Ms. Cricket Deborah “Cricket” Winchell Owner/Artistic Director of Cricket’s School for the Performing Arts
Ms. Cricket’s training in ballet, tap jazz, and acrobatics began in Central PA and her ballroom training in Towson MD with world renowned Ballroom Championship team of Polina and Igor Pilipenchuk coupled with additional private coaching from competitive ballroom instructors such as Sergey Izyumov, Garry Gekhman, Beverly Donahue, Irina Sarukhanyan. You can see her in the Netflix series House Of Cards as a featured dancer. She also attended Central PA Youth Ballet’s Teacher Workshops and is an avid Bikram yogi.
Believing that the art of performing is the key element of the “education of dance”, in 1994, she formed Crickets Performing Arts Repertory Ensemble. This created an avenue for her students to not only compete, but to give back to their community utilizing their gift of Dance. Believing the all children should have access to the arts; in 1997 she created ArtsReach–providing dance education to at risk and underprivileged children.
Deborah has been recognized by Dance Teachers Now Magazine, Who’s Who in– Education, Entertainment, Young American Professionals, and Emerging Leaders in America. She is a member of AAPHERD, Professional Dance Teachers Association, and the International Teachers of Dance.
Ms. Sapphira, one of the original members of CRDE, has been dancing since the age of three. Even at such a young age she knew she wanted to be a performer. She entered her first competition at the age of three and has not looked back. Among her accomplishments are regional and national awards at competitions sponsored by Star Power, Star Quest, Stars of Tomorrow, American Dance Awards, All American Talent Awards, Dance Expressions, and Swing Fling. Her performances have included The Hershey Hot Air Balloon Fest, 6 Flags America, Mrs. Pennsylvania Globe Pageant, Zoetropolis, and the Boscov’s Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Along with volunteering her talents to local organizations and community events, she was a guest performer with the Donetsk Ballet. In addition to her classes at Crickets she has studied with Robert Christopher (completing both the student and teacher programs), Professional Dance Teachers Association, Dance Power Express, and IDTI.
In 1999 she joined the staff at Cricket’s teaching Lyrical, Combo, Jazz & Hip Hop. She loves to choreograph routines and make dance a fun experience for everyone. In addition to dancing, Sapphira also works at Hats Off a Vous Salon and worked at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire. She is a graduate of Annville Cleona High School as well as a graduate of the Lebanon County Career and Technology Center. When not at the studio or salon, you can find Ms Sapphira at the beach with her husband Nathan and two sons, Pierce and Lucas and their two dogs, Layla and Tyson . She plans on continuing in her mothers footsteps and dance her heart out for the rest of her life. Sapphira is very special and we all love her very much.
Emily Meola found her love of dance at the age of 5, starting out in ballet and quickly expanded into jazz, lyrical, tap, contemporary, hip hop, etc. Emily grew up in the competition world, winning multiple titles, special awards, overall scores, and scholarships, and easily transitioned into a professional dance career.
While she is still very young as a choreographer, her work has already been seen on many competition stages, as well as fundraising and community events in cities surrounding her hometown of Lancaster, PA, and professional stages, such as American Music Theatre. For her choreography, she has received multiple special judges awards, high scores, and outstanding choreography awards.
Performance credits include: Elf The Musical (Fulton Theatre), Dance Explosion (American Music Theatre), Philly Nutt Crak-Up (Keswick Theatre), Beyond Genesis (Mélange Contemporary Dance Company), I Want My MTV: The Sound of a Generation (Steel River Playhouse), Sparks the Stage (ContempraDance Theatre). She studied at Broadway Dance Center in the summer of 2015 as part of their Summer Professional Semester, where she had the chance to perform at the Symphony Space in Manhattan.
Whether performing, teaching, or choreographing, Emily loves to get herself into everything she can in the dance world. She strongly believes in the art and storytelling, and tries to push herself and her students to find those strange and odd places that make dance so incredible and special.
Isabella Amity began dancing at the age of two. Since her first class, her love for dance has only grown. Her training began in North East PA at David Blight’s Dance Studio in Clarks Summit where she learned various styles of dance including, jazz, modern, lyrical, tap, and ballet. At age five, she became a member of her studio’s competitive dance team and traveled to competitions winning both regional and national awards with her solo, group, and line routines. Isabella attended Elizabethtown College to study Early Childhood and Special Education.
She continued to dance while at Elizabethtown, and became a choreographer and president to the campus’ dance club. Isabella graduated in May 2015 and permanently moved to the area to pursue her teaching career. She currently teaches second grade at Donegal Primary School and is passionate about her work. Isabella is excited to join Cricket’s Performing Arts and continue her journey with dance as a teacher.
To Bobby Jones, aka Bobby D to his students and fellow drummers, the ability to communicate from behind the drum set is nothing less than a gift from above. From an early age, blessed with a keen ear, he received and continues to receive calls from gospel choirs and artist in the tri-state area due to his requirement of minimum rehearsal time.
Growing up in Philadelphia, Bobby trained under the late Sherman Ferguson of the jazz group Catalysts. The skills from this intense jazz education combined with his love of classical music, lead to a four year tour playing for the USAF Drum & Bugle Corp and as the lead drummer for their Tops In Blue National Tours.
Upon returning to Philadelphia, he again jumped into the recording end of the music, but this timed armed with the disciplined syncopated styling required of a military drummer.
Evidence that he was on the correct path with his continuing music education, at a dinner meeting with his former teacher, he mentioned a drummer he could not get out of his head. His teacher responded with, “that is the Great Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, the world’s most recorded drummer. (you will recognize his playing on anything by Aretha Franklin, Steely Dan, or James Brown) A career move would later transfer Bobby to Elkton MD. Only a few minutes in town, while in a market asking for directions, unknown to him, he was standing 10 feet from the man who would later become his cymbal endorsement sponsor, teacher, confidant, and mentor; Bernard “Pretty” Purdie.
Bobby’s mother instilled in him, “To whom much is given, much is required.” With a need to continually give back to his community and reach out to youth, Bobby created “Let’s Get Hooked on Drums..Not Drugs”. Fourteen years later, this annual festival attracts drummers of various backgrounds and playing abilities with one goal; reach youth with the message, they can be anything they desire and to join Bobby D and friends and together get hooked on drums, not drugs.
Bobby is proud to be a member of the Cricket’s Performing Arts staff. He considers the lineup at times to be a little intimidating. He says, “The teachers all have their own individual styles and gifts. The fact that they are unified in their love of dance is truly visible. I’m proud to be counted in their numbers.”
Bobby proudly endorses, Sonor Drums, Evans Drum Heads, Dream Cymbals, and Agner Drum Sticks. His local corporate sponsor is Herr’s Snacks.
On the concert scene, Bobby is a certified drum tech. His hobbies include reading, and any movie which will push the limits of his home theater system.
Justine Diggs was born and raised in Harrisburg, Pa. She trained in gymnastic when she was 5 years old at Harrisburg Gymnastics. Also when she was young she attended at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. When she was in middle school she started cheerleading. Once she reached high school she began to compete. When she was 17 she auditioned for the National Cheerleading Association All-American team. She made the team and had the opportunity to perform in the 2009 FedEx Orange Bowl. In 2014 audition for the Harrisburg Stampede Crush dance team. She performed with them for one season. She is now currently training and dancing with a company named Keystone Dance Project who is directed by Moncell Durden. Justine also attended The School of Jacob’s Pillow for two weeks for the Social Dance Program. She and Eric are ambassadors for the American Lindy Hop Association through the Frankie Manning Foundation.
Eric Durden Jr., a.k.a. Junior Lock is from Harrisburg PA. He has performed with Philadelphia dance companies —Chosen Dance Company, Sunny Delight Hip Hop Stop. Eric also attended Jacob’s Pillow the summer of 2015 and received the professional advancement award in dance for their work in the program, Jazz to Hip Hop. In September of 2014 his father, a hip hop historian and professor, founded Keystone Dance Project which Eric is now acting manager promoting Arts program in the city.
He and Justine are ambassadors for the American Lindy Hop
Association through the Frankie Manning Foundation.
Class Assistants and Jr Teachers
2018-19 season assistants–
Abigail is twelve years old.and this is her second year assisting. She is in the 7th grade at Donegal Jr High. She is the youngest of three, with two older brothers. This is her 5th year at Crickets. She loves dancing, and ballet is her favorite.