OUR PHILOSOPHY

MORE THAN MOVEMENT

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It is our goal as dance educators to instill a strong sense of confidence, dedication, focus, discipline and teamwork on top of proper dance technique. Students will learn important life skills that go far beyond their movement - in the most positive and supportive environment possible. We create an atmosphere for our dancers that is comfortable enough to take risks, structured for consistency and focus, and dynamic to keep our dancers learning and interested. Our teachers lead by example by teaching their own choreography, demonstrating correct technique and remaining physically involved in the entire class. We encourage creativity by helping dancers find their own voice through improvisation and exploring their own movement as well as group exercises where they also can learn from each other. We embrace movers of all ages and levels while remaining sensitive to both the setting and those particular dancers. We encourage everyone to be a team, to support and inspire each other, and to become better people as well as better dancers. 

OUR INSTRUCTORS

MICHELLE MERRILL, DIRECTOR

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For well over a decade, Michelle has been teaching recreational and competitive dance.


Growing up, Michelle danced with the Maine Attraction, a National performance and competition team. Her performance experience includes Disney World's Epcot and Magic Kingdom, Silver Dollar City in Branson Missouri, represented the United States at the International Dance Festival in NYC, among many others. She also holds a New England solo clogging Grand Champion title. 


Michelle continued her dance training at the University of New Hampshire and then at local studios after transferring to Endicott College to gain her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. For 12 years, Michelle worked alongside a local portrait photographer and progressed to become a Senior Associate. She loves photography but dance was always her passion. Her flexible job allowed her to teach dance, dance professionally and further her training with the best in the business.


In her early 20s, Michelle danced for two years for the NBA d-league team, the Maine Red Claws, where she was voted captain and MVP during the inaugural season. Most recently, Michelle was the director and coach of the Tuskhers, the dance team for the Maine Mammoths, Maine's National Arena Football team. 


Her strong business and marketing knowledge pairs perfectly with her passion for dance - it was a no brainer that Michelle's destiny was to own and operate a dance studio.


Michelle loves what she does and it shows! Her innovative and current choreography has led her students to grow tremendously and gain a respected place at regional competitions. Her positive attitude and non-stop classes lead the students to gain knowledge and  a love for dance!

DIMITRA BRYANT

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Dimitra is an alumni student of Windham High School, as well as the University of New Hampshire where she obtained her BA in Dance and Musical Theatre. While attending UNH, Dimitra was a member of the University's Dance Company and Aerial and Trapeze Company where she performed in many shows around the New England area. 


Upon graduating college, Dimitra relocated to New York City and spent 3 years training at the cities famous Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway. Dimitra has had the honor of training with world renown teachers and choreographers including Mia Michaels, Mandy Moore, Bobby Newberry, Kenny Wormald, Billy Bell, Nick Lazzarini, and Melanie Moore. 


Since returning to Maine she has become an instructor and choreographer for dance competition teams. Recently her work won an "Outstanding Choreography" award and the prestigious "Bette-Ann Monti Rossi Technique" award at Take Centerstage Dance Competition in 2014. Like the award states, her choreography is outstanding! It's always a treat to see what she puts together and the students love having her as a teacher and choreographer. Her technical knowledge and her choreography skills are exceptional, and she's got a personality to match.


When Dimitra is not teaching at Dance Moves Maine you can find her making pizzas with her husband, Adam, at her family owned business.

TESSA LAJOIE

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Tessa is a 200­ hour certified yoga instructor who has always been fascinated with the art of movement. Beginning with dance at the age of five, she studied multiple disciplines over fifteen years, performed with two companies and began teaching in her early twenties. In her teens she also began taking yoga classes and enjoyed the practice immensely; finding it to be physically challenging and rewarding, much like dance.


Continuing her yoga practice as a young adult, she began to learn that there was more to yoga than just the poses and with much encouragement from her peers, she decided to learn even more and become an instructor. Tessa then completed a ten­ month, 200­ hour teacher training with June Locklin at Nataraja School of Yoga in 2010. She has since been teaching private and public classes in the local area. Her teaching is based in the Iyengar style, (gentle and easily­ paced), and also incorporates hatha and vinyasa flow.


Tessa has found and understands the importance of the mind­-body connection and hopes to continue to share that and more with her students through the powerful forms of yoga and dance. Her energy, patience and demeanor make her a wonderful teacher and role model for such young children. 

FRANCESCA KNAPP

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​Francesca began her dance career at age 3 at Broadway Academy of Dance in Farmington, Maine. She continued to dance through high school and also assisted her teachers in ballet, tap and jazz. She attended the University of Maine where she received a B.A. in English and minored in dance. Francesca was also a member of Robinson Ballet Company.


After college she moved to Boston and began teaching all ages and styles and most recently taught in Atlanta. She attended a summer intensive in Quebec with Les Ballet Jazz de Montreal, many Boston Dance Teachers Club workshops, and conventions such as NUVO and Excel in Motion where she was awarded a tap scholarship by Aaron Turner of So You Think You Can Dance.


She is excited to be back home in Maine and loves sharing her passion of dance with students of all ages!

TORI BROOKS

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Tori was first enrolled into acrobatics when her mom found her using the swing set as a bar instead of as a swing. She immediately fell in love with acrobatics and advanced very quickly. She attended classes at Kennebunk Gymnastics where she spent much of her childhood. She became very involved in competitive gymnastics and learned firsthand how demanding the sport of gymnastics could be, spending hours at the gym and never wanting to be anywhere else. Tori competed at a high level throughout her high school career and when it came to choosing a college, she knew she wasn’t ready to let go of gymnastics. 


She attended the University of New England with a major in Applied Exercise Science due to her interest in how the body works during exercise. She enjoyed learning anatomy, kinesiology, exercise physiology, etc. because she was able to take this knowledge and apply it to gymnastics. Tori participated in the gymnastics club for all of her four years at UNE and was the team captain for the last two. Her knowledge and skill level make her a favorite with the students. They love watching her demonstrate passes or acrobatic skills and she inspires their work ethic because she's right there on the floor with them! 

MADISON MITCHELL

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Madison was first enrolled into dance classes at the age of 4 and she fell in love with dance immediately! She continued as a competitive dancer during her high school years and received many high scores in her solos, including Titles and several judges awards. Most notable was the Betti Anne Rossi Technique award. 


Right after high school she attended Southern Maine Community College for Early Childhood Education. She also started as a teacher for Dance Moves Maine, teaching along side instructors she learned from over her dance years. 


While going to school and teaching dance, she decided to also work part-time at a child care center to gain experience to help better her education within her major. Madison has a passion for working with children of all ages and she is such an inspiration to her students. 

When Madison is not in school or teaching dance, you will find her taking classes at the studio taught by her fellow instructors or shopping and spending time with her close friends!

KATHERINE FERREIRA

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Katherine began dancing at the age of 3 and has taken classes in all styles of dance. From jazz and hip hop, to tap and clogging… you name it, she’s taken it! Katherine has always felt a need to perform and started competing with solos in middle school. She continued to compete for years with jazz or musical theatre numbers and was acknowledged with many judges awards. Her high schools years consisted of competing and taking classes, as well as assisting the children’s classes at her hometown studio.


After high school, Katherine went on to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Thomas College. During her four years of schooling, she not only was a member of the club dance team, but was also an instructor. By her sophomore year, she was the jazz teacher to her peers and went on to choreograph the halftime numbers for basketball games, as well as choreograph the opening number for their annual showcase. Post graduation, she continued to visit TC on a volunteer basis to choreograph multiple halftime numbers.


This past Spring, she auditioned for the Tuskhers Dance Team. She was thrilled to not only have made the team, but to be a captain for the Maine Mammoths organization. She was featured in many promotions and did multiple interviews representing the Tuskhers, but states that performing at the Cross Insurance Arena has been her favorite part of it all. After receiving her esthetics license from Spa Tech this past year, Katherine was also asked to be the official makeup artist for the Tuskhers dance team!


Katherine’s well-rounded dance training makes her a strong addition to the studio. We are excited for Katherine to bring her energy and talent! She is thrilled about joining the Dance Moves Maine family, and so are we!

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