Director Biographies

Amira Abouleish  | Artistic Director of Crew
Amira grew up in Houlton, Maine. She danced at Houlton School of Dance, where she continues to return and teach classes and intensives. In university, Amira joined the school’s dance team, and later became captain of the team. She also choreographed the hip hop and tap teams’ competitive pieces. Additionally, Amira was the tap director at Perpetual Motion Dance Studio while in university. Now, Amira is entering her second year at the University of Maine School of Law and is excited to contribute to the Portland dance community and share her passion with Portland Youth Dance.


Vanessa Beyland  | Artistic Director of PYD 2
Vanessa holds a BFA in Dance from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She is currently on the dance faculty at the University of Southern Maine, Casco Bay Movers, and Portland Ballet. She also works with Stages Youth Theater and Portland Arts and Technology High School (PATHS). Vanessa’s choreography and performance credits include work with school, community, and professional companies, including Portland Ballet Company, Maine State Music Theater, Opera Maine (formerly PORTopera), USM, Dramatic Repertory Company, Lyric Music Theater, SchoolHouse Arts, Windham Center Stage, Snowlion Repertory Co., Allegra Dance Greenwich, numerous local high school musical productions and many others.


Elizabeth Lau | Community Programming Director

Elizabeth has been eagerly involved with Portland Youth Dance as a Board Member, Director of Dynamix, and Choreographer since 2007.  She was originally drawn to PYD for its unique focus on the artistic process versus competition and its deeply rooted mission to serve those in need. She brings a great deal of experience to the Outreach Program through her previous work teaching at-risk children and teens at inner-city schools in Washington, D.C., and Virginia, including the Maya Angelou Public Charter School, the Campagna Program through A Dream in Color Dance, and various workshops with George Washington University’s performing arts group BLAZEN.  While attending GWU, where she received a degree in marketing and dance, she developed a love for hip-hop dance while taking classes with Culture Shock DC and at The Joy of Motion Dance Center.  Elizabeth currently teaches hip-hop, jazz, tap, and modern at Casco Bay Movers in Portland, Maine. She’s proud to have worked with Slim Peace and be a part of Maine Girls, a documentary about immigrant and US born teens that come together to find a common ground through dance, food, and a healthy lifestyle.   Her personal mission is to contribute to the community by sharing her passion for dance with all those who desire to express themselves through the art form.

Kate Marchessault | Artistic Director of Company 
Kate has been involved with Portland Youth Dance as a ballet instructor and as a choreographer since 2001. She is thrilled to take the helm of the versatile, non-competitive, student dance company, with a primary focus on the creative process and sharing the joy of dance with the greater community. Kate’s prior experience includes performing throughout New England and NYC with Impulse Dance Co., The Choreographers Group, Ram Island Dance, Rhythm Factor, Artmoves, and indiedanceworks. She has over twenty years of experience in teaching and choreographing for private studios, UMass at Amherst Extension, Dean College, and outreach programs in K-12 classrooms throughout Maine’s public schools. Her students have gone on to major in dance at prestigious colleges and to perform professionally in the US and abroad. Kate serves as Director of Casco Bay Movers Dance Studio and teaches Jazz dance at Bates College.