Faculty & Staff

Meet the 2018 - 2019 school year faculty & staff of North Jersey School of Dance Arts

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Ashley Feyrer

Co-Owner/Co-Director

Contemporary & Jazz

Ashley Feyrer was born and bred in New Jersey and received her dancing training at NJSDA from Christine Taylor and Luba Gulyaeva.  She also attended programs at Princeton Dance Theatre and Broadway Dance Center.  Summer programs include scholarship to Point Park University. 

An original company member of New Jersey Civic Youth Ballet, Ashley has performed principle roles in the Nutcracker, Peter and the Wolf and La Jeunesse.  She has worked with Geoffrey Doig-Marx, Mark Morris, Kiki Lucas and Jennifer Deckert and has performed in a number of dance festivals including 2010 American College Dance Gala, Women in Dance-Alvin Ailey, Dumbo White Wave and West Fest Dance Festival.   

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Alex Thorpe

Co-Owner/Co-Director

Ballet, Pilates & Yoga

Alexandra Thorpe received her early dance training from NJSDA under the direction of Christine Taylor and was a founding member of the New Jersey Civic Youth Ballet. She attended numerous summer intensives including Cedar Islands with Suzanne Farrell, Boston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet School, New Jersey Ballet, and David Parsons Summer Intensive. In May 2009, Ms. Thorpe graduated cum laude from Butler University with a BA in Dance Pedagogy. While at Butler, she danced corps and soloist roles in Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, Giselle, Cinderella, The Nutcracker, and Balanchine’s Serenade. After graduating from Butler, Ms. Thorpe danced and worked with various contemporary ballet companies including Insight Dance Company, Nimbus Dance Works, and the Kennedy Dancers. Along with her dance training, Ms. Thorpe is certified in Pilates and Yoga.


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Denise Caston

Ballet, Contemporary, Musical Theater, Rhythm Tap, Rockette Tap

Denise Caston was a Radio City Rockette for 10 years and toured nationally with the Tony Award winning musical, Crazy For You. Denise has also had the honor of performing the choreography of Savion Glover at a showcase in New York City. She performed on tour in Australia, dancing all over the continent in Elvis to the Max. Her choreography has been seen in many productions in which she performed, including shows at Caesars Windsor in Ontario, Canada. Credits also include film, television, commercials, and industrials. Teaching credits include classes at Broadway Dance Center (NYC) and Steps on Broadway (NYC), Tradition In Tap (NYC), Gregg Russell's Tap Into the Network (Cleveland, OH), and the St. Louis Tap Festival, as well as The Rockette Experience© at Radio City Music Hall.

In 2011, Denise was invited to speak at the TEDx Detroit Conference about her contributions to the cultural landscape in Detroit, including founding and producing Motor City Tap Fest and founding the Detroit Tap Repertory.

Recently, Denise was awarded a prestigious MaTilDa Award from her alma mater, Oakland University, for Alumni Achievement in Dance. She also became certified by the American Ballet Theatre's ABT® National Teacher Training Curriculum for Primary-Level 3.


Vanessa Falzarano

Ballet & Musical Theater

Vanessa is so excited to begin teaching this year at North Jersey School of Dance Arts. She is a Junior at Warren Hills regional high school and has been performing for about 14 years now. She takes ballet, pointe, and jazz but has also tried many other styles in the past.

She has been in numerous shows including Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Pinocchio, Wizard of Oz, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Nutcracker, Coppelia, The Tales of Beatrix Potter, Peter and the Wolf, La Boutique Fantastique, Fiddler on the Roof, Farce of Habit, How to Succeed in Business Without really Trying, and Fairy Doll.

In 2018, she was nominated for a Freddy Award for her performance as Hedy LaRue in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying in the category: Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role. She has been dancing with NJSDA since she was two and a half and has been a part of the NEW Jersey Civic Youth Ballet since 2008. She loves dancing and ballet and hopes to join a professional company after high school. 

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Michelle Hepp

Ballet & Contemporary Tap

Michelle Hepp grew up in Washington, NJ where she trained at North Jersey School of Dance Arts before moving to Pittsburgh to obtain her B.A. in Dance and B.S. in Sports, Arts, and Entertainment Management. During her time at Point Park University, she specialized in jazz dance and trained under the direction of Mark Burrell, Kiesha Lalama, Kiki Lucas, and Garfield Lemonius, to name a few.

During her time at Point Park, Michelle interned with Attack Theatre as their Summer Arts Education Intern and received her Pilates certification through Power Pilates Pro where she taught to the student body on campus.

Currently, Michelle has accepted an offer to train and perform with the Tap Ties Company, TTApp. Michelle is excited to bring her knowledge and joy of dance back to her home studio! 

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Samantha Johnson

Contemporary Tap

Sam began dancing at NJSDA in 2004 when she was in kindergarten and continued until the present day! Throughout her time at NJSDA, she has taken classes in all dance styles, but mostly rhythmic, rockette, and contemporary tap.

She has danced the roles of the Dormouse and John Pillar in North Jersey’s productions of Alice in Wonderland. In the fall of 2017, she began teaching her own tap classes at NJSDA. Sam choreographed and performed a tap dance that appeared in her high school’s marching band show in 2013.

She also played saxophone in her high school’s jazz band and pit orchestra playing in shows such as Shrek and 42nd Street. She recently attended Jersey Tap Fest in the summer of 2018. Sam currently attends Centenary University majoring in Environmental Science. 


Cari Sanchez

Contemporary, Jazz, Musical Theater


Cari Sanchez is a born and raised Jersey girl and a graduate of Montclair State University's Theatre Program.  With a vast musical theatre background she has performed in productions such as Legally Blonde, Elf, Oklahoma, Footloose, The Sound of Music, Cabaret, Chicago, Crazy for You, Bye Bye Birdie, Peter Pan, Shrek, and the list goes on. 

Cari recently returned home after 5 years working with Norwegian Cruise Line as a principal performer on various ships around the world including the Norwegian Getaway where she originated the role of Elle/Margot in Legally Blonde the Musical At Sea. 

She is also one of the principal vocalists for the world-wide ballroom sensation Burn the Floor.  Cari is thrilled to be a member of the NJSDA faculty teaching Musical Theatre, Jazz, Contemporary, Hip Hop, and Zumba!

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Erin Usawicz

Ballet

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Erin Usawicz studied as a scholarship student in the Young Dancers Program at Ballet Theatre of Boston (now Jose Matteo Ballet Theater). After graduating from the program she apprenticed with the company, later dancing with the corps de ballet in productions such as: the Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Giselle as well as various contemporary works choreographed by Jose Matteo. After dancing with Ballet Theater, Erin moved to Brooklyn, NY and studied Fashion Design at Pratt Institute. While at Pratt, Erin studied ballet at Broadway Dance Center with Finis Jhung. Erin continued her studies at Mason gross School of the Arts where she earned a BFA in Fine Art Photography. Erin currently is a full time professional photographer and teaches ballet at Centenary University as well as NJSDA. She lives in Hackettstown with her husband, two young sons and her dog, Billy.


Vitaly Verterich

Ballet & Character

Vitaly Verterich trained at the Kiev Ballet School and the Moscow Academy of Art. After graduating, he danced solo roles in classical and contemporary works with the Russian Chamber Ballet Theatre, and often appeared as a guest with the Bolshoi and Kirov. In 1998, Vitaly was a principal with Moscow Folk Ballet when Michael Flatley invited him to join Riverdance. Vitaly toured Europe, Australia, Canada and the U.S. with Riverdance, and performed in it on Broadway. Vitaly has been teaching at NJSDA for 5 years.

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