Thrive: The Essence of Dance, was founded in 2014 by lifelong dancer and experienced choreographer, Persephonie Alvarez. She provides a fresh, unique take on the traditional dance experience by drawing on an insightful and versatile background. Persephonie combines her passion for dancing with her studies in Evolutionary Psychology and human growth and development. This combination of studying both dance and the human mind has enabled her to take a broadened approach to dance where it is not only an art and a skill, but a model for everyday life.
Persephonie pushes her students to fight past comfort zones and adversities while also providing a safe emotional outlet through the art of dance. It is her goal as a teacher and to help her students find their personal best and explore areas where perhaps they may have feared to explore. In her life and for her students, she maintains high expectations by instilling important life skills such as persistence, discipline, commitment, and hard work. Persephonie’s unique approach also supports the spiritual, mental, and emotional well-being of each student as a focal point of instruction.
Rather than providing a mere physical dance experience, Persephonie immerses herself into the entire being of each of her students and invests in their journey towards holistic excellence.
Dancing for over 20 years, Persephonie is the owner and director of Thrive: The Essence of Dance LLC. She danced competitively and received numerous regional and national scholarships, titles, and awards. She trained with contemporary dance company Pushing Progress under the direction of Chris Hale and Calen J. Kurka where she concentrated on ballet technique, contemporary movement, and the relationship between anatomy and the proper execution of dance steps.
Persephonie began teaching dance over 13 years ago. As a high school and college student, Persephonie realized her love for teaching and choreographed dances for performances and musicals at Immaculate High School, Bethel High School, Western Connecticut State University, and various dance studios in Connecticut and New York.
She has consistently been recognized in the competitive arena with choreography and teacher awards such as “Starpower Dance Challenge Unique Choreography”, “American Dance Awards Young Choreographer of the Year”, and “Hall of Fame Dance Challenge Choreography Award.” Under Persephonie's direction and guidance by her wonderful staff, Thrive's talented dancers were recipients of the 2015 Starquest International Performing Arts Competition Petite/Junior Apogee Award in Waterbury, CT- an award for the highest scoring routine at the competition. In only their second year, Persephonie's dancers exemplified such excellence in their art they they were awarded the 2016 ADCC Studio of Excellence Award by Turn It Up Dance Challenge in Bridgeport, CT. This honor was awarded to them again in March 2018.
Persephonie is also a graduate of Western Connecticut State University where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with studies in Theater Performance. While at Western, Persephonie was a featured performer in various dance concerts and musicals. She also performed at venues such as the Danbury Palace Theater, The Blackwatch Crusie Line, and played a supporting role in Pearson Education’s film “Acceptance.” She brings the knowledge of sport psychology to the areas of performance enhancement, stress management, and optimal mind-body relationships.
Persephonie has involved her dancers and studio in charity events and fundraisers such as Newtown’s NewArts Foundation, Wingman for Dance Youth Development Program, and fundraising for Louisiana flood victims. Persephonie believes that when students engage in performing arts activities while giving of themselves, they are taught important skills that are useful in all areas of life. Among them, are passion, dedication, concentration, and technique and Persephonie believes in instilling these in all of her students. Dance can benefit the mind, the body, and the soul and Persephonie would like to share these experiences with eager students and performers while contributing to the progression of their natural talents and potential abilities. She hopes to inspire the magic of dance within the community and to cultivate a generation of future dance stars.
Kyra Alvarez is a native of Connecticut and has been dancing for over 15 years. Kyra studied extensively under the tutelage of Thrive owner, Persephonie Alvarez, in all genres of dance including ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, contemporary, hip-hop, modern, and musical theatre. In the last five years of her dance instruction, her concentration was primarily contemporary and lyrical which earned her many regional and national titles and scholarships throughout the Eastern U.S. Kyra has starred in main roles in local musicals including “Bye Bye Birdie” as Kim Macafee, “Annie” as Annie, “Seussical The Musical” as a Bird Girl, and “Beauty and the Beast” as Babette.
Kyra got an early start at teaching at the young of age of six, where she acted as an assistant teacher and choreographer. Since then, she has moved onto teaching and choreographing her own classes and pieces at Thrive, and various studios in Connecticut.
Kyra is a junior at Western Connecticut State University, and is extremely excited to be an official teacher at Thrive: The Essence of Dance. Because of her direct work with Persephonie, and being a Thrive alumni, Kyra is committed to continuing to uphold both the ethics of the studio and quality training in a positive and and encouraging manner.
Kelsey Lynn Kaminski (Maiolo), Ohio University’ School of Dance Class of 2013, is a native of Monroe Connecticut. Kelsey began training seriously at age 12, and after graduating from OU with a BFA in dance education, performance, choreography, and kinesiology, she began teaching and directing for local studios and their company’s. She has won multiple choreography awards, and has been teaching and choreographing in the genres of jazz, ballet, tap, lyrical and contemporary for all ages.
Some of Kelsey’s credits including performing for artists such as Gladys Bailin-Stern, Earl Mosley, Adriana Durant, Travis Gatling, and John Bohuslawsky. During the summer of 2012, she was asked to be an Apprentice for the Sean Curran Company in NYC and was thrilled to be collaborating in their new piece “Path”, that was be part of their 2013 Joyce Season. Her performance credits also include her Broadway Debut as she tapped on the Hudson Theater Stage in NYC for a David Merrick Tribute in the opening number of Broadway’s 42nd Street with original cast members, being selected as a Semi Finalist for the NFL Jet’s Flight Crew, performed outside of Lincoln Center for the Buglisi Dance Theater’s Tribute to 9/11 “Table of Silence”, and performs solos locally for many benefits for the Center for Family Justice.
Kelsey’s education credits include attending many dance teacher workshops and conventions such as the NUVO, NYCDA, JUMP, and the Dance Teacher’s Summit in NYC. In 2016, she was selected and attended the American Ballet Theater’s Teacher Certification. Most recently, Kelsey became a YPAD certified teacher (Youth Protection Advocates in Dance). Kelsey is a Power Pilates Instructor as well as a Certified Personal Trainer through ISSA. She has helped people of all ages reach their fitness goals, which have included weight loss, muscle gain, strengthening and conditioning, nutritional consults and rehabilitation of injuries. While helping others to reach their fitness goals, Kelsey began her own journey and discovered the world of Natural Body Building. She began her intense training in 2015 and has competed in the World Natural Bodybuilding Federation and placed in the top 5 each time.
After all these years, she feels lucky to have finally found a home at Thrive! Kelsey hopes that in teaching dance, she can help to teach children to be well rounded, positive people, who learn great dance technique through a loving and energetic environment.
Growing up in Easthampton, MA, Kelly Kaleta began her training at the Hackworth’s School of Performing Arts and started teaching while she was attending Boston University. Focusing in tap, she has taught up and down the east coast and Canada for almost 20 years, choreographing, judging, and performing in many different venues. She is a founding member of “Off Beat,” a company created and directed by her former student Ryan P. Casey, as well as starting her own company “CounterpoinT,” an all female group based out of Norwalk, CT. You can also see her and her choreography in the award-winning movie “Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench” directed by Damien Chazelle (La La Land). In 2006, she was a cast member of “Imagine Tap,” created and choreographed by Derick Grant and Aaron Tolson. She has been a faculty member and judge for Tap 2 You, Dance Masters of America, American Dance Awards, Tapademics and Kids for Kids. She has taught at Steps on Broadway, Broadway Dance Center, and Peridance in NYC. Other past performances include the Cape Dance Fest, Inside Out at Jacob’s Pillow, NYC Tap Festival, Break the Floor, Clara’s Dream: A Jazz Tap Nutcracker - performing with Drika Overton, Josh Hilberman, and Brenda Buffalino, Tapestry - produced by Dance Inn Productions, and others. Her own annual event, Tap it Up, is a one day workshop held every October in Stratford, CT. Believing that you never stop being a student, she continues to take classes and workshops to improve both her dancing and her teaching.
Evan DeBenedetto is most known for his extraordinary tap style as well as his versatility in all genres of dance. He is most known for his success as a top 10 finalist on Fox’s So You Think You Can Dance (Season 15). Evan is a native of Connecticut where he trained in various styles of dance in both CT and NYC. He moved to Los Angeles at the age of 19 and quickly began making a name for himself. With his deep love for the art of tap, Evan has had the opportunity to train with prominent tap teachers such as Jason Samuels Smith, Michelle Dorrance, Chloe Arnold, Jason Janas, Anthony Morigerato and Mike Minery. Evan has also had the opportunity to work closely and assist many top choreographers such as Brian Friedman, Tyce Diorio, Kyle Hanagami and Tessandra Chavez.
While engaging in the commercial dance industry as a performer, Evan’s industry credits include Netflix, Good Morning America, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Saturday Night Live, The Ellen Show, MTV TRL, Disney’s Saks Fifth Avenue Holiday Light Show, Lucille Lortel Awards, Every Single Step Season 2, Google and VidCon. He has toured with SYTYCD Season 15 as well as with the artist Poppy as a featured dancer and has also danced for Sofia Carson, Luis Fonsi, Natti Natasha and The Band Perry.
Evan also spends his time in the theatre and has been singing and acting since the age of 7. Past theatrical regional credits include Beauty and the Beast (Gaston), Thoroughly Modern Millie, Jr.(Jimmy Smith), Peter Pan (Michael Darling) and Seussical The Musical (JoJo). Evan is honored to be a YoungArts Alumni as a 2016 Finalist in Dance/Tap. He is a member of SAG-AFTRA and is currently represented by Clear Talent Group.
Amelia Lowe is most famously known for her time on So You Think You Can Dance Season 9 as a member of their top 20. In addition to this she made it into the top 12, allowing her the opportunity to perform across the country with the So You Think You Can Dance tour. Since her time on the show, Amelia has appeared as a principal dancer in episodes of Boardwalk Empire. She's also been featured in multiple commercials including a nationwide commercial for Wendy's, Target, the New York Stock Exchange, General Electric and American Express. Amelia got the chance to be a featured dancer at the premiere for The Great Gatsby. She also performed for emerging choreographer, Lindsay Nelko at the Capezio Ace Awards. She is currently living in New York and dancing for fellow So You Think You Can Dance alum, Ellenore Scott in Ellenore's up and coming company, ELSCO.
Mitch Kilby is a native of Newcastle, Australia and began his training at
the Marie Walton-Mahon Dance Academy. He was accepted and received
full scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City. In 2006,
Mitch took a position with New York Theatre Ballet where he is a current
member. He performed such roles as the devil in “3 Virgins and a Devil”.
Dancing master and step sister in “Cinderella”. The lion in “Carnival of the
Animals”, Catalabet in “Sleeping Beauty” as well as Spanish, Snow King,
Mouse King, Chinese, and Drosselmeyer in the “Nutcracker”. Mr. Kilby has danced works by Agnes DeMille, Mathew Neenan, Sir Fredrick Ashton, Jose Limone & Merce Cunningham.
Mitch has had the pleasure of playing both the Grinch and Charlie Brown for the New York
City Pops at Carnegie Hall. He performed with The Paris Opera and the Theatre of Nations production of
Miss Julie at the Lincoln Center Festival. In 2015 he joined Ballet Grandiva for their Japan tour. He is
currently on the faculty at The Ridgefield School of Dance, Woodbury Ballet. He was a former instructor at
Complexity Dance Center, and Contemporary South Dance Company.
Mitch has been training dancers for the Connecticut Classic and YAGP for the past four years. He
has also coached partners for pas de deux work. Mr. Mitch loves to work with children and has a upbeat
and positive teaching style. He understands how dancers perform and provides technical skills while
instilling a love for the art form.
Vincent Nicholas Patino aka 'ITM' (pronounced ‘ITEM’), from Shelton, CT – “Dance is my passion! Movement is my lifestyle! I consider dance as an extension of my soul and self-identity. This cultural art form is ultimately how I define myself.”
Vincent has studied and trained in dance for over 20 years with some of Connecticut’s finest dancers and instructors as well as many world renowned choreographers. He has been pursuing dance as a choreographer, director, performer and competitor on a professional level for the past decade. Genres of study include Hip- Hop, Contemporary, Popping, Tutting, Krump, Urban Choreography, and Composition.
Vincent has choreographed, danced, directed, performed, and competed for multiple dance companies including Symphonic Pulse Dance, Compound Crooks, Megahurtz Entertainment, Hip Hop Theory, Linear Image, and Kalligraphy.
Vincent's most recent accolades include performing on stage with World Renowned K-Pop Group BTS for their 2019 Love Yourself Tour, making it to the Top 100 of The Academy in Season 14 of So You Think You Can Dance, placing 2nd place in World of Dance Boston 2017 and 3rd place in Prelude NY 2018 with Kalligraphy. Vincent is a seasoned competitor having reached international competition platforms such as World of Dance Finals and Hip Hop International.
Vincent enjoys sharing his knowledge of both the dance industry and underground culture as well as the diverse range of technical skills he's obtained through his dance journey with his students. He loves seeing his students grow and develop as both dancers and distinguished members of the community.
“I am a firm believer that true growth and understanding happens when the disciplines, foundations, and work ethic learned in class are applied to all aspects of Life; not just the highlighted craft. These focuses should not just start and stop when you enter or exit the studio respectively. I encourage everyone studying this art form to reflect on the lessons when you step away from the art. If you want to grow and better understand yourself, Dance can help you discover so much about who you are as an individual.
By studying not just the techniques but the foundations/roots/history of the cultures behind the movements that influenced the aesthetics we’ve come to enjoy today, we can understand how to better positively impact the world around us and create a brighter future for the generations to come. This is why I do this. Each One, Teach One.”
-Vincent ‘ITM’ Patino
Gabriella Sibeko was born and raised in Montreal, Canada. She studied in both the Scholarship and Certificate Program at The Ailey School, graduating in May of 2016. She has performed works by Alvin Ailey, Nathan Trice, Mike Esperenza, Yoshito Sakaruba, Ellenore Scott, Hope Boykin, Francesca Harper, Andrea Ward, Jon Rua, Jacqueline Buglisi, Lauren Cox, Emily Greenwell and Dwight Rhoden to name a few. She co-choreographed the international video campaign entitled "Freedom: International Day of the Girl" produced by The Global Goals Production, affiliated with Beyonce Knowles. Ms. Sibeko has been a guest performer for Abarukas Dance and Cullen&Them and has worked and traveled as an assistant for Nathan Trice, Emily Greenwell and Erica Sobol. She is currently dancing for NYC-based companies, MGM + Artists, BARE Dance Company, Hivewild, ELSCO Dance Company, Jon Rua’s TheGrit and DEPTH Dance.
Sarah Possenti started dancing at two years old and has been dedicated ever since.
She is trained in all styles of dance such as tap, ballet, jazz, contemporary, lyrical, and
hip- hop. She competed competitively since the age of four- winning various awards
such as Miss Broadway and Performer of the Year. Sarah also won awards with her
fellow dancers in group numbers, trios, duos, and more. She frequently takes dance
classes at Steps on Broadway and Broadway Dance Center to further her training.
Sarah is also currently studying at Sacred Heart University where she is a member of
the Dance Company, taking dance classes to continue her growth even more.
Thanks to Sacred Heart University's Dance Company she was granted the opportunity
to dance in Italy over the summer at the international dance workshop- World Dance
Movement. There she received two significant scholarships from world renowned
teachers/ choreographers. The scholarships include dancing at Edge Performing Arts
Center in Los Angeles, California and at Steps on Broadway in New York City.
Along with dance Sarah is also a trained singer and has been in musicals such as
Aladdin, Seussical the Musical, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Fiddler on the Roof, and In
At Sacred Heart University Sarah is pursuing a Media Arts degree with a minor in
dance, graduating in May of 2020. She is taking film/ tv courses as well as performing
arts classes to expand her knowledge in the entertainment industry.
Sarah is so honored to be teaching at Thrive as she is a former student here and has
known Persephonie Alvarez for years, being an early student of hers. She is so excited
and can't wait to share her passion.