Staff
 
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KATHY COSTA MCKEOWN, artistic director, teacher, choreographer and performer, holds a BFA in Dance from Montclair State University. Ms. Costa has been teaching and choreographing for 25 years.  Kathy's most recent accomplishments and certifications include the following, author, "How to Heal a Cracked Heal; Let's Google It," Pilates mat certification, and The Ellové Technique Certification. She is also an early childhood specialist, which has given her the opportunity to work successfully with the very young. Kathy continues her dance studies in New York City to continually provide her students with top quality, cutting-edge material. Her eclectic background includes serious dance training in Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Tap and Choreography which provides her students the opportunity to be versatile dancers. Kathy was the director of the Dance Program at the Montclair Cooperative School for 6 years where she taught preK-6th grade and choreographed for school productions. 

Ms. Costa then went on to join the faculty of Montclair Kimberley Academy Upper School for 3 years where she taught dance and choreographed for school dance concerts. Her performing experience includes, The Other Dance Company, DownTown Dance Co., PM Dance & Video Works, Montclair State University Dance Co., and performances at Colorado College under the direction of Bill Evans & Co. Kathy has also performed independently in various New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey choreographer’s showcases. Kathy's training, energy, knowledge, enthusiasm, passion and love of teaching is evident in each and every student she comes into contact with. Kathy has been Artistic Director of DanceWorks & Company, a teen touring company for 24 years. Under her artistic direction, the company has performed throughout the world, from New York City to London,  Barcelona, Spain, Milan, Verona, Italy, Athens, Greece (2022) and has been recognized as an outstanding dance company. Kathy was thrilled to share her teaching expertise with 2 dance studios in Cape Town, South Africa in the Summer of 2014. Kathy continues to teach globally, during the Summer of 2015 Ms. Costa traveled to Beirut, Lebanon where she shared the love of dance education and expertise with the children at the Syrian Refugee Camps. She continues to explore the many possibilities of sharing Dance with all. Kathy also has 5 years of study in Anusara Yoga (providing an additional approach to body awareness and alignment, is certified in Life Coaching from The Life Coach Institute of Orange County with an area of expertise in working with adolescents thru young adults, serves on the Executive Board Member for Dance New Jersey, is on the Advisory Council for Dance at NJPAC- New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ and Appointed Ambassador for B.I.G. (Believe. Inspire. Grow), a women’s organization that provides professional training, inspirational speakers and an opportunity for women to excel in all areas of growth and development professionally and personally and a recent recipient of Del Keiffner Award 2016 presented by Performing Arts Educators.

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NELL CONWAY has been DanceWorks Studios Production & Marketing manager and instructor for the past 4 years. She started her dance journey with Kathy Costa at three years old. Since her first class, Nell's passion for the dance community and the DanceWorks philosophy has continued to grow and flourish. In addition to being a DanceWorks student and company member, Nell worked as a studio manager and teacher from 2001 - 2005. She also studied with Freespace Dance, The American Dance Festival, and other various companies in the tri-state area. After graduating from Montclair High School, Nell attended Virginia Commonwealth University as a dance major, learning from esteemed choreographers from all over the globe. Nell graduated with a degree in Arts Management with a focus in dance and events management. She enjoys sharing her passion for choreography and teaching with the students at DanceWorks.

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JEFFRY FOOTE is an actor, singer, and tap dancer. Jeffry has been performing for many years in the tri state area. Some of his credits include Shades Of Harlem, Dance Bojangles Dance, Riffin & Tappin, 42nd Street, and is a principal member of the NJ Tap Dance Ensemble. He has also performed in venues such as NJPAC, BergenPac, and Mayo Arts. He also teaches tap in Morris and Essex Counties, and has been teaching rhythm tap for 13 years. He has also appeared in short films, and has some various voice over projects as well.

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KAYLA MCKEOWN has been DanceWorks Studios Studio Manager and on staff since 2014. Kayla received her BA in Psychology from Montclair State University in 2018, and recently received her MA in School Counseling from Montclair State University in May 2021. Kayla studied dance at DanceWorks from the age of 8-18, and was an active member of DanceWorks & Company from 2008-2014, where she performed at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York as well as at the Summer Olympics in London, England in 2012. Ms. McKeown continued her dance education at MSU, where she danced as a non-major for four years during her undergraduate studies. Kayla was on faculty for our Summer Dance Camp staff from 2014-2016, and works as an assistant with all children’s birthday parties at DanceWorks Studios as well. Kayla enjoys working closely with all of our students and families and looks forward to building ongoing relationships with our clientele. 

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ANDRES NEIRA was born in Cali, Colombia. He started his dance education at the Colombian Institute of Classical Ballet (Incolballet). Eight years of intense training provided him with the opportunity to work with teachers, choreographers and coaches of national and international notoriety. Classical ballet, repertoire, modern and contemporary styles, along with pedagogy of ballet and pedagogy of partnering were part of the main focus such training had to offer.

After graduating Mr. Neira joined the Ballet de Cali Company, where he became the youngest soloist in the company’s history to date, performing a wide variety of classical and contemporary roles worldwide. Mr. Neira’s career in the U.S.A. begun when he recieved the first ever Lefkowitz Award for Outstanding Performance of a Solo at the New York International Ballet Competition (NYIBC), then he went on to participate as guest dancer and/or guest ballet master for numerous companies in the U.S. and abroad such as New Jersey Ballet, Connecticut Ballet center, Ballet Hispanico, Eglevsky Ballet, Granite State Ballet, Gainesville school of the arts, The Renval Project (Johan Renval director). As well as Danza Hoy (Caracas, Venezuela) Ballarte (Bogota, Colombia), Bejart Ballet Lausanne, to name a few.

Mr. Neira’s performance experience includes a wide range of rolls varying from Petipa’s classics such as Corsaire, Don Quixote, Raymonda and Sleeping Beauty, to contemporary works, some of which have been created for him, including Backthi by Maurice Bejart, Tango by Johan Renval, Rhapsody in Blue by Alex Proia, For Ella by Margo Sappington with music by Ella Fitzgerald, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Too Darn Hot and many more.

Currently Mr. Neira is a free-lance dancer/teacher, based out of the New York, New Jersey area.

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AMANDA PAPA is a dancer, choreographer, and dance educator with more than 20 years experience. Amanda received her BFA in Dance Performance from Montclair State University. She is also certified through Dance Educators of America and is a proud member of Dance NJ and NDEO. She began dancing at the age of 3, competing at age 8, and dancing professionally at 16. She was twice named an All-Star by the Universal Dance Association as a teenager, where she first performed internationally.

 

As an original company member, soloist and dance captain of The Dawn Lau Dance Company, Amanda performed throughout New York and New Jersey. She spent time studying, creating and performing her art in Italy, where she truly found her passion for and refined her skills as a choreographer. 

Amanda has been on Faculty at over a dozen NJ Dance studios. She was an Adjunct Professor at Mercer County College for 7 years. She is a Guest Teacher at Montclair State University, Kean University and Fairleigh Dickinson University. She is currently on tour as a Judge and Master Teacher for Groove, Beyond the Stars, Breakout and DECAdance competitions. Amanda has expanded her love for dance into the Ballroom world, where she is currently training as a competitor in Smooth & Rhythm Ballroom Dance..

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EMMA ROSE PRESSMAN trained at Sarasota Ballet and graduated from The Harid Conservatory.  Emma has danced professionally with Texas Ballet Theater, Connecticut Ballet, Verlezza Dance and JKing Dance Company.  She earned a BFA in Dance from Montclair State University in 2016.  She has received several awards, 2nd place in contemporary dance at the Orlando, Florida Youth America Grand Prix competition in 2007, and the Cento Amici Scholarship from Montclair State University in 2014 and 2015 and the Dean’s Scholar/Artist Award for the College of the Arts in 2016.  Emma recently choreographed Carmina Burana for MSU in 2017 where she is an Adjunct Professor.  She has been teaching ballet since 2011.  

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QUINN SOUSA started out dancing in high school with the dance club, learning from the captain who was actually the student of his future teacher. After graduating Quinn connected with John “Comix” Barrella at a workshop and that summer joined his dance company. Quinn quickly became one of the principal performers of The Redef Movement and has experience in all street styles including breaking, popping, hip hop, and locking. Along with being a Dance Professional through Dance New Jersey he is a tri state area performer in places such as Philly, the 5 boroughs, and New Jersey. Through years of training with other teachers heavily rooted to the core of Hip Hop he has attained the foundation necessary to properly modernize these dance styles without losing its integrity or value. It was through this training that The Redef Movement was invited to perform for The New York City Breakers at their 20 th reunion and at “Chaos” presented by TedX Asbury Park. While continuing to further his training he travels solo
performing, hosting workshops, and educating at many different events.

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ELISSA VERSO is a ballet dancer and teacher in northern and central New Jersey. Growing up, she trained with both of her parents at their own studio, The Dance Center of New Jersey, and later at Princeton Ballet School. She then went on to attend the Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet in New York as a full time student. In 2015, Elissa earned her certification in Levels Pre-Primary through Level 5 in the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum and has since taught ballet classes at several studios in New Jersey. Most recently, Elissa has earned her Mat I and Mat II Certifications through Power Pilates and is excited to be able to incorporate Pilates concepts into class for her students.