The Benched Players are a theatrical improvisation ensemble led by Melissa Kate Miller, a songwriter, stage and voice actress, writer, and poet. The Benched Players lift students from the sidelines (“
Lorna Czarnota has been performing as storyteller, author, and musician since 1985. Her programs feature historical presentations, storytelling and writing workshops. She is a national leader in the use of storytelling with at-risk youth. She also specializes in Celtic and Scottish lore, history, creative writing and healing stories.
Dr. Celes Tisdale is a professional actor, a published poet, a national and international storyteller, and a lecturer on the arts and culture.
Meg Robinson-Albers is a self-professed “kite-maven,” bringing the joy of kite making and the science of flying to students in all grade levels.
Robnison-Albers, a Buffalo native, received a B.A. in
Cindy Hanna is a dancer and educator. She was the recipient of the 2009 Teaching Artist of the Year award from Young Audiences. Her passion for dance is uniquely demonstrated in her enthusiasm for teaching and sharing her art form.
Melissa Kate Miller is an international recording artist, songwriter, stage and voice actress, writer and poet. As US Managing Director for Artfully AWARE, founder of the Benched Players and leader of the cabaret blues act, The Melissa Kate Project, she draws from a varied background for her students.
Gerald Mead is an award-winning visual artist. His workshops expose students to collage and other artforms, using found objects and 3D to make art come alive. He is passionate about teaching, making, and collecting art.
Miriam Minkoff is a dancer and percussionist in the ensemble No Words Spoken, a music group comprising individuals with autism and staff from Autistic Services, Inc. Her drum circles provide a sense of togetherness and focused attention that is both stimulating and relaxing.
Gretchen Murray Sepik’s storytelling career began in Mercer, PA, where her mill-worker father, told her colorful stories about the Pennsylvania coal-mines and railroads; her mother encouraged her to dress up and perform nursery rhymes. Storytelling allows her to share history and performance with people across New York State and Pennsylvania in schools, museums, theaters, libraries and private homes.
Cellist Nancy Baun is a critically acclaimed soloist, having performed with over a dozen orchestras in her home state of Pennsylvania. As an educator, Baun has served on college faculties, taught elementary music, and presented a broad roster of community education events at conferences, art galleries, and science museums.