Dance Unlimited is proud to announce our new Acrobatic instructor, Jenna Hickey. Jenna is from Long Island, NY and has been involved with gymnastics since the age of three. She was on the Varsity Cheerleading team all four years at Calhoun High School in Merrick, NY, and began coaching gymnastics at the age of 15 at the Nassau Gymnastic's Center in Bellmore, NY.
She loves coaching and being involved with gymnastics because is has always been a passion of hers. Jenna is currently studying at Quinnipiac University and is excited to be teaching at Dance Unlimited!
Nicole began dancing at age 9 winning many awards and titles. She attended Dean College where she was a member of the Dean Dance Company as well as the Dean Musical Theater Company studying under Joan Palladino, Jean Wenzel and Jill Silverman.
She has been teaching dance and acrobatics since age 16 and has many award winning students under her belt. Nicole has been on staff at DU since 2006. She is the Acrobatics instructor as well as Academy Dance instructor on Wednesday evenings in our Branford studio.
You’ve probably met her husband Paul and her son Xander volunteering at our recital. Her daughter Andie is an award winning member of the DanceUnlimited Performing Company.
Nicole Rivera - Acrobatics/Academy Dance Arts
Stefanie Savo has been a part of Dance Unlimited since 1982 at the age of three and was one of Miss Janet’s first students. She went on to Sacred Heart Academy where she had a lead dancing roll in their play Showboat which was choreographed by Miss Janet and held at the Shubert Theater in New Haven. Stefanie thanks Miss Janet for the opportunity to come home to DU and teach. She is our community liasion and works with the public and other agencies, which include planning and preparing and distributing written materials designed to promote understanding or general knowledge about Dance Unlimited.
Stefanie is currently a Special Education Teacher at Hamden High School with her 6th year degree and certification in Educational Leadership in hopes to become a Principal in the near future. Stefanie competed in the Mrs. Connecticut Pageant held at Foxwoods in 2015 and took home the Miss Congeniality Award and plans to compete for the title again.
Stefanie is thrilled to have her 9 year old daughter, Myrissa, as part of the DU Petites competition team and looks forward to many years of watching her take to the stage as she once did!
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 the January 2008 Presidential Inaugural Ball celebration at the Omni Hotel and the MGM Grand opening at Foxwoods Casino. She continues her work with Dance Unlimited as our Hip-Hop, Zumba and Salsa Instructor as well as choreograph for our 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 a certified Personal Trainer!
Jennifer Rockwell - Ballet Department Head
Aja Bogan Dennison - Hip Hop Department Head
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 Dept. Head & Costume Designer
Jennifer Pollio - Assistant Director
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 choreographing all of our Competitive Team tap routines. 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”. She has also designed designed many of the beautiful costumes that have won several costume awards this season alone! We are proud to announce that last season her routine “Body Music” won the MVP Award at the Hall of Fame Talent Competition in Hartford. Alayna wants to congratulate all her students for their awards in tap excellence.
Erica is very excited about teaching and directing in our new state-of-the-art, TV monitored classroom studio located at 246 Main Street in the Richlinn’s Plaza, Branford. They are celebrating their tenth Season of Dance. Her Recreational students are growing and excelling with each new year. Her competition team students have won many Overall High Score recognitions and titles this year, and she is extremely proud of their accomplishments.
Erica's choreography highlights this year include: the viral video for her jazz routine "Dive In", The Odyssey Award for "Dance Is", The Industry Award for her lyric routine "Bachelorettes", all at the StarQuest National competition. At the Show Biz Talent Competition, the jazz routine "Shake Your Tail Feather" won The Judges Choice Award of the entire competition of over 500 routines. In addition, her jazz routine "Mermaid Party", received the highest score for the Sapphire Division, as well as received The Judges Choice Award at the Spirit of Dance Competition of over 450 routines.
We would like to congratulate Miss Erica on her recent engagement to Rocco Corso. We wish them a lifetime of good health, happiness, and love.
Erica Layne Martone - Branford Director
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 28 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 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.
on to the Board of Directors for the love of 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, Broadway Shows, and major motion pictures!
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.
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“, “Singin’ In the Rain” and “West Side Story” for Sacred Heart Academy where she was nominated for “Best Choreography” by the Halo Awards as well as the Connecticut High School Musical Theatre Awards. Janet has also staged and choreographed “Oklahoma“ for Quinnipiac College and is proud to announce she was the Choreographer for “The Little Mermaid” for Sacred Heart Academy this past fall held at the historic Shubert Theater.
Janet was the NCAA’s Elite Eight Dance Team Choreographer for 2008. She judges both dance competitions and cheerleading competitions in the New England Area and Nationally. She also had the honor of being a judge for The Miss Connecticut Scholarship Pageant Program. Janet is 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, and continually wins awards for excellence in costuming and choreography. She is a very vivacious and energetic person who shares not only her knowledge of dance with her students, but also her love of dance in every class she instructs. We are proud to announce that in both 2014 and 2016, Miss Janet won the National Teacher of the Year Award of Distinction by the judges and staff of the On Stage America National Competition. Janet has been voted
Our Founder & Director - Janet Gambardella Bracale
Email for both locations: DanceUnlimitedct@yahoo.com
Hamden Location: 2600 State Street (203) 776-3444 -- Branford Location: 246 Main Street (203) 488-9844 -- ©2013 Dance Unlimited. All rights reserved.
Jenna Hickey - Acrobatics
Stephanie Carchia - Ballet
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 teaching Academy Acrobatics 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, and is proud to be on staff at Dance Unlimited!
Robert Esposito - Drama/Musical Theatre
Shaylice Meserole - Hip Hop
Jennifer Rockwell Edwards 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 danced with Rosella Hightower’s Jeune Ballet International in France, Amherst Ballet, Pioneer Valley Ballet, Twin Cities Metropolitan Ballet, Minnesota Dance Theater, and St. Paul City Ballet Company as a principal artist. She has danced such roles as the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, and the title role in Raymonda. Ms. Rockwell. Ms. Rockwell 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 Honors Commonwealth College dealt with the importance of dance physiology and injury prevention training for young dancers. She has been on the faculty of the New Haven Ballet since moving to CT in 2012, enjoys guest-teaching at Dance Unlimited, and is currently pursuing a Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT
Morgan has been dancing since the age of four, training in ballet, tap, jazz, musical theatre and lyrical. She has trained with Julie Reed-Russo of Westbrook Dance Academy, Todd Shanks, Ray Hesselink and Justin Boccitto. Currently, she dances in New York City with both Aaron Tolson’s tap company as well as Anthony LoCasio’s #Taplife company.
A three time national tap champion, Morgan rocked the competition circuit for ten years before graduating from Dean College with a degree in Musical Theatre. She has choreographed multiple musical theatre productions in the Connecticut area and has been nominated for her work at both the high school (Seven Angels Theatre Halo awards) and collegiate (KCACTF) level.
Ross began dancing at Pioneer Valley Ballet in Massachusetts, he worked with Rose and Charles Flachs and Ken Lipitz and Megan Bolnneau McCool. Mr. Edwards has performed lead roles in ballets such as Flower Festival, The Nutcracker, Coppelia, The Bluebird Pas de Deux, The Pas de Trois from Act I of Swan Lake, and the GrandPas 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 has a doctorate from the University of Minnesota and is currently an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Albertus Magnus College.
Mr. Ross joined the Dance Unlimited staff three years ago as their our Ballet Instructor and is proud to foster and educate the students at Dance Unlimited in the art of Ballet. Mr. Ross's choreography "Baroque Fantasy" was awarded the prestigious Odyssey Award at the StarQuest competition and we are proud to announce Mr. Ross also received a choreography award for his Pointe routine "Piazzoulla Suite".
Traci began dancing at the age of 2 and joined Dance Unlimited when she was 5 years old where she began her competitive dance career. Traci was a member of a number of award winning large and small groups as well as a soloist. Traci went on to attend Sacred Heart Academy where she had a role in the musical Carousel at Sacred Heart in which Miss Janet choreoraphed. Throughout high school and college at Southern Connecticut State University she was a member of championship cheerleading squads. ci also taught cheerleading and dance during her time at Southern. She was invited to join the National Cheerleading Association. Traci is married to her husband Artie and the mother of four children,CJ, Artie IV, Joslyn and Alex. Traci is thrilled that her daughter Joslyn at 6 years old is in her third year as part of the DU Performance Company and looks forward to many years of watching her daughter light up the stage. She thanks Miss Janet for the opportunity to be part of the DU Family again.
Morgan Campbell - Tap
Miss Stephanie started dancing when she was 2 and has passed down her love to her two daughters, Ava (3rd year) and Sarah (1st year). Stephanie has taught ballet for more than 10 years and relies on expertise gained while studying and performing for New Haven Ballet, Hartford Ballet, Festival Ballet Providence, Ballet Regent, and Joffrey Ballet. When she is not teaching or chasing after Sarah and Ava, Stephanie works as a licensed practical nurse.
Ariel Zona- Ballet/Dance Arts
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 fifth recital debut! Jacqueline is so happy to be back on the staff of Dance Unlimited.
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-hopand she has been a member of the Dance Unlimited family for over 5 years now. 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 auditioned for and was accepted into the Alvin Ailey Summer Dance Intensive and while living in New York frequently took classes at Steps on Broadway, Broadway Dance Center and Alvin Ailey.
While in collee she was the Captain of the UCONN All Stars and the founder of Pivotal Motion Dance Team. She moved to Chicago, Illinois a year ago, however has continued to choreograph solos and group numbers for the Dance Unlimited competition team.
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 numerous opening and closing shows. She has traveled twice to Germany with the United States Tap Dance Team.
Stacey is certified by Dance Masters of America, New York and CT chapters and the Dance Educators of America New England chapter. She is currently judging dance competitions, pageants, and conducting master classes throughout the United States and Canada. She is proud to be a part of the Dance Unlimited faculty.
Our Teachers on Staff/Choreographers
Ross Edwards - Ballet Department Head
Alyssa Cappello - Dance Arts
Jacqueline Manzi Tammaro - Academy Dance Arts/Children's Development Chair
Our Performing Arts Staff
Diana Harris - Ballet- Healthy Dancer Program
Stacy Eagan-Libero - Ballet
Stefanie Gambardella Savo - Dance Arts & Community Liaison
Miss Chrissie is excited to be back and teaching with us full time at Dance Unlimited! Trained by our staff, Miss Chrissie was in many award winning groups, small groups, duos, and solos. After her time at Dance Unlimited, Miss Chrissie trained at the Educational Center for the Arts (ECA) in New Haven, CT under the direction of Susan Matheke. She studied with guest choreographers and technique teachers from various modern dance companies- including Freddie Moore and Earl Mosley of Alvin Ailey.
Miss Chrissie's love for dance stayed with her throughout her years at the University of St. Joseph's where she was a very involved member of the dance club, and also minored in dance while receiving her Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Miss Chrissie is often seen leaving the studio quickly after class to get to her night shift job as in Intensive Care Unit Nurse (where she is sometimes seen dancing down the halls).
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.
Alyssa has been dancing for 14 years at DU, she started dance when she was 5 years old. When Alyssa danced for DU she took ballet, tap, jazz and hip hop. This is Alyssa's first year teaching academy ballet and tap at the Branford studio Saturday mornings. Alyssa has been helping Miss Erica and miss Nikki for the past 5 years. Alyssa graduated from East Haven High School in June 2017. She is currently taking General Studies at Gateway Community College with intentions to transfer to another school to study fashion, but she will always have a passion for dance and enhoys teaching the kids to inspire them. Alyssa is excited to be teaching for the DU team!
Ariel Zona has been a part of the Dance Unlimited family since the age of 5 and was a part of the Competition Team for 8 years. During her time at Dance Unlimited, Ariel won over 30 Dance Titles including being crowned National Miss Footloose Elite Junior Dancer at the age of 8.
Ariel attended Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven CT where she continued her dance training. She furthered her dance education at Montclair State University, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. While at Montclair State University, Ariel had the opportunity to work with a number of well known choreographers including dance artists Andrea Miller, Earl Mosley, Larry Keigwin, and Christian von Howard. Ariel is excited to be teaching for Miss Janet and the Dance Unlimited family.
Chrissie Wadelin- Rising Star Coordinator & Dance Arts Instructor
Michelle Powell - Acrobatics
Diana Dart Harris – Holding a B.A. in Dance Education from Goucher College in Baltimore and an M.S. in Exercise Physiology from Southern Connecticut State University, Diana has been a dance educator and musical theatre choreographer for the past 26 years. She is currently an adjunct professor of dance at University of New Haven and Naugatuck Valley Community College and has been a presenter at the Kennedy Center for the Arts College Theater Festival. She is the author of the college textbook Beginning Musical Theatre Dance published by Human Kinetics and has her own blog, The Healthy Dancer, which seeks to aid the development of intelligent, thinking, healthy dancers and to draw attention to ways that dancers can improve their technique through cross-training, better nutrition, and body awareness.
Traci McCormack -Academy Dance Arts