Laura Foti, Owner/Artistic Director
Mrs. Foti received her early training under the director of Sylvia Clay of Clay School of Dance. Throughout her later training she was also taught by Laurie Clay (Boston Ballet), C. Larry Robertson (University of NH), and Michelle Tolson (Radio City Rockettes). She trained as an assistant dance instructor for seven years, eventually teaching locally at area studios. Hired by New Hampshire Academie of Dance in 2000, she became the principle instructor in 2001. She has participated in hundreds of master classes with such greats as Edward Vilella, Al Gilbert, Frank Hatchett, Leslie Browne, Janice Barringer, Joe Lanteri, Bob Rizzo, Pete Rose, David Howard, Debbi Dee, and many more. Mrs. Foti danced competitively in the Miss America program, earning enough money to fund almost her entire college education. She danced her way to the titles of Miss Manchester, Miss Nashua, Miss Merrimack, and Miss Greater Derry and was a finalist for the title of Miss New Hampshire. With twenty years of dance teaching experience, Mrs. Foti also holds business and computer degrees. She has been a member of the National Dance Education Organization, Professional Dance Teacher's Association and the International Dance Entrepreneurs Association .
Miss Laura believes that dancing schools teach much more than steps, and is most proud of the life lessons she sees being learned daily within the studio. While she is well known for her technical knowledge and methodical teaching, she is equally as well known for the fun classes she creates for our youngest dancers. You can find her working with all levels of dancers, from our "babies" to our seniors. She brings a love and enthusiasm for dance together with technical dance expertise that create an unequalled experience for her students.
Leo Donahue, Assistant Director
Mr Donahue has teaching for over 25 Years in jazz, tap, contemporary,yrical and hip hop. He has had the opportunity to study with many master Teachers like Savion Glover, Bob Rizzo, Frank Hatchett and Matt Mattox and has served as an Adjudicator and Director for the past 15 years for Regional and National Competitions.
His students have won many overall awards and have gone on to perform in Off Broadway Shows, on Cruise Lines, at Disney and with Modern Companies throughout the United States. Many of his students have received Scholarships to dance programs like Julliard, Walnut Hill, Boston Ballet and Alvin Ailey. Leo is very proud of his students and due to their understanding of his Choreography has enabled him to receivemany Choreography Awards.
Leo enjoys teaching Master classes and Choreography throughout the United States. In 2004, Leo had the honor of being the Choreographer for 96 dancers at a National level Finals. He believes that all
children who love to dance should have the opportunity to perform, compete or express themselves on stage. He also believes that through the art of dance, children gain a multitude of life skills which they carry throughout their lives.
Miss Cookie is a lifelong student of dance and has been teaching locally for more than three decades. She is proud to have touched the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands!, of young children throughout the years. Miss Cookie specializes in our younger dancers, and is a true master at providing a wonderful early foundation in dance with plenty of hugs and giggles along the way. She is the proud mother of three and grandmother of five.
Mike has been dancing since the age of 3 and immediately fell in love with tap dance. He is an alumnus of New Hampshire Academie of Dance, having trained under Miss Laura's direction until graduating from High School and the studio's intensive dancer program. He won many dance titles around New England, and at 18 he joined The Boston Tap Company directed by Sean Fielder (Bring in Da Noise, bring in Da Funk). Mike travels around the country performing in tap fests and venues around the Boston area and has performed in the show Rhythm In The Night. He later joined Subject: Matter directed by Ian Berg (M.A.A.D. Rhythms) performing in their show Some Pulp. He is currently performing with Drumatix, a tap and percussion company and serves as Dance Captain for Boston Tap Company. He recently was onstaff at the Beantown Tap Festival, and Mike travels to tap fests like DC, Jersey,, and Dance United, to learn from as many other dancers and masters as he can. He is also certified in Pound Fitness, a percussion workout.
Mary has been teaching dance for 30 years, and is a long standing member of the Dance Teachers Club of Boston. Mary has studied with some of the most renowned teachers in New England and New York. She trained and performed with the Boston based Copley Square Ballet, the Jeannette Neil Jazz Studio, Leon Collin's Tap Ensemble, and Luigi Style Jazz based in New York City. Mary's students have received numerous Gold Medals, High Score, and Special Awards. She is a recipient of the American Dance Awards Diamond Choreography Award. Mary is committed to instilling a love of dance and building self-esteem in all her students. She has delighted in seeing many of her students continue on performing, teaching and celebrating the art of dance.
Lorelei is a multi-talented dancer, choreographer, seamstress and aerialist, who graduated from DeSales University in Center Valley, PA with a BA in Dance in 2007. While in college, she was cast in numerous classical ballet productions, including "Viva Vivaldi!"- restaged by Trinette Singleton (former principle at Joffrey) and "Sleeping Beauty"- performed by Repertory Dance Theatre in Emmaus, PA. She has been in many performances of "The Nutcracker"- both at RDT and Solecity Dance in Rochester, NH- in which she has held numerous roles, including Dew Drop, The Meadow pas de deux, Spanish lead and Chinese Soloist. In addition to classical ballet roles, Lorelei has also been cast in several modern/contemporary pieces, including "Breaking Ground," choreographed by Tara Madsen (of the Tania Isaac Dance Co, Philadelphia, PA) and “Connections, 2” choreographed by Julie Hebb (of The Dance Annex, Kittery, ME). In 2015, she was among a small group of local dancers to perform with Janis Brennar and Dancers (NYC, NY) in “Lost, Found, Lost” at The Dance Hall in Kittery, ME. Aside from her 25 years of classical ballet and pointe experience, Lorelei also enjoys modern, contemporary, tap, jazz, hip hop, ballroom and aerial silks. She worked for several years with Arts In Reach (Portsmouth, NH) as a guest choreographer and was Assistant Director of Musical Arts Academy of Music & Dance (Exeter and Dover, NH) for 3 years, where she created their annual Christmas show “The Steadfast Tin Soldier.”
Bethany has been an award winning choreographer, dance teacher and professional
performer in the area for over 20 years. Her early training was at UNH where she was a
member of the UNH Dance Company. Further studies were at Jeannette Neils and Leon
Collins in Boston; Steps and Broadway Dance Center in NYC. She has performed
professionally at the Palace Theatre, Huntington Theatre, Worcester Foothills, Ogunquit
Playhouse and North Shore Music Theatre. She has choreographed for Pinkerton
Academy, the Derryfield School and Kids Coop Theatre. She has also taught in a
number of local area dance studios and choreographed for competition pieces as well as recital pieces.
Kassia Swanson grew up in Londonderry and starting dancing at NHAD at the age of 6 where she continued her training under Laura Foti until she graduated from high school and the NHAD intensive dancer program. She attended the Rock School Summer Intensive for Ballet for several summers. She is a former member of the Boston Tap Company, danced extensively with New England Civic Ballet and had a long and very successful career as a dancer in NHAD's in house company. Kassia went on to study dance at the University of Southern California, concentrating primarily on ballet, contemporary and modern dance.
Holly grew up in Hooksett, NH where she started her dance career at the age of 3. She has had many opportunities to train with teachers and choreographers around the nation. Holly has a very strong background in ballet, jazz, lyrical, contemporary and modern and extensive knowledge and exposure to the world of competitive dance. Holly also participated in young choreographer and won high scores for her choreography in high school. Holly graduated from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Dance with a double concentration in Ballet and Jazz. While at Point Park, Holly had the privilege to study with many amazing teachers and choreographers and performed in “Under-wear” by Pearlann Porter, “The Bench” by Kiesha Lalama-White, and “Faculty Show” by Ron Tassone. Holly is now judging both regional and national dance competitions, and loves seeing the different style and talent around the United States. Holly has an extensive amount of teaching experience and looks forward to inspiring and encouraging each of her students to find the love of dance the way she has.
Meredith Caruso grew up in Derry, NH. She began dancing at the age of three and is trained in many genres of dance including Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Modern, Acro and Tap. She spent numerous years as a NH Academie Company dancer and graduated from the intensive dancer training program here. Meredith began teaching at the early age of 15 as an assistant instructor and transitioned into a teaching position over 10 years ago. Miss Meredith has developed a love for working with young minds and coordinates as well as instructs all of the summer camps at NH Academie.
Meredith has a Master’s of Education from Southern New Hampshire University and spent a semester abroad where she danced with the Universidad de Especialidades Espíritu Santo in Ecuador. Her love for travelling has created opportunities for her to teach around the country such as in California and North Carolina.
In November 2016, Meredith became certified in Rhythm Works Integrative Dance. With a background and experience teaching special education, she oversees and advises our RWID program and provides support to dancers children with special needs.
Josie grew up in Derry, NH by way of Washington State. She grew up dancing at NH Academie of Dance and graduated from the intensive dancer program here. She went on to study Psychology at Clarkson University, where she continued to foster her love of dance. Josie has a long history of working with children, and was mentored by the staff here at NHAD as a student teaching assistant. She spent many years working as a camp counselor and nanny.
Josie is a true kid at heart and her students love her fun loving personality!
Amanda is a lifelong resident of Londonderry and spent her childhood training at NH Academie of Dance, where she graduated from the intensive dancer program. She was mentored for several years in the student assistant training program and currently specializes in teaching our younger dancers. Amanda is a naturally gifted teacher with a real knack for making special connections with our littlest dancers.
You can always find Miss Amanda greeting all of our littles with a big smile and warm hug!
Cheryl Donahue, Office Manager
Cheryl has been on both sides of the dance studio world for more than 30 years. She was a dance mom to two of her three daughters and learned the tricks and tips that she is famous for here at NHAD. Her husband is a former dance studio owner, and Cheryl became familiar with the office side of the business. A former Union Insurance representative, Cheryl's organizational skills are second to none. She is also an accomplished seamstress and is always helpful to everyone in our dance family providing services, instruction and advice. She is a born leader and is always at the ready to lend a hand.