Art of Motion Faculty

Lynn Needle, RYT/500 – Founder/ Artistic Director/Art of Motion/Art of Motion Dance Theater
(Modern, Pilates, Yoga, Jazz, Tap, Repertory, Choreography, Improvisaton, Performance Production)

Lynn Lesniak Needle A TEDMED Speaker, Choreographer and Performer earned her B.A. in Dance Cum Laude from Connecticut College where she was the recipient of the ACDFA Dance Magazine National Award for choreography, adjudicated by Murray Louis, Pauline Koner and Clay Taliafero. Her work COOL WAVE, featured in Dance Magazine was performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and hailed as "a flash of what is happening now...Lesniak has a great theatrical sense...the choreographer is in touch with the times in which we live." Lynn is a former soloist with the Nikolais Dance Theatre where she toured internationally, traveling to six out of seven continents and more than 40 United States. She has been influenced by many, including Martha Graham, Twyla Tharp, Luigi, Ann Reinking, and B.K.S. Iyengar, but studied intensely with her mentors Alwin Nikolais and Murray Louis at the Nikolais/Louis Dance Lab in New York City. Nik created seminal works on Lynn during her tenure with the company and she began teaching and assisting Hanya Holm. While on tour she was later asked to direct the Nikolais and Louis Dance Lab, a professional studio school of dance in Soho where she arranged for dancers from around the world to study, choreograph, and perform. During this time, Lynn pioneered classes in Pilates-based exercises, training with therabands, trampolines, and fitness balls. Her students include many dancers who have gone on to perform with professional companies and tour throughout the world. A recipient of multiple grants and Lifetime Achievement Awards, Lynn has been featured in the PBS documentary Nik and Murray, been photographed by Lois Greenfield, and Tom Caravaglia and has enjoyed collaborating with lighting and costume designers, composers, and poets. She has choreographed work for MTV, corporate videos for Verizon, and premiered her work internationally at the Universidad de Colima, Boston Conservatory, Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C, Jacob's Pillow, the Westbeth Theater Center, the JOYCE SOHO, The Hatch, DNA, American Dance Guild, MMAC, the 92nd Street Y, as well as NYU, Hunter College, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, NYC Earth Celebrations, College of Southern Nevada Dance in the Desert Festival, Rutgers University, Montclair State University, Ramapo College, Rider University, Bergen Community College, and for galas, festivals and commissioned premieres . In many of these venues, Lynn has created collaborative work, set on the Art of Motion Dance Theatre, a company established after she founded the nonprofit studio, Art of Motion, Inc, with Olivia Galgano, her Artistic Associate. Lynn has also worked as an artist in residence in the public schools as a staff developer, and is currently an Adjunct Professor of Modern Dance at Bergen Community College. She has dedicated her life to preserving the Nikolais legacy and training future generations of professional dancers. Her most recent collaborations with performance artist and costume designer Annie Hickman, lighting designer, Ruth Grauert, composers Dr. Dinu Ghezzo, John T. LaBarbera, and Steve Gorn and former Pilobolus Principal Dancer, Kent Lindemer have led to the creation of new work exploring body mechanics, the physics of partnering, sculptural shape and complex relationships. Lynn is an RYT 500 in Interdisciplinary Yoga with Yoga Alliance, an APAP, NDEO presenter, TEDMED Global Speaker and guest artist with ICIA. Her work was recently hailed by the Wall Street Journal as "Inspired", by Out and About as "absolutely fantastic" and the fashion blog of Women's Wear Daily as "spectacular".


WMBC New Feature Interview.

Olivia Galgano – Ballet Director/Co-Artistic Director of AOMDT
(Ballet, Pointe, Repertory) 

Olivia Galgano directs the classical ballet program at Art of Motion and choreographs excerpts from classical repertory, as well as original work. Olivia began her ballet training with the Boston School of Ballet at the age of seven under the direction of E. Virginia Williams. At the age of 16, she became a member of the New England Civic Ballet Company, presently known as the Boston Ballet Company. As a soloist, her performances included Rustic Wedding, which was created specifically for her by Leon Danielian. The work was premiered at the Boston Arts Festival and also performed at the Gloucester Arts Festival. She was then invited to join and became one of the youngest members of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, touring throughout the United States and Canada. Olivia's repertoire included over 50 ballets, and she performed solo roles in such ballets as Coppelia, Swan Lake, Gaite Parisienne, Le Beau Danube, and Sombreros. Her coaches at Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo included renowned artists as Fredrick Franklin, Anton Vilzak, Leon Danielian, and Irina Barovska. A resident of Paramus, Olivia has been teaching in Bergen County and has choreographed extensively collaborating with Lynn Needle and conductors, composers, lighting and costume designers. Along with her dedication to teaching and choreographing, she has served as chairperson of the Cultural Committee for the Paramus Schools and has assisted the music department in creating and developing movement into their curriculum. Olivia was co-owner and artistic director of the Classic Ballet School in Closter, NJ for over 20 years. The Classic Ballet Ensemble has performed throughout the New Jersey school system and other community facilities. As co-director of Art of Motion, Olivia looks forward to continuing her commitment to live music and dance by sharing her love, passion, and expertise with the arts community of Bergen County. Olivia Galgano is an Adjunct Professor at Bergen Community College.

Linda West ​Combs – AOM Registrar/Studio Manager/Assistant to the Artistic Directors
(American Sports & Fitness ​Association Certified Pilates Instructor)

Linda Combs, a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University, has been the Studio Manager at Art of Motion since 2005 and joined the Pilates/conditioning teaching faculty in 2008.  She has always loved dance, taking classes and performing throughout her childhood, and she continues to study ballet, jazz and  modern, as well as Pilates and Yoga.  She also was a star student-athlete in high school in field hockey and tennis, and has a comprehensive knowledge of  weight and resistance training.  After years of strength and fitness training, she has translated her love of movement into Pilates and Yoga.  She is dedicated to understanding the complexities of the body and incorporates principles of dance, body sculpting, strength, agility and core work in her classes. 

Gabriel Alvarez 
(Street Dance, Break Dance/Hip-Hop)

Gabriel Alvarez was born in the Dominican Republic. From an early age, Gabriel showed a deep interest in the arts, and at age fifteen, he discovered break dancing. With this discovery began his passion for the art of dance. His deep interest for improving his dance career lead him to discover different styles, such as ballet, house, and hip-hop. Gabriel’s career has allowed him to perform for companies such as MTV, Pepsi, The Swatch Group, AOL, Macy's, and many more. He has also been part of numerous TV commercials and many music videos for different artists. In addition, he has also performed for arts-in-education residences with the Art of Motion Dance Theatre, as well as at TEDMED Global Conference, Jacob's Pillow, Rutgers University, as a part of the SHOW UP & DANCE annual event and at BCC. Gabriel currently works as a performer for a New York City-based Broadway theater/Bus-Tour Company called “The Ride”, as a dance instructor for Art of Motion, and as a dance instructor for La Belle Talent School in Union City NJ.

Jay Bolsom 
(Iyengar Yoga)

Jay Bolsom has been teaching Iyengar yoga for over ten years. He has trained with some of the finest teachers in the world since 1994. Jay's teaching style is energetic and focused, and his classes are dynamic, challenging and complete. He welcomes all levels of students and is attentive to specific needs. His goal is to deepen a student’s inward journey, while imparting more physical alignment and structural strength to their body. He offers cutting-edge techniques, always teaching a thematic class with a fresh approach.     

Susan Nabors Braisted  

Susan Nabors Braisted has been dancing since age 10. Early on, she developed an interest in dance history and the 18th century in particular that has remained a lifelong passion.  She became involved in living history in the late 70’s and was shortly after introduced to 18th Century Country Dancing.  Sue worked with the late Chip (Cyril) Henderickson for over 13 years.  In 1996 her work, gave her the opportunity to choreograph dance sequences for the PBS series “Liberty, and American Revolution.”  Initially, it was a need to learn an authentic minuet that led Sue to attend Baroque dance workshops with Ken Pierce at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, MA.  But, she quickly became a Baroque Dance devotee.  Sue now studies with Dorrie Olsson and Kaspar Mainz of New York Historical Dance, has attended workshops by Tom Baird of Apollo’s Banquet and most recently has been taking classes with The New York Baroque Dance Company.  Since 2004, Sue has participated in the Amherst Early Music Festival, dancing in productions of Handel’s “Almira,” Purcell’s “Dido & Aeneas,” Campara’s “L’Europe Galante,” Cavalli’s “Ariadne,” and Purcell’s “Dioclesian.”

Jessica Chao / MA, RYT
Jessica has taught adaptive, therapeutic yoga at Englewood Hospital, Valley Integrative Medicine Center, Mount Sinai Dubin Breast Cancer Center, West Bergen Regional Mental Health Center, and Brandywine Senior Living among others. Besides a Masters in Education, Jessica has advanced training in yoga targeted for those with medical or physical challenges, stress, or cognitive impairments as well as training in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction meditation. A former dancer and faculty member of the Martha Graham Dance Company, she now teaches chair and gentle mat classes. These generally include a combination of breath work, mindful movement, and meditation to promote resilience, healing and peaceful well-being.

Ravah Daley
(Luigi Jazz Technique)

Ravah Daley began her dance career as a classical ballet dancer in Los Angeles, California. By the age of sixteen, she had become a professional jazz dancer and singer, with ballet as her foundation. Ravah appeared as a regular on numerous variety shows including The Carol Burnett Show, Sonny & Cher, and The Osmonds, among others. Intermittently, she worked on a number of television specials, which were built around stars such as Ann Margaret, Goldie Hawn, Liza Minnelli and John Denver. She was also fortunate to have worked regularly with excellent choreographers such as Lester Wilson, Ron Fields and Michael Peters. Highlights of Ravah’s career included partnering with Mikhail Baryshnikov in the television specials Baryshnikov on Broadway and Baryshnikov in Hollywood. Additionally, she spent several years touring throughout the world, singing rock and roll and dancing (as dance captain) with Tina Turner. Ravah also has several film and stage credits, including a concert tour with Chuck Mangione and his full orchestra as partner and assistant to the choreographer, Joe Bennett. Edward Vilella choreographed Ravah’s first Broadway show and a subsequent show, including the original production of Dreamgirls, directed by Michael Bennett and choreographed by Michael Peters. Throughout the years, Ravah has taught dance and currently teaches Luigi’s jazz technique. Like so many other performers, Ravah continues to be inspired by her mentor, Luigi.

Ralph DiRienzo 
(Ballet, Luigi Jazz Technique)

Ralph DiRienzo has been teaching ballet and jazz for over 20 years and brings a vast knowledge of the ballet techniques he has studied and danced throughout his career. At a young age, Ralph started dancing in community theater productions and started his dance training with Luigi at the Luigi Jazz Dance Center, in NYC. He started ballet training with Helena Baron, in NJ and soon received a scholarship to the American Ballet Center, the school of the Joffrey Ballet. Ralph has studied with Meredith Baylis, Anne Parsons, Robert Joffrey, Hector Zaraspe, Jonathan Watts, David Howard, Maggie Black, Melissa Hayden, Wilhelm Burmann, Paul Sutherland, and Brunilda Ruiz. Ralph danced with the Joffrey Ballet II, The Joffrey Ballet, the Maryland Ballet (Principal Dancer), the Eglevsky Ballet, The New Jersey Ballet, The New World Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera Ballet at Lincoln Center, NYC. During his Ballet career, Ralph has danced in ballets by many of the major choreographers such as Aston, Gerald Arpino, Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Stuart Hodes, Anthony Tudor, Stuart Sebastian, Twyla Tharpe, Norbert Vesak, Alvin Ailey, Fernand Nault, Robert LaFosse, and Gillian Lynne. He has danced in ballets with Cynthia Gregory, Natasha Makarova, Cynthia Harvey, Evelyn Hart, Beatrice Rodriguez, Nureyev, Anthony Dowell, Fernando Bujones, Richard Cragun, Zane Wilson.

Janette Dishuk - AOMDT Principal Dancer
(Contemporary, Modern, Jazz, Dance Conditioning, Improvisation, Ballroom, Elementary Ballet)

Janette Dishuk, M.A., R-DMT, LMT is currently an Adjunct Dance Professor at Bergen Community College, professional dancer, and dance/movement therapist. She graduated from Villanova University (B.A. in Sociology with double minor in Psychology and Education) and holds her Master’s Degree in Creative Arts Therapies from Drexel University. Ms. Dishuk performs, teaches, and speaks nationally and internationally, and has worked with renowned dancers, composers, choreographers, anthropologists, and artists from around the globe. Ms. Dishuk has an extensive background focused on community work using dance and the creative arts. She has run ballroom and hip hop dance programs for inner city youth and continues to bring her profound love for dance and the arts to various community programs. As a certified massage therapist and dance therapist, she specializes in cancer/medical/therapeutic massage and mind-body issues related to health and wellness. She has witnessed the positive impact of dance, particularly hip hop and ballroom, on the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities and continues her outreach work with her ensemble of creative artists. Janette is a principal and soloist with AOMDT, teaches classes and directs the AOM Junior Performing Ensemble.

Bronwen Eastwood

Bronwen Eastwood has been teaching voice for 30 years.  She holds a BM in Voice Performance and a Masters of Music in Opera from Temple University.  Bronwen has served as Adjunct Faculty at Bergen Community College in Paramus, NJ, teaching private voice and classes including "Vocal Workshop,"  "Music, Art and Drama," and "Music Appreciation."  She has also served as BCC’s Music Director for the several productions, and worked as a middle school music teacher at Elisabeth Morrow School in Englewood, NJ.

Colleen Fontes 
(Certified Iyengar Yoga Teacher)

Colleen Fontes is a certified Iyengar yoga teacher and a long standing member of the Bergen County yoga community. Her classes are attended by students of all experience levels and abilities - from brand new beginners to seasoned yoga practitioners. During the past 14 years she has taught at dance studios, churches, gyms, corporations, and schools. Her pupils have included athletes, weight lifters, dancers, senior citizens, children, university students, pregnant women, and other yoga teachers. As the former Director of Fitness and Dance at the YWCA of Bergen County, she founded the Iyengar program there which is still running. Colleen began to practice hatha yoga during the late 1980's and had the good fortune of becoming involved in Siddha Yoga Meditation. In the early 1990's she began teaching yoga classes while studying and completing teacher training at the Himalayan Institute. In 1997 she met her first Iyengar yoga teacher and mentor, Kim Peralta. The dynamic way of practice and teaching, the experience of meditation in action, and the study of yoga philosophy through the practice of asana was a profound experience that deeply affected her from her first lesson. She is very grateful to have been a pupil of the late Mary Dunn, beloved senior Iyengar teacher, and has had the privilege of studying with Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar and Dr. Geeta Iyengar during their recent U.S. visits. Colleen became Iyengar certified in 1999, and is strictly and completely dedicated to teaching the Iyengar method. She currently studies with Lara Brunn in NYC, where she continues to attend workshops regularly and to be inspired. Colleen Fontes was on the faculty of the Iyengar Yoga School of Northern NJ until its closing in 2007. As well as teaching at Individualist Yoga LLC she is available for private instruction.

Colleen began to practice hatha yoga during the late 1980's and had the good fortune of becoming involved in Siddha Yoga Meditation. In the early 1990's she began teaching yoga classes while studying and completing teacher training at the Himalayan Institute.

In 1997 she met her first Iyengar yoga teacher and mentor, Kim Peralta. The dynamic way of practice and teaching, the experience of meditation in action, and the study of yoga philosophy through the practice of asana was a profound experience that deeply affected her from her first lesson. She is very grateful to have been a pupil of the late Mary Dunn, beloved senior Iyengar teacher, and has had the privilege of studying with Yogacharya B.K.S. Iyengar and Dr. Geeta Iyengar during their recent U.S. visits. Colleen became Iyengar certified in 1999, and is strictly and completely dedicated to teaching the Iyengar method. She currently studies with Lara Brunn in NYC, where she continues to attend workshops regularly and to be inspired.

Colleen Fontes was on the faculty of the Iyengar Yoga School of Northern NJ until its closing in 2007. As well as teaching at Individualist Yoga LLC she offers a program of Iyengar yoga classes at the Unitarian Society of Ridgewood and is available for private instruction.

Ruth Grauert 
(Lighting Designer)

Ruth Grauert holds an Honorary Doctorate from Ursinus and Centenary College, M.A. from Columbia University and a certificate as dance educator from the Henry Street Playhouse. Having worked for 40 years with Alwin Nikolais, she has designed lighting and served as mentor for many dancers in that discipline. Her published articles are concerned with various aspects of performance aesthetic. Her award-winning poetry deals primarily with man in nature. Ruth's Web site,, offers articles and discussion forums on dance, poetry, the arts, and the Nikolais aesthetic. When Annelise Mertz, Professor Emerita of Washington University in St. Louis, asked Ruth to write an article about how Bearnstow approached the teaching of the arts for her book The Body Can Speak, the essay "The Common Aesthetic" was Ruth's response and may be read at her Web site.

Stephen Innocenzi 
(Voice Lessons, Triple Threat, Musical Theatre, Acting/Scene Study)

Stephen Innocenzi majored in Theatre at Rutgers University, where he performed in seventeen productions, and has a degree in Creative Writing from The New School.  He was a member of Michael Moriarty’s private acting class for seven years and has been authorized by Mr. Moriarty to teach his acting method. Stephen’s dance teachers include Dr. Margery Turner, Nancy Bielski, David Howard, Phil Black, Sal Pernice and Charles Goeddertz, and he has danced with The American Theatre Dance Company, Gabrielle Taylor Dance Company and the Patrick Gareth Mitchell Dancers. Stephen has thirty seven years experience in the martial arts and has taught Tibetan Lama Kung-Fu for fifteen years. He continues to train in Tai Chi Chuan with Dr. Robert Ante. He is recognized as a Sifu level instructor by the United States Wu-Shu/Kung-Fu Federation and the North American Chinese Martial Arts Federation. As an actor, Stephen most recently appeared on the New York stage as Don Juan in Alexander Pushkin’s “Little Tragedies”, and in David Sard’s modern reworking of Oedipus, “The Ballad of Eddie and Jo”. He also played a younger Yogi Berra in Robin Rice Lichtig’s “Déjà vu All Over Again” for New Jersey Rep. Other New York City stage credits include the title role in Anton Chekhov’s “Ivanov”, The Dauphin in George Bernard Shaw’s “St. Joan”, Major Arnold in Ronald Harwood’s “Taking Sides”, Dr. Kroll in Henrik Ibsen’s“Rosmersholm”, and Adolf in August Strindberg’s “Creditors”. On television he has co-starred on “Law and Order" and “100 Centre Street”. Stephen choreographed the Jim Thorpe musical, “Warrior", for the Tennessee Performing Arts Center and directed an award-winning production of Marie Jones’ “A Night in November” for The Actors’ Bridge in Nashville. Stephen has taught Broadway Musical Class, Triple Threat Class, the Summer Theatre Intensive, and Ensemble Theatre Class for autistic teens at AOM since 2005.

Austin Jarred AOMDT Principal Dancer,
(Pre-Ballet, Ballet, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Tap, Modern)

Austin​ Jarred​ is a graduate from the Conservatory of Dance at SUNY Purchase, and has been dancing since the age of 3! She received her BFA in Dance Performance and graduated cum laude. Her early studios of training included Dance Sensations in Virginia, Dance Designs (where she met and studied Modern dance for the first time with Lynn Needle), New Jersey School of Ballet, Ballet Academy East, Irine Fokine's School of Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre. While at Purchase, she danced the Dewdrop and Lead Marzipan roles for 3 years in Purchase Dance Corps' The Nutcracker, and danced in the Phlegmatic section of Balanchine's The Four Tempraments. She also danced a solo choreographed by Lane Gifford, the Artistic Director of  Lane & Co. in NYC, for her Senior Recital at Purchase, and performed the solo throughout NJ and NYC with Lane & Co. Her Senior Recital composition piece, entitled "Happy Hour" was chosen to be performed at a Dancers Responding to AIDS (DRA) benefit at the Purchase Performing Arts Center. Austin is delighted to be working with Lynn, her long time mentor, Olivia, and the rest of the faculty at Art of Motion!

Sally Kane 

Sally Kane has had an extensive career as a professional dancer prior to teaching. Her earlier training began at The Classic Ballet Company in New Jersey, where she completed the prestigious Royal Academy of Dance syllabus. Sally's credits as a soloist include Los Angeles Ballet, Chicago City Ballet, and Boston Opera Ballet. She also performed with the renowned Joffrey Ballet in NYC. As a performer, Sally has had the opportunity to tour Israel, Italy, and the former Soviet Union. Her teaching credits include the Academy of Dance for the Performing Arts in Westwood Lake, CA, Stanley Holden Dance Center, in Los Angeles, and In The Spotlight, in Waldwick, NJ. Sally has been with Dance Plus since its opening in 1992 and is delighted to have joined the faculty of Art of Motion in 2003. Sally guest teaches classical ballet at Rosa Parks High School of the Performing Arts in Paterson, NJ as part of an artistic partnership between Art of Motion and neighboring schools.

Courtney Karam, AOMDT Principal Dancer
(Modern, Pre-Ballet)

Courtney Karam studied dance at Butler University and the Alvin Ailey School. She has performed with Michigan Ballet Theater, South Florida Youth Ballet and The Palm Beach Shakespeare Festival. While a scholarship student, she had the honor of performing with Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater at City Center. She credits her ballet foundation to Evelyn Kreason and Anne and Nicholas Polajenko, her childhood teachers. Courtney has been studying, teaching and performing at Art of Motion for the past 4 years. She has been featured in AOMDT's Valse Fantasie, Iolanthe, Italian Symphony, La Rotta, BRCA 1/Genome, Shakti, Papillon, and Forest When she is not dancing, she is busy being a mom to 2 amazing boys!

Tony Landa 

From Chicago, Tony Landa brings his professional experience with rhythm tap and classical jazz to Art of Motion.  He trained and performed for nearly five years with Billy Siegenfield and Jeannie Hill's Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, through which he led choreographic residencies in tap and jazz at Kansas State University (Manhattan), the University of Minnesota (Duluth), Gallery 37 (Chicago), and B.Z.A.E.D.S. (Chicago).  With JRJP, Tony also taught and assisted master classes at universities, elementary schools, and studios across the country in the Jump Rhythm Technique(TM), a "rhythm-first system of dance training".  Next, Tony studied intensively in all forms of dance on a full scholarship with Decidedly Jazz Danceworks in Calgary, AB.  Upon his return to Chicago, Tony became involved with the Chicago Human Rhythm Project and toured with Lane Alexander's BAM!.  He has performed as a featured artist with the Evanston Dance Ensemble and T.J. & Co. Dance Theatre, where he was also a choreographer for the junior company.  Tony was adjunct faculty at Northwestern University, teaching tap and jazz, before he moved to New Jersey.  In his hometown of Kenosha, WI, Tony choreographed six years of musicals and holiday shows at his alma mater St. Joseph High School, including such shows as 42nd Street, The Wizard of Oz, and Cats.  He now choreographs with his wife, Jennifer, at Ridgewood High School with the New Players, where they have together choreographed Once on this Island, Anything Goes, Sweet Charity, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and Drood.  Tony's tap classes bring back the joy and swing of the classic movie musicals, with an emphasis on expressing rhythm throughout the whole body.

Kent Lindemer, AOMDT Principal Dancer
(Vinyasa Yoga, Modern, Physical Theatre)

Kent Lindemer graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1988 with a B.A. in Theatre Arts where he formed his company, NolTuLove Dance Theatre.  He was with the Nebraska Shakespeare Company for two summer’s acting, dancing, juggling, fire-eating and tumbling, and then in Chicago dancing for Bob Eisen on a 25 city mid-western tour before joining Pilobolus Dance Theatre in 1989.  He worked with Pilobolus as a dancer, collaborative choreographer and teacher from 1989-2000, serving as dance captain from 1995-96 before taking a 1 1/2 year hiatus in 1997-98 to pursue a degree in Massage Therapy, heal injuries and delve into the world of Yogic Arts.  While with Pilobolus, Kent performed in over 25 countries and in every state in the United States of America.  His performance of Untitled at Kennedy Center’s 25th Anniversary Celebration won Pilobolus an Emmy award for best televised performance.  Kent has set Pilobolus Dances on the Joffrey Ballet, School of the Hartford Ballet and Western Oregon University among others.  From 2000-2002, Kent toured with the 1st and 2nd National Tours of Swing! as their Massage/Physical Therapist.  He also worked for Anti-Gravity on the tours as Aerial Bungee rigger and trainer.  In 2003, Kent moved to Boulder, CO to study and teach Yoga with Richard Freeman at his studio, The Yoga Workshop and to climb rocks!  Kent is a nationally recognized Yoga teacher and was a presenter and also danced for the 1st annual Northwest Yoga Festival.  He was a guest artist for Los Angeles Music Center Institute for Teachers in 2004, has been featured in music videos by Marilyn Manson and Soraya and the photographic work of Lois Greenfield, Howard Shatz, Michael O’Neill, Jon Ortner, and John Kane. 

Marissa Lynn
Privately trained by Metropolitan Opera American Soprano Meagan Miller, Marissa Lynn began her vocal studies at the age of 17. Extensively trained in Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Lyrical and Acting, Marissa began to develop herself as a triple threat. In 2010 she earned her acceptance into The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in NYC, where she received the 2nd highest scholarship awarded in the country that year. In her time at AMDA, core classes included Voice Production and Speech with Joe Goscinski and Tim Ryan, Musical Theatre Repertoire with Broadway Actress Elaine Petricoff, Acting and Musical Theatre with Musical Director/Pianist Jay Dias and Stage Acting with Jason Chaet, Ray Virta and Blake Lawrence. In 2012 Marissa was featured as a soloist in her graduation showcase where she performed Jazz Standard "Dont Blame Me", from the Broadway Musical, Sugar Babies. Following graduation, Marissa was casted in her first Off Broadway production of "Les Miserables" at The Elmwood Playhouse in New York, NY. The following year, in 2013, she was casted for a second run of SummerStages production of "Les Miserables" in Leonia, NJ. In 2014 Marissa Lynn continued her vocal studies privately with voice teacher, Julie Schmidt, who led the role of Carlotta in the National Broadway Tour of Phantom of the Opera. That same year, while attending Performance Master Classes in NYC, Marissa was introduced to Alexander Technique by Master Teacher Karina Lombrozo. Inspired, Marissa went on to study privately with Karina in NYC. In 2015 Marissa returned to the stage, this time in Regional Theatre at The Papermill Playhouse. She was casted as a Lyric Soprano in the Continuo Arts Choir who teamed up with Disney for the U.S. Premiere of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Hunchback’s creative team included Artistic Director Scott Schwartz, Music Director B.A Huffman, American Film and Musical Theatre Composer Alan Menken and American Musical Theatre Lyricist and Composer, Steven Schwartz. On set, Marissa Lynn had the opportunity to meet Broadway Actor and Master Teacher Erik Liberman. Erik became an inspirational mentor and private acting teacher to her shortly after the production closed. Marissa Lynn is currently auditioning and performing while maintaining a private voice studio, which she opened in 2010. She is proud to be on the faculty of the Bergen Academy of Music and Art for 5 years now.

Elizabeth Matejka-Grossman

LIz Grossman has shared the stage with some of the world’s foremost dancers, having performed extensively for numerous companies and choreographers in the United States and Europe. At age 16, Liz moved from Ann Arbor, Michigan to London in order to train as a full-time student at the Upper School of the Royal Ballet. She has studied at the Royal Danish Ballet School, L'Académie de Danse Classique de Princesse Grace – Les Ballets de Monte Carlo, London Studio Centre, the National Academy of Arts, David Howard Dance Center, Alvin Ailey, STEPS, Broadway Dance Center, as well as other internationally-renowned schools.  Elected an Associate of the Royal Academy of Dance (ARAD), Liz also has an extensive background in the Vaganova, Bournonville, Cecchetti and French methods of classical ballet, in addition to an array of modern, contemporary and jazz techniques.   Liz has taught, choreographed and created programs in a variety of dance and performing arts disciplines for young children through adults and professionals for more than 30 years. In 2005, Liz co-founded Sharing the Arts, a 501(c) 3 organization, which is dedicated to enhancing the lives of children and adults living with differing abilities through performing arts classes and performance opportunities. Through her work with the special needs community, Liz has served as a consultant to the development of such programs as New York City Ballet’s special movement workshops in collaboration with New York-Presbyterian’s Weinberg Family Cerebral Palsy Center. In 2016, Liz completed her four-year-tenure as President of the Valentina Kozlova Dance Foundation, and was instrumental in the development of the Valentina Kozlova International Ballet, Contemporary Dance and Choreography Competitions. She also serves as Executive Director to Positive Exposure, a non-profit organization which utilizes the visual arts to change societal perceptions of individuals living with difference.  Liz holds degrees from the University of Michigan, Columbia University’s Teachers College and Harvard Graduate School of Education.  

Nicole "Nikki Manx" Mahncke

Nikkiis a dance educator, choreographer, performer, public speaker, and social justice advocate. Manx received her BFA in dance from Mason Gross School of the Arts (Rutgers University) in 2006, when she began her mentorship with Lynn Needle. Nikki is certified to teach dance through the NJ Board of Education, where she advocates for the arts as a board member for the NJ Arts Education Collective. Nikki regularly teaches all ages and forms of dance from toddler to adult in Creative Movement, Modern, Improvisation, Jazz, Tap, Ballet, and Fitness. Manx developed a Professional Development series on "The Language of Dance" for Newark Charter Schools, and held former residencies on projects with Ramapo High School, Dwight Morrow, and Bergen Community College. Nikki also directed 5 seasons of a student flashmob group, Heartbeat Dancer’s Revolution at Gotta Dance Inc., when she taught for 10 years in Somerset County. Her teaching incorporates Creative Placemaking, where she travels to senior homes with dance programming through Arts Horizons, Art of Motion, and Nikki Manx Dance Project. Manx is also a Teaching Artist for Bergen PAC, The King Centre, James E. Byrd Middle School, and Dancetc. She is excited to mentor and impact the AOM Junior Performing Ensemble, as well as make her first appearance with AOMDT in their 2017 NY season as the "Monarch."

Nikki's choreography has been presented in NY/NJ, and at the Southern Vermont Dance Festival. Nikki is the Artistic Director and Choreographer of Nikki Manx Dance Project. You can follow her choreography on her website,, or on her YouTube channel, Nikki Manx. Manx presents cause-driven multimedia experiences that encourage environmental sustainability and social justice initiatives through the arts. Her work has been performed at Dixon Place, South Street Seaport, Jennifer Muller/THE Works Studio, Greenspace Studio, Two River Theatre, Bergen Community College, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Drew University, Kean University, Puffin Cultural Forum, Art of Motion Studio Theatre, Bergen PAC, Flat Rock Brook Nature Center, and charitable events, among others. Her most recent collaborations are with LIVE and original compositions by STATiC and Englewinds Eco Ensemble at The Teaneck Creek Conservancy, where she sits on the Eco Art Committee. Nikki has also presented her site-specific work at The Grounds for Sculpture, art galleries, special events, and outdoor spaces. Nikki received funding from the Bergen County Division of Culutral and Historic Affairs to produce six evening length productions; “The Big Picture,” “Call to Action,” “We the People,” “Revolution: EARTH,” “Revitalization: EARTH,” and "The Harvest," where she featured AOMDT as her Guest Artist. Dances in these shows explore issues such as; water conservation, air pollution, marriage equality act, homelessness, animal rights, commercialism, gender identity, climate change, military occupation, civil rights, recovery, bullying, and the legacy of Nelson Mandela. Charitable advocacy organizations that Nikki worked with in 2016-2017 include Mahwah Food Bank, Joan’s Joy (Child Safety Awareness), Children’s Aide and Family Services, Kostumes 4 Kids, Pulse Orlando Relief Fund, and the Environmental Committee of Bergen County. Nikki has performed the work of Kelly Donovan, Jamie Marie Hannigan, Lynn Needle, Erin Pride, Cleo Mack, Randy James, and Alie Vidich. Nikki has danced for Hannigan's "Stage Stars" in several performances of Little Shop of Horrors, Rock Horror Picture Show, and in Glen Burtnik's “Back to the 80s" (Count Bassie Theater, Red Bank, NJ), and “Beatles Bash VII” (State Theatre, New Brunswick, NJ.). Hannigan also worked with Manx on residencies as a Dance Facilitator, working with clients at The Matheny Medical Center through "Arts Access" as an all-inclusive choreographer and edcuator who works with mixed abilities.    

Rob Rabin
(Adult Jazz, Tap)

Rob Rabin holds a B.F.A. in dance from The Boston Conservatory of Music.  In addition to AOM, he is currently on faculty with Ramapo College of New Jersey and SUNY Rockland, and his teaching credits include The Princeton Ballet, The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) in New York, and Les Ballet Jazz de Montreal.  As a choreographer, his most recent Broadway credit was “LIPA ON BROADWAY” at the Town Hall Theatre, and he also was the assistant choreographer for Ann Reinking's Act.  Rob appeared on Broadway in "The Five O'clock Girl" and was a part of the National Touring Company of "No, No Nanette."   He has toured with Maurice Hines, worked with Bob Fosse, been a member of Joyce Trisler's 'Danscompany' and Ronn Forella's 'Second Century Dancers,'   and was a guest jazz dance soloist for The Boston Ballet and for the second company of American Ballet Theatre.

Laura Rime

Laura Rime has been studying ballet for over 20 years in New York and San Francisco and is currently a member of Art of Motion Dance Theatre. As part of the company, she has danced in La Rotta, Iolanthe, and other repertory pieces. With Art of Motion, Laura has studied with Olivia Galgano, Norma Smith, and Sally Kane.  She has studied with Michael Smuin, Alonzo King, Arturo Fernandez, Giada Ferrone, Igal Perry, and Elisabeth Carrol.
Laura is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. Laura has performed in many ballets, including Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Les Patineurs, Firebird. She has studied ballet, jazz, and tap since childhood and this experience has given her a love of dance, music and dynamics.

Erick Rios

With no money to afford real dance classes, Erick Rios taught himself how to dance at the age of seventeen. It all started in his room with no mirror, Michael Jackson playing in the background, and only a shadow to look at. When he started to move his body, he was quickly addicted and never wanted to stop. Whether it was dancing in nightclubs, dancing in sessions, or anywhere that had a mirror; he was always dancing. He joined a dance crew called Critical Level and performed with them, for the first time, at his high school’s talent show. The more Erick danced, the stronger his passion grew; he wanted to get better and do more with his dancing. It was a struggle at first, but fortunately, his talent was first noticed by “Center Stage Dance Academy” in Tampa, Florida. He was then given a full scholarship to take Hip-Hop classes with Desiree and Shawna. As his unique style developed, recording artists such as “Sevin” and “Teddy-J” asked him to perform as a backup dancer. His love for dance has driven him to attend Bergen Community College as a Dance major, which is where he learned Modern, Tap, and Ballet. While expanding his versatility in dance, he discovered a new passion and talent; choreography. Erick is currently employed at Art of Motion Inc. in Ridgewood, NJ, as well as in West Side Dance Center in Randolph, NJ. He has performed in various high schools at BCC and has taught for a variety of people, ages seven and up. Wherever he may go from here is a mystery, but he is looking forward to bringing a brand new style to the dance world.

Norma Restier-Smith

Norma Smith, born in Rio de Janiero, began dancing at age 5. There at age 8 she joined the "Teatro Municipal," school for the development of professional dancers, and studied under the Russian master teacher Tatiana Leskowa and Consuelo Rios. Norma's career progressed with her acceptance into the Corp de Ballet of Rio at age 18 where she performed Les Sylphides, Coppelia and Swan Lake. Her international experience began at age 19 with an invitation from the Stuttgart Ballet to join their company. With the Stuttgart Ballet she traveled worldwide. Following the tragic loss of John Cranko in 1973, returning from US tour she moved to Munich where she joined the Munich Ballet company. With both companies she danced solo works and leading roles. Some of the major directors' works in which she has performed are: John Cranko; Fragment (leading role specifically choreographed for her), Brouillards, Jeu de Cartes, Onegin, Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, Opus One, Concerto for Flute and Harp (leading role), Initials R.B.M.E., Swan Lake, Nutcracker and others, David Sutherland; Handel Well Synthesized, Jiri Kylian; Paradox Novelle Society, George Balanchine; one of Serenade's leading roles and Symphony in C leading role in the third movement, Peter Wright; Sleeping Beauty and Giselle, John Neumeir; Nutcracker (leading role),Hand Van Mane; Ajakaboembie, Jean-Pierre Bonnefus; Haydn Concerto (leading role), She had the fortune to share the stage with Margot Fonteyn, Rudolph Nureyev, Carla Fracci, Paolo Bortoluzzi, Natalia Makarowa, Ghislaine Thesmar, Noelle Pontois, Michael Denard, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Anthony Dowell, Martine Van Hamel, Eva Evidokimowa, Marcia Haydee, Richard Cragun and others. Although she left her career in 1980 to raise a family, she has remained continuously active in dance over the last 30 years as a ballet instructor and choreographer for various Bergen County New Jersey Dance Schools, notably Joan Wolf's School of Ballet, Classic Ballet School, Art of Motion, Dance Extensions, Wyckoff School of Dance and Classic School of Ballet in Pearl River, NY. She has been a staff member, teacher, and choreographer at the Hathaway Academy of Ballet home to the Collin County Ballet Theatre in Texas from 2009 to 2012. Norma has taught master classes at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ and in Spring 2012 taught the Dallas audition class for the summer program for the Pittsburgh Ballet.

Sally Taylor Sullivan 
(Ballet, Modern)
Sally Sullivan received her B.F.A. in Dance from the Juilliard School and an M.A. in Dance Research and Reconstruction from the City College of C.U.N.Y. She is a certified teacher of Labanotation and the Alexander Technique. Sally teaches dance and the Alexander Technique to people of all ages and levels. She has taught at the Juilliard School, Manhattan School of Music, Queens College, City College, Connecticut College, Northwestern University, Bergen Community College, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, and the School of the Hartford Ballet. Sally is the mother of two young children and is married to Scott Simpson, a professional percussionist and teacher at The Ridgewood Conservatory. Sally teaches classical ballet, modern dance, musical theater, Renaissance and Baroque Dance, and dances from around the world at Art of Motion.

M. A. Taylor, AOMDT Principal Dancer

M.A.Taylor received his dance training at Garden State Ballet, Gallman’s Newark Dance Theatre, Science University Arts Academy, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Broadway Dance Center, Steps on Broadway and has received his undergraduate degree from Rutgers the State University. Taylor has danced with Premiere Dance Theatre, Newark City Ballet, Footprints, Powerhouse Entertainment, Art of Motion, Sharron Miller’s Performance Workshop Ensemble, Acrodanse Dance Theatre Company, Julio Jean Afro Haitian Dance Company and founder and artistic director of Taylor Dance Company.
Taylor’s has performed and danced in regional theatre productions of , “Dreamgirls”, “Kiss of the Spider Women”, Thief of Baghdad,  choreographed “Cinderella” and “Me and my girl”.  Taylor has dance in the Caribbean’s in such ballets as “Romeo and Juliet” where he danced the part of Paris and “The Thief of Baghdad” where he danced the part of the “Villain”. Taylor began his dance career on a National Television Show “Club MTV” where he was a lead dancer, has danced in various music videos and behind several recording artist. M.A.Taylor currently runs the dance department at Plainfield High School, on staff at Sharron’s Millers Performing Arts Academy, Art of Motion, continues to be a guest performer in various dance companies and teach dance workshops throughout the tri-state area.

Sally Ann Tumas-Skoric
(Voice Lessons by Appointment)

Sally ​Ann Tumas-Skoric ​is very excited to be on the faculty at Art of Motion. When Sally was a senior in high school, she won first prize in the National Association of Teachers and Singers competition for the state of New Jersey. After being offered scholarships to study opera, she decided to pursue studies in musical theatre. Sally received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the highly esteemed College Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati, where she majored in musical theatre. She has performed in Carnegie Hall, New York’s Town Hall, and Lincoln Center. Broadway credits include Victor/Victoria, directed by Blake Edwards, and Frank Wildhorn’s Jekyll and Hyde. She performed in the Broadway National Tour of Kiss of the Spiderwoman with Chita Rivera and played Babette (aka the feather duster) in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Sally is a Ridgewood resident, wife, and mother of three beautiful boys. She has studied voice for nearly 20 years and loves working with children and teenagers.

Laura McComb Van Dyke
Laura McComb Van Dyke grew up in Media, Pa and studied dance primarily at the Pennsylvania Ballet’s Rock School West, Pennsylvania Academy of Ballet under John White, and Media Dance Center in ballet, jazz, and tap. During her last year in High School she was also able to study modern with Ann Vachon and Donna Uchizono at Temple University along side their B.F.A and M.F.A students. She graduated with honors from Rutgers University’s Mason Gross School of the Arts with a B.F.A. in dance. She has been teaching dance to ages 18 months through adults steadily now since 2007. While she was associate director of Hudson Dance and Movement she helped developed their ballet curriculum alongside a junior professional program that prepared her students to be accepted at many great schools including American Ballet Theater, School of American Ballet, and Ballet Academy East in New York City. She continues to create curriculum and guide teachers from afar as the director of ballet for Principal creative and performing arts in California. Her professional performance experience includes dancing for Kelley Donovan and Dancers, Nikki Manx Dance Project, and co-creating and performing as part of a collective in New York called …and dancers. Her choreography has been presented at the Boulder International Fringe Festival, the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, and many venues and festivals throughout New York City and New Jersey. Laura has continued her own education as a dancer and teacher by continuing to take class and twice attending Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet’s teachers workshop. Laura looks forward to bringing her passion for and knowledge of dance to children while continuing her own education as a teacher.

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