Olga Berest

Founder and Director

Mrs. Berest developed her early love of dance as a child in Manhasset with her teachers Roy Kreiser and Brenda Morgan.  She continued training in NYC at the American Ballet Theater School and the Martha Graham School, as well as through college while she earned her B.S. in Speech and Hearing Pathology and her M.S. in Special Education.

An innovator in integrating Dance in Education, in the 1960’s Mrs. Berest initiated a program at Willowbrook State Hospital that combined communication skills with teaching children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder and Down’s Syndrome.

In 1979 she began the Berest Dance Center in Manhasset while working in the Manhasset public schools as a movement teacher and consultant in the Arts In Education Resource Directory.  Before long the Berest Dance Center demanded her full-time attention, with over 100 classes, a faculty of 12 and a rotating roster of guest artists.

Olga founded the Youth Dance Theater in 1982 for students interested in developing performing skills and has since created over 100 children’s ballets presented in concerts, schools, and community functions.  Participants must study ballet and are selected by auditions held at Berest Dance Center in late September.  In December of 2005 Youth Dance Theater presented a holiday festival “Making Spirits Bright” joined by several local youth dance  companies.  This annual show raises toys for the ‘Toys for Tots’ program which donates gifts for less fortunate children.

Olga Berest presented the very first ‘Celebration of Dance’ festival in 1998.  This was the beginning of a collaborative forum bringing together the leaders of dance education on Long Island.  Celebration of Dance has since been taken over by the Long Island Dance Consortium and is now presented annually at the Long Island School for the Arts (formerly BOCES).  Olga continues to take an active role in making Long Island a resource for dance education.

Heather Berest

Artistic Director

At age three Heather told her mom that she wanted to be a dancer when she grew up.  She began training with her mother, and later attended North Carolina School of the Arts.  After college she danced professionally with Neo Labos, Momix, Robert Wood, Margie Gillis, Patrick Corbin and Martita Goshen.  In her 20’s she joined the internationally renowned Paul Taylor Dance Company.  She danced for Mr. Taylor for 10 years.  Critics the world over have written about her artistry, lines, and unique stage presence which made her such a standout in Mr. Taylor’s works.  Heather is thrilled to leave the pressures of international touring behind and give to the next generation of dancers.


Heather Berest in Paul Taylor’s Piazzolla Caldera, photo ©Lois Greenfield;

Orion Duckstein

Executive Director

Orion danced with Heather in Peter Pucci’s work as well as with Robert Wood, but most notably as a soloist with the Paul Taylor Dance Company (and Taylor 2) for 15 years.  He has shown his own choreography across the US, and taught hundreds of master classes around the nation and the globe.  Mr. Duckstein is currently an Assistant Professor of Dance at Adelphi University.


Orion Duckstein in Paul Taylor’s Sunset © Francisco Graciano

Krista Billard

Krista Billard grew up in Long Island, NY where she received classical training at The Berest Dance Studio,
under the direction of Olga Berest. Upon moving to CT, she continued to train at The Studio of Dance, The University of Hartford, and The Greater Academy of Dance. Krista Billard is a graduate of Liberty University Theological Seminary and has attained a M.A.R. (Masters of Arts in Religion) in Pastoral Counseling focusing on intensive study of the Scriptures in conjunction with Christian counseling. In addition, Krista has a B.F.A. through The Hartford Art School (U of H) and has studied, taught, and ministered using both dance and art forms of therapy at retreats and churches throughout New England. Krista is an Ordained Healing Arts Minister.

In 2013, Krista Billard opened Eden Ministries under The Healing Tree LLC Pastoral Counseling center, which seeks to introduce dance to the Christian community as a form of therapy and inner healing. Through the discipline of sacred dance, individuals are drawn deeper into the presence of God and experience inner healing through worship. All training and therapy addresses the body, mind, soul, and spirit in accordance with the first commandment as the foundational principle for change, bringing a deeper revelation of the love of God. 

Cindy Burton

Received her BA in Dance Ed from Manhattanville College and her MS in Elementary Education from St. John’s University.  She has 24 years experience teaching modern dance, dance improvisation and creative arts at the Berest Dance Center and also taught at USDAN Center for the Arts and Holy Child Academy.

Jahain Clark

A director, performer and dedicated dance educator.  After receiving her BFA in Dance from SUNY Purchase, Jahain toured internationally as a dancer in Momix.  Later she co-founded her own contemporary dance company, Chalasa Dance Theater.  Now in its 12th year, Chalasa remains active in performing, conducting lecture-demonstrations and master classes.  Jahain has choreographed for Connecticut/ Zig-Zag Ballet Company, the Ballet School of Stamford and contributed to the creation of Momix’s hit ‘Baseball’.

Floryn Glass

(BS Theater/Dance Minor, Skidmore College) grew up training here at Berest and is thrilled to join the faculty as an adult.  A musical theater professional, Floryn has toured the country playing roles such as Velma in Chicago and Cha-Cha in Grease, and been a featured actor and singer in many New York and regional productions.  Floryn was the cast’s dance captain in the recent Off-Broadway hit Hell’s Kitchen.

Karen Ferby-Guy

Has been with Berest Dance Center since 1978.  Karen began dancing at Springfield College in MA with Frank Hatchett and continued with Nat Horne in New York City, also taking classes at the Alvin Ailey School and Steps.  While pursuing her MA in Education Karen danced with the African dance company Liberation Ensemble and performed with Dance EPIC (Educators and Performers In Concert).  Karen has been teaching dance to children and adults since 1976 and recently retired from teaching in the Manhasset public schools as a Special Education teacher and Director of the After-School Dance program. 

Sharon Jones

Sharon has studied dance throughout the USA and Europe.  She was a Radio City Rockette for 2 years, danced with the Nevada Ballet, the Lido de Paris, and in productions at the Sands and the Stardust in Las Vegas.  She also performed on the Ed Sullivan Show and the Merv Griffin show and has been a guest artist and/or teacher with professional companies in Las Vegas, Philadelphia.  Ms. Jones also owned and directed her own dance studio and company Nassau Dance Theater for 25 years.

Lance E. Theobald Jr.

Before his professional acting, dancing and choreographic career, Lancelot played football in Europe.  He has performed with the Metropolitan Opera, with Indigo Dancers at the famous Kit Kat club on Broadway, and appeared in both Television and film.  Lance is a choreographer and assistant director for the hip-hop artist Reyn.  He has choreographed several hip-hop numbers for the Knick City Dancers at Madison Square Garden and has received the award for outstanding tap choreography at the teen tap conference in NYC in 2000.  Lance created and choreographs for Momz-N-Da-Hood, the world’s first hip-hop group of ladies in their 40’s & 50’s.

Jessica Wontropsky

Jess began dancing at her mother's, Sharon Jones', studio from a very early age. It was here that her passion for dance and teaching began. She attended Long Island High School for the Performing Arts and continued to pursue dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, receiving her BFA in Contemporary Dance Performance. After graduating she received a fellowship program, working in New York City with teaching artists at Lincoln Center Institute. Here, she realized her deep passion for education. Jess continued her own education at Bank Street College of Education, receiving her MSEd in General and Special Elementary Education.  She currently teaches 5th grade at Bronx Community Charter school and feels privileged to be working with the talented students and faculty at Berest.


Berest Dance Center

12 South Washington St, Port Washington, NY 11050

(516) 944-6687