Alivia Iannucci- Hip-Hop & Dance Arts
Madison Longobardi - Dance Arts Instructor
Emily Branigan has been dancing since the age of three and has excelled in many areas of dance, though her true passions are musical theatre, jazz and tap. Emily began teaching at the age of sixteen utilizing the motto that she was taught at a very young age, “dance comes from our heart...not your feet!” For over 10 years, she has taught primarily in the Los Angeles area. She also travels the country as a competition judge and master teacher and is a part of the Impact Dance Adjudicators.
She is the founding Creative Director of Empower Movement Dance Company in Los Angeles, CA and her choreography has won awards both at the regional and national level. Emily is a Member of Dance Educators of America. She is also a Y.P.A.D. (Youth Protection Advocates in Dance) certified teacher and program ambassador. She has been fortunate enough to work in multiple areas of the entertainment industry. She’s worked both in New York and LA as a model, an actor and of course her first love and passion, a dancer. A few of her favorite credits include Nike, Macy’s Mercedes Benz, L’Oreal, Jimmy Kimmel live and The Freeform Network.
Juliana Robinson - Acrobatics Instructor
Stefanie is currently the Assistant Director of Special Education and Pre-K Liaison for the town of Ansonia and absolutely loves her career. She is thrilled to have her 12 year old daughter, Myrissa, as part of the DU competition team as a Junior and looks forward to many years of watching her take to the stage as she once did!
Choreographers in Residence
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 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, national and international TV shows, Division I & II Dance Teams, commercials, ads, Broadway Shows (pre COVID “Dear Evan Hansen”, “Cats” and “The Bronx Tale”), 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., Dance Educators of America, and More Than Just Great Dancing. She is certified by test to teach dance. We are proud to announce Janet has recently been certified as a Y.P.A.D. Instructor (Youth Protective Advocates in Dance), as well as certified the entire studio as a Y.P.A.D. Studio!
Ross Edwards - Ballet Department Head
Rose Iannaccone - Ballet & Dance Arts
Stephanie Carchia - Ballet Instructor
Andie has been dancing for as along as she could walk. She has been a part of the Dance Unlimited Performing Company since age 6 and has been an assistant to her mom in acrobatics and dance classes for many years. She has performed in many competitions, festivals and dance shows.
Andie is a graduate of Cooperative Arts and Humanities High School where she was a dance major. During her time at Co-op, she has taken class with many influential teachers including classes at The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She was also inducted into the National Honor Society of Dance Arts. This fall, Andie attends Albertus Magnus College where she has been awarded the Devaney Scholarship. She is majoring in Sports Communications.
Congratulations to Andie on her acceptance into MegaHurtz Entertainment Crew. There are a goal based company where they strive to be different from their choreography to their teaching aspects. They are driven by movement, music and their passion for dance.
Nicole Rivera - Acrobatics & Dance Arts
Cara Hoyt - Acrobatics Instructor
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 our Assistant Director. We are proud to announce Jennifer has recently been certified as a Y.P.A.D. Instructor (Youth Protective Advocates in Dance.) Jennifer was Assistant Choreographer for Sacred Heart Academy’s “West Side Story”, “Singin’ In the Rain” , and most recently “The Little Mermaid”. She was also the NCAA Elite Eight Choreographer. Jennifer is a well-known choreographer in the competition world and, again this year, was recognized for her choreographic excellence for her routines. Jennifer was awarded three National Choreography Achievements, and continues to be recognized for her choreography each year at the Regional Level as well. Jennifer is also our Jazz Technician and Lyric/Modern Expert and loves to bring new ideas and choreography in to our classrooms. Jennifer loves spending time with our youngest performing group in our Hamden studio, the Darlin’s, who had an amazing year of competition. Jennifer is extremely proud of all her hard-working, exceptional competition students
Ms. Stephanie started dancing when she was 2 and has passed down her love to her daughters. Stephanie has taught ballet for more than 11 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, Stephanie works as a licensed practical nurse.
Ms. Stephanie is so excited to see her two daughters, Ava and Cora perform!
Kristen trained with Dance Unlimited’s competitive dance company for 16 years. She pursued her passion for singing and dancing at Syracuse University where she graduated in 2019 with a BFA in Musical Theatre and minor in business management studies. Kristen is now a New York City & CT based performing artist.
Performing credits include: the Broadway-bound new musical, Chasing Rainbows: The Road to Oz (Paper Mill Playhouse); The Light Princess (The Summer Theater of New Canaan), 42nd Street and Mamma Mia! (The Palace Theatre New Hampshire), Into The Woods (Syracuse U), New York Theatre Barn Dance Lab (NYC), and the world-renowned Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London. Kristen has also had the opportunity to choreograph for various children’s theatre arts programs within the northeast. She is so grateful for her DU family!
Emily Brannigan - Tap Dept. Head & Choreographer
Andie Rivera - Hip-Hop Instructor
Rose Iannaccone is a proud member of the ballet faculty at Dance Unlimited. As an alumna of DU she has had a blast coming back and teaching the students here. After her competition years, Rose, moved to New York City where she attended The Institute for American Musical Theater. Rose has been seen across North America as she traveled with the first national tour of CATS as Rumpelteazer.
Some of her other credits include Broadway at Music Circus where she performed in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (Alice), Singin’ in the Rain (Ensemble), Newsies (Spot Conlon/Jojo), Gyspy (Amanda), and Ogunquit Playhouse in Mamma Mia! (Ensemble).
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. In 2015, Stefanie competed in the Mrs. Connecticut Pageant held at Foxwoods and thanks 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 Gambardella Savo - Star Leader Liaison & Dance Arts
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 Balle t International in France, Amherst Ballet, Pioneer Valley Ballet, Twin Cities Metropolitan Ballet, Minnesota Dance Theater, and Saint 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 graduated summa 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 Connecticut in 2012, enjoys teaching at Dance Unlimited, and received her Master’s of Science in Occupational Therapy at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, CT.
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 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 and is a certified dance instructor. Aja is now a certified Personal Trainer and owner of Let’s Get It, Fitness - Nutrition Life Coaching Program! We are also proud to announce that Aja has recently been certified as a Y.P.A.D. Instructor (Youth Protection Advocates in Dance)
Jennifer Rockwell - Ballet Department Head
Aja Bogan Dennison - Hip Hop Department Head
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 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. We are proud to announce that Alayna has recently been certified as a Y.P.A.D. Instructor (Youth Protection Advocates in Dance)
Alayna has choreographed several award-winning routines for competition working side by side with the famous Anthony Morgierato, well known tap choreographer on “So You Think You Can Dance.” She has also designed many of the beautiful costumes you will see in this program that wIn several costume awards every season! Alayna wants to congratulate all her students for their awards in tap excellence this season
Erica Martone Corso - Branford Director
Erica Martone Corso 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 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 Special Ed Teacher in New Haven. We are proud to announce that Erica has recently been certified as a Y.P.A.D. Instructor (Youth Protection Advocates in 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. Erica had the privilege of traveling to Salerno, Italy to teach Master Classes at Centro Danza II for their Summer Intensive and was offered a spot on their prestigious faculty for 2022.
Janet Gambardella Bracale has been the director of Dance Unlimited since its opening in April, 1982. She is well known as an International Choreographer and Performer as well as a Teacher. She had the privilege of traveling to Salerno, Italy in 2019 to teach Master Classes at Centro Danza II for their Summer Intensive and was offered a spot on their prestigious faculty for 2022. Janet Marie has staged and choreographed routines for several organizations and schools, including “Carousel“, “Showboat“, “Singin’ In the Rain”, “West Side Story”, “The Little Mermaid”, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and “Leader of the Pack” for Sacred Heart Academy where she was nominated for six years in a row 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 “Peter Pan” for Sacred Heart Academy this past fall held at the historic Shubert Theater. Her dance “Warrior Girls” won a Halo Award for Best Specialty Group. Janet was the NCAA’s Elite Eight Dance Team Choreographer. 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.
Our Founder & Director - Janet Gambardella Bracale
Where Confidence Takes Center Stage
Emily had also been on the Board of Directors with Kids for Kids, Dancing for Life, Inc., a non-profit organization which raises funds and support for sick and needy children primarily through the art of dance since the organization’s founding in 1994. Emily is the founder of the Empower MOVEment. A social platform, in studio workshops and classes, that support developing the human spirit in young people through dance to promote positive growth of both mind and body.
Kristen Grace Brown - Ballet & Dance Arts
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 Richlin’s Plaza, Branford where they are celebrating their 12th season of Dance. Congratulations! Her Academy 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.
Adrianna Bracale -Rising Star Coordinator & Dance Arts
Lauren is an alumni of Dance Unlimited and has danced with us since the age of four and is extremely happy to be back home on the Faculty at DU.
Lauren Celentano’s most recent credit is her performance as Ensemble (U/S Rosina) in the 2019-2020 North American National Tour of the Broadway musical A BRONX TALE (directed by Stephen Edlund with choreography by Tony winner Sergio Trujillo.) Lauren was also the assistant Dance Captain for the tour. Previous roles include Mary Magdalene in Jesus Christ Superstar (Dir. Jerry Goehring, Leo Carusone) and Anita in West Side Story (Dir. Marylee Delaney.) In November of 2018, Lauren was the first American contestant to be cast on the popular Italian TV talent competition show “Amici di Maria de Filippi” (Season 17.) She competed as a dancer and, after 8 months and going on to become a finalist, Lauren emerged as the winner of the dance category as well as the prestigious Critic’s choice award. Born and raised in Connecticut, Lauren began her dance training at the age of 4 and is trained in all styles including jazz, tap, contemporary, ballet, hip hop, heels and more. Lauren is absolutely in love with the world of performing arts and is excited to share her passion with her students.
Madeline Raccio - Jazz Technique & Jumps & Turns
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 Paladdino, 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 in our Branford studio.
We are also proud to announce that Nicole has recently been certified as a Y.P.A.D. Instructor (Youth Protection Advocates in Dance)
You’ve probably met her husband Paul and her son Xander volunteering at our recital. Her daughter Andie is an alumni of the award winning Dance Unlimited Performing Company.
Lauren Celentano - Dance Arts Instructor
Adrianna Celeste Bracale has been a part of the Dance Unlimited family since the age of 2. Adrianna began assisting dance classes at the mere age of 10 and has grown to be one of our most beloved Teachers on Staff. Dancing for the past 19 years, Adrianna has been a part of our Performing Company winning many awards throughout the New England area including Miss Sportswear and Miss Photogenic several times.
Highlights of Adrianna’s dance career include being chosen to be a member of the United States Dance Team where she had the privilege of performing at the prestigious Madison Square Garden during half time for the New York Knicks basketball team; and also performing on an outdoor stage on the famous Shubert Ally in New York City.
We are also proud to announce that Adrianna has recently been certified as a Y.P.A.D. Instructor (Youth Protection Advocates in Dance)
Juliana Robinson became part of the Dance Unlimited Family during the Fall of 2020.
She has studied dance since the age of 4 locally while also supplementing classes at Broadway Dance Center in New York City. She also spent time studying gymnastics which she later used to assist in classes at the Soundview YMCA. She is proud to say she received the first Youth Volunteer Award from the Soundview YMCA.
Juliana was a member of the Branford High School Dance Team for 4 years and is now on the Assumption University team in Worcester, Massachusetts. While on BHS her team won first and second place in Regional and State Championships multiple times. They also came in top ten for Nationals at Disney World multiple times. Juliana loves dance and gymnastics and has often been described as the lead trixter on her team. Juliana is a born performer who loves to pass on her knowledge of dance to younger students.
Choreographers in Residence
Cara is a SHIFT certified Gymnastics instructor from Milford CT. She also retains CIAC coaching certificate to coach state wide , and has certifications in concussion safety in cheerleading & first aid / CPR. Cara has a dance background in Ballet , Tap , Jazz, Pointe , Hip Hop, tumbling , cheerleading , and rec gymnastics. She also has a strong background in Varsity level cheerleading and tumbling.
Cara’s career in cheer kicked off the first year her team won the CIAC CT State Championship (Class L) in the sport of Cheerleading during her years as a Varsity Level athlete. She also won the SCC Championship with her team, and individually made the 2010 United Cheerleaders Association All-American Cheerleading team. Cara is currently the Head Coach of the Branford High School Varsity Cheerleading.
Her main goal approaching each teaching opportunity is to have students leave the classroom having improved technique and individual goals set for what they want to achieve within the art of acrobatics.
“For all athletes I coach within CT, a winning attitude is an essential factor to the success rate of their personal tumbling and acrobatic success . I expect that each student-athlete will represent themselves as hard working and goal oriented. I plan to lead all athletes within a team environment which upholds strong morals.”
Coach Cara is proud to be a part of the Dance Unlimited Faculty and is excited to work in a classroom atmosphere and especially one on one training with all DU Dancers
Madison is a Dance Unlimited alumni and danced for 13 years. Madison has won multiple regional and national awards with her dance groups including a National Scholarship to Dean College and 2018 Senior Miss Nexstar. She attends Southern Connecticut State University for Special/Elementary Education and is on the SCSU Dance Team.
While attending school, Madison spends her days working with preschoolers in East Haven at Overbrook. Madison has taken the opportunity to be a teacher on staff at Dance Unlimited and assist Ms. Erica.
Madison would like to wish all her students, good luck and to shine bright as they prepare for their first virtual recital.
Ross began dancing at Pioneer Valley Ballet in Massachusetts. At the University of Massachusetts, he worked with Rose and Charles Flachs, Ken Liptiz 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 1 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 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 five years ago as their Ballet Instructor and is proud to foster and educate the students at Dance Unlimited in the art of Ballet. Last season, 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.”
Madeline is currently teaching our newest Training/Technique class, Jumps and Turns in both our Hamden and Branford studios. Madeline started her dance career here at Dance Unlimited where she trained under the direction of Janet Bracale, Jennifer Pollio, Alayna Ricciardelli, Ross Edwards and Jennifer Rockwell Edwards for 15 years. During that time, Madeline achieved endless
Awards, Titles, Overalls and Special Awards for her Groups, Solos and Duos and, became one of our most accomplished students as well as beautiful example to all of our younger students and her peers! Madeline was the Captain of the Connecticut State champion Hamden High Dance Team, that competed nationally each year. Madeline attended Penn State and was chosen as a
member of the famous Penn State Lionettes Dance Team!!! There she danced in front of 107,000 fans and placed top 10 in the nation at UDA Nationals last year!!
Madeline has a Bachelor’s Degree in Kinesiology – Movement Science, and hopes to continue on with a career in physical therapy. Her goal is to give our dancers a complete education that combines proper dance technique with her knowledge of the human body.
Alivia Iannucci has been dancing ever since she was young, and has been apart of the Dance Unlimited Performing Company for seven years as well as assisting many dance classes since she was the age of 13. Winning special judges awards for her solos, Overall Awards, and Triple Threat Titles as well as scholarships.
In 2019, she won a scholarship for her tap solo to the Broadway Dance Center in New York City and has been traveling there taking multiple classes to expand her knowledge of the arts.
In 2019 Alivia started taking on Circus training, on various different apparatuses and in 2020 she took on multiple martial art forms and acting / nutrition classes. “The more you analyze the different art forms the more you realize they all connect in many different ways. I’d like to take all of the techniques I learned from the multiple sports I’ve trained in and teach them to my students so they can be the best possible version of themselves as dancers, and people.”
Alivia is CPR and AED certified. She graduated from Platt Technical High School in the top of her class and as a certified apprentice electrician. She hopes to continue teaching at DU for many years, and to constantly grow as a dance teacher and a dancer as well.