​​​​Faculty Bios....

Peter and Deborah Maida, Owners/Directors...Our business was established in 1982 (formerly Stratford Academy of Dance), and we are proud to be celebrating our 40th 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 40 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 Adult Tap and Mini Ballet Company classes, and has directed the Baldwin Tap Ensemble at the Stratford Baldwin Senior Center for the past five years.  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.   His vocalists continue to received many Overall High Score Award and Special Awards, including Top Vocalist at That's Entertainment PA 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, and Access Broadway, Groove, That's Entertainment, Star Quest and Turn It Around 2021.

Some of our honors,  include the "Inspired by Passion" Award, Groove Competition 2019, and "Top Company" Award at Turn It Around Competition, the  ADCC Studio of Excellence award, at Groove Competition, in East Haven, February 2018, Access Broadway 2020 and Groove Competition 2020!   Our most recent is "Best Musical Theatre School, Access Broadway 2021, The Groove Award, Best Technical and Best Choreography, Groove 2021, The Viral Video Award at Star Quest, Best Production at That's Entertainment and the Spotlight Award at TIA. We are truly proud of our Dance Family and appreciate the opportunity to share our love of the Arts with so many talented students.

JulieBraziel... Co-Director, Sr. Company Lyrical, Modern, Ballet.....Julie celebrates 41 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 is a teacher's teacher, sharing 40 years of knowledge in the dance industry.
Julie was an alumni of Stratford Academy of Dance for 12 years, and has been teaching for the Academy for the past 27 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.  She is currently a member of NDEO (National Dance Education Organization).  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 and 2021 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 39th 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 33 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 27th 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.   Elise was the Assistant Dean of Students at New Haven Academy, and in her spare time, the Head coach of Shelton Intermediate Dance Team.   She is currently a fourth grade educator at Six to SIx Magnet School. 

Her classes at SPAA 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 she, along with members of our staff, received Best Choreography at Access Broadway 2020 for a jazz production.   Her students continue to excel in all performance aspects.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Aubrey Joy Sierer.... Vocal and Theatre Instructor....As a 23 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 mistress for theatre companies.    She has worked with the Seacoast Rep. Summer Stock Theatre in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 2016, and is currently 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.  She has been a member of SPAA faculty for 7 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 the proud new Mom of MacKenzie Grace!


Kelsey Senteio...Company Hip Hop, Modern, Musical Theatre....Another amazing SPAA Alumni, Kelsey has co-directed our Summer Musical Theatre Camp for the past seven seasons.   She is a graduate of Pace University, New York City, as a Theatre Major.   She recently returned from performing in a production of "West Side Story", in Bay View, MT.      She is co-director of our  Musical Theatre Program, and is currently Junior & Teen  Hip Hop and Teen/Senior 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 22 yearsShe 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 and Jazz at SPAA, she is a graduate of Oxford Academy of Hair Design, as a licensed cosmetologist.

                                                                                                                             

Shawn Blowes.....Modeling for Pageants and Competitions....    Miss Shawn has been involved in pageants and dance for over 30 years as a pageant and dance mom, coach,   and contestant.  She is owner and coach of East Coast Divas Pageant Coaching and also a certified make up artist.  She has produced many supreme title winners both on the local and national level.   She has co-directed several fashion shows as well as trained models to walk at New York fashion week and bridal fashion shows in Connecticut and York.

Ms. Shawn has previously held the titles of :2008-2010 Americas Classic Liberty Ms, 2009 Miss New England Classic Model Queen, 2009 Miss Royal America Classic Model Queen, 2009 Heavenly Angel/Dreamland Diva Supreme Queen,  2000 International Princess Regional Beauty, Model and Photogenic Queen, 2010 International Princess National Modeling Queens, 2010 Miss Northeast Plus Beauty Queen.  She also held titles in 2012: America's Yankee Miss Model Queen and 2012 Americas Yankee Miss Beauty Princess and in 2020. 

She is the Mom of two daughters, Ashely and Yanni who are both dancers and pageant title holders. 


Talia Simpson...Baby and Me....Talia has joined our faculty last season as our "Baby and Me" Instructor and will now add our Princess 1 three year old class.   She has extensive dance training and current is a Liturgical dancer and cheerleading coach for St. James Church/School.    Talia has been a SPAA Mom for the past eight years.    She is the proud mom of 11 year Old Shianne and 2 year old Tamia, who are members of our SPAA family as well.

Guest Instructors.....                                                                       

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 is a senior public relations specialist at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and was a 2019 honoree as a "40 under Forty".    SPAA is proud to have her as a guest instructor.

Dion Pratt, ContemporaryWe 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!

Shannon Navarro...Shannon was a member of SPAA for 20 years.  First as a member of our Competition companies and six years as a pre-school and company Tap instructor.   She is a graduate of Southern Connecticut State University and is currently a Special Education Teacher for the City of Bridgeport.  Shannon is taking time off from dance while she Celebrates the birth  her baby girl, Peyton.


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Meet oUR amazing fACULTY....



 

                                        Amber Maida                                      Julianna Cruz                                        Dion Pratt              

      Miss Catie

          Elise Pittman        Shawn Blowes        Aubrey Sierer      Kelsey Senteio

—·TESTIMONIALS....

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 💕💕💕*

Cheryl

*****

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!!


Deborah and Peter Maida    Julie Braziel      Tracey Pittman      Wendi Zdru       

Miss Joselyn    Miss Lindoria     Miss Talia

Stratford Performing Arts Academy,LLC


Mission Statement...

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.