Meet The Team
Cathy Taylor Giuliana
Cathy established the Cathy Taylor School of Dance more than 50 years ago. She has guided hundreds of young dancers as they learn to express themselves through movement and appreciate the joy of dance. Cathy began dancing and performing as a young child. She was awarded scholarships to study at the Boston Ballet School, the National Ballet Company in Washington, D.C., the Jacob's Pillow Summer Dance Festival, and received the Miss Worcester Scholarship Award. She has performed with the Movement Laboratory Dance Theatre of Boston, the Jacob's Pillow Modern Dance Co., and danced featured roles in productions of Swan Lake, Firebird, La Boutique Fantastique, Remember There is Love and L'Habenera.
Cathy graduated Magna cum laude from The Boston Conservatory of Music with a major in dance, and received her graduate degree from Boston University's School of Education with a concentration in Special Education. While doing her graduate studies she worked closely with Norma Canner, author of "....and a Time to Dance;” a book about movement and music for children with "special needs.” She also worked at the Fernald State School in Waltham, MA. and explored “communication through movement” at the Kennedy Shriver Center for children with developmental disabilities.
Cathy has taught dance at the Boston Conservatory of Music, Boston University, Northeastern University, the Beacon Hill Community Club, and the Vincent Club of Boston. Cathy is a dance specialist for Worcester Public Schools. She teaches dance at the Worcester Arts Magnet School and choreographs for the elementary school "show choir.” She is also a certified aerobics instructor.
Cathy has studied with tap legends Stanley Brown, Diane Walker and Brenda Buffalino. She was also fortunate to study under the direction of E. Virginia Williams, Finis Jhung, Norman Walker and Ted Shawn. She keeps her dance knowledge current by attending conventions and seminars across the country. She is a member of Dance Masters of America, and has judged dance competitions for Headliners and American Dance Awards.
Ms. Taylor has received numerous awards for outstanding choreography, staging, and creativity. Her students have been invited to perform in the Shanghai International Arts Festival in China, the World Dance Championships in Reisa, Germany and the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Former students can be seen performing on Broadway, television, on cruise lines, in commercials and print ads, at Radio City Music Hall and with national touring companies. Cathy appreciates the many families who choose C.T.S.O.D. for their child's dance education and values the many children who enrich her life daily.
Javin Catherine Hammond
Javin Catherine Hammond has dedicated her entire life to the art of dance. She is a native of the Quiet Corner of Connecticut and a graduate of Marianapolis Preparatory School and the Cathy Taylor School Of Dance. As a young dancer, she was awarded scholarships, titles, and top placements both regionally and nationally. She went on to further her studies at Oklahoma City University’s School for American Dance and Arts Management on a talent scholarship. While in Oklahoma she was a member of the OCU Stars Pep Dance Team and the American Spirit Dance Company. Following this she entered the professional world as a performer, choreographer, competition judge, and educator of dance. She is the current owner and director of Taylor Studios Dance & Performing Arts in Danielson, CT (named after her life-long mentor, Cathy Taylor) and the artistic director of Javin & Co.—a traveling competition team.
Her professional credits include Six Flags Illusion Quest (dancer/swing), the WNBA Connecticut Sun Solar Power Dance Team (member/captain), NBA-TV’s Dreaming Green—a reality television feature (dance contestant), and Norwegian Cruise Lines Runnin’ Wild and Sea Legs Cirque (singer/dancer/ aerial) aboard the Pride of Aloha in Hawaii with Jean Ann Ryan Productions. She has served as a competition judge for American Dance Awards, On Stage America, United States Tournament of Dance, Turn It Up Dance Challenge, and Aspiring Dreams. She is a certified member of Dance Masters of America Regional Chapter #5, a member of the National Dance Alliance, and a Hope ambassador for Dancers Against Cancer.
Javin feels fortunate that dance has given her the opportunity to travel the world! In 2007 she accompanied her students to Shanghai, China to perform in the Shanghai International Cultural Arts Festival. She was a three-time team coach for the United States Showdance Team that competed at the World Championships in Riesa, Germany. Javin also had the honor of accompanying students to Dallas, Texas in the summer of 2011 by invite-only as the choreographer for a jazz group that was 1 of 10 routines selected nationwide to compete in the FDC World Dance Championships.
In 2019, Javin had the distinct honor of attending the Industry Dance Awards (IDA) & Cancer Benefit Show at the iconic Avalon theater in Hollywood, California as a nominee for national “Choreographer Of The Year”. The IDA brings together dancers, educators, pioneers, and dance icons that are recognized for their outstanding achievements and artistic contributions to the dance industry. The star-studded red carpet, celebrity performances, and presentation from Dancers Against Cancer combine to make the IDA the most prestigious event in the dance industry. It was an unforgettable achievement and memory for Javin in her career as a dance teacher and choreographer.
Javin’s artistry, dedication, and passion have been proven successful by her former students. They have gone on to perform as New England Patriots Cheerleaders, Boston Celtics Dancers, on cruise ships, in theme parks, for professional dance companies, and theaters all over the world. Her graduates have gained acceptance to some of the top college dance programs in the nation. She has also helped to produce some outstanding teachers and choreographers by exposing them to her method of the creative process and teaching them the elements of choreography.
Javin resides in Woodstock, CT with her three boys Paxton (8), Wesley (7), and Quinn (5). She recently accepted the role of Director of Dance at Putnam Science Academy in Putnam, CT and she looks forward to guiding aspiring dancers to the wide range of training and performance opportunities available post-high school. It is exciting for her to return to her roots in CT and influence the growth of the arts in her community.
Instructor of Children's Programs, Modern, Jazz & Hip Hop
Valerie trained for 15 years at the Cathy Taylor School of Dance and for five years at The Performing Arts School of Worcester. She graduated from the Cathy Taylor School of Dance in 2007. During Valerie's time at the studio she was a high scoring soloist, receiving special awards for the control, strength and technique she exhibited in her performances.
She was the recipient of multiple scholarships in both pointe and ballet from Dance Masters of America and was the 4th runner up at Dance Masters of New England's Teen Miss Dance pageant. She traveled with StarPower National Dance Competition to San Antonio, Texas and Las Vegas, Nevada in 2002 and received a Shock Intensive Scholarship in 2004. After graduating from the Cathy Taylor School of Dance, Valerie furthered her dance training at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she attended dance major classes in ballet and modern. Valerie is currently in her ninth year of teaching at the studio, where she is the instructor of children's programs, tap, jazz, modern, and hip hop. Additionally, she choreographs competition pieces that are performed throughout the dance season. Outside of teaching at CTSOD, Valerie instructs technique classes and choreographs competition routines at Diane Cournoyer Dance Center (Northborough, MA).
Valerie graduated Cum Laude from The University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Communication Disorders. For eight years she worked as a Speech Language Pathology Assistant in both public and private settings. In 2019, Valerie graduated from Fontbonne University with a Master of Arts Degree in Deaf Education and is currently employed as a teacher of the deaf in a preschool classroom at Westford Public Schools.
Instructor of Jazz, Hip Hop & Adult Fitness
Olivia is a graduate of the Cathy Taylor school of Dance and has been teaching for over 8 years. She has trained at Broadway Dance Center, Jeanette Neill's Studio of Dance, and The Pulse just to name a few. In 2007, she traveled to Shanghai, China to perform in various parades and performances in the International Cultural Festival. In 2008 and 2009, she was part of the Team USA Showdance Team. In 2008, she took home the small formation, Bronze medal.
In 2012, Olivia was picked from over hundreds of dancers to be a part of the Boston Urbanity Summer Intensive in which she continued her contemporary/modern dance training. She has also been a part of the Boston Community Dance Project; directed by Sarah- Katarina Jerome. The summer of 2014, Olivia danced for the Solar Power Dance team, where she danced for the WNBA Connecticut Sun Basketball team at Mohegan Sun. She is now working as a Registered Nurse as chemotherapy infusion Nurse at The Cancer and Wellness Center at Saint Vincent Hospital. Olivia is a certified instructor in Acrobatic Arts. Olivia teaches acro and adult fitness here at the studio. This past summer Olivia gave birth to her first baby, Jack Stephen. She is looking forward to the season ahead.
Instructor of Tap
Charlie has been a dance educator for many years. Until recently was a faculty member at Dean College and he is still teaching at several dance studios in MA and RI. He has taught master classes at Beantown Tap Festival, The Greater Brockton Dance Alliance, and more. Charlie has performed in Las Vegas, on numerous TV shows and has choreographed many regional musicals.
Instructor of Tap
Kelly began her training in Western MA at the Hackworth’s School of Performing Arts, and started teaching while she was attending Boston University. Focusing in tap, she has taught up and down the east coast and Canada for almost 20 years, choreographing, judging, and performing in many different venues. She is a founding member of “Off Beat,” a company created and directed by her former student Ryan P. Casey, as well as starting her own company, “CounterpoinT,” an all-female group based out of Norwalk, CT. You can also see her and her choreography in the award-winning movie “Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench” directed by Damien Chazelle (La La Land).
In 2006, she was a cast member of “Imagine Tap,” created and choreographed by Derick Grant and Aaron Tolson. She has been a faculty member and judge for Tap 2 You, Dance Masters of America, American Dance Awards, Tapademics and Kids for Kids. She has taught at Steps on Broadway, Broadway Dance Center, and Peridance in NYC. Other past performances include the Cape Dance Fest, Inside Out at Jacob’s Pillow, NYC Tap Festival, Break the Floor, Clara’s Dream: A Jazz Tap Nutcracker - performing with Drika Overton, Josh Hilberman, and Brenda Buffalino, Tapestry - produced by Dance Inn Productions, and others. Her own annual event, Tap it Up, is a one day workshop held every October in Stratford, CT. Believing that you never stop being a student, she continues to take classes and workshops to improve both her dancing and her
Instructor of Ballet & Pointe
Brett studied Classical Ballet technique under Wayne Stewarte [Royal Ballet] and Stephanie Moy [Boston Ballet] with English/French styles. Brett Leigh studied extensive barre technique before being cast in the International Broadway tour of West Side Story. Brett Leigh played both the roles of Riff and Action.
Brett Leigh continued the study of barre technique in companies throughout the world including Tokyo, Singapore, Paris, Rotterdam, Dresden, Berlin, and Switzerland. He has danced in ‘Coppelia’, 'The Nutcracker’, ‘Cinderella’, and appeared for the Anna Sokolow Dance Foundation performing ‘Rooms'. He played Mungojerrie in a Chicago run of “CATS”, the lead male dancer in ‘Chicago’, Tommy Djilous in ’The Music Man’, as well as straight plays throughout the US.
Brett Leigh is a member of the Actors Equity Association and Screen Actors Guild playing roles in “The Social Network” (Academy Nominated, Golden Globe Winner), “Gone Girl” (Academy Nominated), and has appeared on television in the 'Young & the Restless', Lifetime television, and CBS network. Brett is a juror for the European Independent Film Festival (ECU) selecting films to screen at the event in Paris during May of each calendar year.
Meryl "Mez" Gendreau
Instructor of Hip Hop
Meryl began dancing at the age of three, but really began her journey in 1999 when her mother, Mary Gendreau, opened The Loft Dance and Movement Studio. With her focus in Modern dance, at the age of seven Meryl began training and performing. In 2002 she performed Parsons Etude at the Newport Flight of Steps Festival with dancers from Island Moving Company, Providence Ballet, Arabella Dance Company, and Fusionworks. The choreography was taught by Robert Battle of the David Parson’s Dance Company, now director of the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. During this time Meryl also studied under Julie Adams Strandberg of Brown University and co-founder of the American Dance Legacy Institute.
Meryl discovered her love for Hip Hop when she began working and training at The Talent Factory Performing Arts Centre in 2008. From there she began to travel and study independently at conventions such as Monsters of Hip Hop, The Pulse, Jump Dance, and NYCDA, and attended two months at Urban Dance Camp in Lörrach, Germany, and one month at The Beat Camp in Novalja, Croatia. While in Croatia, she was selected by choreographer, Duki Tran, to perform in a concept video alongside him. Currently Meryl is directing, training, and choreographing for three competitive Hip Hop Crews and traveling to studios around New England to teach workshops. She is also working towards her Bachelor’s Degree in Dance on a performing arts scholarship at Roger Williams University.
Instructor of Ballet & Pointe
Emily Lovdahl grew up in southeast Wisconsin and received her ballet training from Marc Darling and Linda Bennett at The Studio of Classical Dance Arts in Racine, WI, where she also began assistant-teaching. After finishing high school, she performed professionally with Milwaukee Ballet and BalletMet before joining Nevada Ballet Theatre in 2016. While with NBT, she had the pleasure of being coached by Cynthia Gregory and performing in her restaging of Swan Lake, as well as performing Balanchine's Serenade and Western Symphony. She also performed with several artists of Cirque du Soleil in their yearly collaborative showcase with NBT, A Choreographer's Showcase. From there, she joined Festival Ballet Providence in 2018 and spent four seasons dancing with the company, during which her performance highlights included Viktor Plotnikov's Coma and Eugenia Zinovieva's ad Infinitum. Ms. Lovdahl is also an avid seamstress and enjoys making both costumes and everyday wear, and she is persuing her STOTT Pilates Instructor Certification.
Instructor of Ballet
Azamat was born in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic. He started his studies at age 10. In 2007, Azamat was awarded a Presidential Scholar “Personnel 21st Century” for “Creative achievement in the Performing Skills”. Later he was invited by Altynai Asylmuratova to study in Saint Petersburg, Russia and graduated from the Vaganova Ballet Academy in 2010. He then joined Moscow City Ballet under the direction of artistic director Victor Smirnov. In 2012, Azamat was selected by Julia Moon to join Universal Ballet in South Korea. He also continued to dance with the Kyrgyz National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre. In 2013, Azamat was invited to join The Russian National Ballet by Artistic Director Sergei Radchenko. He has toured with The Moscow City Ballet in the United Kingdom, Ireland, China, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Taiwan, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Cyprus, Russia and with The Russian National Ballet in the USA. In 2014, Azamat joined Island Moving Co. in Newport, Rhode Island as a Principal Dancer to focus on his contemporary style. Azamat has appeared as a guest artist with Kyrgyz National Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre, Russian National Ballet, Charleston City Ballet and Ballet Idaho. This is his second season with Festival Ballet.
Ana Luisa Thompson-Konopka
Instructor of Ballet
A native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Ms. Thompson-Konopka graduated from the Maria Olenewa School of Dance, the official School of the Theatro Municipal of Rio de Janeiro where she studied with Jacy Jambay, Consuelo Rios, Regina Bertelli, Marcelo Coelho, Silvana Andrade, Paulo Melgaço, Sergio Lobato and under the direction of Maria Luisa Noronha. Also among her teachers, Ms. Valeria Moreira, Mr. Eric Valdo and Mr. Antonio Vasconcellos. The Olenewa School is internationally recognized, with graduates performing in major Ballet Companies in the US and Europe. While a student there, Ms. Thompson-Konopka was chosen to perform in Coppelia and La Sylphide with the Company of Theatro Municipal of Rio de Janeiro. She also danced with the Brazilian Modern Dance Company, Companhia de Danca Rio, under the direction of Angela Ferreira and with choreographies from Diana Tomasetig. Ms. Thompson-Konopka completed the David Howard Teacher’s Seminar in 2000.
She served on the faculty at the Performing Arts School of Worcester from 1998 until 2004 where she was a former Ballet Mistress, Assistant Director and Director of Curriculum. She served as Ballet mistress for Ballet Arts Worcester (BAW) from 2005 to 2017. She choreographed ballet, modern and contemporary pieces for the Worcester Youth Ballet Company and PASOW’s The Nutcracker. Ms. Thompson-Konopka has performed in numerous productions of The Nutcracker; she was guest artist with the Melrose Youth Ballet, Dance It Up and PASOW’s since 1997 dancing the roles of Sugar Plum Fairy, Snow Queen, Arabian Princess and Spanish Soloist. She is now a full time faculty member and Ballet Mistress at The Hanover Conservatory for The Performing Arts. Besides teaching every level of classical ballet technique, her expertises include coaching in Classical Ballet variations and stretching & strengthening exercises geared towards dancers. Ms Thompson-Konopka continues to add to her knowledge and experience in dance and has been licensed as a Zumba instructor in July 2019 and certified as a Progressing Ballet Technique (PBT) teacher in January 2020.
Instructor of Ballet
Timur Kan began his professional training at the A. Seleznev Almaty Choreographic School in Almaty (Kazakhstan) at age 11 in 2009. His ballet training is based on Vaganova Method. Besides ballet, he studied character, contemporary, and traditional folk dances as well. After graduating from the A. Seleznev Almaty Choreographic School where he received his Associate of Fine Arts degree in ballet, he also became a member of the Union of Choreographers of Kazakhstan. Timur joined the Abay State Opera & Ballet Theatre in Almaty, where he has performed in a variety of classical ballets, such as Don Quixote, Swan Lake, La Bayadere, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, and The Nutcracker. Timur worked as a guest dancer with The Samruk Contemporary Dance Theatre in Almaty (Kazakhstan), Joburg Ballet in Johannesburg (South Africa), Albany Berkshire Ballet in Albany (New York), and currently is with Island Moving Company (IMC) of Newport Rhode Island. He is a laureate of many international dance competitions and has also had the privilege to work and train with notable teachers and choreographers from all over the world.
Timur provides instructions in Ballet, Character, and Hip Hop. He is currently teaching at Ocean State Ballet (Providence, RI), The Ballet Center (Bristol, RI), and The Ballet Prestige (Barrington, RI).
Sarah - Kay
Sarah-Kay (SKooJ CorE-O) brings her knowledge and talents to the Performing Arts with experience in performance, choreography, instruction, and adjudication.
SKooJ’s organic approach toward movement created the BCDP Global, a professional collective expressing their passion of storytelling through contemporary and fusion movements. BCDP’s work can be seen at NYC Dance Week, Boston Contemporary Dance Festival, and our annual benefit show every August at Boston University!
Her choreography and direction has also been featured on the HGTV series "Spontaneous Construction", NESN, The Dr. Oz Show, WayFair.com Commercials MTV, Her talents have also paired up with TedEX Boston/Philadelphia, New Balance, Broadway in Boston, LA’s own Club Jete, and Carnival Choreographer’s Ball Anniversary Show! SKooJ has also worked with artist Shoshana Bean as she co-choreographed the Closing Number of Brian Friedman’s The Main Event in New York City.
SKooJ CorE-O entered the Music Video scene choreographing for International Pop Artist Tamara Rodriguez, Pop/R&B Artist Erene, and Lucia Marie's House of Blues Tour! Other credits include “Digital Love” by Makio, “Dance With You” by Bad Rabbits ft. Clinton Sparks, "Stay With Me" Cover by Keith London “Medicine” by Jack Newsome and her own dance concept videos with McCarthy Visuals, Moonculture Films, 4ward Productions, and TOONTV. Also, catch SKooJ choreographing for Ari B and being featured in Pineapple Citi’s video “Rose Colored”.
Lastly, SKooJ partnered up with Salty Bovine Films with setting artistry for their past three short films ADONIS, MOSDEN, and TRENT while showcasing her acting talent in movies Basic Math starring Cameron Diaz, TED2 with Mark Wahlberg, and Patriots Day! Her talents have also landed her the New England Choreographer position will BookAFlashmob.com where she has composed flashmobs for elite clients, corporate events, and celebratory milestones.
Sarah-Kay (SKooJ CorE-O) has gathered all her adventures, journeys, and experiences to inspire thousands of movers around the world. Her heart will continue to mentor the next generation, build the industry, and spread movement to all. Make sure to check out her work and #FollowTheArtistry.
Morgan trained at the Cathy Taylor School of dance for 15 years where she always competed in tap and graduated from the Cathy Taylor School of Dance in 2015. She is a graduate from Plymouth State University where she majored in Early Childhood Studies and minored in Child Welfare and Family Studies.
While studying at Plymouth Morgan was a member of the Plymouth State Dance Team for the 2016-2017 dance season. While a part of the dance team Morgan competed with the team in hip hop and took additional classes in tap and hip-hop.
Aside from teaching dance Morgan works in Early Intervention where she aids children ages birth to three with developmental delays as well as starting a new position in the public school setting as a ABA tech. Morgan is and is looking forward to teaching children’s programs at the studio.
Carly has been a yoga practitioner for over 20 years. She started her journey with Bikram Yoga, then studied Ashtanga, Dharma, traditional Hatha, and continues to explore new styles of yoga whenever possible.
In 2016, she completed her teacher training with Studio Bamboo Institute of Yoga in Virginia Beach, Virginia. After teaching an after school yoga program for children ages 6-18, she then began teaching adult classes at a local community center.
Teaching seniors with many limitations and being a member of the military community inspired Carly to want to learn more about injury treatments, injury prevention, and trauma therapy in the yoga realm. Because of her desire to explore this space, she completed her certification as a yoga therapist with the Mindful Yoga Therapy program based out of a VA center in Newington, CT. Here, she developed the skills to work with those in the community who suffer from PTSD and have severe physical and emotional disabilities. She is also certified as a Yoga for Athletes instructor.
In recent years, Carly has developed a program - Yoga for Dance - geared towards dancers and athletes with a focus on strength, flexibility, and injury prevention. Her students learn how to develop best practices to balance both the body and the mind.
Carly is the proud mother to her two daughters who are competitive dancers and little yogis.
Meg Norton trained at the Cathy Taylor School of Dance for 16 years. She was a class assistant, a top scoring tap soloist, and a member of the competition team. She has held the title of Teen Miss Headliner and received tap scholarships from Dance Masters of America. She has returned to the studio to assist the competition tap classes for the past eight years. Meg continued dancing as a member of the Holy Cross Dance Ensemble, where she choreographed for the tap and jazz classes.
Meg is a math teacher at Burncoat High School in Worcester. She is currently choreographing the children's musical "Kamp Kaos" with the Barre Players Theater. Meg has performed with numerous community theater groups in the central Mass area. She is currently rehearsing for Stageloft Repertory Theater’s June production of Legally Blonde, where she will be playing Elle Woods.
Kaelin trained at the Cathy Taylor School of Dance for 16 years, and graduated in 2021. She was a member of the competition team for nine of those years, in addition to being a class assistant for five. She also went on to teach a class of her own throughout her senior year here at the Cathy Taylor School of Dance.
During high school, she also assisted for an after school hip-hop program entitled “Fresh Kix”, run by former faculty member Brittany Laraia. She has returned to the studio to continue assisting as well as instructing children’s programs including tap, tumble & twirl, and hip-hop.
Outside of the studio, Kaelin is a student at Anna Maria College currently studying a health science major, on the path to nursing school. She is excited to be back and have the opportunity to further expand her dance career through teaching.