Julie Rizzo (Director)
Julie Rizzo is a graduate of Gloria Jean Studio of Dance, Danstarz Dance Team, and was member of the United States Tap Dance Team. She competed in Germany where the U.S. Team won the silver medal in the World Championship. Her expertise in tap has won her many high score awards in national dance competitions. She has won pageant titles such as America's Teen Yankee Miss and Teen Miss New Haven County. Julie recently graduated from Saint Joseph College where she was the president and choreographer of the Saint Joseph College Dance Ensemble. Julie represented the college at the Ted Hershey Dance Marathon and choreographed a piece for the 5x5 Dance Festival where she had the opportunity to work with Lorelei Chang. She is very excited to continue her work as a dancer and choreographer through Dance City and The Arts.
Brooke Daigle is a current undergraduate at University of New Haven. She has danced for 16 years at Nutmeg PAC. She specializes in acrobatics but has training for many other styles like jazz, tap, and contemporary. I have had many opportunities including Walt Disney Parades, starting a Dance Team at Southington High School, and has won many awards throughout her years. She hopes to help children find love in dance while learning many helpful tips.
Ari Girelli (Ballroom Instructor and Tumbling Coach)
ARI GIRELLI (Ballroom Instructor and Tumbling Coach) is both a competitive gymnast and ballroom dancer. In Ballroom, he has placed first in Regional Fred Astaire competitions, collegiate competitions and NDCA events in latin, rhythm, and standard categories. He has trained with top coaches including Christa Cote, Jennifer McCalla, Tony Dovolani, and Emmanuel Pierre-Antoine. As a gymnast, Ari was a competitive gymnast for both Winingers Gymnastics and the Gymnastics Training Center for 10 years. He currently is on an Xtreme Martial Arts team that incorporates music, acrobatics, and strength training. The team is ranked 1st in the world for the third consecutive year. Currently Ari teaches Acro and coaches Xtreme Martial Arts Ari is in the process of developing a Competitive Ballroom Dance Team.
Madison Bennett spent 14 years at Dance City and the Arts training in ballet, jazz, tap, and contemporary. She achieved many group and solo awards while on the competition team. In her high school years she studied ballet and modern at the Greater Hartford Academy of Arts. There, she performed pieces choreographed by Margo Sappington as well as repertoire from the Limon dance company.
Brandon is a Hip Hop and urban dancer from the Hartford area who has been training in dance for the past 10 years. He got his start dancing as a praise dancer in church. From there, he moved onto Stepping when got to college, where he competed in the NYC area for 4 years. During this time, he also attended The Artist Collective's summer youth program and started learning African and modern dance. Also, he was selected to participate in a showcase at The Ailey Citigroup Theater under the direction of Bev Brown. Upon returning home, he immediately started to train in hip hop, popping, modern technique and ballet at Studio 860 and Island Reflections Dance Theater Company. He is currently a member of 860 Senior Company (formerly Team 860) and still regularly travels to compete in competitions such as World of Dance and Hip Hop International.
Mena Wyman (they/them) is a movement-based artist originally from the Chicago suburbs. They spent their time in Chicago training with the likes of Lizzie Mackenzie, Sara Bibik & Jacob Frazier. Upon graduating high school Mena relocated to Boston to attend The Boston Conservatory where they earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Contemporary Dance Performance with emphasis in Pedagogy & Composition. While studying under renowned faculty such as Marcus Schulkind, Kurt Douglas & Daniel McCusker- Mena filled their time outside of classes with extra curricular and pre-professional projects including movement creation for various original student works in the Conservatory's theatre department, a performance with Berklee College of Music's Global Jazz Institute, and community service through Movement Matters and Boston String Academy. Mena is thrilled to be joining the DCA staff and to share their appreciation for movement & the human body with their new students!
Emma Topper is a recent graduate of Hofstra University where she was a BFA Dance Major and Exercise Science Minor. She began her dance career when she was just two years old at Dance City and the Arts in Southington, CT where she danced competitively. Emma furthered her education of dance all throughout high school here as well as taking part in the half day program at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts in her high school years. From here, she took her studies to New York and continued to learn and grow at Hofstra University. Throughout all of her years, she studied ballet, pointe, modern, jazz, contemporary, tap, lyrical and hip hop styles, along with classes such as flamenco, African and Irish step. Emma has worked and performed pieces created by many well known choreographers and artists such as Earl Mosley, Larry Keigwin, Max Stone, Kate St. Amand, Amy Marshall, Rachel List, Livia Vaniver, Luiza Karnas, Adam Barruch, and many more. With this, Emma also had the opportunity to perform at the American College Dance Association.
Rachel Smith was born and raised in Plymouth, MA. She trained at Boston Ballet School, South Shore Ballet Theater, and The Brookline Ballet School. Once graduating high school Rachel joined Pittsburgh Ballet Theater in their Graduate Program and then she danced with Nashville Ballet as a trainee. From there she joined American Midwest Ballet and their former sister company Ballet Vero Beach. Rachel has danced in countless professional productions and has toured through various states with American Midwest Ballet. Notable roles include Emerald Demi-soloist in Erin Alarcon’s ‘Wizard of Oz’, Soloist in Adam Schnell’s ‘Friends and Lover’s’ and Soloist in Samuel Kurkjian’s ‘Debussy Suite.’ Rachel also had the pleasure of working with various guest choreographers in her time in Omaha. She performed in Mariana Oliveria’s ‘Death and the Maiden’ and Frank Chavez’s ‘Habaneras: The Music of Cuba.’ Rachel continued her professional career at Confluence Ballet Co. as a Company Artist, Executive Assistant, and Co Director of their Trainee Program. Now, she is currently dancing with New England Ballet Theatre of Connecticut where she has been featured in works by Rachael Gnatowski, Janelle Gilchrist, Sarah Grace, and Jacob Taylor.
Mira Sidhu is from Dayton, Ohio, where she trained in classical ballet under Barbara Pontecorvo
at Pontecorvo Ballet Studios. As a student at PBS, she danced with the school’s pre-professional
ballet company, Gem City Ballet, with which she was a principal dancer. Mira continued her
dance education at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, where she
earned her BFA in Ballet. She currently dances professionally as a member of New England
Ballet Theatre. Her notable repertoire includes Swan Lake, Giselle, Raymonda, Talisman, and
Concerto Barocco, as well as contemporary pieces such as Still Waters, choreographed by
Shauna Steele, and In Her Image, choreographed by Sarah Grace.