Staff Faculty


Betty Seibert

Artistic Director

Is a Fellow of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing, London, England and was awarded the Maestro Cecchetti Final Diploma in 1988, the highest classical ballet qualification obtainable.

She has been an examiner certified under I.S.T.D. guidelines since 1993 and currently serves as Director of Examinations of Cecchetti USA, and in 2008 was elected Chair of CECCHETTI INTERNATIONAL - Classical Ballet serving the seven Cecchetti organizations world-wide.

As a principal dancer with the Florida and Maine State Ballet Companies, Ms. Seibert performed over a dozen leading roles in the classical repertoire, where favorites included Giselle, Coppelia, and Swan Lake.  She was featured dancer for the Sarasota and Asolo Opera Companies before founding her own company, the Florida West Coast Dance Company.  As a member of Actors Equity Association, favorite roles included Lola in Damn Yankees, Claudine in Can-Can, Dream Laurie in Oklahoma!, and Emilie in Les Liaisons Dangereuses.

She has choreographed over 40 musical theatre productions.  Before leaving Florida she restaged the original choreography of A Chorus Line.  Audiences responded enthusiastically to her inspired choreography of The Snow Goose.

Her teaching experience includes owning and operating the Seibert School of Ballet and Theatre Dance in Florida from 1978 to 1992; directing Barrington Ballet from 1992 through 1998; and owning and operating the Cheshire Dance Centre since 1995.  She has also taught at numerous national and international seminars hosted by Cecchetti Societies in the Canada, England, and the United States, including Pennsylvania Ballet Theatre’s summer school.  She has trained more than 1,000 students ranging from pre-kindergarten to adult, beginners through professionals, preparing students for professional companies, national tours, and performing arts colleges throughout the United States.

Ms. Seibert continues to emphasize the necessity of combining a sound syllabus for instruction with an emphasis on the theatricality of dance.


Susan McLain

Associate Director
Modern/ Ballet

Received an M.A. in dance with an emphasis in performance and choreography from George Washington University and a B.A. in dance and psychology from the University of Iowa.  Before coming to Connecticut in 1981, she performed in Washington D.C. and New York City.

Ms. McLain has been teaching modern and ballet for over 30 years, spending many of those years studying and performing with Ernestine Stodelle, one of the original members of the Humphrey-Weidman Dance Company.  Her modern dance classes are based on the use of gravity, breath and fall/recovery of the Humphrey-Limon tradition.  She also teaches beginning & intermediate level Cecchetti ballet classes.

In addition to teaching at Cheshire Dance Centre, Ms. McLain is an adjunct faculty member in the dance program at NVCC and a member of the Kiva Dance Collective.  She is married to Dr. Michael Kellogg and is the mother of two sons, Alex and Will.


Karyn O'Toole

Associate Director
Ballet/ Tap

Began dancing at the age of three with Gertrude Francis Holmes in Cromwell.  There she studied many forms of dance including ballet, tap, jazz, acrobatics, ballroom, and baton twirling.  She enjoyed assisting with classes and productions, and, eventually took over the school, expanding the programs offered and creating student productions of many classical ballets.  Ms. O'Toole received a BA from Saint Joseph College in Special and Elementary Education, with minors in Spanish and Dance.   She was employed by the State of Connecticut at Long Lane School as a Reading Specialist, and implemented therapeutic dance and movement programs to enhance academic and social growth.  Ms. O'Toole earned a MALS degree from Wesleyan University in Dance and Movement Studies, completing a program of diverse explorations within the dance and movement field.  Her final thesis combined research on historical perspectives with personal experience in offering dance as a form of prayer within the liturgical rite of Christian churches.

Ms. O'Toole began her Cecchetti ballet training with Jacqueline Anderson, and has been qualified as a Licentiate with Cecchetti USA (CUSA).  She continues to study with Mrs. Anderson in weekly classes and participates in Fellowship seminars led by Betty Seibert.  She has successfully entered over 250 candidates for examination in levels from Standard 1 to Grade 9.  For several years, she has attended International Summer Schools sponsored by CUSA and has served as their Head Chaperone.  For the past two decades, Ms. O'Toole was the Lead Teacher for the Berkshire Dance Theatre in Adams, MA, and was their Artistic Director for the past six years. There she initiated a planned program of study for dance students from pre-school through high school, with progressive curricula in ballet, pointe, acrobatics, jazz, and tap.  She designed and directed seven original productions and was instrumental in bringing dance to many community groups.  Many of her students have continued their studies to become performers, teachers, choreographers, and therapists in the movement field.

Ms. O'Toole serves on the East Coast Committee for Cecchetti USA and is on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Dance and Affiliated Artists.  She has developed therapeutic programs for children with special needs as well as senior populations, and enjoys working with faith communities as a Liturgical Dancer.

Ms. Christensen
Ms. Durham

Joan Christensen

Associate Teacher
Senior Tap Teacher

Has been dancing since the age of 4 and has been teaching dance for 40 years. She was the Associate Teacher for Ron Fucci in North Haven for 15 years and then opened her own studio, Joni’s Dance Center, in 1986. She has been teaching at CDC since 2002, and has successfully entered ISTD candidates all the way up through the highest level - Advanced 2 - for the past 17 years.

Her love of tap and jazz was born from watching all the old masters. She studied with Judy Bassing, Charles Kelly, and at Broadway Dance Center. She is currently the choreographer for Whitney Players in Hamden.


Alison Durham

Associate Teacher

Began her Cecchetti ballet students under the direction of Jacqueline Anderson and continues to do so with Betty Seibert, passing her Associate Teacher’s Exam and the Maestro Enrico Cecchetti Final Diploma. She is trained in Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Pointe, Hip Hop Contemporary, and Modern, and is a certified Acrobatics instructor through Acrobatic Arts. Among her many talents, she was a professional dancer at Six Flags New England; served as adjudicator for multiple dance competitions around New England; and currently serves as Ballet Mistress for Cecchetti Ballet Theatre’s productions of The Nutcracker.

Ms. Durham has been teaching dance the past 19 years and is excited to be sharing her love of dance and performance with the students at Cheshire Dance Centre!