Dance School Faculty

Meet our team

Dance School Announcements

Please check updated schedules for most up to date youth and adult classes for the Summer and Fall Semesters!

  • Monday, June 17
    • Int ballet at 7PM is cancelled today
  • Tuesday, June 18
    • Jessica will sub Annie's Int Ballet at 10 AM
    • Annie's Int Ballet at 7 PM is cancelled this week.
  • Wednesday, June 19
    • Camille will sub for Aaron Thao's Beg Ballet at 10 AM
    • Camille's 7PM Adv Beg Ballet is cancelled this week.
  • Friday, June 21
    • Jessica Whitehorne will sub for Aaron Thao's Int Ballet at 10 AM
  • Monday, June 24
    • TBA will sub for Aaron Thao's 7 PM Intermediate Ballet
  • Tuesday, June 25
    • Aaron Thao will sub for Annie's 10 AM Int ballet
    • Aaron Thao will sub for Annie's 7 PM Int ballet

Director

Aaron Thao

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Aaron Thao was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He received his bachelor’s degree in Human Biology from Brown University. While pursuing a degree in medicine at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Aaron began his dance training in Minneapolis and then continued to NYC, where he danced professionally with various ballet and theater companies. In 2015, Aaron co-founded a youth ballet program for Westchester County, which evolved into the Hudson Ballet Theatre where he served as co-president and artistic director. Aaron is the recipient of several industry awards and accolades and has successfully developed many innovative and socially responsible dance productions. He is truly dedicated to honoring the art of storytelling through dance.

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Assistant to the Director

Jane Summer

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Jane Summer began working at the Dance School in 2014. Her first dance teacher was the modern dancer Jane Dudley. She currently studies with Jayne Santoro. Ms. Summer is a widely published author in various genres. Her most recent work, Erebus, was published in 2015.

Julia Benevento

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Julia grew up in White Plains, New York, and started dancing under Fran DeAngelo at New York Dance in Harrison in tap, jazz, and ballet. There, she began studying with JCCMW's Dance Director Aaron Thao in ballet and performed in various lead roles in Hudson Valley Youth Ballet's (now Hudson Youth Ballet) Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Julia has also spent several summers at American Ballet Theatre and the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in New York City.

She has performed professionally with Hudson Ballet Theatre's Songs of the Sea, ICARUS, and Diaspora: A Mother's Elegy. Julia teaches ballet, pointe, contemporary, tap, and jazz.

Sheba Bergman

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Sheba has been dancing Spanish (flamenco, classical Spanish, escuela bolera, and regional dances) and Middle Eastern (American cabaret, classical Egyptian, Turkish karsilama, Uzbek, Armenian, Greek, classical Persian, and Lebanese debke) dances for over 20 years. She began her Spanish dance training in Israel in 2001 with Maestra Silvia Duran. Within a year, she joined her Spanish dance company as a member and featured soloist. She began her Middle Eastern dance training with Johara of Boston in 2005, and then continued with the legendary Alexandra King in Santa Barbara. She joined the UCSB Middle East Ensemble as a company member and featured soloist. She continued her dance training with Amana of Paris, Anahid Sofian, Timo Nuñez, Sharon Sultan, Dionisia Garcia, and Jose Porcel.
Over the years, she has attended multiple workshops and master classes with notable artists such as Manolo Marin, Manuel Betanzos, Rafael Campallo, La Tati, Hiniesta Cortez, Soraya Clavijo, Israel Galvan, La Choni, Concha Jareño, Amar Gamaal, Sadie Marquardt, and Judeen.
She has performed in many important theaters, dance shows, and festivals, including the Suzanne Dellal Theater and the City Nights festival in Tel Aviv, “Sabor Flamenco” as part of the “artists behind the desk” cultural program at MIT, the Lotte Lehman Concert Hall and SOHO in Santa Barbara, “Moon Over Morocco” show, the Old Spanish Days fiesta, and the Olympia Theater in Paris, France.
An avid performer and engaging teacher, Sheba is looking forward to sharing her knowledge and love of Spanish and Middle Eastern dance with the JCC community.

Sasha Gologorskaya

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Sasha Gologorskaya is a NYC-based dancer and dance educator, originally from Kiev, Ukraine. She was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and trained at the San Francisco Ballet School before attending the Conservatory of Dance at SUNY Purchase, graduating summa cum laude with a BFA in Dance Performance and a concentration in Ballet. In her senior year at Purchase, Sasha was featured in the New York Times for performances at BAM Fisher, where she danced the featured pas de deux in Luca Veggetti's reimagined version of Jerome Robbins’ Watermill.
Sasha has performed with ARC Dance in Seattle, Eglevsky Ballet, Peninsula Ballet Theatre, Menlowe Ballet, em(body) dance project, for Norte Maar’s Counterpointe 10, and for choreographer Marika Brussel. She was recently a part of choreographic residencies with MorDance at Vineyard Arts Project and with Marika Brussel at Moulin/Belle.
As an educator, Sasha has taught a wide range of ages both in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York tri-state area. She is passionate about sharing the joy of dance with her students and strives to empower young dancers through movement and artistic expression.
Sasha is currently dancing and performing with Hudson Ballet Theater and MeenMoves.

Ballet

Violeta Katz

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Violeta Katz began studying ballet at the age of 12 with the Bourmans in New Jersey. At 15, she received a dance scholarship to the Center Ballet of Buffalo and studied under Kathleen Crofton. Ms. Katz worked with Anna-Marie Holmes, David Holmes, and Bronislava Nijinska. She also studied at ABT and the Joffrey under William Griffith. Ms. Katz earned her certification to teach ABT’s Primary to Level 3 syllabus, Certification in the Leap ’n Learn program geared toward ages three to six, and attended teachers’ workshops at American Academy of Ballet. She teaches creative movement and ballet.

Hip Hop

Phil Ordoñez

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A Certified Fitness Professional, Mr. Ordoñez has organized events, competitions, and talent showcases with the Hip Hop Students Association from SUNY/Buffalo. He trained with Broadway Dance Center, Peridance Capezio Center, and Alvin Ailey Extension for technical choreography and Capoeira, the Brazilian martial art.

Mr. Ordoñez created his own youth dance-performance program uniting the communities of Westchester, the Bronx, and Harlem to perform original works in musical theater, rap, and hip hop dance with bilingual elements.

Ballroom and Ballet

Cesar Ortiz

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Cesar Ortiz began dancing ballet at age seven in Colombia and began his career as a dancer for Ballet de Cali Company dancing the role of Don Quixote.

He has danced with notable companies such as the Ohio Dance Theater, Black Door ensemble, Gainesville Ballet Theater, Sacramento Ballet, Saratoga Springs Ballet, Westchester Ballet Company, and the Joffrey Ballet NYC. His professional training has taken him across the world, from South America to Russia, Europe, and the United States.

Cesar teaches ballroom and ballet.

Belle Marie

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Ms. Marie is a Westchester native. She has been dancing for 18 years and is trained in ballet, tap, hip hop, modern, and jazz. She continued her dance education in college, while pursuing a degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology at Iona University. Ms. Marie also trained at Broadway Dance Center and A Dance Studio.
She has performed works choreographed by Alexis Del Sol and Alex Martin throughout Westchester County and New York City.
Ms. Marie has taught across Westchester County, combining her passion for education and dance.

Pelin Qualben

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Pelin Qualben was born and raised in Turkey and moved to New York in 2009. She started belly dance training in 2018 with Riskallah Riyad in Connecticut and received her teacher certification. She is currently a member of Sheba Sisterhood Troupe in NYC and performs at various cultural events, weddings, and other dancing organizations. She is trained in Turkish and Egyptian belly dance, veils, zills, Debka dance, Saidi cane dance, and fan veil. 

Johannah Rickman

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Johannah Rickman is originally from Seattle, Washington, and has trained under Shauna Mindt, Mark Medonca, Jessie Sawyers, Christina Carminucci, Dormeshia, and Derick K. Grant. She currently performs in Derick Grant's NY Tap Ensemble in New York City, where she has performed at notable events such as Inwood Artworks Film Works Alfresco and PitCCH In Foundation. She has also performed with the Jacob Pillow's Tap Dance Performance Ensemble, led by Michelle Dorrance, Dormeshia, and Derick K. Grant. Johannah teaches swing dance, jazz, musical theater, and tap, where she focuses on tap dance as an extension of jazz music and of vernacular dance.

Pilates

Jamie Robinson

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Jamie Robinson earned his BFA in Dance from the University of Arizona, where he also earned a BA in Media Arts and English. Since moving to New York City in 2018, he's performed in works choreographed by Raeman Kilfoil, Same As Sister, American Liberty Ballet, and The Kennedy Dancers, among others. Jamie choreographs as well as performs in original dance work with collaborator Kristina Hay. He is currently performing with Hudson Ballet Theatre. Jamie is a Fletcher Pilates Professional Teacher.

Ballet

Melissa Rodnon

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Melissa Rodnon began teaching dance over 30 years ago at the 92nd St. Y.  She was on the faculty of Ballet Academy East for over 20 years and has also taught at the Joffrey School, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, Dance New Amsterdam, Sarah Lawrence College, Adelphi University, USDAN, Berkeley Carroll School and more. She performed character roles with Dances...Patrelle ballet company, originating the role of Mother Ginger in “The Yorkville Nutcracker.” Melissa credits her unique pedagogical approach to the legends of ballet teaching with whom she studied, including Francis Patrelle, Nancy Bielski, Finis Jhung, and David Howard.

Ballet

Camille Rodriguez

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Ms. Rodriguez graduated New York University as a dance major. She performed professionally with Rod Rodgers Modern Company and showcased with Lee Theadore American Dance Machine.

Ms. Rodriguez has worked in the New York City public schools as a dance educator and arts coordinator for over 20 years. For the last four years, she has collaborated with the Port Chester Council for the Arts, which helps bring the arts into the classroom.

Tap

Arleigh Rothenberg

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Ms. Rothenberg, who specializes in tap, jazz and hip hop, has been a featured dancer at the world-famous Cotton Club for 10 years, has made several appearances on television shows including Good Morning America and an international Adidas commercial, and has choreographed for everything from live events in NYC to a social media campaign for a celebrity pop artist. She actively mentors children and young adults in dance and video production through Spring 36, a company she founded to nurture creativity and opportunity in kids.

Ballet

Jayne Santoro

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Ms. Santoro retired as director of the Dance School at the JCCMW in the fall of 2018 where she directed and choreographed for both the Westchester Theatre of Dance and its Ballet Outreach component at the Dance School. She has continued teaching ballet at the Dance School, as she has done for 35+ years, to children and adults of all levels. Ms. Santoro received her classical training with Maria Swoboda at American Ballet Theatre School in NYC and performed with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Philadelphia Lyric Opera, and regional NY companies. Instructors who were instrumental in shaping Ms. Santoro’s professional career as both an artist and dance educator include Natasha Redel, Leon Fokine, Maria Jones, and Arlene Sugano.

Ballet

Justin Sherwood

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Mr. Sherwood trained at the Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance in London. He is a recipient of the Choreographic Award of Prominence by the Central St. Marten’s School of Art and Design and Cochrane Theatre in London, and has choreographed productions across the United States and in Hong Kong and Albania. He is noted as the first American choreographer for the Albanian National Opera and Ballet Company. As a performer with Metropolitan Opera he appeared in numerous productions on their stage, where he worked with Julie Taymor, Robert LePage, Anthony Minghella, and Mary Zimmerman. Mr. Sherwood is an ABT® Certified Teacher Primary through Level 7 and Partnering of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.

Ballet

Annemarie Waltz

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Annemarie Waltz began her ballet studies in St. Albans, Vermont. She spent her senior year of high school training in Montreal at L’Ecole Superieure de Danse, the school of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. Annie holds a BFA in dance from the Juilliard School, where her teachers included Maestro Hector Zaraspe, Andra Corvino, Sue Bernhard and Benjamin Harkarvy. A highlight of her performing was touring the country in the Broadway National tour of “Oklahoma!” (Trevor Nunn/Susan Stroman.) For many years she had the great fortune to study with Francis Patrelle and perform in his production of The Yorkville Nutcracker. She has taught at Ballet Academy East, 92 St. Y, The Usdan Center, and is currently teaching a beautiful group of dancers at the JCCMW. She loves returning to Vermont each summer to teach and choreograph, and she still loves to study ballet!

Ballet

Jessica Whitehorne

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Ms. Whitehorne was a soloist for the Boston Dance Company and a principal with the Greensboro Ballet. She holds a BA in Dance from Dean College. As a teacher, she has held positions at some of the Boston area’s top schools, most notably the Boston Ballet School. She is also certified in Progressing Ballet Technique and continues to be an active dancer with Mooney Cooley Dance.

Pianist

Miles Fusco

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Mr. Fusco has two degrees from the Juilliard School of Music. He has performed on four continents and made formal recital debuts at Carnegie Recital Hall in New York and the Wigmore Hall in London. He brings a special expertise to dance, having been company pianist for American Ballet Theater for 12 years, where he worked with such artists as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Cynthia Gregory, Susan Jaffe, Fernando Bujones, Carla Fracci, Erik Bruhn, Rudolph Nureyev, and Margot Fonteyn. He toured with Gelsey Kirkland, Patrick Bissell, and Natalia Makarova, and worked with choreographers Alvin Ailey and Twyla Tharp. Though most closely associated with ABT, Mr. Fusco has also worked with New York City Ballet, Berlin Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and the Kirov. He presently works at JCCMW and at BAE in New York where he plays principally for Wendy Whelan, Cheryl Yaeger, and Gonzalo Garcia.

Pianist

Colin Rose

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Mr. Rose attended the Hartt School of Music with a major in piano performance under the tutelage of Paul Rutman. He is a sought-after instructor at Ridgefield Music, where he teaches piano and violin. Mr. Rose was a violinist for six years with the Danbury Community Orchestra and concertmaster with the early music ensemble at the Harvey School in Katonah, New York. He currently teaches violin and viola at the school’s Cavalier Camp. He joined the JCCMW Dance School faculty in the fall of 2017 as a ballet accompanist, just as he completed his third year as a full-time dance accompanist at the Purchase College Conservatory of Dance (ballet and modern).

Pianist

Saul Spangenberg

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Mr. Spangenberg retired as the executive director of Hillels of Westchester and before that as assistant dean of music at SUNY Purchase. He has taught music to dancers at numerous institutions in the New York area including the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Tisch School of the Arts – NYU, Marymount Manhattan College, and the City College of New York. He currently is playing the piano most mornings for the adult ballet classes at JCCMW.