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Our Faculty

    Deana Careccio-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.

                            Natalie Eramo

                            Miss Natalie is SO excited to become a member of the DDA Dance Family! Born and raised in Houston, Texas, Natalie started dancing at Abbott’s Performing Arts Center and immediately fell in love. She has trained in Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Lyrical, Musical Theater, Hip-hop,Ballroom, and Tap. Natalie continued her training there for 19 years, winning national titles on their competition team, and even becoming a faculty member. For high school she attended The High School for Performing and Visual Arts, and then graduated from the University of Arizona with a BFA in dance. During her time at the UA, she had the amazing opportunity to perform in a revised “CHICAGO” repertoire, choreographed by Anne Reinking and Gary Chryst.

                            Professionally Natalie has danced for multiple cruise lines including Royal Caribbean (Independence of the Seas) and Grand Bahama Celebration (original cast). After deciding to stay on dry land, Natalie moved to New York and has been living there for the past two years. Since then, she has performed with Awaken Dance Theater as a company member, Confetti Entertainment in Atlantic City, opened for Bon Jovi with J&D Entertainment, and in The Curious Show at the SugarHouse Casino in Philadelphia, PA. Her favorite places to take classes are Steps on Broadway, Broadway Dance Center, and of course DDA Dance Academy! She can’t wait to meet all of the talented students and looks forward to the new year!

                                Jade Van Vlaanderen

                                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.

                                                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.

                                                    Monica Jimenez

                                                    Dance Assistant

                                                    Monica is a systems engineer who loves to be surrounded by the art of music and children. While not professionally trained, she has taught herself techniques in various styles of dance, has a background in musical theater, and has experience in choreography. She enjoys being a part of the dance community and being able to share one of her passions. Her positive energy and outlook is contagious, and she is thrilled to be a part of the DDA family.”

                                                        Genna Mergola

                                                        Genna began her dance training at the age of twelve at Look Sharp Performing Arts Center. Before becoming a dance major at Montclair State University she trained at the Petrov Ballet. At MSU Genna has had the privilege of performing works by Andrea Miller, Larry Keigwin, Sean Curran, Rebecca Stenn, Lynn Grossman, Beth McPherson, Jay T. Jenkins, and José Limón. She also choreographed and performed a solo for MSU’s Dance Collage student concert. Outside of MSU, Genna has performed works by artists Douglas Dunn and Tracie Stanfield.

                                                            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).