New Canaan Dance Academy
Dance is NCDA

Elaine Young, Director

Elaine grew up in London, England, where she studied Classical Ballet, Jazz and Tap dancing. At the culmination of each year she attended the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD), and took her examinations in all three disciplines. She taught Ballet and Tap in New Canaan for three years before opening the Academy in 2001. Elaine lives in New Canaan with her husband and they have two children, and two grandchildren. Elaine is extremely excited about the start of the Academy’s eighteenth year.

Molly Booth, Company Director

Molly, originally from San Jose, CA, majored in Theater and minored in Dance at the University of CA, Riverside where she studied tap under Fred Strickler. Performance credits include the first National Tour of Happy Days The Musical, a 2010 tour in England singing and dancing alongside the British swing band The Jive Aces, as well as in many Regional Theater productions throughout California. Molly has won numerous awards for her choregraphy, including Los Angeles Ovation Award nominations in 2011 and 2012 for her work for the Troubadour Theater Company, the 2012 Back Stage Garland Award, a Broadway World L.A. nomination for her choregraphy of  A Christmas West Side Story, and a Broadway World San Francisco Award in 2013 and 2014 for Best Choreography for her work with the Transcendence Theatre Company. Molly was awarded placement in three consecutive years from 2012-2014 in the SDC Foundation's Observership Program, which offers participants the opportunity to observe Broadway and Off Broadway Directors and Choreographers as they stage their productions. In addition to being a member of AEA and SAG/AFTRA, Molly is an adjudicator for Beyond the Stars. Molly Joined NCDA in 2014.

Sheena DiMatteo, Company Coach

Sheena, originally from Pittsburgh, PA, is a NYC-based choreographer, dancer, and teacher with a B.A. in Dance from Point Park University. Sheena has been the house choreographer for The Cutting Room's "Rock 'N Roll Debauchery" show series in Manhattan. She has performed with Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Lucille Lortel Theater, Pittsburgh Playhouse, and West Virginia Public Theater. Shows: Little Shop of Horrors, 42nd St.!, The Producers, West Side Story, Will Rogers Follies, The Velveteen Rabbit, On the Town, How to Succeed… and Contact. Sheena is the on-screen host of the YouTube show, Just Dance: Season One, on DanceOn Network, and has performed in music videos, web series, flash mobs, concerts, showcases, and industrial events in NYC, including the Phish Madison Square Garden New Year's Eve Concert. She has danced with Stiletto Entertainment on the M.S. Oosterdam (Holland America Line) and for Revel Casino in Atlantic City. Sheena is the founder and artistic director of the traveling choreography shop: Dance In Transit. Sheena has choreographed 14 full-scale musicals for pre-professional theatre camps in PA and NYC, is a certified Zumba instructor, and is a faculty/judge for Dancers Inc. and Beyond the Stars. Sheena joined NCDA in 2011.

Alexis Andrews

Alexis Andrews began her ballet training in Reno Nevada under the direction of Maggie Banks and Dr. Barbara Land. Her training continued at Walnut Hill School for the Arts, the School for American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet School, and the Joffrey Ballet School. She earned an MA from NYU Steinhardt in Teaching Dance in the Professions: American Ballet Theatre Ballet Pedagogy, and is an ABT Certified Teacher in Primary through Level 7 of the ABT National Training Curriculum. Alexis has performed with the Nevada Festival Ballet, American Ballet Theatre School, University of Las Vegas' College of Dance, and as a Principal guest artist with the A.V.A. Ballet Theatre in productions of Swan Lake, Nutcracker, and Sleeping Beauty. Other performing credits include the Bollywood movie Jai Cherenjeva, and the Prasana Bharata Natyam Dance Ensemble in Bangalore, India. She has taught and adjudicated for Dance Educators of America, and Sheer Talent Ltd., and is on the faculty of The American Ballet Theatre JKO Children's Division. Alexis Joined NCDA in 2014

Annelise Baker

Annelise is originally from Boston and graduated Summa Cum Laude from Northwestern University with a BA in Theater and a minor in dance and English. Annelise’s concentration since graduation has been in dance, acting and voice training, and performance credits include Jeannie Muldoon in Nice Work If You Can Get It; Frou Frou in The Merry Widow (directed by Susan Stroman); Dream Laurey in Oklahoma; and Graziella in West Side Story. Co- and Assistant choreography credits include The Pajama Game, and The Waa-Mu Show, the oldest and largest university funded theater production in the country, creating original work in musical theater. Annelise’s teaching experience includes the Foster Dance Studio in Chicago, as well as STEPS on Broadway, and her dance training includes Acro. Annelise taught for NCDA for part of 2015 season, and has been full-time since 2016.

Taylor Markarian

Taylor is originally from Worcester, Massachusetts, training at the Charlotte Klein Dance Centers before attending Marymount Manhattan College with a major in Dance. Performance credits include Transcendence Theatre Company, Peter Pan Benefit Concert, Broadway Takes Two (Principal), Get Ready (Dance Captain), Buenos Aires (Lead), Nick Kenkel’s Burlesque (Featured Dancer) and AIDACara (Aida Cruise Line). Taylor has worked on several occasions with award winning Broadway choreographer Josh Prince (Shrek, The Musical and Beautiful - The Carole King Musical). Taylor has been selected by Josh Prince to be a member of his Broadway Dance Lab (BDL), a choreographers’ “incubator” where dance artists can experiment with their creative ideas. Performance credits with BDL include Broadway Dance Lab: Trevor the Musical and Broadway Dance Lab Cycle 2 (Featured Dancer). Taylor was the Dance Masters of New England’s 2012 Miss Dance of New England. Taylor joined NCDA in 2016.

Emily Kersey

Emily is originally from Williamsburg, Virginia, and began her dance training at Chamber Ballet and the Institute for Dance before receiving a B.F.A in Jazz Dance Performance with a Minor in Musical Theater from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA., and then furthered her training at Broadway Dance Center's Summer Professional Semester. Performance credits include CATS on Broadway in the role of Cassandra, Flashdance: the Musical tour, Bullets Over Broadway, various performances at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and has performed works by William Forsythe, Monique Haley, Sidra Bell, and Al Blackstone. Emily has taught Master Classes through Broadway Connection and Stage Door Connections, bringing Broadway style choreography to studios across the country and internationally. Emily is a Head Adjudicator and Master Class teacher for Beyond the Stars and Breakout Dance competitions. Emily joined NCDA in 2018.

Luis Espinosa

Luis Espinosa, otherwise known as B-Boy Sweet Lu, started with a passion for wrestling while attending Harding High School in Bridgeport, CT. In 2004, after being a three-time state champion and winning an FCIAC title multiple times, he decided to pursue his new passion - Breaking. Luis hasn't stopped since, and went on to being co-founder of the CT-based crew, "United Outkast" which can be seen in Step Up 3-D, and later joined the world-renowned crew "Dynamic Rockers". In 2009, Luis was part of the B-Boy World team, and began travelling internationally to compete as well as host events for the Pro Breaking Tour. He founded his own concept event, "Sweet-Lu's Crazy Eight's", an annual Urban Dance & Educational Foundation (UDEF) battle in Connecticut involving some of the world’s best Breakers. Luis also produces and writes music, under his artist name "Luis Alien". Luis joined NCDA in 2016.

Melissa Hunt

Melissa, originally from New Jersey, graduated summa cum laude with a BFA in Dance from the University of Buffalo, where she received broad-based training to the Advanced level in multiple dance disciplines. Performance credits in Regional and NYC theatre include “Anybodys” and “Velma” in West Side Story, 92nd Street Y’s Broadway Takes Two, tap dancer in Al Blackstone’s 27th Annual Gypsy of the Year, which is Broadway’s fundraiser for Broadway Cares, as well as his Capezio Fashion Show, dance captain in productions of Evita, My Fair Lady, and Annie Get Your Gun. Choreography credits include Mame, Macbeth, as well as numerous University of Buffalo productions. Melissa is the founder and Director of the NJ Dance Project, which provides young, talented dancers a platform from which they can explore performance opportunities that reach beyond studio recitals and competition performances. Melissa joined NCDA in 2017.

Emilee Pratt

Emilee graduated with a BFA from SUNY Purchase College Conservatory of Dance, receiving training in all styles including Classical Ballet, Contemporary, Cunningham, Limon, Graham, Improv, and Composition. Prior to SUNY Purchase, Emilee studied for over 10 years at the Timothy M. Draper Center for Dance Education, the official school for the Rochester City Ballet Company.  Emilee has received further training at the Movement Invention Project by Alexandra Wells, a Juilliard School faculty member for 18 years, and at Devices by Doug Varone, a Choreographic Intensive program. Performance credits include roles in Rochester City Ballet’s Serenade, Cinderella, Incantation, and The Nutcracker, in addition to several performances with the Purchase Dance Company’s productions of A Choreographic Offering, Sustained Recovery, Lux and Cotillion B. Emilee joined NCDA in 2018.

Roya Carreras

Roya, an Iranian-Hispanic choreographer, dancer and educator who works within commercial, film, and theatrical settings, received dance training as a fellowship student at The Alvin Ailey School, and at Springboard Danse Montreal. Roya holds a BFA in Dance with Honors from UC Irvine. As a choreographer, Roya’s work has been presented at CURRENT SESSIONS, Baruch Performing Arts Center, and The Green Building in New York City; and in California, she has presented at Highways Performance Space, Electric Lodge Theater, Glenn Wallichs Theatre, and BRAVA. Performance credits include Barak Marshall at BodyTraffic, Bryan Arias, Danielle Russo Performance Project, Lux Boreal Danza Contemporanea in Tijuana (Mexico), and California Riverside Ballet, Intersect. Roya has been a resident choreographer for Columbia Ballet Collaborative of Columbia University, and has taught ballet, contemporary, and improvisation at Peridance Capezio Center, American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA), Riverside Ballet Arts, Riverside City College, Pasadena Dance Theater, and Brockus Conservatory. Roya joined NCDA in 2017.

Kristen Carcone

Kristen, originally from Toronto, graduated with a BFA, Highest Honors, from the New World School of the Arts (Miami, Fl). Kristen’s performance credits include The New Year’s Eve Phish Concert at MSG, Tangente’s Danses Buissonnieres (Montreal), The New Prague Dance Festival (Czech Republic), Conteur Dance Company (Toronto), Frog in Hand (Mississauga), ISODOC Dance Group (New York) and Project Limb (New York). Choreography credits include Joseph Gordon Levitt’s My Favourite Things video and in Supa’Nova. Kristen is co-founder of Toes For Dance, an outreach and exchange initiative that provides a platform for dance education and artistic exchange. Kristen has been the recipient of the Florida-Canada Linkage Scholarship (Outstanding Dance Graduate), and the Frank Augustyn Scholarship, and has been featured in Dance Current Magazine, Dance Studio Life Magazine, and on Rogers TV’s Local Notes. Kristen joined NCDA in 2017.

Emma Fichtner

Emma is from New Canaan, CT and graduated with a Dance Major (Performance Concentration) from Muhlenberg College. Her Performance Concentration comprised intensive daily studio training, with an emphasis on choreography and live performances, as well as a solid historical and theoretical background in dance. With a heavy emphasis on concert-style presentations, performance opportunities came with up to eight main concerts annually, as well as numerous more informal, student choreography-driven presentations. Emma was a featured choreographer and dancer in several of these concerts. Prior to College, Emma was a member of NCDA’s Company, and we are excited to welcome her on board as a Faculty member. Emma joined NCDA in 2017.

Mallory Pettee

Mallory, originally from Ohio, graduated cum laude from Marymount Manhattan College with a B.F.A. in Dance having received training in ballet, jazz, theatre, contemporary, modern, hip hop, tap and voice. Additional training included the Ballet Theatre of Toledo, Company C Dance Club, the Cincinnati Ballet, Boston Ballet and the North Carolina Dance Theatre. Performance credits include On the Town, the Broadway Christmas Wonderland Tour, Fire Island Dance Festival, and an industrial at Radio City Music Hall. In addition to being a professional photographer, Mallory is a volunteer for the Hudson Guild Foundation, a community agency focusing on helping those in need in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. Mallory joined NCDA in 2018.

Elisha Nilsen

Elisha Nilsen is originally from California and began his formal dance training at the California Ballet School in San Diego, California. He continued his training in Northern California at the Contra Costa Ballet School for 5 years followed by 1 year at the San Francisco Ballet School. In addition to dance, Elisha was a concert clarinetist performing with the Diablo Wind Symphony in the Bay Area.  At the age of 16, Elisha attended a summer program at the School of American Ballet, and subsequently danced with the School of American Ballet for two years, followed by a year at the coveted Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School at the American Ballet Theatre. In addition to his dance career, Elisha is pursuing filmmaking, both in front of and behind the camera, and has produced dance videos, which have garnered a loyal following on YouTube, in collaboration with peers in the dance and choreography community. Elisha joined NCDA in 2018.

Sarah Dearstyne

Sarah, originally from Rochester, NY, attended the University of Buffalo and Anderson University and graduated with a BA in Dance Performance that included voice and musical theatre studies. Performance credits include being a member of BIODANCE, a performing dance company that incorporates the dance film and dance theater genres in its work. Sarah has had additional training at Earl Moseley’s Institute of the Arts, whose founder studied at both the Ailey and the Martha Graham schools of Contemporary dance; Hubbard Street Dance Chicago’s Choreographic Intensive; Point Park University Summer Dance Program; the Broadway Dance Center Professional Semester Program, an audition-only Intensive that covers all aspects of the professional dance industry including a full load of weekly dance classes, performance showcases, mock auditions, and dance/casting agents networking seminars. Sarah is barre teaching certified and joined NCDA in 2018.

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