Peter and Deborah Maida, Owners/Directors...Our business was established in 1982 (formerly Stratford Academy of Dance), and we are proud to be celebrating our38th performance season. We were honored with the "Best Director" Award at Access Broadway Competition, presented by Mr. Ron DeVito, in January 2019.
Miss Deb and Coach Pete have been teaching dance and vocal for more than 38 years and are proud to have trained students at various levels that have led to many professional careers. Miss Deb has trained extensively in Ballet, Jazz and Tap and currently teaches pre-school level recreational and company classes as well as forming the Baldwin Tap Ensemble at the Stratford Baldwin Senior Center. Her mini Ballet Company has received a Broadway Star Award, Overall High Scores and Special Awards .
Coach Pete is a classically trained musician and vocal instructor. His knowledge and experience has contributed to the success of many professional performers. We are truly proud of our Dance Family and appreciate the opportunity to continue to share our love of the Arts with so many talented students. His vocalists have received many Overall High Score Award and Special Awards.
Our Most recent honor, was being awarded the "Inspired by Passion" Award, Groove Competition 2019, and "Top Company" Award at Turn It Around Competition. We were also recipients of ADCC Studio of Excellence award, at Groove Competition, in East Haven, February 2018.
JulieBraziel... Co-Director, Sr. Company Lyrical, Modern, Ballet.....Julie celebrates 39 years with Stratford Performing Arts Academy and is Co-Director of SPAA, currently teaching Senior levels of Ballet technique, as well as Senior Lyrical/Contemporary and Modern.
Julie was an alumni of Stratford Academy of Dance for 12 years, and has been teaching for the Academy for the past 26 years. She is a graduate of the Hartford Conservatory with a degree in Dance Pedagogy, and also attended Louisburg College in North Carolina as a Dance Major. She continued her studies with several master teachers in the NYC area. In 2005, Julie instituted the first CT chapter of the National Dance Honor Society (Nu Delta Alpha) where she served as advisor for several years. Julie has choreographed several plays in the community such as "Wizard of Oz", "Into the Woods", "Babes in Toyland", "Big River", "Carousel", "West Side Story", "High School Musical", "Hello Dolly", and many more. Her Senior Company has won overall High Scores at Competitions including Nationals, for the past several years. Julie was also the recipient of several "Best Choreography" awards for the past 11 seasons, and added 4 more in 2019 season. Her work has been featured at the Joyce Theatre in NYC, and her company was ranked Top 3 in CT for competitive studios in 2009. She has served on the judging panel at competitions in the tri-state area, and is also a free-lance writer and former home-school teacher.
Tracey Pittman...Assistant Company Director/Ballet Instructor.....This season marks Tracey's 37th season with Stratford Performing Arts Academy.
Throughout her years at SPAA, Tracey has been assisting with the organization of our competitive program, and is Ballet instructor for our Petite through Senior Companies. She is a graduate of the Hartford School of Ballet, and her credits include performances at Carnegie Hall, Martha Graham, and Downtown Cabaret, Children's Theater.
Tracey continues to mentor and teach classes to children ages 8 through adults, and has been awarded Best Choreography Awards and several High scores, for her groups. She was a pre school teacher for more than 20 years and is currently Public Relations Specialist at Griffin Hospital Cancer Center, where she was nominated for employee of the year, in 2015.
Wendi Zdru... Company Lyrical Instructor.....Wendi has been a member of the SPAA family for the past 31 years, including her years at Stratford Academy of Dance where she danced and competed for more than 10 years. Over the past 20 years, she has taught Ballet, Lyrical, Jazz and Tap to our competitive and recreational students. More recently, she has been teaching Lyrical to our Petite, Junior and Teen Company Members. Over the years, her students have been recipients of many awards that include Overall High Score, Most Entertaining and Best Choreography. She received her Bachelor's Degree from Southern Connecticut State University and also works as an IT Specialist, in addition to her time at SPAA.
Elise Pittman, Company and Non-competitive Instructor...Elise is celebrating her 25th season as a member of the SPAA family and her 9th year as a member of our faculty. She is an alumnus of Stratford Academy of Dance/Stratford Performing Arts Academy, where she began her dance training at age two. Elise attended the studio for 18 years, and throughout those years, was a member of our competition team. She became our youngest soloist to compete at age 5. Elise served as Vice President of the National Dance Honor Society Chapter in 2010. She is a graduate of Sacred Heart University where she was a Psychology major and member of the Sacred Heart Division 1 Dance Team. She also holds a Masters in Developmental Psychology and currently working on her Masters in Counseling. During the day, she is the Assistant Dean of Students at New Haven Academy, and in her spare time, the Head coach of Shelton Intermediate Dance Team. Her classes include Junior, Teen and Senior Jazz Companies, Pre-Ballet, Creative Movement and solo lessons for competition. Her senior jazz company was voted "Best Production at Nationals in 2015, and her students continue to excel in all performance aspects.
Shannon McHale....Company Substitute and solo Instructor....Shannon is an award winning Tap dancer who shares her expertise with our soloists. She was a member of Stratford Academy of Dance Competition Company for ten years and had achieved consistent high scores, titles and achievements throughout the years. This year is Shannon has been a faculty member for four years and is currently working with soloists. Shannon is a graduate of Southern Connecticut State University, and has completed her Masters of Science Degree in Special Education and will be working on certification in comprehensive special education and elementary education. Shannon will be Mrs. Navarro as of November 8th!
Aubrey Joy Sierer.... Vocal and Theatre Instructor....As a 21 year member of our SPAA Family, Aubrey continues to share her Vocal talents with ourJunior and Senior Vocal Companies. She competed vocally, for more than 10 years and has achievedhighest honors throughout the years. Aubrey is a 2016 graduate of Fairfield University as a Theatre/English major, and pursues her career as an actress and wardrobe mstress for theatre companies. She has worked with the Seacoast Rep. Summer Stock Theatre in Portsmoth, New Hampshire in 2016, and is currentely vocal and theatre instructor at SPAA. She was on tour with "A Christmas Carol", as wardrobe mistress., in December 2018.
Catie Simon Henning...Company Modern, Hip Hop, Ballet/Jazz, Pre school......Catie is an alumni from SPAA, after dancing and competing for 10 years. Catie has been dancing and competing since the age of 3, and has consistently won many overall high score awards, scholarships and grand champions. She graduated from Southern Connecticut State University, in 2016, with a degree and certification in Special Education, and now currently teaches at CES (Cooperative Educational Services) in the Developmental Learning Center. Catie was a 4 year member of the SCSU dance team, and was President and Captain of the team. Catie was also secretary and president of the National Dance Honor Society. She is currently teaching Pre School Ballet/tap/jazz, Company Modern and Lyrical. She is expecting her first child in April 2020.
Kelsey Senteio...Company Hip Hop, Modern, Musical Theatre....Another amazing SPAA Alumni, Kelsey has co-directed our Summer Musical Theatre Camp for the past six. seasons. She is a graduate ofPace University, New York City, as a Theatre Major. She recently returned from performing in a production of "West Side Story", in BayView, MT. She is co-director of our Musical Theatre Program, and is currently Junior Hip Hop and Teen Modern Company. Kelsey continues to pursue her acting career.
Lindoria Pittman..... Pre Ballet/Jazz/Tap; Company Tap, Senior Company Assistant ... Stratford Performing Arts Academy has been Lindoria's second home for 20 years. She began taking classes as soon as she learned to walk. Throughout her 17 years as a student, she competed in all styles of dance. She fell in love with tap and competed a tap solo almost every year, from at 6 to 17. In 2016, she won the overall high score at nationals, with her solo, "The Hanging Tree", choreographed by Julie Braziel. After graduating from High School in the Community, she attended Sacred Heart University. She was a member of the SHU Dance Team, and performed at NDA, national ranking 3rd, in Division 1 Hip Hop. In addition to teaching Tap and Pre Ballet at SPAA, she is a recent graduate of Oxford Academy of Hair Design,as a licensed cosmetologist.
Amber Maida, Art Concepts and Paint to the Music...Amber taught at Stratford Academy of Dance for 10 years. She received her dance training from The Aurora Ballet and Louisburg College. Amber is a licensed in Massage Therapy, also an award -winning professional, visual and mixed media artist . She recently returned back to Connecticut after living in Irvine, CA for the past 5 years. SPAA students enjoy her visits, teaching Improvisation and Modern, Stretch and Strengthen and art concepts. Amber will be hosting Paint to the Music sessions that will be announced in the near future. You can visit her website to view her amazing artwork at www.ambermaida.com Amber won the $500 first prize in the "Mixmaster: Juried Members Exhibition" at the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury, in 2016.
She was also awarded the opportunity to showcase her work in a solo exhibition in The Lab at the museum from July 31st to Aug. 28th, 2017. The selected work, "Lit From Within," is a 3D mixed media acrylic painting with eggshells, pearlescent inks, charcoal, lavender, and string.
Julianna Cruz, Vocal......Julianna is an alumni of Stratford Academy of Dance and a graduate of the Hartt School of Music, with a degree in Vocal Production.
She shares her amazing talents is a guest instructor for our awarding winning Vocal Companies. Julianna was also a Sales Representative for NBC Connecticut. SPAA is proud to have her as a guest instructor.
Dion Pratt....We are happy to have Dion come back to SPAA as a guest instructor. He is a SPAA alumni, and is a 2017 graduate from California Institute of the Arts.. Dion is recognized world wide for his amazing talents and recently traveled to Berlin, Germany for an exciting creative adventure. He recently choreographed and 1st place overall high score award winning duet, "Believer", for two members of our Senior Company. We are proud of his accomplishments!
Deborah and Peter Maida Julie Braziel Tracey Pittman Wendi Zdru
Elise Pittman Shannon McHale Aubrey Sierer Kelsey Senteio
Miss Joselyn Miss Lindoria
Amber Maida Julianna Cruz Dion Pratt
Lillie Toni reviewed Stratford Performing Arts Academy "spaa" 5 star *****
June 18, 2015 ·
My family loves it here !!!
The coaches are amazing-thank you for what you do and how you do it
My girls are more confident young ladies because of all of you!!
Keyla Medina Rentas reviewed Stratford Performing Arts Academy "spaa" — 5 star
May 20, 2015 ·
Love the discipline, motivation and fun my girls have because of SPAA
Julie Maida Braziel, Brittany ,Deborah Maida and Wendi . You ladies have taught me more than I can ever thank you for. I cherish every moment I shared with you all, living, learning and dancing through life. Love you all so much 💕💕💕*
Patricia Clark Sperling reviewed Stratford Performing Arts Academy "spaa" — 5 star
May 13, 2015 ·
Awesome! Very family-oriented studio! I've watched my daughter grow tremendously
Tara Caponigro reviewed Stratford Performing Arts Academy "spaa" — 5 star
May 11, 2015 ·
Incredibly talented staff who obviously love what they do! Their students are simply AMAZING!!
Stratford Performing Arts Academy offers a high-quality performing arts education to children and adults, in a non-competitive and competitive, inspiring environment.
We believe that performing arts (dance, vocal and theatre), enrich the lives of our students and families, and help to build community through cultural awareness.
We focus on the proper use of technique, while developing artistry and self expression, and of course, having fun!
"Dance plus academics equals education" has been our message to our students, with the hope that they will strive to reach their full potential, whether or not they choose a performing arts career.