Meet Our Dance Instructors

Michele Stepien

Studio Owner/Director (Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Competition)

Michele began dancing with Joanne's Dance Center founder Joanne Svoboda-Sylvain in 1976, learning all styles of dance and acrobatics, attending class five days a week. While still a student of Joanne's, Michele was asked to join the staff when the doors to Joanne's Dance Center first opened. That first year Michele was an assistant to Joanne for an acrobatics class.
Shortly afterwards Michele began assisting Joanne with all styles of dance classes, finally becoming a full-fledged instructor at the studio.

Now, Michele teaches dancers of all ages, from two-and-a-half year-old preschoolers to enthusiastic adults.  Michele also enjoys working with her competition dancers. She's choreographed and taught many wins and high-scoring routines for various competitions, both regional and national.  Michele's routines frequently win special awards and are known for being age-appropriate but technically challenging. She believes that each and every one of our students continues to evolve into amazing dancers as they learn and grow at our studio. 

Michele is always looking forward to each season's thrilling moments and great memories, and enjoys watching dancers excel as they work hard and show their passion for dance.

Ashley Aquilo

(Modern/Contemporary, Tap, Competition)

Ashley Aquilo hit the dance floor at the age of two and has been training exclusively in all styles ever since. She is a creative being, based out of New York City where she has the divine opportunity of studying at the Broadway Dance Center. After recently graduating from the BDC Professional Semester, Ashley is now a proud cast member of BEings Dance Company and has been featured in Community Artistry videos as well as "Tap World" on Netflix. Her recent projects include concept videos choreographed by Tom Richardson and Shirlene Quigley. Ashley is extremely blessed to be able to continue her artistic endeavors and hopes to inspire/be inspired by the beauty around her.

Samantha Lucia

(Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Preschool)

Ms. Samantha grew up dancing here in the area. She has taken her knowledge and love of dance and has been sharing it with her students before she even stopped dancing herself. Ms. Samantha is Dance Evolution’s pre-schooll teacher, known for her kindness, cheerfulness and love of her students. Parents constantly tell us how impressed they are with Ms. Samantha's patience with her young student . She feels there is something special about teaching a child their first dance steps.

Ms. Samantha also teaches non-competition ballet, jazz, lyrical and tap. She enjoys having the dancers take part in a fun class while learning the fundamentals of dance. Ms. Samantha has four children at home, two of whom are dancers. Natalie and Hartley are following in their mother’s footsteps, already competing and doing their own solos. We hope your child will enjoy the opportunity to dance with Ms. Samantha. It's the perfect way to start!

Alexa Stepien

(Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Competition)

Alexa is a former competition team dancer and winner of many high scores, top placements and special judges' awards. During her college career, Alexa performed and competed with the NCAA Division I UAlbany Great Dane cheerleaders.

Miss Alexa currently teaches competition tap, jazz and lyrical classes.  Her choreography consistently wins many top placements, high scores and special awards.

Alexa continues to dedicate herself to DE students and is a terrific role model for all our dancers.

Schallehn Tedford

(Jazz, Contemporary, Lyrical, Hip-Hop, Competition)

Acadia Pezzolesi


Acadia started dancing when she was four years old. Although trained in modern and jazz, ballet and pointe has always been her passion. The bulk of her training has been with David Otto a former soloist with New York City Ballet, and Madame Phyllis Latin, a former prima ballerina and producer of 42 professional dancers. She has done summer long intensives with Joffrery Ballet as well as Ballet Austin.

The last four years of her training has been a part of a pre-professional intensive track dancing approximately 35 hours a week. However, decided she did not wish to corrupt her passion with the politics of professional ballet and began college instead. Acadia is currently studying at Hudson Valley Community College and will major in Communication Studies with a dual minor in Business and American Sign Language. She hopes not only to start a career in Event Management but continue passing on what she has learned by teaching young dancers

Sarah Van Aernam

(Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Hip-Hop, Ballet)

Sarah has been dancing since the age of three.  She performed her first solo at a competition at the age of seven and was placed on a competition team at the age of eight.  Sarah dances Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Hip Hop and Ballet.

Sarah has received many awards and attended several dance workshops, including Monsters of Hip Hop and NYCDA. Sarah also performed in BARC (Ballston Area Recreation Commission ) summer musicals for five years.  After graduating from high school, she continued working with BARC musicals as assistant choreographer. For the past six years she has taught Hip-Hop and Jazz summer enrichment and Saturday classes at BARC.  

Sarah attended Sage College of Albany where she continued her dance career. She is now a senior at Empire State College majoring in Early Childhood Education with Special Education and Literacy.

Sarah is very excited to become part of the DE family.

Jessica Matthews

(Hip-Hop, Contemporary, Lyrical)

Jessica began dancing at the age of four.  She started competing at age twelve and began her teaching career as an assistant at age fourteen. She has trained in various dance styles, including ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, pointe, and hip-hop. Jessica has achieved numerous high score awards and scholarships while competing at regional and national competitions. 

Jessica has been chosen to be a part of the National Elite Dance Team, Spirit of Dance Awards National All-Star Team and assistant to the professional choreographers at Spirit of Dance Awards Nationals. Some special awards Jessica has received for her solo performances include: “Outstanding Stage Presence”, “Raw Power”, and “Emotion Extreme”. She attends dance conventions across the Northeast in order to be exposed to new choreography and get outside of her comfort zone. 

Jessica will attend Sacred Heart University in fall 2017 majoring in Education with a minor in Dance. Jessica recently auditioned and become a member of the Sacred Heart Dance Company, where she will continue to grow and hopes to learn all that she can.  Jessica plans on bringing back her new knowledge back to our Dance Evolution family. 

In addition to the SHU Dance Company, Jessica plans to take classes at Broadway Dance Center in New York City.  Jessica hopes to continue to grow as a dancer, creative being, and teacher so she can inspire younger dancers to become their very best. She has found that her most rewarding experiences come from investing her knowledge and creativity into other dancers, who bring her vision to life.  “When my dancers say they look up to me, or that I inspire them, that is what inspires me to keep going. That is the reason why I teach.”

Dance Evolution is a dance family


Come join our family!

2018 Spirit of Dance Nationals

2018 Spirit of Dance Regional

2018 Wild About Dance

2018 Power of Dance

2018 Elite Performance Challenge

2017 Competition Team

2016 Competition Team

2015 Dance Evolution Competition Team

2015 Competition Team

2014 Competition Team