine, Agnes de Mille, Anthony Tudor, Todd Bolender, Arthur Mitchell, John Butler, Frederic Franklin, Lew Christensen, Mauricio Wainrot, and others.
Courtney has set her own original pieces on schools and companies across the country and has been the recipient of four awards for choreography including the Monticello College Foundation Award for Outstanding Female Emerging Choreographer in 2000. Her works have been performed at Regional Dance America Festivals in the Pacific and Midwest regions, many chosen for gala evenings, and she was the recipient of the Mid-States Choreographic Recognition Plan Award in 2002 and 2009. She was also awarded the coveted Choreographic Plan Award at RDA’s National Festival in Pittsburg, PA in 2007 for her piece entitled 'Tribute' which was created in memory of the victims of September eleventh. In April 2010, she was honored to have this piece performed in New York City’s Times Square. In addition to her work in the arts, Courtney is the very proud mother of her two children, Aiden and Isabella.
Mona Störling Enna
“No one should ever be told you’re never going to be anything,” says Mona Störling Enna. And it’s with that heart that she serves at The Culture House, as co-founder and artistic director. “Every child and every person is unique and should be encouraged to be as good as they can be.”
Mona spends her time at The Culture House playing many roles. She directs Störling Dance Company alongside Tobin James and teaches company classes. Mona also choreographs with the company and directs rehearsals, as well as the end-of-year recitals and events. In the evenings, Mona teaches upper level ballet classes and conducts rehearsals with younger students. “You get to see the kids thrive,” Mona says. “It’s a whole family approach, and we’re all involved here.”
Mona had always loved dance, and studied classical ballet to become a professional dancer. She began her classical dance training at the Ostrobotningen Dance Academy in Kokkola, Finland, and went on to train under Jill Miller at Dansivintti in Helsinki. She supplemented her training under the Paris Opera and Finnish National Ballet as she formed her first dance company in Helsinki, called Kadosh, together with Titta Tunkkari.
Mona received the Finnish Young Choreographers award in Helsinki for her work, “In The Storm.” She toured with Kadosh throughout Europe and then joined Eternia Dance Theater in 1992 as a soloist. She became ballet mistress and costume designer for Eternia’s production, “Sacrifice.” Her choreography for “A Prayer For Bosnia” was requested for the vigil concert in the Blue Hall in Stockholm, home of the Nobel Peace Prize, to perform with top conductors and orchestra musicians.
Mona met her husband, Jeremiah Enna, while in Israel at a dance conference, laying the foundation for The Culture House. “Jeremiah and I travelled for work all over Europe and Asia, and we experienced all these cultures and met interesting people,” Mona says. “So we wanted to start a similar place, where people can come from all walks of life and connect to their creative gifting.”
In 1996, Mona and Jeremiah moved to Kansas City to establish The Culture House. As co-founder of The Culture House and Artistic Director for Störling Dance Theater, Mona has choreographed many productions, including “Between Earth & Sky,” “Sower,” “Parables & Prayers” and “The Prodigal Daughter.” “Underground,” a powerful telling of the history and heroics of the Underground Railroad was Mona’s first major collaboration with choreographer Tobin James and was touted by critic Paul Horsley as one of the Top 10 Performances of the Decade (2000-2009). Mona has been featured in Dance Studio Life’s magazine as one of America’s up-and-coming new choreographers, as well as a guest teacher and choreographer for national dance conferences. Today, she and Jeremiah live in Merriam, Kansas, with their four children.
At The Culture House, Tobin James serves as Associate Artistic Director of the Störling Dance Theater. Tobin is passionate about working with dancers of all ages, offering them new experiences through the arts. “I find it enriching to be part of helping young people develop into artists,” Tobin says.
As Associate Artistic Director, Tobin directs the Störling Dance Theater, including choreography and rehearsals. She also serves as a liaison among dancers and Störling’s Artistic Director. Tobin’s role includes recruiting guest artists for productions too. She teaches several dance classes throughout the week, including modern and pre-modern, fitness and company classes.
Tobin earned her bachelor’s of fine arts degree in dance from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She then went on to dance professionally at Philadenco in Philadelphia, and trained at the Martha Graham Dance Company in New York. Tobin continued her career as a performer in the Störling Dance Theater, and soon became Associate Artistic Director, partnering with Mona Störling Enna.
Mrs. Wilson’s formal training began in Leawood, Kansas at DanceWorks Conservatory, under the direction of Sharon Romine, Nicole Romine, and Loren Whittaker. Alexandra received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ballet and Modern from the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of MissouriKansas City, where she was a scholarship student all four years. Prior to becoming a company member for Störling Dance Theater, Alexandra was a Guest Artist for Second Wind Dance Company in Virginia and also had the privilege of working with Jelon Vieira of Dance Brazil. Mrs. Wilson has performed works by George Balanchine, Paul Taylor, Paula Weber, DeeAnna Hiett, Jennifer Medina, Rodni Williams, Sabrina MadisonCannon and Loren Whittaker. Mrs. Wilson has toured Europe twice with Young Tanzsommer, and had her choreography performed there as well. Alexandra’s choreography has been performed by many studios and has won National awards. She has appeared as a dancer in movies, "Trust Fund " and "Three Blind Saints". Alexandra has taught all over Kansas City, including The Culture House, Wynn Twins, Kansas School of Classical Ballet, Dramatic Truth, Glenda Brown Choreography Project, and Storling Dance Theater Intensive. She was named Miss
Kansas Drill Team 2002, and was the technique teacher for Blue Springs Color Guard. Alexandra has taught Summer school dance programs for the Blue Springs District, and drill team camps for Blue Valley and Shawnee Mission Districts. She teaches Horton Modern and Jazz for Storling Dance Theater’s Artist Development Program. She is the Advanced Jazz Instructor and leader/mentor for Infinity (Junior company) for The Culture House.
Alexandra has been a company member of Störling Dance Theater since 2006. Some memorable roleswith Störling Dance Theater include: Hannah,the Quaker, Mrs. Walker, and Elise Walker in Underground, Roxy in Prodigal Daughter, First Wife in Suspended Grace, Kamikaze Mama, Mother and lead City soloist/pas de deux in Butterfly, and soloist in Storling Dance Theater’s collaboration with Spire Ensemble.
Alexandra is the proud wife to Jereme Wilson, and mother to her three children, Alaina, Victoria and Julian. Many thanks to her family for their love and support. She is extremely thankful to God for the opportunity to share her Godgiven talents and passion for dance with audiences and her students at The Culture House on a daily basis. It is truly a blessing.
Caitlin received much of her early training at the Washington School of Ballet, Washington D.C., where she had the thrilling and terrifying experience of attending classes co-taught by founder Mary Day. Just before the turn of the century, she and her family moved to Idaho. There, despite the lack of population density, she was blessed with wonderful teachers at Festival Dance Academy, including Jodey Eliseo (Joffrey II) and Erika Colombi (Corpus Christi Ballet). While attending summer intensives there, she had the opportunity to study with such teachers as Lauren Anderson (Houston Ballet), Rodolf Cassand (Ballet National de Marseille), and Paul Abrahamson (ABT and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre). After moving to Kansas City she studied at the Kansas City Ballet School under many different teachers including Sean Duus, Chelsea Teel, Kimberly Cowan, and Keelan Whitmore. She continued her addiction to ballet by attending the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, studying under such teachers as Paula Weber, Mary Pat Henry, Ron Tice, and Michael Simms. Under DeeAnna Hiett, Rodni Williams, Jennifer Medina and Sabrina Madison-Cannon she also learned to be an avid modern dance lover as well. At UMKC she received many performance opportunities (including performing in Balanchine's Serenade and Valse Fantasie, and Phillip Jerry's Our Town) and also received much training in movement analysis and choreography. During her time in college she performed in Matthew Powell's The Red Shoes for the Crossroads Ballet Festival. After graduating summa cum laude with a BFA in Dance (Ballet and Modern emphasis), she was offered a position with Störling Dance Theater. She is now in her sixth season and has enjoyed many featured roles including The Bride in Butterfly, The Prostitute in Prodigal Daughter, and Mrs. Walker in Underground.
"While I dance I cannot judge, I cannot hate, I cannot separate myself from life. I can only be joyful and whole. This is why I dance." Originally from Houston, Texas, James "SugEasy" has lived in the Kansas City metro area for over 15 years. His passion for dance, particularly Hip Hop, began at the tender age of four. By elementary school he was entering his first dance competitions. Over the years, he has not only competed in local competitions but at the national level as well. "SugEasy" has competed in the Monsters of Hip Hop Kansas City, and was selected to compete in the National Monsters of Hip Hop in the Summer of 2011.
In past years "SugEasy" has been privileged enough to take his talent not only into schools and competitions, but he has performed/shared the stage with multiple artists as well. A few of these performances include Ne-Yo, Blink 182, Dave Matthews, and LL Cool J. He has also worked for Red Bull as well as MTV.
"SugEasy" has been teaching, educating and choreographing Hip Hop at several dance schools for the past 10+ years. He prides himself on "not just teaching dance moves, but how to dance." His love of dance has led into a love to teach, and not just kids but people of all ages and capabilities. "SugEasy" has taken this passion far beyond the classroom walls and into the community setting, working with homeless and troubled adolescents in several Kansas City group homes, churches, and schools as well. In this setting he not only serves as an instructor but as a mentor and friend to his students. God Bless!
Fascinated with dance early in life, Mrs. Lillian-Grace Misko Panella began ballet training at the age of two. At the age of six she joined Jo Noth’s White Oak Dance Academy where she trained in a wide variety of dance styles. During her years with WODA, Lillian won numerous awards competing in the solo, duo and trio category as well as with their respected Dance Troupe locally and nationally. Lillian then desired to primarily focus on her ballet training and began training with the Kansas City Ballet School under the directorship of Karen P. Brown. From 2006-2007 Lillian joined the MidWest Youth Ballet, performing ensemble and principal roles, including choreography of Paula Weber at the national gathering of Regional Dance of America in Pittsburg. Throughout the years, Lillian had the privilege of training with scholarship at the Orlando Ballet, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance with Summer Lee Rhatigan and Glenn Edgerton, American Ballet Theater, Kaatsbaan with Martine van Hamel, and The Juilliard School with Lawrence Rhodes. During her final years at the Kansas City Ballet School, Lillian was honored with a Student Apprenticeship with the Kansas City Ballet Company under the directorship of William Whitener. During her time with the KCB Company she enjoyed working with and performing Ib Andersen’s Romeo and Juliet as well as Mozartiana by George Balanchine, Company B by Paul Taylor, and Dark Elegies by Antony Tudor.
Lillian was sought out to teach at a young age because of her broad experiences and professional training. While working on the side on a degree in Public Relations, Lillian taught ballet, pointe, jazz, tap and (her self-established) Doxa Fitness class at local studios and at the University of Central Missouri. For five summers, Lillian has had the joy of being the Ballet Mistress and Assistant Director of the dance program, teaching and choreographing, at the Annie Moses Band’s Fine Arts Summer Academy in Nashville with performances at The Grand Ole Opry. During the winter of 2013, she began teaching at The Culture House, replacing her brother, Hanan Misko, Dance Director of the Lawrence Arts Center. Lillian is thankful and thrilled to be sharing her passion for dance at The Culture House’s Academy of Performing Arts!
Tiffany Best took her first dance class at the YMCA in Hastings, NE twenty-some years ago. Dance turned into Tiffany's childhood hobby for many years. It wasn't until she auditioned for DanceWorks Conservatory in Leawood, KS that she realized how serious her passion was for the art form. Her intense training led to Tiffany becoming a dance instructor for the conservatory as well as dancing in the DWC's Signature Dance Company which traveled through France, Germany, Austria and Italy as a part of the Tanzommer Stars of Tomorrow Ballet Tour.
She was asked by her teacher and mentor, Mona Störling Enna, to join Störling Dance Theater where for the next four years, Tiffany performed numerous roles in Störling's repertoire and taught as one of the first dance teachers for The Culture House. During this time Tiffany also started training in Argentinian tango which helped her attained the position of Assistant Choreographer in Störling's premier of the ballet The Prodigal Daughter.
Tiffany was hired by Youth With A Mission to train and choreograph the dancers in their production of Peace Child. Tiffany then danced on scholarship at Gus Giordano's in Chicago. She danced for Valerie Alpert, Sara Ford, Keith Givens and Mark Hackman and taught for many studios including the home of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, The Lou Conte Dance Studios. She received training from and taught for Peter Sparling in Ann Arbor, MI. She then accepted the position of Artist In Residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, KS where she directed the Dance Department and coached the dance team. Tiffany produced and directed her first full-length dance concert entitled Tango Loco and took the dance team on to win first and second place with her choreography for the Heart of America Athletic Conference.
In Denver, Tiffany was Co-Artistic Director for Soul2Sole for two seasons, danced for Meredith Hutson in Denver's Independent Choreographers Project, performed a Silhouette production with Starkey Theatrix, danced two seasons in Davis Contemporary Dance Company, four seasons in Louder Than Words Dance Theater and a brief but wonderful season with Moraporvida Contemporary Dance. Tiffany also taught and choreographed around the Denver area for the past eight years.
Tiffany, along with her husband and five children, has returned home to Kansas to work again for the Culture House and to dance with Störling Dance Theater.
What sets The Culture House apart to Amy Sander, General Manager, is the environment. “I’ve been teaching and directing for 25 years, and the difference at the Culture House is the environment. It's uplifting, encouraging and focuses on the all around growth of the student - as a performer and as a person."
As General Manager, Amy has her hand in all aspects of this environment. Although no two days are the same, Amy supervises staff, programming, scheduling, productions and marketing, plus teaches Adult Tap and a high school Triple Threat Master Class. She is also a regular director for youth and adult productions at TCH, as well as our director for our Summer Broadway Theatre productions at The Kauffman Center and Yardley Hall.
Amy grew up in Topeka and had her acting debut at age six. Hooked on showbiz, Amy spent her youth and early adult life performing in theatrical and dance productions. During college, Amy discovered she had a strong passion for working with youth and began teaching dance and directing a summer theatrical program.
After 17 years of training and teaching, Amy became the founder and director of a youth performing troupe, Topeka Youth Players (for ages 9-13). Within 10 years, Amy had worked with hundreds of youth, directed over 20 productions, choreographed and music directed more than 10, and also served as set, lighting and costume designer for almost all of the shows.
Upon relocating to Kansas City in 2009, Amy began teaching and directing at The Culture House. In addition to theatre and performance, Amy also brings a background in marketing, communications, fundraising and events. Her resume includes PR work with nonprofits, health insurance, financial planning, performing arts and even zoos. Today, Amy lives in Olathe with her two children. Amy’s role as a mother is what she calls the role of a lifetime: “I’m beyond blessed!”
Katie Cornwell has more than 15 years experience as a dancer, teacher, choreographer, and arts administrator. She grew up dancing in Topeka, Kansas and later Jefferson City, Missouri, and attended summer dance intensive programs at Milwaukee Ballet, South Carolina Summer Dance Conservatory, and the University of Oklahoma.
Katie graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance with an emphasis in Ballet Pedagogy. A scholarship student, Katie had the opportunity to study with distinguished faculty: Mary Margaret Holt (Houston Ballet, New York City Ballet), Donn Edwards (Joffrey Ballet, Boston Ballet), Austin Hartel (Pilobolus), Jeremy Lindberg; Dennis Marshall (American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet), and Denise Vale (Martha Graham Dance Company). She was a member of the school’s resident ballet company, Oklahoma Festival Ballet, and had the opportunity to perform in The Nutcracker, James Clouser’s Carmina Burana, The Sleeping Beauty Act III, Swan Lake Act II, and other mixed repertoire of various original works. As a student, Katie was hired to serve as Ballet Mistress for Duncan Ballet Academy in Duncan, Oklahoma. Here she gained valuable teaching and choreography experience until her graduation in 2003. It was also in college that Katie developed a love and passion for dance history and administration. As a senior she was awarded a grant from the dean of the College of Fine Arts to travel to New York City where she received personal mentoring from Dr. Camille Hardy, dance critic and historian.
Upon graduation, Katie served as a performer, teacher, and choreographer for Springfield Ballet in Springfield, Missouri. In 2007, after serving as the Director of Annual Giving for Drury University, Katie accepted a position as Executive Director of Springfield Ballet. She also completed her Masters of Business Administration with an emphasis in Business Strategy from Drury University in 2009. Under her leadership, Springfield Ballet flourished. She is especially proud of her contributions as a member of the Kennedy Center for the Arts Any Given Child Initiative pilot program, as well as her role as a member of the Arts Programming Sustainability Committee through the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, and as a member of the Collaborative Endowment Campaign for the Arts Leadership Committee. Katie served in this role, as well as a member of the teaching faculty, until moving to Kansas City in June 2011.
Throughout her college career, Katie practiced Pilates, and after suffering from chronic tendonitis, found that it not only helped her heal her injury, but that she returned to dancing stronger than ever. After moving to Kansas City, Katie decided to pursue an education to become a Pilates instructor. In 2013, Katie graduated from Polestar Pilates International based in Miami, Florida. Six months later she became a certified instructor through the Pilates Method Alliance. She now owns Katie Cornwell Pilates which operates out of Kinesphere Physical Therapy and Pilates.
Katie is thrilled to share her love and passion for Pilates and dance and its history with The Culture House Students. She thrives on helping each of her students achieve their dreams…whether as professional dancers, teachers, choreographers, or patrons! Katie and her husband Jesse have three budding ballerinas of their own, Millie and Harper and Lena.
Breanne Lane is a native of Colorado. She began dance at the age of 5 with Celebration Ministry of Arts. As she grew her zeal for dance blossomed and she began ballet lessons in the Cecchetti method under Tiffany Case. In addition she joined Colorado School of Dance in 2011 for two years under the instruction of Oleg Dedogryuk in the Vaganova method. In 2011, Breanne began teaching creative movement, pre ballet and beginner ballet for Celebration Ministry of Arts. In the summers of 2013-2014 Breanne toured with them to the nation of Japan where she had the honor of teaching ballet and contemporary dance workshops to students of all ages. Breanne has spent the last two years living in Olathe KS. dancing as a student with Störling Dance Theater’s Artist Development Program. During this time she received professional level training from The Culture House’s elite faculty in ballet, choreography, contemporary, jazz and modern. She graduated May 2016 from the Artist Development Program and will be dancing with Störling Dance Theater as an apprentice in their upcoming season. Breanne is excited to be teaching for The Culture House where her passion is to help empower her students, nourishing their hearts and minds, through dance.