Board of Directors
Executive Director: Wayne Betchel
Artistic Director: Antwon Duncan
Board of Directors: Lynn Betchel
Marketing Directors: Brittany Gerstenslager
Educational Coord.: Jennifer McDonald
Wayne and Lynn Betchel are the founders of the “Constellations Performing Arts Company”, which they established in order to create a pre-professional training environment for youth interested in a career in the arts.
Wayne and Lynn are also the founders and owners of StarMaker Performing Arts Center (www.StarMakerPAC.com) located in Norton, Ohio. Wayne and Lynn started Starmaker in 2000 with a simple vision to “Provide training in the arts to develop discipline, creativity and self-confidence and demonstrate God honoring values and judgment in an environment where excellence is valued over profit and others valued over self.”,
Under their leadership Starmaker has grown from eight students at the first class almost ten years ago to nearly 800 students on the floor currently. They also started the “All Stars” performance team to provide dedicated dancers additional opportunities to perform and excel through professional critique and instruction.
Wayne is an IT professional having worked in the computer industry for over thirty years, the last thirteen with IBM. Wayne’s current role is as the National Team Lead responsible for a team that supports large mainframe database management systems for clients around the world.
Wayne and Lynn have raised three children in Norton, Ohio. Their two daughters have spent many years training in local studios and performing and competing in dance competitions across the country. One of their daughters went on to perform professionally as one of the world famous Radio City Rockettes.
Their desire to help other young aspiring professionals access the tools and training necessary to acquire and retain a profession in the arts was what led to the founding of CPAC.
Wayne’s background and experience in entrepreneurship, business and project management and leadership combined with Lynn’s experience in business startup and dance studio administration make them a strong and welcome addition to the leadership team of Constellations.
Neva Gibson currently resides in Norton, Ohio with her husband Ken. Both are graduates of Norton High School. She and Ken have two children, Kaitlin and Adam. Kaitlin is married and is a teacher at Copley-Fairlawn Schools. Adam graduated in 2008 as Valedictorian of Norton High School and is a full-time student at Kent State University where he is in the Honors Program.
Neva spent the better portion of her life performing on stage as a professional singer/entertainer. Acting as leader and booking agent, Mrs. Gibson traveled throughout Ohio and the United States successfully performing with her bands for over 25 years.
After her first child arrived, Neva concentrated on performing locally so she could be home with her family. Because of her professional background, the Mayor of Norton appointed Neva to coordinate a variety of musical groups for Norton’s first summer concert series. With the contacts she developed in the music industry, she lined up a various musicians to perform every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the summer at Norton parks. The acting Mayor, Terry Jones, subsequently awarded Neva the “Key to the City” for all of her contributions.
During this time, Neva also became very involved with volunteer groups in her hometown. She successfully took on the role of chairman of various fundraising events and activities. Through her dedication and hard work, she was named the Norton Women’s Club “Woman of the Year.” In succeeding years, Neva also received the Norton Kiwanis “Citizen of the Year” award as well as the Norton Grange’s “Citizen of the Year” honors for her contributions to the City of Norton.
After Neva’s first child started school, she became very active with the PTA where she volunteered to act as chairman of many events. She also became a Girl Scout leader and successfully took her troop from kindergarten to earning the “Silver Award” as high school seniors. Neva also volunteered for over ten years as a teacher at Safety Town. The program teaches safety rules to incoming kindergarten students and reinforces traffic rules, fire safety, the danger of strangers, poisons and much more.
Because of her love of children, Neva subsequently ran for school board and was elected to serve on the Norton Board of Education. During that time, she worked diligently to help pass an operating levy. She also successfully met her main goal for becoming a school board member, which was to reduce class sizes in all of the Norton elementary schools.
Throughout her life and her many interests, Neva has always loved every aspect of the performing arts. She volunteered at Magical Theatre Company not only as an actor, but served as sound technician during performances and ran stage lights as well as spotlights for various shows. She became a member of “The Wolf Creek Players,” formerly known as the “The Norton Community Theatre” at their inception in 2004. She has performed in lead roles for several productions and currently serves as Marketing Chairman for the group.
Neva currently works as a freelance writer/photographer with The Post Newspapers. She enjoys traveling throughout the Norton community gathering stories and pictures about Norton citizens and activities. She also works full time as secretary at Norton Cornerstone Elementary School. Because of her love of children and with her own children now grown, this job affords her the opportunity to work and interact with the youth of Norton in a special way.
Anne Harmon grew up in the world of dance, seriously focusing on classical ballet in addition to other forms of dance, and has more than 6 years of dance teaching experience.
She has taught pre-professional ballet dancers and 3-year-olds alike, as well as given supplemental instruction to ice skaters and implemented a dance program as part of a drug prevention grant program.
Anne graduated in 2006 from the University of Akron with dual degrees in English and Integrated Language Arts (7-12 English Education).
She served with the Peace Corps in the Republic of Macedonia for 27 months, where she did various community development programs through a secondary high school and non-governmental organizations, many of which were youth-focused.
Additionally, Anne wrote and implemented a grant for a multi-ethnic girl’s leadership summer camp in her town. She returned to the states in December of 2008. She currently teaches ballet at several area studios and is a substitute teacher for Akron Public Schools.
Anne spends her free time volunteering with First Glance, a youth community center in the Kenmore Area of Akron, OH.
Laura Zaleski In 1985, Laura Zaleksi began a life long dream of putting together top quality, fun-filled and exciting events. Since that time, Ms. Zaleski has expanded her company’s creative reach and is now seen as on of the premier production companies in the United States. Her company has been praise for their excellent work in producing fundraisers for Child Find, Domestic Violence of Stark County and the Aids Task Force…in directing some of the top fashion shows in the county…and for developing talent on a national scale. The Zaleski Productions Team continues to take on the live event arena with bridal shows, trade shows and seminars…providing wonderful opportunities for companies and audiences alike.
Antwon Duncan is a Cleveland native and has had a myriad of opportunities to share and hone his talent. Antwon received a BA in Dance from the University of Akron where he was a three time recipient of the dancer of the year award. Once launching into his professional career he performed regionally in several shows including Plato in Cats and Larry in A Chorus Line. Shifting from musical theatre Antwon focused on concert dance where he danced with Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theater and Verb Ballets. He also had the wonderful opportunity to dance for Stilletto Entertainment on Holland America Cruise Lines. After deciding to focus primarily on teaching, he has been seen at many studios on staff and doing master classes some of which include Lisa’s School of Dance, Martell School of Dance, the DNA of Dance, and Starmaker Performing Arts Center. Antwon is the proud Artistic Director of Constellations Performing Arts Company, an organization committed to providing aspiring artist with the necessary tools, knowledge, and experience to pair with their training to increase their success in the arts.
Brittany Gerstenslager is originally from Columbus, Ohio. Her dance training began at age 3 at Ballet Met under the Artistic Direction of John McFall and David Nixon. She has professionally trained in Ballet, Pointe, Tap, Jazz, Contemporary, Modern, Flamenco, Russian, Hip Hop, African Caribbean, Partnering and Improvisation. She trained with other professional studios before moving to Boston, MA for a summer to train with the Boston Ballet. Brittany attended The Kent State University and received her BFA in Journalism and Mass Communications, majoring in Advertising and double-minoring in Marketing and Dance. While there, she performed with the Kent State Dance Team and performed throughout her 4 years there until graduation. She worked at JWT Action (formerly Malone Advertising, currently Geometry Global) for 6 years as an Account Executive for Kimberly-Clark Brands. Her responsibilities included managing retail advertising and promotions for all Kimberly-Clark Brands at Target, Kroger and other smaller retail stores. She’s been teaching ballet, modern, contemporary, yoga and Pilates for over 8 years at various studios and recreation facilities and freelance-marketing to assist various studios with their marketing initiatives for the past 4 years.
Jennifer McDonald has been a member of the Martell family for 25 years. At the age of 6, she started with tap, and jumped into the ballet and jazz program shortly after. When she was 15, Jennifer was Martell’s Scholarship Student, an honor that only one student receives each year. After completing her one year scholarship, she began teaching and assisting under the guidance of Teri Martell, or “Miss Teri” as her students affectionately called her. During her Junior High and High School years, Jennifer attended several dance conventions with Miss Teri and other students and received a scholarship to dance for the summer of 1999 with Hoctor’s Dance Caravan; a 6 week, 8 city tour, assisting and training with the nations top dance teachers.
In 2002, Jennifer graduated from St. Vincent St. Mary High School in Akron and began pursuing her life long dream of performing. In November of 2003, Jennifer was hired by Holland America Cruise Lines to perform in the night time production shows as part of a 10 person cast. For 3 years she traveled all over the world, to places such as Alaska, Hawaii, Panama Canal and Europe. After deciding to come home in October of 2005, Jennifer returned to Martell and began teaching again. Her dream came true when she took over ownership of her beloved studio on June 1st, 2007. The following September, Jennifer married her husband Tommy, and together they have two sons, Benjamin and James. As in the past, Jennifer will be teaching all age groups, levels and styles along with the exceptional staff at Martell. In between classes, she will be working hard to improve Martell’s established outstanding reputation. Jennifer is honored to be running such an amazing facility for kids and adults to come and learn how to DANCE!
Rachel Yunker joins Martell from the small Ohio town of Woodsfield and has been a member of the Martell family for 11 years. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Dance from The University of Akron where she was a University Honors Scholar. While at U of A, Rachel studied and performed with various dance professionals. She is well versed in Graham, Muller, and Paul Taylor modern dance techniques as well as various ballet techniques, choreography, and dance history. Rachel has choreographed numerous pieces for Martell as well as for Firestone High School Theatre, Montessori High School at University Circle, and The Western Reserve Playhouse in Cleveland. Rachel is CPR and First Aid certified by the American Red Cross and obtained her Peace Officer Training in the Fall of 2013 from the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.
In addition to leading the modern program at Martell School of Dance, Rachel is also in the process of writing the course curriculum for 9/10 Dance as well as for the International Baccalaureate Dance Program for Montessori High School at University Circle. She resides in Cleveland with her husband, Matt, and daughters, Daphne and Mia.
She is looking forward to another exciting year of instruction with Martell School of Dance where she feels blessed to develop her career as an artist and instructor while maintaining her connection to the Akron community that she loves.