American Dance Academy
(302) 234-9900
DANCEatADA@comcast.net
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ADA IS CELEBRATING OVER 25 YEARS IN BUSINESS!

Teacher Bios

Meet Our Professional Staff

American Dance Academy opened in 1993 under the direction of Darlene-Giordano Cummings. The staff of American Dance Academy is made up of a wonderful group of caring people who have a genuine love for the art of dance and the children. Our teachers take the responsibility to insure that activities are safe and age/gender appropriate. Each member of our faculty has been teaching dance for a decade or more, and has higher education backgrounds in fields such as dance, music, education, and child development. With that experience, our teachers are able to encourage a positive, supportive and respectful working atmosphere while stimulating children’s minds and physical skills. They encourage students to strive to meet their fullest potential and to value the art of dance. They are not only teachers, but positive role models, mentors and motivators.

Darlene Giordano Cummings

Jessica Westnedge-Olinik

Jerzy Golek

Tori Closson

Darlene
Giordano Cummings
Jessica
Westnedge-Olinik
Jerzy GolekTori Closson
    

Michelle Swift

Kelly McAndrew

Darrell Williams

Michelle SwiftKelly McAndrewAndre MorrisDarrell Williams
    

Emily Rufo

Margherita Carrieri-Russo

Katie CovielloMargherita Carrieri-RussoDanielle ScaliaMarie Swasy

 

Employment Opportunities

 

Faculty Bios:

Darlene Giordano Cummings

Miss Darlene, the Studio Owner and Director, has been studying dance since 1972 and twirling since 1974. She started assisting dance teachers in 1981, at the age of 13 and has never stopped teaching and loving it. She has studied with various dance teachers at her alma mater schools and in the Philadelphia and New York areas. As a young child, she studied dance and twirling under the infamous Tony Award Winner Sue Strohman, choreographer of multiple Broadway shows such as “Crazy for You”, “Contact” and “The Producers” to name a few.

Miss Darlene opened the studio in 1993 after teaching elementary and junior high school for 3 years. She graduated from Padua Academy High School and then the University of Delaware with a degree in Education with concentrations in dance and theatre. She has choreographed for many Philadelphia and Delaware theatre groups as well as for various local high school marching band fronts. She has also worked on choreographing and directing industrial commercials. She now focuses the majority of her energy to American Dance Academy and teaches multiple levels at the studio at various times of the year.  Darlene is a certified instructor for the program Rhythm Works Integrative Dance which is an inclusive class for children with special needs that focuses on skill development, self-empowerment, and celebrating our differences. She was also recently M1 certified through the Alixa Flexibility Program and is excited to bring this program to ADA to increase all student's flexibility effectively while keeping a strong focus on safety and injury prevention.

Although she teaches various classes at the studio, you can find her busy at other places too.  Most recently, she choreographed the opening number for Miss Delaware 2017 & 2018 pageants. She was a judge for the 2019 Miss Delware pageant. She has also been a choreographer for Salesianum High School's marching band twirlers. She attends multiple teacher training and business seminars each year and is a member of the International Dance Entrepreneurs Association.  Her business ideas, quotes, and philosophies have been used as examples in various dance teacher magazines and training manuals.

Miss Darlene is thrilled to bring in new and innovative choreographers and master teachers to her studio, to go along with her very professional staff, and strives to provide a wonderful and supportive atmosphere at the studio. She is married to Dr. William Cummings, a dentist in Avondale PA, where she also does bookkeeping and assists with business marketing. They have 3 children of their own, two teenage daughters and a pre-teen son…by far the greatest yet most challenging accomplishment amongst them!

 

Jessica Westnedge-Olinik

Jessica Olinik is thrilled to begin her 16th season at American Dance Academy where she is the Artistic Dance Company Director as well as on Faculty teaching several genres.  She began her dance journey at the age of 4 in Philadelphia, Pa, and has trained at several distinguished studios/dance companies all over the United States. In high school she had the honor of performing in Disney World, the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and has won numerous national titles and awards. On the college level, Mrs. Olinik attended University of North Carolina School of the Arts as a Contemporary major and University of the Arts on scholarship studied all genres of dance.  Some of her legendary teachers include Brenda Daniels, Andre’ Tyson, Melinda Lawrence, Frank Smith, Duncan Noble, Trish Casey, Ronin Koresh, Pat Thomas, Ruth Adrian, Wayne David and Karla Wolfangle. Some of her performance credits include the 76er All-Star Dance Team, cast member of the musical Grease, performed with the artist Pink, she was a principal dancer with Contempradance Theatre & Opus One. For several years Jessica had the privilege in assisting Lucille DiCampli in many different projects. She was chosen to be on exhibit as a Degas dancer at the Philadelphia Art Museum during the opening gala of the exhibit. 

As a choreographer, she had the pleasure of working with the indoor fancy Mummers Brigade (The Avenuers), in Philadelphia, where her choreography was displayed on the television. Her work has been the recipient of several overall scores, special, choreography & entertainment awards at numerous prestigious competitions.  Her choreography has also gone on to receive the coveted Critiques Choice Award (Onstage NY), Regional SDA Champion Awards (Revolution Talent), the Artistic Excellence Award (NexStar), Stand Out Performance Awards (Artist Simply Human) and several invitations to the World Dance Championships.  In 2012, her piece “Hand Covers Bruise” was selected to perform at The Joyce Theatre in NYC for the Dancer’s Responding to Aids event. Several of the solos she has choreographed (in all genres) have received highest overall scores, produced national title winners and stand out awards. Most recently one of her solos was featured on the 2017 Season of the Dallas Cowgirl Making the team; the soloist was the recipient of the desirable Artistic Excellence award from the head coach. As a choreographer, her work and inspiration is derived from her journey through life, its many lessons & topics where audience members can connect, relate, feel moved and inspired on a personal level. Jessica also has the privilege of judging for several prominent and well-respected dance competitions regionally, nationally & internationally. 

Jessica has been teaching dancers of all ages for over 17 years.  She has been on faculty at several prestigious dance institutions such as Millennium Dance Complex-Philadelphia, Rock School West Summer Intensive, University of Delaware-Delaware Dance Fever & several others. Her company students have received numerous convention scholarships/awards, national titles and outstanding achievements under her guidance. Her goal as a teacher and educator is to enlighten and inspire students in a healthy and positive atmosphere.  In her classes, students will focus on technique, strength, performance, artistry, improvisation, dance composition, rhythm/timing, and dance vocabulary.  It is her goal for her students to gain self-confidence, self-assurance, and self-reliance so that they can apply these skills to not only dance & performance skills but their daily lives as well.  Along with dance, Jessica has developed a passion for costume design and embellishment.  She’s extremely honored to have her designs featured this season in the Pumpers dance costume catalog.  Mrs. Olinik is also very proud of the “Inspire2Inspire” program she developed in 2015.  The objective of this campaign is to spread positivity and support to dancers from other studios and build a bridge of inspiration between artists.  

 

Jerzy Golek

Jerzy Golek has been teaching at ADA for over a decade. He began his dance career at the age of 12, when he won a national audition in his native Poland to receive a full scholarship to the National Ballet Academy in Gdansk. This residential school combines a full academic program with training to the highest levels of professional ballet performance. Upon graduating from the Academy, Mr. Golek returned to his home, Lodz, and performed in the Lodz Ballet. He soon moved on to Warsaw and Mazowsze Dance Company, Poland’s premier international dance company for many years. He also continued his education at Warsaw University, obtaining a Master’s Degree in Dance Education. As a principal with Mazowsze, he toured the world performing from Korea to Brazil, and regularly in the US, performing in Philadelphia at the Academy of Music. Moving to the US to pursue his career in dance education, Mr. Golek currently teaches at West Chester University, Contempra Dance School, and the Pottstown Dance Theatre. He has produced much original choreography, including his signature piece, “Immolation” a tribute to the victims of the Holocaust, set to the score of Schindler’s List. He is President of Cultural Interchanges, which among other programs, annually takes American students and performers to the Ladek Zdroj International Festival of Dance in Poland. He also serves as Assistant Artistic Director of the Schuylkill Valley Dance Company.

 

Tori Closson

Tori Closson began with ADA over 10 years ago. She is originally from Philadelphia, PA and began her dance training at the early age of 5 years old and studied Ballet, Tap and Jazz for fifteen years at Florence Cowanova Studio of Dance. After graduating from Hampton University in 1999 receiving a BA in English Arts, Tori began dancing professionally, appearing on MTV's Global Groove. She continued training with Rennie Harris PureMovement, studying the elements of Hip Hop Dance: Popping, Locking, B-girl and Street. She has also studied ballroom and Latin dance.

In 2000, Tori created the WTXF 'Good Day Philadelphia' Hip Hop Dance Team. She choreographed for the 76er's Junior Hip Hop Dance Team for four seasons and is a Master Teacher at the 76er's Dance Camps. She has choreographed for the 76er's Dance Team (basketball), The Kixx Dance Team (soccer) and a number of college dance teams. She has danced for Neil Young, The New York Jets and New York Giants Award Ceremonies, NBC10 FitFest, The Illadelph Legends Festival and much more. Tori directed and choreographed for her own company, FloMotion, and pre-professional Company, Flo2. Her company was featured in the national magazine 'Young Dancer' in March 2005. In the summer of 2006, FloMotion was a headliner for a major performance in Tokyo, Japan.

Tori lived in Dallas, Texas three years. She taught Hip Hop and Dance Team Jazz for three years mentoring young women who wished to audition for major sports arena dance teams. She has helped girls land spots on the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and she has mentored for the Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans. From this experience, Tori co-created Arena Dance Pros which is a consulting company assisting young women with going through the audition process. ADP has helped girls with the Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders, The New York Jets Flight Crew, The Washington Redskins and many others.

Tori currently lives in Wilmington, Delaware and is the head coach for Padua Academy's Dance Team.

 

Michelle Swift

Miss Michelle has been dancing at the American Dance Academy since it opened in 1993. In high school, she was on the A.I. Dupont Pom Squad while she took classes and was a student teacher at ADA.  She then continued teaching dance and trained to take on classes of her own once she graduated from college. She received a degree in Early Childhood Education from Delaware Technical and Community College.  She then furthered her education obtaining a BS at Wilmington University with a degree in Elementary Education.  She is currently a Kindergarten teacher at Richardson Park Elementary School and spends her Saturdays teaching our preschool and child level classes.  Miss Michelle and her husband, Brad, have two children of their own.

 

Kelly McAndrew

Miss Kelly began dancing at ADA in its second season. She spent her childhood training and competing in gymnastics, before joining dance classes at the American Dance Academy. Kelly was a member of the Padua Academy varsity dance team in high school and the Penn State Altoona dance team. While an ADA student, she assistant taught for various age groups and genres before taking over her own classes in college. After graduation, she worked as a youth activities counselor for the Disney Cruise Line where she coordinated and lead programs for children ages 3-12, sometimes in groups of over 100 kids at a time!

Miss Kelly is AAC1 certified through Acrobatic Arts, which is a program that focuses on proper training, technique, and progressions to safely and effectively teach Acro Dance. She was also recently M1 certified through the Alixa Flexiblity Program where she learned the skills to improve flexibilty while keeping a strong focus on injury prevention and safety. She is thrilled to use her new knowlege along with both her gymnatic and dance backgrounds to grow the Acro program at ADA, and bring these new skills to our dancers!

Miss Kelly has her degree from the University of Delaware in Human Services, Education and Public Policy with a concentration in Education and Community Services, and a minor in Psychology. She is happily married with two pre-school aged children keeping her on her toes at home!

 

Danielle Scalia

Danielle Scalia started as a young girl of 2 with us at ADA.  She went on to be a part of the ADA Dance Company while assisting classes and working at our front desk throughout her high school years.  She attended George Mason University and was on their dance team for 4 years as a Masonette.   She recently graduated with a major in business marketing and minors in economics and dance.  She is currently working for Revolution Talent Competition and we are so happy to have Miss Danielle back as a holiday show choreographer, a teacher, a dance company guest choreographer assistant and working at the front desk!!

 

Darrell Williams

Darrell Williams is beginning his 7th season with ADA. He has a unique and diverse background that has brought together discipline, training, hard work, and dedication that can be witnessed when he takes the stage or enters a classroom at a dance studio.  From 1981 to 1987 Darrell served as a Sergeant for the United States Army.  It was during this time that he capitalized on his inherent belief in training and discipline – key tools to the mastery of his craft.  Darrell also credits his early years of studying martial arts and playing Semi Professional Football and Soccer (both in the United States and abroad) to the athleticism that has since translated into agility and grace needed to be a hoofer.

While mastering his craft, Darrell has also dedicated more than twenty years to working with intellectually challenged individuals with varying degrees of special needs.  Darrell exhibits a compassion and special ability to inspire and motivate those he encounters.  Darrell is studying to become a life coach who exemplifies that hard work and education mixed with a positive attitude creates a winning combination. 

Professionally, Darrell has over 25 years’ experience as a professional dancer and actor.   Darrell's talents range from choreographing tap to improvisational hoofing.  Darrell is also a Master Instructor at various schools in the Tri-State area as well as a major force in the Philadelphia tap scene.  Darrell began his early training at the Hedgerow and Freedom Theaters.   Darrell attended the University of the Arts and was trained by the late, great, legendary hoofer, La Vaughn Robinson.  He has had roles in various performances at the University of the Arts in such plays as A Streetcar Named Desire, The Colored Museum, and Streamers.

In addition to acting, Darrell has choreographed performances for the City of Philadelphia‘s Boscov's Thanksgiving Day Parade as well as Showtime at the Apollo.  He has received numerous awards in Tap Choreography, including one that was featured on the Sally Jesse Raphael Show.  Darrell has performed live at the Philadelphia Arts Bank, American Music Theater, Merriam Theater, Wilma Theater, Trump Plaza, and most recently at the Kimmel Center of Performing Arts. Darrell students have won awards at the national level including Philly TAP Challenge, Tap Kids, and Break the Floor.  His students also took first place in the tap awards at New York City Dance Alliance, On Stage and Rising Star Nationals. Personally, Darrell earned two Choreography Choice awards at Starpower.

Today, Darrell is the founder, producer, director and choreographer of FOOTWERX, a tap intensive workshop for highly skilled tap professionals as well as non-professionals of all ages.    

FOOTWERX has 3 annual productions which include the Holiday Show at The Arts Bank Theater, a summer intensive workshop that is performed at The Wilma Theater, and a professional production at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre.  One of the most rewarding elements for Darrell is to foster talent and enthusiasm in his students.  FOOTWERX continues to offer a fun and competitive environment for growth and exceptional performances.  As the Artistic Director of these productions, Darrell would like to thank you.  FOOTWERX could not thrive without your continued and devoted support. Darrell has seen created shows from the conception stage until the staging of the final production. Under his direction, July 2017 will see the 23rd Footwerx Tap Company production at the Susan Roberts Theater on Broad Street along the Avenue of the Arts. Footwerx Tap Company has had SOLD OUT shows at various theaters (Wilma Theater, Arts Bank, Kimmel Center) along the Avenue of the Arts in Philadelphia. Footwerx Tap Company is the only tap company in the Tri State area to accomplish this milestone. Darrell has created 23 full-length theatrical stage productions – as opposed to recital based productions. He has choreographed Platinum award winning dances performed at NYDA Starpower Groove as well as other dances that have won special awards. Along with Footwerx Tap Company, Footwerx Showcase (Footwerx Tap Jazz & Hip Hop WERX/Shop Showcase) has been held annually since 2012 in Philadelphia. 

Darrell’s students are inspired to dance by giving them the tools to learn from their mistakes, to let them know that it is okay to make mistakes, and to let them be themselves.  Darrell inspires them to be the best that they can be and let their love of dance shine through. He gives them all he has to give and he makes the classes fun.  Yes, you will work hard but there are games and good times too.  The games help them to listen and focus - they do not even know that he has them working on those skills.  Darrell often says that the dancers inspire him.  Watching the dancers grow not only as dancers but as leaders. He also loves to watch them when they master a difficult step for the first time. They take such pride in their work.  Darrell Williams is dedicated to his craft, he works well with his dancers – they want to come to class!  He invests in his dancers!  This is not a hobby but a full-time profession for him!

 Darrell is well versed with various programs such as Adobe, Premier Suite, Motion Graphic Designer and Graphic Designer.  He is also well versed in video editing production on top of sound editing productions. Darrell is responsible for creating, maintaining, and running the websiteswww.footwerx.com and www.footwerxtshowcase.com. He is also CBT and Mindfulness certified (By PESI).  Darrell is currently working towards a Bachelor of Science degree in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT OCW.  

All of Darrell’s talents can be transferred into all aspects of his career and what he sets out to accomplish – will be accomplished!

 

 

Katie Coviello

Miss Katie started dancing at the age of 6 at American Dance Academy and has been with us for 15 years. She joined the Dance Company in 2006 and continued on the company for 10 years, competing both locally and nationally, and winning numerous overall awards. She assisted the Performing Arts summer camps under the Artistic Dance Company Director for 6 years, and was a student teacher for various faulty members at ADA during her high school years. She currently is studying Psychology and English at Villanova University, and is a part of the Dance Company on campus, which involves weekly rehearsals and technique classes, along with on-campus performances. Katie is on the executive board of the company as a secretary, where she is tasked with assisting in the planning, directing, and execution of the company's showcase at the end of each semester. Additonally Katie acts as a choreographer for multiple pieces in the student-run shows each year. She is thrilled to be running the ADA summer Performing Arts Program.

 

Margherita Carrieri-Russo

Margherita has been dancing at American Dance Academy since 1993.  She has been an entertainer since the age of three and has performed in concerts, plays, pageants, and a variety of competitions, not only for dancing but for her vocal skills as well. She is a professional opera singer, where she trained and performed in Italy, and in the Tri-State Area. Outside of her love for the arts she has recently opened an Italian American Bistro in Northern Wilmington, with her sister, Vincenza. The grand opening of V&M Bistro (Vincenza & Margherita Bistro) was in October of 2014. 

 

Andre Morris 

Andre Morris began his Hip Hop training at the age of 8, and after taking a short hiatus to study musical theater and music, returned to dancing at the age of 12 and trained at ADA throughout high school.  Andre has been trained in all subgenres of Hip Hop, including but not limited to, Breaking and House, as well as funk styles such as Popping and Locking.

After years of training and hard work, Andre joined Beat Addikts United as a dancer and received a scholarship for his accomplishments throughout the season. Through Beat Addikts United, Andre was given the opportunity to choreograph pieces for their third annual showcase and has since exploded as a choreographer and teacher. He’s touched upon multiple facets of teaching and choreographing, from choreographing for multiple high school dance teams, competition pieces, and musicals, as well as teaching at multiple studios in the Tri-state area. Andre is also acting director/choreographer of FloMotion Dance Company’s junior company, FloMotion Xclusive.  

Andre has studied Hip Hop from Industry-level teachers such as Chuck Maldonado, Rhapsody James, Kevin Maher, and Parris Goebel. He has also been nominated to perform in the Monsters of Hip Hop annual showcase in Los Angeles. Through multiple different outlets, Andre has had the opportunity to perform and audition in multiple cities and states such as Wilmington, DE, Philadelphia, PA, Pittsburgh, New York City, and Los Angeles, California.  Andre most enjoys getting to share his talents and what he’s learned with others and hopes to continue to inspire and guide young dancers to grow each day.

 

Marie Swasy 

Miss Marie started as a student at ADA at an early age 3, and continued through her high school graduation. She was a member of our very first dance company and an assitant teacher throughout High School. Marie attended the University of Delaware and graduated as an Exercise Science Major with a Dance Minor. After graduation, she taught ballet, tap, and jazz at ADA before attending chiropractic school at Palmer College in Florida. She is married to Dr. Brad Swasy, who is also a local chiropractor, and she is currently practicing part-time. 

Marie is joining us at the front desk this year to keep dance as a part of her life! She also recently attended training to become a Sugarfoot Therapy certifited teacher. Be on the lookout for some pop-up classes, trianing our dancers in injury prevention!

 
   
 

“They teach us to respect each other, learn discipline and responsibility, and have fun with what each of us loves to do-dance!!! They created “a home away from home” for us to be. Most importantly, they let us know that it is ok to be ourselves and that each and every dancer is special and valued in their own way. They truly believe in their dancers and that is something that has influenced who I am today” 

- High School Dancer

 
Employment Opportunities

Employment: Technically qualified candidates with appropriate teaching experience can send resume, references and cover level including subjects, styles, age ranges and levels you are qualified to teach to:

American Dance Academy
Attn: Darlene Giordano Cummings
126 Lantana Drive
Hockessin, DE 19707
Or DanceatADA@comcast.net
Compensation is based on level of college education and teaching experience.
 

 

 
 

American Dance Academy | 126 Lantana Drive | Hockessin, DE 19707 | (302) 234-9900 | DANCEatADA@comcast.net