Jennifer Tierney - ADC Creative Director/
Syllabus Director/Master Teacher
Originally from Sacramento, CA, Jennifer Tierney started her training on full scholarship with the Deane Dance Center; the founding school of the Sacramento Ballet. Ms. Tierney's seventeen year professional career includes seasons spent with Ballet West, Milwaukee Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Oakland Ballet, Columbia City Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Madison Ballet, Concept Zero Contemporary Dance and Owen Cox Dance Group. She has been seen in many Balanchine works; her favorites being Concerto Barocco, Theme and Variations, and Western Symphony. As a professional, Ms. Tierney has also enjoyed the opportunities to dance in full-length productions as the title roles in Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Highlights of her performing career have been the featured role created on her by Donald McKayle, the role of “Wendy” in Peter Pan and "Mina" in Dracula for W.Earle Smith , the principal role in Scott Rink’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice, “Clara/Sugar Plum Fairy” Pas de Deux in the Nutcracker and "Karen" in Matthew Powell's The Red Shoes.
Ms. Tierney has taught in several training schools and collegiate programs around the country including UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance, Crocket-Deane Ballet, Madison Ballet School and Columbia Conservatory of Dance. She is the Creative Director of the ADC II Children's Program Video Archives- a training tool for ballet teacher using the American Dance Center Syllabus.
Jennifer Tierney is also owner of J.Tierney Designs - a Designer Brand based in Kansas City. Her Collections have been presented at both the West 18th Street Fashion Show, Kansas City Fashion Week Omaha Fashion Week, JCCC Fashion Show and will be headed to Paris Fashion Week Spring 2020. In addition she is the full-time Costume Director for American Youth Ballet.
Kristopher Estes-Brown - AYB Company Director
AYB Resident Choreographer
Ballet, Contemporary, Yoga
A Kansas City native, Kristopher Estes-Brown received his training at the American Dance Center and was also a member of the original American Youth Ballet. He then continued studying under the guidance of Yoko Ichino and David Nixon at the BalletMet Academy. Professionally, Mr. Estes-Brown has performed with Milwaukee Ballet, Eugene Ballet/Ballet Idaho, Sacramento Ballet, and Columbia City Ballet. He has been seen in numerous classical ballets including Don Quixote, La Bayadere, The Sleeping Beauty, and Swan Lake, as well as works by great choreographers such as George Balanchine, Cho San Gogh, Jean-Paul Comeline, Toni Pimble, and Kathy Posin. Some of his more notable roles include Blue Bird from The Sleeping Beauty, Slave from Le Corsaire and Cavalier from The Nutcracker. In addition to being an accomplished dancer, he has taught workshops in numerous dance academies including Deane Dance Center; the founding school of Sacramento Ballet, Madison Ballet School, Columbia Conservatory of Dance, Berkley City Ballet, Ball State University, and many more. His choreography has been very well received and performed on numerous Gala evenings in both the Pacific and Midwest Regions of Regional Dance America. In 2006, he had the honor of being a Projecteer at the Craft of Choreography Workshop. Mr. Estes-Brown has also choreographed several original pieces on both regional and professional companies including Crocket-Deane Ballet, Kansas Regional Ballet, and Contemporary Dance Theater. In the last two seasons alone, he has choreographed an impressive eighteen original pieces including the full-length ballets Cinderella, The Nutcracker, and Alice in Wonderland.
Laura Jones Wallner - Academy Instructor,
AYB Company Manager
Laura Jones Wallner, originally from Hamilton, Montana, started dancing at the age of 6. She began attending the University of North Carolina School of the Arts’ School of Dance when she was 14, where she later graduated from their high school Classical Ballet program. During this time, Laura also studied with Boston Ballet and Houston Ballet. After high school, Laura danced professionally with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet II and with the Missouri Contemporary Ballet. Since moving to Kansas City, she has danced with Quixotic, Owen/Cox Dance Group, and Concept Zero. This is Laura’s fourth year teaching ballet at American Dance Center and her fourth season as the company manager of the American Youth Ballet.
Emily Mushinski - Academy Instructor , Modern
Emily Mushinski trained as a student at American Dance Center under the instruction of Kristopher Estes-Brown and Jennifer Tierney. She was a member of American Youth Ballet and performed lead roles in ballets such as The Firebird, Swan Lake, and The Nutcracker. She furthered her training at summer intensives with Joffrey Midwest, Boston Ballet, LINES Ballet, Ballet X, and Trisha Brown Dance Company. In 2017, she graduated summa cum laude with her BFA in dance from SUNY Purchase College where she was the recipient of the SUNY Chancellor’s Award. In 2015, she studied for a semester at Codarts University in Rotterdam, Netherlands. Emily has performed works by choreographers such as George Balanchine, Trisha Brown, Bela Foldi, Gabrielle Lamb, Matthew Neenan, Taryn Kaschock Russell, Kameron Saunders, and Manuel Vignoulle. In 2018, Emily trained and performed with Budapest Dance Theater in Hungary. Emily is a member of Kansas City's Owen/Cox Dance Group and works as a freelance performer. She is a 200 hour registered yoga instructor and teaches dance and yoga in the area. Emily is also the artistic director of Blink Verse Inc., a nonprofit building community and growing faith.
Laura Hunt - Children's program Instructor
Bonnie Weinberg - Children's Program Instructor, Administrative Assistant, Social Media
Ms. Bonnie Weinberg began her ballet training at age 5, at Northern Virginia Ballet Company. She later joined the American Dance Center and American Youth Ballet and received her training from Kristopher Estes-Brown and Jennifer Tierney starting at age 15. Ms. Weinberg has danced in several AYB performances with choreography from Kristopher Estes-Brown including Don Quixote, Swan Lake, Firebird, The Nutcracker, and Project Premiere. She graduated ADC as a member of the Senior Company at American Youth Ballet.
Ms. Bonnie Weinberg has been an Instructor's Assistant with the American Dance Center Director Jennifer Tierney since 2015; training in multiple levels of their proven syllabus. She is certified to teach American dance Center's Level 2a, 2b and Pre-Ballet classes and is currently working on her Level 3 certification.
In addition to ballet, Ms. Bonnie had had a successful competitive ice skating career for ten years. She now coaches group, private and off-ice classes at Kansas City Ice Center. She was a member of the Choreography Team for the Opening Ceremonies at the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
Ms. Bonnie is currently studying Exercise Science/Pre-PT at the University of Kansas.
Michelle Wheat - Children's Program Instructor
AYB Rehearsal Assistant
Proud KC local, Michelle Wheat began taking ballet classes at age 5 at Somerset Ballet Centre under the instruction of the late Jane Pierce, studio founder and director, and continued studying ballet there until she graduated high school. Michelle fell in love with dancing and joined the studio's ballet company when she was 10 years old. She performed in several classical ballets as a company member including The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Les Sylphides, Cinderella, Swan Lake, and Paquita as well as many original choreographical pieces. After graduating high school, she went on to attend Creighton University on an academic scholarship where she continued her ballet career as a member of the University's ballet company. There she performed in the ballets La Bayadere, The Nutcracker, Don Quixote, and Coppelia. Since her college years, Michelle has continued taking ballet classes locally. She is married and is the mother to three young girls. It was through enrolling her oldest daughter in ballet at American Dance Center that Michelle came to know studio director Jennifer Tierney and company director Kristopher Estes-Brown, and eventually accepted a teaching position there. She is trained to teach all class levels from PreBallet to Level 7 and has been teaching there since 2018. She also enjoys helping during rehearsals and back stage with the children who are in the American Youth Ballet's biyearly performances. Ballet has been a large part of Michelle's life, and now her daughters are showing their passion for ballet as well. By teaching at American Dance Center, Michelle is now able to share her love and knowledge of ballet with not just her own children, but with all the children she has the pleasure of teaching.
Sheila Estes - Administrative Assistant/ AYB Costume Director
Originally from Alabama, Laura began her ballet training at The Montgomery Ballet at the age of 2. She then transitioned to the Alabama Dance Theatre and joined their student company to perform such roles as “Kitri” in Don Quixote, “Tinker Bell” and “Wendy” in Peter Pan, and “Clara” in The Nutcracker. She also trained at The Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, The School of American Ballet and Ballet Academy East. At the age of 16, Laura moved to New York City to further her training at Ballet Academy East under the incredible instruction of Darla Hoover. One year later she was offered a position at Kansas City Ballet where she performed for 8 years. Her favorite perfomances with the company include the title roles of “Cinderella”, “Alice” and the “Sugar Plum Fairy”. Her repertoire also includes works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Septime Weber, Edward Liang, Val Caniparoli, Twyla Tharp, and Agnes de Mille. Laura has many years of teaching dancers of all levels and is excited to join the talented instructors at American Dance Center!