Lisa Mara is the Founder of DanceWorks LLC and directs both the New York City & Boston affiliates. As a principal choreographer, Lisa began her training in Bedford, MA at the age of seven. A 2008 graduate of Syracuse University, Lisa spent four years involved with the University's student-run dance organization and was elected Director after her sophomore year. Along with overseeing the program, she organized workshops and auditions for over 200 students and choreographed and performed for crowds of over 3,500 each spring. A finalist for the Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards and New England Patriots Cheerleaders, Lisa continues to work with various local artists and organizations. Most recently, Lisa was hired as Principal Choreographer for HGTV's new pilot Spontaneous Construction, which also features DanceWorks Boston and is set to air in 2013. While not in the studio, Lisa enjoys training for the Boston Marathon.
Cara Patten started dancing at the early age of 5 for the New England Dance and Gymnastics Center in Westfield, Massachusetts. She was trained in ballet, lyrical, acrobatics, tap, and jazz. Cara competed up and down the east coast for over 13 years as part of the studio's competition company. Cara continued her dance career at Stonehill College in Easton, MA where she was a member of the Stonehill College Dance Team. After graduation, Cara became the team's head coach for over 6 years. Stonehill's Dance team competed annually at the National Dance Alliance Championship in Daytona, Florida. This will be Cara's fifth season dancing with DanceWorks Boston and her first season choreographing.
Christy O'Neil took her first dance class in preschool, and hasn't stopped dancing since. She danced competitively at Kerry Smith's Academy of Dance Arts and K&M Studio in Norwood, MA, training in ballet, jazz, modern, lyrical, and tap. Christy was selected for the nationally ranked Crimson Dance Team at Harvard University. She choreographed contemporary and jazz pieces for the team's annual shows and a portion of the team's 5th place 2008 NDA Nationals routine. She continues her involvement with the Crimson Dance Team today as a founding member of its Alumni Advisory Board. Christy is thrilled to continue dancing after college with DanceWorks Boston and is excited to return for a fourth season!
Emily started dancing at age 5, and she hasn't stopped since. In Plainville, MA, Emily danced for the Turning Pointe School of Dance for thirteen years, polishing her skills as a dancer a choreographer. She competed regionally and traveled nationally to perform, including performances at Disney World and Universal Studios. Emily moved on to Syracuse University where she joined SU DanceWorks as a freshmen. In her sophomore year, she took up a leadership role on the DanceWorks board and also as a choreographer. In her last two years at Syracuse, Emily held the role of producer her junior year and co-director of the organization her senior year, and choreographed both years. She graduated Syracuse in May 2012 with a Bachelor's Degree with double major in Marketing Management and Finance. Emily is excited for her second season with DanceWorks Boston and first season as a choreographer!
Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, Janina began dancing recreationally at the age of five, focusing on ballet and jazz. At the age of eleven, Janina began to compete nationally and internationally in gymnastics, before eventually returning to her love for dance and joining the International School Manila Dance Company, where she was first introduced to lyrical dance. She continued to pursue both dance and gymnastics in high school before eventually concentrating primarily on dance at Babson College in Babson Park, MA. As a member of the Babson Dance Ensemble (BDE), Janina further cultivated her passion for dance, becoming skilled in a multitude of other mediums of dance including hip hop, street/pop jazz, theater/broadway, and contemporary. She began choreographing group pieces by her sophomore year, ranging from contemporary to broadway to lyrical hip-hop pieces. By her senior year in college, Janina not only became President of the Babson Dance Ensemble, but also won a scholarship to the MOVE9 Workshop, taking master classes with choreographers such as TOKYO, Natasha Louis, and Leo Morimune. After graduating from Babson College, Janina continued to pursue the art form by taking contemporary and hip-hop classes at Jeannette Neill Dance Studio in Boston, MA and eventually taking part in the studio's bi-annual repertory performance. Having joined DanceWorks Boston in the fall of 2011, Janina continues to hone her skills as both a choreographer and dancer while simultaneously fully enjoying the friendly and ridiculous atmosphere that is DWB!
Joseph Dreeszen began dancing at the age of 5 at Nicole Zervas Dance Academy in Revere, MA. After taking up street funk in the early 90s, Joe dropped his running man foundations in high school for hip hop, popping, and freestyling. Upon entering Boston College, he auditioned for Synergy Hip Hop Dance Co. Here he began to experiment more with choreography and art direction, and ultimately became Director his senior year. Under his leadership, the group auditioned for America's Got Talent and traveled to New York and surrounding states for several competitions. After graduation in 2009, he began teaching at Beat Connxtionz in Saugus, MA, and was the lead choreographer for their crews' audition for America's Best Dance Crew in 2009. He was a principal dancer in several music videos for local hip hop and Latin artists. He is currently a dancer and choreographer in Phunk Phenomenon, one of the original hip hop crews in Boston. This is his second time choreographing with DanceWorks Boston.
Kara Mackinson began dancing at age 4 at North Shore Dance Academy in Peabody, Massachusetts. She quickly fell in love with the stage, and from age 10, she trained and competed in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical and contemporary. In addition, she furthered her dance training by attending various local and national workshops. After high school, Kara attended Fordham University in the Bronx, New York where she performed with Expressions Dance Alliance, the university's student run dance company. During her four years with the company, Kara had the privilege of exploring choreography. Through choreographing, her passion for performing extended to a passion for creating. After graduating in 2011, Kara took a year-off from dancing until (thankfully!) discovering DanceWorks Boston. Now a second-season dancer, she is honored to be a first-time choreographer for the Season 6 DanceWorks Boston Project.
Katie's first dance steps came at the age of 3 at the Diane Kelley Dance Studio and continued there for 15 years where she trained in ballet, jazz, lyrical, tap, & contemporary. For 11 of those years she competed in several national competitions. In 2002, she competed with the United States Dance Team at the IDO World Show and Tap dance Championships in Reisa, Germany. In high school, she was also a part of the Burncoat Dance Magnet and Dance Team, she was elected captain her senior year. She became a part of the student run UMass Amherst Dance Team in 2005 and competed at the National Dance Alliance (NDA) Championship for 4 years in Daytona, FL . She was elected co-captain during her junior and senior years and lead the team to a 2nd place finish at the 2009 NDA Championship. In 2010, she became a part of the pilot Bacardi Dancers Group and performed at various venues including Celtics Games. She is very excited to be a part of DWB and continue to share her passion for dance!
Kristen Keefe grew up competitively dancing at Kerry Smith’s Academy of Dance Arts and K&M Studio Inc. in Norwood, MA. There she trained in jazz, tap, ballet, pointe, modern, contemporary, lyrical, and hip hop. She continued dancing throughout college with the Boston College Dance Ensemble, and was fortunate to serve on the officer board as Assistant Director her senior year. She enjoyed choreographing for BCDE three out of the four years she was a member, and loved dancing again with many of the same girls with whom she had grown up competing. Kristen is currently pursuing her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology at Clark University in Worcester, MA, and is grateful for the opportunity to continue dancing in Boston. She is thrilled to be a first-time DanceWorks Boston choreographer and can’t wait to see what this season brings!
Kellcie Teel received her early training from the Donna Miceli Dance Center in Lowell, MA. During her 15 years with DMDC, she trained in ballet, jazz, tap, musical theater, modern and contemporary, and competed at numerous dance conventions and competitions. Kellcie then went on to receive her B.A. in Dance from Dean College in Franklin, MA where she was a member of the dance team and choreographed for annual performances. Post college, Kellcie continues to train and teach at various dance studios and is currently working at the Gymnastic Academy of Boston in Acton, MA where she teaches gymnastics and is the director for the dance program. This is Kellcie's second season dancing and choreographing for DWB!
Lauren Catalano grew up north of Boston. She danced competitively with the Lisa Liston School of Dance where she trained in lyrical, ballet, jazz and tap. Lauren attended Stonehill College and earned her bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design. She danced with the Stonehill College Dance Team with whom she competed nationally for three years at the National Dance Alliance Championship in Daytona, Florida. She went on to be a captain in her senior year and an assistant coach upon graduation. Lauren is thrilled to be choreographing in her fifth season with DanceWorks Boston.
Lauren began dancing at the age of 3 at Heidi Hogan’s and Tami’s Dance Connection in Leominster, MA. From there, she continued on with Karen Brown of Dance Revelations, and at Performing Arts Theater/Paula Meola Dance and Performing Arts, under the direction of Lisa Hughes and Paula Meola, specializing in ballet, pointe, tap, jazz and lyrical. Amidst her training, she performed with the Granite State Ballet, took specialized classes with Boston Ballet, and during a cheering competition, was asked to be part of the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. She has competed, performed and choreographed throughout New England in both cheer and dance, and has been teaching since 2002. Lauren currently works in Boston at Cambridge Associates, LLC and teaches children's dance at Harvard Academy of Dance; she is thrilled to be entering her fifth season with DanceWorks Boston and is looking forward to another incredible season!
Lauren has been high-kicking and shimmying her way through life since a young age when she trained in Ballet, Tap, Modern, and Jazz at the Academy of Movement dance studio in Nashua, NH. She realized her true passion for the culture, art, and technique of dance when she studied at various summer programs in high school: ProDanza Italia in Tuscany, Italy, University of the Arts Summer World of Dance in Philadelphia, PA, and the Bates Summer Dance Festival in Lewiston, ME. During her four years at Boston University where she earned a BS in Education (and loved it so much she went back to earn her EdM in 2010!), Lauren performed with the BU Dance Team at school sporting events—serving as Co-Captain her junior year, and with Vibes, an innovative all-female Hip Hop crew. Lauren’s post-college dance experience includes: two Celtics Dancers final audition pageants, three seasons with the Boston Cannons and one with the Boston Blazers professional lacrosse dance teams, and training in Jazz and Hip Hop at Jeannette Neill Dance Studio. Lauren is ecstatic to take on the role of choreographer in her third season with DanceWorks Boston. When not dancing, Lauren can be found teaching Physical Education, enjoying nights out in Boston with friends, and spending time with her (super ridiculously cute) 2-year-old daughter, Cora.
Lindsey Timko stepped foot in her first dance class at the YMCA when she was just two years old. At five, she moved on to the Donna Miceli Dance Center, where she studied for the next 13 years, and still returns to take classes today. In 1994, she became a member of DMDC’s youngest company, and moved up through the program to become a member of the Youth Dance Company. As a member of the YDC, she performed in many local venues, as well as traveling to participate in Walt Disney World’s Magic Music Days at Epcot and the Jazz Dance World Congress in Buffalo, NY. Attending Syracuse University, Lindsey was a four-year member of DanceWorks, with a single semester break to study abroad in London. Her senior year, she partnered with DanceWorks Boston Director Lisa Mara to co-direct DanceWorks’ NYC inspired show for a sold out crowd. Off the dance floor, Lindsey works as a designer for Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country Magazine at America’s Test Kitchen. This is Lindsey's fifth season choreographing for DanceWorks Boston.
Maggie Lopez is from Port Charlotte, FL and began dancing at age three where she learned to dance ballet, jazz, and tap. At eleven, she began competing with Universal Dance Academy up until she graduated high school. Here she was introduced to contemporary and hip-hop and also began to assist in dance classes for younger students. As an ensemble, they won many awards at regional competitions as well as in national competitions. As a soloist, she won several awards including Top Ten High-Scoring Solos. Once at Boston College, she joined the Boston College Dance Ensemble, where her love of choreographing grew. She graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Theology and International Studies. She is now entering her second year at Suffolk University Law School and is extremely excited to start her third season with DanceWorks!
Marie Torto began dancing at the age of seven at North Shore Dance Academy in Peabody, MA. During her 10 years with NSDA, she trained in ballet, jazz, tap, pointe, lyrical and contemporary, and competed at numerous dance conventions and competitions. Marie attended Assumption College in Worcester, MA where she was on the dance team and became captain her senior year. The team attended National Dance Alliance (NDA) summer camps where she won two consecutive All-American Dance titles and received a job offer from the company. She worked with NDA for three summer seasons and traveled to multiple states to perform and teach at high school dance camps. With NDA, she trained in jazz, pom, hip-hop and kick. Marie is also a member of Boston's Unyted Stylz hip hop crew. Marie graduated from Assumption in 2010 with a B.A. in English with Writing and Mass Communications and got her Master's Degree in Broadcast Journalism at Boston University this past December. Past DWB choreography credits include "Electric" for Season 2, "Hello World" for Season 3, "Rumor Has It" and "Fireflies" for Season 4, and "Deadly" for Season 5. This is her fifth season with DanceWorks Boston and hopes to continue dancing and choreographing for it many seasons to come.
Megan was born in Rhode Island and began dancing at the age of five. She trained at Let’s Dance in West Warwick, RI until the age of 18. She studied jazz, ballet, tap, lyrical, modern and gymnastics at this studio and held a spot on their competition team. In November 2003, Megan went to Germany to represent the United States in the World Championships of Dance. She currently performs with Kinetic Synergy Dance Company and teaches fifth grade math and social studies in Roxbury. This is Megan’s third season with the DanceWorks Boston Project and she couldn’t be more excited to choreograph this season for the first time. When she is not dancing you will most likely find Megan exploring the city, drinking a diet coke, finding some kind of food to put ketchup on, and/or curled up with a good book!
Mikéla Almeida started dancing 4 years ago, her sophomore year at Syracuse University, where she was approached by a friend who said “…you look like you can dance, you should audition for my dance group.” Lo and behold, Mikéla actually discovered a hidden talent, when she took her up on the offer and made it into her student run dance group called Kalabash Dance troupe. She was introduced to Caribbean /hip hop music in this group and within the year became a central choreographer for the group. In 2011, she was later approached by two of her friends in the student run organization, DanceWorks, who asked her to audition for their pieces and after making it, DanceWorks became the spark to her new passion of dance. She later taught a DanceWorks hip hop workshop after the 2011 season ended. While Mikéla was a full time student athlete for the SU women’s rowing team, information desk associate, Kalabash Dance troupe and DanceWorks member, she decided to expand her dancing by briefly joining the 2011 SU best dance crew winner and student run hip hop freestyle group called Expressive Elements. After graduating Syracuse University in 2011, Mikéla moved back home to Providence, Rhode Island, where she joined DanceWorks Boston for season 4 and taught a summer hip hop workshop. Her first season in DWB, Mikéla was chosen with 5 other dancers to be part of a fashion inspired hip hop dance video directed and produced by Lou Goudman and Charles Vuolo. DWB Season 5 was her first season choreographing alongside Connor Fischelis and this season, Season 6, is her first time choreographing a hip hop piece by herself. Currently, she works at a RI Law firm as a full time legal assistant, enjoys spending time with her family, boyfriend and friends.
Shannon began dancing at the age of 2 at the Diane Kelley Dance Studios in West Boylston, MA and continued to dance there for 16 years. She trained in ballet, tap, jazz, modern and contemporary, competing locally, nationally and internationally. She was given the opportunity to dance as a member of the United States Dance Team in 2002 at the IDO World Show and Tap Dance Championships in Reisa, Germany. Shannon continued to dance and choreograph in college as a member of the Boston College Dance Ensemble, where she served as Director her senior year. In 2010, she became a member of the first-ever Bacardi Dancers, performing at venues and sporting events around New England. Currently, she is pursuing her Masters of Public Health in Health Law, Bioethics and Human Rights at the Boston University School of Public Health. Shannon is thrilled to share the stage once more with some of the most amazing people in the world as she joins DWB for a third season!
Stephanie Hurley grew up in Malden, MA, and began dancing at the age of three at the Lisa Liston School of Dance, where she performed in local competitions and annual recitals as both a soloist and ensemble member. After high school, Stephanie attended Boston College and earned her bachelor’s degree in English and Secondary Education. While at BC, Stephanie taught tap classes to students ages 8-18 at a studio in Newton, MA, and danced with the Boston College Dance Ensemble, serving as a choreographer for four years and as the group’s assistant director for two years. Stephanie currently teaches tap classes in Somerville, MA, and is excited to be choreographing this year in her fourth appearance on stage with DanceWorks Boston!