Shana opened SHDA in June 2002. Originally from Apple Valley, Minnesota, she started teaching there more than 20 years ago, trained with coaches from all over the country, was a competitive dancer and then opened her own school in Philadelphia. Shana also runs a nonprofit organization called The Philadelphia Dance Foundation that brings ballroom and Latin dance to underserviced children in inner-city schools. “Dancing is a beautiful sport that brings people young and old together in a way that does not compare to anything else,” Shana says. “Do not wait until ‘someday’ to dance!”
Kate is a Philadelphia native and has been a senior dance instructor at SHDA since 2005. She holds degrees in Television-Radio Production and Theater from Ithaca College, was a skater for the United States Figure Skating Association and has been trained by several top international dance professionals. She has performed at corporate events, the Manhattan Dancesport Championships, various showcases and on television. Her love of the ballroom began as a young girl in the ballet studio, when she was dismissed from class for lack of proper turnout and decided to try another form of dance. “The confidence that learning to dance gives you will carry over to the rest of your life,” Kate says. “It’s truly a life changing experience–and one of the best ways to keep fit and energized.” When she is not at SHDA, Kate produces documentary films and corporate and wedding videos through her company, American Mythology, and also enjoys traveling, eating a lot of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and playing violin.
Katie lives in Philadelphia and has been an instructor at SHDA for more than three years. She has studied all forms of dance as well as opera, glassblowing and printmaking at the University of the Arts, and majored in ballet. She performed for seven years with the Ballet Theatre of Lancaster (her hometown), was featured in many performances at the University of the Arts and has performed at weddings and special events with SHDA. Katie’s favorite dance memory was when she performed the role of Clara in the Nutcracker. Her other vocations include Pilates instructor and owner of a stained glass business, and she also enjoys fishing. According to Katie, “Dancing is like breathing. You do it every moment of every day but you are rarely aware of it.”
Tim is a South Philly resident who was born, raised, and attended college in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he studied math and physics, and jazz dancing on the side. “I find that an understanding of physics helps me to understand dance. The kinetics of billiard balls and springs is actually not so different from that of the human body.” Tim began ballroom dancing in 1997, and began teaching at SHDA in 2007. “I get excited by the passion and style of social dance–partners expressing favorite music, communicating with each other in their silent language of motion, for the world to admire.” Although Tim teaches all varieties of social dance, he does have a favorite. “I get a kick out of teaching dips and lifts. It’s always a joy to help people build confident expressions of grace and class that they will use to punctuate a performance.” When Tim is not dancing, he is teaching himself three-dimensional design and computer-generated character animation and is developing a motion capture system that he hopes to apply to dance instruction.
Nik is from Kiev, Ukraine and now makes Philadelphia, Pennsylvania his home. He has taught at Society Hill Dance Academy since 2009. Nik studied the International Ballroom and Latin style from some of the top coaches in the country and the world. He has performed at multiple competitions, including the Manhattan Amateur Championships, Manhattan DanceSport Championships, Arnold DanceSport Classic, and the Triple Crown DanceSport Championships, as well as multiple showcases. Nik’s dance philosophy is simple, and tied to his teaching philosophy: “Knowing what to do, when to do it, how to do it, and why to do it goes a long way in helping to form an understanding of what dancing is – an exchange of energy, a connection between two individuals as they merge into one couple. My job is to make sure my students understand all the information, and that they use it; that allows me to bring out the best [dancer] in them.” When he is not dancing, Nik enjoys weightlifting, reading and writing poetry, dabbling in graphic design, continuing his education and improving his physical, mental, emotional and spiritual self.
Nodari, a Dance Vision International Dance Association (DVIDA) and certified professional dance instructor, has taught ballroom and Latin dance in the Philadelphia area for more than 10 years. Both nationally and internationally recognized, he is a Pro/Am professional competitor and award-winning competitive dancer, and a member of the National Dance Council of America (NDCA). Originally from Russia, he studied ballroom dance in Israel and currently consults and trains dancers worldwide. He is a fifteen-time winner of the “Top Teacher” award at national competitions who has performed at the Merriam Theater and is a USA Rising Star Champion in Smooth and Rhythm dances. According to Nodari, “It is a source of pride and pleasure watching my students progress.” When he is not dancing, Nodari enjoys fishing, watching movies, swimming, cooking and playing sports.
Anthony is a South Jersey native with some good old fashion Italian South Philly roots. He received his BA in Theatre and Dance Performance from The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey. There he studied various forms of performance art along with a focus in costume design receiving recognition and awards from The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and the American College Dance Festival. Anthony is also well established in the South Jersey community and professional theatre circuit as both a performer and costume designer. Anthony found ballroom through theatre and has believed it to be a blessing and a stroke of pure luck. His philosophy is, “if you can walk, then you can dance! I’ll just make you look really cool doing it!”
Colleen is originally from Columbia, MD but now makes Philadelphia her home. She received her BS in Cell and Molecular Biology & Genetics from the University of Delaware, where she began her ballroom dancing career. Although her original goal was to attend medical school, her path took a different turn. Unable to imagine life without dancing, she decided to inspire that love in others by becoming an instructor at Society Hill Dance Academy. According to Colleen, “The beauty of partnered dancing lies in the intangible and fleeting connection between two people as they glide across the floor.” In addition to ballroom dancing, Colleen also teaches hip hop and night club dancing.
Charissa was born in the West Indies on the beautiful island of Trinidad. In 1999, she moved to New York City to pursue her education and quickly became immersed in the Argentine Tango community there. She strived to perfect this difficult improvisational dance and participated in the work-study program at Paul Pellicoro’s Dancesport to balance her full-time career in Real Estate. Seeking a more fulfilling enterprise and an easy transition out of the corporate sector, Charissa began exploring dance fitness classes and soon stumbled on SharQui ™ – The Bellydance Workout. She was thrilled by the body loving, confidence -pumping workout and in 2008, got her Group Fitness Instructor certification with the American Council on Exercise to begin teaching. Now residing in South Jersey, Charissa is the Manager at SHDA’s Manayunk location. In this role, her anatomical knowledge and academic background in Education and Organizational Management complement seamlessly her passion for movement and musical expression. In her free time, Charissa enjoys traveling, reading and watching stand-up comedy.
Tomas’ love of ballroom dance began while living in Florida, where he trained with several top coaches and instructors from all parts of the world. Originally getting his start in the world of ballet, he quickly realized that ballroom and Latin dancing was the perfect way to share his joy of movement and music with everyone. Since then, he’s instructed scores of people how to dance at every level and every age. Tomas’ love of the stage and performance has manifested itself in participating in a multitude of competitions all across the US and choreographing routines for exhibition. When not in the studio, Tomas can be found experimenting in the kitchen, crafting DIY projects in his home, playing with his cat, or traveling to spend time with his loved ones.
Trish is a native of Philadelphia and is the Assistant Manager at SHDA’s Center City location. The most interesting thing she sees while at the academy is the variety of different types of dance and the similarities and the differences of each of them. “My fondest memory I have ever had in SHDA since working here would have to be experiencing our dance parties for the first time,” Trish says. “I never thought I would be a part or see dancing like that before and it was amazing for me!” In her free time, Trish likes to play video games, read, and try new adventures with friends to such as going to museums and attending trapeze classes.