My name is Marcus Rivers and I began my dance career at the age of 8 years old. I was a student at Rising Stars Dance Academy under the direction of Angela Mendez. While at Rising Stars, I learned the technical skills to necessary to enter and place in various dance competitions. I was able to become well-versed in Jazz, Tap, Acrobatics, Lyrical, Funk and Hip Hop. Throughout my youth I acquired many national titles. One in particular led me to an opportunity in Barcelona, Spain to complete internationally. As I began to develop my skills, I continued to compete in various competitions. In 2010, I began to work as a dance instructor for both Rising Stars Dance Academy as well as High Steppin’ Dance Academy. My students range from ages 6- 17 years old, and I teach a wide variety of styles including Jazz, Lyrical, Tap and Acrobatics. In 2013, I was hired as the Magic carpet in the Disney Fantasy Cruise Line ship production for Alladdin. The role fused together acrobatic stunt work with jazz/funk choreography. Upon completing my 10 month contract, I then accepted work in various local commercial that required a dancer in the production. Currently I have continued to work as a dance instructor for High Steppin’ Dance Academy where I have added an Adult beginner Heels class with students ranging from 19 – 60 years old. I have also begun to teach a child with disabilities just how capable his body is in performing acrobatic routines. I believe the 20 years I have in the dance industry has lead up to me becoming an effective and inspiring teacher. My main job is not to teach my students to dance, but to teach them how to express themselves through movement. My goal with the heels class is to demonstrate that dance is not reserved for those who start off at a young age, but how dance is the key to feeling young again. The proudest moment of my teaching career is the constant satisfaction of identifying the limit a student places on themselves, and then pushing them beyond that point to show them that the biggest impediment in dance is your mentality.
Rodney has always lived for the art of dance. Starting from an early age, he studied at Amy’s Academy of Dance Arts in North Carolina and was also on his high school’s dance and cheerleading team for 4 years. Upon graduation, he pursued his dance education at Coker College and Bridgewater State University where he received his Bachelors in Communications (with a concentration in dance education) in 2015. Rodney has performed with several dance groups, including the Coker College Competitive Dance Team, Competitive Cheerleading Team, Repertory Dance Company, The Refined Movement Dance Company, Bridgewater State University's Dance Kaleidoscope and Joffrey Ballet NYC. Along with performance, he found a true love for choreography. Upon graduating from Bridgewater, Rodney has traveled all over the United States as a master teacher and guest choreographer. Along with his degree, Rodney has received many certifications for training. A National award winning competitive dancer and cheerleader, Rodney brings a fresh new approach to his teaching style.
To quote Rodney, “Aubrey Lynch stated, “To Touch, To Move, To Inspire, This is the true gift of dance. My passion for dance inspires me to teach other how to move their bodies and connect with the feelings and souls of others.”
Laura-Jean Ferranti has been a dance instructor for 17 years, working with students of all ages and levels. This is her 14th season at high stepping dance academy where she teaches tap and formerly hip hop. Laura-Jean began her dance training at the age of 5 at the Modern Jazz Dance Company in Providence, RI. She studied the tap technique of the late Henry Letang and has trained with Dianne Walker, Savion Glover and many other notable tap dancers. Laura-Jean's choreography has been recognized both regionally and nationally at Various competitions.
Laura-Jean holds a BA in psychology obtained at Providence College and currently is the Director of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Northern RI.
Originally from Bronx, New York, Javanne "Jav" Morrobel of Dominican descent moved to Rhode Island. His father and uncle introduced 1980's Hip-Hop music and culture to Jav influencing him. Jav started bboying (break-dancing) at the age of 15. Practicing in garages, basements, bedrooms and church, Jav formed a crew called "All City Rockers" with long time friend Gerson. He gained experience practicing countless hours, dancing for his church, birthday parties, halftime shows, and entering bboy battles both local and abroad. Recruiting some of his cousins and good friends from high school Jav and the All City Rockers built there reputation throughout the US, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. With the gained experience Jav has reached great levels in his career landing him a job with NBA's Boston Celtics as part of their Green Dance team. Now 25 and married, Jav continues to balance work, dance, family time, and school all together.
Neenah Cruz has danced for the past 24 years. She has received amazing training in Rhode Island from her dance teacher, Hope Specht. She has also worked with and trained with top choreographers through out New York and Atlanta. She has won many awards and titles throughout the U.S. She has also gotten recognition from the United States Tournament of Dance and received the "Judges Award of Excellence" from them. Neenah was privileged to be apart of two U.S Dance teams. One led her to perform at such places including, Madison Sq. Garden, Radio City Music Hall, Magic Kingdom, Universal, for Fox News, the WNBA, and NBA teams NY Knicks and Philadelphia Seventy Sixers. The world U.S dance team led her to perform at the "World Dance Show" in Riesa, Germany against 30 other countries. It was there that Neenah became the Silver Medalist for her solo dance performance in the open category as well as a silver medalist in the duet category for her tap duo. Neenah Has enjoyed teaching for the past 11 years. She has taught throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, and Atlanta. She says she is ready to take your students and children to the next level.
Christine Emery Simpson "Miss Chrissy" has been a tumbler/dancer since the age of 5. She is a full time mom and real estate agent and holds a degree in business. She has won many awards for her exceptional tumbling skills throughout her years in dance and has been an instructor here at High Steppin Dance Academy for over 21 years! She really loves working with the children and seeing them grow and helping them to achieve their goals. Weather it's a cartwheel or backhandspring, it's so exciting to see the children learn new tricks. High Steppin is like a big family and is all of our second home!
Amanda Capobianco has been with High Steppin' Dance Academy since the doors opened in 1995. Amanda began her dance career at the age of 2 at Dance RI under the direction of Debi D'Orio and then continued her dance career under the direction of Jo-Ann Fontaine at High Steppin' Dance Academy for the past 22 years. Amanda began at HSDA as a student. and worked her way to becoming one of the first Student Instructors. Upon the graduation of her senior year, Amanda became an Instructor at HSDA specializing in Jazz, Tap, and Acro. In 2015, Amanda became the Studio Manager. Amanda has always had a love for dance from a young age. She has competed in numerous competitions and trained at many conventions during her dance career at HSDA. She has had the opportunity to travel and dance with the first High Steppin' Dance Academy Competition Team to Florida, New York, in Disney World and on stage of the Royal Caribbean cruise; "Majesty of the Seas". Amanda has always had a special place for her studio, her team and her dance family.
Amanda is a Business Management graduate from Johnson and Wales University in Providence, RI with concentrations in Entrepreneurship and International Business. She is graduate of North Providence High School (2004) and a life-long resident of Rhode Island. Amanda has a beautiful family with her husband Kenny, their 3 year old son KJ (Who you may see working the front desk) and their 5 year old pitbull, Lola.. Amanda looks forward to meeting and getting to know the new generation of HSDA students.
Erica has been dancing for 14 years. She trained at High Steppin’ Dance Academy under Jo-ann K Fontaine.
Erica has been trained in jazz, tap, hip hop, lyrical, contemporary, and acro, She teaches Peewee (ages 2-3) and jazz. There always been a special place in Erica’s heart for little children. She believes that dancers need a good foundation starting at a young age.
She is going to Rhode Island college for Elementary Education.
Jo-Ann K. Fontaine: Owner/Director/Instructor
Annette B. Fontaine: Business Manager
Amanda Capobianco: Office Manager
Sara Rainone (Cavanaugh): Lyrical, Jazz
Laura-Jean Ferranti: Tap
Josh Perez: Hip Hop
Christine Emery Simpson: Acro/Tumble, Tap
Nate Ferdman: Acro/Tumble
Marvin Horsley: Hip Hop
Marcus Rivers: Jazz, Acro, Lyric, Contemporary
Richard Marchetti: ZUMBA® / Strong by Zumba
Jodi-Lyn Papa: Jazz, Lyrical
Talia Papa: Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary
Jenny Babbitt, ZUMBA
Alysha Brien: Tap, Jazz
Teresa Pearson: Ballet/Pointe
Jav Morrobel: Breakin'
Pito Sanchez: Breakin'
Neenah Cruz: Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Tap, Acro
Talia Laurito: Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Ballet
Shawn Leary: Hip Hop
Rodney Gore: Acro, Jazz, Modern
Erica Brien: Pee Wee, Preschool, Tiny Tots
Rigoberto Sanchez, also knows as Pito, has been a Bboy (break dancing) instructor for 7 years now. He has performed on various big stages such as TD Garden, The Dunkin Donuts Center, Mohegan Sun, and Etc. Pito has competed and won competitions around the United States and out of the Country. Also, being apart of the great international All City Rockers Crew has brought about great opportunities for himself and his teachings to others.
high steppin'dance academy
Javanne "Jav" Morrobel
Nate Ferdman is a gymnastics and tumbling coach. He has been coaching for over 20 years and has been with high steppin for over 10.
He also has an extensive competitive background as a gymnast and martial artist and has black belts in Taekwondo and Kempo.
Jodi-Lyn has been dancing and doing gymnastics since the age of 3. Jodi has been trained in jazz, tap, ballet, lyrical, contemporary, acro and gymnastics. She was trained by Gerrianne Genga and also had extensive training by leading dance teachers all over the country such as Joe Tremaine, Joe Lantieri, John Crutchman, Doug Caldwell, Marcea Lane & Desiree Robbins to name a few.
She owned her own studio “Jodi-Lyn Papa Dance” for 17 years. Her students are now dance teachers and professional dancers throughout the country such
Her dancers have won numerous National Competitions and scholarships. Jodi, herself, has won many choreography awards and the Prestigious America’s Young Choreographer of the Year Award for ADA.
Jodi-Lyn is a Master Teacher in lyrical and jazz and has traveled to many dance studios throughout New England spreading her love for dance.
Jodi now resides and calls High Steppin Dance Academy in Johnston, Rhode Island………her home.
RICHARD MARCHETTI (Johnston High School class of 2000) holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the University of Rhode Island. Graduating Summa Cum Laude from URI, Richard was awarded the URI Music Department Award for Musical Excellence in 2004, and served as the principal clarinetist for the URI Symphony Orchestra, and Symphonic Wind Ensemble. In addition, Richard served as the principal clarinetist with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Community Orchestra.
Currently, Richard is the Music Department Coordinator K-12 for the West Warwick Public Schools, and is the choral director, and concert chorale director at WWHS. Prior to his teaching at WWHS, Richard taught general music, beginning chorus, and beginning band at John F. Horgan Elementary School in West Warwick. Now in his ninth year at WWHS, Richard is also the Sophomore Class Advisor. In 2013, Richard was named as a finalist for the Grammy Foundation’s first ever Music Educator Award. Additionally, Richard was a recipient of the Rhode Island Department of Education and Hasbro’s Golden Apple award for excellence in teaching and was the 2015-2016 West Warwick Teacher of the Year.
Mr. Marchetti is a member of the Phi Kappa Lambda International Music Honor Society and an honorary member of TRI-M Modern Music Masters Honors Society in Music. Professionally, Richard is a member of The National Association for Music Educators, and The Rhode Island Music Educator’s Association where he served as the assistant manager of the All-Eastern Orchestra. Richard is a well-known woodwind musician in the region. He has performed at Trinity Repertory Company, Ocean State Theatre Company, Theater by the Sea, Rhode Island College, URI, Brown University, Dean College, The Courthouse Center for the Arts, LaSalle Academy, Bishop Hendricken, and many other professional and community theater companies in the Rhode Island and Massachusetts area. Richard is also a licensed Zumba Fitness instructor. He is a Pro-Skills instructor licensed to teach Zumba®, STRONG by Zumba®, Zumba Sentao®, and Zumba Toning®. Check out: www.richardmarchetti.zumba.com.
Talia Laurito began dancing at the early age of 3 years old receiving her training from Bette Ann Rossi, Tonya Ferrucci and Nicole Cavalaro. Talia performed with many prestigious dance companies and competed both Nationally and internationally. Throughout the years Talia received numerous awards and scholarships for outstanding achievements in dance. She won the Gold medal at the International Dance Organization World Championships in Riesa, Germany and was named American Dance Awards Dancer of the year. Talia received a Dance Scholarship to Rhode Island College Where she studied dance and Performed with the Colleges dance Company. Today Talia is teaching and choreographing for studios throughout New England and She is currently a professional dancer and cheerleader for the New England Patriots.
Josh "Jato" Perez was born and raised in Providence, RI. In 2010 he made an appearance on the 5th season of MTV's "Americas Best Dance Crew". In 2012 he danced back up for Jordan Knight on the "Live & Unfinished" Tour where he performed in front of sold out crowds across the U.S. & Canada. This year his choreography was featured on the new televised dance competition "World Of Dance". His dance style goes beyond Hip-Hop; its old school meets new school with a whole lot of hype! He realized his passion for dance at the age of 14 and has since dedicated his time to teaching and mentoring dancers of all ages.
Under the instruction of Jodi-Lyn Papa, Talia has been training in all styles of dance since 2 years old. Attending conventions and competing in competitions since 6, she knew she wanted to become a teacher and choreographer.
Talia enjoys Lyrical and Hip Hop the most, but is also trained in Jazz, Ballet, Tap, Contemporary and Acro. Through out her years competing and taking master classes around the east coast, she has won many scholarships to attend classes at places such as at EDGE Performing Arts and Broadway Dance Center. Also winning awards such as West Coast Elite Dancer and consistently placing in overalls, winning titles and receiving special judge's awards. She has worked with professional choreographers such as Abby Lee Miller for the premiere episode of "Abby's Studio Rescue". And was a dancer for Cat Country radio station. She also has choreographed many award winning routines.
Tal is going on to her 4th year at HSDA. As well as teaching in other cities around RI.
Rigoberto Sanchez, "Pito"
Teresa Pearson has danced with Syracuse Ballet Theater.
She graduated from Skidmore College with BS in Dance. Masters degree from Hunter College, Dance Therapy.
Teaches ballet and jazz, choreograph musicals for Bishop Hendricken High School, CCRI and Johnson and Wales University.
Sara has been teaching for High Steppin for the past 12 years. Prior to this experience, she competed and trained under the instruction of both Jo-Ann K. Fontaine and also Tanya Salvatore of Danceology located in Warwick, Rhode Island. As a performer, she has been formally trained in all styles of dance which include tap, ballet, jazz, acrobatics, and hip hop but enjoys teaching lyrical and jazz. During her years of competing and training she was fortunate enough to train from some of the best in the industry that include Doug Caldwell, Dee Caspary, Mandy Moore, Tabitha and Napoleon Dumo, and many other instructors and choreographers. As an instructor, her choreography has won many awards, high scores, and national titles.
Besides teaching in the studio, Sara is also a certified teacher for the State of Rhode Island. She recently graduated in May from Rhode Island College with a Masters of Special Education and also holds certifications in Elementary Education grades K-6 and English as a Second Language. Currently, she is employed as a sixth grade teacher at Calcutt Middle School located in Central Falls, Rhode Island. Her classroom consists of both English Language Learners and Special Education students.
Sara’s philosophy of teaching is that every child can learn and grow whether it be a small or huge gain, every child can succeed. She understands the commitment and work ethic that goes into ensuring that a child can make gains and never gives up on a child. With experience in both the dance world and education, Sara has the skill set, experience, and training to provide your child with a unique dance experience ensuring that their time at High Steppin’ be enjoyable and rewarding.
Alysha has been dancing for 19 years and has been a part of High Steppin’ for 14 years. She have been educated in various styles of dance such as Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Ballet, and Hip-Hop.
Alysha was an active part of High Steppin’s Competition Team for 10 years and participated in many competitions and received various awards and placements. She have always taken a special interest in Tap and loves share her passion for Tap with her students.
Alysha loves working with students of various ages and her philosophy is for her students to have an enjoyable experience and for them to take home something new every class.