Dance to Unite volunteer teachers are selected carefully at the beginning of each school year, based on the following criteria:
Pre-selection phone interview to assess potential volunteer's first and foremost passion for our mission;
Background in dance;
Experience with teaching children (age group);
Availability to commit to one hour a week - school year round;
Physical closeness to matched school (not longer than 20-30 minutes transportation to school);
Assessment of reliability (showing up for orientation, follow-up email with schedule and feedback after orientation to make sure potential volunteer is a fit.
After selection, potential volunteer has to sign on our Dance to Unite Teacher's Guidelines document.
Opportunities to volunteers who have been with us for at least a year to be hired in various roles in our organization based on their expertise and availability, including becoming a paid volunteer trainer and coordinator.
Volunteers teachers receive:
Free dance and educational training that focuses on interactions with the young students they will be teaching. Training includes professional development workshops, one on one coaching, and class observations;
Practical experience teaching in NYC public schools;
Metrocard reimbursement for transportation;
Opportunities to fulfill college requirements for volunteer work and/or special projects.
VOLUNTEER TEACHERS FOR 2018-2019 SCHOOL YEAR
Femmel De La Rosa, Social Latin Dance Teacher: Salsa/ Bachata and Merengue
Femmel De La Rosa specializes in social Latin dance such as: Salsa, Bachata, and Merengue. She has a minor in dance with a concentration in modern dance and choreography from Lehman College. Also, she organizes and choreographs dance routines for talent shows in her Hispanic community and participates in various dance clubs; where the focus is on helping each other to get better and learn more while having fun.
This is the third year that Femmel joins Dance to Unite as a volunteer teacher.
Juliya Abdullayeva, Jazz Teacher
Juliya Abdullayeva was born and raised in Uzbekistan. She came to America when she was 22 years old. She graduated a professional ballet school in Uzbekistan, Tashkent city, and has performed in Big Opera and Ballet Theater of Tashkent for several years. Juliya has experience in ballet, Uzbek national dance, waltz, jazz, belly dance, modern and many other dance styles. She is licensed as a home health aid, real estate agent, personal trainer and this year she is working on her esthetician license. Juliya's part-time job is as a background actor for tv shows and movies. She has an 8-year-old daughter that loves to dance just as much as Juliya loves it. Last year She started as an assistant at Dance to Unite and absolutely loved it. This year Juliya is coming back as a teacher and is very excited about that.
Renee Royles, Modern Dance Teacher
Renee Royles is a sophomore at Marymount Manhattan College, and is studying Speech Pathology and Audiology with a double minor in Dance and Social Work. She moved to New York from Los Angeles last year, in the hopes of dancing and thriving in the best city in the world! Renee joined the Dance to Unite family last year, and was an assistant for Tal Adani at P.S 140 teaching "hip-yoga." In addition to working with Dance to Unite, Renee works a part-time retail job as a sales associate at Dylan's Candy Bar. Renee has been dancing since the age of 3, and has experience in the following styles: ballet, contemporary, jazz, hip-hop, salsa, musical theatre, and tap. Renee was a member of two dance teams at her high school over the span of three years, as well as the Visual Kapture Dance Company in Los Angeles. She has experience dancing in large groups, medium groups, trios, duets, and as a soloist. Renee was also a dance teacher and assistant coach for the Visual Kature Dance Company for four years. Dance to Unite has given Renee the opportunity of a lifetime, and she cannot wait to spread the Dance to Unite message throughout New York!
Alexa Lissie, Jazz Teacher
Alexa Lissie is studying Psychology and Dance and Marymount Manhattan College in NYC. She is aspiring to earn her Masters of Psychology in child psychology and wants to open her and operate her own dance studio. As well as volunteering for Dance to Unite in East Harlem and being a full-time student, she is also a Peer Leader at MMC and works 2 jobs at Biscuits and Bath and Mark Restaurant. Alexa began her dance career in 2009 with Ballet and Contemporary. Since then, she has picked up Lyrical, Modern, Jazz, Theater, Hip Hop, Tap, and Pointe and has been dancing ever since. It was when Alexa was offered her first reaching opportunity in 2013 that she realized she wanted to continue to pursue it, as she is passionate about dance and inspiring others to dance the way she was.
Adelina Bracero, Teacher Assistant
Adelina is a native New Yorker who started dancing at 2 and-a-half years old. She has trained in tap, ballet, jazz, acro, modern, hip-hop and lyrical, although she considers jazz her favorite. Adelina is also a member of her school's dance team. When not dancing, Adelina attends high school and enjoys spending time with family and friends. She is also an ambassador Girl Scout working towards her Gold Award. This is is her second year with Dance to Unite and she is really excited. She loves teaching kids the art of dance. She hopes to have her own studio someday, to continue her new love of teaching.
Kohtaro Kosugiyama, World Fusion Teacher
Kohtaro is an undergraduate at NYU, studying Global Liberal Studies. He was born in Tokyo, Japan, but he also spent last two years of his high school in an international boarding school called Pearson College UWC (United World College) in Victoria, Canada. He spent those years with friends from over 80 countries, and the great multicultural experiences he got there made him a passionate changemaker to achieve a more peaceful world. He worked as a dance director at Pearson College learning and teaching dances from many different cultures around the world, especially Ukrainian dance. He is thrilled to share his love to dance and the beauty of diversity with students!
Alexa Mamoulides, Ballet and Lyrical Teacher
Alexa Mamoulides is from West Texas where she has been dancing for most of her life. She has trained in ballet, lyrical, and modern and attended several intensives with Ad Deum Dance Company and Webster University. She danced with a Christian fine arts studio for the last six years which introduced her to dance ministry, showing her the uniting power of dance. After doing some assistant teaching in high school, she had the opportunity to teach several classes including ballet and dance ministry during her senior year, and that experience really solidified her desire to teach dance in the future. She is currently a student at NYU majoring in linguistics and minoring in dance and global education. Alexa is so grateful for the opportunity to use her experiences to work with an organization like Dance to Unite that shares her passion for using the arts to improve kids' lives.
Emma Winkley, Teacher Assistant
Emma Winkley is a first year student at New York University, studying Global Liberal Studies. Emma began her journey as a dancer at the age of 5, taking classes in tap, ballet and Irish dance. After studying ballet for most of her childhood, she began training in modern, jazz, and hip hop dance as a young adult. In high school she danced on her high school’s dance team, preforming at school events and at competitions. She loves working with kids and and believes that doing good in the world originates with empowering today’s youth. For Emma, dance is an escape from reality, a moment of Zen, and she hopes to inspire the children she teaches to see and appreciate dance in the same way.
Allegra Preuss, Contemporary and Ballet Assistant Teacher
Allegra Preuss is currently a senior at New York University as a dance and journalism double-major. She began studying dance at the age of eleven and attended New World School of the Arts High School where she developed her interests in dance choreography. Allegra has choreographed many of her own pieces as well as performed in dance works by world reknown choreographers. Throughout her life she has worked with kids as a dance teacher at studios and summer camps. She is interested in the intersection between dance and all other art forms as a way to draw interest to dance and bring dance to people who may never have imagined it to be a part of their life. Allegra believes that dance is a meditation that can be enjoyed by anyone who is open to it.
Keanan Pucci, Teacher Assistant
Keanan Pucci is a 1st year Game Design student at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. He grew up in Connecticut and started his experience working with kids there as a local theatre camp counselor. Keanan was heavily involved in theatre, dance, and volunteer work throughout high school and has been trained in hip hop, tap, jazz, and ballet. While looking for a new dance outlet here in NYC, Keanan heard of Dance to Unite and saw an incredible opportunity to combine his passions.
Bailey Everett, Teacher Assistant
Bailey Everett is a student at Pace University in NYC. She started dancing at a young age at the Dance Theatre of Dalton in Dalton, Georgia. There she trained in multiple styles of dance: ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop, and contemporary. In the summer of 2015, she got the opportunity to train with the legendary Rockettes in NYC. She was an assistant dance instructor at her studio in Dalton, Georgia and loved to share her passion for dance with other students. She is absolutely thrilled to begin her journey with Dance to Unite and looks forward to what is to come!
Lynn Zilka, Ballet Teacher
Lynn joined Dance to Unite in 2016 as a Volunteer Dance Teacher. In 2017 she joined the Board as Treasurer. She graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in Dance, where she focused on Modern and Ballet techniques, and Postmodern and Modern Choreography. She has studied Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Modern, Ballet, Hip Hop and African Dance. The proud mother of 12 year old Volunteer Assistant Teacher Isabella Perna, Lynn’s approach to teaching is instinctual and incorporates her passion for dance, her love for children, and her enthusiasm for sharing fundamental concepts that build character and enrich life. Lynn is the Corporate Secretary of First American International Bank, which serves the Chinese American immigrant communities of Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens. Lynn loves challenges, both at work and at play, and enjoys rock climbing, skiing, playing guitar, songwriting and performing.
Ilana Michaelson, Jazz Teacher
Ilana Michaelson joined Dance to Unite upon moving to New York City this fall. She is a student of Ballet, Jazz, Modern, and Contemporary, and spent several summers teaching dance in her hometown of Boston, Massachusetts. Ilana is currently a freshman at New York University. She is excited to be part of this wonderful organization!
Working in finance by day, Nirali has always made a point to keep creative outlets a prominent aspect of her life. Trained in the Indian dance form of Kathak and growing up watching Bollywood movies, she was able to see the importance of culture, diversity and how universal the language of dance is. During college, she danced with an Indian Fusion team and then went on to perform with Nazar Bollywood Dance Troupe in Boston. Now, she dances and teaches with Ajna Dance Company in NYC. Nirali hopes to share her passion by showing children just how joyous and intertwined dance cultures can be. Dance to Unite is an amazing combination of everything she is passionate about and an incredible way to expose children to universal values and diversity.
Katie Gaydos is a Brooklyn-based dance artist and writer. Since graduating from UC Berkeley she has danced with Yannis Adoniou’s KUNST-STOFF, Robert Moses’ Kin Dance and most recently with NY based choreographer Madeline Hollander. Katie has presented her own choreography at KUNST-STOFF Arts (SF) and Triskelion Arts (Brooklyn). Her writing appears in The San Francisco Bay Guardian, In Dance and on the blog Culturebot. She is also the co-editor of Ugly Duckling Presse’s performance publication Emergency INDEX. Katie is honored to be apart of an organization, like Dance to Unite, that offers dance as a vehicle for compassion, unity, and empowerment.
Ya Ling Cheng, Modern Dance Teacher
Ya Ling Cheng is an enthusiastic, patient, and skilled dance teacher from Taiwan, where she has trained in Chinese folk dance, modern, and ballet. She studied Dance and received a Bachelor Degree from the Chinese Culture University. Ya Ling Cheng taught dance with the esteemed Cloud Gate Life Pulse dance school for more than 9 years. The school introduced her to dance education, showing her the creative movement and power of dance. She believes that everyone was born a dancer, the only thing we need to do is bridge the gap. She is willing and eager to share her experience and love of dance with kids.
Lori Littlejohn, Teacher Assistant
Lori Littlejohn is originally from Southern California. She has lived in New York for over 15 years where she works as an attorney. Lori has trained in tap, jazz, modern, afro-caribbean, step, and latin dance. She attended Florida A&M University where she was a member of Orchesis Dance Company. In her free time, she loves spending time with friends and family, including her seven nieces and nephews. This is Lori’s second year with Dance to Unite and she is excited to continue teaching children the art of dance and the principles of diversity, unity, kindness, tolerance, and respect.
Mariah Adolph, Teacher Assistant
Mariah Adolph is a student at Medgar Evers College studying Accounting as a Business major. From the age of 3, she's been learning many different styles of dance such as ballet, hip hop, jazz, tap , lyrical and modern. During that time, she's been to three different studios: Terrace Dance Studio , Ricki Di Dance Studio and currently Horizon's Dance Center.
Mariah has always pushed herself past her limits in school, dance, or any extra curricular activity she was a part of. Dancing has always been a passion of Mariah's and she's willing to take that passion and put it in those students in the Dance to Unite program.
Isabella Perna, Teacher Assistant
This is Isabella’s (age 12) second year as a Volunteer Assistant Dance Teacher with Dance to Unite. Through her work with Dance to Unite, she expresses both her love of dance and her activist spirit. Isabella believes passionately in helping others and in standing up for her beliefs. She is an active adventurer, and in addition to dance she loves rock climbing, skateboarding, and martial arts. She is a first degree black belt in traditional Japanese Karate, and is a Sempai (Assistant Teacher) at her Dojo, Karate-Do Ken Wa Kan: Fists of Peace. She also competes in black belt weapons katas in karate tournaments. She is committed to her academic studies and enjoys mathematics, science and writing. She has been the repeat recipient of her school’s Kindness Award and Physical Education Award.
Pratiksha Nikam, Assistant Bollywood Dance Teacher
Pratiksha Nikam is Bollywood and Folk dancer from India. Since childhood she has passion for Dance. She won various dance competitions and represented in Indo-French Dance Festival which was held in Paris in 1999. Pratiksha is also graduated in computer science and she has worked for 4 years in technology field as a Senior Engineer. She carried her dance passion throughout her career by doing choreography of dance groups in colleges and participating in it. This drive of dance made her to be a part of Dance To Unite!
Hannah Brown, Assistant Teacher
Hannah Brown is a Freshman at New York University on the pre-medical track. While here career points towards medicine, her heart will always be with dance. She has been dancing ballet and tap since she was 10 years old and has not stopped since. She is beyond excited to share her love of dance with different communities, and especially with the younger generation.
Cordelia Kwon, Jazz Teacher
Cordelia Kwon is a first-year at NYU studying Global Public Health and Anthropology. She has been a dancer in her hometown, Pittsford New York, since she was 3 years old, and has long loved working with kids and teaching dance. On campus, she is involved in the NYU Latin and Ballroom Dance Team and Dancers/Choreographers Alliance.
Carlos Florentino, Teacher Assistant
Carlos Florentino was born and raised in Madrid, Spain to Dominican parents. In Madrid he started his training in classical and contemporary dance, graduating from a conservatory. After graduating Carlos makes his big move to NYC, where he has been training on a scholarship at Peridance and working as a professional dancer performing with artists and as part of the Alice Farley Dance Theater company.
In his classes, he loves to teach the kids about his Latino and Afro-Caribbean roots through dance.
Sofia Subero, Teacher Assistant
Sofia Subero is an actress and singer transitioning to dancer. From a young age she had a passion for dancing and took various classes such as Flamenco, Hip-Hop, Ballet, Tango and Salsa Casino. She is currently pursuing her BFA in Multimedia Performing Arts and a minor in Dance at Lehman College. At Lehman she developed her interests in modern dance, improv and physical theater. She has worked and performed with different choreographers such as
Nicholas Leichter, Marguerite Hemmings, Amy Larimer and Wendell Cooper. She is excited to join Dance to Unite and bring smiles to young dancers.
Tess McCharen, Teacher Assistant
Tess fell in love with dance in middle school, when she was given the opportunity to take dance class instead of P.E. She then auditioned for and began training at the Colburn School, in her home city of Los Angeles, under the direction of James Fayette, Jenifer Ringer, Kelly Ann Sloan, and Tamsin Carlson. She has performed in many pieces of repertoire by George Balanchine, Rudy Perez, Paul Taylor, Sarah Swenson, Merce Cunningham, and more. Tess also was an assistant teacher and assistant stage manager at the children’s showcases. In 2017, she moved to New York City to continue her training at Peridance, where she was connected to Dance to Unite.
PAST TEACHERS WHO ARE STILL INVOLVED
Tal Adani, Volunteer Coordinator and Yoga Teacher
Dance to Unite Meetup organizer
Tal Adani holds a Masters Degree in Education and Special Education. She is an ABA ( Applied Behavioral Analysis) therapist and has vast experience working with young children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental disabilities. Tal has been a devoted practitioner of Dahn Yoga (Korean style) for the past 8 years. Her passion for working with children as well as for the philosophy and practice of yoga sparked her interest in getting certified as a Yoga instructor by ‘YogaKids’; an internationally accredited program. Tal is not only our volunteer Yoga teacher but also our Dance to Unite's coordinator of volunteers' recruitment and orientation. Tal’s mission is to foster a sense of acceptance and unity among children with special needs and their peers and to promote peace by helping children connect with themselves, their community and the world around them!
Stephanie Davis, Teacher Assistant
Stephanie Davis is a student at Marymount Manhattan College pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Communications with a doube minor in Dance and Arts Management. She has been dancing since the age of three and has been trained in all major styles of dance. She is a graduate of the Dance Teachers Club of Boston and when at home spends her time teaching at the studio she grew up at. Aside from studying, Stephanie spends her time taking classes at Broadway Dance Center, participating in her university’s Hillel chapter, and exploring New York City with her friends. Stephanie is honored to be part of the Dance to Unite family and is thrilled to share her passion with the next generation of dancers.
Jacqueline Mizrahi, Volunteer Coordinator and Zumba Teacher
Jacqueline Escava has been a Dance to Unite volunteer teacher for the past three years. She is passionate about helping others and working with diverse cultures. Dance has been part of her life since she was a child, her dance styles include Hip-Hop, Jazz, and Zumba. Jacqueline is currently a student at the Fordham Graduate School of Education purusing a Masters Degree in mental health counseling. Her combined interest of psychology and dance has made her a great fit for the the Dance to Unite community.
Mehrnoush Mirzaei-Reyes, Belly Dance Teacher
Mehrnoush Mirzaei was born in Tehran, Iran and raised in Germany. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Business and has worked in the advertisement field. Mehrnoush grew up with Middle-Eastern dance and music. While her artistic work is mostly influenced by her culture, she has explored other beautiful styles like Salsa and Flamenco. She started dancing 12 years ago and has performed as a soloist or part of ensembles like Raqsa (Nuremberg, Germany) as well as La Caminada (Berlin, Germany). She studied Belly Dance with great artists such as Enussah, Laila El-Jarad and Antonio Rodriguez. Five years ago, a dance instructor asked her to take over a class for a day. That was the moment she discovered her love for working with children and instilling excitement in them for the beauty of dance.
Vaishali Sinha, Kathak/ Bollywood Teacher
Vaishali Sinha is a professional Indian Classical (Kathak) dancer from India. Her roots in the classical arts were embedded in her since the tender age of 5, her inspiration came from her mother who is also a professionally trained classical Indian vocalist. Vaishali has trained in Kathak for over 14 years and understands the importance and benefits of following a regimented arts program especially for children. Vaishali is also well versed in the dance styles of Bollywood and Flamenco. She has traveled the world and has given performances in India, Dubai, Madrid and the US. She has experience working with both children and adults from all around the world, traversing boundaries of cultural differences while using dance as an equalizer to bring people together. Although Vaishali holds an MBA in Finance her true calling has been in the performing arts sphere, she is excited to follow her true passion and bring her unique dance style as well as her message of peace to the children of Dance to Unite!
Namrata Patel, Bharatanatyam Teacher
Namrata Patel is so excited to be working with Dance to Unite this year. She is currently a medical student at Tufts University conducting public health research at Columbia and working with the the organization: Harlem Children's Zone. Although it's her first year teaching for Dance to Unite, she is an experienced dance teacher. Her teaching experience begun nearly 10 years ago as an assistant dance teacher in Indian classical dance. In undergrad she was a choreographer and secretary for the organization: Dance Ensemble. With that organization, she learned a multitude of dance forms including hip hip, salsa, swing and step. Dance has always been a passion of Namrata's and that's why she is excited to share it with the students of Dance to Unite.
Emily Anton, Ballet Teacher
Emily Anton has been dancing, performing and teaching for most of her life starting with tap dance lessons at the age of 3 and transitioning to ballet at age 9. She has performed ballet professionally in California, Oregon, Washington, North Carolina and New York as well as currently touring the country as a soloist with Ballets with a Twist. Emily graduated with a BA in Dance and Movement Studies from Empire State College, and continues to further her education with trainings in the Franklin Method, BodyTalk and Hellerwork Structural Integration. Ms. Anton loves sharing her love of ballet and the movement of the human body. Emily feels so blessed to be involved with Dance to Unite!
Monica Lee, Latin Ballroom Teacher
Monica Lee was born in Taiwan but now lives here in NYC and lives her life full of passions. She studies at Parsons the New School for Design as an interior designer, works as a part time costume designer, and has been dancing almost her entire life. She began her dance journey as an aspiring ballerina but found her true personality and passion in ballroom dancing. She now competes regularly with her partner in the country and trains with three times world champion Ina Jeliazkova and Troels Bager. She believes that contributing to society and sharing her passion for dance will bring more happiness to her life and that is why she decided to join Dance to Unite.
Thomas Clayton, Hip Hop Teacher
Thomas is both a singer / songwriter / producer and the founder of NEONIC, a neon streetwear company launching this summer. He enjoys dance immensely, and sees it as one of the immutable, undeniable truths that binds all of us together. His mantra is: "we don't dance because we are happy, we are happy because we dance.
Brooke Stoker, Teacher Assistant
Brooke Stoker is currently a sophomore at Pace University, majoring in Film & Screen Studies and minoring in Peace & Justice Studies and Business. She has grown up dancing and has aspirations of one day pioneering a traveling dance company that lives, works, and creates out of a caravan of Volkswagen buses. When she is not daydreaming about living a nomadic lifestyle, she is working on writing her debut novel and making weekly videos for her YouTube channel, entitled "Bohemian Brooke." Brooke has been an assistant dance teacher for nine years and loves to choreograph works for dancers of all ages and styles. She is also a devoted yogi who strives to incorporate the healing and spiritual practice of yoga into her daily life. Brooke is ecstatic to be joining the Dance to Unite family and looks forward to learning and growing along with the yoga class that she assists!