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

Alison Berest Busching, Program Director, Berest and Beyond

Alison Busching grew up dancing in the Berest Dance Center.  Later on she completed a Master's degree in Mental Health Counseling. Alison is thrilled to come along side her mother and sister in this brand new exciting endeavor, Berest and Beyond. The purpose of this unique program is to support, encourage and empower students who will be transitioning from high school to the next phase of life. Whether or not one chooses to pursue dance post high school, the skills, confidence and grace gained from studying dance provide a firm foundation from which young people can flourish. Berest and Beyond is a professional service offered at no charge by Berest to help students realize all that they possess as dancers and how to apply that possession to ease fears, bolster identity and achieve success.

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.  She has a a M.A.R. (Masters of Arts in Religion) as well as a BFA in art.  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.

Molly Crawford

Molly joined the faculty of Berest Dance in 2016.  Growing up, she pursued her ballet studies at Ballet Arts Minnesota and Minnesota Dance Theatre and received additional training with School of American Ballet, Boston Ballet School, and Pacific Northwest Ballet School.  She went on to dance professionally with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Colorado Ballet, and Boulder Ballet.  Her roles included Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, Dewdrop in Nutcracker, and ensemble roles in Concerto Barocco and Serenade.   Molly later received her B.A. in English from Stanford University and M.F.A. in Writing from Arizona State University and has previously taught ballet at the School of Ballet Arizona and Parker Dance (Colorado).  She currently resides in Port Washington with her husband and daughter. 

Melissa Estes

Since expressing her interest in dance at age three, Melissa has been exploring movement and performing ever since. She received her training in ballet and modern at the prestigious Baltimore School for the Arts anreceived her BFA in Dance from Adelphi University where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. At Adelphi she performed a wide range of roles from world-famous works by Jiri Kylian to classical ballet roles, and just about everything in between. Her most recent performance credit includes dancing "I Can Dream, Can't I?" in Orion Duckstein's re-staging of Paul Taylor's Company B

Floryn Glass

Floryn began her training under Olga, Karen, Heather, and Cindy here at Berest as a young child. She went on to study Theater and Dance at Skidmore College, and has been a working triple threat performer since then. She is a proud member of the Actors Equity Association, the union for stage performers, and has performed in the ensembles of musicals such as 42nd St., and in leading roles such as Velma in Chicago. Those are only two of the many productions Floryn has performed in nationwide, as well as with Tony winners here in New York. She most recently performed with Broadway and NYCB stars in American Dance Machine at The Joyce Theater. Floryn loves to share her passion for dance and performing, and is grateful she gets to make art with the incredible students at Berest!

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. 

Krissy Harris

Krissy is a professional dancer residing in Brooklyn, NY. Her performance training began at the age of 9 in theatre, hip hop/breakdancing, Lithuanian folk dancing, as well as ballet. She is a 2013 BFA graduate from the Adelphi University dance program. She is a Teaching Assistant at the Mark Morris Dance Center, and in 2014 worked with the Battery Dance Company (NY) Dancing to Connect Institute, a teaching artist program with a social activism and community building platform. Krissy performs and collaborates with various modern dance companies and independent performing artists in NYC, and her dance collective, Krissy and the Works, is actively rehearsing and performing professionally in New York City and beyond. 

Ioanna Ioannides

Ioanna grew up training at Berest Dance Center before going on to graduate Summa Cum Laude from Adelphi University with a B.F.A. in Dance (minors in psychology and French). While at Adelphi. she was privileged to perform in works by Gregory Askins, Orion Duckstein, and most recently in Paul Taylor’s Company B. She has also studied at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, the Paul Taylor School, and the Mark Morris Dance Center.  Ioanna is excited to begin the next chapter of her life at Berest, and is extremely humbled to be working alongside the faculty that inspired her to pursue a career in dance.

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.

Elizabeth Trimm

Beth is a Senior Adjunct Professor in Dance at the Post Campus of Long Island University. She also teaches dance at Stony Brook University and Nassau Community College. She has danced extensively in New York as well as with regional companies. Her work in ballet includes leading roles with U.S. Terpsichore, the resident company for the New York School of Ballet, directed by Richard Thomas, Barbara Fallis and Daniel Levans. Ms. Trimm’s work in modern dance includes several years at the Merce Cunningham Studio, taking company class and performing in workshops and student choreography.  While at U.S. Terpsichore she performed in Cunningham’s Cross Currents.  She is a certified Zena Rommett Floor-Barre® instructor since 1999. She has taught floor barre® classes across the USA and Italy.  Ms. Trimm holds a B.A. in History from LIU and a M.A. in Dance Education from NYU.

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.

Courtney Wrigley

Courtney began dancing at a young age, training at American Theater Dance Workshop and Eglevsky Ballet. She continued her training at Manhattanville College where she received her BA with a concentration in Dance Therapy. During her time at Manhattanville, she was privileged to perform works by many choreographers including Peter Pucci, Bill Hastings, Earl Mosley, Kazuko Hirabayashi and Wallie Wolfgruber and it was there that she also had the opportunity to debut her own choreography. Courtney is now the office manager at Berest as well as a teacher and is so thankful to be surrounded by such fabulous faculty and students.