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Michelle Ladd-Williams

Michelle Ladd is known for her work on The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), Thor (2011) and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2005). She has been married to Thom Williams since October 14, 2006. They have three children.

Special classes: 

Motion Capture

Learn what is involved in performing combat sequences for motion (or performance) capture as used in film and video games.  This class includes lecture demo and Q&A time as we explore the process of creating creature movement styles for motion capture.  Both “hero” performance capture and “crowd battle simulation” capture will be addressed Michelle shares over 15 years of expertise in this specialized field. 

Skirts and Heels  

So, you've learned how to fight in your sweats and tennis shoes, but what happens when your scene requires period costuming OR modern female garb of stilettos and a mini-skirt?  How do you take the training you've received and keep yourself "safe and effective" in heels and skirts?  This is a hands-on class tackling these and other issues women (particularly) face in performing stunts for stage and screen.  All participants need to bring a skirt (the longer and fluffier the better) and some sort of heels.  (This class is not limited to women.)

Neil Massey

SAFD Certified Teacher Neil Massey has been involved in stage combat for over 25 years as a performer, choreographer and teacher in the US and abroad.  Neil has served on the Governing Body of the SAFD, as Assistant Coordinator for the National Stage Combat Workshop at UNLV, and as Coordinator for the Chicago Regional Stage Combat Workshop.  Based in the Chicago area, Neil had taught stage combat at Roosevelt University, DePaul University, and Columbia College. An accomplished sword cutler, his company, Rogue Steel, supplies theatres, universities, and individuals all over the world with high quality stage combat equipment

Special classes: 

The Psychology of Killing - Intermediate knife. Class uses the principles of Dave Grossman's book On Killing to inform the choices we make in a life and death fight.


Sword Maintenance - Open. Learn about how to take care of stage combat weapons, and what to look for in quality weapons.

J Alex Cordaro

Alex is a Certified Teacher with the Society of American Fight Directors, and also holds the distinction of being one of fifteen Certified Theatrical Firearms Safety Instructors on the planet.

Alex has worked with Arcadia University, the University of the Arts, Temple University, The University of Delaware, and the North Carolina School of the Arts. Alex is a two time Barrymore Award Nominee, was featured on The Discovery Channel’s Project Discovery Series: Day in the life of a Fight Director, and his choreography is on file at The Lincoln Center in New York

Alex has directed fights for The McCarter Theatre Center, The Actors Theater of Louisville, The Wilma Theatre, The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, The Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival,  The Lantern Theater Company, Theater Exile, Inis Nua Theater Company, The Arden Theatre Company, Philadelphia Opera Company, Freedom Theater, The Prince Music Theater,  Forensic Files on TRU TV, and others. Alex’s choreography has been sailing all across Europe and the Caribbean for the past three years in Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s Saturday Night Fever!

Ian Rose

Ian has been staging fights in the New York and Philadelphia areas for over twenty-five years. Ian has arranged fights for commercials, for film and on stage. Ian's work has been seen at the Riverside Shakespeare and Interborough Repertory Theatre in New York City, The Whole Theatre in New Jersey, the Bridewell Theatre in London, MTM Studios in Rome, The Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, The Philadelphia Shakespeare Festival, the Philadelphia Theatre Company and Novel Stages in Pennsylvania.


He is a Fight Master with The Society of American Fight Directors and with Fight Directors Canada. Ian has had the honour to have taught at seven Canadian National Workshops, and is one of the coordinators of the Philadelphia Stage Combat Workshop.  He continues to study and be fascinated by Shotokan Karate, where he currently holds a black belt, 3rd Degree.

Ian is a professor at Temple University in Philadelphia.

For more information on Ian see: 

Charles Conwell

SAFD Fight Director Charles Conwell, an old swashbuckler, created the stage combat program at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia in 1985. He is now a tenured professor at UArts where certification is available in all eight SAFD disciplines.


He has directed fights for Arden Theater, Dartmouth University, Hartford Stage, Long Wharf Theater, McCarter Theater, Pennsylvania Ballet, Philadelphia Drama Guild, Prince Music Theater, University of Delaware, Walnut Street Theater, Wilma Theater, Yale Repertory Theater, Opera Delaware, Opera Company of Philadelphia and the Metropolitan Opera in NYC. He is the co-coordinator of the Philadelphia Stage Combat Workshop.

Payson Burt

Payson Burt is an actor, stunt performer and a SAFD certified fight director and teacher. After 15 years in Hollywood, Payson has recently returned to the Philadelphia area.   As an artist many diverse roles, Payson has been involved in hundreds of dramatic and comic productions including theatre, ballet, opera, film and television.  As a teacher, Payson has served on a variety of prestigious faculties teaching acting, movement and stage combat.  Credits:  11years Temple University, 8 years American Musical and Dramatic Academy (Hollywood), Curtis Institute of Music, University of Alabama, University of Colorado, North Carolina School of the Arts and Cal Poly Pomona

Payson has also taught numerous workshops both nationally and internationally. He has had many articles about actor training and the art of stage combat published in various journals and is author of “Of Paces”, a stage combat training manual. 

Jacqueline Holloway

Jacqueline Holloway is a fight choreographer, Violence desiger, and stunt performer who has worked throughout the U.S., Canada, and Northern Europe, as well as on and off-Broadway and with Vanity Fair magazine. In Philadelphia, Jacqueline runs and teaches an all-female fight group called Galhalla, whose focus is to provide a safe space for women to train stage combat and stunt work with like-minded women in the industry. Additionally, she offers training and workshops open to people of all genders looking to train in combat for stage and film with her company Arte Violenta.


She is a certified teacher and Instructor with the SAFD and Fight Directors Canada.

J Oliver Donahue

A Certified Instructor with both Fight Directors Canada and Society of American Fight Directors, Oliver has spent the last several years studying, performing, choreographing, and teaching violence up and down the East Coast and through parts of Canada.  In Philadelphia, that includes jobs for, amongst others, Temple University, Arcadia University, BRAT Productions, Philly’s Primary Stages, GDP Productions, BSomeday Productions, The Drama Group, and Fever Dream Repertory.  

Past instructors include ...

SAFD Fight Masters

Chuck Coyl

K.Jenny Jones

Geoff Alm

Brian Byrnes

David Wooley

J.David Brimmer

SAFD Fight Directors

Michael Johnson

Joe Travers

Lewis Shaw

Doug Mumaw

SAFD Certified Teachers

Jeff A.R. Jones

Michelle Ladd

Nicole Callendar

Robert Westley

Mike Yahn

FDC Maitre D’Armes J.P. Fournier

BASSC Instructor Jonathan Leverett

SAFDi Instructor Nigel Poulton

FDC Fight Master Jean-Francois Gagnon

FDC Fight Master Jacques Cappelle

Previous Years' Classes include ...

Roman Battle Tactics

Mambo Italiano

Twirling Sticks of Doom

I Am Not Left Handed


Melee vs. Ambush

Alla Stocatta Con Giovanni Alla Fasta Stuff

Knife and Tomahawk
Musket and Bayonet
I Stabba You Face!
Accelerate Into Your Action!

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