Erin Cavender is the owner and founder of the Wilmington Performing Arts Studio. She received a BA in Music Education from Milligan College in 1998. Erin began her dance study at Terrie’s Dance Spectrum with Terrie Chapman & Melissa Chapman-Marting and has studied voice with Liz Haskins, Emily King & Evelyn Thomas. She has also studied piano with Diane Carter and Thomas Stampfli. Erin has performed in numerous community and professional theaters and college productions in Southern Ohio and Northeastern Tennessee. She served as the choral and drama director at Clinton-Massie High School for three years and also placed in the Top Ten at the Miss Ohio Pageant in 2000 with an Italian aria as her talent showcase. She has directed and choreographed numerous high school and community shows throughout her career. Erin Founded WPAS in 2003 with 50 students. The Wilmington Performing Arts Studio now instructs over 200 students in Voice, Piano and Dance. Erin teaches voice, tap, lyrical and competition teams at WPAS. She resides in Wilmington with her wonderful husband, Chad, and their beautiful daughters, Claire and Claudia.
Cole Haugh grew up in Jamestown, Ohio. He started dancing at age 15 with the Dance Loft. He taught and trained at Wilmington Performing Arts Studio in its first year. Cole continued his studies in dance at Clark State Community College, the Gary Gies School of Dance and Wright State University where he was featured as a dancer in the concert Rewind. He has performed in many venues including the Schuster Center, Victoria Theatre, and Kings Island. Cole played Friedrich in The Sound of Music at La Comedia. He served as a choreographer and performer in productions of Children of Eden, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Drowsy Chaperone, Addams Family and Shrek with Wilmington College Community Summer Theatre. He served as co-director with Steven Haines for the production of Cabaret at WCCST. Cole was also a choreographer and featured soloist with the University of Dayton Dance Ensemble. He taught dance at Clark State Community College for three years. Ten years ago Cole returned to WPAS and now fills the different roles of Co-Artistic Director, Co-Studio Manager, Choreographer and Instructor. Cole will be teaching competition teams, teen jazz/lyrical/broadway, tap 3/4, and lyrical 10-12.
Ami Gallagher-Filip has lived and breathed dance throughout her entire life. She began her dance training at the age of three at the Moving Company School of Dance in Sandusky, Ohio. In addition to her dance training, Ami also performed in several musicals, plays and shows. She continued her dance and performance career as a member of the nationally ranked Wright State University Emerald Jazz Dance Team and the University of Dayton Dance Ensemble. Ami has been teaching and choreographing for several years all over the state of Ohio. She is currently a dance instructor all around the Dayton region, as well as an Adjunct Dance Professor at The University of Dayton. Along with being an Adjunct Professor, Ami is the Rehearsal Director/Assistant Director for The University of Dayton Dance Ensemble. Ami studied English Education at Wright State University, and likes to read, write, run, garden, and cook when not in a dance studio.
Emily King teaches private piano and voice lessons here at the Wilmington Performing Arts Studio. Music has been a huge part of her life since the age of nine when she began piano and voice lessons, and loved practicing every night! She graduated from Miami Trace High School where she performed lead singing roles in the musicals there. Emily earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Music Ed at Miami University, Oxford, Ohio. She studied voice with Dr. George Barron, Dean of the Fine Arts Department. While at Miami she often performed as soloist with the A Capella Singers, and the Miami Symphony Orchestra. She also soloed with her choir in many well-known cathedrals while on a European tour with jazz great, Dave Brubeck! Emily attended graduate school at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. She performed roles in several opera workshops there and trained with Nancy Carr while earning her Master’s Degree in Voice Performance. Following completion of her degree, she taught elementary music and was the high school vocal director in the Washington Court House City Schools. It was there that Emily directed her first two musicals: Bye, Bye, Birdie and Annie Get Your Gun. She also later served as the Assistant Director for Miami Trace High School musicals, coaching young actor/singers , and coordinating/assisting with sets, make up and costumes for 18 years. Mid-career, Emily returned to college and retrained for the regular education classroom. As a teacher, third grade at MTES was her home for many years. Following retirement from the public schools, Emily served as an adjunct professor at The Ohio State University Lima teaching a course on how to use music in the elementary classroom. Throughout all these careers, she has continued to teach private voice and piano lessons in her home. Many of her young singers have sung at the Ohio Music Educator’s Contest earning superior ratings, and winning leading roles in their high school musicals. Training young musicians has always been her greatest passion! Emily is thrilled to be able to continue doing what she loves, and sharing the gift of music at the Wilmington Performing Arts Studio!
Ashley Seewer Ashley Seewer originates from St. Marys Ohio, and now resides in Wilmington with her wonderful husband, Aaron, and their three beautiful children Ava (5), Anslee (3) and Anden (3). Ashley received her Bachelors Degree in Spanish Education from Bowling Green State University, and she currently teaches Spanish at Clinton-Massie High School. She also serves as the Varsity Football Cheerleading Coach as well. Ashley began dancing at age 5 and spent over 10 years competing. She has training in jazz, lyrical, tap and ballet. Ashley began her teaching career in 2000, and joined WPAS in 2006. Ashley feels that it is such a blessing to see the excitement that the dancers bring to class each week and has loved watching them grow over the years. Ashley will be teaching competition teams this year.
Cassie Smith began dancing at age 3 with the Dance Loft. She then began dancing with the Wilmington Performing Arts Studio at age 6, in its first year of business. During the next 12 years, Cassie studied ballet, pointe, jazz, lyrical, and contemporary. She has many years of experience dancing in recreational classes, as well as participating with the competition teams. Throughout her time as a student at WPAS, Cassie also held the role of an assistant teacher and student teacher. She continued her dance career as a dancer on the Miami University Shakerettes Dance Team, before transferring to Wright State University where she now studies Middle Childhood Education with concentrations in Mathematics and Language Arts. Cassie has also participated in many other musical avenues including studies in piano, voice, flute, and piccolo, as well as taking part in musicals, plays, show choir, marching band, and pep band. Cassie hopes that she can bring the love of music and dance to the students of the Wilmington Performing Arts Studio and is excited for the opportunities that this year holds!
Rhonda (Pawley) Wheasler brings many years of experience in piano, voice, and theatre to the WPAS. Rhonda has taught private piano and voice lessons for over 30 years with special emphasis on preparing young and adult performers for Solo and Ensemble Contest and stage productions. She began her training in piano at the age of 6 and studied with Judy Sargeant, Clara Speight and Celeste Armintrout. Rhonda was very active in choir, band, and plays while in high school, and studied voice as a Preparatory Student at the University of Cincinnati with Patricia Berlin for three years. She continued her studies at Wilmington College with Elizabeth Haskins and Max Carr, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Vocal Performance, Theatre and English, and a minor in Education. She continues to perform in local and regional community and professional theatre productions. Rhonda lives in Wilmington with her partner, David Payne, and their dog, Paddy. She is also the owner of The Crave Candy and Nuts.
Katie Wright didn't discover ballroom dance until her 20's, but once she did, she was hooked. In her third semester at the University of Dayton School of Law, she connected to a ballroom dance class through a friend and quickly fell in love, dancing up to seven nights a week – even during law school exams. Now an attorney, Katie has since competed in West Coast Swing and Country Two Step and is excited to now teach social ballroom. A former Clinton County Assistant Prosecutor, Katie is an adjunct professor at Wilmington College, where she teaches International Criminal Justice.