Meet Our Dream Team!


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Director

Marissa has been dancing since the age of 4 and, during her years of training, received multiple awards at regional and national competitions. After graduating high school, she received the Performing Arts Scholarship at Manhattanville College where she earned her degree in Psychology and Dance. Since graduation, Marissa has taught for over 30 dance schools in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. Her cutting-edge choreography and approach to teaching has earned her “Young Choreographer of the Year” by American Dance Awards and “Top Choreographer” at NRG Dance Project, American Dance Awards, Revolution Talent Competition and Nexstar Dance Competition; to name a few. Her students have received multiple awards, but more importantly, have gone on to dance in college programs and professionally in NYC and LA. Marissa is thrilled to have positively served over 2,000 families in the Westchester community with Breaking Ground Dance Center and is constantly striving to exceed your expectations.

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Shannon was the director and founder of “Dance Technique” on the Gold Coast, Australia which is the leading performing Arts Center in the country. Students from Dance Technique are currently performing on Broadway and attending prestigious schools including the Juilliard School, The Royal Ballet School and The Ailey School. Shannon’s choreography has won numerous awards including “Best Tap” and “Outstanding Contemporary” at the Australian National Dance Championships with Shannon being the only teacher to have two students crowned “Australia’s Dancer of the Year”. In addition, two of Shannon’s students were in the Top 20 of So You Think You Can Dance Australia 2014. Shannon was the tap and jazz instructor at the Queensland Conservatorium musical theatre program in Brisbane, Australia along with choreographing many of the musical productions for this course. Shannon has performed in several professional musical tours herself throughout Australia including 42nd Street, Oklahoma, Fiddler on the Roof and Evita. She was also appointed Dance Captain for all of these shows. She has choreographed major productions in Queensland- High School Musical 2 and Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens. Shannon completed all of her RAD classical exams with distinction and CSTD tap, jazz and musical theatre exams and also has a law (with honors) and a psychology degree.

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Jona Biddle, dance choreographer extraordinaire, originally from Atlantic City, NJ, made his mark in New York conquering his big city dreams with a dance formula for success. As a child, Jona Biddle was affectionately known, as the “Dancing Machine”, and he believes that dance is an art that transcends all boundaries. This, along with his motto of, “Strivers Achieve, What Dreamers Believe” became the motivation that inspires Jona, and propelled his successful ventures.

Jona Biddle’s belief that all things are possible, helped him to stay focused in school, and motivated him to later become a college graduate of Virginia State University. Jona entertained audiences from his hometown in NJ, to sold out stadiums in Virginia, and then relocated to New York City to pursue his entertainment career in the big apple. He has also taken this style, and used it as a catalyst to create The Professionals Dance Company, TPDC, which he is the founder, creative director & choreographer of this commercial development dance company.

Eve Chan trained in ballet at the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. In 2001, Chan was invited to join the Hong Kong Ballet and in 2007, she was promoted to Demi-Soloist and appointed one of three resident choreographers by Artistic Director, John Meehan. During her tenure, Chan toured throughout Europe, America, Canada, and China and worked with numerous well-known artists and choreographers. Chan was also commissioned to choreograph for many company productions. One of her works, “Butterfly Lovers”, was created for two principal dancers and was performed at both the 2008 Gala Internacional de Estrellas in Chile and the 2011 Auf der Weltspitze International Ballet Gala in Germany. In 2009, Chan was also honored to represent the Government of Hong Kong in Beijing where she choreographed a short piece in celebration of China’s 60th Anniversary.

stephanie-deere

Stephanie Deere began dancing at the age of three in Los Angeles, California. Studio C, under the direction of the Caspary family provided her with the opportunity to perform and compete at various dance conventions, competitions, and performance venues. Stephanie continued to dance and compete throughout high school and studied dance at the university level. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of California, Irvine with her BA in Dance and a minor in Business Management where she studied under notable choreographers such as Loretta Livingston, Lisa Naugle, Molly Lynch, Diane Diefenderfer, Jodi Gates, and Sharon Wray.

After graduation, Stephanie moved to Hollywood in order to pursue her career in dance. After a year of commercial exploration and taking classes at The Edge and with Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company, she decided to continue her dance training and come to New York City for a summer of classes. Stephanie was offered a position as a company member with Undertoe Dance Project and decided to stay in New York. She is a current company member with Delineation Dance Company and the Pic PAC. She has also freelanced with companies such as the Reject Dance Theater and Glitter Kitty Productions.

Stephanie loves to teach dance and choreograph. She has been teaching various styles of dance for nearly a decade. Stephanie is also the artistic and executive director of a New York City based dance company called MachineHistrionica. Stephanie feels blessed to be immersed in so many different creative aspects of dance and feels so inspired by the community at Breaking Ground Dance Center.

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Cristina Gustaitis began her formal training with the Indiana University Ballet Theatre in Bloomington, Indiana. During her ballet training, she learned at a young age to appreciate technique while also beginning to express herself through movement and develop her artistic voice. After graduating Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Dance Performance from Ball State University, she relocated to New York City where she currently works as a freelance dancer, choreographer and teacher. Cristina is a company member of Treeline Dance Works, MachineHDance and freelancing with Falcon Dance. She has also had the opportunity to study and perform works by notable choreographers such as Doug Varone, Kristin Sudeikis, and Jordana Toback. During the summers, she is part of a 1920s dance troupe known as The Dreamland Follies. In addition to her work in the city and across the US, Cristina has had the opportunity to study and perform in Italy, France and Sweden. Not only a performer, Cristina co-founded Muliebris Dance Theatre in the fall of 2015 and has presented her choreography in New York City at The Tank, The Alchemical Theater, and Trans Pecos.

Cristina has been teaching ballet, creative movement, jazz, and modern for several years to children and adults and believes that the classroom is not only a place to learn technique and fundamentals but also a place to explore and play! She is grateful to be a part of Breaking Ground, surrounded by so many inspiring teachers and artists.

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A native of Hawai’i, Laurel Higa began dancing at the age of 4 on the beautiful island of Oahu. Laurel moved to New York to pursue her dreams in dance and graduated from Manhattanville College where she received a B.A in Dance & Theater, with a concentration in Dance Therapy & Minor in Psychology. She has had the privilege of performing works by Peter Pucci, Marta Renzi, Ann Marie DeAngelo, Julio Monge, Arthur Aviles, & Roberto Villanueva. Laurel has also performed at renowned venues such as the New York City Center, Jacobs Pillow, Great Friends Dance Festival, & The Alvin Ailey Citigroup Theatre. In addition to teaching dance, Laurel has begun to take on a career in Group Exercise.  She is also currently studying for her Masters Degree in Arts Administration at Baruch College in NYC.  Laurel is very excited to be on the BGDC Dream Team again! Her “Miss Aloha” spirit keeps our More Than Just Great Dancing motto alive and positive!

gina-mazzarella

Gina Mazzarella grew up on the New Jersey shore where she was an active member of community theaters as well as a competative dancer. After graduating from Freehold Regional Fine and Performing Arts magnet high school she moved to Manhattan to begin her performing career and college education. She received a BA in Dance and Communication Arts from Marymount Manhattan College while performing as a principle dancer with Synthesis Dance, a New York City based contemporary jazz company directed by Tracie Stanfield. SDP lead her to perform at the Dancing From The Heart Benefit in Hollywood, FL, The Los Angeles Dance Invitational, The Cool New York Dance Festival, The International Dance Festival NYC, DUMBO Arts Festival and Carnival Choreographers Ball.

On the musical theatre stage she has been seen in the Broadway National Tour of Crazy For You directed by Broadway choreographer Joey McNealy, The Elan Awards honoring Susan Stroman, Ann Reinking and Rob Marshall, Damn Yankees, Little Shops of Horrors, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Grease and Guys & Dolls. Industrial performances include The Veiw, Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, Buick promotional media, Broadway Bares and Dance As Life: Volume One. Gina continues to teach and choreograph all over the tri-state area, as well as judge for national dance competitions and conventions. Thanks to Marissa and the Breaking Ground family!

allison-schieler

Allison’s professional dance training began upon her acceptance to LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts at Lincoln Center, where she studied classical ballet, pointe, the Horton and Graham techniques, tap, and jazz. She supplemented this extensive dance education, and her natural flexibility, with training in acrobatics, taking classes in contortion, hand balancing, and tumbling at her local studio. Allison continued her education as a dance major at New York University/Tisch School of the Arts, where she trained with and performed works by David Dorfman Dance, Battleworks, Kate Weare, Séan Curran, Keigwin + Company, Ron K. Brown and Evidence Dance Company, Ellis Wood Dance, Gina Gibney Dance, Nicholas Leichter Dance, and Deborah Jowitt.

After graduating, Allison decided to more steadily pursue her acrobatic training, taking classes at places such as The Sky Box, Aerial Arts NYC, and Body and Pole, focusing on contortion, aerial pole, silks, and hoop. Allison currently dances with MachineHistrionica Dance and performs her handbalancing/contortion acts around the U.S. with Phoenix Entertainment, Cirque Central, and the Folk Circus. She also freelances as a professional dancer, choreographer, and acrobat. Some recent appearances include dance/contortion roles in two music videos with Aja Music & Film Productions and a cameo on the television series The Following on Fox.

Allison has such a great way of bringing her extensive experience to her classrooms with her fun, upbeat and energetic personality. We are so excited to have her a part of the BGDC faculty!

Natalie is a choreographer, teacher and performance artist based in New York City. Natalie was Head Coach and Choreographer of Columbia University Dance Team from 2011-2014. She also has been teaching dance to children since 2010 and has choreographed and collaborated on many award winning solos and group dances. Natalie received her BFA from George Mason University in 2009. She has performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., Center of the Arts in Fairfax, Virginia and the Manhattan Movement and Arts Center in New York. She has participated in the Vienna International Dance Festival in Austria under the training of Bruce Taylor and Peter Jasko, the America College Dance Festival in Radford, Virginia, New York Summer School of the Arts in Saratoga Springs, New York under Carolyn Addams and performed in a resident piece set by Robert Battle as well as appearing in filmed choreography by MariaColaco dance. An active member of the New York City dance community, she has assisted in master classes at Broadway Dance center, Steps on Broadway as well as being a master class assistant for Frank Hatchett’s Street Jazz and Progressions at the Dance Teachers Magazine Conference. Natalie is very excited to be part of the Breaking Ground Dance Center faculty!

devon-smith

Devon Smith began her training in New Hampshire under the direction of Melissa Hoffman. She quickly discovered that teaching was a true passion for her. She spent a summer studying at Alvin Ailey and then went on to perform all over the world with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. She then moved on to work with Royal Caribbean’s singers and dancers as one of their Rehearsal Choreographers. In 2008 she moved to NYC to continue pursuing her passion. Since moving to NYC, Devon has choreographed and toured with Grammy nominated recording artist Britt Nicole, Vera Flash (performing alongside Macklemore) and Cherie Lily. She recently choreographed the music video for “One More Try” by artist Lauren Mayhew as well as “Dancing Out” by Indie pop band French Horn Rebellion which was listed on the top 50 music videos of 2013 (IMVDB) Devon has had the honor of teaching contemporary and jazz at Broadway Dance Center, Steps on Broadway and Peridance in Manhattan. She is thrilled to be joining the Breaking Ground family.

Gabriela Soto

Gabriela M. Soto began her dance training at Ballet Concierto de Puerto Rico under the direction of Lolita Villanueva. She then moved to Florida to attended Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, Orlando Ballet and graduated from Dr. Phillips High School as the president of the National Honor Society for Dance Arts. She then moved to New York City to attend the Ailey School Certificate Program. Gabriela has had the privilege of performing works by Sidra Bell, William Forsythe, Francesca Harper, Jae Man Joo, Lar Lubovitch, Mike Esperanza, Bradley Shelver, Elisa Monte, Alvin Ailey, Matthew Rushing and Robert Battle. She has performed at City Center, Jacobs Pillow, Apollo Theatre, Ailey CintiGroup Theatre, Symphony Space, Bryant Park and the Kumble Theatre. Gabriela is a past member of The Steps Repertory Ensemble and a current member of TranscenDance Group and Bennyroyce Dance. Gabby is so excited to be a part of the amazing faculty at Breaking Ground!

georgia-teperikidou

Georgia Teperikidou first began her artistry in dance at the age of four studying at The Center for Ballet in Thessaloniki, Greece. After graduating with a BFA in Dance, with a major in Ballet, from The Professional Dance School in Thessaloniki, Greece, she moved to New York to continue her professional career in dance. While in New York, she attended Dance Space Center where she studied ballet, modern, jazz (Simonson Technique), and Pilates. In 2002, she enrolled in the yearlong program in Laban Movement Studies at the Laban Institute of Movement Studies in New York. After a year devoted to exploring, analyzing and experimenting with diverse movement techniques, Mrs. Teperikidou received certification in Movement Analysis and Notation. Her continuous pursuit to obtain a well-rounded dance education led her to attend New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education to earn a Master’s Degree in Dance Education with a concentration in Higher Education. Mrs. Teperikidou constantly strives to further her education, strengthen her teaching techniques, and expand upon her knowledge. She has attended teachers’ workshops at The National Ballet School of Canada, American Academy of Ballet, Miami City Ballet, New York City Center and New York City Ballet. In July of 2013, Mrs. Teperikidou had the privilege of attending the first ever teachers workshop at the Paris Opera Ballet School and receive recognition and certification from one of the oldest ballet institutions in the western world.

Furthermore, Mrs. Teperikidou is a certified New York City Ballet Workout Instructor and a Zena Rommett Floor Barre Certified Instructor. Mrs. Teperikidou is proud to have received certification in the ABT National Training Curriculum for Levels Pre-Primary through Level 5. Mrs. Teperikidou is an affiliated teacher with ABT that has successfully presented students for exams in the Levels of Primary to Level 4.