Meet the Dancers


CNY Arts’ production of Dasher’s Magical Gift is written, choreographed, directed and performed by a team of creative individuals and dancers from Central New York. Purchase a Festival Family Pack

Dasher’s Magical Gift: Principle Cast Bio’s

Dasher 1st Cast/Dancer 2nd Cast: Alena Zhang is a senior at Fayetteville-Manlius High School, and she is honored to be performing as Dasher for her third year in a row. Alena is very grateful to have been taught by Mr Larry Crabtree and Ms Deborah Boughton, and currently trains at Dance Centre North. She has also trained at NYSSSA and CPYB's summer ballet programs. Outside of school, Alena is a science enthusiast and brings activities to children's hospitals, refugee centers, and elementary schools through her school ChemClub, of which she is president. Alena is very excited for her final show of Dasher's Magical Gift, and wants to wish 'Merde' to all her fellow performers!!

Dasher 2nd Cast/ Spirit of Christmas 1st Cast: Gianna Labbate, age 17, is a homeschooled student and is also attending classes at Onondaga Community College.  Gianna has danced since the age of 6 attending at Dance Centre North.  While at DCN she has studied ballet, modern, jazz, and tap.  Gianna is very thankful for the many opportunities given to her by her instructors. Since the age of 7 she has performed various roles in the Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker”.  She danced in the Broadway “Wizard of Oz”, while in Syracuse, as a lullaby munchkin and a winkie.  She was chosen to perform with the Diavolo Dance Company from Los Angeles, CA.  In “The Adventures of Rudolph” she danced as a soldier and an elf.  She has performed each year at the Festa Italiana.  This year is her third year dancing in “Dasher’s Magical Gift”.  She has danced the parts of a little reindeer, a big reindeer, Pepper, and Dasher.  This year she will be performing as Dasher and the Spirit of Christmas.  In addition to dancing, which she loves, she also loves babysitting for her four little nieces.  Gianna also works at Sacred Melody and she is a teacher in training at Dance Centre North.

Pepper 1st Cast/Vixen 2nd Cast: Amanda St. Amour, is 16 years old and a junior at Westhill High School. Amanda has been dancing since she was five years old and started at the Center of Ballet and Dance Arts, then came to Dance Centre North. Amanda has performed in The Adventures of Rudolph as an elf and a reindeer and is appearing in the role of Pepper for the 3rd year having been an original Pepper. In 8th grade she was the bird girl in the school musical "Seussical the Musical Junior". She has been Miss Syracuse's Outstanding Teen 2014 and 2015 and currently Miss Excelsior's Outstanding Teen 2016 for the Miss America Organization. She has also had the opportunity to go to LA to study acting and modeling. 

Pepper 2nd Cast/Mistletoe – Little Reindeer 1st Cast: Tommiesha Hertik, age 16 attends Henninger High School and has been dancing since she was 3. Has trained at Center of Ballet and Dance arts and is currently at Dance Centre North. She has performed in "The Adventures of Rudolph"as an elf and soldier and an elf in "Dasher's Magical Gift". 

Wobbles 1st Cast/Little Deer 2nd Cast: Celia Ramos is a 15 year old sophomore and honor student at Henninger High School in Syracuse. She has trained at Dance Center North since 2003 in ballet, jazz, modern and tap and at Dominique's Dance Creations since 2015 in contemporary, acro and hip hop. She also trains at Broadway Dance Center in NYC throughout the year. She has had various roles in the Moscow Ballet Nutcracker, The Adventures of Rudolph, and Dasher's Magical Gift where she has been Wobbles for the last 2 seasons. She also has performed in other community performances such as the New York State Fair and at Festa Italiana. Celia is an award winning competition dancer.

Wiggles 1st Cast/Donner 2nd Cast: Delaney Woolridge was born and raised in Syracuse, NY and began dancing at age 5 with Dance Centre North. She has performed under the direction of Mrs. Cathy Mucci in Tarantella/Festa Italiana, and the Moscow Ballet’s Nutcracker, under the direction of Mrs. Debra  Boughton in The Adventures of Rudolph, and under the direction of Larry Crabtree with Dasher’s Magical Gift.  She was a scholarship recipient at the 2015 Dance JUMP convention in Syracuse. In her spare time, Delany plays the piano and Lacrosse. Her goal for this year is to go to Ballet Jorge in Toronto in the summer.  

Wiggles 2nd Cast/Cupid 1st cast: Payton Shepardson, 13, is currently a freshman at Jamesville Dewitt High School. She has been dancing since she was 3.5 years old and horseback riding since the age of 4. Payton studies dance at Dance Centre North focusing on ballet, modern, jazz and tap. She also studied dance at Saratoga’s Summer Dance Intensive this past summer. She has danced in Symphoria’s Holiday Pops, the Moscow Ballet’s Nutcracker, and Dasher’s Magical Gift. Payton takes her education very seriously. She earned an Honorable Mention for the 2016 French National Exam, a Silver Key for a painting in the 2016 Scholastic Art and Writing Contest, and earned the 2016 President’s Academic Fitness Award for academic achievement. Payton is an avid reader collecting hundreds of books yearly to donate to the Literacy Coalition of Onondaga County. She tutors inner city children in the Book Buddies program as well. Her favorite food she will tell you is anything chocolate! She is excited to be a part of the 2016 production of Dasher’s Magical Gift!                                               

Wobbles 2nd Cast/Comet 1st Cast: Caira Burlingame is 13 years old and currently attends North Syracuse Jr. High School. Caira has been training in dance at Dance Centre North since she was 3. She has performed in The Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker”, “Fiesta Italiana”, “Dasher’s Magical Gift” and many cherished spring performances. Caira has made the high honor roll every quarter while in school.

Sir Ralph Elf 1st Cast/Prancer 2nd Cast: Stephen Huffaker, 15, is homeschooled and attends Dance Centre North, where he has been training for 10 years. There he has studied ballet, modern, and jazz dance. He has performed 8 times in the Moscow Ballet's Great Russian Nutcracker, with roles including Mouse, Party Guest, Chinese, Spanish, and Russian Variations. Stephen has also performed the Tarantella Suite as well as other dances at the annual Festa Italiana. Performing with the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra, he portrayed the little boy in Carnival of the Animals as well as a junior cadet in Graduation Ball. Stephen appeared 3 times in The Adventures of Rudolph as Brian. He has also appeared twice in Dasher's Magical Gift, assuming the roles of Sir Ralph Elf and Kringle. This past summer, Stephen attended a one-week dance intensive hosted by Bossov Ballet Theatre at Maine Central Institute in Pittsfield, Maine. In addition to dance, Stephen is an indoor volleyball player, looking forward to his 4th season with the Syracuse Eagles homeschool volleyball team. He also participates in Boy Scouting and has achieved the rank of Star. Stephen would also like to thank all of his teachers at Dance Centre North, especially Mr. Crabtree for the countless hours of teaching, and Mrs. Mucci for her constant encouragement. Lastly, he would like to thank his family for dutifully attending all of his performances, no matter how many times they'd seen them before.

Sir Ralph Elf 2nd Cast/Kringle 1st Cast: Mia Forde is 13 years old and is in 8th grade at Chestnut Hill School. Mia has danced since the age of 4, starting with an after school program at her Elementary School and then began her training at Dance Centre North. With Dance Centre North she has performed annually in Moscow Ballet’s “The Great Russian Ballet Nutcracker” as a Snowflake, Party Guest, Snow Maiden, Big Russian Variation, and currently a butterfly for this upcoming holiday and at “Festa Italiana.” She appeared last year in “Dasher’s Magical Gift” and will perform the role of Sir Ralph Elf & Kringles this year. She has attended Summer Intensive Programs at Dance Centre North, Bossov Ballet and studied at the TADA Texas Academy of Dance Arts and Master Classes with Dominique Dawkins. Mia has also been the recipient of the Certificate of Excellence in the Liverpool School district.

Attendant 1st Cast/Spirit of Christmas 2nd Cast: Margaret Peterson, age 15, is a student at East Syracuse Minoa Central High School. During her time there she has been accepted into the Junior Honor Society, the Foreign Language Honor Society, and is a member of the choir. She is also a student at Dance Centre North, where she has danced for 8 years, with 10 total years of Ballet training. During her time at Dance Centre North, she has performed at the Italian Festival in the Tarantella, having achieved all levels of skirt, yellow, green, red, and black. She also has performed in the Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker, where she has been cast as a Party Child, Little Spanish Variation, Little French Variation, Little Chinese Variation, Mouse, Butterfly, Spanish Variation, and this year, Arabian. Peterson has also danced in Dasher’s Magical Gift, cast as Wiggles, Wobbles, Donner and this year, as the Spirit of Christmas and an Attendant to the Spirit of Christmas. In the summer of 2008, she participated in a performance with the New York City Ballet, as a child guest. In the summer of 2016, she was accepted into the Bossov Ballet Theatre’s summer intensive, where she performed in the production of Don Quixote as a Maid, Dryad, and Gypsy.

Attendant 1st Cast/Spirit of Christmas 3rd Cast/ Comet 2nd Cast: Greta Smith is 15 years old and is currently a sophomore attending Jamesville Dewitt High School. Academically, she was honored to be nominated by her teachers and accepted by Clarkson University to attend the Horizons Summer Science program for young women.  Greta began ballet classes at the age of four at the Center of Ballet and Dance Arts.  She has continued to study Ballet, Jazz and Tap while attending Dance Centre North. She appeared in the BalletMet performance of the Nutcracker as an Angel and a Page.  In addition, she performed in the Moscow Ballet Nutcracker as a Party Child and a French Variation.   She also has danced the roles of Lilly and a soldier in The Adventures of Rudolph.  Greta previously appeared in Dasher's Magical Gift as a reindeer and an icicle.  This year she looks forward to performing the role of the Spirit of Christmas, a reindeer and an Attendant.   















Posted On: November 15, 2016
Listed As: CNY Arts News