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
UPAC on Facebook UPAC on Twitter
UPAC on West Orange Patch UPAC on YouTube

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.

Natalie Cortez

Natalie Cortez is thrilled to be teaching at Unique Performance Art Center. She has been a professional actress for over 12 years in New York and has performed internationally as well. She played Diana Morales in the Broadway revival of A Chorus Line as well as Anita in the most recent revival of West Side Story. She also workshopped the roles of Nina in In The Heights and Catherine in Pippin. Most recently she worked at the Public Theater originating the roles of Juana in Giant as well as Aurora Aquino in David Byrne's Here Lies Love. She started off her career all over the country touring with Eartha Kitt in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella. Other credits include Fiddler on the Roof (Chava), West Side Story (Maria), Anything Goes (Hope), Swing, Evita, and Mambo Kings. She was also a hip-hop dancer for Deborah Gibson on the N*Sync Pop Odyssey tour as well as a salsa coach on MTV's MADE. Her voice is featured on the following Original Cast Albums: A Chorus Line, Giant, and Here Lies Love (soon to be released). She studied at Broadway Theater Project, Alvin Ailey, American Dance Festival, and has a BFA in Musical Theater from NYU.

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.

Lizzie Perez

Lizzie Perez's involvement in the arts as a performer and educator spans over three decades. She has studied with such industry greats as Dave Russell, Sheila Barker, Tracy Stansfield, Frank Hatchett, and Germaine Salsberg. As a performer, Lizzie has played the roles of Anita in West Side Story, Miss Hannigan in Annie, and Miss Minchin in Little Princess. Her video credits include "Not Gonna Be the One" with Renegade and she worked with the children in an industrial series for GMAC. Several of her students have gone on to perform on Broadway and at Radio City. Lizzie is a certified teacher with both DMA and DEA, and in addition to teaching dance, she is pursuing her degree in Education/English and working with special education first graders. Lizzie's dynamic classes and knowledge of dance make her a welcome part of UPAC.

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.

Lyndsey Vader

Lyndsey Vader is Artistic Co-Director of Treeline Dance Works, a NYC and Chicago-based performance co-op. She works as Operations Manager for Andrea Miller's Gallim Dance. She has danced in choreography by David Dorfman, Larry Keigwin, Pamela Vail, Lisa Neidermeyer, and Mariah Maloney. Her choreography has been set on Perpetual Motion/Modern Dance Oklahoma, Inc and presented at the Ailey Citigroup Theater (NY), WHITE WAVE RISING Festival (NY), 92nd St. Y (NY), DUMBO Dance Festival (NY), WestFest (NY), Pushing Progress (NY), Yes! Virginia Invitational (VA), Rebound Dance Festival (CT; IL), Joy of Motion Dance Project (DC), and Dance Under Construction (CA). Teaching credits include, but are not limited to, SUNY Brockport, Ball State University, Franklin & Marshall College, and Dickinson College. Lyndsey holds an MFA in Dance, Choreography & Performance from The College at Brockport State University of New York. She is delighted to be in her third year on staff at UPAC.

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.