Brass City Directors
Her professional teaching career includes Syracuse Ballet Theatre and the Istanbul State Conservatory in Istanbul, Turkey. In 1985, she founded the Waterbury School of Ballet in Waterbury, CT, which became a non-profit organization in 1989, now known as Brass City Ballet.
She has choreographed several original, full-length ballets such as The Night of the Magic Ornaments, The Party and the Fantastic Toyshop, as well as modern dance works for Brass City Ballet. Her work with St. Mary’s Children’s Theatre in Waterbury has included such works as Grease, Fiddler on the Roof, and Peter Pan. In 1993, she received the Arts Recognition Award from the City of Waterbury. She has served on Waterbury’s Community Visions Task Force and the School and Community Fine Arts Committee of Waterbury. In 1993, her work was selected for the New Dance, New Haven Choreography Competition. In 1999, she conceived and co-founded the first Connecticut Choreographer’s Forum and co-directed the subsequent three Forums. Ms. Barisser serves on the Advisory Board of the CT Dance Alliance. In 2006, she became a founding member of the Arts and Culture Collaborative of the Waterbury Region and has served on its Governing Council since then.
Ms. Barisser taught at The Taft School as Director of Dance from 2001-2008.
Ms. Harris has danced professionally on both the East and West Coasts with the New York Dance Theatre, the Lumiere Ballet and the Noveau Chamber Ballet in California. She has performed soloist roles in several ballets, including The Nutcracker, Kismet, The Snow Maiden, Giselle, Serenade, Hansel and Gretel, La Bayadere, and The Trials of Tamara (nationally televised). Favorite roles include Sugarplum Fairy, Snow Queen and Marie Taglioni in Pas de Quatre.
Ms. Harris also holds a Bachelors Degree in Psychology. She spent a year studying dancer’s body image and completed a thesis entitled “The Relationship between Body Image, Self Esteem and Self Consciousness in Dancers and Non-Dancers.” She is a member of the KIVA Dance Collective, a Waterbury based modern dance company. She has attended teaching seminars with David Howard, the Richmond Ballet, Marcia Dale Weary of the Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and Nutmeg Ballet.
Choreographic credits include Beauty and the Beast, the Fantastic Toy Shop, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and Alice in Wonderland. Ms. Harris has taught for the Inland Pacific Ballet, Alvin Ailey, Long Island Academy of Dance, the Conservatory of Dance and at “Kids on Campus” at Naugatuck Valley Community College and as an Adjunct Faculty Member at Westover School. She has served as Brass City Ballet’s Associate Director for eleven years.
Brass City Faculty
Eleanor is a graduate of Barnard College in New York City, where earned her Bachelor of Arts in Dance and French. At Barnard, she studied with teachers including Cynthia Anderson, Allegra Kent, Robert La Fosse, and Ashley Tuttle. Her academic pursuits also allowed her to take courses from Mindy Aloff and Lynn Garafola. She has performed in The Barnard Project at New York Live Arts and Barnard Dances at Miller, which gave her the opportunity to work with choreographers Ori Flomin, Kyle Abraham, Sidra Bell, David Parker, Karla Wolfangle, and Emery LeCrone. Eleanor has danced with the Columbia Ballet Collaborative, where she performed works by choreographers Laura Ward and Kimi Nikaidoh. Eleanor’s choreographic experience includes a solo, Midnight Oil (choreographed as a Senior Creative Thesis for the Dance major at Barnard) and a piece for BCB students. She has taught ballet technique, variations, and modern at BCB.
Currently Joan is Artistic Adviser to the Quinte Ballet School (Canada) and Vail Valley Academy of Dance (Colorado) as well as a regular guest artist with Connecticut’s Brass City Ballet, Connecticut Dance Theatre and Woodbury Ballet. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Dance Alliance.
Cristen has enjoyed a successful career in the world of theatre, TV, and commercials. A native of Southern California, Ms. Mortenson started her career in many community theatre productions while studying voice with Dr. Darlene Romano, and studying dance 6 days a week. While attending the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts she was the first recipient of the prestigious Winterfest Spotlight Awards, held at the Music Center of Los Angeles. She then went on to graduate from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and was fortunate to stay in the Bay Area where she performed the role of Christine in THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA for over 3 years. Ms. Mortenson then took a detour to New York where she made her Broadway debut in BY JEEVES, (original B’way cast member) by Lloyd Webber. Performing all over the country, some of her regional favorites include: Miss Dorothy in THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE, Hope Harcourt in ANYTHING GOES, Maria in THE SOUND OF MUSIC, Martha Jefferson in 1776, Cinderella in INTO THE WOODS, and Laurey in OKLAHOMA (opposite Rue McClanahan), to name a few. TV roles include BOSTON LEGAL, THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, ALL MY CHILDREN, PASSIONS, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, and many commercials including Simmons Beauty Rest Mattresses for whom she is the National & International Spokeswoman. Though semi-retired from musical theatre, Ms. Mortenson recently returned to the Bay Area last summer to perform the role of Maria in THE SOUND OF MUSIC, (her fourth production of this role), at the Sacramento Music Theatre. Her main passion now is teaching Voice to children and adults and has a successful voice studio in Los Angeles and Thousand Oaks. Cristin is a proud member of Actors Equity Association, and the Screen Actors Guild.
When she is not dancing, Susan works as a Research Associate at Yale University’s School of Public Health where she received her Master’s in Public Health. She resides in Middlebury with her husband, Brandon and their two budding dancers, Sophia and Ellie.
Karin also holds a Masters Degree in Literature and Creative Writing and has been a college professor, social service worker, and is currently the proud mother of two beautiful daughters. She likes to think about philosophy, mathematics and physics. Laughing and smiling are big with Karin.