In Step With DC
Getting to Know You: Miss Melissa!
Written by Joe Naftal on January 22, 2019

Today we are featuring Miss Melissa in our latest edition of “Getting to Know You”!  The “Getting to Know You” series helps us get to know each of the Dance Connection teachers and staff we get to see at the studio every week and learn a little bit more about them.

What is your hometown? East Islip

What’s the story of how you became a dancer? I started dancing when I was 2 years old. Several of my cousins were dancers and I started at the studio where they took classes. When I was 12 years old, I became a student teacher and loved every second of it. I developed a strong love for teaching the “baby classes.” I loved seeing how much the little ones grew in a year and encouraging their love of dance. 

What impact has dance had on your life? I have been teaching dance on Saturday mornings for 22 years. Dance has helped me gain confidence and given me the ability to express myself. 

Why did you start teaching dance? I loved taking dance class and loved my dance teachers. When I was old enough to become a student teacher, I knew I wanted to follow in their foot steps. 

What are you passionate about outside dance? I am passionate about my family outside of dance. My husband and I have 3 children, age 3 and under and they are our world. 

What question do you wish students would ask sooner rather than later? I wish students would ask for help when they are struggling instead of becoming discouraged. 

In your opinion, what makes dance such a great activity and art form? Dance is a beautiful way to express yourself.  Dance teaches patience, responsibility and perseverance. 

College and Major? St. Joseph’s College; General and Special education ages birth through grade 6 Masters: Long Island University; Literacy & Library Media 

Favorite Color? Blue

Favorite Dance Movie? Dirty Dancing

Secret Talent? I’m a very good baker. 

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Joe Naftal

Joe Naftal is the Marketing Director for Dance Connection. When not working at Dance Connection, Joe has a career as a theatrical lighting designer, assistant designer, and production manager. His experience spans the worlds of classical and contemporary theatre, musicals, ballet, modern dance, and opera. In addition to his work at Dance Connection, Joe collaborates with Dance Studio Owners across the country, is a member of the Panel of Experts, has been featured in the business section of Dance Teacher Magazine, and was on the seminar faculty for the 2016 Dance Teacher Summit in New York City. Joe holds a BFA from UNC School of the Arts and is a proud member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).