Many of our students have been accepted to college dance programs and college dance companies in schools such as the Tisch School of the Arts and George Mason University.
Following are a few of the talented former students from The Dance Slipper who are now dancing professionally across the United States and the World:
LAURA HALZACK grew up in Suffield, Connecticut and began her dance training at the age of four with Brenda Barna. She furthered her training at The School of the Hartford Ballet and studied at the Conservatory of Dance at Purchase College. Ms. Halzack graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in History from the University of New Hampshire in 2003. She then studied at the Hartt School and at The Taylor School’s 2004 Summer Intensive. She has performed with the Amy Marshall Dance Company and Syren Modern Dance and has enjoyed teaching in her home state. Ms. Halzack studied at The Taylor School for two years before joining the Paul Taylor Dance Company in Summer 2006.
A snippet of a interview;
Interviewer: Gia Kourlas
You started dancing very early, right?
I was four. I started dancing at a local school. I’m from Suffield, Connecticut, but the school was actually in western Mass—it was called the Dance Slipper, which is so cute, right? I had a great teacher and I mostly started out in jazz, lyrical, tap and some acrobatics, which appear in the Virgin of Guadalupe solo [from Taylor’s De Suenos]. It kind of came full circle! I never thought I would have to do a front walkover again. But that’s where I started and during the summers, starting in seventh grade, I went to the school of the Hartford Ballet. I was still playing soccer and I didn’t really commit to being a full-time dance student until I was a sophomore in high school. I was 15 when I began training very intensively.
Katrina Laclair is a professional CrossFit coach and team member of the Danbury Mad Hatters Grid League. Katrina grew up a competitive dancer and acrobat, ranking regionally and nationally with such awards as Dancer of the Year and Miss Acrobat of the United States. After high school she continued to dance professionally, traveling around the country and abroad with companies including Six Flags, Busch Gardens and Norwegian Cruise Line. After deciding to become a dance teacher/choreographer, She also started attending school and competing in Figure competitions which was a great outlet for her competitive personality.
Then she discovered CrossFit! She stumbled across an opportunity to become a coach at a new box opening the next town over from where she lived. Being that she was an Exercise Science major in school, it was an obvious choice to make. She had never done CrossFit so she signed up for a 3 class trial at another local box. Her first class she was able to be one on one with the coach and take it slow. The second class however, she had to do a Hero WOD with a partner, that included 300 pull ups. 46 minutes later, her hands were ripped and bleeding, her chest and quads fatigued, soaked in sweat from head to toe and the best part was the support from people she had never met! That very night, she signed up for her CF-L1, she was hooked! The rest is history and she loves it more and more with every training session, every class she coaches and every event she attends.
REBECCA MEHAN started dancing at age 3 – one of the very first Dance Slipper students! While training with Brenda Barna, she received numerous awards including Miss Acrobat of the USA. More importantly, Brenda encouraged her to be a confident, versatile, and dedicated student. Rebecca attended the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and continued her dance education at SUNY Purchase. She went on to tour with Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus and Holland America Cruise Lines. As a modern dancer, she performed across the country with The Bridge Dance Theater, Monica Bill Barnes, Sens Production/Noemie Lafrance, Katie Workum, Christopher Williams, Jennifer Nugent, Akiko Kitamura, Risa Jaroslow and Jane Comfort and Company. Rebecca has taught dance and her own repertoire at The Hartford Conservatory, The Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, Center for Creative Youth at Wesleyan, and the Professional Performing Arts School in Manhattan. Currently, she is the movement and dance director at Columbia Preparatory School in NYC.
Derrick began his formal training in a local studio of his hometown Southwick, Massachusetts, where he studied ballet, jazz, tap, and acrobatics with his teacher Brenda Barna. He is also a graduate of The Greater Hartford Academy of the Performing Arts.
After furthering his dance education at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, Derrick began his professional career and has had the pleasure of performing with Ballet Hispanico of New York, Battleworks Dance Company, The Joffrey Concert Dancers, Northern Connecticut Ballet, Koresh Dance Company, and A.S.H. Contemporary.
Additional performance credits include the First National Tour of "Footloose" and "A Few Good Men DANCIN'...," the European Tours of "Evita" and "West Side Story," Walt Disney World's "Kids of the Kingdom" and Radio City Music Hall's "Christmas Spectacular," as well as the World Premiere of the Opera "Le Cid," starring Placido Domingo.
Derrick is a former faculty member of The Rock School, Steps on Broadway, and Koresh School of Dance, and has been a guest teacher at several international institutions and dance festivals.
Derrick has also gained recognition as a choreographer and has had his work commissioned by The Hartt School, Dominican National Ballet, Helix Dance Project, ABC Television for the "Boscov's Thanksgiving Day Parade," the "Barrymore Awards," and the "Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Millennium Kick-Off," to name a few.
While currently residing in New York City, Derrick serves as the Artistic Director of the newly formed company Bridge Dance Concepts, freelances as a choreographer, master class teacher and adjudicator for major dance organizations throughout the United States and Canada.
Kenny Corrigan is a native of Southwick, Massachusetts, currently residing in New York City. He started his training with Brenda Barna at the age of four. He has studied in various forms of dance from acrobatics and ballet, to tap, jazz and hip-hop. Upon graduating high school Kenny was named ADA's Dancer of the Year in 2009. Kenny attended Point Park University as a BFA with a modern dance concentration. Since then, he has worked with several dance companies such as Texture Contemporary Ballet, Bad Boys of Ballet, and Buglisi Dance Theatre. Kenny was featured on season 9 of Americas Got Talent with the Bad Boys of Ballet, performing live at Radio City Music Hall and making it all the way to the semi-finals. Kenny also had the opportunity to back up dance for Neil Patrick Harris on his variety show "Best Time Ever". Most recently, he has performed in the hit off Broadway show "Queen of the Night", as well as a back up dancer for musical artist, Silento. Kenny feels very fortunate that dancing has taken him to many places around the world such as, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Israel, Russia, France, Mexico, Finland, Sweden and the U.K. to name a few.
At three-years- old, Ashley Bannish began her dance career at The Dance Slipper in Southwick, MA, under the direction of Brenda Barna—an award-winning dancer and choreographer. At the Dance Slipper, Ashley was fortunate to be cultivated by Brenda, as well as many other talented teachers and choreographers including Alicia Monaco, Derrick Yanford, and Laura Halzack.
For fifteen years, Ashley studied every style of dance within reach—ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, modern, acrobat, pointe, hip-hop, and contemporary—each providing a fresh challenge and outlet for self- expression. Ashley danced competitively on a regional and national level, in group and solo routines, at American Dance Awards, Kids for Kids, Candance, and more, repeatedly receiving top scores—including the Sherry Gold Memorial Award of $5,000 at the American Dance Awards. Ashley is now the owner of Nashoba Valley Movement, in Clinton, Ma.
Nicole grew up in Suffield, CT and began her dance training at the age of four at The Dance Slipper. After graduating high school, Nicole attended the George Washington University in Washington D.C. as a Presidential Scholar of the Arts in Dance. Throughout her 4 years at GWU, Nicole continued her post-modern dance training and was also a part of Captial Funk, DC's premiere hip-hop dance team. After graduating from GWU in 2014, Nicole moved to New York to dance professionally and soon after landed a job dancing for the Brooklynettes, the NBA dance team for the Brooklyn Nets for the 2014-15 season. During her season on the team, Nicole traveled to Rio De Janerio to perform in the pre-season NBA 3x games. She was also featured performing on TNT's All-Star Saturday night during the 2015 All-Star games and in the music video "I Wish (My Taylor Swift)" by the Knocks featuring Matthew Koma. Nicole currently lives in New York City and works as a fitness professional, teaching both group classes at Pure Barre and private training sessions through a dance fitness method called Body Conceptions.