The Brooklyn Dance Center
The Brooklyn Dance Center Instructors
Jessica began gymnastics at the age of 5. After years of competitive gymnastics, she qualified for the Junior Olympics. Also a competitive cheerleader, she won the award of Top Flyer in her division in the southeast region. She began dance late at age 13, but fell in love with classes and competitions and by the age of 16 she was performing on the Disney Channel as a solo tap dancer. She moved to NYC after receiving a scholarship to AMDA's Musical Theatre conservatory program (graduate, National Dean's List) and then studied on Scholarship at West Side Dance Project and New Dance Group. After various national tours, cruise ships and Off-Broadway shows, she continued coaching and choreographing. She worked alongside Cris Judd in the film 'Falling Star' (with Adam Pascal and Tovah Feldshuh) and choreographed a music video for Nickelodeon’s Kelsey Sanders. As a coach her Brooklyn Hip Hop team won several gold medals at the Macabi Jr Olympics. Jessica has danced in National commercials for VH1, FUSE TV, as a cheerleader for AT&T and was also a stunt select actor for Darren Aronofsky’s film 'Noah'. Jessica is currently a teacher and member of the Adult Ensemble at BDC1 and can be seen playing a dysfunctional dance teacher in the comedy webseries she co-wrote, produced, and acted in at www.mandatedwebseries.com.
Sarah Rodak graduated from the early -release program at The Washington School Of Ballet, trained professionally at The Ailey School, and is certified in the Cecchetti Method of Ballet. Sarah currently dances with The Benjamin Briones Ballet Company and freelances as a dancer and sometimes choreographer for other classical, commercial, and avant guard dance projects in New York City. She has danced with companies such as Veracity Dance Theatre, DanceSoul Company, Misako Ballet Company, El Teatro De Danza Contemporanea De El Salvador, The Moscow Ballet, and Ballet Theatre of Annapolis. She performed, choreographed, and directed multiple shows for Six Flags America and Silvertree Productions, where she recruited to appear in Touchstone movie "Step Up" (2006) and again in "Step Up: 2 "The Streets" (2008). Sarah has been on faculty as a ballet teacher at AnneArundel Community College and Misako Ballet School. This is her 6th year teaching at The Brooklyn Dance Center.
Diana Marie Perez has been performing and teaching the art of Bellydance for many years. It is a gentle and sensuous dance that is the expression of the dancer and her intimate physical connection with "mother earth". Diana has appeared in performances at The Lafayette Grill, Rakkasah Convention and Cafe Figaro in Manhatten, as well as dancing for various cultural events throughout the tri state area. She has created her own Bellydance troupe entitled "The Belly Mysitcs" and a new teen troupe "Mystic Treasures" here at The Brooklyn Dance Center. She has brought her unique style of dancing to women's healing workshops for many years. Her students help her to embrace her "divine feminine" and enhance her art of Bellydance.
Gail is the founder and director of The Brooklyn Dance Center and The Brooklyn Dance Ensemble. Gail has been fortunate to share dance with so many through the years by teaching classes within her school and at various community centers, choreographing and promoting dance works and performances in the NYC area.
Along wtih teaching Modern, Ballet, Jazz, Tap and Tumbling her studies have included Classical Indian Dance, Bellydance, and Flamenco. Gail holds a Bachelor Of Arts degree in Dance and has trained under June Lewis, one of the original and authentic master teachers of the Graham technique. She is a certified Pilates instructor and has developed wellness classes in various health clubs and NYC Parks facilities. She has taught dance and yoga classes at Kingsborough Community College.Gail has been honored for outstanding community service during "Womens History Month". Her dance events have raised funds for many charitable events,most recently for Breast Cancer Awareness, and Hurricane Sandy Relief.
Allison Astarita currently works as an executive administrative assistant at Citigroup where her day is jam packed with phone calls and meetings, but at the end of the day her true passion is dancing. She started dancing at the age of 12 at The Dance Spot where she later became a teacher specializing in tap and jazz. After her 10 year journey at The Dance Spot , she joined The Brooklyn Dance Center and has been teaching and dancing there ever since. One of the greatest opportunities she has is being part of the The Brooklyn Dance Ensemble where she has performed at various events, including NYC Parks events, Dumbo Dance Festival and CoolNY Dance Festival. Her most recent performance was at The Kat Wildish NY showcase at Alvin Ailey and again at Hunter College. Aside from The Brooklyn Dance Ensemble, she has studied Graham technique at Brooklyn College with Artis Smith. She has taken many jazz and hip hop classes at Broadway Dance Center through the years and will always fit in a Zumba class!
Benjamin is a professional dancer, choreographer, teacher, director, designer and entrepreneur. A graduate of The National School of Classical Ballet, The National School of Contemporary Dance and The Royal Academy of Dancing in Mexico City. His eclectic educational background includes training in Cuban and Royal Ballet styles, as well as study of Graham, Cunningham, Limon and Francis modern dance styles. As a soloist dancer, he has appeared with many companies, among them Ballet El Paso, Ballet Austin, Connecticut Ballet, Mid Ohio Ballet, Ballet Theater of Annapolis, Granite State Ballet, Southern New Hampshire Ballet, New Haven Ballet, Staten Island Ballet and River Ballet. He has taught extensively throughout the NYC including The Joffrey Ballet School, Mark Morris Dance group, LEON Dance Arts & Southern New Hampshire Dance Theatre. Also for “Centro de Arte y Ballet” en Mexico City. Benjamin was appointed Ballet Master At The Staten Island Ballet in 2006-09. During that time, he also began his choreographic career, serving as the Resident Choreographer for both the Staten Island Ballet and Ajkun Ballet Theatre (New York). In 2012, his numerous choreographic endeavors culminated in the created Benjamin Briones Ballet. He is also Founder and Co-Director of Mid-Pointe project.
Co-owner and co-founder of UBCostumesDancewear.com, Benjamin has been designing costumes for the past 18 years. For more info: BENJAMIN BRIONES BALLET
Amanda Asmar graduated with a Doctorate of Physical Therapy from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2014 with recognition for highest academic honors. In 2009, she graduated cum laude from Marymount Manhattan College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance and a minor in Biology. She was awarded the “gold key” for excellence in her field of study. Amanda has extensive training from The Martha Graham Conservatory of Dance, demonstrating the Graham technique for former principal Graham dancer Alessandra Prosperi at Centro Nacional de Danza Contemporanea in Queretaro, Mexico. She has also appeared on PBS television performing the choreography of Mark Morris at the Governor’s Award Ceremony, and the works of Twyla Tharp, David Dorfman, Tricia Brown, and Doug Varrone at Jacob’s Pillow and at various NYC venues. Amanda is currently a member of the Brooklyn Dance Ensemble, a certified Pilates instructor, and full time Physical Therapist at NYU Lutheran.
Francesca Fotini Lopez has been dancing since the age of eight at various dance studios in Brooklyn and Manhattan. Francesca also studied dance at The College of Staten Island and Hunter College. She has been teaching and choreographing for 14 years. She has experience in ballet, jazz, street jazz, lyrical, hip-hop, tap, and Zumba fitness. She has performed and choreographed for many dance studios and competition teams in Brooklyn, La Fusion Dance Company, numerous artists and DJs, and performed in off Broadway productions. A goal Francesca wants to achieve is to give as much knowledge of dance and fitness with as many different people as possible. With learning and creating with as many diverse people as possible she feels she can spread her creativity, positive energy, and learn how to grow more as a choreographer, dancer, and fitness trainer. Through her dance education Francesca has developed intense training workouts for dancers, and people who just want to become lean, fit, strong and feel good.