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MEET THE BALLET STUDIO STAFF . . .
Lisa Zola - De Libero | Director

Lisa has been dancing since the age of seven. She started her dance training at The Ballet Studio under the direction of her mom, Beverly Zola. While taking weekly classes at The Ballet Studio, Lisa attended master dance classes and workshops in New York City, while also attending classes at Princeton Ballet. As well as a love for dance, she also played sports throughout her elementary, middle, and high school years. Lisa attended The College of New Jersey where she received a Bachelors degree in psychology, with a minor in journalism. During her years at TCNJ, she wrote a fitness and nutrition column for The Signal, the college newspaper. She then attended Rider University where she received a graduate teaching degree in elementary education. As the owner/director of The Ballet Studio, Lisa is presently responsible for the management of the dancing school. She is also continuing a career as a freelance writer, writing for Community News Service (Mercerspace.com).



Sherri Lynn DiStefano | Competition Director, Instructor, and Choreographer

Sherri began dancing at The Ballet Studio at the age of three under the direction of Beverly Zola, owner and former ballerina with the Thomas Cannon Ballet Company. Her training includes ballet, pointe, lyrical, jazz, and musical theatre. At The Ballet Studio, Sherri successfully competed in local talent shows and regional competitions under the direction of mentor, Lisa Zola-DeLibero. Sherri graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in Sociology and was a student of the elementary education program. While at Rutgers, she was captain of the nationally ranked RU Dance Team. She also worked as an instructor for Universal Dance Association, traveling the east coast to teach high school dance teams. After graduation, Sherri was honored to become an instructor at The Ballet Studio and then on to the Director of the Competition program. Her favorite work at the studio involves choreographing 30-50 students each year in an original production with plenty of fun characters, style, and heart. Her dancers have earned many top awards like “Most Entertaining Group,” “Top Score of the Day,” and in 2009 they won the Nexstar Nationals for their production of “Cats.” Besides competing, the TBS Competition Team has performed at The Trenton Thunder, Metro Stars Soccer, The Italian American Festival, and more recently they were sponsored by the Bordentown Elks in the City’s Halloween parade. Sherri is so proud to still be a part of the studio where she grew up and she hopes to inspire future dancers and her own daughter to “dance with their heart.”



Amber Brovak | Instructor and Choreographer

Amber began dancing at the age of 3, under the direction of Beverly Zola, at The Ballet Studio. She has also danced with her high school dance team as well as attended recreational dance classes in NY & NJ. Amber enjoys teaching, choreographing, and interacting with the students while they learn. She currently teaches ballet, jazz and pointe. She graduated from Rutgers University with a degree in Chemical Engineering, with minors in Economics and Psychology. Amber currently works for The Sunny Delight Beverages Co. where she is the NA HSE & Sustainability Manager.



Stacy Danka | Instructor and Choreographer

Stacy Ann Danka has been teaching pre-k dance for many years. She attended The Ballet Studio as a student for 15 years. Miss Stacy attended Rutgers University and Graduated from Mason Gross School of Arts with a bachelors degree in music education. She also holds a masters degree from Rutgers in infant and child develpoement. Stacy works in Hamilton Township schools their special education pre-k department. Stacy is a church cantor and performs throughout NJ with many different community theatre groups while also teaching private voice lessons. Stacy feels truly blest to be part of the TBS family.



Cara Jorgesen | Instructor and Choreographer

Cara has been dancing since the age of three. She started participating in dance competitions at the age of eight to the age of eighteen. She received an associates degree in the Arts from Mercer County Community College where she studied dance. She was a part of the Mercer Dance Ensemble for two years. She recently transferred to Richard Stockton College where she plans on recieving a Bachelors in Dance with a concentration in Pre Movement Therapy. She is also a member of the dance team for Stockton. She plans on receiving her Masters and becoming a Dance Therapist. This is her third year teaching jazz and hip hop at TBS and she loves every minute of it!



Erika L. | Instructor and Chroeographer

Erika began dancing at the age of 3 under the direction of Ms. Irene Parker. She continued her enjoyment of dance at the Dance Shop under Ms. Joyce Smilek for 12 years. At the Dance Shop Erika participated in tap, jazz, lyrical and ballet she also took part in competitions. After Erika finished high school she began taking classes and teaching with Ms. Lisa at the Ballet Studio. She also participated in competitions. During the same time Erika attended MCCC and graduated from Rowan University with a BA in History. While at Rowan University Erika launch the Rowan Dance Team. They performed at home football and basketball games as well as school functions. She currently is employed by the State of NJ as a Senior Police Officer with the Department of Human Services. She still continues to enjoy her love for dance by instructing and choreographing for students performing solos, duets, and trios.



Amanda Ruzich | Instructor and Choreographer

Amanda began dancing at The Ballet Studio when she was five years old. She started with foundations in ballet technique and eventually moved on to jazz, lyrical and pointe. In addition to these classes, Amanda joined the competitive dancers at The Ballet Studio until graduating from high school in 2006. Upon graduation, she became a Ballet Studio staff member. Amanda is currently a junior at The College of New Jersey where she is pursuing a double major in Special Education and Math, Science, Technology and a double minor in Psychology and Communication Disorders. While academics hold the highest regard, Amanda also finds time to dance on TCNJ's Dance Team. The dance team attends camp every summer, performs at home football and basketball games, as well as other campus events, holds an annual fundraiser Dancers for Cancer, and competes every January at the Universal Dance Association's College Dance Team Nationals in Walt Disney World. Amanda currently teaches advanced level hip-hop at The Ballet Studio.



Alicia Riley | Instructor and Choreographer

Alicia began dancing at the age of 4, under the direction of Irene Parker in Trenton. As her love of dance grew stronger, she attended classes at The Dance Shop in Hamilton Square for 11 years where she study tap, ballet, and jazz. She also competed with her class and won many awards in both tap and jazz. She has also taken many classes and workshops in NJ and NY. She has attended Mercer County Community College and Georgian Court College in Lakewood, NJ , where she studied Special Education. This is her 8th year teaching ballet, jazz, and hip hop at The Ballet Studio and wouldn't want it any other way!!



Tara Toporek | Director of Customer Service /Accounts Receivable / Instructor and Choreographer

Miss Tara has been a part of The Ballet Studio since the age of three. She has been taking classes at TBS for twenty seven years. Her mother, and two sisters have also been students at TBS. Tara began as an assistant instructor and then became an instructor working primarily with pre-schoolers to students in 5th grade. Tara has attended numerous classes at Princeton Ballet. She has also attended dance teacher Intensive workshops in New York City and the Meadowlands. Tara is a graduate of The Art Institute of Philadelphia where she received high honors status. Tara feels that The Ballet Studio and dance have been a big part of who she is today.



Jaime Maerz | Instructor and Choreographer

Jaime began dancing at the Ballet Studio at the age of 3, under the direction of Beverly Zola. She continued dancing until entering college, where she received her BA from Rutgers University. Shortly thereafter, Jaime spent some time living down south, working as an Educational Director, while always holding on to her love of dance and taking dance classes every chance she had. Jaime has since made her way back "home" and was welcomed back to The Ballet Studio, where her passion for dance first began. She is also the owner of Petite Treats by Jaime Christine, a chocolate specialty company, although dancing will always be her first love. "Working with young dancers is such a joy, and I am thrilled to be back and part of the TBS family, doing what I love and seeing that same joy radiate on the dance floor through our dancers!"



Brenda Siracusa | Instructor and Choreographer

Brenda began dancing as a child at the Howley Sisters School of Dance. At the age of eleven she started dancing at The Ballet Studio, with the beloved Miss Beverly Zola as her teacher and mentor. Brenda also danced at Princeton Ballet during their summer program. In the early 1980s she began teaching at the studio. Over the twenty-five plus years of teaching, Brenda has taught all levels of dance and age groups, starting with the pre-schoolers to the advanced adults. Ballet continues to be her passion. During her “retirement” from teaching, she has been a substitute instructor when needed. Since childhood Brenda has had a love for musical theater. She has performed in many musicals, such as The Music Man, Hello Dolly, Brigadoon, Lil’ Abner, and Destry Rides Again, to name a few. Outside the studio, Brenda has been an elementary school teacher for more than twenty-five years, teaching everything from kindergarten to fifth grade. Recently she completed her graduate studies at her alma mater, TCNJ, to become certified in English as a Second Language. Last year she left the general education classroom to become an ESL teacher. Her greatest accomplishment is her family, especially her children Robert, William, and Emilia. Also, it brings Brenda great joy to see her love of dance continue in her daughter.



Courtney Anthes | Instructor and Choreographer

Courtney began her dancing career at the age of three at the Hamilton YMCA. At five years old, she started at The Ballet Studio with Miss Lisa as her teacher, and loved it. During her years at TBS, Courtney was on the competitive team from the age of 8 to 18. After graduating high school, Courtney attended Rider University and graduated Summa Cum Laude in May 2016 with her degree in Elementary Education, Psychology, and a minor in Special Education. She is a fourth grade teacher in Pemberton Township, NJ. Courtney has loved dancing since a very young age, and is excited to join The Ballet Studio as an instructor.



Melissa De Lorenzo | Instructor and Choreographer

Melissa's passion for the arts runs deep within her soul. Her love of dance started at The Ballet Studio under the direction of Lisa Zola-Delibero and Sherri Distefano. From there she studied classical ballet with Julie Caprio (NJ), David Howard (NYC) & Dawn Hillen (NYC).After graduating high school she became the lead vocalist in original band Kickin' Daisies with a fully produced album and performances in New Orleans, Atlantic City and NYC. She was also featured in music videos that aired on MTVU, and was on the Style Network's reality TV Series Glam Fairy. Her solo choreography and costume designs were awarded 1st place at Nexstar Nationals in Virginia Beach, 2009.Melissa's most recent endeavors include teaching Zumba classes and residing on the beautiful island of Maui for 3.5 years where she performed as a professional dancer in the long running Elvis show at the Maui Theatre, Lahaina 'Burn n' Love' She was also the manager & full time instructor at Hawaii's first Pure Barre studio. The Ballet Studio has and always will be Melissa's home and happy place, no matter where her life's adventures take her.



Ashlee Martel | Instructor and Choreographer

Ashlee began her dancing career at the age of 3 at The Ballet Studio. She refused to switch dancing schools when moving to Pennsylvania in the third grade. She taught alongside of Mrs. Tara and Miss Stacy for many years. She was also on the Competition Team for 5 years. After high school, Ashlee attended Millersville University where she graduated in May 2017 with a BSE-Social Studies Education Degree for 7th-12th grade students. She is very excited to be back home at The Ballet Studio to continue her career as a choreographer. Ashlee fully believes and lives the moto, "Dancing with your feet is one thing, but dancing with your heart is another."



Kristin Ranke-Brown | Instructor and Choreographer

Kristin was born and raised in New Jersey and has been studying dance since the age of 3. From a very early age she knew that performing was ultimately what she wanted to do. With the help and support of her family, Kristin was able to study many genres of dance to really hone in on her skills. Her love of dance brought her to study at DeSales University, earning a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Dance with a minor in management. She was given the opportunity to work with wonderful artists from throughout the tri-state area; Tim Cowart, Kristin Fieseler, Tara Madsen-Robbins, Trinette Singleton and Lynne Mariani. Kristin has also had the opportunity to perform works by Trinette Singleton, Charles Weidman (restaged by Janet Towner), Sydney Skybetter (Skybetter and Associates) Alwin Nikolais (restaged by Alberto Del Saz), Rennie Harris (Rennie Harris Puremovement), Caroline Copeland, and Kristin Fieseler (Annex Dance Company). Kristin's training has giving her the opportunity to work and perform in New York City. Kristin studied closely with Sheila Barker, Ginger Cox, Finis Jhung, Jamie Salmon, and Tracie Stanfield. She was an assistant for the Radio City Rockette Experience and performed Tensile Involvement as part of "Sharing the Legacy" at Hunter College in NYC in honor of Alwin Nikolais. Some of Kristin's favorite theatre credits include Camelot (asst. choreographer), Guys and Dolls (Ensemble-Hot Box Girl), You Can't Take it With You (choreographer), and Thoroughly Modern Millie (Ensemble- Pearl Lady.) Kristin has had the opportunity to travel the world performing on Holland America Cruise Lines. Upon her return she had the pleasure of working with Director Paul Chau and choreographer Wendy Seyb on her first SAG film, "Life of an Actress." Following that adventure she moved across the country to Las Vegas to perform in Donn Arden's Jubilee! at Bally's Hotel. While in Las Vegas Kristin had the opportunity to be a model for the Paul Mitchell "Caper" Beauty Fashion Show and JVA Inc. After returning to New York City the opportunity presented itself to work with the Make Up For Ever Academy as a body art model, a performer for Tryon Entertainment, and began performing in her first Off Broadway show, "Linda Miller's Legendary Ladies of Music" at The Triad Theatre. Kristin currently resides in the Lehigh Valley with her husband and is pursing her Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling with a Specialization in Dance Movement Therapy at Lesley University.



Anne Johnson | Instructor/Choreographer

Anne Johnson trained in classical ballet at Ballet Technique in Hamilton, NJ under Julie Caprio. After high school she attended Butler University in Indianapolis, IN where she graduated in 2016 with a BFA in Dance Performance. While at Butler she performed soloist and corps roles in full-length ballets such as Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, and Sleeping Beauty as well as modern and contemporary works. Her summers have been spent at numerous intensives such as Complexions Contemporary Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. Currently Anne is a second company member at American Repertory Ballet.



Caitlin Kazanski | Intern

I started dancing at The Ballet Studio when I was three years old. Since then, I've graduated from Robbinsville High School and am now taking classes at Mercer County Community College. After completing my associates degree in Dance-Fine Arts, I plan to being my second major to become a Physical Therapist Assistant. The past two years I've been in five performances at Mercer, taken classes with multiple dance companies, and continued to perform in the annual recitals at TBS. I am so grateful for my years at the studio and can't wait to become an official staff member in the future!

STUDENT HELPING INSTRUCTORS...

Francesca Alessi, Summer Benedict, Daria Briggs, Olivia Brovak, Fiona Dennis, Caitlin Kazanski, Cassie Kruchinsky, Michaela Mabin, Sarah Reichard, Shannon Roock, Emilia Siracusa, and Grace Teesdale.

A special thank you to the founder of The Ballet Studio, BEVERLY ZOLA, for making this opportunity possible.

PAST INSTRUCTORS...
We thank our former staff members and invite you to read their biographies as well. To do so, Click Here.


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