2021–2022 Five Star Dance Faculty
Kelly Cannone has been an arts educator for more than 25 years. She served on The Arts Advocate of RI, and is a Board Member of the Warwick Consortium of the Arts and Humanities. In 1981 she founded Dance Artistry, Inc. in Warwick, RI and became owner of the studio Dancer Magazine called "One of the four most successful studios in America." She started her own dance company, a non-profit organization, who performed internationally visiting Copenhagen, Denmark, and Minsk and Moscow, Russia. In order to expand her teaching opportunities to the martial arts, she earned her black belt in American Kenpo Karate.
Kelly has numerous career highlights, these include choreographing numerous corporate events, commercials, and music videos including the Miss R.I. pageant, Koch Eye Associates Promotional Video, Market America’s Regional Convention and many more. Kelly has appeared in several televisions commercials and theater productions. She has been on staff with Dance Olympus and Candance conventions. Kelly’s latest venture is writing motivational articles for children. Her work has been published in Dancer Magazine, The Gold Rush, Cheerleading Dance and Drill Magazine and Dance Studio Life. Kelly has been traveling around the country teaching dancers and dance teachers how to set goals in her Aspiring Dreamz Workshop.
This past year Kelly has published a book titled, "Aspiring Dreamz, Goal Setting For Dancers." Kelly has also written a children’s book titled "The Broken Doll" which is being considered for a ballet production in Rhode Island.
Hope Specht has an impeccable reputation in the New England dance world. She is known nationwide for her teaching and choreography, and is in constant demand as a teacher and adjudicator for dance competitions and conventions across the country. Having owned and operated her own dance school for over 15 years, Hope’s students have performed in commercials, Disney, The Macy’s Day Parade, Madison Square Garden, Times Square in New York, and the Broadway musicals: "ANNIE GET YOUR GUN" and touring with "FOSSE", also achieving 10 National Acro titles, 3 World Champions in Show Dance, GOLD & 2-TIME WORLD Silver medalists in Tap 2005-2006 in Riesa, Germany. Hope had the prestigious honor of being nominated and to perform her choreographed Acro-Gym production, "GLORY," for President Bush.
Hope has been teaching and choreographing at McKeon’s for the past 6 years. Her Acro – Gym routine “Battle Warriors” won the Xcalibur Award (the highest scoring routine in all categories of the competition) at Dance Xplosion Nationals this past summer.
Danielle Buharali is an accomplished dancer, teacher and choreographer. She started at the McKeon School at age 3 and has never left. A National Dance Champion herself, Danielle was also a member of the McKeon Team Chosen to be part of the first United States delegation sent to participate in the “10th World Gymnaestrada” in Berlin Germany in 1995.This past summer her students received recognition at the Dance Xplosion National Championships winning the prestigious Xcalibur award in the Novice division along with several other Top Score and High Point awards.
As well as being an accomplished competition instructor, Danielle is one of the top recreational dance teachers in the area. She takes the same creative approach to all her classes, beginners through advanced.
Courtney d'Oliveira has been working for Mckeon's for the past 9 years. As a dancer, she holds over 15 National titles in Dance and Acrobatics. Her professional dance career began in the off Broadway musical, "One". In 2003, Courtney was chosen to represent the United States in the World Show Dance Championships in Riesa, Germany. There she competed and won the Adult Solo Championship.
Courtney's dynamic and well-rounded experience allows her to teach students of all levels, all ages, and all genres. Her students have excelled on both the recreational and competitive level. Her choreography for soloist and competitive dance teams have won countless regional, national and title high score awards.
Courtney's expertise, knowledge and instruction has had a remarkable impact on the growth of her students. She strives to inspire dancers, not only in the classroom, but in life itself. Her goal is to provide a healthy, positive dance environment where her students will continue to grow and thrive.
Casey LeBlanc was a member of the nationally-ranked McKeon Competitive Dance Team for 13 years. During her time, she won numerous regional titles as well as being crowned the 2011 Senior Miss Beyond The Stars for her performance at their national competition. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and a Bachelor of Science in Communications and Business from Arizona State University, Class of 2015. In her junior and senior years she was awarded full scholarships to the American College Dance Festival where she became a finalist in her category both years.
Casey was an active member of the National Dance Education Organization and acted as their social marketing manager. Upon graduation, she returned to McKeon and has quickly become a valuable member of our staff. She is certified in Acrobatic Arts and is now a member of Dance Masters of America, Chapter 5.
Casey’s choreography has won many awards at regional and national competitions and her encouraging, positive attitude with all the dancers is a wonderful asset for our recreational and competitive programs! Casey continues to choreograph as a guest artist at the college level as well at Stonehill College and UMass Amherst.
Brea Perdue has trained with and assisted some of the top teachers and choreographers in the country including Mia Michaels, Stacey Tookey, and Doug Caldwell. Brea’s credits include Kelly Clarkson, Teen Beach Movie, High School Musical, and Shake it Up. She has danced in numerous commercials and industrials, and was also a semi-finalist on Season 2 of FOX's hit television show, “So You Think You Can Dance.” In addition, Brea has performed in numerous shows at Walt Disney World. Her unique choreography keeps Brea in high demand throughout the country where she teaches at studio workshops and choreographs for college dance teams. Currently, Brea is in her fifth season on faculty at Revel Dance Convention.
Zhanat Baidaralin was educated in Almaty and Moscow, and brings more than 30 years experience from his native Kazakhstan as a producer, artistic director, choreographer, and ballet teacher in numerous realms that include theater, circus, and television. His broad experience also includes direction and production of traditional Kazakh festivals and dances in his native land. Mr. Baidaralin was the chief choreographer for Kazakhstan at the opening ceremony of the XX Olympic Games in Moscow in 1980, where he worked with more than 10,000 dancers and 20,000 sportsmen. In 1998, he was the chief ballet master for the official opening of the new capital city of Astana.
Since moving to the U.S. in 2001, Mr. Baidaralin has worked as a ballet master, choreographer and ballet teacher for several ballet companies, 30 Years of Experience Worldwide 8 Years in the U.S.A., Including: Dance Theatre of Harlem, NYC, Festival Ballet, Providence, RI, Bryansky Saratoga Ballet, NY, Stamford Ballet, CT. In turn, Mr. Baidaralin has the pleasure of helping to bring the great American and Kazakh cultures closer together.
Justine has been dancing for 20 years. She has been trained in jazz, hip hop, ballet, lyrical, contemporary, tap, etc. Justine received most of her formal training before graduating high school at Cathy Taylors School of Dance in Auburn, MA. She also trained under Joan Sheary and Kellie Shea in the Burncoat High School Dance Magnet, where she was the captain of the five-time State Championship winning dance team in Worcester, MA. Justine attended UMass Amherst, graduating with a degree in Public Health with a focus in Public Administration in 2019. She was the captain/coach of the Nationally ranking UMass Amherst Dance Team.
Justine now teaches in the same dance magnet program that she attended at Burncoat Middle and High School, as well as being the assistant coach of the BHS Dance Team, who have won another state championship during her time on the coaching staff.
Justine is entering her 3rd year as an Instructor for The National Dance Alliance (NDA), where she travels around the country working with numerous high school and college dance teams. She also teaches at Central Mass Dance Academy in Worcester, MA, and Mckeon Dance and Gymnastics in Hopedale, MA.
Ellen began dancing at McKeon at just three years old. Through twelve years on the competitive dance team, she achieved success at both regional and national competitions and had opportunities to travel the world. In 2010, she was a member of the McKeon’s group that performed at the World Expo in Shanghai, China. Though she has formal training in jazz, ballet, and contemporary, as she grew older her true passions came through in tap. She was taught and mentored by Danielle Buharali, and seeks inspiration from teachers like Anthony Morigerato and Jason Janas.
In 2016, Ellen was selected to be part of the American Tap Company and then competed in the IDO Tap Dance World Championships in Riesa, Germany as both a soloist and group member. Here, she earned a silver medal with her group and built relationships with the world’s best tap dancers and choreographers. While at Elon University, she continued her practice of tap dancing with tap legend, Gene Medler. Ellen loves teaching music theory and composition along with technically challenging steps to develop well-rounded tap dancers. Her choreography has been awarded both regional and national titles, and she is excited to continue growing as a teacher and choreographer.
Kara Pendlebury's love for movement started on the mats in acro class then transitioned into the world of competitive dance. Upon moving to New York City she began dancing professionally, performing mainly in the styles of contemporary and jazz. Along with that, Kara trained, assisted and traveled with many companies and choreographers. Most recently, you can find her judging on the east coast or in the studio, creating movement while encouraging dancers to believe in themselves.
Courtney comes to McKeons with many years of dance experience in a variety of styles. She holds a BFA in dance from UNC Greensboro where she studied the classic modern dance techniques of Cunningham and Limon as well as a variety of release techniques, choreography and somatics. Courtney performed with Soul Play Modern Dance, Kelly Donovan and Dancers, as well as her own company CannDance Productions, where she choreographed original works that were performed at regional dance festivals and showcases. Courtney began teaching dance in college after many years as a teacher's apprentice. She has taught in North Carolina, Florida, and Central Mass, working as a studio manager and lead instructor teaching students ages 2.5 and up. She ran multiple student performance groups and choreographed a variety of pieces including original “storybook” dance productions and Nutcracker holiday productions performed locally.
In 2008 Courtney earned her Masters of Ed. in Elementary Education and continued her studies to attain her Reading Specialist certification. Courtney holds 3 teaching licenses in Massachusetts: Elementary Ed 1-6, Reading/Literacy Specialist k-12, and Dance k-12. Always a student, she is consistently studying the neurological science of learning and memory to enhance her students’ performance in academics and dance. She is trained in reflex integration and uses thinking routines and cognitive learning practices to inform her teaching for the best student outcomes. Courtney focuses on creating a positive and productive learning environment that develops the love of dance without sacrificing the technical, postural, and artistic development of the growing dancer.
Felicia Byrd is a dancer, choreographer and instructor who simply loves to perform. She began dancing at a young age, simply learning choreography from music videos by artists such as Aaliyah, Chris Brown, and of course Michael Jackson. Aside from her “at home performances”, she also danced with different teams at her church called Silent Witness (liturgical), .COM (hip hop) and the Tri-Steppers (step). While attending college, Felicia realized her talents and joined teams such as Aesthetic Flo (hip hop), One Sound (step) and eXposure (hip hop, bachata, salsa, pasada and more). Through connections in eXposure, she was introduced to Dancin Spirit Performing Arts when her dance career truly began. Since then, Felicia has taught at multiple studios throughout RI and continues to be a student at Thr3e Live Dance Complex where she was also a principal dancer on the Liv3Lihood dance team. Felicia has performed for the Providence Dominican Festival, Issa Pointer, HGTV, New Kids On The Block at Fenway and most recently, in the upcoming “Hocus Pocus 2” movie. Felicia hopes to continue to teach and mentor young dancers to be able to pursue their dreams, while continuing to pursue hers.
Hannah is an Auburn, MA native, who has trained extensively in many different styles of dance including tap, jazz, ballet, contemporary, modern, hip hop, musical theatre, and acro. Throughout her youth, she was a successful competitive dancer where she was awarded many prestigious local/national awards, titles, and scholarships. Some of the dance studios/establishments she has studied under include Broadway Dance Center, Worcester Ballet Arts, Janette Neil Studio, and Hackworth School of Performing Arts directed by Alison Forance. She was an original member of the Boston Tap Company under the direction of Sean Fielder where she performed in shows such as the Radio City Rockettes, Jacob’s Pillow, The Dance Complex Showcase, and Rhythm in the Night at the Riverside Theatre in Hyde Park. She also specializes in Pro Dance/Dance Team style, as she is most well known for her former title as an NFL Cheerleader where she obtained the titles of a Line Captain, 2X Super Bowl Champion, and 2017 Pro Bowl Representative. She has trained under notable choreographers including Teddy Forance and members of the Shaping Sound Company, Jason Samuels Smith, KellyKaleta, Gregory King, Hope Specht, and many more. Hannah still teaches all styles of dance, and choreographs for National winning solos, duos, and groups
Sandi Duncan was the former owner and director of Dance Productions in Woburn. She is a member of Dance Masters of America and has served as a vice president, adjudicator and choreographer for the organization. She also has adjudicated for many organizations throughout the US and Canada and is a choreography clinician for the NEXT STAGE music workshop each summer in Durham, NC.
Sandi has a degree in Deaf Communications/Sign Language and in her early college years performed numerous times at the State House in Boston for deaf rights awareness programs. Upon graduation, Sandi traveled to study in Chicago at the Gus Giordano Dance Center as well as many NYC training centers to further her dance education.
Tim Stickney began his dance training at the age of 3 in upstate New York and furthered his training at some of the premier schools in North Carolina and Massachusetts, namely McKeon Dance and Gymnastics and The Gold School under the direction of Rennie Gold. Training extensively in ballet, modern, and a variety of other styles, he had the honor of being named America's Male Dancer of the Year at American Dance Awards in 2010. He has had the opportunity to perform at Symphony Space for their annual Impressions concert and at the Jacob's Pillow Inside/Out stage with the Boston Tap Company. He was also featured in Dance Life TV's Male Voices documentary series, winner of four prestigious "Telly" awards.
Tim attends the Ailey/Fordham B.F.A. program, where he wishes to continue growing as an artist by studying at The Ailey School under some of the most inspired names in dance in the twentieth century. Most recently, he has performed the works of Earl Mosley, Hope Boykin, Karen Arceneaux, Billy Bell, and Marquet Lee to name a few. He would like to thank his parents and his sister for all their love and support through the years and is so excited to be making the rewarding transition into teaching and choreography.
Michael is currently the creator and director of the Xhale Dance Company and has shown work in the past for Philly Fringe Festivals, The Choreographers Canvas (NY), The Koresh Artist Showcase, The Kimmel Center, a performance with the Barre Boys and Synthoseis Dance Project.
Michael was one of eleven choreographers selected to showcase their work in the Dance Underneath the Stars Choreography Festival in Palm Springs CA. He was also one of the 15 Finalists in the International Choreography Competition as a part of the Jazz Dance World Congress last summer. Michael continues to teach and choreograph throughout the tri-state area, spreading his love and experience of dance.
Rory Freeman earned his BFA in Modern Dance from SUNY Purchase (NY) in 2010. This gave him the opportunity to perform pieces by Bill T. Jones, Paul Taylor, Bella Lewitsky, and Luca Veggetti. In 2010, he joined the world renowned dance company, MOMIX, and performed all over the world. Since moving to Los Angeles in 2013, Rory has had the honor of working and performing with companies such as Commonality, Escape Artists, and Royal Flux. In addition, he has worked with music artists such as Earth, Wind, & Fire, Taylor Swift, Paula Abdul, and Jack Wagner, among others. He had the pleasure of being a part of the skeleton crew to create part of the Opening Ceremonies for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Rory is a part of the faculty and judges for various national conventions and competitions. He has taught & choreographed at numerous studios across the U.S. Rory is also the Co-Founder and Co-Director of Move: The Initiative, a weekend dance intensive that takes place in his home state of Rhode Island. Rory first became a member of Shaping Sound in 2013. He was part of the company’s first ever national tour, performed at the International Festival Dans Encore, the Dizzy Feet Foundation Gala, and Dancer Palooza.
Tara (Tommasiello) Iacobucci has been dancing since the age of two, beginning her studies at Dance RI’s Providence location, under the direction of Debi Cusick D'Iorio. In 1996, with the guidance of Ann Beretta Morsilli, Tara began focusing solely on her ballet technique with Festival Ballet of Rhode Island under the late Christine Hennessey. She quickly landed the role of Clara in their annual production of “The Nutcracker" in 1998, and went on to dance a wide variety of roles in this ballet, as well as many other such as Les Sylphides, Sleeping Beauty, Dracula, Swan Lake, Firebird, and A Midsummer Night's Dream.
While dancing with Festival, Tara had the honor of working with Winthrop Corey, Patricia Dubois, and Colleen Cavanaugh, to name just a few. She danced in ballets alongside Sascha Radetsky, a now retired ABT Soloist and the lead, "Charlie" in the film, "Center Stage", as well as the ever regal Gennadi Saveliev and Alexandra Koltun. In 2001, Tara professionally joined the Senior Company as an apprentice dancer under their new name, Festival Ballet Providence, under the direction of Mihailo Djuric.
Tara is a Judge and Convention Teacher. She frequently visits dance companies, organizations and studios all over the country to hold classes and set choreography, and many soloists travel to RI to work with Tara.
A Hopedale native, Kayla Brunson began her dance career at McKeon Dance and Gymnastics Center at the age of 4. She has trained in ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, contemporary, and acro. At age 9 she joined the competitive dance team, continuing through High School. She has assisted in competitive dance routines as well as taught technique classes.
In 2010, Kayla traveled to Shanghai China with the studio where she performed in numerous shows, parades and represented the USA in the World Expo. In 2011 She went on to continue her dance career at Dean College where she studied dance and business. At Dean she was on their hip hop team Synergy. She graduated from Dean College with an Associates Degree in Business in 2013. Continuing her education, she attended the University of Massachusetts, Amherst graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Kayla performed with the UMass dance team at all home football and basketball games. She competed with her team at the NDA national dance competition in Daytona beach, Florida. In March of 2015, Kayla was selected as a member of New England Patriots Cheerleading team. She has performed in all home games, participated in numerous promotional appearances throughout the community and last year was on the sidelines performing at Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas.
Kayla is now a 3rd year Veteran and Line Captain of the Patriots Cheerleading team. She assists with game day preparation and will lead her line in all game day performances when they take the field in September.
Lindsey graduated with her BFA from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. She has worked and performed with companies and artists such as Roni Koresh/Koresh Dance, Michael Susten and Company, Pennsylvania Ballet, and Philadanco. Most recently, Lindsey has traveled to Europe, South America, and Hawaii with Norwegian Cruise Lines where she served as dance captain, performing in shows created by directors such as Rachelle "SAS" Rak and Tiger Martina.
Known throughout New England for her contemporary and jazz master classes, Lindsey's students and choreography have received national level recognition and she continues to teach and share her passion of dance with children.
Sarah-Katarina “SKooJ CorE-O” Jerome brings her knowledge and talents to with experience in performance, choreography, instruction, and adjudication, with her present main focus on Commercial/Theatrical Hip Hop and Contemporary dance but is strongly trained in many other styles.
Sarah-Katarina is a member of the New England-based "Static Noyze" Dance Company that has been seen on MTV’s American’s Best Dance Crew and is a Master Teacher.
Marina comes to us with many years of experience. She is the founder of Bolshoi Summer Intensive Russian-American Ballet in NYC and CT. From 1974-1989 she performed for the Classical Dance Ensemble Kiev, Ukraine. She danced principal classical and character roles from Classical ballet productions including Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Paquita, and Sleeping Beauty. She is a Doctorate Candidate for Physical Therapy Program focusing on Sports and Dance Therapy, University of RI. We are very excited to have her join us!
Shane Farrell is a native of Rhode Island and has danced from New York City to Los Angeles, CA. At seven he began taking acrobatics classes and eventually began training in all areas of dance. Shane studied at the Brae Crest School of Ballet and performed with the State Ballet of Rhode Island in such ballets as Coppelia, Walpurgis Night, The Sleeping Beauty, and Giselle. He is a graduate of the Dance Teachers Club of Boston. His television and film credits include MTV’s MADE, FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance, and the 2010 film Hachi. He has been a guest of Companies throughout the northeast and is a frequent guest artist with Spindle City Ballet in Fall River, MA.
Shane is currently in his seventh performing season with Island Moving Company in Newport, RI and has just returned from an international tour to Kazakhstan. His choreography for IMC includes Jack and Jill from Mother Goose, four premieres: Pheromone, Luminous, Queens Are Made of Distance and Greasepaint, and Pavo Cristatus, and several Great Friends Dance Festival etudes. He has choreographed for the America’s Junior Miss Pageant, Providence College, Wheaton College, as well as dance schools throughout New England.