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 our36th performance season.  We were  honored with the "Best Director" Award at Access Broadway Competition, presented by Mr. Ron DeVito, in January 2016.

Miss Deb and Coach Pete have been teaching dance and vocal for more than 36 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 received a Broadway Star Award ,Overall High Scores and Special Awards this past season.

  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.

JulieBraziel, Co-Director.....Julie celebrates 36 years with Stratford Performing Arts Academy and is Co-Director of SPAA, currently teaching all levels of Ballet technique, as well as Senior Lyrical/Contemporary, Tap and Modern. 
Julie was an alumni of Stratford Academy of Dance for 12 years, and has been teaching for the Academy for the past 24 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 2015 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.....This season marks Tracey's 35th 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 Instructor.....Wendi has been a member of the SPAA family for the past 29 years, including her years at Stratford Academy of Dance where she danced and competed for more than 10 years.    Over the past 18 years, she has taught Ballet, Lyrical, Jazz  and Tap to our competitive and recreational students. More recently, she has been teaching Lyrical and Jazz to our 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 23rd season as a member of the SPAA family and her third year as a member of our faculty.  She is an alumni of Stratford Academy of Dance/Stratford Performing Arts Academy, where she began her dance training at age two.  Elise attended the studio for 17 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.   Currently working on her Masters in Psychology, she is proud to be teaching for her third year  at SPAA. Her classes include  Recreational Lyrical,  Petite, Junior, Teen and Senior Jazz Companies, Petite Jazz companies, and pre-ballet and Creative Movement. Her senior Jazz company was voted "Best Production" at Nationals in July 2015, and her students continue to excel in all performance aspects.  


Shannon McHale, Company Instructor....Shannon is an award winning Tap dancer who shares her expertise with our Teen, Junior and Petite Level Tap companies.  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 yearsThis year is Shannon's fourth  year on the SPAA faculty,    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.  


Marie Carlona-O'Brien, Non-Competitive and Company Instructor.... Marie is a graduate of Southern Connecticut University 2013, where she majored in Communications with a concentration in interpersonal relations.  She continued her passion for dance at SCSU,, as Vice President of Classical, on their Dance Company (SPDC) Symphonic Pulse Dance Company.  Marie now works for one of the top 10 suppliers in the Promotional Products Industry.   Marie became a dance instructor at SPAA in 2013, and has been dancing with SPAA for 18 years and growing.   Her dance career has consisted of Platinum awards and 1st place grand champions in dance and vocal. She also received a scholarship to Steps on Broadway, and hold the title of Miss Dance Arts Plus in 2008. (now known as That's Entertainment).  Marie continues to learn and apply knowledge to both her teaching and choreography,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Joshua Torres, Non-Competitive and Company Instructor....We are excited to welcome back Josh to the SPAA faculty his 2nd season.   Joshua has studied Hip Hop for more than 10 years, keeping up with the old-school and current styles.    He is an award winning dancer, and has introduced our all new Boys Only Hip Hop Crew.   Josh is a Stratford Academy of Dance Alumni before attending the University of Bridgeport.   He is pursuing a modeling career as well as teaching non-competition Hip Hop classes and the Overall High Scoring Senior Hip Hop Company.   This season, Josh was winner of Best Choreography award for his senior Hip Hop Company.   


Aubrey Joy Sierer, Vocal and Theatre Instructor....As a 18 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 i worked with the Seacoast Rep. Summer Stock Theatre in Portsmoth, New Hampshire in 2016, and is currentely vocal and theatre instructor at SPAA. 


Catie Simon, Special Needs Dance Program......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 will be introducing our new Special Needs Dance Program (*Super Stars)., as well as assisting as a Modern Instructor.


Kelsey Senteio,  Musical Theatre....Another amazing SPAA Alumni, Kelsey has co-directed our Summer Musical Theatre Camp for the past five seasons.   She is a graduate ofPace University, New York City, as a Theatre Major.   She is an award winning dancer and actress who was recently featured in  the May issue of Glamour Magazine.    She is co-director of our new Musical Theatre Program.   Kelsey continues to pursue her acting career, is also Ballet assistant to Senior company.

Kathy Stalmach,   Tumbling...  Kathy was the newest addition to our faculty this season.   She taught tumbling with us many years ago, and has returned to us this season! bio TBA.​​                                                                                                                                               Guest Instructors....

Rosalina Mair Mathurin. Ballet and Modern....Lindy is an alumni of Stratford Academy of Dance and a graduate of Dean College with a Major in Dance Performance.  She was a Ballet instructor at SPAA during the 2014-15 season,  after a three year tour with the Disney Alaskan Cruise Line.   Lindy returned to Disney this season and portrays the character of Princess Mulan,  for the Disney Cruise Line, in Florida.   We wish her all the best and will see her for Master classes when she is back in Connecticut.


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 recently  won the $500 first prize in the "Mixmaster: Juried Members Exhibition" at the Mattatuck Museum in Waterbury.
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.    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 will be traveling to Berlin, Germany on his next creative adventure.   We are proud of his accomplishments!


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Deborah and Peter Maida    Julie Braziel    Tracey Pittman   Wendi Zdru       

          Elise Pittman   Shannon McHale  Marie Carlona-  Kelsey Senteio

Miss Kathy       Miss Joselyn

Meet oUR amazing fACULTY....



 

 Lindy Mair                                                 Amber Maida                                      Julianna Cruz                                        Dion Pratt              

—·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!!


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.





    Josh Torres  Aubrey Sierer   Miss Catie

Stratford Performing Arts Academy,LLC