Faculty and Staff

Welcome!

Hello! My name is Stephanie Kemp. I am the founder of the New England Dance Academy. My mission is to empower children of all ages to learn, listen, give, and dream so that when they grow up, they can RULE THE WORLD. Using my thirty years of experience as a dance educator, my superpower is the ability to create a community where children, in partnership with our faculty and mentors, learn to believe anything is possible!

For the Love of Dance

It has not been about the awards and the accolades, for me it has been about the journey.

When I started New England Dance Academy over 31 years ago, I did so because I believed the dance studio model was broken. I wanted to challenge the perception of dance studios and show the community a different way.

Mark Twain said the single most important day in your life, is the day you were born. The second most important day is the day you discover why.

The tools our children discover in the classroom empower them to believe anything is possible!

The power to DREAM and the courage to make those DREAMS come true!

#THENEDAWAY

Meet the NEDA Faculty & staff!

An All-Star Faculty for those just starting their dance training as well as students with exceptional technique and ability. NEDA offers innovative classes for young children and classes to prepare the young dancer for the professional level – we have something for everyone! Our teachers are highly dedicated to helping each child progress and reach their highest potential.

 

Congratulations to the New England Dance Academy Faculty who were named Tops in Dance Education for the entire Northeast Region! What an honor!

 

Click on the photos below to learn about each staff member.

Stephanie P. Kemp

Artistic Director

Jill D'Aguanno

Assistant to the Director

Hope Specht

Assistant to the Director

Courtney D'Olivera

Assistant to the Director

Erin Fort

Instructor/Choreographer

Judy Weiland

Preschool Instructor

Nichole Pinto

Instructor/Choreographer

Amanda Foster

Instructor/Choreographer

Josh Perez

Instructor/Choreographer

Ashley Andries

Instructor/Choreographer

Tina Clarke

Instructor/Office Manager

Jayni Shumila

Instructor/Choreographer

Missy Callen

Parent Liason

Kara Pendlebury

Guest Instructor

Sydney Marchand

Guest Instructor

Shane Farrell

Guest Instructor

Stephanie P. Kemp

Artistic Director, Choreographer, Leadership Mentor, Business Coach, and Entrepreneur

As Artistic Director of New England Dance Academy (NEDA), Stephanie Kemp has created one of the most successful dance studios in New England. Now in its 32nd season, NEDA is recognized nationally as a premiere facility for dancers and acrobats of all ages.

 

Stephanie has received both regional and national recognition for her extensive knowledge and expertise. She continues to teach and choreograph at both the secondary and college level. Her recent nominations include:

  • Federation of Dance, Top Finalist – Industry Dance Awards
  • Winner – Choreography of the Year, 2019 Star Dance Alliance
  • The ADCC Studio of Excellence Award
  • Top 10 Dance Studios on the MOVE Dance Spirit Magazine
  • National Dance Champions
  • World Dance Champions

Stephanie continues to master all the latest techniques in all aspects of dance education including Anatomy, Dance History, Laban notation, dance production, Improvisation, and Choreography. She brings a wealth of teaching experience, having taught dance from beginner through professional levels.

 

Stephanie Kemp earned her BA in Liberal Arts from Mount Holyoke College with a Dance Major from the 5 College Dance Department. She continued her studies in Kinesiology and Dance History at Smith and Amherst College respectively. Stephanie’s professional background and creative insight have enabled her to create a school that is motivated by challenge and driven by high standards. New England Dance Academy has been named one of the TOP Dance Studios in the nation!

 

Stephanie is also the founder of Active Organics; a company that develops and manufactures all-natural and organic products and activewear for the dancer, made from eco-friendly, sustainable materials.

Jill D'Aguanno

Assistant to the Director

Jill D’Aguanno started her professional career in Chicago, IL, where she studied extensively with Gus Giordano. Her career then took her to Dallas, TX where she fell in love with teaching.

 

Jill is an energetic, enthusiastic teacher who focuses on developing the entire dancer. Her passion is in the classroom, and she strives to share her knowledge and experience with all of her students. Her emphasis on strong technique and boundless energy has made her a significant force in the dance industry. Her classes are warm and welcoming. She continues to teach at all levels, and she takes the same creative approach to all of her classes, from Little Steps to professional. Her team choreography is exciting, innovative, and entertaining. Her choreography has been recognized both regionally and nationally. Her teams have received countless awards and accolades. Her high-energy, entertaining, showstoppers are always the talk of the town.

 

Jill has been sharing her passion for dance with all of her students at NEDA since 1998 and she continues to inspire her students at every level, year after year. She strives to share her vision and vast experience as a master teacher, choreographer, and mentor, in hopes of guiding her talented students of today into the stars of tomorrow.

Hope Specht

Assistant to the Director

Hope Specht has an impeccable reputation in the New England dance world. Known for her explosive and innovative choreography, she is in constant demand as a teacher and adjudicator. Having owned and operated her own dance studio for over 15 years, her students were World Champions and 2-Time Silver Medalists in Germany. Hope also had the prestigious honor of being nominated to choreograph and perform for then-President George Bush, Sr.

 

Hope has shared her talents with dancers across the country, teaching workshops and master classes. She has been a senior staff member at NEDA since 2006. Hope’s unique and creative style is contagious. Her classes focus on style and proper technique. Known for pushing her students to their ultimate potential her creative insight and original vision is an inspiration to all her students. Her classroom is an environment where artistic risks and deliberate stylistic choices are encouraged. The master of Improvisation, Hope’s techniques will help students master the mind, as well as the body.

 

Hope’s daughter, Jada Specht, is the 2019 Miss Teen World of Dance!

Courtney D'Olivera

Assistant to the Director

Courtney D’Olivera holds over 15 National Titles in Dance and Acrobatics, including JR Miss Dance USA and JR Miss Acrobat USA. Her professional Dance Career began in the Off-Broadway Musical “One”. In 2003, Courtney was chosen to represent the United States at the WORLD SHOW DANCE CHAMPIONSHIPS in Riesa, Germany. There she competed and won the Adult Championship Dance Division.

Courtney’s dynamic and well-rounded experience allows her to teach students of all levels, all ages, and all genres. Her students have excelled both on the recreational and competitive levels. Her choreography for soloists and performing dance teams have won countless, Regional, National, and Title High Score Awards.

Courtney’s expertise, knowledge, and instruction have had a remarkable impact on the growth of her students. She strives to inspire her 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.

Erin Fort

Instructor & Choreographer

Erin Fort has been a member of the NEDA family since our grand opening in 1990. She spent most of her childhood in the dance studio, and she danced and competed with NEDA until her high school graduation in 2002.

 

In 2006, Erin received her BFA from The University at Buffalo. Upon graduation, Erin dedicated herself to teaching. She has worked with many prestigious companies including The Martha Graham Dance Company, Gus Giordano Dance Chicago, and The Doug Varone Company. She returned to her roots and began teaching at NEDA. Fast forward 11 years later, and Erin is now a Senior Member of the NEDA Faculty. She teaches all levels and ages with a specialty in musical theater. Her competition teams and dance clubs have won numerous awards and accolades. Her choreography has been awarded high score awards and special Judges recognition.

Judy Weiland

Preschool Instructor & Choreographer

Judy Weiland is a graduate of Bridgewater State University. She is renowned for her compassionate and nurturing teaching style. Miss Judy utilizes the NEDA preschool dance program to inspire her young students. She encourages her young dancers to experience the magic and creativity of dance through music and self-expression.

 

Judy has been with NEDA since 2007, she is endeared by her students of all ages. Her goal is to provide a safe, loving dance environment for her little steps and young children’s program students so they will fully embrace the spirit of the art. When a dancer graduates from miss Judy’s preschool class they will be more confident, socially intelligent, and asking for more!

Nichole Pinto

Instructor & Choreographer

Nichole Pinto is an accomplished dancer, choreographer, and martial artist. She started dancing at the age of 5 with Donna Carter’s Dance Studio and later danced for Hope Specht’s School of Dance. Throughout her dance career, she has won numerous awards, including Miss Acrobat of the United States in 1994. At the Terpsichore dance competition, she was the youngest dancer in the Master’s division as a soloist.



Nichole studied nursing at the Community College of Rhode Island and obtained her nursing license in 2015. Currently, she works as a full-time school nurse at the Segue Institute for Learning in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Throughout this time, she has continued to share her passion and energy as an instructor at NEDA.


Nichole also teaches a wide range of cultural dances and an Afro-Brazilian martial art called Capoeira at New Wave Martial Arts and Fitness in Warwick, Rhode Island. Nichole remains committed to creating an inviting, respectful and educational classroom experience that promotes teamwork and self-confidence.

Amanda Foster

Instructor & Choreographer

Amanda Foster started dancing at NEDA in 1992 at the age of six. She fell in love with dance and found her passion. Amanda called NEDA her “home away from home” and danced and competed until her high school graduation in 2004.

 

In 2010, Amanda graduated with her BS in Sports/Entertainment/Event Management from Johnson and Wales University. She worked with many companies planning and executing events. Never taking her sights off her passion, she continued her dance education becoming Acrobat Arts certified. Amanda also completed an ariel/back-handspring workshop in Acrobatic Arts.

Over the past six years, Amanda has taught many styles of dance including ballet, lyrical, Acro, and jazz. She teaches all skill levels and ages. Her favorite styles are Acrobatics and Lyrical. Her competition teams have taken on her same passion and drive to receive many overall high-score awards.

 

Amanda enjoys passing on the passion and gift of dance to her students. She loves watching her students grow as dancers and reach their true potential.

Josh Perez

Instructor & Choreographer

In 2010, Josh Perez made his television debut on the 5th season of MTV’s “America’s Best Dance Crew”. In 2012 he was a backup dancer for Jordan Knight on the “Live and Unfinished” tour. In early 2017 he choreographed and was showcased on, the new hit reality TV show “World of Dance” by Jennifer Lopez.



Josh’s style goes beyond hip hop, Josh is the real deal with the perfect combination of natural ability, learned skills, and determination. With the emerging popularity of Hip Hop, his high energy, fun, and original classes are a game changer for today’s youth. Josh brings a fresh, new, authentic style to the classroom and he is excited to be able to share his love of movement with all of his students.

Ashley Andries

Instructor & Choreographer

Ashley Andries began dancing at the age of 5 and received her early ballet training at the Eastern Connecticut Ballet. She attended several summer programs including Boston Ballet and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, as well as performed in the Youth America Grand Prix for 2 years.

Ashley completed her last three years of schooling with Festival Ballet in Providence, and soon after joined the company at age 17. She has performed in numerous productions, such as Balanchine’s Rubies and Donizetti Variations, Antony Tudors Leaving are Fading, danced the lead in Romeo and Juliet, and various soloist roles in Nutcracker, including the Snow Queen and the Sugar Plum Fairy. Other various works have included pieces by Viktor Plotnikov, Avishay Scherr, and Mihajlo Djuric. She also has danced as a guest artist for many schools and companies throughout New England.

Ashley’s passion for the art of ballet has not only allowed her to perform but has also led her to quite a career as an instructor. She shares her art as a faculty member at New England Dance Academy and she is always excited to train and influence her students in the wonderful world of ballet!

Jayni Shumila

Instructor/Choreographer

Bio coming soon.

Kara Pendlebury

Guest Instructor

For the past ten years, Kara Pendlebury has been shaping the lives of her students through dance. Her extensive dance background has made her an industry leader in the New England area. Her expertise in Contemporary Ballet and Jazz has made her an invaluable member of the NEDA team. Her choreography is fresh and innovative, and she has been honored both regionally and nationally for her concepts and vision. As a competition judge and traveling artist, she continually brings the latest techniques and foundations into the classroom and her students adore her!

Shane Farrell

Guest Instructor

Shane Farrell is a native of Rhode Island and his dancing has taken him to such places as New York City all the way to Los Angeles, CA. At the age of seven, he began taking acrobatics classes and eventually furthered his training in all areas of dance. Shane has trained with the Brae Crest School of Ballet and has danced with the State Ballet of Rhode Island where he had the opportunity to perform in such ballets as Coppelius, Walpurgis Night, The Sleeping Beauty, and Giselle. He is a graduate and scholarship recipient from the Dance Teachers Club of Boston and has also appeared on several TV shows including MTV’s MADE, as well as being a semi-finalist in Las Vegas for the hit FOX TV show “So You Think You Can Dance” in 2007.

Shane can also be seen dancing alongside Richard Gere in the film Hach. Aside from performing, Shane is also a choreographer. Some of his choreographic works include Island Moving Company, America’s Junior Miss Pageant, Providence College Dance Team, as well as various dance studios and ballet schools throughout New England. Currently, he is a company member with the Island Moving Company in Newport, RI, and is teaching classical ballet technique and composition at dance studios throughout New England.

Sydney Marchand

Guest Instructor

Sydney Marchand began dancing at NEDA in 1999 at the age of 4. Dance was her outlet for self-expression, and she soon was asked to be a part of Miss Stephanie’s competition team. After graduating from Attleboro High School in 2012, Sydney attended Dean College and received her BA in Entertainment Management with a focus on Dance studies. She graduated from Dean summa cum laude in 2017.

Sydney is the Programming Director for the All-American Assisted Living in Wrentham, MA providing arts and entertainment to seniors with dementia. Sydney is still with our NEDA Dance family teaching pre-team tap, jazz, and hip hop. Dance will always be a major part of her life and she enjoys sharing her love of dance with her students.

Tina Clark

Office Manager & Instructor

Tina Clarke is not only an amazing dance instructor she is also the resident Office Manager. Delivering outstanding customer service has always been an essential part of the NEDA experience. As Office Manager, Tina is responsible for all day-to-day operations behind the desk, and she can answer any questions or concerns.

Tina attended Dean college for dance, she has a strong dance background which has made her an integral part of our team. The entire NEDA team will work efficiently to get your needs met … YOU are our #1 priority!

Missy Callen

Parent Liaison

Missy Callen has been a part of the NEDA family since 2009. As a dance mom, she continually supported all the dancers backstage during competitions and recitals. She was a mentor and advisor to new dance parents in the waiting room and she was always willing and eager to lend a helping hand. When we decided to add this liaison position to NEDA, we knew Missy would be the perfect person for the job!

 

Missy graduated from Rhode Island College with a Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and Psychology, as well as a Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education. Missy has been a classroom teacher in both Rhode Island and New Hampshire elementary schools and has volunteered for over 7 years in the Foxboro elementary school system. Missy has also taught religious education for 11 years in Foxboro and has been a stay-at-home mom for the past 19 years. Missy is on hand to answer all your questions as your Parent Liaison.

Jesse So

Hi, I’m Mr. Jesse and I specialize in breakdancing and tumbling! I’ll be joining the NEDA family on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Sundays. Through my love for movement, I have competed in and coached multiple sports such as gymnastics, cheerleading, parkour, tricking, and Bboying! I have worked with multiple all-star cheerleading gyms and with some of the best athletes in each respective sport! I look forward to this upcoming season and can’t wait to continue working with all these amazing dancers!

Samantha Watson

Samantha Watson has been dancing for as long as she can remember. Originally from New Hampshire, she studied at the Brattleboro School of Dance in Brattleboro, Vermont for 13 years, training under Kathleen Keller, Mucuy Bolles, and Robert Royce among others. She has attended various summer programs including The Rock School for Dance Education, Next Generation Ballet, José Mateo Ballet, and Burklyn Ballet. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Hartford’s Hartt School in May of 2019 where she received her BFA in Dance Pedagogy and a minor in English.
Ms. Watson was a company apprentice with the New York State Ballet for the 2019-2020 season and was promoted to a full company member for the 2020-2021 season, where she performed soloist and corps roles in productions such as The Wizard of Oz, Dancing with Duke Ellington, and Paquita. She will be dancing for her second season with the Island Moving Company this year.


She has worked with a wide range of students and has a passion for passing on the art of ballet to the next generation of dancers.


She is thrilled to be teaching at New England Dance Academy this year!

Kaitlyn Briggs

Kaitlynn Briggs (known by her students as Miss Katie) has a passion for working with young dancers! She graduated with a BA in Dance Education from Bridgewater State University in 2013. With a love of dance that started at the age of 3, she has been working in the dance industry, as first an assistant then a teacher and choreographer, for over 15 years! She has certifications in Acrobatic Arts module 1 and Rhythm Works Integrative Dance! Her dance philosophy is that dance is for everybody!

Danielle Bazinet

Hello! My name is Miss Danielle and my dance career began at NEDA when the studio first opened. Since then, I returned as a guest teacher, and a parent, and this year I’m excited to be a faculty member focusing on musical theater! I’ve been a dance and theater educator for over 20 years having taught in dance studios, elementary schools, and universities. I teach at a local elementary school where I’ve directed an award-winning musical theater program for over 15 years and I’m a professor at Bridgewater State University in the dance program. One of my favorite courses to teach is to aspiring dance teachers and one of my former students, Miss Katie, is a faculty member at NEDA! I have a bachelor’s degree in theater and dance from Regis College, and a master’s degree in dance and dance education from NYU. Recently, I completed my doctorate in leadership in education at Regis College, and love researching arts education, especially dance! I also work as a consultant on the dance and theater curriculums for Massachusetts, present at conferences, practice yoga, and drive my daughter to dance classes at NEDA!

Brittany Frietas

Britany has been dancing since she was 3 years old, specializing in tap, jazz, and ballet. She has taught, worked, and lived internationally, getting inspiration from each place. She furthered her journey by studying yoga in India and later got certified to teach Aerial Yoga and Aerial Hoop (Lyra). She is passionate about movement and enjoys working with all age groups.

Amy Kettell

Amy is originally from New Hampshire and came to Massachusetts to attend Dean College, where she received both of her degrees in dance from the Joan Palladino School of Dance. Amy teaches Broadway Jazz, Tap, and Adult Tap.

Jeanna Sousa

My name is Miss Jeanna and I will be teaching on Sunday mornings this season! I have been a part of the NEDA family since it first opened back in 1990. At 2 years old I joined my first class and at 7 years old I became a member of the competition team. 16 years later I continued my passion for dance on the collegiate dance team at Keene State. NEDA was like a second home to me growing up so it was only natural to return and teach. Outside of teaching, I enjoy spending time with my husband Jesse, two children Ava (4) and Hunter (born April 2022), and our two dogs. I can’t wait to start season 33 with everyone!

Julianna Godlewski

“Originally from San Clemente, CA, Juliana received her early training from Victor and Tatiana Kasatsky and later from Maple Conservatory of Dance in Irvine, CA. At the age of 17, she moved to Philadelphia, PA to attend the Rock School for Dance. Juliana then made the decision to dance and earn her BFA at the University of Utah’s Ballet School. Throughout her degree, Juliana performed in various classical and contemporary works, most notably “Mytha” in Giselle Act II and “Gulnare” in Le Corsaire. In addition to her studies and performances at the University, Juliana danced in New York City as a part of Michelle Wiles’s BalletNext, performing in various pieces by Wiles as well as Mauro Bigonzetti’s La Follia.

Following her recent graduation in 2020, Juliana was hired as an apprentice to California Ballet. Throughout the pandemic, however, Juliana has danced extensively and choreographed for Ballet Project OC located in Tustin, CA. After joining Festival Ballet Providence in 2021, she had the incredible opportunity to perform in the company’s productions including the role of Marie Taglioni in Sir Anton Dolin’s Pas de Quatre in addition to working with renowned choreographers Yury Yanowsky, Paulo Arrais & Lia Cirio. She has also had the honor of teaching and creating for the students of Festival Ballet Providence School as well as the University of Utah Ballet Summer Intensive. Juliana most recently choreographed and danced as a part of the Rhode Island Women’s Choreographic Initiative under the mentorship of Penny Saunders.

Theresa Sullivan

Hi! My name is Miss Theresa and I’m joining the NEDA family on Sundays this season! I’m a senior dance major at Dean College and I’ve had the opportunity to perform in and choreograph for dance showcases and musicals on campus. In my 6 year career, I have worked with all age groups in multiple genres. When I’m not dancing, I like to hang out with my dogs, go hiking, sing, and experiment with photography.