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 ensure that activities are safe and age/gender appropriate. 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

Darlene
Giordano Cummings

Owner & Studio Director

Danielle Scalia

  Assistant Director

Marie Swasy

Office Manager

Jessica Olinik

    
Jerzy Golek

Kelly McAndrew

Michelle SwiftTori Closson

Jerzy Golek

Kelly McAndrew

Michelle Swift

Tori Closson

 

    

Margherita Carrieri-Russo

Dana Liguori

Margherita Carrieri-Russo

Andre Morris

Tweety

 

 

Faculty Bios:

Darlene Giordano Cummings - Studio Owner & Director, Level 1-2 Ballet & Tap

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 Delaware 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. 

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 teenage children of their own.…by far the greatest yet most challenging accomplishment amongst them!

 

Jessica Westnedge-Olinik- Level 4-5 Jazz & Company Choreographer

Jessica Olinik is thrilled to begin her 17th season at American Dance Academy where she is the Dance Company Choreographer as well as on Faculty teaching our oldest Jazz classes. 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 the University of North Carolina School of the Arts as a Contemporary major and the 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 of 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 the 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 are 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- Level 2-5 Ballet

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 a 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- Pom

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- Preschool & Kindergarten Ballet & Tap

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- Elementary Ballet, Tap, & Jazz

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 Flexibility Program where she learned the skills to improve flexibility while keeping a strong focus on injury prevention and safety. She is thrilled to use her new knowledge along with both her gymnastic 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- Assistant Director & Level 1-3 Ballet & Jazz Classes

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 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 as the Assistant Director for our Dance Company, and teaches some of our Jazz and Ballet classes! She has also choreographed for our holiday show and Dance Company and helps to assist our dance company guest choreographers. You may also see her working at the front desk!

 

Margherita Carrieri-Russo-

Preschool & Kindergarten Ballet/Tap, & Hip Hop for Ages 5-12

Prior to capturing the title of Miss Brandywine 2014, 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, theater, 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. She performed in the hip hop crew Flomotion and coached Padua Dance Team as their assistant coach for many years. Outside of her love for the arts, she opened an Italian-American Bistro in Northern Wilmington, with her sister, Vincenza. As 3rd generation restaurateurs, it was only fitting to continue the family tradition with Italian cuisine and pizza! V&M Bistro has garnered dozens of reviews and awards from Best Italian Restaurant, Best Homemade Pasta, Best Sicilian Pizza & Best Cocktails in Delaware! To make things sweeter, she owns Ice Cream Delight in Northern Wilmington for over 16 years.

 
 

Andre Morris- Intermediate & Advanced Hip Hop

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- Office Manager & Dance Conditioning

Ms. Marie started as an ADA student at the early age of 3 and continued through her high school graduation. She was a member of our very first dance company and an assistant teacher throughout college! Marie attended the University of Delaware graduating with a degree in Exercise Science and a Minor in Dance. After graduation, she taught ballet, tap, and jazz at ADA before attending chiropractic school at Palmer College of Chiropractic in Port Orange, Florida. She met her husband Dr. Brad Swasy, who is a local chiropractor, at Palmer and they moved back to Delaware after graduation to be close to family.

Marie is so glad to be back at her second home, ADA, and keeping dance in her life. She is our Office Manager and teaches our Dance Conditioning class focusing on injury prevention. She is a certified Sugarfoot Therapy teacher. We are excited to bring a Dance Conditioning class to ADA in which Ms. Marie combines her medical education and dance training to help our dancers properly condition to prevent common dance injuries and enhance performance.

You can contact Ms. Marie at danceatada@verizon.net with any questions or concerns!

 
   

 

 

 

 

 

Dana Liguori- Contemporary/Lyrical & Level 2 Jazz

Dana Liguori started dancing at the age of 3 at American Dance Academy and was with us for 15 years. While dancing here, she joined the Dance Company in 2007. On the dance company, she competed in numerous dance competitions, conventions, earned titles and other overall awards, and attended summer workshops. She also assisted Miss. Jess and Miss. Kelly throughout her later years in the studio. Dana attended Cab Calloway School of the Arts, where she choreographed six times for Young Choreographers Showcase and helped with group routines as a dance major. She was captain for the Cab Calloway School of the Arts Dance Team for three years and helped choreograph multiple pep-rally routines and basketball routines. On top of ADA Dance Company and CCSA Dance Team, she was also apart of FloMotion Dance Company and Beat Addikts United. 
 
Dana attended the University of Florida and received her BS in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience. During her time there, she was apart of Danza Dance Company, a student-run organization. She danced in Disney World, university performances, and competitions. She was nominated as the historian on the executive board for two years, where she choreographed an award-winning contemporary piece and finale productions. She also choreographed eight contemporary group pieces for the company shows and taught two master classes to the 60+ company members. 
 
After graduating, Dana worked as a Dance Teacher for the Patriot Ice Center’s summer program. She taught the fundamentals of ballet, modern, and jazz to ice skating students ranging from 4-15 years old. In December of 2019, she was asked to choreograph for the CCSA Dance Team Competition season. She created the concept for the piece and was the creative mind behind the costuming, styling, music, and choreography. She is excited to join our ADA staff as the Lyrical/Contemporary teacher, and cannot wait to help our students grow!
 

Tweety- Level 3-5 Tap

Ms. Tweety attended The Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, PA. Then continued her studies at West Chester University graduating with a BSEd in Early Childhood Education. While Ms. Tweety was a Tap Dancer with Tap Team Two & Co. ( under the direction of: Robert F. Burden Jr.) she had the opportunity to work with Young Audiences of: PA, NJ, NY, MD, VA, and CONN. performing in various schools teaching the history of Tap Dance. Ms. Tweety's teachers over the years have been: Joseph Lee, Nini Brown, LaVaughn Robinson, Germaine Ingram, Robert Burden, Nicole Hockenberry, Germaine Salsberg, Jimmy Tate, , Buster Brown, Savion Glover, and Jason Samuels Smith; just to name a few.
 
Ms. Tweety had the honor of being the Executive Director of Raw Hoofin' Youth Tap Ensemble for 10 years! Ms. Tweety thanks her mom for introducing her to the Arts at a young age, to The Great Spirit/The Creator for ALWAYS being by her side, to my fabulously-wonderful students ( past, present, and future)... I thank you for your Tap Enthusiasm and Dedication to the Arts! AND... to my two boys-momma's little tap dancers-many kisses and hugs to you both! 

" what we have or what we do not have should never dictate the quality of our lives, or our capacity to simply enjoy." -Cherokee Feast of Days (Joyce Sequichie Hifler)

 

 

“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