Boston Conservatory at Berklee Welcomes New Faculty

Drawing from a broad range of professional expertise, the new faculty members will teach courses in hip-hop, ballroom dance, musical theater, cello performance, core music studies, and commercial dance industry skills.

September 1, 2023


Andrew Chapman (assistant professor of dance) is founder and director of the Mobile Dance Film Association (MDFA), which oversees the Mobile Dance Film Festival—the first and only festival to screen dance films shot solely on mobile devices. From 2015–2020, he was a cast member of the site-specific and immersive theater company Third Rail Projects. He will teach coursework in developing site-specific works for dance on film. 

Sergiy Georgiyev (assistant professor of dance) is a ballroom dance champion who has competed in four disciplines and an accomplished instructor whose students have won ballroom titles in the U.S. and Europe. He also has taught and created choreography for national figure skating champions in Austria. Georgiyev recently founded his own studio, Magenta Dance Place, in Acton, Massachusetts. He earned his master’s degree in sports pedagogy from Kiev Sports University.

Leah Misano Abbott (instructor of dance) is a dancer and choreographer who graduated from Boston Conservatory at Berklee with a B.F.A. in contemporary dance in 2021. She has been a performing artist with Whim W'Him contemporary dance company in Seattle and a dance captain for Hybridmotion Dance Theatre in Boston. She will serve as a teaching assistant for upside down technique and partnering.

Anna Scott (professor of dance) is an educator and dancer with extensive experience in traditional, collaborative performance from the African diaspora. Scott has produced festivals, conferences, tours, and workshops, and has presented solo performance work in traditional and non-traditional spaces around the country. She currently serves on the faculty at Rust College and previously taught dance history and theory at University of California, Riverside. Scott will teach dance academics at the Conservatory.

Ramiro (“Purpose”) Vaughan (assistant professor of dance) is an accomplished professional dancer who has been featured with Tony Williams’s Urban Nutcracker, Castle of Our Skins, Lorraine Chapman the Dance Company (LCTC), and many others. He has been training younger generations in hip-hop for over a decade at Tony Williams Dance Center, Green Street Studio, the Dance Complex, Boston University’s Reach Summer Dance Program, and in the Boston Public Schools. He will teach hip-hop at the Conservatory.

Fatima Wilson (associate professor of dance) is an agent in the production arts division at United Talent Agency, where she specializes in choreography and dance. Previously, she served as head of the Commercial, Dance and Choreography Department at the Bloc Agency, where she represented Conservatory alum Ebony Williams (B.F.A. '05, contemporary dance), among many others. Wilson will teach career industry skills for commercial dancers.


Marielisa and Mariesther Alvarez (instructors of music) are cofounders and codirectors of the Boston String Academy, an El Sistema-inspired program which provides rigorous string instrument instruction to children in underserved communities. Both attended Boston Conservatory, earning Master of Music degrees in violin performance in 2009 and Graduate Performance Diplomas in 2011. Mariesther and Marielisa are also graduates of El Sistema, a national network of free classical music education founded in their home country of Venezuela in 1975. They have collaborated extensively with the network and with other El Sistema-inspired programs in Mexico and the U.S. 

Amanda Berman (associate professor of core studies) is a professional vocalist and ethnomusicologist whose research areas include the Cape Breton diaspora in greater Boston, medical ethnomusicology, digital grieving and nostalgic practices among veteran populations, music and sports, and music’s role in the war-peace-conflict spectrum. She also has been a member of the Boston Pops Gospel Choir, Boston Pops Holiday Chorus, and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus. 

Andrew Bisantz (associate professor of music) will serve as principal conductor of the Conservatory’s opera program. He is currently music director of Eugene Opera, one of the most noteworthy performing arts organizations in the Pacific Northwest, and formerly served as associate conductor of Florida Grand Opera. Bisantz also has conducted performances by Boston Lyric Opera, Opera Tampa, Arizona Opera, Buffalo Philharmonic, and Saratoga Opera. 

Alice Defacq (assistant professor of language) will serve as the Conservatory’s instructor of French language fluency courses in the Voice Department. She received her doctorate degree in the field of translation and previously served on the faculty at the Université Catholique de l’Ouest, the University of South Florida, and the University of Tampa, among others. Her research interests include translation in musical theater and applied linguistics. 

Katie Gardiner (assistant professor of music) will serve as conductor of the Boston Conservatory Choir (SSAA). Gardiner has been leading vocal and instrumental ensembles since 2004. Her recent dissertation, “A Conductor’s Guide to the Music of Hildegard von Bingen,” won the Julius Herford Dissertation Prize from the American Choral Directors Association. She previously served on the music faculties at Skidmore College, Williams College, the University at Albany, and the College of the Holy Cross. 

Cassi Mikat (instructor of voice) is a Conservatory alum who received her master’s degree in musical theater pedagogy in 2022. She will teach applied lessons to students in the Conservatory’s musical theater programs. Mikat specializes in musical theater and pop-rock singing styles with particular expertise in helping vocal artists cross over into new genres. Her students have performed in Broadway national tours, on cruise ships, and in regional theaters across the U.S.  

Bahar Royaee (assistant professor of composition) writes music for various genres, from opera, theater, and film to chamber music. Her music has been acclaimed as “haunting” (Boston Arts Review) and “succeed(ing) as a poetic incantation, brimming with ideas and colors” (Classical Voice North America). Royaee has received a Fromm Music Foundation Commission (2022), as well as the Pnea Prize for Composers, a National Sawdust Hildegard Commission, the Roger Session Memorial Composition Award, and a Korourian Electroacoustic Composition award. 

David Russell (associate professor of cello) has served as principal cello of the orchestras of Odyssey Opera and Opera Boston since 2010 and performs regularly with many New England ensembles, including Cantata Singers and Ensemble, the Worcester Chamber Music Society, and Emmanuel Music. A strong advocate of new music, he has performed and recorded with many notable contemporary ensembles, such as Boston Modern Orchestra Project and Firebird Ensemble. Russell also teaches at Wellesley College, where serves as director of chamber music. 

Christopher Sierra (assistant professor of voice) is a Peruvian-American tenor who has performed with Opera Philadelphia, Santa Fe Opera, Opera New Jersey, Spoleto Festival USA, and New York Lyric Opera Theatre, among others, and has made solo debuts in Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Luxembourg, and India. Their notable research and presentations address vocal health, phonotrauma and rehabilitation, performance anxiety, and vocal pedagogy for gender expansive singers. They will teach applied lessons to musical theater students.

LJ White (assistant professor of core studies) is a composer and educator who has worked with many of the leading ensembles in contemporary classical music, including Alarm Will Sound, Ensemble SIGNAL, and Ensemble Dal Niente, as well as members of the International Contemporary Ensemble, Roomful of Teeth, the Talea Ensemble, and the Bang on a Can All-Stars. White previously taught at Washington University in St. Louis and at Northwestern University, and developed a college preparatory music theory and composition program at the Merit School of Music in Chicago.


Liz Stanton (associate professor of theater) is an actor, singer, sound designer, composer, and educator whose work has been seen in New York City as well as in regional theaters throughout the U.S. and overseas. She has created award-winning devised theater pieces, composed music for theatrical sound scores, and written an opera based on The Bacchae. Stanton has taught physically embodied voice and acting at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, Naropa University, Denison University, Salem State University, and the New York Film Academy, among others. 

Katya Stanislavskaya (associate professor of theater) will teach coursework in musical theater performance, history, musicianship, and songwriting. An award-winning composer and lyricist, her work has been performed in venues all over the world, including Lincoln Center, Merkin Hall, and Ars Nova. A decade-long member of the BMI Lehman Engel Workshop, she is a two-time finalist for the Jonathan Larson Grant from the American Theatre Wing, a two-time semifinalist at the National Musical Theatre Conference at the O’Neill Theatre Center, and a recipient of the Harrington Award for Creative Achievement.