Lauren has been involved in teaching and performing dance for over 29 years and dancing since she was five years old. Her school Starz Performing Arts Academy Inc. is in its 27th year and has over 350 students. Lauren is also a member of Associated Dance Teachers of NJ. Starz East Rutherford location is located just ten miles outside of NYC gives Lauren and her student’s the opportunity to take advantage of all the wonderful classes and dance performances that go on every day in the city. Lauren graduated from Montclair State University in 1995 with a degree in Fine and Performing Arts. She was a member of the MSU dance company and the choreographer for the sorority Sigma Delta Tau sorority. Lauren also holds a certification in Progressive Ballet Technique. She performed in many performances while getting her degree. Lauren has taught from the age of two and a half up through adult classes. She has the patience to teach the beginner as well as the knowledge and discipline to teach the very advanced dancer. Lauren is a member of Dance Studio Owner Association Inner Circle and continues to take classes, workshops and seminars to hone her skills and knowledge in the ever changing world of dance and business. This is so that she can bring the latest steps, music, and safety skills to her students and families.Lauren has worked with various production companies in Atlantic City, Boston, Philadelphia, and various venues throughout New York and New Jersey. Lauren has choreographed for high schools and judged for high school & national dance competitions. Lauren also works with costume companies on surveys on upcoming costumes lines, she has also designed custom costumes for her award winning dance team. Lauren continues to try to read, see and experience everything she can about the dance world. Her dancers have gone on to dance in college programs and Dance teamssuch as Montclair State University-University of Delaware, Stockton University , TCNJ University, Syracuse University, Rutgers University, University Of The Arts, Scared Heart, Hoffstra, Quinnipiac, Townson to name a few. Many of her students have danced for professional dance teams, dance companies and model professionally all across the tri-state area. Lauren is so excited to watch all her students perform and continue their dance journey even after they graduate from Starz .
Heather has been dancing as far back as she can remember. From the early age of four she knew performing was the life for her. As a student Heather competed in jazz, tap, lyrical, hip hop, and Pointe locally and nationally throughout the tri state area. After high school Heather began dancing at Montclair State University. In 2005 Heather landed a spot on the National Basketball Association’s Fan Patrol. This amazing opportunity allowed Heather to pursue her passion, dance all over the world with other to professionals, and promote for the NBA and WNBA. Heather performed at the 2006 and 2007 NBA-All Star games in Houston, TX and Las Vegas, NV. She has traveled to Guangzhou, China and Seoul, Korea to dance in the NBA World Games. Heather also participated in the NBA Europe Live Tour in Barcelona, Paris, Rome, Cologne, and in the FIBA World Championship. During this time, she performed center court with various celebrities such as Christina Aguilera, Mya, Disney Channel’s Aly and AJ, Grammy award winner John Legend, and American Idol’s Carrie Underwood, just to name a few. In 2010, Heather became a New Jersey Hawkette; this dance team performed at various semi-professional football games, charity events, dance competitions and showcases. Heather choreographed and coached for the Jersey Boxers Dance Team. In 2012, Heather became a model for the Harley Davidson clothing line and is featured on their website as well as print catalogs. She recently took up Ballroom and Latin dance styles and enjoys the new challenges it brings. Heather added entrepreneur to her bio in 2007.She owned a dance retail store, Dance Wear Etc., in Nutley, NJ from 2008 and sold it in 2016 when she decided to add Mommy to her bio. She is so excited and wants to wish her daughter, Helena, good luck as she takes the stage for the first time this year! Heather is a proud Starz alumna. She is excited to choreograph, as well as hit the stage with past teammates and students, in the alumni dance which is featured years in this recital as we celebrate 25 years! Of all Heather’s many accomplishments, one of her greatest has been the ability to pass her knowledge and love of dance down to her students. For the past 17 years, she has been teaching a variety of styles to both recreational and competitive students. She is so proud of her students’ progress and nonstop hard work. Continuing to take dance classes, in New Jersey and New York City, so she can remain educated in the field and keep up with the latest trends is very important to her. In July 2021, Heather obtained her Acrobatic Arts certification to help her students with safe and effective progressions in Acro Dance and Tumbling. Heather spends every day doing what she loves thanks to the art of dance. Never miss a chance to dance!
Ava stared dancing at Starz Performing Arts Academy at the age of two where she learned many styles of dance; ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical acrobatics, hip hop, and contemporary. By six she was on Starz’s award winning competition team, which she competed on for twelve years. Ava also danced at Nunnbetter Dance Theatre for four years where she learned ballet and performed in the Nutcracker at the Williams Center. In July 2021, Ava obtained her Acrobatic Arts certification to help her students with safe and effective progressions in Acro Dance and Tumbling. Ava graduated from Montclair State University with a Master’s degree in Education, Special Education, and holds a Mathematics certification. Aside from following her passion and teaching dance Ava is also a Middle School Mathematics teacher at Union Middle School in Rutherford.
Ava looks forward to teaching her students the art form she holds closest to her heart; dance!
Leslie is originally from Buffalo N.Y. where she received her ballet training from Maris Battaglia as well as training summers at Pennsylvania Ballet, Chautauqua Institute, NYSSA and Hartford Ballet. After high school she advanced to the Hartford pre-professional program and later began her modern career with Pick of the Crop under the direction of Elaine Gardner where she performed the repertory of , Ms.Gardner, Peter Pucci, David Parsons, Colin Connor , Gail Gilbert and Jessica Lang. With continuing her work with P.O.C Leslie relocated to N.Y.C where she performed with The Mary Anthony Dance Theater, Kun Yang Lin and Dancers, RACOCO Productions, Fly by Night Theater and AMDAT. In February of 2011 Leslie began her Certification with American Ballet Theater. Leslie is a ABT Certified Teacher who has successfully completed the ABT Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 5 of the ABT National Training Curriculum. Leslie has been teaching ballet locally for the past several years and is thrilled to be sharing her love of ballet and vast dance experience with the Starz students.
Kristina has been in the entertainment industry for most of her life, and has had the privilege of performing and choreographing all over the United States and the world. Kristina is a 1999 graduate of Montclair State University with degrees in dance and communication studies. She began her professional dance career during her senior year of college, as a dancer for the New Jersey Nets, andfrom there continued to perform for the New Jersey Storm, Everlast Dance Team, WNBA and NBA All Star teams, as well as various production companies in New York and New Jersey. Kristina took the knowledge she gained as a dancer, and went on to continue her career as a director and choreographer, first as director and choreographer for the New Jersey Nets Cheerleaders and then joining the National Basketball Association as Dance and Entertainment Coordinator. During her time with the NBA, Kristina had the honor of working the 2004 Athens Olympic Games as a dancer, director and choreographer. The NBA took her all over the globe, to places such as Paris, Greece, Barcelona, Rome, Beijing, Shanghai, and Tokyo. While her career was very exciting and definitely full of incredible experiences, Kristina's true passion always remained teaching and sharingher experience, love and passion of dance with her students. Kristina's most proud and important rolesare as wife and mother. She sends a special thank you to her husband AJ and her kids Myles, Kyla & Kelsy
Caitlyn Barrows, Ed.M. / B.F.A., is a proud alumni of Starz and is so excited to now be a teacher here! After graduating high school she went on to receive her Master’s degree in Dance Education and Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance Performance from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University. Upon graduation Caitlyn was also nominated for the New Jersey Department of Education’s Distinguished Student Teacher Award. She holds a PK-12 Certificate of Eligibility with Advanced Standing in DANCE Teaching and is now the head dace educator and director of the Clifton High School dance program. She wishes luck to all of the dancers at Starz and is so happy to be back teaching where she first discovered her passion for dance.
Avery is a proud Starz PAA alumni and is so excited to be teaching again at Starz. Avery began dancing at age three training in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, acrobatics, lyrical and contemporary. At Seven she joined Starz’s Competitive Team, which she competed on for 10 years. After high school, Avery went on to receive her Bachelor’s degree in Communication and Media from Montclair State University. Avery has also been a producer and host at Sirius Radio NYC on Hits 1 for the past four years!
Katiana is a proud Starz Performing Arts Academy alumni excited to be back now teaching! Katiana began dancing at age three, training in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, acrobatics, lyrical and contemporary. At age eleven, she joined Starz’s Competitive Team, which she competed on for seven years. After high school, Katiana went on to receive her Bachelor’s degree from the Rutgers Business School. While at Rutgers, she performed in various Jazz and Contemporary pieces with the Rutgers Performing Dance Company, and was a featured dancer and choreographer with the Livingston Theatre Company and Sigma Delta Tau sorority. Upon graduation, Katiana performed with Continuum Dance Co,. Prior to joining the Starz family as a teacher, Katiana spent two years teaching at a studio in Fair Lawn. She continues her training in New York City and North Jersey taking classes at Broadway Dance Center, Aerial Arts and other local dance and fitness studios. Katiana additionally works within business operations at luxury fashion group Farfetch in New York City.
SAMANTHA DRAKE-Guest teacher & Choreagrapher
a New Jersey native, began her dance training at an early age. She performed in the Nutcracker with Ballet for Young Audiences and later was a featured soloist with the Livingston Symphony Orchestra. While in high school, she began assisting tap dancer, Nick DiNicolangelo, at Adrenaline Dance Convention. In 2008, Sam was the recipient of the Harlequin Dance Scholarship and she went on to receive her BA in Sociology from Quinnipiac University.
While at Quinnipiac, Sam was a 4-year member of the Dance Company as well as President and choreographer. In her senior year, she was voted MVP of the team and her choreography was selected for the Undertoe Dance Festival in New York City. After graduation, Sam joined the Hands Down Tap Project and she was featured in their first three shows. Her students have performed in the Radio City Christmas Show, Billy Elliot National Tour, and Matilda.
Her choreography has won awards on both a regional and national level. Sam was interviewed as a “Leading Lady” for IWantHerJob.com. She is the founder and director of Mind Body Sole Tap Intensive and continues to choreograph, teach, and adjudicate across the U.S.