Arts Center
Dedicated to excellence in the performing arts
Eagle Rock Plaza
627 Eagle Rock Avenue, West Orange, NJ 07052

973 669-1791
Established 1998
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Our Staff

Lisa Batchelor

Lisa C. Batchelor is celebrating her fifteenth year as Director/Owner of Unique Performance Arts Center. Her training includes the Royal Academy of Ballet in England, Broadway Dance Center in NYC, and Dance Theatre of Harlem. She has performed in Los Angeles and for Norwegian Cruise Lines in Florida. She was the featured dancer in the 1998 Miss New Jersey Pageant. Lisa choreographed West Orange High School's production of West Side Story and choreographed industrial productions in NYC. Before UPAC, she taught at several schools and choreographed award-winning routines for their competition teams. Currently, aside from her duties at UPAC, Lisa teaches a dance program for special-needs children sponsored by the mayor of West Orange called Footsteps. For the last fifteen years she has been teaching a pre-school dance program at Strawberry Hill Preschool in Livingston, NJ.

Julie Barnes

Julie Barnes is originally from Yorkshire, England. She moved to London at 16 years old to train at Arts Educational Schools in Chiswick on a Musical Theatre Course. Once completing the course she went on to work on the first national tours of Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Evita and Crazy For You. After that she was in the company of Oklahoma with Hugh Jackman at both the National Theatre and London's West End, which was also made into a movie. Also in the West End she played the role of Bombalurina in Cats, and was in the original production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. She was lucky enough to work at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford and did two seasons at The Chichester Festival Theatre, were she performed in The Seagull, Seven Doors, The Gondoliers, and Out of This World. She then made the move to Broadway to be in the original Broadway cast of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang where she understudied and played the role of Truly Scrumptious. After that she got to tour the U.S. in Spamalot were she understudied and played Lady of The Lake. She then went on to play the role of Carlotta on Broadway in The Little Mermaid, and then went on to join the company of Mary Poppins. Just recently she performed in Run For Your Wife at the Fireside Theatre playing opposite her husband; she has also performed at that theatre in 9 to 5 playing the role of Violet. Alongside performing she has always taught at various colleges and schools internationally over the years. She is the Associate Director of The Broadway Experience, a Triple Threat program for kids 11 to 18 years old that is based in New York. Last year she was fortunate to go to Japan with the program, which was an amazing experience. Julie loves that she gets to do both of her passions, teaching and performing, and is thrilled to be part of the Unique Performance Arts Center.

Maurice Chestnut

Newark, New Jersey native Maurice Chestnut began dancing at the age of five, under the direction of Mr. Alfred Gallman. He became a professional dancer at the age of nine as an original member of the New Jersey Tap Ensemble under the direction of Ms. Deborah Mitchell. As one of tap's brightest young stars, he was featured on The Sally Jesse Raphael Show in the "My Kid's A Star" segment, where he proudly proclaimed that he loved to dance and would keep doing it "until I die". He was a gold medalist in the NAACP Act-So competition and was crowned "Top Dog Performer" at The Apollo Theater. At the age of fourteen, the Newark Star-Ledger's arts reviewers named Maurice, "one of the twenty New Jersey faces to watch for in the new millennium". In 2003, Maurice was recruited by tap master Savion Glover to join the national touring company of the Tony Award winning Bring in 'da Noise, Bring in 'da Funk. Maurice received critical favor in that role. He has continued to work with Savion as a member of his Improvography and Bare Soundz tours, as well as performing in productions such as Classical Savion, Tappin' Into Monk, Invitation To The Dancer and on ABC-TV's Dancing With The Stars. Off-Broadway credits include Shades of Harlem, The Wiz, Bubbling Brown Sugar directed by George Faison at Atlanta's Fox Theater and Can I Hit That. Maurice has developed an impressive list of credits. In addition to performing with his own band, he is often invited to perform or tour as a special guest with such prominent jazz musicians as Christian McBride, Cyrus Chestnut and Thelonius Monk III. His high profile engagements have included the JVC Jazz Festival, the Playboy Jazz Festival, The Apollo Theater and Birdland, as well as appearances at Carnegie Hall and throughout Europe with the Geri Allen Trio. As a featured soloist and choreographer, Maurice skillfully uses these venues to further develop his signature style of "playing tap" as a "live instrument". He seamlessly weaves complex dance steps to interplay with musical notes, creating a powerful and distinctive energy that resonates with his audiences. Inspired by such hoofing greats as the Nicholas Brothers and Jimmy Slyde, yet equally influenced by and connected to urban culture, Maurice Chestnut dances with truth, soul and power. As his appearance on BET's 106th and Park demonstrated, watching him dance is like walking through Harlem in the 1940s...while bumping a hip-hop beat.

Samanta Maravi

Samanta Maravi is originally from Buenos Aires, Argentina. She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Montclair State University and received from the Dean of the Department of Theater and Dance the 2009 Choreographic Excellence Award. She has done all of her dance training in NYC in schools such as Studio Maestro, Steps on Broadway, Ballet Arts, American Ballet Theater School, Broadway Dance Center, Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, Alvin Ailey Dance School and Paul Taylor School, among others. At Montclair State University she was honored to be cast in guest artist dance pieces from renowned choreographers such as Susan Marshall, Bill T. Jones, Jessica Dimauro, Nancy Lushington, and João Carvalho among others. She was able to find her own choreographic voice by presenting numerous dance pieces including duets, solos, and group choreographies, each one of them with a significant point of view. Currently she continues her dance training in NYC at Steps on Broadway and the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance. Above all she believes that every child should have an exposure to any art form and that in a dance class a teacher should not only be able to teach technique but self-discipline, respect, responsibility, and team work.

Samantha Pankiw

Samantha Pankiw is a graduate of Unique Performance Arts Center. She attended Point Park University as a dance major with classes focused in ballet, modern, jazz, Pilates, and tap. She was privileged to perform in Moments choreographed by Carolyn Paddock at Point Park University as a freshman. She was an intern at Broadway Dance Center in NYC with the opportunity to train with top teachers and choreographers, culminating with a performance at Symphony Space. Samantha was a featured dancer in two theatrical dance shows at Six Flags Great Adventure, Dead Man's Party and The Guest List, choreographed by So You Think You Can Dance alumnus Ashle Dawson. She is currently a company member of BEings Dance, directed by Emily Bufferd. She has performed with BEings Dance at various venues including the Salvatore Capezio Theater at Peridance and the Paramount Center for the Boston Contemporary Dance Festival. In addition to performing and teaching dance, Samantha is attending Montclair State University as a nutrition and food science major. She is excited to join the accomplished staff and contribute to UPAC's passion for dance.



Haley Schneider

Haley Schneider started her training at the age of three and studied at Cheryl Lee Studio of Dance in St. Petersburg, FL. After high school Haley went to Florida School of the Arts on a full scholarship for Dance. Since then she has performed with various theater companies across the states including Busch Gardens: Tampa Bay. Her career has also taken her around the world with Celebrity Cruise Lines. She currently resides in New York City where she is teaching, choreographing and performing with various artists. Haley continues to grow and advance her dancing career by training at Broadway Dance Center, Steps, and Peridance. She most recently performed in Cabaret as a Kit Kat girl.

Elise Sievert

Elise Sievert is a graduate of Butler University holding a BA degree in dance. Since graduation, she has become a company member of BEings Dance, directed by Emily Bufferd, and has performed at many notable venues in New York City such as Symphony Space, Joyce Soho, and City Center. Elise was featured in several fitness videos including Denise Austin's Dance and Pilates Body Burn, Petrafit:Cardio and Total Body Toning. She has also appeared on "The Rachael Ray Show" and traveled the world dancing with Royal Caribbean Productions. Recently Elise enjoyed performing with Pascal Rekoert's company Flexicurve at the 2011 Dumbo Dance Festival Opening Night Gala. She has performed in several musical and theater productions including Crazy for You, Grease, Godspell, and A Midsummer's Night Dream. She is certified in Power Pilates and is a volunteer with ASTEP. Last summer she traveled to India to volunteer at Shanti Bhavan, a residential school for children of poverty.

Ashlee Wood

Ashlee Wood began her training at Unique Performance where she was an award-winning soloist for the UPAC Troupe. She holds a BFA in Dance from Montclair State University where she performed works by Martha Graham, Susan Marshall, Maxine Steinman, Lonne Morreton, Nancy Lushington, and Jay-T Jenkins. Ashlee has worked as a back-up dancer and choreographer for pop and R&B artists J-Mello, Lori Michaels, and Gia Bella, where she has performed at various events and premieres in New York City, New Jersey, and Six Flags Great Adventure. At present Ashlee choreographs and performs hip-hop, jazz, modern, and contemporary dance.

Lyndsey Wood

Lyndsey Wood is an alumna student of Unique Performance Arts Center, where she was an award winning musical theatre soloist as a member of the UPAC Troupe. Lyndsey continued her dance training at Broadway Dance Center and with the Monsters of Hip Hop network. She has studied many forms of dance, including ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, modern, and liturgical, but hip-hop is by far her favorite. Lyndsey always strives to bring out the best in her students. performance and to "Never Fake The Funk"! She is a graduate of William Paterson University with a B.A. in English Literature and a minor in Writing. Lyndsey currently is an early childhood teacher at Althea Gibson Academy in East Orange, NJ.