EXPRESS Dance and Acrobatics (EDA) began in 2006 as a venture between experienced dance professionals and experienced business professionals. At EDA, we strive to provide our students with the utmost professionalism in dance instruction – this maximizes both the value and the safety of our lessons. To accomplish our goal, we maintain strict hiring requirements; this assists in ensuring that our high standards of competence, talent, and teaching ability are met.
Our mission is to teach the fundamentals of dance and acrobatics, with an emphasis on commitment, education, safety, and fun in a healthy and loving environment. We stress the total development of each child: intellectual, social, emotional, and physical.
Our EDA Competitive Dance Team has had yet another successful season. Winning numerous Overall Top High Score Awards, Entertainment and Choreography Awards at some of the country's top elite-level talent competitions. For more information please visit out EDA Team page.
Artistic Directors Cheryl Johnson and Michelle Touhey are proud to say, "We are fulfilling our lifelong dream of having a dance and acrobatics studio! Together, we have over 40 years of experience teaching recreational and competitive dance and acrobatics. We have just successfully completed our seventh season. Our studio family has grown to over a remarkable 500 students!"
Our number one priority at EDA is to ensure that our students receive what they deserve: The utmost respect, support, encouragement, and positive treatment. There is no greater honor than infusing self-confidence and the pillars of character through dance and acrobatics.
Here’s why our students return year after year:
- Unmatched dedication to our student’s dance success and overall well-being.
- Instructors and choreographers are composed of the industry’s top talent with “real world” professional dance experience and over 100 years of combined experience.
- A dedication to providing a professional and organized business environment.
- A conveniently scheduled annual dance recital.
We are proud to introduce our distinguished faculty!
Omar Merced - Resident Choreographer/ Master Teacher- Omar Merced was featured in season 3 as one of the top 50 male dancers in the USA for TV hit show “So You Think You Can Dance”. Omar has studied with world renowned choreographers such as Ann Reinking, Mia Michaels, Brian Friedman, Lisa Attanasio, Doug Caldwell and Tyce Diorio to name a few. Merced is also an accomplished performer, shows include: Featured male soloist- FOSSE National/ International Tour, featured dancer for top country recording artist Dolly Parton, Guys & Dolls, Grease and principal soloist for the State Ballet of Rhode Island to name a few.
Omar has also traveled the country with major dance competitions as a regional and national adjudicator and master teacher for many dance companies and conventions throughout the USA and Canada.
Jennifer Campanaro - Jenn began training as a gymnast at a young age. She is an accomplished former gymnast who has won numerous awards and state titles. She enjoys teaching and has the unique ability to break down the full skill to individual skills. She has been teaching gymnastics/ acrobatics for over 25 years, 6 years with the Express family.
In addition to her recreational acrobatic students; her guidance and outstanding instruction has helped to develop our acrobats on our award winning EDA Team.
Jennifer resides in Bellingham with her husband Mike and 2 boys, Nicholas and Timothy.
Jill Goodwin - Jill grew up in the dance world. With a dance educator and adjudicator for a mom, she spent most of her time at the dance studio and at dance competitions. After many years performing and competing, she studied dance at Dean College but majored in Early Childhood Education. She has taught and choreographed for various local studios, gymnastics centers and musical theater groups.
Jill has been the director of the dance program for the SMARTS (Southern Massachusetts Arts) Collaborative since 2006. She is also a certified fitness professional and former Jazzercise instructor. She began teaching dance and acrobatics at Express in 2007. She has two children of her own who are also performers and they have kept her very busy!
Jill loves to share her passion for dance with all of her students and is proud to be part of the Express family!
Kathleen Pantos - Kathleen Pantos is a highly-sought contemporary dance educator and performer, well-known for inspiring youth to advance both technically and creatively. Pantos began her training in dance at a young age at a local studio; she then furthered her artistry in college at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. She was honored to work with both Battleworks and Koresh Dance. She graduated in 2008, with an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts in Dance Performance, under Director of Dance Amanda Whitworth. While at Plymouth State University, Pantos was awarded the prestigious Senior Dance Achievement Award.
Pantos currently dances professionally with Tributary Dance in New Hampshire (2011) and Urbanity Dance in Boston (2008-2011). In 2011, she was promoted to Associate Director of Urbanity Dance, Boston's leading contemporary dance company. Highlights from her career as a professional dancer include touring as far as Houston, Texas, performing at Jacob's Pillow, photographing with Lois Greenfield, and choreographing for Urbanity Dance's VERSUS (May 2010) and MIXTAPE (April 2011). Upcoming endeavors include directing Urbanity's Apprentice Program (an audition-only program for conservatory students), assisting choreography for UMASS' Missa Lubba, and performing at the Ailey Citigroup Theatre in New York City (October-December, 2011). Kathleen is thrilled to share her passion for dance with her students and creating with such dedicated dancers here at Express!
Zhanat Baidaralin was educated in Almaty and Moscow, and brings more than 30 years experience from his native Kazakhstan as a producer, artistic director, choreographer, and ballet teacher in numerous realms that include theater, circus, and television. His broad experience also includes direction and production of traditional Kazakh festivals and dances in his native land. Mr. Baidaralin was the chief choreographer for Kazakhstan at the opening ceremony of the XX Olympic Games in Moscow in 1980, where he worked with more than 10,000 dancers and 20,000 sportsmen. In 1998, he was the chief ballet master for the official opening of the new capital city of Astana.
Since moving to the U.S. in 2001, Mr. Baidaralin has worked as a ballet master, choreographer and ballet teacher for several ballet companies, 30 Years of Experience Worldwide 8 Years in the U.S.A., Including: Dance Theatre of Harlem, NYC, Festival Ballet, Providence, RI, Bryansky Saratoga Ballet, NY, Stamford Ballet, CT. In turn, Mr. Baidaralin has the pleasure of helping to bring the great American and Kazakh cultures closer together.
Kara Pendlebury - Raised in Boston, Kara Pendlebury started her training at local dance studios at a very young age. It was not until she graduated from Bellingham High School that she realized how strong her passion had grown for the arts. Kara continued to pursue her training in dance at Dean College where she studied ballet, jazz, modern and tap.
In 2007, Kara was given the opportunity to intern at Broadway Dance Center where she discovered her roots in contemporary and hip hop. Living in New York City, Kara has worked and performed with such names as Calen J. Kurka, Chris Hale, Joshua Pelatzky, Scott and Brian Nicholson, Takehiro Ueyama and is currently a principal dancer with the Pushing Progress Company (NYC).
Kara's unique choreography and teaching credentials keep her in high demand throughout New England and New York City. Her choreography has been acknowledged on a regional and national level for many dance competitions throughout the USA and Canada making her a recipient of top choreography awards. Kara feels blessed to be able to share her passion with such young and eager dancers.
Ashton “Stackz” Lites is a native of Boston and has been dancing for about 6 years. Ashton’s professional dance career sprouted soon after joining Side Street, in which he co-leads now, with Russell Ferguson (Season 6 winner of “So You Think You Can Dance). He is a krumper (now all around dancer) and uses this free, expressive style of dance to mentor to youth in and around the inner city. Ashton explored the more classical styles of dance first through the Reach Program at Boston University, then brought under the wing of Melissa Kelly Clark at the Dance Studio of Braintree/ Braintree Ballet Company, through which he transitioned into Dean College where he graduated with his AA in Performing arts/Dance. His performance credits includes: The Reach program tour (performing for over 1500 children), Melrose Youth Ballet Company’s Nutcracker, One Night Only hosted at the Strand Theater in Boston, Kelly Peters “Darkness” performed at Dean college and in Martha Vineyard at the Agricultural Fair, CluthFest NJ, performances for Boston City Lights, Afro-Haitian with Frantz Louizia, Dance Showcase at Dean College and Boston University, Dean Colleges production of “The Producers” where Ashton was featured as an actor/singer/ dancer in the ensemble, and a variety of different shows including freelance community based performances. Ashton Lites has also recently been featured in artist Rashid Johnson’s short film “Black Yoga” which has been showcased in his gallery nationally and internationally. Lites has a lot of teaching experience, teaching classes, workshops, and master classes around and out side of the Boston area. These places include: Boston City Lights, Beat Connextions in Saugus, Artist for Humanity, The dance Shop, Encore Dance academy, and many other places even out of state. LItes is currently a high school teaching an academic dance class, through Urbanity, at South Boston High school (Excel), as well as teaching and choreographing for a few different dances studios in areas in and around Boston. Lites plans to continue to work closely with Russell Ferguson on SideStreet, and he also plans to introduce the world to his movement and company called “One Tribe.
Alexandria Touhey - Alexandria is the daughter of EDA Director, Michelle Touhey. She has grown up in a dance studio, dancing since the age of three and competitively for twelve years. In addition she was a member of a competitive gymnastics team for seven years. At Express, she has coached acrobatics students for the past six years. While coaching at Express, she earned a Baccalaureate Degree in Communication Disorders from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a Master’s Degree in Deaf Education and Aural Habilitation from University of Hartford. She is a certified Teacher of the Deaf and holds a Speech Language Pathology Assistant Licensure.
Besides her position at Express Alex is currently a behavioral assistant for autistic preschool students within an inclusion classroom. Her empathy, love of children, dance, and gymnastics experience - coupled with her post-secondary education - make her a notable asset to our Express family.
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