Laura Romani Matter
Laura grew up in the Fredericksburg area and started to take dance and music lessons from the time she was 4 years old. She began working at the Riverside Dinner Theatre (where she was in about 15 of their shows) in high school and that is where she truly discovered her love for Musical Theatre. Laura auditioned at a few colleges her senior year of high school and got into each of their musical theatre programs. She weighed some pros and cons of each, but finally decided to go with the school that offered her the highest amount of scholarship money, so she chose the Catholic University of America. CUA is an Accredited Music University where Laura graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Music degree in Musical Theatre. While in college, Laura was in several of the University’s musicals, she also had the opportunity to perform at The Kennedy Centre’s Opera House in “Leonard Bernstein’s MASS” and at the Lincoln Theatre in “Ragtime.” She also auditioned for their study abroad program, the London Dramatic Academy, and spent her spring semester of her junior year in London. After graduation, Laura auditioned to study at the Oxford University’s British American Drama Academy, but she opted out of this opportunity and moved to NYC for a year. While there she was cast and performed in two Off-Broadway productions, “Carnival” and “Giggle Bound” and did extra work for the CW’s new show “Body Politic.” Miss Laura was also cast in two other films while living in NYC: “Haze” and “To Pull a Stunt.” Even though NYC held many opportunities, she ultimately decided that Fredericksburg was where her heart was. She moved back home and opened up her own studio in Fredericksburg. She has taught an assortment of classes and private lessons at local dance studios, as well as, dance at The Riverside Dinner Theatre’s summer camp. She has studied dance, acting, and voice in many master classes around the world and wants to take all of this knowledge she has gained over the years and pass it on to the Fredericksburg community. Laura has a vision with the Fredericksburg Studio of the Arts and loves to educate children and to make them as passionate about dance and theatre as she is. When Laura isn’t at the studio, she spends time with her supportive husband, Matt, her 2 silly Dobermans, and tries to get tickets for as many musicals as she can! Laura looks forward to making dreams come true and to have you be part of the FSA family!
Christin Barksdale Pristas
Has studied, performed, choreographed and taught classical ballet, modern dance, lyrical/contemporary, pointe and musical theater for a combined sum of 30 years. Her training started at the Academy of Ballet in downtown Fredericksburg under the direction of Victoria Shifflett, Lisa Snape Avery, Melissa Gregory and Carolyn Seklii. As she entered high school, she traveled to study with The Richmond Ballet and Boston Ballet, attending their summer intensive programs. She was a member of The Fredericksburg Ballet Company until graduating high school and continued her education at George Mason University, graduating with a BFA in Dance, concentration in Performance in 2002. While at GMU, she was a member of the GMU Dance Company for four years and was privileged to travel to Cuba to study Afro-Cuban-Franco-Haitian folkloric and popular dance, music and song ranging from gagá to son with the Ballet Folklórico de Cuba in Santiago de Cuba. Christin has been a part of numerous main stage productions at Riverside Dinner Theater and Conference Facility with credits spanning from years 2004 to 2012 and show to include Cabaret, Chicago, Evita, Cats, Beauty and the Beast, A Funny Thing Happened… Forum, The Music Man, Kiss Me Kate, Brigadoon, Oklahoma! and West Side Story.
Christin is married to fellow performer, Todd Pristas, the drama/theater teacher and Summer Camp director at Fredericksburg Academy and they have three children, David, Sadie and Maren. Psalm 149:3
Has her B.A. in Musical Theatre from Palm Beach Atlantic University, and has been dancing, singing and acting since she could walk. Originally from Locust Grove, Virginia Sam has worked professionally for Riverside Dinner Theatre performing in over 50 musicals and Children’s Theatre productions over the years as well as choreographing for their main stage and Children’s Theatre shows. Her professional productions include: Little Red in Into the Woods, Peggy Sawyer in 42nd Street, Patty Simcox in Grease, Jo Harper in Big River and several more. She has taught dance at multiple dance studios in the area (and in South Florida) including The Academy of Dance, Music, Theatre, Amyclae Dance Academy, Stafford Dance Center, Gift of Dance, the Christian Youth Theatre and several others. She has taught tap, contemporary, jazz, ballet, pointe, hip-hop, and musical theatre classes. Choreography credits include: Snow White, Willy Wonka, Seussical the Musical, Alice in Wonderland, The Music Man, Aladdin, Guys and Dolls, The Little Mermaid, A Christmas Carol, Oklahoma, and Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat all for the Christian Youth Theatre. Princess and the Pea, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Wizard of Oz, Jack and the Giant, and Snow White, and Evita all for the Riverside Dinner Theatre and competition dances for FSA and independent soloists who have gone to win high scores and specialty awards at Regional and National dance competitions. Over the years she has won national scholarships and Triple Threat awards at Access Broadway and several dance competitions. Sam has studied tap dance with renowned tap teachers/choreographers Baakari Wilder, Vincent Bingham (Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk) and Mike Minery (Tapaholics, Jump Dance Convention) Samantha is a passionate and driven teacher who loves to share her creativity of movement and inspiration with her students. Inspiring young artists to be something more is a wondrous pursuit, and it is one that Sam would never trade for the world.
Contemporary, Ballet, Creative Movement
Studied dance for about 20 years. She has been teaching dance classes off and on since high school. She studied dance, voice, and musical theater at M&S Studio in Fredericksburg, VA. A member of M&S’s dance competition team, the Starz Dance Company, Sally was selected captain and helped to choreograph several of the team’s dance routines. She was a featured dancer in many of M&S Studio’s productions and recitals. Sally has also performed in several productions at the Riverside Dinner Theater including a shark girl and dance captain in West Side Story, Lorraine and Peggy Sawyer (alternate) in 42nd Street, Tiger Lily in Peter Pan, and a dance ensemble member in Evita. Sally graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a B.A. in Fashion Merchandising and a minor in General Business in May of 2008. She is currently attending graduate school at the University of Mary Washington to pursue a Master’s Degree in Teaching.
Devon Ramone Ellis
Jazz & Contemporary
Devon Ramone Ellis began his dance training at The Orange School of Performing Arts in Orange, VA under the direction of Ricardo Porter and Heather Powell at the age of 8. There he studied and competed for 9 years Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary and Hip-Hop with teachers such as Matt Steffanina (The Amazing Race) and Voltaire Wade-Greene (Hamilton). At the age of 17 for 1 year he trained at Studio Bleu Dance Center in Ashburn, VA studying Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary and Lyrical with teachers such as Troy D. Brown (Art of Technique) and choreographers such as Ade Obayomi (SYTYCD). In the summer of ’08 he trained at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater summer program. He recently finished a six month contract with Royal Caribbean on their ‘Majesty of the Seas’ ship, and danced in Keke Palmer’s “Panda/Controlla” dance concept video under direction by Rosero McCoy, Eric McCoy and Michelle Soulchild of ‘RoseroInc©’. Devon also performed at VidCon in June 2016 under the direction of Rosero McCoy, Erin McCoy, and Michele Soulchild.
Jazz, Contemporary, Tap, & Musical Theatre
Hip Hop Master
Started growing an interest in dance during his sophomore year of high school. He was part of his school’s dance group “ManaCon.” They performed at their pep rallies and were also invited by other high schools to perform at their pep rallies. After graduating in 2010, the group broke up and his natural talent landed him a job at the Fredericksburg Studio of the Arts teaching hip-hop. He was recently hired at two other studios in the area and will be a first-time jazz student at one of them. He is so proud and honored to be doing and teaching what he loves the most.
Jazz, Contemporary, Technique
Is originally from Stafford, Virginia. She began dancing at age 10 at The Dance Spot. Heather is trained in Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, Lyrical, Tap, Hip-hop and Acro. During her dance career she has received many first overall solo awards resulting in scholarships, as well as numerous group placements. She attended the New York Dance Academy where she took class from award winning choreographers. She has also been chosen for many conventions as a stand out performer. Miss Heather began teaching at The Fredericksburg Studio of the Arts in 2012 and her pieces have received numerous high scoring awards with top placement. In the past year she has recently become a new mother and enjoys spending time her seven month old son Jaxon. Heather looks forward to returning to FSA for an exciting season
Sarah Anne Sumpolec
Sarah has been working in the theater and film world for more than thirty years. She began training with Broadway directors when she was just fourteen and went on to attend North Carolina School of the Arts and Mary Washington College as a Theater major. She has worked for numerous theaters over the years both on stage and off and has appeared in several films as well. She has Directed and Assistant Directed six large scale musicals and is writing a new musical based on Anne of Green Gables. It will debut right here in Fredericksburg in November! She spent a year touring with the National Tour of Annie accompanying her daughter who played the role of Pepper. She loves to teach acting and has experience in everything from stage combat to improv to deep scene work. She continues to work as an acting coach for theater and film and is excited to work with the students at FSA this year.
Our Acting classes will cover a wide range of topics and exercises as we go through the year. We will cover scene and character work, stage combat, improv techniques, writing, monologues and pantomime. The class will be helpful for any dancer as well as those who have a more serious interest in pursuing acting. Oh, and besides great training, we will have a ton of fun, too!
Guitar & Piano
John White, a guitarist and composer, received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from the University of Mary Washington in the spring of 2013. While his background is primarily based in jazz, John plays with a number of groups ranging in wide variety of styles in the Fredericksburg area. Recent examples of his performance experience include professional musical theater productions such as Rent and Always…Patsy Cline, private and public events in the region, and the Spargelfest held in Fredericksburg’s Germany sister city, Schwetzingen, in May of 2013.
Currently, John can be seen performing in the Fredericksburg area, playing guitar and arranging for the tango group Whiskey Django Foxtrot. He can also be found collaborating with another locally based musician to both compose and play original pieces in collaboration with the D.C. based dance company, Next Reflex Dance Collective.
Acro, Tumbling, Creative Movement
Began Gymnastics at the age of seven at the Stafford County Royals. At the age of thirteen and a competitive level eight, she began to train at Paragon Training Center. There she was in the gym for eleven hours a day training at an elite level while schooling in the gym. That year, Kami won level eight states and regionals, and went on to place sixth in Nationals. The following year, she dedicated herself to training and competing level nine. Although she was unable to compete in level nine states due to a torn ACL, she went back after surgery and rehab to gymnastics to train at the highest level, a level ten. Although her first passion is and always will be gymnastics, she later began taking dance classes outside of the gym at the Fredericksburg Studio of the Arts and enjoyed them so much she decided to focus primarily on dance. Last year, she was on the Senior Company team here at FSA, and this upcoming year she will team captain of the Supreme Company. Kami is excited to begin her teaching career at the FSA as she continues taking college classes working toward her degree in science to become a physical therapist. (I can do all things through Christ who straightens me. Philippians 4:13)
Hip Hop, Jazz, Tumbling
Is an accomplished dancer at FSA. She started teaching with us two years ago by assisting another teacher in hip hop and has grown to teach in jazz, ballet, as well as hip hop. Madison attended Grace Preparatory School and is currently attending Germanna Community College. She aspires to transfer to Virginia Commonwealth University to major in dance. She has danced with FSA for almost seven years and is apart of our our award winning competition team, The Fierce Squad of Artistry. Madison has won many high ranking awards with our Fierce Squad. Above all, Madison believes that dance should be fun and accessible for all.
Ms. Roxanne brings over 20 years of administrative management to FSA. She has worked for a major retail firm in management and training where she was the youngest department manager ever hired by her branch. She also was the administrative assistant with her husband, Peter, and later with her son Matt to establish a successful real estate team that has spanned over 25 years. Because of her love of working with children she was a substitute teacher in Spotsylvania county for many years.
Her greatest love in the performing arts is musical theatre so being a part of establishing FSA has been a dream come true! Having been a parent of a performing arts girl, her daughter Laura (from dance, musical theatre, voice and piano), she certainly understands the “parent” side as well as the “business” side of the desk.
She is honored to work with Laura and these incredible instructors! They are all so passionate and dedicated to their art and to these children. She loves these children and their parents/families. In her spare time Roxanne loves to read, the theatre, and mostly spending time with her family, especially her grandson, Jack.
To all, welcome to our FSA family!