Our wonderful staff is a vital and important part of Stagelite's tremendous success and a key component in every dancer's growth and dance instruction. Here is an overview of our instructors and their qualifications. As you will see, it is a truly astounding collection of talent.
COOKIE MALY - Cookie comes from a very talented family. Her father was an acrobatic/dancer touring the United States and her mother performed musical theatre throughout the country. After graduation, she continued to study dance in New York City to further her knowledge as a teacher of performing arts. She has served on the Dance Educators of America Board of Directors for several years. Being an affiliate of the two top management services for children, several of her young students have appeared in Broadway shows, Radio City Music Hall's Christmas Spectacular, Regional Theater, Dinner Theaters, TV commercials, Cruise Ships, Dance Fashion Magazine and Industrial Trade Shows. Cookie has made it possible for her advanced level students to study abroad several years ago in London, England. Her students enjoyed the Creative Master class Workshop sponsored by Cameron Mackintosh. She has also accompanied her students to Gainsville, Florida, for three years as they studied and performed at the Summer Dance Institute at Santa Fe College. In September of 2005, 10 students were invited to perform at the Beijing International Dance Festival in Beijing, China. We are proud to have been chosen as one of six studios in the country, to represent the United States in this 6th annual festival, featuring 33 countries around the world. Cookie was also honored to be selected as the consultant for the American Dance Team that competed in Cesena, Italy, in June 2003. A few years ago 12 students performed in their first International show in the Dominican Republic. Since then, many students have returned to perform their talents at the Superclub Breezes Resort, in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. Cookie is honored to be an adjudicator and head judge for many regional and national dance competitions.
MICHELE DIAZ - Michele studied as a Dance Major at Montclair State University. She was the 1985 United States National All- Around Gymnastic Champion, a title that Mary Lou Retton won four years prior. Michele became a member of "Antigravity," a dance and gymnastic company based in New York City. She appeared in the Radio City Music Hall's Easter Show for two years. She also performed in several industrials around the country and performed in the "Stay in School Jam" with the Harlem Globetrotters. This lead her to a successful run of "Peter Pan" at the Paper Mill Playhouse and several television commercials, For the past several years, she has continued to study dance in London, England and New York City. Michele choreographs for the Stagelite Dance Company and has been awarded numerous honors for her unique and creative choreography.
SHEENA DIMATTEO - SHEENA is a NYC-based choreographer, dancer, and teacher with a B.A. in Dance from Point Park University. She originally trained at the Paula Scriva Dance Studio in Pittsburgh, PA as a competitive dancer and national titlist. She currently choreographs internationally with RWS & Associates and is a resident full company choreographer for Stagelite Academy of Performing Arts. Sheena has performed with Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, Lucille Lortel Theater, Pittsburgh Playhouse, and West Virginia Public Theater. Shows: Little Shop of Horrors, 42nd St!, The Producers, West Side Story, Children of Eden, Will Rogers Follies, The Velveteen Rabbit, On the Town, How to Succeed…, and Contact. She has danced with Stiletto Entertainment on the M.S. Oosterdam (Holland America Line) and for Revel Casino in Atlantic City. Sheena is the on-screen host of the YouTube show, Just Dance: Season One, on DanceOn Network, and has enjoyed performing in numerous music videos, web series, flash mobs, concerts, showcases, and industrial events in NYC, including the Phish Madison Square Garden NYE Concert. Sheena is the founder and artistic director of the traveling choreography shop: Dance In Transit, and has received choreography/entertainment awards for over 100 pieces in the style of jazz, musical theater, contemporary, lyrical, tap, and hip-hop. Other choreography credits include Hersheypark Music Box Theater, Hard Rock Hotel: Punta Cana, Rock and Roll Debauchery at The Cutting Room, Broadway Workshop, and Blind Tiger. She is a guest artist and judge for Dancers Inc, Onstage America, Sheer Talent, Impact Dance Adjudicators, Marquee Your Name In Lights, Lehigh Valley Dance Challenge, and Beyond the Stars. She is incredibly proud of the Stagelite team and our monumental accomplishments this year! Special congratulations toSing, Sing, Swing, our undefeated production number at all five competitions this season!
GENEVIEVE NORELL - Genevieve Norell was born in Norwood, Massachuesetts. She began her dance career as a schoolgirl and started her stage experience at the Boston Conservatory. Genevieve trained for seven years with world-renowned, Madame Ana Roje and six years of teaching experience with Miesha Morawski. Genevieve has danced with the Pittsburg Ballet Theatre and the Marseilles Opera Ballet. Genevieve performed in South Africa and Mexico as part of the NBC Studios production of The Sleeping Beauty. Genevieve has taught at the School of the Arts - Dance Center, Young Men's and Young Women's Hebrew Association, the Beekman Hill International School, the Village Dance Center and the Peri Dance Center. She has worked professionally with Randy Skinner and Scott Robinson. Genevieve has over 15 years of Ballet dancing and teaching experience and is excited to work with the Stagelite students as she believes Ballet basics are the tools necessary to achieve artistic freedom. Through her teachings, a student will be become a dancer---an artist.
Alisa Iacovelli - Alisa Iacovelli has been dancing for 19 years, and this will be her 7th year of teaching, choreographing, and producing annual recitals. She is a recent graduate of Stockton University, and obtained a B.A. in Dance as well as a B.S. in Health Science and a minor in Holistic Health. Before beginning her studies at Stockton University, she trained at Stagelite Academy of Performing Arts for 15 years. There she studied various styles and was a member of Stagelite's competitive dance company. Stagelite gave her the opportunity to begin her teaching career at a young age. Upon entering Stockton University, Alisa began studying under industry professionals including Rain Ross, Caitlin Quinn Pittenger, Chandra Moss-Thorne, Nathaniel Beau Hancock, Jae Hoon Lim, Anastasia Zlatina, Erin Pasko, Henry Van Kuiken, and Andrea Mychaels. Alisa was also given the opportunity to study under companies such as Dance Now! Miami, Gallim Dance, Lehrer Dance, and Robert Moses’ Kin. Alisa continues her dance career by performing and presenting her choreography both in NYC and Philadelphia. She most recently presented her choreography at the Koresh Artist Showcase in Philadelphia. Alisa is thrilled to be a part of the Stagelite staff, where her dedication and passion creates a welcoming and exciting environment for her students to effectively learn and grow.
BRENDAN MALY - Brendan is a Montclair State University Graduate with a BFA in Musical Theatre. Brendan has a long history of roles and performances throughout his life including directing the Stagelite Academy recitals the past couple of years! Brendan is an MC for two dance competitions: On Stage America and Sheer Talent, LTD, as well as the previous In-Game Host for the New Jersey Devils NHL Hockey team. Brendan is also a member of the adult Improv group called "NUTTY BY NATURE", which performs every first Saturday of the month. Brendan continues to audition in NYC and teach classes at Stagelite while enjoying video games, comic books, friends, and family.
MELISSA WEST - Melissa West has over 20 years of dance training in tap, jazz, hip hop, ballet, lyrical, contemporary and modern styles. She was a part of the New Jersey Tap Ensemble for six years and performed with the company at numerous theatres including, Lincoln Center, in a tribute to Duke Ellington. She has danced for Disney, Kmart, the New York Knicks and Liberty at Madison Square Garden, and has appeared dancing on the Queen Latifah television talk show. Melissa is also the dance captain of Nick DiNicolangelo’s Hands Down Tap Project, a tap company bringing together elite tappers from all over the U.S. Melissa has assisted classes across the nation at Adrenaline Dance Convention and is one of the youngest faculty members at Syncopate Tap Intensive working among some of the industries top teachers and choreographers. She continues to teach all styles of dance and choreographs high scoring competitive routines throughout New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Texas. She has also studied dance throughout college and now has a BA dance minor degree from Montclair State University. With a BA in psychology, focus on elementary education, and teaching certification for grades K-6, she is well rounded in her teaching styles. Melissa hopes to make a positive impact on the dance world and share her passion for the arts with others.
RAE-ANN THOMAS - Rae-Ann Thomas, a native of Massachusetts, developed her love for dance at a young age. After dancing through her childhood, she went on to receive her BA in Dance as well as an Associate’s degree in Business from Dean College in Massachusetts. Rae-Ann has performed for choreographers such as Mike Esperanza, Teddy Tedholm, Chris Hale, Brynn cohen,Calen Kurka, Kristen Sudekis, Hannah Frederick, and Rachel Hettinger, just to name a few. Rae-Ann spent time as a member of Rachel Hettinger’s company “metaphorsandsimilesdance,” and is a current member of Teddy Tedholm’s “TEDTED Performance Company.” Rae-Ann was an artist in the Gypsy Project LA, an improvisational base training program in Los Angeles. She trained directly under Gypsy’s founder and creator, Erica Sobol. She judges and works for many competitions and conventions, allowing her to share her knowledge and passion with dancers around the country as well as internationally. Rae-Ann aims to bring positive energy into her work as a dancer, choreographer, and ultimately instructor. Her taste for lightness and comedic accents make her work relatable and unique. She hopes to inspire and motivate all humans she is able to reach with her distinct movement style and love for light and dance.
JERYKA MORALES - Has been training in all forms of dance since the age of 7. She competed as a soloist and in groups achieving some of the highest scores and "Dance Titles." After graduation from Passaic County Technical Institute, as a dance major, she started her professional career at 17 years of age, training under Kelly Peters. She joined his New York City based company "Generation X" and continues to train at Brickhouse NYC. From there, her career has skyrocketed. Highlights of her career so far, has been one of the lead dancers in Future's "Crushed Up" music video, the comeback of TRL with Dj Khaled as well as French Montana, a Nike commercial for Kyrie Irving and has recently been signed to La Creme Talent agency for dance and modeling. She has also worked with Reebok , the NYC Knicks and Swarovski and continues to train in all styles of dance and work throughout the USA.