Miss Maria has been dancing for over 30 years. This year she celebrates her twenty-fourth year as the owner of The Dance Connection. She is a member of the Professional Dance Teachers Association of America, National Alliance of Dance Associates, National Federation of Independent Businesses, and is licensed by American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publicists. Maria has studied with such leading names in the world of dance as Luigi, David Howard, Ronni DeMarco, Ginny East, Frank Hatchett, and Charles Kelly. She was twice awarded the overall scholarship from Dance Masters of America for excellence in Ballet, Tap, Jazz and Acrobatics. In 1992, Maria graduated from Roger Williams University with a B.A. in Dance and as a member of Alphi Chi National Honor Society. She was also the recipient of the Deans Award for academic excellence in Performing Arts. Her choreography has been awarded numerous choreography awards and National Top Awards across Connecticut and Massachusetts. Her students are regularly awarded overall top awards at competitions. When she is not at the studio teaching, she is home being a mom to Cameron, Sean, Ryan, and Easton.
Jennifer has been dancing since the age of 3, studying with Nancy’s School of Dance and The Dance Connection. A member of the Dance Corp since its inception, she was a top-ranking competitor earning awards such as “KAR All Star.” Jennifer is a 2007 honors graduate from the University of Hartford, as the Treasurer of Kappa Delta Pi National Honor Society, with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Elementary Education, and is currently a certified teacher in the state of Connecticut. She was also a member of the University of Hartford Dance Team from 2003-2007. Constantly earning awards for her achievements throughout the years, Jennifer brings innovative and fresh ideas to her classes and choreography, and is continually expanding her knowledge by training with some of the country’s finest teachers, including Savion Glover, Frank Hatchett, Jason Samuels Smith, Derrick Grant, Sheila Barker, Robin Dunn, Pam Chancey, and Jermaine Goodson. She is an accomplished choreographer and her choreography has received many top awards at various competitions and has been recognized for its artistry and originality. In the classroom, Jennifer creates a fun and artistic atmosphere that allows her students the opportunity to get the most out of their dance classes to be the best dancers they can be. Her greatest source of pride is the opportunity to share her love of dance with children.
Stephanie McHugh earned her BA in dance from Dean College in May of 2005. There she studied tap, ballet, jazz, and modern with Derrick Grant, Josh Hilberman, Jill Silverman, A.C. Ciulla and Maurice Hines. She has performed with Kelly Donovan’s Dance Company in 2005 and Impulse Dance Company in 2006. Miss Stephanie focuses on technique within her classroom while encouraging artistic style and personality. Stephanie will continue to dance throughout her life as it is her passion and true happiness. Live, Breathe and Dance!
Kristen began her love for dance at Nancy’s School of Dance and continued at The Dance Connection. She graduated from Oklahoma City University in 2001 with a BA in Dance. Upon graduation Kristen moved to Las Vegas, NV and performed in such renowned shows as Illusions and Beyond and Legends in Concert. Kristen is so excited to be with her Dance Connection family again and is thrilled to share this experience with her two children, Teagan and Dax.
Megan Klamert, born and raised in Akron, OH, began her training in Vagonova technique at the age of five with Inna Stabbrova and Dmitry Tuboltsev. From there she went to study Balanchine Ballet with the Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet (CVYB) under the direction of Mia Klinger. With the CVYB, she performed original ballets by Tom Gold, Francis Patrelle, James Sewell, Lazlo Berto, and Tom Evert. She also attended summer programs on scholarship including Chautauqua Institute, Saratoga Summer Dance Intensive, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and Indiana University. She went on to continue her ballet training at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music where she worked closely with Michael Vernon and Violette Verdy among many stagers such as Sandra Jennings, Deborah Wingert, Nilas Martins and Glenda Lucena. This past spring, Megan graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Science and Outside Field (BSOF) degree in Ballet and Kinesiology. She also completed a minor in Psychology finishing all of her schooling in three years. Megan is excited to begin the next chapter of her life in Connecticut dancing with Vivid Ballet under the direction of Betsy McMillan
Keith Leonhardt, a Connecticut native, is a tap dancer and teaching artist who considers himself a disciple of the art of tap dancing. He began his professional training at The Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, the jazz music program at the University of the Arts of Philadelphia, PA and is a 2017 alumni of the Tap Program at The School of Jacob’s Pillow under the direction of Michelle Dorrance and Dormeshia-Sumbry Edwards. He has studied with tap luminaries such as Dianne Walker, Clare O’Donnell, Sam Weber, and Jason Bernard. He is currently a company member of the CT Tap under the direction of Corey Hutchins. He has made appearances at Jacob’s Pillow Inside/Outside stage, The Ted Hershey Dance and Music Marathon, The Kate Theater, DFX Entertainment Department and Six Flags New England Shows and Entertainment Department. As a teacher and educator Keith has taught for Jason Warley’s Man in Motion and serves on faculty for Sacred Heart University’s Dance Department, The National Association for Dance and Affiliated Arts, Work It Dance Challenge Competition and Convention Tour, True Talent Dance Competition, Dance 10 Performing Arts Center, The Performing Arts Center of Connecticut, and Rockwell Dance Center where he now serves as the artistic director for the tap program.