Vanessa Berry – Artistic Director/Instructor
A Jersey Shore native, Vanessa Berry has taught dance since she was 16. Her education includes a degree in dance education from New York University, multiple fitness certifications, and extensive training in the Lotte Berke method. Performing credits include stage and television.
Before she became the proud owner of Kick Fitness and Dance she taught at some of the best studios in NY and Colorado including Equinox, New York Sports Club, Lotte Berke Method, Dance West, and the Boulder Arts Festival. As a choreographer and dance teacher, Vanessa has received many accolades including Top Studio, Best Choreography, Most Entertaining, and multiple first place awards. Her classes offer strong classic dance technique in a fun and caring environment. Her students learn confidence, grace, stage presence, and coordination while developing a love for dance in all its styles.
Michelle Tolson – Program Director/Instructor
Michelle Tolson has been dancing since the age of 10 and choreographing since the age of 15. Her students hold many regional and national titles in both dance competitions and pageants including Regional Dancer of the Year for American Dance Awards, World Talent Winner for International Sunshine Girl, and World Showstopper. Former students have gone on to appear in regional and national tours, So You Think You Can Dance and on Broadway in Memphis, Chaplin, Mama Mia, West Side Story, Pippin and Rock of Ages.
Michelle received the Young Choreographer of the Year Award from American Dance Awards in 1998. She is also a pageant coach and choreographer, and has had many students compete in the Miss New Hampshire and Miss Massachusetts Programs for the Miss America Organization. She judged the Miss New York program in 2014, helping to choose Kira Kazantsev, who went on to become Miss America. She has been the Judges Chair for the Miss New York Program since 2015.
Michelle held the title of Miss New Hampshire 1996 and competed at the Miss America Pageant that fall. Her picture and shoe can be seen in the Miss America Hall of Fame in Atlantic City. She was the choreographer and producer for the New Hampshire’s Distinguished Young Woman Program for seven years, a scholarship program for senior’s in high school and is a former Junior Miss for New Hampshire.
Her performance credits include being a Radio City Rockette for six years, where she performed in The Radio City Christmas Spectacular as well as on the Today Show, the Isaac Mizrahi Show, and in the Macy’s Day Parade. She also performed in Tap Girls, 42nd Street and numerous television, video and print works.
For five years she was a Professor at Wagner College on Staten Island, NY, where she choreographed Cabaret for the main stage and implemented the Tap program. She has been a guest artist at Georgian Court University where she worked with the dance club and was the dance advisor/coach for the Neptune High School dance team and the choreographer for the musicals. Her dance team was chosen out of 90 teams in the NY/NJ/CT area to compete on the new MSG Varsity Talent Show. While at Neptune she choreographed A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Guys and Dolls. She was also the dance team coach and choreographer at Immaculate Conception High School and brought her team to three state championships wins. She continues to teach at dance studios throughout New York and New Jersey, and works as a Master Teacher throughout the country.
Michelle is the Head of Dance at Camp Vega in Kents Hill, Maine, considered the number one all girls’ camp in the country. Michelle also tours the country as a guest teacher, adjudicator and director for various dance competitions. She was a director for Dancers Inc. for five years and now works as a judge for three competitions throughout the country. She has been judging for seventeen years and enjoys teaching new talent every weekend.
Michelle was the Director of Public Relations at the New York City Rescue Mission, the first homeless shelter in the country. While there, she brought local and national media attention to the issues of homelessness and generates support through fundraisers and special events to help those in need in the New York City area. She recently left her job as the Director of Communications for the American Heart Association in NYC to go back to her true passion. She is now the Program Director at Kick Dance Studio in New Jersey.
Lesley Anne Mealor – Musical Theater Director/Instructor
Originally from Marietta, GA, I grew up dancing under the instruction of my mother, Brenda Mealor, at The Dancers Studio. I then went on to study at Oklahoma City University and earned a degree in Dance Performance. My career has taken me around the world with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, and across North America with tours of “Sweet Charity” and “The Music Man”. I am currently based in New York City and eager for the next opportunity to present itself.
In addition to performing, I am inspired by teaching young dancers across the country that what they bring to the table is enough, and telling the story is more important than any trick you can do. Adjudicating dance competitions allows me to stay connected to the studio industry while still pursuing my career as a performer. If I’m not in a show, you can usually find me behind the judge’s table.
Michael Crawford – Ballet/Contemporary Instructor
Michael Crawford is from Takoma Park, Maryland. He began dancing with the Maryland Youth Ballet and at the Kirov Academy with Vladmir Djoulahatze, spending summers at The Rock School and San Francisco Ballet. Mr. Crawford joined the Washington Ballet where he performed with the company under the direction of Septime Webre. Upon graduation, he went on to study in the Professional Division of The Pacific Northwest Ballet under Kent Stowell and Francia Russell. Since leaving PNB, he has danced with Dance Theatre of Harlem, Jose Mateo Ballet, Ballet Memphis, and American Repertory Ballet. Mr. Crawford has also performed at The Kennedy Center, and continues to tour throughout the US and Europe. He has been a guest principal with The Washington National Opera, Adam Miller Dance Project, Kinetic Dance Works, TranscenDance Group, Brooklyn Ballet, Ballet Neo, Connecticut Ballet, and Oakland Ballet. Mr. Crawford is an award winning teacher and choreographer. He has been teaching and choreographing nationally and internationally for 10 years, and has coached many prize winning students for competitions such as Youth America Grand Prix, NYC Dance Alliance, and Showstoppers dance competition.
Deidra Wyckoff- Hip Hop Director/Instructor
Deidra began training as a dancer when she was nine years old, beginning as a young and talented Jazz student. After graduating from Brookdale Community College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Performing Arts, she pursued her career as a professional dance instructor at seven different dance academies. Her career highlights include performing and training at Monsters of Hip Hop for eight consecutive years, performing at Disney World’s Magic Music Days and training with legendary dance instructors, such as Geo Hubela, Napoleon and Tabitha Dumo (Nappy Tabs), and Rhapsody James among many other world renown choreographers.
Deidra has also excelled as a hip-hop dancer for infamous dance crews, including ‘In Da Clutch’ crew, which appeared on “America’s Best Dance Crew.” She even had the pleasure to train with the amazingly talented Rockettes. Deidra is currently under the instruction of Parris Goebel and Nick Demoura to expand on her styles of Hip Hop and choreography. At the current time, Deidra’s position remains as a lead instructor teaching young students several different genres of dance and technique from Ballet to Ballroom to Hip Hop. Through this role, she has incorporated being a mentor to young children while encouraging them to learn the art of dance and helping them pursue their passion. Deidra recently received her Acrobatics Arts certification with a perfect score.
Fallon Beato Instructor
Fallon has been dancing for over 15 years with experience in competitive and ballet training. She first started dancing at the age of 2, and began competing at the age of 7 in jazz, contemporary, ballet, tap and lyrical. While competing, she has won various awards and scholarships through competitions such as Starpower and NYCDA including a triple threat award and a full scholarship to NYCDA’s summer intensive where she expanded her horizons in different styles of dance.
While in high school, Fallon created a group titled Dance with Dignity which was a dance group that was held after school for dancers of all levels who wanted to learn in a peer to peer setting where they could develop the skills and confidence to perform in front of an audience. She then began her ballet career at the academy of dance arts in Red Bank New Jersey where she was trained in RAD technique and then performed with the Company of Dance Arts in ballets such as The Nutcracker, and The Wizard of Oz.
She then moved on to train with the world renown Joffrey ballet school in New York City where she studied modern in Martha Graham technique, contemporary and continued classical ballet training. Fallon then moved into the ballroom scene as a growing professional in both Latin/Rhythm and Smooth categories. She has competed in all three styles and won various awards in American rhythm working alongside professional coaches such as Tony Dovalani. She then became a certified ballroom instructor for Fred Astaire and continued to perform in their company. Now Fallon continues to train in ballroom and ballet and share her love of dance with her students!
Holly Conger – Instructor/Twirl Director
Holly Conger started her dance training at the age of five at The Roxy Dance Studio in Swanton Vermont. She shared her love of dance by being an assistant teacher for seven years. Holly has had training in hip hop, jazz, modern, lyrical, tap, ballet, and gymnastics. Holly graduated from Dean College in Franklin Massachusetts in December 2014, where she received her associate degree in arts majoring in dance. Teaching is Holly’s passion.
After college, Holly taught dance and gymnastics back home in Vermont at The Roxy Dance Studio and Highgate Elementary After School Program. Holly then ventured to Myrtle Beach South Carolina where she directed a dance preschool academic program, taught dance and acrobatics to ages one through seventeen, and also worked with the competition teams. Holly is a certified FLYAROO Fitness Instructor and a certified Rhythm Works Instructor. Holly is currently working on her dance rehabilitation certificate from Westside Dance Physical Therapy in NYC. Holly feels so blessed to be able to teach and share her passion of dance with her student. She loves making an impact on her student’s lives not only in dance but also in life lessons that they will use forever.
Taylor Miller – Instructor
Taylor began dancing at just four years old. She trained for 15 years at the Dance Stop in Parlin, New Jersey, under the direction of Gina DeBenedetto-Forcella and with her faculty including Al Blackstone, Rosemary Sabovick-Bleich, Sara Pyun and Katie Drablos. She has competed in regional and national competitions along the East Coast and performed in charitable showcases such as Dancers Responding to Aids and Dancin’ Downtown at the Joyce Theater.
Most recently, Taylor graduated Summa Cum Laude from Rider University where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education and Dance. Through Rider’s dance department, Taylor studied at the Princeton Ballet School and was cast in every Rider Dances performance. She was additionally a four-year member of the student run organization Rider Dance Ensemble (RDE). This organization provided her opportunities to perform, choreograph her own work, teach workshop classes, direct two shows, and lead the organization during her year as president. Currently, Taylor is a first grade teacher and is also completing a certification in coMBo (conditioning for MindBody) under the guidance of Kim Vaccaro. Coming to Kick with four years of teaching experience, Taylor is excited to continue sharing her passion for dance with her students!
Heather Pappas – Acro Instructor
Heather was a level 9 and collegiate gymnast. She began coaching at the age of 14 and brings over 26 years of coaching experience to the Kick family of teachers. She competed for Somerville High School and Rutgers University. In addition to coaching gymnastics, she has been a certified high school gymnastics and JOGA judge for over 22 years. Heather is also the proud mother of two daughters Ariana and Anastasia.
Monique Powers – Acro Instructor
Monique started her long journey through dance, gymnastics, and competitive cheerleading at only the age of 6. She started out dancing different styles such as jazz, tap, hip-hop, and even break dancing. After a few years of dancing, she found her love for gymnastics, where she competed at Rebound gymnastics for four years. Her step-mother was a coach for the Colonia Patriots pop-warner cheerleading team, which also led her step-mother to help create the competitive all-star cheerleading team, NJ Heat all-stars. Seeing that cheerleading offered a mix of dance, gymnastics, and new challenges, Monique found her passion in cheerleading. She competed at Jersey Devils all-star competitive cheerleading for six years working her way to the highest level team. During her cheerleading career, she competed at worlds as the point flyer where her team received 7th place in the world. She also received the award for “coaches choice” and “cheerleader of the year”. It came time to end her career in cheerleading due to college, but she knew in her heart she could not fully leave something she was passionate about for so many years. So now, Monique spreads her passion as an instructor for tumbling & gymnastics, and also choreographs competitive acrobatic dances.
Vera Wagstaff – Ballet and Contemporary instructor
Vera began her dance education at the age of 6 at the Academy of Dance Arts in Red Bank, NJ under the direction of Jennifer Church who utilized the RAD method. She continued her training in classical ballet at Rowan University where she studied Russian technique with Larysa Columbo, a graduate of the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia. Vera graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BA in English Literature and a minor in French. She was the recipient of the Richard Mitchell Memorial Scholarship and is a member of the Golden Key Honor Society. Vera has attended a number of workshops including those taught by professional ballerina Lydia Haug, Rachelle “Sas” Rak from Broadway, and the Joffrey Ballet School. In recent years, Vera has performed the principal role of Fairy Godmother in Prokofiev’s “Cinderella” and the Rose in the ballet “Beauty and the Beast.” She is an experienced pointe shoe fitter, and teaches pointe, ballet, lyrical, and contemporary.
Kaitlyn Kurkemelis “Miss Katie”
Dancing since the age of three, Kaitlyn’s training started at The Kathy Kull Dance Center then continued on under the direction of Janet Layden, creator of Allegro Dance Academy. Her recent training credits include Broadway Dance Center, Dance Masters of America, Dance Alliance, and Steps on Broadway. Kaitlyn has performed in numerous musicals and staged performances, many of which have been under the production team, Cabaret For Life. Immediately after high school, Kaitlyn set off to NYC to pursue a career in Broadway. She was represented under Renata English, Barry Kolker, and various casting agencies. During these years, Kaitlyn starting substituting for Miss Vanessa.
She fell in love with the Kick Dance Studio and the little town of Fair Haven, NJ. Over the past six years she has gone from teaching one class per week to teaching over 20 classes per week. Kaitlyn teaches ages 3-12 Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop, and Musical Theatre. Her classes are high energy and tons of fun while focusing on technique and performance skills.
Miss Katie is grateful for the love she has found at the Kick Dance Studios. Sharing her passion for performing is the greatest gift and she is looking forward to what the future has in store!
Lindsey Bracco is a dancer/singer/actress/competition judge represented by MSA in NYC. She has appeared in musicals such as Beauty and the Beast, Guys and Dolls, 42nd Street, Spamalot, Curtains, The Producers, White Christmas, Hello Dolly and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. She was also in “Lovestruck” an ABC Original Family Movie. She brings her high energy and confidence boosting enthusiasm to every class!
Wendy is originally from Long Island. She began her classical Ballet training in NYC with Andre Eglevsky, Robert Joffrey and has continued her study of Ballet with Finis Jhung. In her teens, she studied modern dance at the Martha Graham School and traveled extensively throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, South and Central America performing as a soloist with Larry Richardson, Yuriko, Pearl Lang and was on the staff of the New School in New York City.
Ms. Wendy currently teaches in several professional dance studios in the tri-state area. She was a dance instructor at the Performing Arts High School in Middlesex County. In addition to her teaching commitments, Wendy travels to many cities in the U.S. Judging Dance Competitions both at Regional and National levels. She also conducts Intensives, Workshops and Master Classes in Ballet, Pre-Pointe, Pointe and Modern.
As an accomplished ballet/modern dancer and teacher, Miss Wendy is committed to giving back. “I teach from my heart, I want to give my students everything I know”. She is intensely passionate about dance and totally devoted to her students. She has instructed students of all ages. She has choreographed many award-winning pieces in both classical and modern dance. Many of her students have been very successful in the dance industry.
Jennifer comes to Kick with over 25 years of Gymnastics experience. Her certifications include USA Gymnastics Instructor and USA Gymnastics Safety. She is also a NJSIAA certified Gymnastics Judge and a member of the Shore chapter of Gymnastics officials. She brings her high level of training and attention to safety and technique to all her classes at Kick.
Broadway/National Tours: Cinderella, Pippin (Lewis/understudy Pippin), Mary Poppins. Off-Broadway: Silence! The Musical, Lucky Guy, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (Encores!). International: Mary Poppins (Vienna). Film/TV: “Smash,” Lovestruck The Musical, “Late Show with David Letterman.” Point Park University grad
In Loving Memory
Laura Donlon was an award-winning dancer and gymnast throughout high school and a Cheerleader Flyer in College. She began teaching at an early age, while still in high school, and became one of the youngest Varsity Coaches in the State when she took over the Head Coaching Position at Sayreville War Memorial High School. In her ten years at Sayreville, she took the program to a much publicized undefeated season and brought the program to a third-place ranking in the state. Laura was selected as Coach of Year twice during her tenure as Head Coach. Laura’s background in both gymnastics and dance has afforded her the opportunity to provide award-winning choreography in ballet, jazz, musical theatre and acro for the youngest of dancers to senior company performers and elite level gymnasts. Laura has served as the Artistic Director and Assistant Studio Director for several NJ dance Studios. Presently, Laura focuses her teaching skills with the youngest of our dancers, working with our Twinkle Stars and Shining Stars, as well as teaching acro technique classes.