Meet Our Team

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OUR FOUNDER

JOANI CASTILLO

Founder, Artistic Director

Born and raised in Texas, Joani’s love for the Arts began at the age of 3 when she took her first dance class. Leading roles in school musicals, vocal ensembles, and dance team activities were merely steps to pursuing a degree in dance and theatre education from Stephen F. Austin State University.

For 14 years, Joani worked at Word of Grace Church (a 4000+ member congregation) in Mesa, Arizona where she functioned as a licensed minister directing the departments of creative service programming and theatrical arts.  With a unique calling by God she initiated and built Word of Grace’s Theatrical Arts Program from the ground up.  While serving at Word of Grace, Joani launched a Creative Arts School which supported 150 plus students; produced, directed, wrote and co-wrote multiple stage productions, toured companies internationally, and breathed life into hundreds of artistic expressions for public worship services, including dance, drama, photography, creative writing, video, painting, sculpting.

Joani is an editor, writer, vocalist, and actress, playing a major role in the movie, “Forevermore.”  Joani is also a gifted teacher.  She has addressed a wide range of people at conferences, seminars, and retreats, developing a reputation of spiritual depth and technical quality in artistic expression.  Some of her speaking engagements have included Saddleback Purpose Driven Church Worship Conference in California as well as the National Gathering Worship Conference held in Phoenix, Arizona.

In addition to running Experience Arts School, Joani also functioned as the Worship and Arts Pastor for City of Grace Church for five years,  then on the Executive Team as the Pastor of Central Ministries where her perview included oversight of Hillsong Ministry School, Interns, children and youth ministries for all three campuses.  Currently, Joani serves as a Pastor for Hillsong Phoenix. 

It is Joani’s passionate desire to provide quality technical and biblical instruction to artists resulting in God-empowered ministry for both the Church and the secular communities.  Joani resides in Mesa, Arizona, with her beautiful daughter, Madison.  Her eldest daughter, Hannah, also lives in Mesa and is actively involved in the arts and ministry alongside her husband, Martin, and their precious daughter, Jasmine.  Who at age year-and-a-half is already exhibiting a passion for dance and music, and can't wait for her little sister, Delilah, to arrive this Fall.  

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Jesse Brown

School Administrator (Drums/Songwriting Instructor)

jesse@experienceartsschool.com

Jesse is an Arizona native. Born in Scottsdale, where he attended and played drums at Phoenix Christian Assembly for almost a decade. During that time he formed the Tempe based band, Sunday Morning Drive (SMD). SMD went on to receive major college radio airplay and perform at nearly every major venue in Arizona. As a drummer and song writer, he grew and honed his musical skills over the course of 6 years with the band performing countless live shows and numerous recording projects. He has over 20 years experience as a drummer, and he and his wife serve as leaders on the creative team at Hillsong Phoenix. Jesse also has a passion for video and technology and has long been an avid photographer. He is the director of Pulse, the EAS production company and is currently the school director. Jesse lives with his wife Rena, and four children Georgia, Barry, Alice and Indiana in Tempe.

Pamela Hensley-Coomer

Office Administrator

pam@experienceartsschool.com

Pamela is an Arizona native but has lived throughout the country and in Europe.  She graduated from Westwood High School and attended Mesa Community College.  Throughout her years she has worked in many different capacities including restaurant management and office management.  She and her husband have two children who are very involved with EAS.  Music and theatre played an important part in shaping Pamela's life.  At this stage in her life it brings great pleasure to watch others come alive on the stage.  Pamela manages the financial aspect of EAS through invoicing and processing payments.

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Nita Reichenbach

Music Department Director, Forte Co. Director & Instructor

nita@experienceartsschool.com

Nita Reichenbach comes to EAS from a full career in music education. Nita began studying piano when she was eight years old.  She graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor degree in Music Education and extensive graduate hours.  She has enjoyed a career teaching general music in the Tempe elementary school district teaching piano, voice, choirs of all sizes, district honor choir’s, and general music classes for K-8th grades. In addition to her career in the public school system she has many years experience in conducting teen and adult church choirs.  Nita is excited to be teaching in an environment that trains people in their faith as well as their musical talents. 

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Kimberly Panipinto

Aerial Director & Instructor

kimberly@experienceartsschool.com

Kimberly started dancing at age three; though she took a few years off early on, she found that dance and theater were in her blood. The siren song of the stage led her back to the performing arts, eventually culminating into a theater minor in college.  She discovered EAS for her two daughters in 2005 and has taught various classes there over the years.  Kimberly saw an Aerial demonstration in 2010 and enrolled in an EAS Aerial class a few days later.  Since then she has progressed rapidly, learning silks, hoop, trapeze, etc.  She is the proud mother of two girls who share her love of dance and the performing arts.  Kimberly is excited to be able to share the joy and freedom of flying with students at EAS! 

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Jen Droske

Art Instructor

jen@experienceartsschool.com

Jen is a Georgia native with established roots throughout Atlanta and its bordering communities. A formally trained art educator with a Bachelor of Science in Art Education from the University of Georgia and leadership responsibilities within the Georgia Art Education Association, Jen has taught basic, intermediate, and advanced art techniques to more than 12,000 adults and children. With more than 23,000 hours of classroom instruction to her credit, Jen is widely known for her Creator-centered approach to art and her relentless desire to use art to deepen her understanding of God’s heart and to discover the depth of His love for each of us. Jen’s artwork has been showcased in books and art shows, produced live at public events, and purchased by professional athletes, and community leaders. Her art has also recently received international recognition. Jen is a mixed media artist who incorporates a variety of techniques. Her experience includes drawing, painting, jewelry, sculpture, photography, 2D and 3D design, graphic/digital design, printmaking, weaving, and textiles. She is accomplished with a wide range of materials including acrylics, watercolors, oil, tempera, gouache, pen/ink, charcoal, chalk, oil pastel, colored pencil, markers, clay, and many others. Jen also has years of training in theater set design. She is married and lives in Scottsdale with her husband and their beautiful children. Her entire family regularly serves the community as leaders at Hillsong Church.     

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Sara Henson

Dance Instructor

sara@experienceartsschool.com

Sara Henson was born and raised in Mesa, Arizona. She has been dancing since the age of two and a half. She has participated in a number of competitions through local dance studios and was a member of the Dobson High School Dance Company. Sara has had the opportunity to learn from a number of prominent choreographers from all over the country such as Mia Michaels, Mandy Moore, Laurie Ann Gibson, Mark Goodman, Aztret Z, Mike Esperanza, Wade Robson and Twitch. She is currently a double major, working towards her Associates of Fine Arts in Dance and her Associates of Applied Science in Dance Technology at Scottsdale Community College. Since attending SCC she has been a part of the Jazz Company (SAJE) as well as the Modern Company (Moving Company). She is currently a member of Scottsdale Community College Pre-professional Company, Instinct DanceCorps and has been for two years. Sara believes God has brought her to EAS as part of her lives journey to share her love of Dance and God.

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Stella Allende

Dance Instructor

stella@experienceartsschool.com

Stella began taking dance lessons at the age of 5, but her ballet training didn’t officially begin until she was almost 11 years old. At the age of 12, Stella played the role of Clara in Campebell’s Dance Studio's annual Nutcracker production. For the next ten year, she played various roles in ballet productions including Snow Queen, Dew Drop, and Sugar Plum in the The Nutcracker, and roles in Swan Lake, Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Giselle. At the age of 15, Stella also began training at Scottsdale Community College with ballet instructor Nadja Langenhorst; then, in 2007 Stella was accepted into the Trainee Program at Ballet Magnificat, a Christian ballet company based in Mississippi. Stella spent the next two years training 6 hours a day, 5 days a week in ballet, pointe, modern, ballet anatomy/injury prevention, Bible studies, and how to use dance for worship, ministry, and evangelism. In the summer of 2009, Stella followed her calling of Jesus back home to Mesa where she began teaching at EAS in the 2009-2010 season. Stella's first EAS participation was playing the role of a Griffin in the Spring 2007 Aslan production, and since then she has been a part of MOSAIC in 2010, EAS's South America adventure in 2013, developing and producing the shows A Kingdom Tale and Tikva's Toymaker, and has shared in the joy of a pointe student's gold medal in the Celebrity Competition 2014.  Stella and her husband, Mariano, are currently expecting their first child this fall.

Stephanie Gillen

Dance Instructor

stephanie@experienceartsschool.com

Born & raised in Dallas, Texas, Stephanie moved to Arizona with her husband in April 2016. Ever since she was a child Stephanie had a passion and zest for dance. She never stopped dancing. At a young age Stephanie's best friend brought her to Dianne Cole Johnson School of Dance where she started taking classes & became a dancer. Since then Stephanie has been involved/been a part of Motion Sickness Dance Company, North Lake College Dance Team, & danced for the FC Dallas soccer team. She danced at Powerhouse Dallas, Kitty Carters' classes & Michelle Keys. She also taught cheer, ballet & gymnastics at JD Gymnastics, My Gym, & The Little Gym. Stephanie graduated from Texas Women's University with a bachelors in education, and is currently teaching at Autism Academy. While moving to Arizona, Stephanie met a parent on the plane who told her about EAS. Once she landed she contacted Joani & Anna right away knowing this is a door God opened up for her. Stephanie cannot wait to share her love & passion with the EAS students & family! 

Kayla Nelson

Dance Instructor

kayla@experienceartsschool.com

Kayla Nelson has lived in Gilbert Arizona her entire life and started dancing at age 10. Although her parents had to take her out of dance after only 2 years of dancing, when Kayla was 16 she found her way back to dance and got 3 jobs while being a full time student so she could pay her way through dance. That same determination she had when she was 16 carried into her college career where she also paid her way through school to continue her dance training. Her passion for dance drove her to Scottsdale Community College where she completed her Associates Degree in Fine Arts.  She was a part of SCC’s pre professional company, Instinct Dance Corps where she trained with professional choreographers from all across the United States. Kayla has upcoming auditions with professional dance teams, dance studios, and scholarships in LA. Although she doesn’t know where her dance career is taking her, she trusts in God and is excited for the journey He is taking her on.  

Niamey Thomas

Dance Instructor

niamey@experienceartsschool.com

Niamey Thomas has been dancing for 14 years beginning at a young age with Hip-Hop she joined a crew called Anonymous and Above the Rest. Graduate of Arizona State University in 2015 with a BA in Communication and Minor in Dance. 

With her strong faith background and love for the community she graduated from Elevate International Antioch Discipleship and Arts program in 2017 where she learned how to be a disciple implementing projects and initiatives to enrich the community. 

Currently she is an Artist for the I Am Root Co. (a collective of artist), A performer on the Phoenix Mercury Hip-Hop Team, Anomalous Dance Crew, a Youth/Dance leader at Prayer Assembly COGIC, and an active member in her community. 

Chelsea Neiss

Dance Instructor

chelsea@experienceartsschool.com

Chelsea Neiss is originally from Phoenix, Arizona, where she trained extensively and earned her Associates of Arts, Dance from Scottsdale Community College.  Chelsea then moved to Fullerton, California where she earned her BA in Dance from California State University Fullerton. As a dance instructor, Chelsea has taught for Dynamic Motion Dance Academy in Anthem, AZ, The Dayton Ballet and Jeraldyne Blunden School of Dance in Dayton, Ohio. Chelsea has had the opportunity to participate in summer dance intensives with: Alonzo King Lines Ballet, The Boston Conservatory, North Carolina School for the Arts, Limón, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet.  She has performed with AZDance Group, a professional Contemporary and Ballet Company in Phoenix, AZ directed by Kenda Newbury, Convergence Ballet Experience directed by Jennifer Cafarella, Scorpius Dance Theatre directed by Lisa Starry, Disneyland Resort’s Paint the Night Parade, and Disneyland California Adventure’s Inside Out Parade.   This past year, Chelsea had the pleasure of working with Dayton Contemporary Dance Company 2 under the direction of Shonna Hickman-Mattlock.  Chelsea also performed with Attack Theatre in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, directed by Peter Kope and Michele de la Reza, performing with the Pittsburgh and Atlanta Operas.  Chelsea is excited to be back in Arizona and to share her passion for dance through dance education and performing.

Remaliah Jackson

Dance Instructor

remaliah@experienceartsschool.com

Remaliah Jacksonis a sophomore at Heritage Academy in Mesa Arizona. She attended EAS as a student from age of three up to the age of fifteen , where she pursued the art of dance. At EAS she was trained in multiple styles that include, Ballet, Hip Hop, Jazz, Contemporary, and Acro. She is now a part of The Rise Dance Company where she continues to pursue her passion for dance. 

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Brianna Fallon

Acting Instructor

brianna@experienceartsschool.com

Two things about Brianna 1) she has always loved Jesus 2) she has always loved the arts. She discovered a passion for both at a young age and has since studied theatre in college in MCC's Theatre Department, has attended the Scottsdale Conservatory Theatre, and has studied acting at the Megaw Actors Studio. Over the years she's been in several productions, her favorite roles being: Lady in Brown in For Colored Girls..., Mammy in Wiley and the Hairyman, and Baloo in The Jungalbook. She has also taught theatre around the country at places like Childsplay, The Musical Instrument Museum, CLIMB Theatre, and the Mesa Arts Center. Her mission in life is to spread the love and healing of Jesus and her favorite way to do this is through arts, leadership, facilitation, and being a friend like Jesus.

Casey Tindall

Drama Instructor

casey@experienceartsschool.com

Svetlana Madsen

Drama Instructor

svetlana@experienceartsschool.com

Svetlana is a native to Phoenix. Her father gave her a Russian name meaning "light".  Svetlana wants to use her creative gifts to be a light and to train others to be a light.  Svetlana is excited to be teaching here at EAS.  Her family has been a part of EAS since January of 2007.  Svetlana first started acting at Valley Christian High School and continued studying theatre at Grand Canyon University.  She graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Theatre from Arizona State University.  She has performed in many acting and directing roles.  She has served the kingdom of God through drama however she could; as a Theatrical Arts Director at a church, as a Sunday school volunteer, and as a Teacher.  Svetlana has performed in a 9 month traveling show called The Maze.  It was produced by Youth With A Mission and performed all over Mexico and Arizona.  Svetlana has also performed with the art troupe, The Water, which was an evangelistic outreach.  She is glad to serve with God's army of artists here at EAS.  

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Lizzie Tindall

Dance Instructor

lizzie@experienceartsschool.com 

Lizzie has lived in Arizona for most of her life. Before she discovered her love for dance, she studied acting for six years. She first began dancing when she was 12 at Experience Arts School. She progressed in ballet quickly and has been teaching it for the last two years. She is currently training at Scottsdale Community College and the School of Ballet Arizona.

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Alex Ho

Dance Instructor

alex@experienceartsschool.com

Alexander Ho starting at the age of eight. Alex was first self-taught by dancing in his garage and watching YouTube videos, but he started dance sophomore year of high school he decided to start taking dance classes. He started dancing and learning the basics of Jazz and Ballet. And joined a hip hop team called the Public Alliance at Hamilton High School. After graduating from high school, Alex attended CGCC where he is pursuing the major of business and dance. Alex joined the CGCC’s dance company, called TranscenDance where he enjoyed learning and expanding his styles of dance. Today, Alex is a dance instructor at Dance Sequins and EAS. When he’s not teaching he spend his time dancing with his crew called Jukebox at the Jukebox Dance Studio. And being part of the Jukebox Crew, he competed in competitions such as: Hip Hop Internationals and World of Dance. Alex is thankful that god has guided him to EAS as his home. Alex is ready to share his passion of dance to EAS and his goal as a choreographer is to spread the love of dance and to inspire others.