NOVA Youth Conservatory
Chaslee Schweitzer has been performing for nearly half of her life. She has a Bachelor’s degree in theater performance from Rocky Mountain College. She has been teaching with Venture Theatre’s Youth Conservatory for the past 5 years. Chaslee is excited to share her passion for acting with others.
Buddy MacKinder is a published writer, playwright, and poet, as well as an actor, director, producer, athlete, and drummer. He has a BA in communications with an option in theater from MSU Billings, and an MFA in theater with an option in dramatic writing from Cal State Long Beach. Buddy likes to keeps his options open. He has been on stage over seven hundred times, acted in television, commercials, and film. He is an active member of the Dramatists Guild, and has had various training from around the U.S., including: The Second City, I.O. Chicago, The Comedy College, and The Playground. Buddy has randomly taught and lectured over twenty years. His greatest achievement to date — he feels — is winning “Coaches’ Award” during seventh grade basketball.
Jodi Jones recently moved here from Colorado where she taught music K-12th grade and college students. Although she plays several instruments and has worked with many bands, her favorite class to teach is choir. Jodi received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music education and choral conducting at Colorado State University. While attending CSU, she studied voice and saxophone. Mrs. Jones’ chamber choir toured the western United States, Italy, and twice in South Korea. She sings with the Billings Symphony Chorale and directs the choir at Grace United Methodist Church. She offers private lessons in voice and a variety of instruments. Jodi is playing the role of Fantine in the Billings Studio Theatre’s production of Les Misérables. Her favorite hobbies are walking her dogs and traveling, and she is an avid sports fan. Go Broncos!
Dawn Carter is a Billings native and grew up in the Venture Theatre youth conservatory. After studying theater in Seattle, she returned to Billings to raise her family. Dawn loves the students of NOVA as she helps them learn valuable life skills and watches them grow in their passions. She is excited to be directing the youth show The Giver this fall and is continuing to build her reputation as a devoted educator of the arts for NOVA’s youth conservatory classes.
Amanda Megyesi-McCave graduated from MSUB with a degree in communication arts with an emphasis in theater and studied history education in Missoula. She has been involved in productions at Venture Theatre and Billings Studio Theatre and has taught acting classes at Venture for the past 4 years.
Claire Stepanek is a senior at Billings Central High School and has been a part of Venture Theatre since fifth grade. During that span she has been in countless youth shows and at 16, had the chance to choreograph The Wedding Singer. Claire is excited to be teaching for the conservatory this fall and plans to go to college for music education. Recently she has been seen on stage at Billings Studio Theatre in Les Misérables.
Steven grew up in Miles City, Montana, and moved to Billings when he was 18. He has been involved in theater and dance for most of his life. In Billings he has been in many productions, including Grease, The Producers, Chicago, The Drowsy Chaperone, High School Musical, Cinderella, Hairspray, and All Shook Up. He has also choreographed Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Evil Dead: The Musical, Peter Pan, Spring Awakening, Violet, and Legally Blonde: The Musical. Steven is happy to be teaching Billings youth the tricks he’s learned over the years and more so, how to give it their all on stage.
Dan Nickerson is a 2010 BFA graduate of Cornish College of the Arts theater program in Seattle. He grew up in the Northwest and met his fiancée, Dawn Carter, while at college, which brought him to Billings. He currently resides here with her and their five year old son Gabriel. Since moving here over two years ago, Dan has performed in Billings Studio Theatre shows Spring Awakening and Legally Blonde: The Musical; Venture Theatre’s Evil Dead: The Musical and 2013 Fringe Festival; Helena Theater Company’s Venus In Fur; and Prince Theater’s Sylvia. He has been teaching at NOVA/Venture for the past five years and is proud to be influencing arts education as their new Youth Conservatory Director.