Meet Our Instructors
Each of our DFJ teachers have years of experience and expertise.
Owner and Artistic Director
Kimberly graduated from the Performing Arts program at Howell High School and is a 2006 scholarship graduate of Point Park University (Conservatory for the Performing Arts) with a BFA in Dance Pedegogy. She has studied ballet with Peter Merz, Jay Kirk and Susan Stowe; Jazz and contemporary dance with Ron Tassone, Douglas Bentz and Pearlann Porter. While at Point Park, she was also the Captain of the university soccer team which has allowed her the opportunity to incorporate some of her athletisism into her dance training. She has performed professionally with the Sebastian Sextet Dance Company, based out of Montclair, NJ and The Pillow Project based out of Pittsburgh, PA. She became the owner of DFJ in 2007 and has been spreading her passion of dancing to students ever since!
Dance Teacher and Director of Movement Art Project (MAP)
Jessica Totaro is a 2010 graduate from Rutgers University with a BFA in Dance from Mason School of the Arts where she studied Modern, Ballet, Improvisation and Choreography. While in school she worked with guest artists Mark Morris. Sam Pots, Stuart Loungeway, Wallie Wolfgruber, and Molly Poerstel. She studied under professors Randy James, Reagan Wood, John Evans, Sherrie Alban, Paulette Sears, Kimani Fowlin, Jeff Friedman and Christian Von Howard.
Jessica’s goal as an instructor is to not dictate but to guide her students into finding their individuality through the form of movement. With her strong background in Modern, Improvisation and Choreography she believes that the connection and combination of learned technique with learned improvisational movement is a formula for a well rounded, individual dancer. She believes that the most successful dancers and artists are those who can share real dance experiences with their students. Jessica encourages her students to work hard, be kind, seek out the real world of dance and challenge themselves everyday inside and outside the studio.
Dance Teacher and Director A Step Above Dance Company
The 2018-2019 dance season marks Emily’s 20th year with DFJ, journeying from student to apprentice to teacher and now director of A Step Above Dance Company. While still a student at Dance For Joy Emily was awarded a scholarship to attend Point Park International Summer Dance in 2011 and 2012. She also attended The Joffrey Summer intensive in 2010 and given a Leadership award by The Pulse on Tour dance convention in 2009.
Emily attended Georgian Court University where she majored in Dance and carried a minor in Holistic Health on a full Artistic and Academic scholarship. While at GCU she had the chance to work with artists such as Silvana Cardell (Cardell Dance Theater), Steve Vaughn (Parsons Dance), Amanda Lennox (Koresh Dance Company), Brian Sanders (JUNK), Rennie Harris (RHAW), and Sidra Bell (SBDNY). Upon graduating Cum Laude in 2016, Emily was awarded Most Accomplished Dancer and given an Honorable Mention for her choreography.
Emily’s teaching approach comes from her cross-training in pilates and the belief that everyone deserves to dance. In her classes her students are taught to work from an anatomically correct place which allows each of her students to be pushed safely, and at their own pace, respecting the journey of themselves and their peers.
When she is out of the studio, Emily continues to train and audition and enjoys bringing new material to her students and studio family.
Dance Teacher and Director of Hip Hop Crews
John is an established educator, choreographer and performer based in NJ. As a company director, he aims to produce work that enforces street dance as an art form, finding influence for his work in hip hop, breakdancing, locking, and popping . His unique approach to education and performance has granted him international recognition, as he is frequently invited to travel throughout the United States and Canada to choreograph, educate dancers and train teachers.
John has been a featured dancer in the music videos “HSKT” by Tenin and “Get Away” by Alissia. His other work includes a tribute to “The Lockers”, halftime shows for the NY Knicks, ongoing projects with B-boy London of the NYC Breakers and much more. John has placed his work on college, high school, dance team and competitive groups throughout NJ, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Ohio, Canada and more. John is also owner of Soul Sessions Hip Hop Dance Convention. As a business owner and a speaker, John is regularly invited to give seminars and host classes or events for a variety of dance events.
Dance Teacher and Founder and Owner of SomaSonder Dance Company
Krista holds a BA in dance performance, trained under the faculty of Georgian Court University. While in college, Krista received dance education and performance opportunities from recognized choreographers, such as Randy James, Alex Bielgelson, Sidra Bell, Stephanie Batten Bland, Daniel Gwirtzman, and others. In addition, she trained, daily, under the mentorship of Silvana Cardell, Steven Vaughn, Erin Boncek, William Robinson, Michaela Mann, and Nora Gibson. In the winter of 2017, Krista attended 10 Hairy Legs Company Intensive, on full scholarship, where she trained, rigorously with the company, finishing the intensive with a publicperformance. Krista has also danced in The Redef Movement, a professional street dance company, under the direction of John Barrella, as well as Open Category Dance Company, under the direction of Steven Vaughn. As a lifelong mover, modern dancer, dance instructor, and yoga instructor (RYT 200), she has felt the pressures of body expectations and aesthetics in a personal way. Researching the principles of Body Mind Centering work, going through yoga teacher training, and cultivating a love and interest in BartenieffFundamentals, Krista’s shifted her perspective on what it means to be truly connected, mind, body, and spirit, while in the dance studio. The balance and authenticity of intuitive movement led Krista to pursue somatic work, within the dance field. Krista explores choreographic possibilities through research methods of authentic and organic movement, in order to develop the company’s repertoire, and community somatics curriculum. Krista is a certified holistic health coach, certified under the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and is currently earning her Masters degree in Holistic Health studies. With these educational experiences, and a passion for the healing character of dance, she hopes to unite communities together, using a somatic approach to performance, self-care, and community work.
Dance Teacher and Co-Company Director A Step Above Dance Company
Dana Ingram graduated from Point Park University with a BFA in Dance with a jazz concentration as well as a minor in Art History in 2005. Prior to college, Dana studied with such notable educators as Mike Minery, Shelia Barker, Wade Robson and Frank Hatchett. She had the opportunity to perform works by famous choreographers including Robert Battle, Bill T. Jones and Doug Bentz.
For the past six years, Dana has been teaching and choreographing at numerous studios and colleges. She has worked with a number of children and adolescents ranging in age from three to eighteen, teaching the fundamentals of dance and creative movement expression. Recently, Dana was Assistant Choreographer for the Broadway cast of The Lion King in a piece for Defying Inequality; A Broadway Benefit. Dana continues to dance, choreograph and educate the youth of the dance community.
Kathleen Pearlberg joined the DFJ teaching staff in September of 2013 and has been a wonderful addition to our DFJ family! Ms. Kathy was a former dancer with the NJ Ballet Company and is a certified personal trainer (ACSM) and group exercise instructor. She danced professionally for 15 years and has 30 years of teaching experience. She is excited to share her passion and knowledge of dance to all her students at DFJ.
An advocate of the arts, Colleen continues to influence lives with the creativity and artistry of dance education in the public and private realm. Colleen completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance, as well as pioneered an entirely new education program for the state of New Jersey while studying at Montclair State University. The Dance Education Bachelors program created at MSU, including a Standard Teaching Certificate K-12, will help to change and improve the education many students receive about the arts in the public school system. While teaching dance full-time at the public and performing arts high school level, Colleen has also heightened her professional resume as well. She looks forward to her career as she continues to pursue her passion as a dancer and educator.
Ally is an alumnus of Dance For Joy where she was a student for 14 years and is now delighted to be returning as an instructor. During her tenure as a student, Ally participated in “A Step Above Dance Company”, “Fresh Effects” Crew and the Christmas Window shows. She also had the opportunity to perform at City Center Studio in New York for “In Remembrance: Dancing for Orlando.”
Ally is a member of the professional hip-hop company, “The ReDEF Movement”, where she has performed in countless shows in New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia. She is currently a dance major at Georgian Court University where she is studying ballet, modern, improvisation, and choreography. She will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance.
Ally believes that hard work, dedication and a student’s love for dance can help them grow even further as a dancer.Ally enjoys sharing her love of dance with her students and is delighted to be able to continue pursuing her passion.