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Meet Our Faculty

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Jen Lancaster Matus - Artistic Director & Owner - is a dedicated teacher and choreographer, committed to inspiring dancers to delve deeper into their understanding of their bodies and how they move. She holds a B.F.A. in Dance Performance from Towson University, an Associates Degree in Massage Therapy from The Swedish Institute and is certified to teach Pre-Primary to Level 5 of the ABT National Training Curriculum. Her extensive training and experience performing in NYC has informed and transformed how she works with her students. Each class is dedicated to exploring and pushing the boundaries of one’s physical limits, real or perceived, from warm-up, through improvisation to choreographed movement. Jen loves to explore how bodies move together as well, so she enjoys doing partner work and watching her students explore movement together. Her choreography challenges students to execute difficult movement with technical precision while conveying true emotions that tell a story the audience can then relate to their own experiences. Jen has studied at the Ailey School, Broadway Dance Center, STEPS on Broadway and participated in workshops with Parsons Dance Company and Stephen Petronio. She has 20 years of experience working with both recreational and competitive dancers of all ages. Her soloists consistently place in the top ten and receive special awards for their performances and Jen has received choreography awards for her group work as well. She has taught at various studios throughout the tri-state and mid-atlantic regions and has taught anatomy to dancers through the :pushing progress Contemporary Training Program in New York City. Other performing experience includes: performances throughout the Baltimore area with Stephanie Powell Danse Ensemble, the Élan Awards and For Dance Inc Showcases as a guest of Synthesis Dance Project, The Puffin Room with LiNK, The PULSE Showcase, SONO Arts Festival in Connecticut and many more performances as an original member of :pushing progress, a contemporary company under the artistic direction of Calen J. Kurka. Jen was also a featured tap dancer in Rhythm Tap: Stompin’ in the City with Sharon Heller, an instructional tap video.

Jen Turey - Tap & Acro - Miss Jen’s professional performing experience includes kicking her heels as a RCMH Rockette, touring throughout the US, Canada and Europe and performing regionally with a variety of musicals (42nd Street, Crazy for You and The Will Rogers Follies to name a few favs) at Northshore Music Theatre, The Cape Playhouse, Westchester Broadway Theatre, The Reagle Players and The Shubert Theatre in New Haven, CT. Her professional choreography career has brought her to the Weston Playhouse, Merry-Go-Round Playhouse, The Reagle Players, Richter Park and WCSU where she is also an adjunct professor. She also holds a B.A. with honors in Acting from Hunter College and is a proud member of the Actor’s Equity Association and the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers. This year marks her 18th year as the Artistic Director and Owner of Dance Etc., and she couldn’t be more proud of everyone’s progress and achievements. Currently, Jen is pursuing her MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College in Plainfield, VT. 

 

 

Julia Arnold - Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop, Ballet/Tap - bio coming soon

Emily Bivona - Ballet, Lyrical Emily is a Connecticut resident who grew up dancing at Dance Etc. She took classes in all styles of dance and joined the competition team the last four years of her high school career. Emily attended and graduated from Long Island University Post in May of 2018 with a BFA in Dance Studies and a BA in Arts Management. In her four years at Post, Emily danced with many companies, including but not limited to, The Martha Graham Company and David Parsons Company. Emily specializes in ballet and pointe with additional training in modern, jazz, contemporary and tap. Further education included studying kinesiology, laban studies, and the history of dance. After graduating from Post, Emily had choreographed for, danced with, and managed the Connecticut Theater Dance Company in Westport, Connecticut for two years. Emily is excited to share all her passions and “tricks” of dancing with all her students. 

 

Gina Cypranowski - Lyrical, Hip Hop, Combo Classes Gina has been dancing since the age of two training in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, and hip-hop. Through the years, she has had the privilege of being taught by many wonderful teachers, taking classes at dance studios including the Brookfield School of Performing Arts, Dance Cavise, and Broadway Dance Center. Gina has performed in and choreographed for a number of local theater productions - most notably, “‘Tis the Season”, a holiday show that raised funds annually to support “Ann’s Place”, whose mission is to provide free cancer support services to those in need. As a dance teacher for over 15 years, Gina believes that her role goes far beyond dance education, and strives to connect with her students at a deeper level. Dance, and teaching dance is an incredibly meaningful part of Gina’s life and she looks forward to sharing her love of each with her students in the studio every week.

Jade Falkenberg - Contemporary, Jazz Fusion, Dance Composition Jade Falkenberg is a California native living in NYC. She began her training at the age of 3, joined Millennium Dance Complex’s Company at age 16, and signed with Go2 Talent Agency at 18. Jade danced as a part of MashUp Contemporary Dance Company as well as Catastrophe dance. She has assisted choreographers Cat Cogliandro, Hayden Frederick, and Donyelle Jones. Her Tv and film credits include “The Prom”, Finneas, Sam Fischer, Chester Lockhart, Cheerios, and Elton Castee. Jade was trained by Cat Cogliandro, Hayden Frederick, Monika Felice Smith, Donyelle Jones, and Ray Basa. Jade moved to NYC to continue her pursuit of dance and to teach others the joy it can bring. She is trained in a wide range of styles and continues her training weekly! 

 

Deanna Ford - Ballet, Pointe Deanna began training in Tacoma, WA with Jo Emery. She continued her studies on scholarship in NYC with the School of American Ballet, the Joffery Ballet, the Harkness Ballet and David Howard. Deanna started her professional career at age 19 as a soloist with the Hartford Ballet. She has also performed with New Jersey and was a featured ballet dancer for Radio City Musical Hall Productions. She also performed as an adagio dancer in Japan, Europe and throughout the USA, as well as in many other musical theatre productions. Deanna performed as a Radio City Rockette on tour, in Las Vegas and in New York City. She currently teaches dance throughout the New York area as well as master classes nationally and locally. Deanna believes that a strong technical background, versatility and a good sense of humor are the ingredients to becoming a successful dancer. Guest choreography credits for 2010 include With Love for Tacoma Performing Dance Company’s benefit for the Susan Komen Foundation and her That’s Entertainment precision routine for Dance for Joy Studio in Mohegan Lake, NY was selected to be performed at Alice Tully Hall in NYC and for the 2012 Olympics show in London.

Twyla Hafermann - Broadway Babies, Broadway Workshop, Musical Theatre- Twyla is an acting and musical theatre teacher, audition coach, and director in Newtown, Connecticut. She received her BFA from the University of Evansville and her MFA in Acting from NYU Tisch School of the Arts. She also studied for two months at the Moscow Arts Theatre under Tabakov. Twyla has worked as an actress in many regional theatres and festivals, including Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Humana Festival, Cleveland Play House, Studio Arena, Syracuse Stage, Virginia Stage Company, San Diego Repertory, the Maryland and Utah Shakespeare Festivals, the Berkshire Festival, and the New Harmony Project. She also made several appearances on One Life to Live. She originated the roles of Caitlin in the play Gunshy and Cory in the play Private Eyes. Twyla has and continues to teach classes, hold workshops, and direct plays with the Newtown Parks and Recreation, Dance Etc., the Booth Library, and Ben’s Lighthouse. She also teaches and directs in the Performing Arts Program for the Community Learning Project, a home schooling community, in Newtown

Brandy Mae Hughes – Company Director Pre-dance, Ballet/Tap I, Acro Brandy started dancing at the age of 3, studying tap, jazz, ballet, modern, lyrical, musical theater, and hip hop. She has trained at Broadway Steps in Brookfield, CT and at Steps on Broadway & Broadway Dance Center in NYC. Brandy has been fortunate enough to be able to perform in The Nutcracker in NYC at the age of 17. She pursued her love of dance and musical theater during her time at Naugatuck Valley Community College in CT and at Edison College in Florida. She has performed numerous musicals in Connecticut and Florida, including Brookfield Theatre for the Arts and Musicals at Richter in CT, and The Naples Players at the Sugden Theater in Naples, FL . She is an active board member, performer, and resident choreographer of the Brewster Theater Company in Carmel, NY. 

 

Chihwan Kim - Ballet, Pointe, Floor Barre Chihwan is an ABT certified teacher in levels pre-primary through level 3. He trained in ballet in the Vaganova technique in Moscow, Russia at the GITIS Academy and holds a Masters in Fine Arts for Dance Theatre through Kookmin University, South Korea. As a performer, Chihwan is currently freelancing throughout New York and New Jersey with companies that include Roxey Ballet and CelloPointe among others. Past company credits have included Gwangju City Ballet (Korea) and Korean National Ballet. Chihwan was recently appointed the position of Education Director aty Connecticut Dance School in Fairfield, CT. 

Kellyann Lennon - Team Choreographer Kellyann has been dancing for 15 years, 10 at Dance Etc. She studies lyrical, tap, hip hop, pointe, jazz, ballet, and contemporary. Competing since she was 8, Kellyann has received many titles such as: Junior Miss Starquest, Hall of Fame Inductee, Star Systems’ Top Teen Soloist, and ADA Dancer of the Year. Kellyann is a recent graduate of Brookfield High School where she participated in classes such as Chorus, Musical Theater, and Drama. Kellyann has performed in “Tis the Season,” “Dancer’s Responding to AIDS,” “Dancin Downtown at the Joyce Theatre” and BHS’ “Cabaret.” In her off time, she individually mentors young dancers to better their performance and technical skills. Kellyann is also a counselor for Dance Etc’s Summer Camps. After assistant teaching tap, jazz, and ballet at Dance Etc. for three years, Kellyann is more than excited to continue to expand dancers’ passion and understanding of dance. Kellyann began her pursuit of a BFA in Commercial Dance at Pace University in New York City in the Fall of 2015.

Amy Metrena - Rhythm Works Amy graduated from Thomas Jefferson University in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Physical Therapy. Since then, she has worked in a variety of pediatric settings including public schools, residential school, inpatient rehabilitation, and private homes. Currently, she is a physical therapist for Danbury Public Schools, Danbury, CT. Amy has worked with children and adults of all ages with diagnoses including, but not limited to: Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida, Down’s Syndrome, Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Autism, Cornelia de Lange Syndrome, and Traumatic Brain Injury. She serves on the Professional Development Committee for the Cornelia de Lange Syndrome Foundation. Amy became certified to teach Rhythm Works Integrative Dance in 2016.

Jessica Michaels - Acro, Pre-dance, Kindercombo, Hip Hop/Acro  Jessica Michaels grew up in Newtown, CT and went on to a professional dance career that spanned 10 years taking her from NYC to Tokyo, London, Chicago, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and back. Favorite performances include Broadway/City Center Encores Series “One Touch of Venus”, North Carolina Theatre’s “Jesus Christ Superstar”, industrials for Sony, Beanie Babies, and Champion Sportswear, TV & video appearances for Aretha Franklin, MC Hammer, Jermaine Dupri, Lil Bow Wow and Jagged Edge as well as a featured dance role in the epic international film, “The Setting Sun” with Diane Lane & Donald Sutherland. She has been passionate about educating & choreographing for the next generation of performing artists - inspiring them to become “thinking dancers” - for the past 20+ years. She is the former co-owner/artistic director of Atlantic Arts Academy, a pre-professional performing arts academy in Jupiter, Florida. Jessica is a certified Acrobatic Arts teacher and embraces the AA curriculum in training dancers safely & effectively & efficiently to mastery!

She is also gratefully a certified trainer and teacher of the ground-breaking program: Rhythm Works Integrative Dance, which brings the healing power of dance to children with special needs. Jessica's experience in mindful movement began in the early 00's when she became a certified NIA teacher in Portland OR. A devout yoga & meditation practitioner for 20+ years, Jessica is also a certified yoga teacher from the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre.
 

 

Dan Ramos - Hip Hop Dan Ramos was born and raised in Connecticut. From a very young age, his passion for dance was undeniable. He grew up training at Connecticut Dance Conservatory where he received a full scholarship and trained intensely in ballet, modern, contemporary, jazz, and lyrical. After graduating, he began to teach contemporary, jazz, and street jazz where he developed his personal style and passion for teaching and choreography. Dan’s choreography has won numerous awards at dance competitions throughout the tri state area. He was accepted into Pushing Progress: a contemporary training program
under the direction of Chris Hale and Calen Kurka. He later joined Team Leggoo (based in Connecticut) which is where his love for commercial dance began to blossom. He was accepted into the Professional Semester at Broadway Dance Center in NYC where he worked closely with choreographers such as Theresa Stone, Candace Brown, and Brianna Mercado. Dan is currently continuing to train in New York City so he can better serve his students in the classroom. He finds it necessary to continue educating himself so his students continue to receive new and valuable information.

Charlotte Stenz - Team Choreographer - Charlotte has been dancing since she was 3 years old at Dance Etc. training in ballet, tap, jazz, modern, contemporary, and hip hop and was a member of the studio’s competitive dance team for 10 years. During this time Charlotte has received numerous titles including ADA Dancer of the Year (2016), Hall of Fame All Star Award, and many scholarships from Intrigue and JUMP dance conventions. She was also a member and captain of the Newtown High School Varsity Dance Team, winning SWC’s and State titles. She went on to studying at The University of Alabama, majoring in communication and dance, graduating May 2020. During her time at UA she was a part of the Alabama Dance Program, training in ballet, jazz, modern and contemporary and performing in numerous student and faculty choreographed shows. She was also a member of the Alabama Collegiate Dance Team, performing at the Alabama homecoming football game, men & women’s basketball games, and competing at UDA Nationals in Orlando, FL. While her ultimate goal is dancing professionally, teaching has always been one of Charlotte’s passions and she is excited to share her knowledge and skills with her students. She is also the head coach of the dance team at Woodland Regional High School. 

Lauren Villamana - Team Choreographer Lauren is a 2020 graduate of Marymount Manhattan College in New York City with a BA in Dance and Photography. During her three years at Marymount, she performed pieces by Elizabeth Motley and Megan Williams. Lauren grew up training in all styles of dance. Continuing her studies into college, she mainly focused on modern, ballet, tap, and jazz. She has also worked with many artists such as Sheila Barker, Nicole Duffy, Anthony Morigorato, Ayodele Casel, and Justin Boccitto- among many others. She danced abroad in Italy for the summer of 2019 where she performed pieces by Wagner Moreira and Helena Fernandino.

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