Dina Castelluccio (Director)

Yoga, Contemporary, Company Rehearsal Director & Children’s Division

Dina Castelluccio began her training in Connecticut at the Stratford Center for the Performing Arts. She went on to train at CT Dance Conservatory, Broadway Dance Center, Steps on Broadway and Dance New Amsterdam, where she trained with top NYC teachers. Dina is co-founder and artistic director of a contemporary company, Clarity in Motion, which has presented Falling Awake and Glass Houses. Her work as also been seen on stage at the Shakespeare Festival, as well as the Joyce Theater in NYC. She directed the musical theater show Broadway Babes and has performed in Broadway in the Park. She was a member of Millennium Dance Company for a year and a half, under the direction of Devin Pulls at Perri Studios, NYC. Dina has judged at numerous cities for the dance competition, National Dance showcase as well as taught master classes at their national convention.

After living in New York City for 6 years as a professional dancer, she is now pursuing her career in Los Angeles. She teaches throughout the Los Angeles County area and continues to teach and choreograph throughout Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. Dina has won numerous choreography awards and her work as been asked to perform at The Battle of the Stars, Star Power National Talent Competition. Dina’s performing credits include, Fefe Dobson’s music video Boy Friend, “The View” for Hilary Duff and Nelly Furtatdo, as well as The International Dance Gala in NYC.

 

Karen Nerkowski (Director)

Ballet, Modern, & Children’s Division

Karen Nerkowski began her dance training in Connecticut and earned her BFA in Dance Performance and Elementary Education at Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI. She has been teaching and producing award-winning choreography in the Tri-state area for 12 years. In addition to her teaching, Karen is co-director of the professional company CIM dance, which is based out of NYC/L.A.

Karen’s choreography has been presented at The Joyce Theater/Dancin’ Dowtown at the Joyce (NYC), Shakespeare Arts Festival (CT), Uptown Performance Series (NYC) and several showcases/evening length performances around NYC and CT including: Stratford Theatre (CT) and Bridge For Dance (NYC).

Karen’s philosophy stems from her love of dance and the belief that all students have the ability to become dancers given the right tools and instruction. Karen motivates her students with the promise that with hard work, repetition, an open mind and a sense of humor anything is possible!

 

Marllon Marcellus

Hip Hop

Born and raised in Brazil, Marllon was always passionate about music and dance. Hip hop and contemporary fusion are what inspired him to begin his journey as a student and train in the arts. Marllon has trained in California and New York with highly regarded dancers and choreographers. He currently resides in Connecticut where he trains with multiple dancers around the CT/NY community striving to gain more knowledge and skills to share with his students. 

 

 

 

Deanna Ford

Ballet

Deanna Ford’s training began in Tacoma, Washington with Jo Emery. She continued her dance studies on scholarship in NYC with School of American Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Harkness Ballet and David Howard. Deanna started her professional career at age 19 as a soloist with Hartford Ballet Company. She also performed with New Jersey Ballet and was a ballet dancer for Radio City Music Hall productions. She has performed as an adagio dancer in Japan, Europe and throughout the United States. Her Musical Theatre credits include Kismet, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Animal Crackers and Sugar Babies. In NYC she was a cabaret dancer at the Rainbow Room in Peter Jackson’s Legs and Tony Stevens Skintight. Deanna performed as a Radio City Rockette on National Tour in Las Vegas and in the Christmas Spectacular Radio City Music Hall in NYC.

Ms. Ford currently teaches dance throughout the New York area as well as Master Classes nationally. Deanna believes that a strong technical background, versatility and a good sense of humor are the ingredients to becoming a successful dancer.

 

Sandy Canfield

Gymnastics & Creative

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kelly Kaleta

Tap

Kelly Kaleta started her dance training in Western MA at the age of 6, studying ballet, tap, jazz and hip hop before graduating from high school. While attending Boston University, she began teaching in the Boston area and throughout Massachusetts. She now teaches up and down the east coast and Canada, doing master classes and conventions, workshops and performances. She is a faculty member and choreographer for Gil Stroming’s Break the Floor, has done choreography for the Legacy Dancers and many competition groups, and her students have received numerous awards. In 2006, she was a cast member of Imagine Tap!, choreographed and directed by Derick Grant, and most recently can be seen in Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench, a film written and directed by Damien Chazelle.

 

Deanna Krasezwski

Ballet

Deanna is a CT native who began her training at an early age with Jacqueline Hanson and later went on to receive her BA in Dance from Hofstra University under the direction of Lance Westergard and Stormy Brandenburg. Deanna has spent the past 15 years traveling the US teaching and choreographing as well as serving as the Artistic Director of the Low Country School of Performing Arts in South Carolina. She also spent two years studying under Jayne Persch of Briah Dance Company as well as Boulder Ballet & Colorado Ballet. Former students have gone on to dance with such prestigious schools and companies such as the Governors School of the Arts, North Carolina School of the Arts, Charleston Ballet, JoffreyBallet, PILOBUS, and Parsons. Deanna teaches both Classical & Contemporary Ballet. 

 

Lizzie Fleitas

 Hip Hop

Lizzie Fleitas is a commercial dancer and choreographer from Westchester, NY. Lizzie discovered her love for dance while attending Sacred Heart University as a founding member of the SHU Dance Program. Upon graduation, she was asked to return to her Alma Modern as a choreographer and instructor for the program’s Dance Ensemble. Lizzie has trained in all styles of dance but specializes in Hip-Hop and Street Jazz. Her choreography showcases a fusion of all her dance knowledge and skills that she’s acquired throughout her dance career. The majority of her training was done in NYC at Broadway Dance Center, Exile Professional Gym, Peridance, and Brickhouse NYC, under some of the city’s top choreographers such as James Jackson Jr., Kelly Peters, Frankie Gordils, Jessica Castro, and Neil Schwartz. Additionally, Lizzie has trained under the iconic choreographer/creative director, Galen Hooks, and currently assists her whenever she is in town. Some of Lizzie’s dancer credits include: US Open’s Arthur Ashe Kid’s Day, Saving Forever, Steve Aoki & Lil Yachty, Emarosa, MTV’s TRL, and HBO’s The Deuce.

 

Linsey O’Neal

Jazz

Linsey O’Neal recently moved back to New York City after living in Los Angeles and is currently a performer, teacher and choreographer. Some of her favorite performing credits include the MTV’s Video Music Awards with Ariana Grande, performing with James Corden, Kevin Hart, at Radio City Music Hall, Lincoln Center and The Javits Center in NYC. She is currently a company member of Chloe Arnold’s Apt 33 and was a dancer with Dana Foglia Dance. Television credits include: Fox and Friends, Extreme Makeover Home Edition, and Good Morning America, as well as commercials for Comcast and Crowd Tilt. Linsey’s choreography has been featured at The 2018 Chita Rivera Awards, The Astaire Awards, NYC Festival of Dance, LA County Fair, Broadway Care’s Nothing Like a Dame, and the OC Fair. Linsey loves to teach and share her passion with dancers and student worldwide. She has taught across the US, including guest classes for the Dana Foglia Dance Mentorship programs, Steps on Broadway, and at Conventions across the country. In addition, she has taught internationally at Dassain Camp at BlinkNow in Nepal, at Tap Festival UK, and in Montreal, Canada. Linsey is super excited to be teaching at Connecticut Dance Conservatory this season!

 

Maria Cherniske

Acro

Maria Cherniske was born and raised in Connecticut where she took her first class at the age of three. Since then, her passion for the arts has continued to flourish. In addition to being a performer, Maria has taught dance to students of all ages for the past thirteen years and is a coach for competitive level gymnastics.

Maria was a competitive gymnast trained by 2004 Olympic coach Alan Hatch and 2004 two-time Olympic silver medalist Annia Hatch. Following college, Maria continued her dance education at the Broadway Dance Center in New York. She trained under Rhapsody James in the 2012 winter session of Motivating Excellence. She is also a member of New York based dance companies Jamie J & Co and Humans Collective.

Maria has worked with choreographers such as Lisette Bustamante, James Jackson Jr, Dana Foglia, Rhapsody James, Luam Keflezgy, Kelly Peters, Derek Mitchell and Tanisha Scott. She has performed at Carnegie Hall, Radio City Music Hall in an ad for Rocawear clothing, with super model Coco Rocha at NYC’s Fashion’s Night Out, on national television with Icona Pop and in a national commercial for the Wendy Williams show.  She was also recently a principal in a commercial for Affinity Bank. In addition, Maria has done work for Nike and Adidas. She appeared in Music Videos with popular up and coming artists and performed live with artists Matt Hunter, Carey Nokey, and L Michelle. Most recently, Maria was the assistant choreographer for Rob Thomas’ music video “I Trust You.”

Maria travels internationally to teach acro/tumbling and dance. In 2012 she was selected to be a mentor for the program Creating Opportunities (www.creatingopps.com) developed by world-renowned choreographers Lisette Bustamante and Chonique Sneed. Since 2012 she has been an adjunct professor in the Performing Arts Department at Sacred Heart University.

Maria is dedicated to perfecting her art and the love of performance. She believes that dance is the universal language and enjoys getting to know others and helping people get to know her through dance.
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Maria holds a B.A. in Psychology, Masters in Reading Education from Sacred Heart University. She is holds a Connecticut Teaching Certificate. She is certified through Fitness, Gymnastics and Acro federations (listed below).

Certifications:
AFAA Group Fitness Certified
bodyART Certified Instructor
Adult and Pediatric First Aid, CPR and AED certified
ACRO levels 1-6 through USA Gymnastics
USA Gymnastics Safety Certified – Artistic Gymnastics Coach

Website: www.MariaCherniskeDance.com

 

Andrea Ward 

Company Rehearsal Director

Andrea teaches throughout the U.S. and has most recently performed her work in Italy for the 2018 Mediterraneo Dance Festival. She’s also presented group work in the 2016 and 2017 Capezio Ace Awards in New York City and Long Beach, California. In 2015 she performed with the Isodoc Dance Group, a New York-based floor work company under the direction of Jeff Docimo. Furthermore, Andrea has performed her work as a featured artist in TEDx at the Phillips Center as well as in “Facing the Refugee Crisis” at the Digital Worlds Institute in Gainesville, Florida. She also held a residency at the Center for World Arts/Harn Museum at the University of Florida in 2016. Andrea also works with film and has had her underwater dance films screened in New York, Paris, and London. Music plays a central role in her work, and she oftentimes creates her own music to choreograph to. She’s currently recording an album that will be the basis for dance works to come.

 

Sidney Choothesa 

Jazz, Hip Hop, Contemporary & Children/Teen Division

Sidney Choothesa was born and raised in Bridgeport, CT and trained at Connecticut Dance Conservatory for 15 years. She has been trained in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, modern, hip hop, and musical theater. She is currently a student at Sacred Heart University where she is part of the Dance Company there. Sidney has also choreographed pieces for Sacred Heart Dance Company and for an original Musical at Sacred Heart.

 

 

 

Rae-Ann Thomas 

Company Director, Contemporary/Modern, & Children’s Division

Rae-Ann Thomas, a native of Massachusetts, after dancing through her childhood, she went on to receive her BA in Dance as well as an Associate’s degree in Business from Dean College in Massachusetts. Rae-Ann has performed for choreographers such as Mike Esperanza, Teddy Tedholm, Chris Hale, Brynn Cohen, Calen Kurka, Kristen Sudekis, Hannah Frederick, and Rachel Hettinger, just to name a few. Rae-Ann spent time as a member of Rachel Hettinger’s company “metaphorsandsimilesdance,” and is a current member of Teddy Tedholm’s “TEDTED Performance Company.” Rae-Ann was an artist in the Gypsy Project LA, an improvisational base training program in Los Angeles. She trained directly under Gypsy’s founder and creator, Erica Sobol. She judges and works for many competitions and conventions, allowing her to share her knowledge and passion with dancers around the country as well as internationally. Rae-Ann aims to bring positive energy into her work as a dancer, choreographer, and ultimately instructor. Her taste for lightness and comedic accents make her work relatable and unique. She hopes to inspire and motivate all humans she is able to reach with her distinct movement style and love for human connection.