Jennifer is also our Jazz Technician and Lyric/Modern Expert and loves to bring new ideas and choreography in to our classrooms. Jennifer is extremely proud of all her hard-working, exceptional competition students on an extraordinary award-winning season!
Alayna Ann Ricciardelli - Tap Technique & Costume Designer
Our Associate Teachers
Janet Gambardella Bracale has been the director of Dance Unlimited since its opening in April, 1982. She is well known as a choreographer and performer as well as a teacher.
Janet Marie has staged and choreographed routines for several organizations and schools, including “Carousel”, “Showboat” for Sacred Heart Academy and “Oklahoma” for Quinnipiac College. Janet is proud to announce she choreographed "Singin' in the Rain" for Sacred Heart Academy this past fall and was nominated for the Halo Awards as well as the Connecticut High School Musical Theatre Awards. She was also the NCAA’s Elite Eight Dance Team Choreographer for 2008.
Janet has judged both dance competitions and cheerleading competitions in the New England Area. She also has the honor of being a judge for The Miss Connecticut Scholarship Pageant Program. Janet is also the official dance judge for Connecticut PTA's Reflections Program.
Janet choreographed and staged the award winning dance routine for former Miss Connecticut, Nikki Palmieri. Janet has won awards for excellence in costuming and choreography. She is a very vivacious and
Our Founder & Director - Janet Gambardella Bracale
Hamden Location: 2600 State Street (203) 776-3444 -- Branford Location: 246 Main Street (203) 488-9844 -- ©2013 Dance Unlimited. All rights reserved.
Jennifer Pollio has been a member of the Dance Unlimited family since she was 2 years old, winning numerous awards and high scores while here at Dance Unlimited. She has become a vital part of Dance Unlimited where she is now celebrating her 32nd year of dance!
Her choreography has won many titles and overall awards. Jennifer was also the NCAA Elite Eight Choreographer for 2008. Jennifer was awarded two National Choreography Achievements, the Nexstar’s National Choreographer of the Year in 2007 in Atlantic City and also in 2009 in Virginia, and this past summer her routine “Postwar” won the National 13+ Over Choreography Award at Star Power Nationals at Mohegan Sun. In 2012 Jennifer was honored to have one of her choreographed pieces chosen as the FDC Winner of the entire competition for the Providence, Rhode Island event for the Starquest International Competition. This number was chosen over 750 routines. Last year, Jennifer was honored with the Star Power 12 and Over Choreography Award at their Hackensack, New Jersey Competition. She continues her choreography excellence with awards in the Legacy Competition and OnStage America this season. Congratulations, Jennifer!
Alayna Ann Ricciardelli has been a member of the Dance Unlimited family since the age of 2. Competing and performing since the age of 5 all across New England for nine years winning awards for her tap excellence, costume designs and charismatic stage presence.
Alayna is our tap teacher on staff instructing all of our Competitive Team tap technique. She also volunteers her time and devotion to the Sons of Italy organization as well as St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital Fundraising events.
Alayna has choreographed several award-winning routines for competition working side by side with the famous Anthony Morigerato, well known tap choreographer on “So You Think You Can Dance”, as well as designed many of the beautiful costumes you will see this weekend. Alayna wants to congratulate all her students for their awards in tap excellence this season.
Erica is very excited about teaching and directing in our home in Branford where they are celebrating their Seventh Season of Dance. Her Sweetheart, Mini, Petite, Juniorette, Junior and Tween competition team students have won many Overall High Score recognitions and titles this year, and she is extremely proud of their accomplishments. Last season Erica’s choreography for “Newsies’” won the National Choreography Award for the Entire 12 & under Division at the StarPower Nationals.
The highlight of Erica’s teaching career, thus far, happened 2012 as one of her choreography pieces won the prestigious “Apogee” award at the Starquest Performing Arts Competition in Providence, Rhode Island. Her routine was the highest scoring number of the entire 12 and under division (over 350 routines).
Erica continues her choreography excellence this season with choreography Awards at the Turn It UP Dance Challenge as well as the Hall of Fame Challenge. Erica wishes all the students of D.U. Good luck in their performances this weekend as she celebrates 25 years of dancing! Congratulations Miss Erica!
Alissa’s dance and performance experience dates back thirty years. She has studied under such dance legends as Savion Glover, Frank Hatchett and Brenda Buffalino. Alissa has been the recipient of many dance, vocal and modeling awards over the years. She attended Hofstra University in New York where she choreographed and performed in many student productions. She is a past member of the United States Team and holds two World Champion titles. Most recently, Alissa has been adjudicating for local and national dance competitions along the east coast and conducting master Alissa has been acting and modeling professionally since she was a young child and has been represented by Ford Model Management. Current acting credits include Mona Lisa Smile starring Julia Roberts, Little Shop of Horrors and The Sopranos. Alissa is very excited to be a part of the DU faculty.
Michelle has been involved with the dance community for over 30 years. Teaching mostly jazz, African dance and acrobatics. Michelle has done a lot in the community with dance, including teaching numerous after school programs. Michelle has taken classes at Steps on Broadway and The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She has also preformed
for the Legendary Bill Cosby and was also a member of the Paul Hall
Contemporary Dance Company. She also performed Black Nativity with the Vernon Jones Gospel singing group under the artistic direction of Paul Hall and Christina Kershaw for numerous years.
Michelle joined the Dance Unlimited community two years ago as a substitute and last year joined our staff teaching recreational Acrobatics in the Branford studio and an elite competition Acrobatics class in the
Hamden studio. The mother of two daughters, Shay and India, Michelle is a full time
Registered Nurse but continues her love for dance and teaching children,
Adrienne Sharpe began taking ballet at the age of 3, initially a student at Connecticut Ballet which then became New Haven Ballet. As a pre-teen she was a member of The New Haven Ballet Ensemble, performing at various sites within CT. She began studying pointe early on. Adrienne performed in dance and theatre productions throughout junior high and high school, and also ran cross country (serving as co-captain) and track at Lyman Hall H.S. in Wallingford, CT (1990-1994). She resumed studying ballet and pointe more intensively in the Dance Department at Mount Holyoke College in Western MA (1994-1998). After college and then after graduate school, she began working at Yale University full-time while taking classes at Yale Ballet and New Haven Ballet. Adrienne was fortunate to take a choreography course with Emily Coates at Yale in which she performed in and collaborated on student choreography. She was also cast in the role of a dancer/horse in a student production of Equus. Adrienne was a member of The New Haven Ballet Company from 2008-2010 and, from the age of 4, she has participated in numerous NHB Nutcrackers and Spring Performances in a variety of roles. She has also been a member and co-choreographer of the New Haven based, experiential dance-theatre group Clark Dance Theatre, now Collaborative Dance Theatre (CDT). She is proud to be a member of the Dance Unlimited staff
Shay has been dancing since she has been walking, with her first recital being at the age of 1-1/2. Shay is very talented in all genres of dance but especially tap and hip-hop. Shay taught dance for 4 years for the New Haven Public School System’s After School Program as well as for two years in the New York Public School System. She has attended New Haven Ballet as well as has traveled to New York and taken classes at Steps on Broadway, Broadway Dance Center and The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She auditioned for and was accepted into the Alvin Ailey Summer Dance Intensive. She was Captain of the UCONN All Stars Dance and Step team and later founded The Pivotal Motion Dance Team at UCONN. Shay has performed for the Legendary Bill Cosby and has also performed with up and coming artists such as Jada Marie. Shay graduated from UCONN in 2010 with a Bachelors of Arts in Human Development and Family Studies, received her Masters of Science in Education in Mental Health Counseling in 2012 from Fordham University and is currently completing her Masters of Science in Nursing in the Psychiatric/Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Program at Yale University. Shay joined the Dance Unlimited staff last year as Hip Hop Instructor for both the Hamden and Branford studios and Stretch and Strength Instructor for the Hamden studio.
Shaylice Bragg - Hip Hop
Stacy Eagan - Ballet
Nicole Rivera - Acrobatics/Tumbling & Recreational Dance Arts
Sandy Taddei Nye has been dancing since she can remember and teaching her own classes since the age of 16. She has studied under Rita Whitney, Charles Kelly, June Taylor and Dick Farnsworth all of New York. She has been awarded many honors including Top Scoring Groups, Solos and Duos and National Choreography awards.
Sandy is a certified member of Dance Masters of America. A past “Miss East Haven”, Sandy continues to sing and dance whenever she can. Although teaching has taken her many places, she is proud to
call Dance Unlimited “home” for the past 33 years.
Stefanie Savo has been a part of Dance Unlimited since 1982 at the age of three and was one of Janet’s first students. Over the years, Stefanie has competed in New York City and all over Connecticut. Stefanie thanks Miss Janet for the opportunity to come home to DU and teach. Stefanie competed in many Miss Charm and Hemisphere pageants while at Dance Unlimited and won the Miss Hemisphere crown back in 1991. Stefanie also took part in a commercial which was shot in New Haven in 1990 called “Kids Count” as a back-up dancer. She then went on to Sacred Heart Academy where she was part of the cheerleading squad which won nationals her Junior and Senior years. In 1995 while at Sacred Heart Academy, Stefanie had a lead dancing role in their play Showboat which was choreographed by Janet and held at the Shubert Theater in New Haven. Stefanie is currently a Special Education Teacher at Hamden High School and she just completed her administrative degree in hopes to become a Director of Special Education or a Principal in the near future. This past March, Stefanie competed in the Mrs., Connecticut Pageant held at Foxwoods and wants to thank all of her DU family for being there to cheer her on and for Miss Janet’s help and guidance! She walked away with the “Miss Congeniality” Award and plans to compete for the title again. Stefanie is thrilled to have her 6 year old daughter, Myrissa, as part of the DU competition team and looks forward to many years of watching her take to the stage as she once did!
Stefanie Savo - Recreational Tap/Jazz/Ballet
Jennifer Rockwell is an alumna of the Walnut Hill School for the Fine Arts in Natick, MA, where she studied dance performance, dance pedagogy and choreography. After graduating from high school Ms. Rockwell became a company member of Rosella Hightower’s Jeune Ballet International in France, and then after returning to the United States, she performed as a principal guest artist with the Amherst Ballet and Pioneer Valley Ballet. At this time Ms. Rockwell began teaching at the Amherst Ballet School, and choreographed extensively for their school performances. She graduated suma cum laude from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2004, where she earned a BFA in Dance and a BA in Psychology. Her honors thesis for the Commonwealth College dealt with the importance of dance physiology and injury prevention training for young dancers. After graduating from college Ms. Rockwell danced with the Twin Cities Metropolitan Ballet as well as Minnesota Dance Theater and, was eventually invited to join the Saint Paul City Ballet Company as a principal artist in 2007. During her time with the SPCB, she danced such roles as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, and the title role in Raymonda, while also serving on the faculty of the Saint Paul City Ballet School. Ms Rockwell joined the Dance Unlimited staff last season as their Advanced Ballet Instructor. She is married to Ross Edwards.
Ross began dancing at Pioneer Valley Ballet in Massachusetts, where he studied with Jana Fugate and Edward Verso among other teachers. At the University of Massachusetts he worked with Rose and Charles Flachs and Ken Lipitz while performing principal roles in original ballets by Ken Lipitz and Megan Bonneau McCool. Mr. Edwards has performed lead and soloist roles in classical ballets such as August Bournonville’s The Conservatoire, Flower Festival in Genzano, The Nutcracker, Coppelia, Petroushka, Ha’Penny. With Saint Paul City Ballet, Ross has performed principal roles from Raymonda and The Sleeping Beauty. As a guest artist, Mr. Edwards has performed such roles as the Bluebird Pas de Deux, the Pas de Trois from Act I of Swan Lake and the Grand Pas de Deux from The Sleeping Beauty. As a choreographer, Mr. Edwards has produced a diverse repertoire of ballets, ranging from neoclassical works to ballet/jazz fusions. Ross is currently an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Albertus Magnus College.Mr. Ross joined the Dance Unlimited staff last season as their Ballet Instructor and is proud to foster and educate the students at Dance Unlimited in the art of Ballet.
Our Performing Arts Staff
Michelle Bragg - Acrobatics
Robert Esposito - Performing Arts
Stacy’s dance and performance experience dates back to age three. She began teaching dance classes at the age of twelve and has continued ever since. Stacy’s has trained with the Educational Center for the Arts, and has studied under such dance legends as Savion Glover, Mia Michaels, Frank Hatchett, Brenda Buffalino and Charles Kelley to name a few. Through her competitive years, she was the recipient of many dance and modeling titles locally and nationally. Stacy has performed professionally at Atlantic City’s famed Steel Pier, Walt Disney World, in Dinner Theater productions and has staged hip-hop shows and music videos.
Stacy is certified by Dance Masters of America, New York and Connecticut Chapters and the Dance Educators of America New England Chapter. She currently is an adjudicator at many dance competitions and pageants and conducts Master Classes throughout the United States and Canada. She has traveled twice to Germany with the United States Tap Dance Team. This is Stacy’s ninth year on faculty at New Haven Ballet, instructing the Shoreline students in Tap and Jazz. She is also a freelance choreographer and pageant coach throughout Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New York. She is proud to be on staff here at D.U.
Sandra Nye - Acrobatics/Tumbling
Miss Chrissie started dancing with us at Dance Unlimited when she was 7 and was on our competition team for many years. At a young age she started assistant teaching classes and her love for dance and teaching continued to grow. Miss Chrissie attended the Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven, CT as a dance minor and took many classes under the direction of Susan Matheke. Miss Chrissie continued her dance education into her college career at the University of St. Joseph where she received a dance minor and was an active member of the dance ensemble on campus performing in many on campus dance concerts. In addition toher dance career Miss Chrissie graduated just recently from the University of Saint Joseph with her Bachelors degree in Nursing. Currently Miss Chrissie teaches in the Branford studio and is so excited to see all of her students shine on stage tonight.
Alissa Bartozzi - Performing Arts
Jacqueline Manzi Tammaro - Recreational Dance Arts
Adrienne Sharpe - Ballet
Diana Dart Harris – Having studied ballet, jazz, tap and modern techniques from an early age, Diana holds a B.A. in Dance Education from Goucher College in Baltimore and an M.S. in Exercise Physiology from Southern Connecticut State University. Diana directed her own dance program, Dance Arts, from 1991-2001, and created and implemented a dance curriculum for the Clinton Summer Schools program. She taught at New Haven Ballet from 1992 – 2011, serving as Principal of the Guilford studio from 2004-2011 and acting as the Interim Administrative Director, directing the school’s Nutcracker in 2010. She has choreographed for Walsh Intermediate School, Westbrook High School, The Nutmeg Players, Inc. and Madison Public Schools. Since 1987, Diana has been resident choreographer at The Morgan School in Clinton where she co-directed their musicals for three years. Diana is an adjunct professor of dance and choreographer at University of New Haven, teaches creative movement classes at The Montessori School of Madison, serves on the board of Connecticut Dance Alliance. She serves as the chairperson for the Shoreline Arts Alliance Dance Scholarship Committee and is a member of both the National Dance Education Organization and the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science. She has attended workshops on Autism Movement Therapy and has just finished writing a college textbook on Musical Theatre Dance, which will be published in August. S
Diana Harris - Ballet
Nicole began dancing at the age of nine winning many awards and titles. After high school, she attended Dean College in Franklin, Mass, where she was a member of the Dean Dance Company as well as the Musical Theater
Company. She has been teaching dance and acrobatics for 23 years and has taught many award winning students. Nicole has also appeared in dance videos. Nicole has been on the staff of Dance Unlimited since 2006
and is the Acrobatics Teacher in our Branford studio. She is married to her husband Paul and mother to her two children, Xander, and Andie, who is an award winning member of our Dance Unlimited Performing Company.
Our Teachers on Staff/Choreographers
Jacueline began dancing at Dance Unlimited at the age of 7. For the next 10 years she was an award winning soloist and a member of the performing company. Jacqueline was a member of the Hamden High School theater company performing in plays such as Hello Dolly and Bye Bye Birdie. Jacqueline also was a member of the Stonehill College dance club for four years. In the past, Jacqueline was the dance instructor at Holiday Hill Day Camp as well as an instructor at Gymboree Play and Music.Before starting a family, Jacqueline was a first grade teacher in North Haven at Clintonville School. She is the proud mom of Gabriella and Gino. Jacqueline is excited to have her daughter in her second recital debut today! Jacqueline is so happy to be back on the staff of Dance Unlimited.
Our Broadway Bound Musical Theatre Company is under the Direction of Rob Esposito. Through on-camera video feedback from each student’s presentation they are able to pinpoint each student’s strengths and weaknesses to take their talents to the next level. The class instructs the children in the art of successfully delivering a song, mastering the stage while singing and acting, understanding and presenting lyrics and lines, moving to the music and scene staging.
Jennifer Pollio - Assistant Director
Aja Bogan - Hip Hop Teacher
Meredith is our Recreational as well as our Competitive instructor and is a very caring and motivated teacher. She also instructs Hamden’s youngest Performing Group, “The Darlin’s” and the “Dancerettes” who had a terrific year in competition.
Meredith has achieved her first Choreography Award last season at the Starpower Competition for the entire 11 and Under Division at their Hackensack, New Jersey Competition and this season Meredith's choreography for “Newsies” won the National Choreography Award for the entire 12 & under division at the Star Power Nationals this past summer. Congratulations!
Erica Layne Martone has been involved in dancing and pageants since the age of one. She began helping her Mom (Miss Janet) teach at the mere age of 7. Erica has won over 40 crowns for both Pageants and Dance Titles and also numerous accolades with her groups throughout her 25 years of dance.
Erica is now a certified member of Dance Masters of America, CT Chapter, as well as the Dance Teachers Club of CT. She is certified by test to teach! Erica is currently on staff as a Paraprofessional at Cooperative Arts and Humanities Magnet School in New Haven, CT and teaches her own dance classes there where she inspires each of her High School students in all genres of Dance.
Erica has been the Dance Director and Instructor of the Silver Sands Beach Club Summer Camp as well as the JCC Camp and also performed on ESPN National TV as a member of the 2008 Elite Eight Dance Team. Erica’s highlight of her performing career was dancing with Starpower’s “Power Pak Dancers” at the Magic Kingdom in Disney World.
Erica Layne Martone - Branford Director
Meredith Raccio has been a part of the Dance Unlimited family since the age of 3, and was part of the Competition Team for 14 years where she won many awards.
Meredith was also part of the Hamden High School Dance Team for four years and became a captain for both her junior and senior year. She was selected as an All-Star dancer by UDA both at their camp and regionals. She won many awards throughout New England with her team, as well as 8th in the Nation! This season Meredith undertook the position of Director for our new Rising Star Competition Dance Team and is so proud of them for their Accomplishments on their debut performances. Meredith is currently working in the Special Education Program for the North Branford School System.
Ross and Jennifer Edwards - Ballet
Meredith Raccio - Senior Recreational Instructor
energetic person who shares not only her knowledge of dance with her students, but also her love of dance in every class she instructs.
Janet has been voted on to the Board of Directors for the Connecticut Chapter of Dance Masters of America Inc. She is proud to foster and educate young dancers, models, singers and actors to pursue their dreams, as many of her students are featured on American Idol, TV shows, commercials, ads, and Broadway Shows.
Janet is proud to be voted CT’s number one dance school by Dancer Magazine and recently awarded number one Dance Studio in the New Haven Living Magazine for “Best Dance Lessons” in the Greater New Haven area. She is a certified member of Dance Masters of America, Inc., both the Connecticut and New York Chapters, Dance Teacher’s Club of Connecticut, Inc., and Dance Educators of America. She is certified by test to teach!
Born in New Haven, CT, Aja started dancing at the age of 4. At age 16 she traveled to NYC to attend schools such as Manhattan Motions and Broadway Dance Center. With her New York style training and artistic choreography Aja choreographed combinations of hip-hop and jazz performances all over the East Coast.
Aja landed a project choreographing for Latin recording artist XIO for “Borinquen” Video on Univision. She then toured with XIO along the East Coast and Puerto Rico. Aja performed with Brenda K. Star at the New York Congress in 2001. She then went on to perform for recording artist Usher in his album promotional performance in Atlanta, GA.
Aja has performed at several venues including January 2008 Presidential Inaugural Ball celebration at the Omni Hotel and MGM Grand opening at Foxwoods Casino. She continues her work with Dance Unlimited as their Hip-Hop and Salsa Instructor as well as choreograph for their National Dance Competitions. She is a mom of two beautiful daughters who dance with Dance Unlimited as well. Aja is a member of Dance Masters of America-CT Chapter. Aja is now certified by test to teach.