Faculty / Staff
Nichola Johnson, MFA
Dance and Theatre Faculty
Dance - ballet, modern, jazz/contemporary, choreography and composition, tap, and musical theatre.
Director of The Complex Dance Theatre.
~Nichola began dancing at the age of three under the direction of the late, Roy Perrault. Nichola studied Dance Pedagogy at The Hartford Camerata Conservatory, holds a Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts and an Master's of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College. Nichola has spent her life immersed in the performing arts and brings a passion to this community that is infectious. Nichola founded The Complex in 2004, then named - Nichola Johnson's Studio of Dance. In the past 17 years The Complex has grown and evolved into an anchor for the town of Putnam.
Nichola is an Adjunct Professor of Performing Arts/Dance at Eastern CT State University and a creative contributor through the development of new work and serving as Director for Main Stage Musicals. Nichola served as the Associate Director of The Cultural Center at Eagle Hill and as a Professor of Dance at Nichols College. Ms. Johnson has performed, developed, and presented work to national acclaim and has had the honor to be in creative conversation with artists, educators, and learners from varying communities. Nichola is passionate about creating, nurturing and sustaining arts programs that advance the development of our youth and emerging artists.
Julie Watt, MFA
Creative/Visual Arts Faculty
Visual and Creative Art - painting, drawing, creative process, photography, creative writing, 3-dimensional art, community art, graphic design
~Julie Watt brings a wealth of knowledge, passion, and inspiration to The Complex Community. Julie holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Graphic Design from Northeastern University and an Master's of Fine Arts in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College. Julie is a Graphic Design and Digital Media teacher at Norwich Technical High School and an Adjunct Professor of Multi-Media Design at The University of New Haven.
Julie spent much time in the professional world of Graphic Design working for companies such as Time Warner NYC, Valassis Communications CT, ADVO CT, and ADCO MO. Julie is passionate about education and the arts and is currently working towards her administrative certification in Educational Leadership at Central Connecticut State University.
Dance - ballet, modern, jazz, and early childhood dance
~Sarah has called The Complex her second home since she can remember! She currently works as the Studio Manager as well as a member of the dance faculty. Sarah’s journey at The Complex started as a student of dance and visual art through middle and high school. Through her college years studying Arts Administration at Rhode Island College, Sarah interned at The Complex as well as WaterFire Providence, during this time she was fortunate enough to have multiple avenues to explore arts administration as a student. Shortly thereafter, Sarah became the Studio Manager and loves that she has the opportunity to get to know each and every student of The Complex. This season, Sarah is teaching ballet, jazz, modern, and creative movement. Sarah is also a member of Collective Moments Dance Company, a contemporary based dance company out of Worcester, Mass., where she has had many wonderful opportunities to perform in both dance films and live performances around New England!
Director of Theatre
Music - ukulele and voice, music theory.
Theatre - theatre and music classes.
~Emily Zornado has been working as a member of the Complex music faculty since 2015, as the Co-Director of the Theatre Department, and a private voice instructor. She is a composer and playwright, and regularly creates original content for student performance. Emily shares her love of the written word with The Complex students in her popular playwriting classes.
Emily's original musical, Open Strings, co-written by Adam Greszcowski, premiered in 2014 and then went on to record a cast album and additional workshops.
Emily Zornado holds Bachelor's degrees in Social Work and Music, with a focus in Education.
Music and Theatre Faculty
Theatre - acting
Music - voice and piano
~Madison Ruta is a soprano currently based in Windham, CT. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance and a Bachelor of Arts in Music History from the University of Connecticut. During her time at UConn, Madison studied classical voice under the instruction of Dr. Constance Rock. She was involved in productions by the UConn Opera Theater, with featured appearances such as the role of Spirit in their 2019 production of Dido and Aeneas and Fairy Sprite in Massenet’s Cendrillon. Madison has performed as a soloist at Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Manchester, CT and served as a choral scholar at Storrs Congregational Church from 2018-2020. Her recent engagements include a concert with the Connecticut-based choral group, Project Choir One, and performance with Hartford Opera Theater’s New in November Festival 2019, where she played the role of Twitterati in a scene from Dana Kaufman’s Opera Kardashian. She is currently teaching Youth Theater and Music at The Complex Performing Arts Center in Putnam, CT, and is available to teach voice and beginner piano lessons.
Dance - tap and jazz/contemporary
~Kelly has been a member of the Complex faculty since 2015. She began her dance training at the age of three, at Mass Motion Dance (formerly Terri Gordon Dance Centre). Kelly is a graduate of the Hartford Conservatory, where she studied Dance Pedagogy and Performance. Her internship included study with Jacques d’Amboise (former NYC Ballet principal dancer) and the National Dance Institute (NYC), whose
focus is hard work, team building and joyful learning, which she tries to embody in the classroom. She has performed as a guest with the Sonia Plumb Dance Company as well as at the 5X5 Dance Festival and throughout New England. Kelly believes teaching is a process of learning from students and encourages her students to question their assumptions and explore their potential. Her teaching is informed by her knowledge of anatomy and kinesiology. She
believes in creating an inclusive, supportive environment which focuses on strong technique, personal study and the freedom to fail. Kelly also works as Maternal Fetal Medicine Sonographer.
Dance - ballet and jazz/contemporary
~Shannon Jutras is passionate about the intersection of art and community. Her classes focus on anatomically safe technique and helping people of all ages find joy in artistic expression. Shannon is a graduate of UMASS-Amherst, where she earned a BFA in Dance and a BA in English. She has performed with companies throughout New England, including José Mateo’s Ballet Theatre, TEN31 productions and Metamorphosis Dance Company. Shannon enjoys exploring the connections between music, literature, and history and considers herself a lifelong student of the arts.
Katelyn Cramer, MA R-DMT
Theatre - tap, early childhood dance, movement therapy
~Katelyn has been dancing for over 25 years and is a 2009 alum of The Complex. After The Complex, Katelyn relocated to Western MA, where she attended Springfield College under the direction of Dr. Cynthia Nazzaro. She earned a Bachelor or Arts in Dance with a minor in Disability Studies, focusing her studies on choreography, modern dance and improvisation, and pedagogy. She continued her education at Antioch University New England where she earned a Masters of Arts degree in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling, where dance and movement is utilized in tandem with psychology to promote the social, emotional, cognitive, and physical integration of the individual. Over the years, Katelyn has worked in therapeutic settings such as out-patient, residential, and school settings focusing her work on infant through childhood development, attachment, and the Autistic and Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities communities. Over the years, Katelyn has balanced her therapeutic dance work with creative work teaching dance, performing, and choreographing throughout Massachusetts. She is incredibly happy to be back in Connecticut at The Complex as a staff member.
Dance - jazz/contemporary, early childhood and elementary dance.
~Alex Plucenik holds a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Dance performance from Rhode Island College. At the age of 3 Alex fell in love with dance and carried that passion with her to college and beyond. As an alumna of The Complex she believes in the mission of this beautiful arts space which has help build her teaching philosophy over the years. Alex was fortunate enough to do an independent study in college and spend time with Nichola Johnson, truly immersing deep into her core values of teaching. It was here that she discovered her true purpose with dance which was dance education.
While a part of the Rhode Island College Dance Company Alex studied with many artists from all over including Angelica Vessella, Kathy Smith, Eva Marie Pacheco, Adrienne Hawkins, Daniel Singh, Bridgman and Packer, and many more. Alex is extremely excited to continue her love for dance education here at The Complex. Thank you to Nichola and Julie for creating such a beautiful space for the arts.
Dance - Introduction to Dance/Pre-Ballet
~Erin was a student at The Complex for ten years before attending Eastern Connecticut State University where she received a BA in Theater with a concentration in Dance and World Performance. She also studied costume technology/maintenance and creative writing, and had the opportunity to participate in residencies with Charles O. Anderson, Karen Finley, and Frantic Assembly, a UK-based theatre company. In 2021, Erin was an intern with the Justice Dance Performance Project in Hartford, and is now a teaching artist in their Moving Matters! program, which brings arts education into public elementary schools in the greater Hartford area. After graduating from ECSU in 2022, Erin joined MB Dance Theatre and Sonia Plumb Dance Company. She is on staff at several dance studios in Connecticut and teaches classes in creative movement, modern, jazz, ballet, improvisation, and composition.
Dance and Theatre Faculty
Theatre - acting, musical theatre
Corey is reaching his 10th year in the world of performing arts! He started out as a student in The Complex’s first original theatre company, and made his way through each discipline of the studio. After graduating he studied with professional acting and dance teachers, and independently studied scenic art. Corey has won a Kennedy Center American College Theatre award for his scenic work at Western Connecticut State University. During the pandemic Corey worked with us at the studio as an interdisciplinary arts intern. Corey now works as the assistant to our studio manager, and teaches ballet, tap, hip-hop, acting, musical theatre, and visual arts! When Mr. Corey isn’t seen in the studio, he will be found performing all over! He is also a singer and tap dancer for The Catnip Junkies, a NOLA jazz group that performs in the tri-state area. He has been blessed to perform on stages of all kinds, and is able to apply firsthand what he teaches his students here at the studio!
Music - guitar, piano, ukulele
~Austin Tewksbury is a Hartford-based musician and educator. Austin has always cast the net wide in his pursuit of music, with experience ranging from euphonium through high school, to musical theater work on and off stage, to freelance guitar work. He received a B.A. in Music from Trinity College, where he performed in the Jazz and Samba ensembles, studied Caribbean music in Trinidad, and sang with the Chapel Singers and the Accidentals.
Austin currently works with R&B/pop artist Brandon Serafino, serves as accompanist for the Trinity College Samba Ensemble, is a vocal soloist and section leader at Old St. Andrew’s Church, and is an organizer for Hartford's West End Porchfest. He additionally teaches at the Market Square Music Academy in Newington and Renbrook School in West Hartford, as well as in his private studio.