Performing Arts Academy is proud and committed to employing only the brightest and most talented dance teachers from the Tri-State area, who are all dedicated dance professionals themselves.

Our teachers bring their passion for dancing to each and every class taught at Performing Arts Academy.

They share Dawn’s vision and the tradition of pride and excellence the Performing Arts Academy has become known for.

We encourage you to read the teachers' biographies to fully appreciate and understand the high level of experience and commitment that the are bringing to our students.

We look forward to making your family a part of our dance "family".

 

Dawn Laviola-Schaub
Artistic Director


Dawn Laviola-Schaub has been teaching children the art of dance for 30 years and has been the artistic director at the Performing Arts Academy for 23 years.

She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Montclair State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, and is the proud mother of two children, Tyler and Jolie.

She has performed on television’s Star Search and in MTV music videos, and has worked with the Jennifer Mueller Dance Company in NYC. Dawn has also performed throughout Belgium and France.

 
 

Meghan Frayne

Ballet, Tap, Lyrical, Jazz, Acro, Choreographer

Meghan Frayne started training at the Performing Arts Academy under the direction of Dawn Laviola-Schaub at the age of 9.

At PAA, she was also given the chance to train with George Lon, Chris Lee, Mary-Kate Felber, Donna Scro, Yulia Akoypan, Paris Mann, and Andre Shakhin.

During her years as a student at PAA, she received numerous awards and scholarships from American Dance Awards, Dance Masters of America, NYC Dance Alliance, and many other well-known dance competitions and conventions in the United States.

She has held both regional and national titles for numerous organizations.

 

Meghan has performed with professional dance companies including The Edge in Boston, MA, and Nemesis Dance in New York City. She was a member of the “Jasper Dancers” in college, and was one of the 27 students chosen to represent the state of New Jersey in 1997 for the Dance Excellence Organization.

Meghan has been the recipient of American Dance Awards’ Regional “Young Choreographer of the Year” on five separate occasions, and she was a National nominee twice. In both 2009 and 2013, she earned The National Acrobatic Choreographer of the Year award from the United States Tournament of Dance. Her choreography continues to be recognized year after year.

Meghan’s students have won numerous high score awards and titles at both the regional and national level. Her students have performed for the New Jersey Jackals and can be seen as Knicks Kid City Dancers, WNBA Lil’ Torches, and Members of United States Acrobatic and Dance team. Meghan has also worked at Wayne Hills High School as the dance team coach and head choreographer.

In 2007, Meghan also took on the role of PAA’s office manager. She has a degree in Business Administration, focusing on Management and Marketing, from Manhattan College.

 

Jasmine Calhoun

Pre-School, Ballet/Tap Combo Tumbling For Tots & Acrobatics

Miss Jasmine has always loved both children and the art of dance. She grew up in Teaneck, NJ, where she started dancing at the age of four, and began assisting her teachers at the age of 10.

She taught at the Y in Massachusetts and Ohio throughout her school years, and she graduated from Wittenberg University, with a major in Elementary Education and a minor in Dance.

Jasmine also enjoys the sport of gymnastics, and has several years of experience teaching at local gymnastics facilities. Jasmine began her career at PAA in 2003. She is the director of the pre-school program and the summer camp.

She is also the mother of two beautiful girls. Her classes are always in high demand and each and every one of her students loves her!

 
 

KC Castellano

Lyrical/Contemporary

KC Castellano is currently living in New York, working as a professional dancer and choreographer. Her unique approach to movement and musicality has made her a very sought-after choreographer. Her classes focus on strength, dynamics, and emotional connection.

KC is trained in all styles of dance, with a focus on contemporary and hip hop. She is currently on staff at Groove Dance Convention, as their contemporary teacher. You can see her in two of Lady Gaga’s recent videos, “You and I” and “Marry the Night.” KC has also worked with artists such as Jordy Towers and Kat Deluna. She earned a spot in the top 3 on BET’s competition dance series, “Born to Dance: Laurieann Gibson.” KC has performed live on the Monique show and on stage at Lady Gaga’s Monsterball in Atlanta. Her choreography credits include The Capezio ACE Awards 2012, Choreographers’ Pick at the PULSE 2011-2013, Choreographer of the Year 2009-2012, KTU’s Beatstock and Freestyle Free for All, countless music videos for up and coming artists, and assistant to Tyce Diorio on the USA and Ukraine versions of “So You Think You Can Dance.”
KC is currently teaching and choreographing throughout the United States and Canada. Her gift is pushing people to their physical and emotional peak. She says, “My mission is to have every student leave the room feeling full- full of knowledge, full of motivation, and full of spirit.”

 
 

Yuliya Akopyan

Ballet

Yuliya Akopyan graduated from the Moscow Dance Academy, after which she joined the Bolshoi Theater, where she danced for 20 years as a principal dancer and soloist. There, she had the opportunity to dance with Marina Semenova, Galina Ulanova, and Maia Pleisiskaya. During her time with the Bolshoi Theater.

Yuliya starred in more than forty principal roles, in such performances as Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Chopiniana, Giselle, The Nutcracker, Don Quixote, La Bayadere, Raymonda, Le Corsaire, and Divertissements. She toured worldwide, in places such as The United States, Italy, Germany, Argentina, Great Britain, Brazil, France, Mexico, Austria, Japan, China, Korea, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Holland.

Yuliya was also selected to represent the Bolshoi Ballet in the International Ballet Competition held in Moscow. Yuliya has many years of experience as a teacher and choreography assistant, and her ballet classes provide exceptional training for young dancers.

 
 

Alicia Monaco - Tap


Alicia Monaco began dancing at the age of 2 at The Dancer’s Studio in North Haven, CT. Her early training comes from Sharon DiCrosta, and she now continues her studies in NYC with teachers such as Andrew J. Nemr and Derek Grant.

Cited for her talents at the age of 9 by Gregory Hines, his words of praise and encouragement continue to motivate Alicia even today. A former Petite Miss Dance of America, she has been recognized for her performances, as well as her choreography on the national and international levels.

As a member of the World Tap Dance Champion Team in 1996 and 1997, she placed 3rd highest among female soloists and captured the bronze medal in the couple’s division, with her partner, Stacy Eastman.

Alicia, along with an amazing cast, performed “Tap into Peace,” created by Sarah Savelli and Ayodele Casel, and she was also a member of “Cats Paying Dues,” a tap dance company under the direction of Andrew J. Nemr. Her choreography was featured in NYC’s 2010 Dumbo Dance Festival, and most recently, she directed and choreographed the 1st annual production of “TAPOGRAPHY…..A Tap Dancer’s Journey, One Step at a Time.”

In addition to performing, Alicia is currently on the faculty for American Dance Awards & Generation IV Dance, and she continues to travel throughout the country as a master teacher and choreographer.

 
 

Christina Pioli - Hip Hop


Christina Pioli was born in Bogota, Columbia and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Christina has been dancing for many years, and plans to dance for 100 more.Growing up doing competitions and teaching since she was 16, Christina wanted to make her passion for dance a career. In 2005, she graduated from St. Francis College in NYC with a B.A. in Speech and Theatre.

Christina has danced off-Broadway for two years with the Deca Dance Company and has been in music videos for artists like Joan Jett, and commercials, including ads for Darrin’s Dance Grooves II and Cadillac. She has also worked with Geo Hubela as an animation reference for a French animated feature film called “Popsecret.”

Christina is now performing with the ICON Dance Company in numerous charity events and fashion shows. Being a Member of the ICON Dance Company has also given her a chance to dance for great causes, like Dancers Responding to AIDS and Breast Cancer Awareness.

Since then, she has performed as a backup dancer for Shakira at the 2006 MTV Music Awards, and she also toured with Shakira at select venues, including Madison Square Garden in NYC. Christina also danced in an opening act performance for Alicia Keys, and has traveled to Germany to compete with the USA Dance Team.

 
 

Shawnda James


Shawnda James Caulfield has been the director for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville for several years. Prior to that she worked for Radio City as an assistant choreographer and dance captain in several of their productions across the country.

Shawnda has also worked in various regional theaters both as a performer and assistant choreographer.

In addition to her work in musical theater she spent two years dancing in Mia Michael’s original company RAW which performed in dance concerts here in the US as well as Europe and Asia.

Shawnda is currently enjoying being mom to a beautiful four and a half year old daughter and continues to teach at studios and dance camps across the country.

 
 

Luke Bermingham


Luke Bermingham was born and raised in East Granby, CT studying dance in his early years under the direction of Brenda Barna in Southwick, MA.

Upon graduating magna cum laude from the Hartt School, under the direction of Stephen Pier, Luke had the privilege of performing classical works by choreographers such as Jose Limon, Martha Graham, and Marius Petipa.

He also performed contemporary works by Emery Lecrone, Greg Dolbashian, Simone Orlando, and Pascal Rioult.

His professional credits include dancing for CT based company DancEnlight, The Muny's production of the King & I, Antonio Brown Dance, Project 44, MadBoots Dance Co., and Abarukas.

Luke currently dances for Yin Yue Dance Company as well as Robert Mark Dance in New York City.

 
 

Adriana Griffin

Hip Hop, Tumbling for Tots, Ballet, Tap and Pre-School

Adriana Griffin began dancing at the early age of 3. At the age of 10, she began her training at the Performing Arts Academy, where she trained with some of the best in the dance community. She became a member of PAA’s dance company and traveled around the U.S., performing and competing.

During her years at PAA, she received numerous scholarships from Dance Masters of America and NYC Dance Alliance. In 1997, she was one of the 27 students chosen to represent the state of New Jersey for the Dance Excellence Organization.

After graduating high school, Adriana went on to receive a degree in applied mathematics, with a certification in secondary education from William Paterson University.

Adriana loves working with young children and sharing her love of dance with each and every one of them. Adriana’s classes are very popular with children of all ages, and her constant energy and optimism bring something special to each of her classes!

 
 

Daniella Cavaleri

Jazz, Lyrical & Contemporary

Daniella Cavaleri has trained extensively in all styles of dance and her performance credits include the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Fosse (International/National Tour), Rolling Stones Tour, benefits such as Nothin Like a Dame, and industrials for Walmart, Viacom, and SONY, among others.

She has additionally performed with companies such as Mia Michael’s R.A.W., Notario Dance Company, Morgan Scott Ballet, and American Dance Company.

Her professional credits and training have contributed immensely to her success with many dance studio companies and has led to numerous recognitions for her choreography and for her students. She consistently sets high standards for all of her students, pushing them to test their limits and eventually reaching their goals.

 
 

Andrey Shakhin

(Beginning, Intermediate and Advanced Ballet, Variations, Pas de Deux

Andrey graduated from the Moscow Dance Academy in Russia. In 1979, Andrey joined the Bolshoi Theatre as principal dancer and soloist.

He worked with many world class dancers, including Yuri Grigorovich, Marina Semenova, Galina Ulanova, Michael Lavrovsky, Shamil Yagudin, and Vladimir Vasiliev.

With the Bolshoi Ballet, Andrey performed in Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Giselle, The Nutcracker, La Bayadère, Raymonda, Spartacus, Golden Age, The Legend of Love and more. These performances took Andrey to the United States, Italy, Germany, Argentina, Great Britain, Brazil, France, Mexico, Austria, Japan, China, Korea, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Holland.

Between 1995 and 1997 he served as an assistant choreographer to Yuri Grigorovich, the Artistic Director of the Bolshoi Theatre. Andrey was selected to represent the Bolshoi Ballet in the International Ballet Competition.

 
 

David Lee


Doctor of Physical Therapy

David Lee is an experienced and elite gymnastics and tumbling coach. He has served as Head Coach for Strength and Development for elite nationally ranked gymnasts, and has taught gymnastics programs across several age groups.

David was an All-American and New Jersey State Champion Gymnast in 1996, and was a New Jersey State Champion Coach from 2002-2008.

He holds certifications from The American Heart Association and USA Gymnastics, and he recently earned a Doctorate in Physical Therapy.

 
 

Chris Lee

Tap

Chris Lee is an energetic and widely sought-after dance teacher and choreographer. His skill and versatility in both tap and jazz/lyrical, combined with a creative choreographic style, have kept him both very busy and very happy.

Chris is a certified member of Dance Masters of America. His teaching credits include Steps on Broadway and Broadway Dance Center in N.Y.C., both at the professional and amateur levels. He has also served as dance department chairperson at Belvoir Terrace, an internationally reputable performing arts camp in Lenox, Massachusetts.

Chris teaches master classes and judges for major dance organizations, private organizations, and schools nationwide and in Canada. His students have won numerous high score awards at competitions such as The American Dance Awards, Dance Masters of America, and Starquest, as well as 2 gold medals at the World Tap Dance Championships in Reisa Germany.

Chris’s students have also gone on to appear in films, music videos, TV shows, and on Broadway.

 
 

Laurel Izzi


Laurel Izzi has been dancing since she was three years old, and she is trained in all forms of dance, as well as acrobatics and tumbling. As a child, she trained with Dawn Laviola-Schaub, Chris Lee, Mary Kate Felber, Yuliya Akoypan, and George Lon.

She is a former Junior Miss Dance of the United States, and she earned several other regional and national titles, as well. She was also awarded scholarships for acrobatics from Dance Masters of America.

For the last 12 years, Laurel has been sharing her love for the art of dance with the next generation of dancers. She owned and operated her own dance studio for several years, and is currently the acro director at two other New Jersey studios.

Laurel’s students have won many regional and national awards and titles. She is thrilled to be sharing her passion for dance with the students of PAA.

 
 

Mary Kate Felber

Jazz, Lyrical, Technique

Mary Kate Felber is a very well rounded performer, teacher, and choreographer, with 30 years of experience and training in ballet, jazz, acrobatics, tap, hip hop, musical theater, drama, and voice. Her diligence and innovation have made her a highly sought-after choreographer and teacher.

Mary has had the opportunity to perform all over the country and throughout Europe. She began performing professionally at the age of fifteen in the Equity productions of “Funny Girl” and “Guys and Dolls.” During this time, she also began teaching and choreographing.

Mary’s performance expertise, perceptive teaching methods, and innovative choreography have caught the eye of many, including Tyce Diorio, whom she worked with on the hit television show, ”So You Think You Can Dance,” and Maurice Hines, with whom Mary danced in the Equity national tours of “Harlem Suite” and “Satchmo.”

Mary was cast as Anita in the European tour and various regional productions of “West Side Story,” and her performances earned critical acclaim in the press.

She has had the privilege of working with Tony award winner Hinton Battle, and she also worked with Jamal Graves, dancing on The Billboard Music Awards. Mary has also casted and set The Soirbee International Hair Show.

 
 

Christine Rossiello


Christine Rossiello, a native of New Jersey, trained for fourteen years at the Performing Arts Academy studying ballet, tap, jazz, pointe, modern, contemporary, acrobatics, hip hop, and performing on the competitive level.

She is fortunate to have trained with PAA’s renowned faculty including Dawn LaViola-Schaub, Yuliya Akopyan, Chris Lee, Mary-Kate Felber, KC Castellano, and Alicia Monaco, as well as teaching alongside them on the PAA faculty prior to graduating. Christine received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with minors in Dance and Education from Bucknell University where she was the recipient of the prestigious Arts Merit Scholarship in Dance, and was a dancer/choreographer for the Bucknell Dance Company, performing works by José Limón, Cathy Young, Michael Foley, Dustyn Martincich, and more.

Christine is a graduate from the Intern Program at Broadway Dance Center through which she studied all styles of dance with a concentration in tap, and is seen dancing in Telihana’s Music Video “All Night” and the Step Up 3D Video Promotion produced by Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures. She has studied on scholarship at the American Dance Festival’s Six Week School, choreographed high school musicals, including, SHREK The Musical, and Anything Goes, and is pursuing teaching certification through Dance Masters of America.Christine has taught and choreographed dance for all ages, styles, and levels, and is eager to share her love for dance again with her PAA family!

 
 

Cheryl Downey


Cheryl holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance from Montclair State College. As a member of their dance repertory company, she has performed all over the country including the Gala Concert of the American Dance Festival in North Carolina. She has studied all forms of dance with such esteemed talents as Vincent Wineglass, Jaclyn Villamil, Nancy Lushington, Sara Pearson, Danial Shapiro & Joanie Smith, Joe Tremaine, Frank Hatchett, Debbie Dee, Greg Russell, Doug Caldwell and tap legend LaVaughn Robinson.

Cheryl has been teaching tap, ballet and jazz for 28 years at several schools throughout New Jersey. She has developed her own style and curriculum, bringing an atmosphere of positivity and encouragement to each class, which has made her very popular with her students of all ages.

Cheryl continues to attend workshops and seminars to enhance her dance knowledge and maintain the highest standards of teaching. She recently became certified by the state of New Jersey to teach dance in public schools. Her choreography has been recognized at many competitions and her students have won many awards including High Score, The Entertainer Award, Outstanding Choreography and National Grand Champions. Some of Cheryl’s students have gone on to dance professionally for the NFL, NBA, and the Rockettes, and many have become sought after dance teachers themselves.

While she is very proud of all of her students’ achievements, Cheryl feels her greatest accomplishment has been raising her two children.

 
 

Ed Phelan


Ed Phelan is one of the most recognized names in the dance industry.

His choreography and attention to detail make him one of the most sought after choreographers in the country.A native of New Jersey, Ed has trained in all areas of the performing arts.

He has been teaching and choreographing for over 20 years. Living in Pittsburgh for 3 years, he was teaching and choreographing for the TV show Dance Moms on Lifetime TV.

His students have won numerous regional and national awards, such as Master, Junior Mr, Petite and Teen Miss Dance of America, Miss Dance of the United States and the International Queen of Dance. They can be seen performing professionally all over the country, including cruise ships, ballet companies, and in many Broadway and off=Broadway shows.

Ed is a member of Dance Educators of America and Dance Masters of America.

 
 

Alexa Schear


Alexa began dancing at Performing Arts Academy at 7 years old under the direction of Dawn Laviola Schaub. At PAA, she was given the opportunity to train with Yulia Akoypan, KC Castallano, Mary Kate Felber, Chris Lee, Alicia Monaco, Christina Pioli, Katy Spreadbury and Derrick Yanford.

While at Performing Arts Academy, Alexa received several honors and awards such as the Annelia Lon Award, the Michael Flannigan Award, International Princess of New Jersey, America’s Dancer of the Year, and Miss Dance of Long Island. She was a member of the United States Dance Team and placed first runner up to Miss Dance of the United States in 2010.

Alexa was also awarded scholarships at conventions such as The Pulse on Tour and JUMP.

Alexa graduated from Penn State University in 2014 with degrees in Commercial Management and Public Relations. She interned for the Brooklyn Nets, where she worked closely with the Brooklynettes Dance Team and the Brooklyn Kids. Alexa was a member of the Penn State Lionettes Dance Team, holding a captain position her senior year leading them to their third consecutive national title.

She is excited and passionate about teaching dance, especially at her alma mater of Performing Arts Academy.

 
 

Sami Murphy


Samantha Murphy has been dancing at PAA since the age of 3 and started competing by age 6. 

She has been the recipient of various scholarships, and regional and national awards through her years at PAA including, National Student Workshop Scholarship Winner at the Unites States Tournament of Dance 2 years in a row, International Princess of Dance, International Queen of Dance, Junior Miss Starpower, Teen Miss Starpower, Teen Miss Headliner, Teen Miss Power of Dance, and Junior and Teen Miss Acrobat of the United States. 

She was also awarded the Michael Flanagan Memorial Cup, and the George Lon Memorial Scholarship and has been a member of the United States Dance and Acrobatic Team since the age of 9.

Sami, as she likes to be called, has trained with the Radio City Rockettes and their choreographers, and was accepted into the Rockette Summer Intensive Program in New York City. 

Her other performance venues include Disney World, Universal Studios, Madison Square Garden, The Hammerstein Ballroom, The Manhattan Movement & Arts Center, The NYU Skirball Center, My Symphony Space, Broadway Cares, The Prudential Center, Hershey Park and many others across NJ, NY, CT and PA.

Sami loves performing and teaching, and she plans on pursuing a career in professional dance.  She brings an abundance of energy, and her love of dance and acrobatics to all of her classes.

 
 

Derrick Yanford


Derrick began his formal training in a local studio of his hometown Southwick, Massachusetts where he studied ballet, jazz, tap, and acrobatics with his teacher Brenda Barna. After years of training Derrick went on to win many major national dance titles and competitions including Mr. Dance of Connecticut, America's Male Dancer of the Year, and most honorably Mr. Dance of America 1995.

After furthering his dance education at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, Derrick began his professional career and has had the pleasure of performing with Ballet Hispanico of New York, The Joffrey Concert Dancers, Northern Connecticut Ballet, Koresh Dance Company, and A.S.H. Contemporary.

Additional performance credits include the First National Tour of "Footloose" and "A Few Good Men DANCIN'...", the European Tours of "Evita" and "West Side Story". Walt Disney World and Radio City Music Hall's "Christmas Spectacular", as well as the World Premiere of the Opera "Le Cid" starring Placido Domingo.

Derrick has also gained recognition as a choreographer and has had his work commissioned by ABC Television for the "Boscov's Thanksgiving Day Parade", "Sunoco's Welcome America's 4th of July Parade", the "76er's Dance Team" and the "Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Millennium Kick-Off" to name a few.

While currently residing in New York City, Derrick freelances as a choreographer, master class teacher and adjudicator for major dance organizations throughout the United States and Canada.

 
 

Chloe Paul


Chloe Paul began dancing at the age of four, where she was trained in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, pointe, hip hop, and acrobatics at her dance studio.

At the age of eight she became a member of her studio’s competition team, competing on both the regional and national levels. Her dancing was continuous all the way through high school, as it became a part of Chloe’s everyday life.

In 2010, Chloe attended Fairleigh Dickinson University, where she became a co-captain of the Devils Dance Team as a freshman team member. As Chloe missed competing on a collegiate level, she transferred to the Ramapo College of New Jersey, where she joined the Ramapo College Dance team. That year the dance team took home their second, first place title in their division at NDA Nationals in Daytona Beach, Florida. Chloe graduated Ramapo College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology, along with a minor in art in May of 2014.

While attending college, Chloe also began working for a dance program at local preschools, where she was able to share her passion for dance. Experiencing the happiness dance bought to these children, Chloe is thrilled to continue teaching dance to your child and join the Performing Arts Academy family.

 
 

Adrienne Canterna


Kirov Academy of Ballet scholarship graduate Adrienne Canterna is the recipient of numerous national and international awards including the 1998 Women's Junior GOLD Medal at the USA International Ballet Competition. Other prestigious awards include winning the "Grishko Award of Excellence in Ballet."

Adrienne has traveled extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, Australia, Canada, the Caribbean and more as a dancer, choreographer, model & juror. As a Principal guest ballerina she danced the roles of Gamzatti in "La Bayadere", the Sugar Plum Fairy in "The Nutcracker", and Kitri in "Don Quixote" with the Universal Ballet in Seoul, Korea. She has also danced with the Washington Ballet and Complexions Contemporary Ballet in NYC where she was partnered by Desmond Richardson. She has appeared in numerous galas worldwide including the "Vail International Dance Festival", the "Dance Open" in Russia and "Les Gala des Etoiles" where she performed "Le Corsaire" pas de duex with international ballet star, Carlos Acosta. She appeared as a soloist in "Placido Domingo, Tribute to the Washington Opera," performing to "Stars and Stripes" in a segment directed and choreographed by Debbie Allen, airing on PBS. She can be seen as a ballet soloist in the motion picture "Step Up". Ms. Canterna is a "Messenger" for Mondetta Performance Gear and is featured in their international ad campaign.

Adrienne is the choreographer & co-creator of the international hit dance show "ROCK the Ballet" and was a special guest performer with the BAD BOYS of DANCE on FOX TV's "So You Think You Can Dance". In 2013 she created & choreographed the world premiere of Rasta Thomas' "Romeo and Juliet" in Europe to rave reviews from the critics & audiences alike. Adrienne is the Artistic Director & Resident Choreographer of Rasta Thomas' BAD BOYS of DANCE. In 2014, Adrienne and the BAD BOYS of BALLET were Semi-Finalists on Season 9 of "America's Got Talent". Ms. Canterna is a proud ambassador for CAPEZIO.