Meet the Faculty
Ava Heller (instructor) is a New York-based artist and teacher investigating the layered and interchangeable dynamics between movement, music, audience, and performers. She holds an M.A. in dance education (New York State Certification, Teaching Dance Grades PreK-12) from New York University and a B.A. from Bennington College. She facilitates the creative ambitions of her students through the exploration and experiential approach of creating their own movement vocabulary, actively engaging in the dance-making process, developing their compositional eye, and strengthening their awareness and coordination of the moving body. She also develops her own work in collaboration with musicians Westbrook Johnson and Matthew Ferry, developing compositional improvisation for dance and percussion. She has studied with and performed in the works of David Appel, koosilja/ danceKUMIKO, Dana Reitz, Susan Sgorbati, Terry Creach, Susan Rethorst, Jennifer Nugent, Paul Matteson, and the Batsheva Dance Company. Ava's work has been presented at Movement Research Open Performance (NYC), Hubbard Hall (Cambridge, NY), the Figment Festival (NYC), The Tank (NYC), Danspace Project at St. Mark’s Church, and in the 2005 d.u.m.b.o. dance festival (Brooklyn, NY).
Clare Mottola (instructor, director, theatre and dance chair) has taught, directed, and produced across the U.S. She graduated with a B.S. in drama and English from Syracuse University and received her M.F.A. in directing from Indiana University. She has worked as a drama educator with students ages five and up, and her diverse teaching experience includes Indiana University and Seattle Children's Theatre. At Open Circle Theatre, Clare taught young adults who were in Seattle's juvenile detention facilities/programs. Clare co-founded mtp! in 1998, an interdisciplinary arts organization; its work includes a world-premiere production of John Berger's Once in Europa. mtp! has also hosted Brooklyn's inner-city young artists for their Get Down summer arts-education program. mtp! continues to produce its annual new works festivals, including Cherry Picking, which has been seen in both New York and Chicago. At Seattle's Intiman Theatre, Clare worked in their education department, developing their study guide, a teaching tool for public school educators utilizing theater in English classrooms. Clare's directing credits include Cloud Nine, Orphans, Why We Have a Body, Dancing at Lughnasa, and The Road to Mecca. Clare has been a member of the Fieldston performing arts department since 1998.
William Norman (instructor, musical director) has served as M.D. and arranger for the Emmy Award-winning News In Revue, written songs for and toured with Kolos ("Memorable, tight pop. Good melodies carry it." – NY Post), and created original songs and scores for modern dance, short films, and commercials. At Fieldston, he wrote Un-American Activities, a musical telling of the story behind the tumultuous opening night of The Cradle Will Rock, the only musical ever to be banned by the U.S. government.
Rob O’Neill (instructor, director of dance) is a long-time active member of the New York dance and theater community. He danced with several modern choreographers, including 10 seasons with the Phyllis Lamhut Dance Company. Rob has taught at Fieldston since 1993. He is an adjunct faculty member of New York University’s Experimental Theater Wing, teaching in the undergraduate program and in the summer theater program in Paris for high school students. Rob developed and teaches a professional-level, physically based acting training called EMBODIMENT: A Physical Approach To Acting. He choreographs, directs, performs, and creates original movement-based theater work. Rob is proud to have worked with Joseph Chaikin as a movement consultant and choreographer on a number of his last projects.
Stephanie Stone (instructor, director) graduated from Fieldston in 1987. She attended Emerson College, where she received a B.F.A. in musical theater. After graduating, Stephanie attended NYU, where she received an M.A. in theater education. She returned to Fieldston in 1996, where she serves as both a middle and upper school drama teacher. Stephanie has taught and directed at other theaters and schools, including the Civic Light Opera Musical Theatre Academy and the Carnegie Library (both in Pittsburgh). She also has taught and directed at the York Theatre, Asphalt Green, and CSH New York.
Debra St. Onge (production manager) studied theatre at Sarah Lawrence College. After graduating, she worked at North Beach Repertory Theatre in San Francisco. Then, returning to New York, she went to work for the theater department at Sarah Lawrence. In 1994, Debra started to work for Fieldston as the assistant technical director. After five years, she got married and started a family, deciding to take time off to raise her kids. Ten years later, she returned to Fieldston.