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14 South Park Street, 2nd Floor
Montclair, NJ 07042

(973) 655-9819

Sharron Miller’s Academy for the Performing Arts (SMAPA) mission is to provide comprehensive, inclusive developmental training in dance and related theater arts for children, teens and adults.



Sharron Miller
Artistic Director, Modern Lv-3, 4, 5 & 6, Chair of Modern Department

Sharron Miller, Founder/Director of Sharron Miller’s Academy for the Performing Arts (SMAPA), is a former Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater principal dancer and veteran of seven Broadway shows. She has appeared on television, in film and hundreds of radio and television commercials. She is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.

Ms. Miller, who attended The Juilliard School, is committed to enriching the lives of children, teens and adults through the arts. Her early training began with the late Fred Danieli, founder and director of the Garden State Ballet, who taught her the value of self-discipline, self-respect, and a commitment to excellence.

She was on the faculty of The Renaissance School in Montclair, NJ, where SMAPA provided the dance and drama program for 6th, 7th and 8th grade students during the school day. This program has been recognized and supported by generous grants from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation.

Ms. Miller has served on the faculty of Montclair Kimberley Academy, Far Brook School and continues her affiliation with the New Jersey Performing Arts Center as an arts in education consultant/partner. She continues to develop her arts enrichment programs and community outreach, which includes working in partnership with the Montclair Board of Education; Quitman Street Community School in Newark; providing a 6-week full-day arts program, Prime Time Summer Arts, for children 6-14 in collaboration with the Montclair Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs; and partnering with The New Jersey Tap Dance Ensemble. In addition, SMAPA recently received substantial grants from the Turrell Fund, The Victoria Foundation, Robert Mills Foundation, Hyde and Watson and the Stone Foundation to support the expansion of many of these programs.

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Sharon Alonzo
Creative Movement, Pre-Dance, Modern

Sharon Alonzo graduated from Rutgers University in 1996 with a B.A. in Journalism. She studied dance at the Mason Gross School of the Arts in Rutgers University in New Brunswick. Soon after graduating she began teaching at Sharron Miller’s Academy for the Performing Arts (SMAPA). Under Ms. Miller’s tutelage, Ms. Alonzo has become a master teacher in Creative Movement, Pre Dance, Beginner Modern and Musical Theater Dance. She is currently Rehearsal Director for The Performance Workshop Ensemble (SMAPA based Dance Company) and is in residency at St. James Preschool. Ms. Alonzo is a dance instructor in After School Enrichment Programs throughout the Montclair School District and The Children’s Institute in Verona. She has been an artist in residence in Newark’s Quitman Street Community School from 2005-2007.

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Conny Andres
Creative Movement, Dance With Me, Pre-Dance & Adult Theatre Dance

Conny is a graduate of Oklahoma City University where she received a BA in performing arts with an emphasis in dance.

Before and after making the move to NYC in 1986, she performed in numerous local and regional theaters, national tours and on Broadway. She also was an artist-in-residence with the University of Michigan Theatre department.

New Jersey became her home in 1999 after the birth of her second child. The focus of her work since then has been teaching children. She has conducted classes for dance, art, storytelling, science, and physical education with the Helen and Bill Geyer Family YMCA (former Pre-YMCA in Montclair), taught dance for in-school and after-school programs in Bloomfield, Verona, Montclair, and East Orange.

Since joining Sharron Miller’s Academy for the Performing Arts in 2005, Mrs. Andres continues to develop her skills as a dance educator in a comprehensive, and inclusive manner that addresses the needs of all children. Her love of dance is shared through her teaching of parent-child, child only, and adult classes.

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Adrienne Armstrong
Modern, Horton Technique

Adrienne is a native of Newark, New Jersey, has attained her Bachelors of Science in Management form Rutgers University. She began her illustrious dance career at Garden State Ballet. She continued her professional training through scholarship programs at Dance Theater of Harlem, Garden State Ballet, Joffrey Ballet School and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center. Ms. Armstrong as performed with several professional dance companies including Ailey II and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre (under the tutelage of Alvin Ailey), Garden State Ballet, Louis Johnson Dance Theater, Newark Dance Theater, Forces of Nature, the Seventh Principal, Nommo Dance Company, Captial Ballet, Galllman's Newark Dance Theater, a Production of the Chocolate Nutcracker (Soloist) and Joan Peters Dance Company.

Ms. Armstrong has been employed by Alvin Ailey American Dance Center (Ailey Camp), Henry Street Settlement- Abrons Performing Arts Center, Creative Expressions, Newark School of the Arts, Sharron Miller's Academy for the Performing Arts, Arts Conservatory, Phoenix Academy and Gallman's Newark Dance Theater.

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Coline Buencamino

Coline Buencamino started her dance training at age four at Westlake School for the Performing Arts, focusing on jazz, ballet, and modern. She went on to earn a BA split studies in Dance and Kinesiology with an emphasis in Health Promotion from Saint Mary's College of California in 2016. Coline is interested in finding way to incorporate her love for movement and a healthy well-being through dance. She strives to instill confidence, passion and creativity in her students. In recent years, she has been involved with ODC, Davalos Dance Company, American Dance Festival, American College Dance Association, and Dance Brigade.

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Maurice Chestnut

Maurice Chestnut, NJTAP Soloist, Rehearsal Assistant and Choreographer for NJTAP young artist, began dancing in the Newark Community School of the Arts. He started dancing with NJTAP at the age of 9 and quickly advanced to Principal Dancer. In 2000 the Newark Star Ledger's arts writers chose him as one of the 20 new faces to watch in the 21st century. In 2002, he joined the cast of Savion Glover's Bring In Da Noise, Bring In Da Funk. His many stage and television credits include appearances on Jay Leno, the Sally Jesse Raphael Show, Shades of Harlem, Dancing with the Stars, and top dog winner at the world famous Apollo Theater.

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June Chin

June Chin a native New Yorker trained in the Russian, Vagonava method by one of the Ten Greatest Ballet Master Teachers of the 21st century as well as teachers who danced with American Ballet Theatre, Harkness Ballet & Joffrey Ballet. Recently, June received the Teachers Certificate from the Bolshoi Teaching Program for grades 1-5 & next year will receive her 6-professional levels. She also had gone to the prestigious School of American Ballet in New York for two years. As a principal dancer with Staten Island Ballet, Ilya Gaft Ballet, Baron Ballet, Joffrey II & many other companies, June has performed an extensive range of ballet repertoire as well as many contemporary & neo-classical works. Moved to Los Angeles back in 1998 she was an Assistant Artistic Director in Palos Verdes for over 10 years, restaging many of the ballets for the students, teaching, coaching & training them to compete in the Youth American Grande Prix as well as the Beijing International Ballet Competitions to China. June has choreographed the “Mulan Parade” for Disneyland, CA & Disneyworld, FL to enthusiastic reviews working closely with the Show Director who was the Artistic Director of the Paris Opera Ballet. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Business with a minor in Accounting and is a 2 Gold Medalist for Ballet & Folk dancing.

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Kerry Cox

Kerry Mara Cox studied at New Jersey School of Ballet and on scholarships at The Joffrey School of Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre. She is a scholarship graduate of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre/Schenley Program, and became an apprentice with that company under the direction of Patricia Wilde.

Kerry performed for 10 years with Saint Louis Ballet, where she rose to the rank of principal, and was also a principal dancer with New Jersey Ballet. Her extensive repertoire includes Odette/Odile in Swan Lake; Waltz Girl and Dark Angel in Serenade; Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty; Myrtha in Giselle; Snow Queen and Sugar Plum in Nutcracker; featured roles in Who Cares? and Brahms Quintet; and the title roles in The Three Riddles of Turandot and Carmen, among many others.

Kerry has been a featured artist with KM/DM since 2012.

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Joanne Freeman

Joanne Freeman studied dance at Brockhill Performing Arts College in the United Kingdom.   Leaving her dancing career behind, she pursued Accounting and attained her degree at Merton College in London. After moving to the states in 2013 she reclaimed her love of dance when asked to perform in a Haitian Dance show in Times Square. This was her new beginning. She gained her Zumba certificate in 2014 and now has several contracts teaching with the YMCA, Valley Arts and Montclair Schools Enrichment Programs. She is delighted to join the faculty of SMAPA.

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Elizabeth (Liz) Glover

Elizabeth Glover graduated from the, The Theatre School in Washington, D.C. in 1986 with a diploma in Theater Arts and an advance certificate in Acting.

Ms. Glover moved to New Jersey at the end of 1986. In 1987 she started dance training at Steps On Broadway taking tap with Charles Goddertz, Ballet with Mr. Richard Andres and jazz with Mr. Jo Jo Smith.

Ms. Glover was in a performance of Stepping Out for Suny Binghamton in up state NY, also performing in a number of different areas including being apart of several demo tap videos. In 1994 she became a principal member of The New Jersey Tap Ensemble.

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Lara Gonzalez
West African

Lara is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of her performance and educational group, Marafanyi Drum, Dance & Song. Their Mission: A commitment to sharing the transformative, educational and therapeutic powers of Drum, Dance and Song with all ages and abilities. The group has shared the stage with a variety of notable artists including Angélique Kidjo, Habib Koité, Sierra Leone Refugee All Stars, Odetta, Ram Dass, Carl Hancock Rux and DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid. 

Ms. Gonzalez is a lifelong dancer who has studied tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, break dance, electric boogie and ecstatic dance – all paving the way for her life changing encounter with West African music and dance. She has studied in the U.S. with Master Artists including Babatunde Olatunji, Sanga-of-the-Valley, M'Bemba Bangoura, Youssouf Koumbassa, Yewande Kelley-Johnson and KarenLove - and has traveled to Guinea, West Africa 5 times (and counting!) to study with Master Artistes from Les Ballets Africains (Guinea's National Company), Merveilles de Guineé, Wamali Percussione and Les Etoiles de Boulbinet.

Lara is a resident artist for NJPAC since 1999 as a dance accompanist (West African, Modern, Ballet, Creative Movement) and as a teaching artist (Early Learning Through the Arts©: NJ Wolf Trap Program, Creative Movement, Explore-A-Story, West African Dance & Drum). In addition, she has designed custom programs for special needs clients including the Arc of Bergen/Passaic, and is a graduate of Fordham University earning a B.A. in Art History/Studio Art. She is honored to be part of the SMAPA team!

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Candace Hundley
West African

Candace Hundley-Kamate is a performer, choreographer, and visual artist. She received her BFA from Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia, and is a licensed instructor in Umfundalai, a contemporary African dance created by Dr. Kariamu Welsh-Asante. Candace has performed with companies and artists such as Arthur Hall Reunion Ensemble, Urban Bush Women, and New World African Dance Theatre. She is also the Executive/Artistic Director of The Seventh Principle, an Afro-Caribbean Dance company, founded in 1992.

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Lovens Joseph
Hip Hop

Lovens Joseph is from Elizabeth NJ. He has competed in competitions such as Boogie Nation, Off the Grid, and Battlefest. He has traveled across the country competing and exploring his dance career.  He has danced with some of the top upcoming artists such as Justina Valentine, Tijon, and others.

Lovens is currently a Hip-Hop dance instructor and performer. He has many dance styles in his arsenal such as popping, locking, housing, flexing and is also a contortionist.  He has been dancing nearly all of his life and has a strong passion for his art form. His goal is to inspire other dancers to chase their dreams and would love to be a spark for the next generation of dancers.

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Melissa Kaban
Vinyasa Yoga

Melissa is a dynamic teacher with a style born from a background in dance and musical theater performance and a career using movement as a healing agent. Melissa has trained in jazz, lyrical, hip hop and modern dance and has years of choreography experience for numerous high schools and local community theaters, along with a continued passion for dance performance.  In 2011, she became certified as a vinyasa flow yoga teacher (300 hour Registered Yoga Teacher with the Yoga Alliance) and has continued her training and teaching, facilitating multiple classes a week.  Melissa offers her students unique and meaningful sequences while teaching safety and sustainability within an energetic flow. Her love for traditional yoga philosophies and supreme music both feed and energize the practice.  By day, Melissa is a passionate Masters-level dance/movement therapist working fiercely to advocate within the realms of special needs populations and behavioral and emotional health, bringing movement, dance, and yoga to her clinical work with children and adolescents.  Ultimately, she is grateful to the connections dance and yoga has brought her and is committed to sharing this healing, love, and passion with her students.

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Teressa (Tess) Kallay
Creative Movement, Pre-Dance, Pre-Ballet

Teressa Kallay is a former Radio City Rockette and a musical theater veteran. She has done numerous regional theater productions, cruise ships and well as the My Fair Lady National Tour. She is a choreographer and instructor for Gas Lamp Players as well as on their Executive Board. The creator of Kid's Corner Dance Program, Teressa also teaches creative movement at St. James Pre-school and MMO. Teressa started teaching musical theater dance classes in high school and continued her studies with a degree in musical theater and with many great instructors in New York.  She has choreographed for the Melochords, The Theater League of Clifton, as well as for Orchesis Dance Company.

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Leah Katz
Iyengar Yoga

In 2009, Leah became a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher and in 2017 received her Intermediate Junior I certification.  Leah is also a certified Yoga Therapist through the International Association of Yoga Therapists.

Leah's background in movement was originally in Pilates, which she embraced in 1987. A certified Pilates Instructor and teacher trainer, Leah has helped train many Pilates teachers, both in New York City and the Hudson Valley and she has worked with professional dancers including members of New York City Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company, and Dance Theater of Harlem.

Leah has shared her love of movement and bodywork with hundreds of students over the years.

Her knowledge of anatomy and the human body make her a trusted and gifted teacher who creates an environment that promotes and enhances health and healing.

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Kamille King
Creative Movement, Pre-Dance, Jazz, West African, Hip Hop

Born and raised in East Orange, New Jersey, Kamille King was introduced to dance at Cicely Tyson School of Performing and Fine Arts. It was there she discovered ballet, modern, jazz, West African, and musical theater.

After graduating from Cicely Tyson, Ms. King attended Smith College where she majored in African American Studies and developed a thesis in the Dance Department. During her four years at Smith she studied under such notables as Roger Blum, Mark Morris and Company, Mark Allen Davis, Nia Love and Donna Meija.

After receiving her degree she returned to New Jersey and was immediately drawn to teaching. She is currently employed as a teaching artist in residence at Sharron Miller’s Academy for the Performing Arts (SMAPA), a not for profit arts education organization whose mission is to provide inclusive comprehensive developmental training in dance and related theater arts. As a teaching artist in residence, Ms King has had the opportunity to explore arts education on many levels including teaching kindergarteners and first graders at Quitman Street Community School in Newark, local elementary schools in Montclair, preschoolers at SMAPA studios and older students in SMAPA’s Prime Time Summer Arts program, and various after school programs. With the guidance and support of Sharron Miller’s staff and Ms. Miller herself, Ms. King has developed a philosophy and style of teaching which creates an enthusiastic atmosphere for learning, sharing and performing.

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Chris Livsey

Chris Livsey is a native of Irvington, New Jersey.  He began studying acting with the Theater Workshop Peppermint Players under Marie Thomas. He studied theater at Montclair State College and from there began touring in musicals throughout the U.S. and Europe, as well as performing regionally and Off Broadway.  

For the past 15 years Chris has taught Drama and dance at Sharron Miller’s Academy for the Performing Arts (SMAPA). He has worked with the Ailey School providing a five week intro to Drama/Improv. Chris also writes and records music, which has been featured on shows "Burn Notice" and "Single Ladies". He is a certified Zumba instructor, performance coach, and an Event Host/Emcee.

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Laura Marchese

Laura Marchese is a dancer and Teaching Artist working with arts organizations and schools throughout New Jersey, conducting residencies and workshops for students, arts educators,  and classroom teachers.  As a co-author of Dance to Learn, Laura serves as a mentor and  educational consultant to dance companies in the implementation of this 4 year developmental dance curriculum.  She received a Young Audiences NJ/EPA  Artist of the Year Award in June 2015 for her work with students in Newark, NJ.

Laura is also founder of the Montclair Community Pre-K Garden Project, a hands on environmental science program that continues to engage hundreds of students, families and teachers annually.  As an arts educator, Laura is committed to the ongoing development of a thinking mind in a moving body.  She believes that all students, whatever their challenges and strengths, can achieve, excel, and benefit from seeing and experiencing the world through the process of creating art.

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Narek Martirosyan
Boys Ballet

Narek Martirosyan trained at the Armenian National Ballet School. Upon graduation he joined the Armenian National Opera and Ballet Academic Theater as a principal dancer. Mr. Martirosyan was awarded the Movses Khorenatsi medal by the president of Armenia for his significant contributions development of culture and his outstanding performing of Spartacus the ballet. In 2011 he joined the Israel Ballet Company as a principal dancer. In 2012 he joined the Musical Theatre of Karelia Republic (Russia) as a principal dancer. He joined NJB in 2015 as a principal dancer. Repertoire includes Don Quixote, Carmen, Giselle, Corsair, Romeo and Juliet, Spartacus, Sleeping Beauty and Nutcracker as a principal dancer.

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Carolyn Milton
Hip Hop

Carolyn Milton, at a young age, was introduced to dance as a way to help her overcome her shyness. Her training began at Garden State Ballet School, which later prepared her to become a dance major at Arts High School in Newark. As a youngster, Carolyn had dreams of becoming a dance instructor, with the hope of one day owning her own dance studio, while choreographing for TV commercials, campaigns, and various recording artists. Currently a dance major at Montclair State University, focusing on receiving a certification in dance education, Carolyn is fulfilling part of her dream. During the summer of 2007, Carolyn was able to become the choreographer/coordinator of several dance troupes in Newark, while performing for several upcoming hip-hop artists in New York City, In the future, Carolyn plans to graduate with a BFA, while continuing to teach and perform in the fields of both Hip-Hop and Modern dance.

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Hilary Nicolai

Hilary began her training at age 8 and was dancing professionally with the Indianapolis Ballet Theater by age 14. She spent her summers training at The Chautauqua School of Dance, The Washington School of Ballet, The Rock School of The Pennsylvania Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet School and The School of American Ballet before joining the Metropolitan Opera Ballet in New York City.

As a student at SAB, Hilary appeared in Christopher Wheeldon’s Le Voyage and participated in the New York City Ballet Education Department’s Lecture Demonstration program, performing Peter Martin’s Eight Easy Pieces, Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Cortege Hongrois and Puss n’ Boots for local area school children under the direction of Suki Schorer.

Hilary danced principal roles in Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, under the tutelage of New York City Ballet principal dancers Patricia McBride and Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, and performed in Petipa’s Giselle and Balanchine’s Serenade, Western Symphony, La Source and Four Temperaments.

Hilary is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 5 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Literature and Writing from Columbia University where she graduated cum laude and lives in Montclair, NJ with her husband and three children. 

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Francesca Nieves

Francesca Nieves is a native New Yorker who now resides in New Jersey. Graduating from the University of Michigan in 2011 she received a BFA in Dance and a BA in Sociology. At the University she trained and studied with Melissa Beck, Amy Chavasse, Bill DeYoung, Lindsey and Jason Dietz Marchant, Jessica Fogel, Daniel Gwirtzman, Judy Rice, Peter Sparling, Sandra Torijano, and Robin Wilson. There she also performed works such as Merce Cunningham's Minevent, Carolyn Dorfman's Cat's Cradle, Laura Dean's Impact as well as other faculty pieces. Francesca Nieves received her early ballet and modern training with Leslie Brown (Ballet), Zelma Bustillo (Ballet), Lisa Lockwood (Ballet), Columbine Macher (Limon), and Dionisia Garcia (Flamenco). Francesca Nieves started her professional dance career at Ballet Hispanico first as an Intern, then as an apprentice/guest dancer in 2006; in 2008 she became full Company member. With Ballet Hispanico, she has performed works by Tina Ramirez, Willie Rosario, Pedro Ruiz, and Alexander Magno. She joined New Jersey Ballet in 2011 as an apprentice and will begin her second season with the company this year.

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Caroline Ogando
Dance with Me, Creative Movement, Pre-Dance, Bachata

Caroline Ogando is a graduate of Montclair State University (MSU) with a Bachelor's Degree in Dance Education. She is fluent in both English and Spanish. Her formal training began as a freshman in high school and continued through her acceptance into the Dance Education program at MSU.  Much of her studio teaching experience has come from interning and teaching at Sharron Miller's Academy for the Performing Arts (SMAPA). In addition, she is currently teaching a creative movement class at the Union Congregational Weekday Nursery School in Montclair as well as a Hip Hop class in Kidz Corner in Bloomfield.  Caroline is also pursuing a performing career and has an apprenticeship in the famed Jennifer Mueller Dance Company in New York City.

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Heather Robles
Contemporary Modern Choreography & Improvisation

Heather began training in dance at the age of three. She attended summer programs with Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, Miami City Ballet, the Urban Bush Women, and Kazuko Hiribayashi in northern Spain. At age 17, she was accepted to The Ailey School where she trained for one and a half years before pursuing a higher education. Heather graduated magna cum laude from Marymount Manhattan College in the fall of 2008 with a BFA in Dance, concentrating in Choreography. Under the direction of Katie Langan at MMC, Heather performed works by many artists including Peter Kyle and Molissa Fenley. She has choreographed over 30 dances spanning various genres, from solos for students entering college to dance team productions, high schools, movement for AKB48’s music video River, works presented at The Ailey School's Fall Fest, Marymount Manhattan College’s Dancers at Work productions and work for several professional dance companies, including her own.

After graduating from college, Heather co-founded Illuminations Dance Company and served as Vice President for one and a half years. In that time, she created four dances for the company, performed as soloist in several original works, and helped the company secure 501 (c) 3 status. As a performer, Heather has also worked with Veronica Tan, Meghan Pilling, VQ Productions, Veteran Productions, Expressions of Grace, CoreDance Contemporary, Marie-Christine Giordano Dance, Teresa Fellion/Bodystories, Artichoke Dance Company, Renegade Performance Group, Nathan Trice/RITUALS, and currently, Alison Cook Beatty Dance Company.

Also a passionate teacher, Heather has been an instructor at SMAPA since 2011 and is currently the Rehearsal Director and a choreographer for the Junior Performance Workshop Ensemble. She has given instruction in dance for over ten years in schools and studios in California, Virginia, Texas, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York.

Heather is currently the Associate Director of The New York Dance and Performance Awards, aka The Bessies. She is also Founder and Editor in Chief of Community of Motion ( She is also Founder and Videographer of OakTree Productions (

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Yael Shacham

Yael Shacham studied audio recording and engineering at the Institute of Audio Research.  Her drumming, dance and song training continued in Guinea, West African where she trained with Master Artists from Les Ballet Africains – the National Drum and Dance Company of Guinea. She is co-founder of Marafanyi Drums, Dance and Song whose mission is committed to the therapeutic, educational and transformational power of Drum, Dance and Song for all ages and populations.

As a dance accompanist, she has worked in association with the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in an educational program – Movement Matters. She is also a Teaching Artist for Sharron Miller’s Academy for the Performing Arts (SMAPA) in-school dance residencies.

Ms. Shacham is trained in the Orff and Music Together methods of teaching young children musical concepts through singing, dancing, chanting, drama and playing of percussion instruments. She remains committed to arts education through drumming, dance and song.

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Jerryl Sharif
Hip Hop

Jerryl H. Sharif is a self taught dancer who has a passion for music and working with people. He is a graduate of Arts High School, majored in music (instrumental) and later obtained his degree from Bloomfield College in Video Production. He has been teaching dance for 17 years to people of all ages, from toddler to seniors. Jerryl has been on numerous shows, such as Apollo, BET, MTV, and in a few music videos. Creativity, memorization, self-esteem, and body control are just a few of the core components he focuses on and it's evident in the way he teaches his classes. Poppin', Locking, House, and Hip-Hop are his specialty and you are guaranteed to have a fantastic time! In his class there is a lesson to be learned and a desire to learn more.

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Ty Stephens

TY STEPHENS, GRAND PRIZE WINNER! Jazzmobile/Anheuser-Busch Solo Jazz Vocalist Competition 2006! Ty Stephens has also won awards in songwriting, recording, and on TV, as BET’s Jazz Discovery 1999! He is an accomplished performer, having been featured on Broadway in the original companies of Sophisticated Ladies and Marilyn, an American Fable; international tours with Harry Belafonte and Toshi Kubota, to name a few; he has performed locally and internationally with his band for many years; recorded and appeared with, among others, Chuck Mangione, Baba Olatunji, Peggy Lee, Jon Hendricks, Gregory Hines and Phyllis Hyman, been opening act for such notables as Angela Bofill, Vanessa Rubin and Larry Coryell, and released three CDs of original R&B/Jazz/ Funk: "MUSICHAMELEON", "DEEPER IN FANTASY",and AQUARIAN MIND", and now, his new Jazz/Standards CD "SENTIMENTAL"! He can soon be heard as guest vocalist on a new jazz disc from Bassist Jon Burr, alongside Houston Person, and, on 2 recent releases by Bermuda’s JudyAnn Bean: "Christmas Time With You" and "Anything For You Love."

Ty’s contribution to the community include Instructor/Clinician for the Youth Jazz Vocal Summer Workshop at Friends of the Arts (FOTA), L.I., NY; with CREATIVE OUTLET’s Vocal Performance Workshop at HS for Service & Learning, B’klyn, NY; Renaissance Middle School Montclair, NJ; Steve Adubato's STAND & DELIVER Communications/Leadership Workshops, Newark, NJ Schools; Creator/Instructor of a Performance Workshop for Montclair Adult School; CHILDREN'S MUSICAL THEATRE WORKSHOP Instructor at Watchung School, Montclair, NJ; Guest Vocalist with National Dance Institute (N.D.I.) Performance Workshop Presentations (NYC); Dance Instructor with Arts Connection (After School Arts Programs, NYC); Director/Choreographer for Cheyney University Fine Arts Honors Summer Theatre ‘98; Ass’t Dir./Staging/Choreographer for Prep-for-Prep Commencement Presentations (NYC), and, Director/M.C./Band Leader/Co-Producer of Singin' New Jersey Vocal Competitions.

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Brian Sykes
Hip Hop

Brian Sykes was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. He began his formal dance training at the age of 17 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) with the support of Seton Hall's Upward Bound Program. In addition to hip hop, he has studied modern and contemporary. He has performed all over the Tri-State area as an opening act for such well-known artists as Lauryn Hill and Lenny Kravitz, to name a few. He continues to teach hip hop dance classes and mentor children throughout New Jersey. He is pleased to join the SMAPA faculty.

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Tiffany Taylor
Hip Hop, Tap

Tiffany Taylor began her dance training at the age of 3 at the Maria Priadka School of Dance in South Orange, NJ where she studied tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop, acrobatics, and ethnic dance. More recently she has studied at Broadway Dance Center and Steps in NYC, and International Dance Academy and Debbie Reynolds in L.A.   She has performed with companies such as The New Jersey Tap Ensemble, the Temple University Diamond Gems Dance Team and Bollywood Funk NYC. In addition she has toured nationally with Sesame Street Live as “Elmo” in the dance show “When Elmo Grows Up." She has also performed and choreographed for several artists, dance teams, and award winning dance studios. Tiffany has a true passion for teaching dance and performing, whether teaching at workshops or in her dance and fitness videos online. She is happy to be a member of the SMAPA faculty.

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M.A. Taylor
Modern Jazz

M.A.Taylor received his dance training from Garden State Ballet, Gallman’s Newark Dance Theatre, Science University Arts Academy, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Broadway Dance Center, Steps on Broadway, holds a dance/vocational arts certification and has received his undergraduate degree from Rutgers the State University.  He began his dance career on a National Television Show “Club MTV” where he was a featured dancer. He has danced in various music videos and behind several recording artists.

Taylor has danced with Premiere Dance Theatre, Newark City Ballet, Footprints, Powerhouse Entertainment, Art of Motion, Sharron Miller’s Performance Workshop Ensemble, Acrodanse Dance Theatre Company, Julio Jean Afro Haitian Dance Company, and is founder and artistic director of Taylor and Company. Taylor has worked with such choreographers as Fred Benjamin, Freddie Moore, Tally Beatty, James Wiggins, Lynn Needle, Jason Warley, Julio Jean and Olivia Galgano.

Taylor has performed and danced in regional theatre productions of “Dreamgirls”, “Kiss of the Spider Women”, Thief of Baghdad”, “The Wedding Singer”, choreographed “Cinderella” and “Me and My Girl”.  Taylor has dance in such ballets as “Romeo and Juliet” (Paris) and “The Thief of Baghdad” (Villain) and “The Nutcraker” (Arabian and the Cavalier).

Taylor is currently the director of the dance department at Plainfield High School, on staff at Sharron’s Millers Academy for the Performing Arts, Art of Motion, and Man in Motion. He continues to be a guest performer for several dance companies and teaches dance workshops throughout the tri-state area.

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Michele Traina
Tap, Hip Hop, Creative Movement, PreModern

Bio coming soon!

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Maria Tylek

Bio coming soon!

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Elisa Van Duyne
PreDance, Theater Dance

ELISA VAN DUYNE has been seen and heard on Broadway in 42nd Street (Lorraine), Beauty and the Beast (Silly Girl), 110 in the Shade (Lily Ann Beasley) with Audra McDonald, and Finian’s Rainbow (Sharon cover/dance captain).  She’s also performed in over 30 regional productions including Ragtime at The Kennedy Center, Sound of Music at Fulton Opera House and Kiss Me Kate at Papermill Playhouse, to name a few.  Her national tours include White Christmas and Dr. Dolittle, and the European tour of Phantom of the Opera, in which she performed Christine.  Some of her favorite roles include Betty Blake in Will Rogers Follies, Velma in Chicago, Milly in Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, and Young Little Edie in the regional premier of Grey Gardens.  She has appeared on TV in Person Of Interest, As the World Turns, The Late Show With David Letterman, Good Morning America, The 2001 TONY Awards, PBS Great Performances and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.   Over the last several years she’s had the honor of sharing the stage with such diverse talents as Audra McDonald, Tom Wopat, Shirley Jones, John Cullum, Donny Osmond,Tommy Tune and the New York Philharmonic.

As a choreographer, she has staged The Who’s Tommy, Guys and Dolls, and Big River at Alpine Theatre Project, and Thoroughly Modern Millie at Ocean County Professional Theater. Her other choreographic work includes tap theater pieces Urban Encounters and Don’t Fence Me In at BC/EFA cabaret benefits across the nation.

As an arts educator, she has taught students and professionals at colleges, private studios, summer arts programs and public schools all over the tri-state area, including NJPAC, Paper Mill Playhouse, Steps on Broadway, Broadway Dance Center, AMDA, CAP21, and Mount Holyoke College.  She is a proud alumni of The Boston Conservatory and current Equity member.  For more information visit

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Joseph Van Loon

Joseph Van Loon is an Essex County native. He has been tap dancing since the age of 6, and has studied under the training of Karen Calloway-Williams since the age of 8. He joined the New Jersey Tap Ensemble in 2004, and is still an active member of their first company. In addition to his tap dancing credits, Joseph is also a classically trained tenor, studying at Lincoln Center.

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Villacres Melissa headshot.PNG

Melissa Villacres

Melissa Kersting-Villacres was born and raised in Newark, NJ.  She received her early dance training at The School of the Garden State Ballet.  She performed in Garden State Ballet’s productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Nutcracker.  She attended NYU’s Tisch School of The Arts and received her BA from Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of The Arts.  Melissa attended various summer programs studying with David Howard, The Joffrey Ballet, Hartford Ballet and San Diego Ballet.  She also received training at STEPS, Broadway Dance Center, New Jersey Ballet and Theatre Arts Dance America (TADA).  At TADA, she studied with Caroline Brown, Buddy Balou and Elaine Kudo (all American Ballet Theatre soloists), Lynne Grossman (Austin Ballet Theater) and Diane Orio-Gerberg (Joffrey Ballet).

Melissa performed soloist roles in The Nutcracker with both Empire State Ballet and New Jersey Ballet.  At Theatre Arts, she performed in original works by Elaine Kudo, such as The Web and Entrada, Buddy Balou’s United Reverence, as well as productions of Les Sylphides and The Nutcracker.  Melissa has enjoyed teaching ballet for over a decade.  She has taught at Montclair State University, Theatre Arts Dance America and at SMAPA.  She has been with SMAPA for several years and looks forward to continuing here at the studio!

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Kristen Weaver
Creative Movement, Pre-Dance Modern, Chair of Preschool Division

Kristen studied ballet first at Joffrey and then at the School of American Ballet. She performed in many ballets with the New York City Ballet, as a child.  She went on the study at the New York School of Ballet with Barbara Fallis and Richard Thomas and was invited to join their company at 15.  After performing with the New York School of Ballet for 3 years, Kristen made the choice to go to college, instead of touring with the ballet company.  After graduating college she studied acting at the Herbert Berghoff Studio, specializing in Shakespeare. She performed in several off-Broadway productions and did many voice-overs and commercials in NYC. Kristen began teaching and joined the SMAPA family in 1995.  She has taught a variety of classes over the years including dance with me, creative movement, pre-dance, pre-modern, beginner modern and modern L-1 and L-2.  She created the summer camp program for 3-5 year olds and ran it for many years.  Kristen is currently the head of the pre-school and junior divisions in modern dance and a founding member of SMAPAPO (SMAPA's Parent Organization). Kristen also studied at the Dance Education Laboratory and is currently taking classes through National Dance Education Organization.  Kristen also has been teaching dance at Montclair Kimberley Academy's primary school since 1997. 

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