Teachers


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.

 

Elisa Wharton

Elisa Wharton was born in West Virginia and started dancing at the age of three. She trained at Inwood Performing Arts and the Frederick School of Classical Ballet before leaving home to attend high school at the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy for three years on scholarship. She spent two summers at North Carolina Dance Theatre and one at Boston Ballet's summer program. Elisa earned her BFA cum laude. in ballet at the College Conservatory of Music in Cincinnati. While there, she enjoyed dancing roles in Paquita, La Bayadere, Swan Lake and Balanchine's Walpurgisnacht and Pas de Dix, as well as original works created by CCM faculty. She also choreographed two pieces that were chosen to be performed in the Choreographer's Showcase at CCM. Additionally, Elisa performed as a guest artist in Dayton Ballet's performance of The Nutcracker. After college Elisa joined the Charlottesville Ballet in Charlottesville, VA. She was a company member as well as choreographer for two years. In 2012 Elisa also performed and choreographed for Concor Dance Contemporary, a brand new contemporary company in Crozet, Virginia.Elisa joined DCA in 2012 and joined Dimensional Dance in Hartford CT in 2014.

 

 

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.

Katrina Schmidt

Katrina was born in Southington, Connecticut and began her classical ballet training at the age of eleven at the Hartt Community Dance Division of the University of Hartford. At age fifteen she received the Francine Goldfarb Scholarship for talent and potential toward a professional dance career. While at Hartt she attended high school at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, Dance Department, Hartford Connecticut. To further her training, in 2010, Katrina traveled to New York City to study privately with Peter O'Brien. Katrina moved to New York City when she was sixteen to train at the Joffrey Ballet School in the trainee program directed by Robert Ray. While there she was asked to return to the Hartt Community Dance Division and dance the lead role of Dew Drop as a guest performer in their Nutcracker. She was also featured in the Joffrey Ballet School's production of Cinderella as Cinderella. The following year she joined the Joffrey Concert Group directed by Davis Robertson and Brian McSween. Katrina danced in works by Africa Guzman, Larry Keigwin, and Dwight Rhoden. Katrina also danced in works by Donald Byrd, Jennifer Archibald, Margo Sappington, and Daniel Gwirtzman as part of the Joffrey Jazz and Contemporary program, directed by Michael Blake. This past year she had the opportunity to work with SYREN Modern Dance, directed by Lynn Peterson and Kate St. Amand. Katrina is currently dancing and teaching at United Rhythms, directed by Fernando Alers.

Brandon

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.

 

 

 

Nadia Cuevas

Nadia is a dancer and choreographer based out of central Connecticut. Her love for dance started when she was young and flourished in styles like Hip-Hop and Jazz. When she was in high school she competed on her high school's dance team where she won various championships in the kickline, jazz, and hip-hop divisions. Nadia trained for several years in Pointe, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Lyrical, and Contemporary technique at her local dance studio. There she developed her love for choreography. She also has competed in several dance competitions and earned the title "Miss Diva Dance". She is a 2013 graduate of the Center for Creative Youth summer intensive, which is a program that hosted performing arts students from around the world at Wesleyan University. In this program, she studied Ballet, Composition, African Dance, and codified Lester Horton Modern technique and was awarded a dance program scholarship. Nadia discovered her passion for teaching at 19 years old, when she started teaching in dance studios. As a teacher/choreographer, she has earned awards like "Most Entertaining Choreography" and her students' solos have won titles and championships in various local and national dance competitions. Nadia received her Associate's of Arts Degree in Dance in 2016, a Bachelor's Degree in Dance Education in 2020 and has earned her CT State Teaching License in PK-12 Dance Education. During her time in college, she established herself as a choreographer and created several pieces for her dance programs and for the Dancentral Dance Company. In 2019, she received the Demetria D. Perelli scholarship for excellence in Dance Education. Nadia also earned a spot in the National Honor Society for Dance Arts at the Collegiate level. Throughout her dance training, she has studied under choreographers associated with the Martha Graham Dance Company, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, the Giordano Dance Company, Bob Fosse and more. Nadia has been seen in several performances including the 5X5 Dance Festival, hosted in West Hartford, CT. She continues to further her dance training in Modern, Ballet, Latin, Tap, and Jazz techniques and is a member of the National Dance Educator's Organization. Nadia currently teaches dance at Engineering and Science University Magnet School and continues to teach in various studios across Connecticut

Rachael Gnatowski

Originally from Frederick, Maryland, Rachael began her dance training under the direction of Joyce Morrison at the Frederick School of Classical Ballet. While performing as a member of the Urbana High School Dance Company under the direction of Stephanie Weigelt, she was named a Maryland All-State Dancer. She furthered her dance training attending summer intensives at the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, North Carolina School for the Arts, the Kansas City Ballet School, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Rachael then went on to graduate from Mercyhurst University in 2013 with a BA in dance. It was during her time at Mercyhurst where she was given the chance to perform with Lake Erie Ballet and Mercyhurst Ballet Theatre. Since graduation she has danced professionally with Ballet Fleming, Fort Wayne Ballet, and Ballet Hartford, and has had the pleasure to work with artists such as Christopher Fleming, Silas Farley, and Cameron Basden. Rachael has also performed as a guest artist with Albany Berkshire Ballet, Deos Contemporary Ballet, and Three Rivers Dance. In January 2020 Rachael co-founded a new professional ballet company, New England Ballet Theatre.

Victoria Manning

Victoria Manning is a company dancer with New England Ballet Theatre of Connecticut. She grew up in Plymouth, MA and trained with Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre in Cambridge, MA from the ages of 3-18. She attended summer intensive programs across the country and trained with Pennsylvania Ballet, Boston Ballet, Orlando Ballet and Washington Ballet, to name a few. After high school Victoria attended Indiana University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Ballet Performance and an Outside Field in Marketing while teaching in the pre-college and adult dance programs. There she had the privilege of working with Kyra Nichols, Carla Korbes, Michael Vernon, Shawn Stevens, Sarah Wroth, and Sasha Janes. After college, she danced professionally and taught for Virginia National Ballet and School. She has performed in Balanchine's Walpurgisnacht Ballet and Valse Fantaisie, Jerome Robbins' The Concert, Fanfare and Antique Epigraphs, Sandpaper Ballet by Mark Morris, Giselle by Petipa, Cinderella by Rafik Hegab, and The Nutcracker. Victoria is thrilled to be joining the Dance City and the Arts community to continue to pass down the legacy of our art.

 

 

 

 

Get in Touch

  • Address:
    1 Factory Square, Suite 202
    37 West Center Street
    Southington, CT 06489
  • Phone:
    860-628-4433
    Fax: 860-329-0355