Ilona Kessell is a choreographer and dance teacher.† Her choreography for musical theatre and concert dance productions has been seen extensively in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. region.
Ms. Kessell is particularly proud of the strong relationship she has forged with Toby Orenstein, the owner and producing director of Tobyís Dinner Theatre, Columbia, MD.† Since 1988, Ms. Kessell has choreographed and musically staged more than 50 productions with Orenstein.† Over the years, their joint efforts have garnered multiple Helen Hayes Award nominations for various aspects of their productions.† In 1989, Ms. Kessell conceived the dance and musical staging for Orensteinís original musical version of Itís A Wonderful Life (Tilford & Nehls). †Four years later, the Troika Organization toured this show nationally.†
Ms. Kessell was the recipient of the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Choreography for her work in Ragtime Ė the Musical (2004), and Damn Yankees (2002), both produced at Tobyís Dinner Theatre.† Additionally, for her work at Tobyís, she has received Helen Hayes Award nominations for: Disney's† Beauty and the Beast, Cats, The Jazz Singer, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, 42nd Street, Follies, State Fair and West Side Story.
Ms. Kessell has also received an Individual Artistís Award for Choreography (1995) from the Maryland State Arts Council and was a semi-finalist in Dance Break 2004, a career-incentive program sponsored by the Stage Directors & Choreographers Foundation.†
As a teacher, Ms. Kessell has worked with amateur, pre-professional and professional dancers and actors.† Her teaching specialties are jazz, tap and musical theatre dance.† Ms. Kessellís concert dance choreography has been featured at the Chautauqua Institute and choreographersí showcases in Baltimore, MD.†††
Currently, Ms. Kessell directs the Dance Programs at the McDonogh School, a K-12 independent preparatory school. She is also an adjunct instructor for the Department of Performing Arts at American University.† In the past, she has been a member of the dance faculties of the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, Goucher College, the Chautauqua Institute, as well as a plethora of commercial studios.†
Ms. Kessell is a member of the Society of Stage Directors & Choreographers and the National Dance Association.† She resides in Baltimore, Maryland.