Home » About » Our Faculty

Our Faculty

    Deana Gentile (Academy Owner)

    A competitive dancer for over 28 years, Deana is an award winning choreographer and has been instructing dance and fitness classes for many years all throughout Bergen, Passaic, and Morris county. Deana, teaches over 30 classes/week at her Academy in Maywood and at multiple locations with her mobile school. With both schools, she personally educates over 300 students/week in various disciplines. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree, with an emphasis in jazz dance, from one of the top dance programs in the United States and England, the School of Dance at the University of Arizona. There she studied with such greats as Susan Quinn, Amy Ernst, and Sam Watson. Deana continues her studies at the Dance Teacher Summit and at Broadway Dance Center in NYC. She has performed as a backup dancer for the world renowned singer Sarah Brightman (Phantom of the Opera) which aired on NBC and performed along side of the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Olympic Medalist, Sasha Cohen. Deana has had the honor of working with such notable actors as Drew Barrymore and Britney Murphy.
    Deana is also a certified Pilates instructor. She continues her education through Balanced Body University where she takes workshops on the pilates reformer and other apparatus. She has studied with Ron Fletcher, protege and longtime student of Joseph Pilates. Deana uses kinesiology to properly train and prevent injury to each individual. Her passion, love for children, dance experience, and pilates knowledge gives her the ideal combination to inspire and motivate her classes.

        Lois Englund

        Lois Englund is a professional choreographer/director and teacher, who has developed students of all ages, teaching ballet, jazz, musical theatre, acting and voice. She was a dance and acting professor at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and was the Artistic Director of Musical Theatre Works Conservatory in NYC. Lois taught master classes, summer intensives and has judged dance competitions all over the country.

        Her professional Broadway credits include performing in over dozen Broadway shows, among them are “A Chorus Line”, “Dancin” and “Cabaret”. On Broadway, Lois worked for Michael Bennett, Bob Fosse, Gwen Verdon, Ann Reinking, Hal Prince, Agnes DeMille, Margo Sappington, Gillain Lynne and many others. She directed touring productions of A Chorus Line, Desert Song, Best Little House, The New Yorkers, as well as choreographing pieces for Ballet and Ballroom companies. She also holds the world title as Theatre Arts Champion in the Ballroom competitive community.

        Lois is certified to teach Ashtanga, Anusara, Therapeutic, Restorative and Vinyasa style yoga. She started teaching yoga during her long career as a professional Broadway dancer, and blends several yoga styles with her knowledge of dance to create a rewarding, challenging and fun class called
        Pure Vinyasa. Vinyasa means breath- synchronized movement, and it develops
        cardiovascular benefits, strength, flexibility, focus, tone, and
        relaxation. All levels are welcome in her yoga classes!

            Kathleen McAree

            Kathleen McAree is a native New Yorker and a graduate of Montclair State University with a BFA in Fine and Performing Arts. Kathleen has toured nationally and internationally with companies such as Jette Performance Company, The Mantis Project, and Jennifer Krease Dance Works. She has over 15 years experience teaching children thru adult levels, and is certified in the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum. Ms. McAree has also taught for CUNY, the City University of New York, for 12 years. Kathleen has appeared in movies such as “Carlito’s Way,” “The Stepford Wives” as well as several music videos. She is very excited to bring her knowledge and creative energy to our studio and wonderful new space here at DDAdance!

                Taryn Wennersten

                Ms. Taryn has been teaching acrobatics & dance classes for the past 17 years. She grew up competing in the world of both dance and gymnastics, training in NJ, NY & CA. She later went on to become Captain of the 1st place National Rutgers University Dance Team and the Head Coach of the renowned Bishop Ahr High School Gymnastics Team.

                Ms. Taryn feels most at home in the studio teaching children acrobatics & dance. Her engaging teaching style emphasizes a strong work ethic as she pushes the students to achieve their goals in a fun & positive way. Ms. Taryn hopes to pass on her passion, strength & determination to all her students. She is also the proud mother of four children, in which her 2 daughters have been competing in the world of gymnastics & dance for the past 6 years.

                Ms. Taryn feels blessed to be joining the DDA Team surrounded by the young talented stars of tomorrow!

                    Jessica Asgar

                    Jessica Asgar has studied dance for more than thirty years including ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, hip-hop, contemporary, as well as tumbling/acrobatics.  She owned and operated her own dance studio for 14 years starting at the young age of 17.  At her studio, Jessica was the primary dance instructor for students ranging from age 2 to adult in multiple disciplines of dance. Jessica has competed and performed at various local and national dance competitions and events including Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and the NJ Devils.  At the conclusion of her dance performance career, she also discovered a love for fitness.  Jessica currently holds a personal training certification through the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM).  Dance and fitness has given Jessica the opportunity to share her passion for a fun and healthy lifestyle.

                        Erin Sheets

                        Originally from Staunton Virginia, moved to NYC to pursue a career in dance at the young age of 18. Classically trained, she has a knack for incorporating different dance genres into her hip hop choreography. Erin has trained in Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, and Hip Hop all over the U.S. making her a well rounded choreographer and teacher. She has performed for Nike, Adidas, Pepsi, R&B artist Lee Charm, MTV, Reggaeton artist Tyna Q, Bloch, Angel Felicianl’s “The Movement” and much more. She recently danced in the promos for the hit TV show “Americas Best Dance Crew” with Randy Jackson as we as the new Step Up 3D.

                            Janet Fede

                            Janet began her dance training at the age of five with Hilda Elfonte Bunino.  She continued her training in NYC with teachers and choreographers such as Don Farnsworth, Charles Kelly, and Luigi. She also studied with Irene Fokine, Jeanette Hoffman, and Boris Levin. Janet performed with the Irine Fokine Ballet Company and the Glinka Russian Folk Dancers of NJ. She studied at Western Kentucky University and Dance Educators of America Training School in NYC and is certified to teach beginner through advanced students. Janet is a lifetime member of Dance Educators of America.  She has owned and operated her own dance studio for 37 years, teaching, choreographing, and directing numerous shows, for all ages. Choreographed for West Orange High School Play which was nominated for the best overall production for the Shining Stars Competition. She attended BCC majoring in Early Childhood Education and Children with special needs. In addition to her dance career, Janet works for the Garfield Board of Education as a Paraprofessional for the past 20 years. Miss Janet looks forward to passing the passion she has for dance to the dancers of DDA Dance Academy.

                                Jade MacFarlane

                                Jade has been trained in many dance styles such as ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, hip hop and musical theatre. She has been teaching for the past five years and has taught ages 2 1/2 through teen at dance studios and fine arts events at churches and elementary schools. Prior to teaching Jade danced professionally for Hershey Park -PA, Norwegian Cruise Line with Jean Ann Ryan Productions as well as NCL Productions and Moranz Entertainment at the Charleston Music Hall in South Carolina. She was also a featured dancer at the American Music Theatre of Pennsylvania. Jade loves bringing joy, fun and encouragement to children through sharing her love for dance! She currently is enrolled at the Institute of Integrated Nutrition where she will become a Certified Health Coach and continue to touch lives with her passion for health and fitness!

                                    Mary Ann Hodnett

                                    Mary Ann Hodnett majored in Dance Performance at Colorado State University and later obtained her degree in Dance Management from Oklahoma City University. Her performance highlights include the Denver Nuggests Dance Team and back up dancer for *NSYNC, with performances at Lincoln Center, Roseland Ballroom, Giant Stadium and Rockefeller Center for a variety of artists.  Mary Ann studied at various schools including Broadway Dance Center, Steps, and the Isadora School of Dance in NYC. She has been a dance educator for 20 years, teaching ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop and hoop dance in over a dozen dance schools throughout Colorado, South Dakota and New Jersey.

                                        Lauren Barrett

                                         Lauren began her training at Robin Horneff’s PAC. She’s performed with Ben Vereen at Make a Wish Foundation Benefits as well as with Wyclef Jean and the Temptations at the Princess Grace Foundation’s Benefit for the Prince of Monaco. She has performed along side of  Busta Rhymes and Debbie Gibson as well as with ballet masters Sascha Radetsky and Ethan Stiefel.  Lauren has danced on the CBS Morning Show, ESPN, Spike TV and “The View” and in an International American Express Commercial. For two years she was a part of Synthesis Dance Project, Dir. Tracie Stanfield. Then she joined the dance company :pushing progress, Dir. Calen Kurka. Her choreography has been showcased at “Falling Awake” and “Glass Houses” as well as The “Hot Series” at Bridge for Dance NYC. She also taught at New Dance Group NYC where they showcased her work in The Teachers Showcase for her choreography. She has won over 25 choreography awards and has been teaching and choreographing for 14 years. She has also done work at Ramapo College of NJ and for the College of Charleston Dance Team. 

                                            Carey Colacurcio

                                            Carey began creative movement and tumbling classes at the age of 2 1/2. Through age 18, she trained in tap, ballet, acro, lyrical, hip hop, jazz, modern and pointe. She most recently completed Broadway Dance Center’s teacher training program in NYC. She continues training at the Broadway Dance Center, studying multiple styles and concentrating on tap.  Carey has trained with Freespace Dance Company and continued on to their junior company.  Carey is the head choreographer for Maywood Avenue Schools drama program since 2011.  She has worked at DDA for many years under Deana as an Assisant as she pursues her goal of teaching dance.

                                                Helen McCafferty

                                                Helen McCafferty began her dance training in Wall, NJ at The Dancers Workshop where she is a national award-winning performer and competitor. She has been a national acclimated dancer to be chosen for the United States Hip Hop Dance Team, as well as been showcased in The Capezio A.C.E. awards as a feature dancer. She has studied all genres of dance from ballet to hip hop, and continue her love today. In addition to her studies at The Dancers Workshop she has also studied with The Rock School of Dance Education, The American Ballet Theatre, and the New Jersey Tap Ensemble. She has trained with the Lakewood Blueclaws Dance Team as well as Junior Knights Rutgers Dance Team and currently with the Montclair State University Dance Team as a junior at Montclair State. As she continues to train and grow as a dancer, she wants to inspire others to do what they love and reach for their dreams!

                                                    Gabrielle Salerno

                                                    Since 2009 Gabby has been working at DDA in the classrooms and as a backstage manager for our year end recitals. At Age three she began her dance training in Northern NJ. In 2011, she graduated BCC with a degree in Musical Theatre/Dance and was inducted into the Delta Psi Omega Theatre Honor Society. In 2013, she became the Founder of the Theatre Alumni Association at BCC. As a theatre major some of her credits include: “Kiss Me Kate”, “Cabaret”, “Bob Fosse Tribute” (Director, Producer, Choreographer) to name a few. Gabrielle was also the choreographer for Porchlight Productions where she did nineteen shows in one years time. In her spare time she also choreographs and performs in community theatre productions as well as benefit concerts for organizations. The greatest joy for Gabby is bringing her passion of dance and performing to her students each year and watching them grow into enthusiastic performers.

                                                        Shawn Rawls

                                                        Shawn Rawls grew up in Cleveland, Ohio studying martial arts and street dance from a young age. At sixteen he attended Cleveland School of the Arts and began dancing with the Y.A.R.D (Youth At Risk Dancing) an award winning program helping youths develop an artistic voice and U.D.C (Urban Dance Collective). These youth company experiences provided training with Paul Taylor, Pilobolus, and Dayton Contemporary Dance Company. In 2003, Shawn graduated as a double major in Visual Arts and Dance. Shawn is now a professional dancer, teacher and choreographer in New York City. He trained at Broadway Dance Center, Steps, Peridance, and with artists like Mia Michaels from So You Think You Can Dance, Ravenna Tucker from the Royal Ballet, David Keary of the New York City Ballet, Steve Rooks of the Martha Graham Company, Bill Wade artistic director of Inlet Dance Theatre, and Hope Boykins from Alvin Ailey. He received a full scholarship in dance to pursue a B. F. A. in performance and choreography from Belhaven University. Shawn has performed with over a dozen shows and dance companies throughout the United States and abroad including Pilobolus, the Aluminum Show, Abarukas, Ad Deum, Monster Energy Drink and the Roots, Culture Shock, the Roxey Ballet, Chicago Dance Crash, Tygo Ballets, K-Theory, Son Kiss’d Hip Hop Contemporary and the Chicago Lyric Opera. He served as dance captain and as a dancer on tour with Catapult. As a freelance choreographer for more than ten years, he won the first round of NYC XYZ choreography competition and placed runner up in the final round and placed third in VKIBC. He has been commissioned to create work on Dancing Wheels and the Roxey Ballet along with numerous choreography commissions for colleges and student training programs. Shawn is the founder and artistic director of Emotions Physical Theatre, a dance company that performs in New York and around the United States. His work has been seen in NYC 10 festival, the Houston Fringe Festival, and the Moving Beauty Series. He has curated and produced the Evening of Contemporary Dance and Thought Provoked where he presented his own choreography and invited other artists to present work. Through his company, Shawn works with the DEA to create shows and teach residencies that combine high quality dance presentations with and anti-drug message for at-risk kids. Shawn has also been teaching dance for over thirteen years at numerous dance schools, training programs, summer intensives, conventions, and in the Newark Public School system.

                                                            Kailene Laga

                                                            Kailene Laga has been dancing for over 20 years. She has a strong background in both studio training as well as dance team. She has taught jazz and hip hop ages 3-18 for over 5 years. She is currently the Head Coach of the Montclair State University Dance Team.  In the past, Kailene has taken master classes with Mia Michaels, Brian Freedman and Luam and continues to take classes at studios like Broadway Dance Center to continue pushing her dance ability and knowledge. Throughout her dance team years, both high school and college she has received various titles and awards. Her senior year on Pascack Valley Regional Dance Team she led her team as captain to a National Championship. She was elected an All American Dancer and Top Gun Turner for National Dance Alliance. She later went on to become a member of the Ramapo College Dance Team were she received a collegiate National Title for Division III.  During her 4 years on the team she was able to work with various well known choreographers and trainers from NYC and Minnesota. She has choreographed and worked with several teams throughout Bergen, Monmouth and Passaic County. Kailene has always had a passion for dance and loves being able to share that passion with students every day and is so excited to continue doing so with the DDA family!

                                                                Catherine Baggs

                                                                Catherine holds a BA in Music Theatre/Mathematics from American University (2006) where she was a Greenberg Scholarship Recipient. At American University she was the Teaching Assistant to Dr. Kippola for the course Dance Styles For Music Theater in which she taught mock auditions, remedial technical skills, and led every class warm up. She was also the Teaching Assistant to Carl Menninger for the course Fundamentals of Acting II where she coached students privately for in class performances. She was privileged to choreograph for American’s productions of  Wish Eye Knew (DC Debut) and The Caucasian Chalk Circle.

                                                                Catherine received her MA in Dance Education from New York University (2012) where she was a Steinhardt Graduate Scholarship Recipient. She also received the award for Outstanding Achievement In Graduate Dance Education upon graduation from NYU. While at NYU she performed with Kaledioscope Dancers and debuted Mischief In The Night at The Frederick Loewe Theater.

                                                                Catherine has assisted for Carol Schuberg and currently studies with her at Steps on Broadway (NYC). She has also studied with Frank Pietri, Tony Stevens, Debra Floyd, Nancy Newell, Skip Costa, Evidence Dance Company and various other instructors at Broadway Dance Center and Peridance Capezio Center.

                                                                Catherine began her career as a competitive dancer winning High Score Awards at various national competitions including Starbound and Barbaran. She has gone on to perform with Disney Cruise Lines, The Smithsonian Institute, Washington Women In Theater, and various special events for The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

                                                                As a Dance Educator, she is currently on faculty at Monmouth University, The 92nd Street Y Harkness Dance Center, and American Youth Dance Theater. She has previously taught with Broadway Bodies, US Performing Arts Camps, and Summers at LREI. Her choreography has been featured at The Player’s Theater (NY), The Katzen Studio Theater (DC), The Frederick Loewe Theater (NY) and Dance New Amsterdam (NY). She has also presented at The National Dance Education Organization’s National Conference (2013) and was a co-presenter at The American Alliance for Theatre and Education’s National Conference (2009).

                                                                    Victoria Rita Alvarez, Denice D’Alessio, Carey Colacurcio

                                                                    Office Staff

                                                                        Ariana A’Costa, Katherine Post, Malissa Lemanski, Kimberly Tomaszewski, Jennifer Cichino, & Rita Polak