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.
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 11th 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.
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 Recreational 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 is so proud of all her students.
Nicole Rivera - Acrobatics/Tumbling & Recreational Dance Arts
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
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 that have won several costume awards this season alone! We are proud to announce that this 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 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 27 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.
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 on to the Board of Directors for the
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.
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.
Toni began her pursuit of a dance career in college as a member of Sinclair College Dance Ensemble. She found her passion in hip hop dance after being contacted to join a local hip hop dance collective. She has been studying hip hop for the past 9 years working at Funk Lab Dance Center as Co-Director and Choreography Director of the competitive teams program for 6 years which exclusively specialized in hip hop dance, elements of hip hop and culture.
Toni has had the opportunity to perform on the stage at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas and auditioned for So You
Think You Can Dance where she made it to the third round. In 2015, she choreographed a piece for Madame Firm and performed with them at the Ohio Hip Hop Awards. Toni hopes to continue teaching and working on her craft as well as learning other styles of dance.
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 three 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, and is proud to be on staff at Dance Unlimited!
Michelle Bragg - Acrobatics
Robert Esposito - Performing Arts
Stacy Eagan - 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 two years ago as their Advanced Ballet Instructor. She is married to Ross Edwards.
Aja Bogan - Hip Hop Teacher
Jennifer Pollio - Assistant Director
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!
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 to her dance career Miss Chrissie graduated from the University of Saint Joseph with her Bachelors degree in Nursing.
Our Teachers on Staff/Choreographers
Ross Edwards - Ballet
Angela Mia Belmonte grew up in the small town of Clinton NY and trained as a dancer at Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute in Utica NY from 2004 to 2013. There she studied Ballet, Jazz, Modern and tap with Nancy Long, Lynn Bollana and Kathy Ryan. She spent the summers of 2010 to 2012 at Saratoga Summer Dance Intensive training under many former and present New York City Ballet dancers. Angela Mia then went on to Belhaven University for four years of schooling. She has received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance in May of 2017. Now is a company artist with Vivid Ballet in Connecticut.
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 three years ago as Hip Hop Instructor and Stretch and Strength Instructor.
Shaylice Bragg - Hip Hop
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 - Ballet
Our Associate Teachers
Erica is very excited about teaching and directing in our new state-of-the-art, TV monitored classroom Branford studio located at 246 Main Street in the Richlinn’s Plaza, Branford where they are celebrating their Ninth 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.
The highlight of Erica’s teaching career, thus far, happened in 2012 as well as this season when her choreography pieces won the prestigious “Apogee” Award at the Starquest Performing Arts Competition in Providence, Rhode Island and Waterbury, CT. This season, her routine was “Bathing Beauties,” which won the Apogee Award, the highest scoring number of the entire 12 and under division (over 350 routines). This season, Erica’s choreography won yet another Award of Excellence for her routine “Make Yourself Heard” at the Hall of Fame competition in Hartford.
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, 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 two years ago as their Ballet Instructor and is proud to foster and educate the students at Dance Unlimited in the art of Ballet.
Traci began dancing at the age of 2 and joined Dance Unlimited when she was 5 years old where she began her competitive dancing career. Throughout her dancing career at DU she competed alongside fellow teacher Stefanie Savo in New York City and all over Connecticut. 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 was a member of the Championship cheerleading squad during her sophomore, junior and senior year. During her junior year she
was cast in the ballet of Carousel which was choreographed by Miss Janet. After graduating from Sacred Heart Academy Traci went on to become part of the Southern Connecticut State University Cheerleading squad which competed in Orlando Florida for the UCA/UDA National Championship where her squad placed 3rd. She has assisted in coaching and teaching cheerleading to elementary school age girls while in college and coordinating competitions for cheerleading wheremshe was selected for a bid to become a member of the National Cheerleading
Association. Traci is married to her husband Artie and the mother of three children,CJ, Artie IV, and Joslyn. Traci is thrilled that her daughter Joslyn at the age of 4 has become part of the DU Performance Company and looks forward to many years of watching her light up the stage, following in her mother’s footsteps. She thanks Miss Janet for the opportunity to be part of the DU Family again.
Jenna Hickey is from Long Island, NY and has been involved with gymnastics since she was 3. She was on the Varsity Cheerleading team all 4 years of high school, and began coaching gymnastics when she was about 15. She loves coaching and being involved with gymnastics because it has always been a passion in her life. Jenna is currently studying at Quinnipiac University, and is excited to be coaching again this summer!
Jacqueline Manzi Tammaro - Recreational Dance Arts
Our Performing Arts Staff
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.
Diana Harris - Ballet
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 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!
Emily Apple is from Manchester, New Hampshire and she began her ballet training at the young age of 3 years old. She trained at Southern New Hampshire Dance Theater under the direction of Patricia Lavoie for 15 years, studing classical ballet and modern. She had the opportunities to perform lead roles such as the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker, and as the title role in Giselle in the full length production. Upon graduating high school, Emily moved to Kansas City, Missouri to train at the University of Missouri as a dance BFA. After being offered a contract with Ekklesia Contemporary Ballet, she dropped out and moved to Connecticut to pursue her professional career. She is currently dancing with Vivid Ballet in Hartford.
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 fourth recital debut today! Jacqueline is so happy to be back on the staff of Dance Unlimited.