Faculty / Staff
Nichola Johnson, MFA
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 16 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
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.
Creative Learning Lab Advisor
Dance - ballet and early childhood dance
~Sarah is the studio manager, student advisor at the Learning Lab and a member of the dance faculty. She is a graduate of Rhode Island College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Arts Administration.
Sarah teaches Pre-Ballet and Ballet 1 and is an alumni of The Complex and a past member of The Complex Modern Dance Company and has performed throughout New England. Sarah served on the development team at Providence Water Fire where she was a grant writer, event coordinator, and managed the donor database.
Michael Bolger, MFA
Dance - creative movement, ballet, modern.
~Michael Bolger received a BFA in Dance from SUNY Purchase and a MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College. Michael has enjoyed a wonderful professional life as a movement based artist that has allowed him to be in contact and connect with many creative thinkers and movers. He continues his creative life and work as a teacher, choreographer and performer in Rhode Island and Connecticut. Michael has been on faculty since 1996 at Providence Ballet, instructing in the young dancer program and a company dancer and choreographer for Providence Ballet Theatre. In 2005 he joined the Dance Performance Studies program at Roger Williams University where he continues today as adjunct faculty teaching Ballet and Modern Technique as well as contributing choreography to the RWU Dance Theatre. Past Artistic affiliations include Island Moving Company (Newport RI) Cadence Dance Project (Providence RI) Portland Ballet (Portland ME) Phffft! Company (NYC, France) Underfoot Dance (NYC) Carol Somers Dance (Boston MA) Spindle City Ballet (Fall River MA) Cape Cod Dance Center (Bourne MA) and Trinity Repertory Company (Providence RI) . His choreography and teaching work spans many educational programs in South Eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island and has been commissioned by Providence College, Rhode Island College, Wheaton College, MIT, Salve Regina University, St George’s School and CityARTS! Michael has had the honor to work with Gary Shore and be a part of his award winning films Children of Providence (2008) and Nijinksky’s Room (2010) as well as the stage work Little Bed BIG Dreams (2015). Michael joined The Complex faculty in 2012.
Creative Learning Lab Advisor
Music and Theatre Faculty
Music - ukulele and voice, music theory.
Theatre - theatre and music classes.
Music Director of The Complex Players.
~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.
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 - 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.
Theatre - acting and directing
Director The Complex Players Productions
~Seana Hendrickson holds a bachelors degree in Acting and Directing from Eastern Connecticut State University. Since graduating in 2012, Seana has been director of the PCS Drama Club as well as serving as a member of the Artistic Committee at the Bradley Playhouse. Seana assistant directed Eastern Connecticut State University’s production of Cabaret in the Fall of 2018. Seana has a rich performance career and has enjoyed many lead and original roles nationally. Seana has been on the faculty of The Complex since 2012 and is the Co-Director of The Theatre Department. Seana is an integrated arts teacher for Thompson Public Schools, writes a theatre blog, has a podcast dedicated to theatre education and does voice over work.
Dance - ballet and jazz/contemporary
~Erin is an arts education intern and part of the dance faculty at the Complex. She graduated in 2018 and is pursuing a degree in Theatre with a concentration in Dance and Global Performance from ECSU. Erin teaches ballet and jazz/contemporary; Erin was a previous member of the Complex modern and ballet company and was a student at the Complex for nearly ten years. Erin is on the Executive Board and Choreographer for Modern Movement - a modern-based dance company at Eastern CT State Univeristy.
Creative Learning Lab Advisor
Theatre - acting, musical theatre
~Corey is an alumni of The Complex, an arts education intern and member of the faculty. Corey is currently pursuing a Bachelors in Acting and Design at Western CT State University. Recent credits include: Hand to God (Jason U/S), The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui (Dullfeet). Corey also recently served at Scenic Charge on WCSU’s production of A Little Night Music, and was nominated for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festivals division 1 tech conference allied crafts award. Corey has been a part of the local arts community for some time, and is ecstatic to be back home.
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.
Music- guitar, piano, ukulele
~ Classical guitarist Alex Aldridge is an emerging performer both as a soloist, and chamber musician. A native of Des Moines, Iowa, Alex received a Bachelor’s in music from the University of Northern Iowa in 2015 where he studied with Robert Dunn. He has performed across the Midwest and throughout New England. Additionally, Alex has performed internationally on several occasions. In the summer of 2014, he toured Spain with the UNI Varsity Men’s Glee Club both as both a singer and a soloist on guitar. Later that summer Alex attended The Volterra Project, a one-week guitar workshop and master class led by Greek virtuoso Antigoni Goni in Volterra, Italy. In Spring of 2016 he performed solo guitar in Reykjavik, Iceland at the Free Church of Reykjavik. Alex has performed in master classes for internationally acclaimed guitarists Christopher Parkening, Gaelle Solal, The Los Angeles Guitar Quartet, Thibaut Garcia, Andrew York, Jason Vieaux, Christopher Ladd and Oscar Ghiglia. Most recently Alex and his duo partner, flautist Sierra Schmeltzer, were awarded 2 nd place in the annual Hartt Chamber music competition. Additionally in spring of 2018, he was a featured soloist with the contemporary music ensemble “Foot in the Door”. He is currently pursuing his Master’s degree under the direction of Richard Provost and resides in West Hartford, Connecticut, as both teacher and performer.
Rick O'Neal, MS
Music - guitar, piano, bass, ukulele
~A practicing musician since he was 7 years old, their was no doubt what career path this person was going to take. Frederick "Rick" J. O'Neal IV was born on Cape Cod Massachusetts, but transplanted to north east Connecticut in 2006. Rick has performed and recorded professionally since he was 18 year old, toured the country since he was 21, started teaching private lessons at 24 and has since performed on Grammy-nominated songs, performed internationally, all on bass guitar. Rick was also a learning specialist for 4 years at Eastern Connecticut State University, tutoring college students in a variety of music related subjects. In addition to O'Neal's training in composition, music theory and music history, Rick also has experience in business admin., terrestrial radio, digital audio/MIDI, music technology, recording studios, live music settings and artist management. Rick has worked for music industry giants like Roland/Cakewalk and for music-tech startups like Nimbit Inc., all along writing, recording and performing his own (and others) music. Rick favorite places to be are on stage, in a recording studio or in a classroom. Rick hols a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Composition/Theory/Electronic Music from Eastern Connecticut State University, and a Masters in Science-Music Industry Leaders from Northeastern University
Morgan Brown, MM
Music - guitar, piano, ukulele
~Morgan Brown received his M.M. in Guitar Performance at The Hartt School in West Hartford, Connecticut and his B.A. in Music from Eastern Connecticut State University. His performance experience includes playing at The Ivoryton Playhouse, The DiMenna Center, The Bradley Theater, Cheney Hall, The Charter Oak Center, The Governor’s Mansion, The Chestnut Street Playhouse, along various other locations throughout the tri-state area. Additionally, during his time in the Hartt School Guitar Quartet he had the opportunity to perform in the world premiere of La Perla del Pico by Frank Wallace and A Growing Absence Lisa Coons. He was a semifinalist in the CMFONE International Competition in Boston, Massachusetts as part of the Nebula Duo.