Meet Our Faculty

Our faculty are of high caliber with extensive education and experience in a variety of dance genres. They are committed to instilling proper dance technique and etiquette while promoting the artistry and performance qualities of dance all in a welcoming and positive environment. Thrive Dancers are also given several opportunities to work with NYC & LA dance professionals in the industry.

Thrive Faculty foster an overall love of dance in all its forms, help develop self-confidence, and encourage self-expression.

Persephonie Alvarez-Langlois

Owner/Director

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 15 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, Thrive was awarded the ADCC Studio of Excellence Award by Turn It Up Dance Challenge. Thrive's company members have continued to exemplify excellence in their art and were awarded this prestigious title again in 2018, 2021, and 2022.

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.

Taylor Lemme

Assistant Director

Taylor began dancing at the age of three, is trained in all genres of dance including Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Lyrical, Contemporary, and Hip-hop, and competed competitively since she was seven. She was an intensive company member at Thrive and trained under Persephonie Alvarez-Langlois in 2015 & 2016. Over her 10 years of dancing competitively, Taylor was the recipient of regional and national overall high score and title awards.
Taylor has been a part of the Thrive Faculty since 2017 where she began as the Office Manager/Business Director and is thrilled to be working alongside Persephonie as the Assistant Director. After her time at Thrive, she attended the University of Connecticut and graduated in May 2020 with a degree in Finance. While at UConn, she was a member of the UConn Dance Company and UConn Tap Team where she would perform and compete locally.

Taylor is currently pursing her Masters of Business Administration from UConn Graduate School with a concentration in Management as well as working full time for accounting firm, KPMG.
Taylor loves spending her time with the dancers of Thrive and sharing her love & passion for dance with our next generation. As a former student, Taylor is forever thankful for Thrive and forever grateful for this opportunity.

Kyra Alvarez

Instructor

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.

Kelly Kaleta

Tap Instructor

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.

Kelsey Kaminski

Instructor

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.

Evan DeBenedetto

Instructor

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

Jazz/Contemporary Ballet Instructor

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.

Sarah Possenti

Instructor

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 graduated with Summa Cum Laude from Sacred Heart University in May 2020 earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in Film/Television with a minor in Dance. She was a member of the SHU Dance Company, which among many things granted her the opportunity to dance in Italy for two summers at the international dance workshop, World Dance Movement. There she received two significant scholarships from world renowned teachers/ choreographers.

Among her training, Sarah was also featured as a background dancer in a music video, "Love on Repeat" by rock band, Pianos Become the Teeth. Along with dance, Sarah is also a trained singer and musical theatre performer and has been in musicals such as Aladdin, Seussical the Musical, Throughly Modern Millie, Fiddler on the Roof, and more recently in SHU's Theatre Arts program she was cast in In The Heights, Hair, and Chess.

Sarah will be continuing her musical theatre and dance training and is so excited to share it with the students at Thrive. Sarah is so honored to be teaching, creating and helping at Thrive as she is a former and early student of Persephonie Alvarez- Langlois. She is so excited and can't wait to share her passion.

Caterina Rago

Modern/Ballet Instructor

Artistic Director, Choreographer and Founder of CRDANCE
Company and its educational program, Tecniche Di Danza Moderna, CRDANCE
Company founded in 2007. Rago, a native of Italy, joined the Martha Graham
Dance Company in 2009 after completing its Professional Training Program, and
has received commissions from Steffi Nossen Dance Foundation, Accademia
Nazionale di Danza, Alvin Ailey/Fordham and Peridance Capezio Dance Center
where she is currently on the faculty. Rago also teaches at the Joffrey Ballet
School and the Martha Graham School and was named Emerging Choreographer
for MET Dance Company (Houston). Rago restaged Martha Graham’s 1935
work, Panorama for Accademia Nazionale Di Danza at Rome’s Soirees Dans and
Karole Armitage’s American Dream for the Ravello Festival. In addition to her role
as Founder of CRDANCE Company and TDM, Rago is also the company’s Principal
Dancer. Rago’s contribution to the field of modern dance and its history has a
global reach that is diverse and ambitious in its goal to use dance as a language to
make us see.
ARTIST STATEMENT: As an emerging choreographer, Caterina Rago takes
choreography beyond stage-based performance to map new ideas onto the history of
dance. Known for her visceral use of movement, this Italian and American
choreographer founded a dance company in 2007 in New York after completing her
training at the Martha Graham School as a way to work through early ideas relating to
American modern dance and Italian classic traditions in movement. As an Independent
Emerging Choreographer, Caterina Rago is currently working with Executive Director
and Independent Artist Cheryl Kaplan to forge new ways of delivering choreography to
a broader American base. Based on an “El Sistema” approach to dance, Rago’s
choreography sets out to create major works, from Labir Into (2016) to Morso
D’Amore (2022). These works have been developed in a manner and structural thinking
that reference the ground-breaking traditions of important collaborations from Graham
and Noguchi to Balanchine and Stravinsky.
Caterina Rago looks at choreography like musicians or an orchestra might look at a set
of scores that require training and active interpretation. Rago approaches choreography
as an action-based method of problem-solving and collaboration. This physical thinking is
meant to go out into the world not only as entertainment, but as a new way of working

Mitch Kilby

Ballet Instructor

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.

Camila Schäfer Rodrigues

Ballet Instructor

Camila Rodrigues, from Volta Redonda, Brazil, began her training at Escola Estadual de Dança Maria Olenewa, the Rio de Janeiro Municipal Theater’s ballet school, and with Nora Esteves at Centro de Movimento Deborah Colker. She studied on scholarship at the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City and was asked to join the Joffrey Ballet Concert Group one week after entering the school. Camila joined Nashville Ballet II, where she performed with the main company. She won 1st place at World Ballet Art Competition Grand Prix and Best Interpretation of the Contemporary Compulsory at the Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition. Camila has performed soloist and principal roles with companies such as Connecticut Ballet, Neglia Ballet and Movement Headquarters Ballet Company.

Vincent Patino

Hip-Hop Instructor

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

Nadine DeLoughy

Instructor

As a dancer for over twenty years, Nadine DeLoughy, LAT, ATC, has trained in multiple genres of dance including ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary and acrobatics, and was a competitive dancer for fifteen years. After graduating from Newtown High School in Connecticut, Nadine continued her dance education with Pushing Progress, a contemporary dance company based in New York City under the direction of Calen J Kurka and Chris Hale. After her training and
performances with the company, Nadine attended Southern Connecticut State University and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science - Athletic Training degree and is a licensed practitioner in the state of CT. Nadine is now teaching and choreographing multiple genres of dance throughout the tri-state area, and now midwest as a guest choreographer for Dance Plus in Bismarck, North Dakota. Her choreography has won numerous first place overall awards and
choreographic recognitions. Nadine’s routines also placed in the Top 12 at YAGP Regionals and were invited to compete at the Dance Prix de New York. Nadine continues her education through training programs such as ABT’s National Training Curriculum and Acrobatic Arts. She also has recently started adjudicating for competitions in the regional area. Nadine chooses to take an anatomical approach to teaching by educating dancers on how to move their bodies safely and biomechanically while instilling their love of dance and movement.

Madeline Chung

Instructor

Over the past 20 years, Madeline has studied and trained with a variety of world-renowned choreographers and educators in the dance industry. Growing up in Northern Michigan, she trained heavily in ballet and jazz technique, while also attending various conventions and summer intensives such as NYCDA, NUVO, and Magnus Midwest. She eventually attended Pace University in NYC and graduated with a BFA in Commercial Dance in 2019. Since then, Madeline was signed with MSA Agency and has been working professionally in the industry ever since. Some of her credits include, dancing for the VMA’s in 2019 (AJ Mitchell), MAC Studio Fix campaign, and New York Fashion Week 2019 (Abigail Donahue). Madeline continues to further her dance training by working closely with educators such as Galen Hooks and Alexandria Damiani. Certified in Assisted Stretching - Madeline also works as a flexologist at StretchLab in Ridgefield, CT. She is passionate about wellness and passing on the knowledge and technique she has spent years learning so much about!

Guest Faculty/Choreographers

Courtney Schwartz

She may be small but she is mighty! from Acrobatics to contemporary to acting Courtney Schwartz can do it all. Courtney grew up in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania where she trained vigorously from 2 years olds to 18 years old at her home dance studio, Studio 19 dance complex. Right after graduating Courtney toured with Odyssey Dance company for two years while fulfilling her prestigious award "lifetime assistant" for dance convention Artist Simply Human where her opportunities started to sky rocket. She has worked with the industries finest such as Talia Favia, Wade Robson, Dee Caspary, Mandy Moore Jaci Royal, Andrew Winghart, and Chaz Buzan just to name a few! Courtney's hard work and incredible work ethic has landed her as Talia Favia's right hand dancer and assistant two years ago. From So You Think You Can Dance to Dancing With The Stars, Courtney has been behind the scenes to help bring Favia's Visions to life. Her growth has suspended and shocked everyone who gets the pleasure of watching her move. In case just dancing wasn't enough, Courtney was recently just casted the role as head cheerleader Samantha on "Girl Meets World". With Schwartz's dependable attributes, she is now currently on tour with one of the industries hottest dance conventions around "RADIX" as their demonstrator where not only is she assisting all of Talia's demanding choreography and classes, but also demonstrating work of artists such as Brian Friedman, NAPPYTABS, Tyce Diorio, and many more. Courtney Schwartz has only just begun and her journey does nothing but get more exciting everyday.

Ali Stevens

Ali Stevens is a dancer and teaching artist based in New York City. She graduated with a BFA in Commercial Dance from Pace University in 2021. At Pace, Ali has performed in original concert works by Rhonda Miller as well as Lauren Gaul, Scott Jovovich, and Andrew Mulet, and in dance films choreographed by Mandy Moore, Jess Hendricks, and Jen Hamilton. Professional credits include dancing in music videos for rappers X.ILE ("Buffalo") and Decora ("Fake Friends"). Ali continues to travel and teach multiple styles of dance for a variety of private dance studios across the United States.

Ali Koinoglou

Originally from Long Island, Ali Koinoglou is an award-winning choreographer based out of NYC, working mainly in the tri-state area & now globally online! From a local dance studio, to summers at the American Ballet Theater, Ali’s foundation was dedicated to honing in on her technique & expanding her knowledge in the arts. Once graduated from high school, Ali furthered her training in Joffrey Ballet School’s year-round certificate program, where she met one of her first mentors, Ginger Cox. Ginger's intense drive & mentoring shaped Ali’s ability to receive & apply any powerful feedback, which in turn shaped her own teaching syllabus. Following Joffrey, Ali spent two summers at the Broadway Dance Center as a trainee in the world-renowned Professional Semester. Ali was fortunate to be mentored by master educators such as Sheila Barker & Derek Mitchell within the program. Ali worked many years as a choreographic assistant to Derek Mitchell before beginning to create work in her own right; assistant credits include, the Brooklynettes, Nike, Clarin’s Make Up, Colgate, Tag Hueler & more. Ali’s professional choreography debut was at the Young Choreographer’s Festival, curated by Emily Bufferd. Since then, Ali’s choreography credits include DUMBO Dance Festival, Sybarite Dance Productions, Brooklyn Dance Festival, & most notably, Madonna’s 50th birthday celebration flashmob for MTV & TLC’s the Long Island Medium. In addition to choreography, Ali has a strong background in arts administration. She worked in the Broadway Dance Center’s Educational Department for several years under director Bonnie Erickson. Following this, she was media manager & personal assistant to five-time Emmy award winning Mia Michael’s. Ali’s administration skills, combined with her love for creating & teaching dance led her to found her own company, Koin & Co Dancer in 2012. The company was originally created as a platform for Ali’s professional works but has since blossomed into the Koin & Co Junior Training Program. The program is geared to bridge the gap between studios & the professional industry for dancers ages 12-18 without interfering with their home studios. With Ali’s unmatched network of teachers, choreographers & agents greatly contributing to the program, the dancers receive the extra edge needed to prepare for a professional & successful career in the real world. Ali’s classes are a pastiche of styles & techniques; the warmup consists of cardio paired with a light house groove to get the body loose, while challenging dancers to increase their stamina & personal strengths. Her warmup then moves on too incorporate a technical, intricate strengthening stretch, to elongate and tone the body. Within Ali’s technique refinement & jumps/turns classes, the basic foundations of parallel & turned-out work are pushed in such a way that every dancer, no matter what level or age, leaves with improvement. Ali educates with the philosophy of making each dancer stronger & more prepared in only one class, as “every class should inspire growth within dancers.” Long-time students of Ali attest to her determination, knowledge & passion to ensure all dancers are working to their full abilities - she strives to create a balance of strong, flexible dancers, empowered with technique & purpose in their artistry. Presently, Ali runs Koin & Co’s training program full time, she is a guest instructor at famed NYC dance studio Peridance Capezio Center & is teaching classes/setting work all over the United States. Ali’s most fervent lifelong goal is to educate & inspire dancers around the world to their full potential as talented dancers, kind humans, & all-around creatives!

Maud Arnold

Known as one of “Tap’s Leading Ladies” and cover girl for Dance Spirit magazine’s Tap issue, Maud Arnold is a member of the female tap band, the Syncopated Ladies, widely known for viral videos that have accumulated over 70 million views, the most successful being their tribute to Prince and their cover of Beyoncé's Formation, which Beyoncé shared on all of her social media and then hired Syncopated Ladies to perform at her Ivy Park active wear clothing line launch at TopShop, London. Maud also performed live with the Syncopated Ladies on ABC's Good Morning America, the Ellen Show with Pharrell Williams and N.E.R.D. and sold-out concerts in Los Angeles, Dubai, New York City, and Washington, DC, receiving rave reviews in The New York Times and more.

Maud has quickly become a sought after teacher, judge and performer worldwide. Mentored and trained by Debbie Allen, Maud has taught at Debbie Allen Dance Academy in Los Angeles. Further to teaching in the USA, Maud has taught tap dancing and Afro-Funk in Dubai, Brazil, Japan, Spain, Haiti, United Kingdom, Mexico, Canada, Croatia, Ukraine and Russia.
Maud’s Television Credits Include: Black Lady Sketch Show, BET Experience: 106 and Park, The Late Late Show With James Corden, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, Switched at Birth, Secret Talents of the Stars as a featured dancer with Mya, The Today Show and Syncopated Ladies winning Season 11 of FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance: Dance Crew Battle. Maud can be seen in national commercials and print ads for Toyota, GAP and CANTU and has worked with Beyoncé on several commercials and music videos. Maud's choreography has been featured on Good Morning America and she made her directorial debut with Dola's Space Daughter series.

Maud is the co-director and producer of the critically acclaimed DC Tap Festival pioneering new experiences for dancers and artists worldwide. and with her sister Chloé Arnold they were recognized by the US House of Representatives as arts preservers and ambassadors.

Maud is also a female entrepreneur and podcast host that holds a degree from Columbia University. The Maudcast releases new episodes weekly and is available wherever you stream podcasts! Further to teaching, she oversees Chloe and Maud Productions and their many entities including their clothing lines: I LOVE TAP and UniLove as well as their tap dance workshops and after school programs.

Maud exudes her passion for tap dancing with her high energy, fun and action-packed dancing.

Gemma Beasley

Gemma Beasley began her early dance training with Corraine Collins Dance Studios in Cheltenham, England. Following the ISTD syllabus Gemma holds certificates of Honors in Advanced Ballet, Tap & Modern also winning the Janet Cram Premier Modern Awards, Marjorie Davies Star Tap Award and numerous recognition at the Imperial Ballet Awards. Gemma was selected as a Ballet Scholar with The Royal Ballet and became a demonstrator for the new ISTD Ballet and Modern syllabus and video. She also asked to perform as a soloist and as a group ballet demonstrator at the ISTD Congress on several occasions.

She attended Doreen Bird Musical Theatre and Dance College on a dance and drama Scholarship graduating with First Class Honors. After a season dancing with Carnival Cruise Lines, Gemma decided to pursue her real passion of contemporary dance and was awarded a place on the scholarship course at The Alvin Ailey School in New York City and just graduated from Broadway Dance Centers Professional Semester.
She was fortunate to perform for musicals such as White Christmas, West Side Story and American In Paris. Gemma has worked with multiple contemporary dance companies including Eisenhower Dance and Artlab J and is currently dancer with Movement Headquarters Ballet Company.

Logan Epstein

Alexa Luke

Alexa Luke is a Georgia native, currently living and working professionally in New York City. She received her early dance education at Roswell City Dance under the direction of Shannon Childers, and she continued her studies as a BFA Dance major at Marymount Manhattan College. Alexa has had the honor of traveling the nation to study the arts, teach dance, and set award-winning choreography. In 2012, she was one of Dance Spirit Magazine’s Cover Model Search Finalists. Alexa spent several years on tour with Intrigue Dance Intensive, assisting, teaching, and setting pieces on young up and coming dancers across the nation. Presently, Alexa is a team member with Hall of Fame Dance Challenge, and spends each weekend pouring into the lives of young artists at various locations around the U.S.
She has worked closely with some of today’s most game-changing contemporary choreographers such as Teddy Tedholm, Mary Grace McNally, and Hayden Frederick to name a few. Alexa has shared her talents in several contemporary dance festivals such as Reverb Dance Festival, New York Moves produced by Shelly Hutchinson, “Mouthfull”, “Impetus”, APAP, and Carnival NYC.
Her primary interests and passions lie in contemporary dance. She finds this vocabulary of movement particularly inspiring. She sees the possibilities as endless, and strives to develop new concepts and discoveries through moving and creating. Alexa is extremely committed to her work, and finds genuine fulfillment in discovering new ways to reach people and create connection through movement. She hopes to be ever-growing and ever-learning, continuously spreading her love for dance with those around her.

Sarah Lewandowski

Sarah Lewandowski started teaching dance in the New York Tri-State area in 2015. Since then she has become full-time faculty at Thrive: The Essence of Dance for the past two years.
Sarah teaches all styles, from ballet, tap, acrobatics, contemporary, lyrical, jazz, musical theatre, dancer conditioning, and leaps and turns. She specializes in acrobatics, having an extensive background in the field gymnastics of having a strong competitive dance/acrobatic career herself. Her teaching style has a strong emphasis on athleticism and technique. She works with her dancers to not only let them grow through the art of dance but uses this to help them grow confidence that her students will carry for the rest of their lives. She is an award-winning choreographer and has trained award-winning dancers.
Professionally, Sarah has danced on numerous Broadway stages for various events, originated a role in an Off-Broadway show (OSCAR at the Crown) and has danced for respected and award winning choreographers in New York City. For more information please visit her website at www.sarahlewandowski.com

Gabriella Sibeko

Gabriella Sibeko is a freelance dance artist originally from Ontario, Canada and raised in Montreal, Quebec, Durban and Cape Town, South Africa. She is now based in New York City.

During her formative years of training, she studied heavily in classical ballet under the direction of Paula Urrutia. She performed principal roles in works such as, La Bayadere, Paquita and Don Quixote. In 2013 she was granted a Scholarship to The Ailey School, where she trained for the next 3 years, graduating from the Certificate Program in 2016. She received additional training at Complexions Contemporary Ballet and Dance Theater of Harlem.

Her artistry has been shaped profoundly by the choreographers she has worked with including, Mike Esperanza, Mary Grace McNally, Mathew Rushing, Jon Rua, Katherine Maxwell, Ellenore Scott, Lauren Cox, Teddy Tedholm, Matilda Sakamoto, Andrea Ward, Yoshito Sakatuba and Ellen Sickenberger to name a few. She has also worked and traveled as an assistant for Nathan Trice, Emily Greenwell and Erica Sobol.

Gabriella co-choreographed the international video campaign entitled ‘Freedom: International Day of the Girl’ produced by The Global Goals Campaign, in affiliation with Beyoncé Knowles, receiving wide international recognition. She can be credited in music videos, Serenading in the Trenches by Sondre Lerche, choreographed by Ellenore Scott, The Runner by Alison Sudol, choreographed by Kristin Sudeikis, Mish Mish by Noah Souder-Russo, choreographed by Lirr Katz and Show-Off by Ana Kay, choreographed by Teonna Wesley. She has also performed in multiple NYC venues as a back-up dancer for singer/songwriter, ELENI.

She was one of the lead dancers in the 2018 Capezio A.C.E. Award’s winning piece entitled, Not For Picking. Recently, she performed as a featured dancer for the 2020 PHISH concert held at Madison Square Garden, choreographed by Jon Rua. Additionally, Gabriella will star as the featured dancer in an upcoming Netflix documentary, entitled Malinche, set in Ibiza, Spain.

She is currently a member of Hivewild, MG + Artists, Jon Rua’s TheGrit, Channel:Dig, ELSCO Dance, Cloude.NYC and DEPTH Dance. She is also the co-host and co-founder of danceCONNECT: a series of stages and stories, which is an interview-style podcast that centers around conversing with a variety of dance artists.

She is honored to be entering her second year as an instructor for Thrive. These hard-working, kind, ever-growing, talented students have inspired her spirit tremendously!