Our developmentally focused training is dedicated to locating a student’s maximum potential.

Mission Statement



At Washington Rock Dance, we believe in acknowledging the sincere individuality residing in each and every student of dance. We foster the unique development of our students by providing an opportunity to be creative, understand the field of body mechanics, and discover their personal sense of artistry through the performance of high caliber works. Our developmentally focused training is dedicated to locating a student’s maximum potential while experiencing a smart, inspirational, and fun environment.
 

Executive Directors



 

Cleo Mack


Cleo Mack is an award winning choreographer and educator who is actively pursuing her Masters of Interdisciplinary Art with a focus on choreography and visual arts. Her work has been described as “a collision of quirky sophistication and unmeasured recklessness.” She has been commissioned by 10 Hairy Legs, Perpich School of the Arts, and Quad City Ballet. Ms. Mack has been honored to receive an Individual Artists Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, in recognition of her high artistic merit and was selected by Dance Magazine as one of the “25 to Watch.” Cleo has enjoyed support from the Middlesex County Cultural and Heritage Commission, Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and has also received space grants from The Field, DTW, and Lincoln Center.

Cleo’s former company, Cleo Mack Dance Project, was presented at Joyce Soho, Dance Theater Workshop’s Fresh Tracks, the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., WAX as part of “In the Company of Women”, P.S. 1 Contemporary Dance Center, George Street Playhouse in N.J., the Hungarian American Dance Festival in Hungary, and at NJPAC as part of Jersey Moves. 2016 marks the inception of Mack's newest project, Rock Dance Collective (RDC). This shared project with collaborators Kelli McGovern and Blair Ritchie is dedicated to pushing progress in the field of dance. As Artistic Director of RDC, Cleo makes work in traditional and non-traditional environments where the aim is to create worlds and design space to build a shared experience for audiences.

Ms. Mack is the Director of Dance at the Middlesex County School of Performing Arts and co-owner of Washington Rock Dance. She has been a part-time lecturer at Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts and a teaching artist for the American Repertory Ballet Institute, DeSales University, and the University of Iowa. She was the recipient of the 2017 Hollins University Teaching Award.

Cleo is a professional costume designer and has created costumes for Pam Tanowitz, Meghan Frederick, Chein-Ying Wang, Randy James, Stephanie Batten Bland, Paul O’Campo, and Julia Ritter. Cleo serves on the board of Dance New Jersey and CoLab Arts. She recently served on the committees to rewrite the New Jersey State English Language standards as well as the New Jersey State Arts Standards.


Kelli McGovern


Kelli McGovern is a Doctoral student in the Ed.D. Dance Education program within the Dept. of Arts and Humanities at Columbia University’s Teachers College and a recipient of the Arnhold Fellowship Scholarship. She is a graduate of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey with an Ed.M. in Dance Education from the Graduate School of Education and a B.F.A. in Dance Performance from Mason Gross School of the Arts. Kelli is a full time tenured dance educator at the Academy of Fine Arts and Academics at Bayonne High School (BHS) where she has created the dance arts curriculum in the district and the BHS Young Dancer Program, a community outreach program designed to offer dance technique training to children with limited access to dance classes.

Kelli is an owner of Washington Rock Dance (WRD) along with her business partners and collaborators, Cleo Mack and Blair Ritchie. WRD is a private dance school founded in 2015 that is based on developmentally focused training designed to maximize the potential of each student. WRD creates a foundational support structure for the professional dance company, Rock Dance Collective (RDC), a non-profit company of which Kelli is a professional Dancer, Founder, and Executive Director. RDC is represented by Pentacle and has most recently been commissioned by Rutgers Summer Stage, DanceNOW SteelStacks and Joe’s Pub, and CoLab Arts. RDC has self produced multiple evening length works in both nontraditional and traditional spaces to create pieces that respond to societal and environmental stimuli through an interdisciplinary collaborative process.

Ms. McGovern has served on panels to develop the Model Curriculum Dance Assessments to be used as the guide for all dance programs in the state of New Jersey and to facilitate workshops for CTE Arts Assessments and implementation of the new NJ Core Curriculum Content Standards for Visual and Performing Arts Standards. She has been selected to present her educational philosophies at the National Dance Education Organization National Conferences in Arizona and Washington, D.C. and at the NJAHPERD Conference. Kelli is an American Ballet Theatre® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 5 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.

Kelli’s intended area of specialization for her doctorate will be in the track of Leadership and Policy. She is interested in developing research on how to further advocate and market dance in education to districts, administrations, and communities and to find what obstacles are in the way of making dance an indispensable fixture in every student’s education.


Blair Ritchie


Blair Ritchie is a member of the Faculty of Mason Gross School of the Arts Dance Department at Rutgers University where she has taught Modern Technique, Improvisation I and II, Contact Improvisation, Dance Appreciation, Performance Skills, and Yoga for Dancers, for the past seven years. She sits on their Dance Technique Curriculum Committee and has created the curriculum for the Yoga for Dancers course. In collaboration with Rutgers University and Om Factory in New York City, she developed the first ever Rutgers/Om Factory 200hr. Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training.

Ms. Ritchie is an owner of Washington Rock Dance, a private dance training facility located in Warren, NJ. She is also a Founder, Managing Director, and Dancer for Rock Dance Collective, a professional dance company. Her companies educational and professional work has been presented at many conferences, performance venues, and universities throughout America.

Blair graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from Mason Gross School of the Arts. Throughout her career as a dancer, she has performed nationally and internationally as a member of multiple modern dance companies.

Blair is a registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) and has completed her 500 hour teacher training with renowned yoga teachers Sue Elkind and Naime Jezzeny at DIG Yoga. For the last decade, she has continued her education in alignment based Hatha yoga and the life affirming philosophy it brings with it. She has also taken extensive therapeutics training to learn the practical applications of yoga and hands-on adjustments for the chronically and acutely injured body.

Faculty



 

Rachel Stanislawczyk began her dance training at The Princeton Ballet School in 2003. She continued her studies at the Middlesex County School of Performing Arts where she trained and performed in several works by Cleo Mack. Rachel recently graduated magna cum laude with a BFA in Dance and Choreography from Virginia Commonwealth University. At VCU, she was awarded the VCU Arts Dance and Choreography Outstanding Service Award, the VCU Academic Achievement Award, and the VCU Arts Dean’s Renewable Scholarship. In the spring semester of her junior year, Rachel was a student of The University of South Florida’s Dance in Paris Program- a semester abroad where she worked with various celebrated dance artists in Europe. Currently, Rachel is a Dance for Parkinson’s Disease intern for the Mark Morris Dance Group and a dance teacher at several schools in the New Jersey area. She is honored to become part of the team at Washington Rock Dance this upcoming season!


Jacob Taylor received his formative training at Boulder Ballet School and in the summer programs of American Ballet Theatre, the School of American Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Kaatsbaan, and Perry Mansfield. Mr. Taylor is a graduate of the Ballet Performance Program at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. At IU his repertoire included ballets by George Balanchine, Martha Graham, Agnes de Mille, Dwight Rohden, Paul Taylor, and Twyla Tharp. In addition to Ballet Performance, Taylor studied dance pedagogy at IU and was commissioned to choreograph the Opera Cendrillon for the music department. His professional career includes working with such companies as American Ballet Theatre, Colorado Ballet, Christopher Caines Dance, FJK Dance, Thomas Ortiz Dance, and Boulder Ballet.


Sean Langford graduated cum laude from Mason Gross School of the Arts in 2016. Professionally, he has worked with Keith Thompson’s danceTactics and Erick Montes/Danceable Projects. While at school he has performed the works of Jessica Lange, Camille A. Brown, Pam Tanowitz, Shen Wei, Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor, Stefanie Batten-Bland, Keith Thompson, Randy James, John Evans and Paul C. Ocampo. He is a certified Pilates teacher through Polestar Pilates and the Pilates Method Alliance.


Emily Funicello, from Laurel Springs, NJ, earned an Ed.M. in Dance Education from Rutgers University and a B.F.A. in Dance from Mason Gross School of the Arts, graduating summa cum laude. She holds a PK-12 Teaching Certification with Advanced Standing from the NJ Department of Education. Emily is a Teaching Artist for The Dance Theatre of Harlem and has previously worked as a Teaching Artist for 10 Hairy Legs Dance Company. She has been a member of Zella Dance since 2013. Emily has performed at venues including The Kennedy Center, NJPAC, Ailey Citigroup Theater, Paramount Theater (Boston), and Dixon Place. She is an American Ballet Theatre Certified Teacher in Pre-primary through Level Three of the ABT National Training Curriculum.


Dani Fishman recently received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from Ohio Dance University. She has performed in Dancers Responding to AIDS at The Joyce Theater choreographed by Andrew Turtletaub. Dani has interned for Rock Dance Collective and studied composition, ballet, modern, jazz, hip hop and tap for many years.


Maribella Miller is originally from Los Angeles, CA where she began dancing at the age of 3.  She trained at Los Angeles Ballet Academy and was a member of the Los Angeles Youth Ballet Theater and Team Theatrics.  Miss Maribella graduated with her BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and holds a Masters in Dance Education from the Rutgers Graduate School of Education.  Maribella is a Pre-K through 12th grade certified dance educator currently teaching in the Franklin Township School District.  Maribella has taught dance in the New York City Public Schools, as well as in Public and Charter schools across New Jersey.  She has performed at various venues around the US including the Joyce Theater in NYC, Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, Spreckles Theatre in San Diego CA and Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles.  Miss Maribella is also an American Ballet Theatre Certified Teacher.


Dan Mitra is primarily a tap dancer native to Woodstock Valley, CT. Since he has started tap dancing at a young age he has received awards such as the American Tap Dance Foundation’s Tap Future Award, youngARTS silver finalist, and one of two dancers selected to perform at the Kennedy Center as Presidential Scholars in the Arts in 2009. Shows Dan has been in are Joseph Webb’s “Beautiful Fire”, Henry St. Theatre’s “Urban Nutcracker,” Omar Edward’s “Passion of Tap”, in works by Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards in “On Tap at Summerstage,” the film “Black Nativity,” and is a member of Jason Samuel Smith’s A.C.G.I. Most recently Dan has performed in the “Jazz at Lincoln Center Gala,” performing choreography by Jared Grimes. In terms of teaching Dan Mitra is on faculty at Peridance and Mark Morris and is a Guest Teacher at Broadway Dance Center.


Christina Petrilli received her high school dance training at Dance Express. In college, she was co-captain of the Marywood Dance Team and graduated from Marywood University with a BFA and a minor in dance. In 2008, Chrissy received her MA in Fine Art Education from Kean University and is currently an elementary art teacher. In addition to teaching the younger students at Dance Express, Chrissy also practices and teaches Nia, a sensory-based movement that draws from martial arts, dance arts and healing arts.


Becky Visintainer recently graduated Summa Cum Laude with her BFA in Dance Performance from Mason Gross School for the Arts at Rutgers University. During her studies at Mason Gross, Becky traveled abroad to expanded her movement studies at the Trinity Laban Conservatorie of Music and Dance in London, UK. While at Mason Gross and Trinity Laban, Becky has had the opportunity to perform works by many accomplished choreographers, such as Keith Thompson, John Evans, Bojana Cvejić and Christine De Smedt, Lizzi Kew-Ross, Valerie Preston-Dunlop, Kim Gibilisco, and David Parker. Currently, Becky is completing her final year of the Masters in Dance Education program at Rutgers University.