Studio D Dance Faculty
Dona Wassell, Studio Director/Instructor began dancing at the age of three and continued as a member of the faculty at Jeannette's School of Dance in Bridgeport and Fairfield. She studied in NYC as a teacher and choreographer with master teachers such as Luigi, Janice Barringer, Al Gilbert, Daryl Retter, Jerry Rose, Ben Vereen, Jimmie Ruth White, Holly Humphreys, Mallory Graham, Alecia Lakernick-Hoctor and many more. She was the Director of the Dance Program at the Lakewood- Trumbull YMCA for ten years, teaching students ages two through adult and forming and teaching both a competitive troupe and a performing team. Dona also taught and choreographed a dance style aerobics program for the Fairfield YMCA and was on their staff as an instructor for 18 years. She is very excited to begin her thirteenth year at Studio D, fulfilling her passion...to teach dance!
Lauren Tilson began her dance training at the Sterling House in Stratford at the age of seven. From there, she went on to continue dancing in Stratford. For eight years she danced competitively in winter and summer competitions. Lauren has taken dance workshops taught by well-known master teachers such as Loree Russeau, Jerry Rose, Barry Youngblood and Kit Andre, to name a few. Lauren was the head captain of the high stepping squad at Bunnell High School and choreographed a number of dances for the football and basketball games. In 1999, she joined the faculty at the Lakewood-Trumbull YMCA's Dance Program. There she taught both younger students ranging from three years through eight years of age as well as adults. Lauren is very excited to begin her thirteenth year at Studio D!
Katie Denton started dancing at the age of 3 at a local dance school in Stratford. She was asked to join the competitive dance team at age 7, where she competed in many regional and national dance competitions. After 10 years, she joined the Lakewood-Trumbull YMCA's recreational and competitive dance teams, where she danced for 6 years. Throughout her 17 years as a dancer, she also was a student assistant and teacher at both studios where she taught students ages 3-14. She graduated from Marymount Manhatten College with a Bachelor's degree in Communications and a Minor in Psychology. She now lives and works in New York City and is a member of the New York Celtic Dancers and takes classes at the Broadway Dance Center and Mark Morris Dance Company for recreation. She is delighted to begin another year working with the faculty and students at Studio D!
Theresa Denton has been teaching children ages two through six for the past twelve years. She has taken master classes with Jimmie Ruth White, Mallory Graham, Alecia Lakernick-Hoctor, Janice Barringer, Al Gilbert and many more. Theresa has also performed and taught Scottish Dancing for 18 years in the Fairfield Pipe Band Dance Troupe. She is a past member of the faculty of the Stratford Academy of Dance and the Lakewood-Trumbull YMCA's Dance Program. At the Lakewood-Trumbull Y, Theresa formed and taught the Folkloric segment of the Star Performers Dance Team. She is very excited to begin another year working with all the students and faculty at Studio D!
Jennifer Ellyson, M.A., R-DMT
Jennifer Ellyson received her B.S. in Dance and Psychology from SUNY Brockport in 2001. She then studied Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling at Columbia College Chicago where she earned her M.A. in 2009. In addition to her training in various genres of dance, she is skilled in creative movement, improvisation, composition, dance conditioning and Laban Movement Analysis. A passionate dance educator for 21 years, Jennifer has taught in a variety of settings including studios, schools, fitness centers and social organizations.
As the Movement Director for The Mead School in Stamford for seven years, she facilitated cross-curricular programs and expanded the dance program by increasing student participation across age and gender. In addition, to leading quality dance and movement classes for students ranging in age from 2-14, Jennifer designed a curriculum map composed of goals and standards for the entire program.
Jennifer offers her students opportunities to learn dance artistry and techniques using methods that incorporate the mind-body connection. She believes it is crucial to engage the 'whole' student to gain deeper understanding and embodiment of movement and choreography. Many of her intermediate /advanced students participate in her self-designed 'Technique Classes' which aim to enhance technical and performance skills by integrating lessons in conditioning, anatomy, and movement analysis. Jennifer continues her own studies at the post-graduate level, and at Harkness Dance Center and the Ailey Extension.
In addition to sharing her love of movement and dance through teaching and choreographing, Jennifer works as a dance/movement psychotherapist with a range of clients in a variety of clinical settings.
Emily Fodor has been dancing for 19 years. Since she was three years old, she danced as one of Miss Dona's students at both the YMCA when Miss Dona was the Dance Director, and then danced at Studio D. She was a competitive dancer at Studio D for four years. While on the Team, Emily earned many platinum and High Gold awards. She is a proud Alumni of Studio D and was able to use the valuable technique and experience from the Studio D Staff to join the UConn dance team for all four years of college. During her final year on the team, she held the position of an officer who showed leadership through example and consulted with the coaches on decisions affecting the team. The UConn Dance Team is a Division One Team that performs at all UConn home football games, men's and women's basketball games as well as competing in the Daytona Beach Nationals for the National Dance Alliance Championship. In 2017 when Emily was a senior in college, the Team placed 2nd in the country for hip-hop and 7th in the country for jazz! Since UConn is so large in population, the UConn Dance Team competes in Division 1A, which is the most competitive division at the competition. Emily has had experience performing in front of thousands of people including environments such as dancing at Madison Square Garden, Yankee Stadium, Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium, Gillette Stadium, Gampel Pavilion, the XL Center in Hartford and the Daytona Beach Band Shell. She was trained by many successful hip hop dancers throughout her career including her mentor on the team who now dances for the Brooklyn Nets and choreographer, Toya Ambrose. Emily has earned her Bachelor's degree in both Mathematics Education and Mathematics. This past May, she completed her Master's Degree in Education. Emily is very excited to be back and to begin teaching and working with the students and Staff at Studio D!
Kayla Plitnick is a 2017 Graduate of Sacred Heart University where she earned her Bachelor's Degree in Sociology with a double minor in Speech Language Pathology and Dance. She was a proud member of the SHU Dance Company Team and President of the SHU Ballroom Dance Ensemble. One of her favorite memories was performing in Walt Disney World and dancing under the direction of Christina Coleman with Illumination Dancy Company. Kayla started dancing at the age of two and credits her love of Tap and performing to Miss Dona. Kayla also received training at Reginal Center of the Arts (RCA) and was a competitive dancer throughout her High School years at Studio D. She is an active member of Trumbull's Youth Association where she was named Dance Captain for numerous summer productions in which she performed. She is excited to share her love of the stage as the Assistant Choreographer with TYA this summer. She continues her love of learning with master classes and intensives in NYC and at Dance in Rhythm Studio in CT. Kayla is very excited to be back and to begin teaching and working with the students and Staff at Studio D!
Kristin Wassell started dancing at the age of two. She has studied dance in numerous studios throughout Fairfield County. She has danced competitively for twelve years and won numerous awards in local, regional and national competitions. Kristin graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration and a Minor in Dance. She was the Captain and President of Eastern's Dance Team for two consecutive years and led them in the Nationals in Daytona, Florida. Her last year with the team, they placed 7th in the nation! After college, she moved on to become a professional cheerleader and captain of the Hartford Colonials. Following that, she was the director of a professional dance team for the American Basketball Association. Kristin worked on the faculty at the Lakewood-Trumbull YMCA's Dance Program teaching dance to students ages two through fourteen at both the recreational and competitive level. She has studied with many master teachers at dance conventions and at the Broadway Dance Center in NYC and continues her studies there. Kristin is very excited to begin another year working with her Mom and the faculty and students at Studio D!
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