Gina Samardge (director, and head teacher). For many years now Gina Samardge has been an educational and artistic force in the New York area, from her highly praised music classes for children to her formal musical instruction at various public and private schools, and from her work in the New York clowning, theater, music and vaudeville communities. Known for her warm, engaging style and ability to blur the lines between art forms, Gina infuses the principles of elemental music and movement found in the Orff-Schulwerk Approach not only into her teaching, but into her performance work, be it theater, clowning or music, bringing an honesty and presence to both stage and classroom. Gina is a big believer in the power of the arts and feels that everyday she sees examples of how arts transfer more than just the ability to sing or dance but also teach us, at a root level, how to learn.
Gina taught K-3 music for two years in Central Ohio where she developed a 30 student 3rd grade "Orffestra" and African Drumming group that toured their show "Imagination" to area schools. After moving to New York in 2002 she performed with VOICETheatre, The Soon-To-Be-World-Famous Female Clown Troupe and the Main Squeeze Orchestra, an all female accordion ensemble, giving her opportunities to work with Cirque du Soleil and back indie band, Devotchka, as an accordion toting mermaid. She's written and arranged music for theater and film and her role as Zaida, a mute accordion playing homeless woman, in the 2008 Fringe Festival earned her rave reviews. Her ongoing role as the accordion toting, hightop wearing Princess Penny has made her and the clown and music ensemble, The Maestrosities, a staple in the NYC underground worlds of clowning, cirque and vaudeville, taking them all the way to Shanghai, China as a part of the Kim Tom International Clown Festival. Ms. Samardge has had the honor of studying acting and clown with such industry luminaries as David Shiner, Richard Crawford, Norman Taylor, Shauna Kanter, Seth Barrish, Jean Taylor and Sally Johnson and has trained with vocal coach Steve Sweetland and accordionist Will Holshouser.
Gina is currently the music teacher at the Randolph School in Wappinger's Falls, NY, an inspired private school for preschool through 5th grade, and at Hudson Hill Academy, where she handles Pre-K through 8th grade music at both their Newburgh and Beacon, NY locations. From 2003-2008 she was a teaching artist in the Brooklyn Public Schools and directed The Brooklyn Conservatory Children's Chorus, where she produced 3 choral festivals serving the Conservatory's various outreach choral programs. Gina has created and run special summer camps in association with the Conservatory and independently to produce children-created theatrical and musical works. She has built her business, Compass Arts, from its initial stages as sing-alongs in Brooklyn to a blooming set of music and movement classes for children from birth through 7 years old in Brooklyn, Manhattan and now Beacon, NY. Gina was selected as a Time Out NY Kids' Top Choice for her sing-a-long birthday parties and was a Nickelodeon Parents' Pick Finalist for Party Performers in NYC as well. In early 2012 Gina appeared on Sesame Street in the episode "The All Of Our Senses Club" leading a song for a batch of kids who were using sign language to perform the lyrics. She is a member of the Early Chilhood Music and Movement Association, the Dalcroze Society of America, the American Choral Directors Association and the American Orff-Schulwerk Association. She is a certified Orff-Schulwerk Educator, having completed all 3 levels of training under the instruction of Danai Gagne, Judith Thomas, Laura Koulish, Mary Helen Solomon, Karen Medley and Janet Robbins, and continues her professional development in Orff, Kodaly, Dalcroze and Gordon pedagogies.
Gina's Parents' Choice Approved album, "Together," perfectly combines her 3 loves: performing, travel and teaching. Backed by a stellar group of musicians from the indie and jazz worlds, and former student choristers, Gina takes you on a journey around the world, from Puerto Rico to Liberia to the playground in your own backyard. Spontaneous and lively, you can't help but move to the intricate rhythms of the drums, bass, flute, fiddle, accordion and guitar.
Kit Burke-Smith (Beginning Metal Fabrication). Kit Burke-Smith is an accomplished jeweler, metalsmith, and educator. When she was 11 a friend showed her some hand-crafted earrings, and little Kit immediately discovered her own passion for fine metalwork. She attended Interlochen Arts Academy, Rhode Island School of Design, and has an MFA in Metals from SUNY New Paltz. Kit has taught at SUNY New Paltz, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Dutchess Community College, Mill Street Loft, Manitoga Design Center, Beacon Art Studio, Beetle & Fred, and The Culinary Institute of America, working with all ages from pre-schoolers to grandparents. One of her greatest joys comes from watching her students master new materials and methods. Kit maintains a studio practice in Beacon, NY, and her work can be seen at kitburkesmith.etsy.com
Deb Lucke (Graphic Novel Workshop) Deb Lucke is a writer and illustrator of children's books with an interest in bad behavior and horribly embarrassing incidents. Since her own childhood had plenty of both she is never short of material. In addition to children's trade and educational books, Deb has illustrated for numerous editorial publications including The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Baltimore Sun, Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine, Cricket Magazine, and School Library Journal. Deb lives and works in Cold Spring with writer Paul Hartzell.
Lisa Marie Martinez (Soneritos, Rumberitos, Garabatitos) Lisa Marie Martinez holds a BA in Anthropology and Latin American Studies with a concentration in Cuban Studies. She is passionate about music and child development and the important role of play for people of all ages. She has studied in many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, including Cuba and Mexico, which has influenced her approach to learning, language acquisition and child development.
Ed Murr (Cartooning, Characters & Comics) Ed Murr can’t remember a time he wasn’t drawing or interested in art. A lifelong passion for comics, cartooning and telling stories led him to a career in illustration that has spanned nearly eighteen years. Comic-book illustration at Marvel Comics, drawing caricatures at Sardi’s in Times Square, creating storyboards for clients like Fed-Ex, Panasonic and Adidas, music videos, film and television projects both animated and live action, toy manufacturers, Six Flags amusement parks – the list goes on! Whatever the medium, at the heart of Ed's work is a focus on telling a story that needs to be told.