Karissa is thrilled to have returned to North Fork Academy of Dance. She started her career at Ballet Austin at the age of 9. From there she went on to study with great dance masters who include Harry Precht, Dorrit Kopel, Kat Wildish, Frank Hatchett, Germaine Goodson and Debbie Wilson. Karissa has worked with Jammin with the JETS, Ballet Long Island, Broadway Dance Center, You Should Be Dancing and the Lion King on Broadway.
Karissa attended Baruch College where she studied Arts Administration. She has also spent time working behind the scenes, working with some of New York’ most well renowned talent agencies.
Karissa is an energetic, enthusiastic teacher whose classes focus on developing strong technique. She encourages students to have fun by using their own personality. She teaches the importance of having discipline and classroom etiquette as well as performance techniques learned throughout her years of auditioning and training.
(Assistant Director/ Dance Instructor)
Sarah has danced her whole life at NFAD under Harry Pretch and Karissa Despres. She was one of the original NOFO Competition Team members in 2009 and has danced with and coordinated the team ever since. Throughout her competitive dance career she has attended multiple dance competitions winning high scoring awards, attended three national dance competitions and has been selected for the national dance team each year. In 2015, she won a scholarship from Fierce Dance Challenge and a performing arts scholarship from Southold Music Boosters. As well as dancing competitively, Sarah danced at Madison Square Garden, LI Duck’s Games, and attended SOCAPA Performing Arts Camp in NYC. She also is the Dance Coach for the Southold Boy’s Varsity Soccer Team and developed a dance training program specifically for athletes. Sarah graduated summa cum laude from SUNY Purchase College with a B.A. in Arts Management and Entrepreneurship with a concentration in dance. Since returning home from college she continues teaching dance to all age groups in all styles.
(Administrative Staff/ Dance Instructor)
Dotti-Dawn has been dancing since the age of 3 and dancing competitively since the age of 7. Her dance styles include acrobatics, hip hop, jazz, ballet and tap. She has been with Main Stage since 2009. She started teaching in 2010 at Main Stage. Dotti-Dawn is also a licensed cosmetologist and hairdresser.
Jennifer has been dancing most of her life. She has attended many competitions in which she has received 1st place and Gold Medal awards. In 1999, she received 1st place overall high score for all the solos ages 18 and over. She has been involved in many shows including Spectrum, Dance Celebration and Mastic/Shirley Talent Showcase. Jennifer has studied courses for the Royal Academy Dance and received “distinction”, the highest score possible, on their exams. Jennifer was chosen as 1 of 20 core dancers, to perform on a show called “JamTV”. Throughout her career she has performed at the Condado Hotel & Casino in San Juan, Puerto Rico; and was spotlighted with 2 couples for the Broadway play “Forever Tango.” She has choreographed for Dance Celebration and for many other productions across Long Island. Jennifer has also attended the Virginia State Ballroom Championships and took 1st place and was a member of Swing Dance Long Island. Jennifer’s passion to dance reflects in her students performance. Jennifer is Coordinating Director for Community Events at the Moriches Dance Studio.
Nora started her dance studies at the age of five at the Coyle School of Irish dance. After beginning Classical Ballet training with Debra Punzi at The Ballet Center, Nora has studied with Ernesta Corvino, Deborah Wingert and Marina Stavitskaya at Manhattan Youth Ballet, and with Peter Stark of Next Generation Ballet. After completing an apprenticeship with Ballet Long Island, she was accepted into the company in 2012. Nora has since performed principal roles with Ballet Long Island in many ballets including Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Pas de Quatre, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In addition to dance, Nora is a classically trained soprano and pianist.
Ashley began dancing at a young age, and has had a passion for it ever since. She graduated from James Madison University in 2008 with a BA in dance. While there, she has the opportunity to perform with her peers and guest choreographers, and was a part of the Contemporary Dance Ensemble as well as Madison Dance Club. After graduation, Ashley danced with a few smaller companies in the Washington DC area even after she relocated to Shelter Island. Ashley is excited to be working at Main Stage Dance Academy.
Gina has danced her whole life with different teachers throughout the Island. She has studied under teachers such as Robert Christopher, and Yuri Vodolaga. She has also had the opportunity to take classes with Allison Holker, Jackie Nowicki, Braham Logan Crane and TOKYO. Gina has also studied and performed with the Eglevsky Ballet. She competed from the age of 5-18 and has won many overall regional and national awards. Gina was a part of the Nassau Community College dance team while she attended college there. Now as a choreographer she has won overall awards for her dancers as well as choreography awards. Gina is also a part if Arrhythmia Dance Company to be able to remain dancing in a non-competitive setting. Gina enjoys sharing her love of dance with her students to help them work together as teammates and to reach their goals as a dancer.
Megan began her dancer career at the age of three in Mattituck, NY. She studied a variety of styles such as ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, modern, acro, and dance team pom. At the age of 12, she joined the elite dance competition team at Dance Centre of the Hamptons; winning regional and national awards. She began teaching at the age of 16 were she learned and obtained clear instructional skills and identified techniques to inspire and motivate others. Megan continued her dance training in college, becoming a member of the Fairfield University Dance Ensemble. After school, she was able to teach dance in Geneva, Switzerland for the summer of 2015. Megan is so excited to spread her love of this performing art and is thankful for the blessings that dance can bring to all her dancers.
Blair has spent all her life dancing which she has trained and studied tap, jazz, ballet, modern, hip hop and contemporary. For multiple years Blair has taught hip hop, tap, and jazz throughout Suffolk County. She currently teaches competition level hip hop and in 2007, her Hip Hop Performing Group was named National Champions at Dance America National Dance Competition. Blair has also competed in many dance competitions where she has won numerous platinum medals and high score awards. She has been sought out to choreograph for weddings, fashion shows and other various events. Blair has taken classes at Broadway Dance Center where she studied with Frank Hatchett, Andrea Brown, Shea Sullivan and Chio. She is a graduate of Dowling College and has her B.B.A. in Business Management. Blair continues to stay active by taking classes and performing every chance she gets.
In addition to owning and operating two dance centers, Theresa has kept very active in the dance world. After receiving an Associate degree at Suffolk Community College, she went on to attend Dance Educators of America’s Teacher Training School in NYC. When she completed her education she went to teach for many Long Island studios including the Wakefield Dance Center directed by Grace Wakefield. Furthermore she taught dance for Middle Country School District and the West Islip School District. In 1982 Theresa successfully passed an exam, which entitled her to become a member of Dance Educators of America (DEA). From 1983 thru 1988, she was working as their regional director, touring the Untied States examining new members and supervising the workshops and competition. From 1988 thru 1995, Theresa was on the staff of Starpower National Talent Competitions, again traveling nationwide. In 1993, she lead discussions on studio management and recital ideas at the Christopher National Dance Seminars and in 1994 she was the seminars Administrative Assistant. Theresa was most honored when she was invited to teach at the Broadway Dance Center in NYC. Theresa has also choreographed and staged music videos for various well-known groups. In addition to the previous mentioned; Theresa was on the Artistic Board of the Brookhaven Theatre Dance Guild, was a popular judge at many Regional and National Talent Competitions for DEA, Starpower, Starmakers and Performance Plus. Her extensive training over the years have lead her to train with such greats as Frank Hatchett, Robert Christopher, Harry Precht, Judy Ann Bassing, Germaine Salsberg and Crystal Chapman. She continues to pursue her training, keeping up with the constant changes and developments of the dance world.