Staff

GARDEN CITY DANCE STUDIO STAFF

The staff at Garden City Dance Studio has been highly trained in all fields of dance, including choreography, principles of teaching dance, dance history, acting, theater design and production, dance therapy and child psychology. This is what puts Garden City Dance Studio in a class of its own. We take pride that our teachers always give personal attention to each student. We encourage each student to develop good attitudes about themselves and their fellow dancers. The professional and positive atmosphere of our studio helps prepare our students for the dance field with confidence. We know you will find our school to be the highest in quality.

Garden City Dance Studio StaffCathy

Owner/ Director since 1980

Cathy Fonte has been the owner/director of Garden City Dance Studio since it was founded in 1980. She has studied Ballet with David Howard and Tap and Jazz at Broadway Dance Center, Phil Black Dance Studio Cathy also studied with Luigi and Joe Lanteri. Her love for dance gave her the motivation to open her own dance studio. After 35 years, Garden City Dance Studio has expanded from one studio to 7 studios and an enrollment that increases every year. Cathy, along with her professional staff has made Garden City Dance Studio the number one place to be. Cathy is always available at the studio for all your dance concerns.

Garden City Dance Studio StaffEric

Instructor

Eric is a California native who moved to New York City to pursue his love of dance at 19. He has appeared on numerous television series and specials including the MTV Movie Awards, the MTV Video Music Awards, the Grammy’s, the BET Awards, and the Blockbuster Awards. Eric has danced with several artists including Aaliyah, The Backstreet Boys, Lil’ Kim, Mikaela, and Usher. He appeared in the smash hit musical Grease on Broadway and has done regional productions of Gypsy, A Chorus Line, Guys and Dolls, and The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Eric appeared in the hit Bollywood movie musical Jaaneman, and has danced in several commercials and industrials for companies including Propel Water, Stouffers, Toyota, Nissan, Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Old Navy, Target, Nike, and Wrangler Jeans. As choreographer Eric toured Germany with the bands B3 and M*Pire, and has worked with recording artists Real Soul and Kelly McCarthy. He currently choreographs shows and industrials for Carnival Entertainment, and teaches for several conventions throughout the US and Canada. Eric’s belief that dance and movement can be ones voice led him to China and India in the summer of 2012. He was honored to work with students at the prestigious Hebei Art Institute in Shijiazhuang, Hebei, China, where he was a guest of the Chinese Government. Due to an overwhelmingly positive response to his work, Eric was requested back to create a dance curriculum for several universities in the Hebei and Shandong provences in November of 2012. He will return annually to continue the curriculum. In India Eric had the privilege of working with many successful Bollywood and contemporary dancers as a guest of United Dance Center and Split Sole Dance Academy. He appeared on several talk shows while in India and can be seen in The India Times and WOW Hyderabad magazines. Eric is on staff at Broadway Dance Center in NYC, subbing regularly and working with the ISVP program.

Garden City Dance Studio StaffJillian

Instructor

Jillian holds an MA in Educational Theater from New York University, an MA in Communications from Hofstra University, and a BFA in Theater Arts Performance with Minors in Dance and English from Hofstra. Additionally, Jillian holds certification from American Ballet Theatre's National Training Curriculum as well as Yoga and Zumba certifications from multiple fitness organizations. Jillian has taught and performed across the world, including venues in Italy, Austria, Puerto Rico, and Walt Disney World. She continues to work on stage and screen and has been seen on networks such as NBC, Oxygen, Cartoon Network, Discovery ID, and hosting for Radio Disney. She has also worked behind the scenes in casting offices such as ABC Primetime and in PR for Broadway shows like Hair and Spider-Man

Garden City Dance Studio StaffLatoya

Instructor

LaToya is a professional choreographer and dancer based in NYC. She earned her BA in Dance/Communications from Manhattanville College. Former Captain of the Knicks City Dancers she has transitioned into becoming the Head Coach/Choreographer of the Knicks City Kids. She is a seasoned industry dancer with credits that include Rihanna, Lenny Kravitz, Flo Rida, Pitbull, Jason Derulo, Hailee Steinfeld, Labyrinth, Natasha Mosley, Vanilla Ice, Lip Sync Battle and Saturday Night Live. She has had the opportunity to dance in various countries including Italy, France, Spain, England, Germany and China.

Garden City Dance Studio StaffMary Kate

Instructor

Classically trained in Ballet, Modern, Tap and Jazz dance, Marykate grew up in a competition dance team environment and was a part of an Access Broadway Nationals winning team in 2011, competing with all dance genres. She now performs as a contemporary dancer with DanceWorksNYC. Marykate is a graduate of Manhattanville College with a BA in Dance and Theatre along with Communications. During her college career, she was a member and captain of the official dance troupe. She was also cast in a dance on film documentary produced by Peter Pucci titled “Swag-n-Bach.” Marykate had the opportunity to work with guest choreographers such as Earl Frederick Mosely and the theatrical Clare Porter. Marykate has also been an assistant at The Madsion Theater at Molloy College where she was a judge for the Nassau’s Got Talent Competition and performed for the Long Island Film Festival with Broadway choreographer, Lisa Gajda. Marykate enjoys being a Pure Barre instructor, incorporating her love for fitness and inspiring others of all ages and abilities.

Garden City Dance Studio StaffTiffany

Instructor

Tiffany Fonte. Former Captain of Oceanside dance team, Tifiany has been a competitive dancer for 14 years and has been a first place soloist for several years. She has also choreographed many group dances, solos and duets over the last 3 years and many of her high energy routines placed top three along with many first place wins and many special awards. Her Hip-Hop classes have become one of the very popular classes here at Garden City Dance Studio. Tiffany is currently a choreographer with our Competition team.

Garden City Dance Studio StaffJona Biddle

Instructor

Selected Master Classes throughout the season.

Garden City Dance Studio StaffStephanie B

Instructor

Bio Coming Soon

Mitch Kilby

Instructor

Mitch Kilby is a native of Newcastle, Australia. He began his training at the Marie Walton-Mahon Dance Academy in Australia, and in 2004 was accepted to the Joffrey Ballet School in New York City, where he subsequently earned a full scholarship. In 2006, Mitch took a position with New York Theatre Ballet, where he was an ensemble member and later a principal dancer for 12 years. He performed such roles as the Devil in “3 Virgins and a Devil," Dancing Master and Step Sister in “Cinderella,", the Lion in “Carnival of the Animals”, Catalabet in “Sleeping Beauty,” as well as Spanish dancer, Snow King, Mouse King, Chinese dancer, and Drosselmeyer in the “Nutcracker”. Mr. Kilby has danced works by Agnes DeMille, Mathew Neenan, Sir Fredrick Ashton, Jose Limón, and Merce Cunningham, among others. Mitch has had the pleasure of playing both the Grinch and Charlie Brown for the New York City Pops at Carnegie Hall. He performed with The Paris Opera and the Theatre of Nations' production of 'Miss Julie' at the Lincoln Center Festival. In 2015 he joined Ballet Grandiva for their Japan tour. In 2019, Mr. Kilby was cast in the Park Avenue Armory's production of “The Lehman Trilogy” directed by Sam Mendez. Mitch has served on the faculty at The Ridgefield School of Dance, Woodbury Ballet, Complexity Dance Center, The Mae Mae Dance Studio, Defying Gravity and Contemporary South Dance Company. He is currently an Instructor at Kick Dance Studios, Fancy Feet, Thrive: The Essence of Dance, Amanda’s Dancextensions and Garden City Dance Studio. Mitch has trained dancers for the Connecticut Classic, and YAGP. He has also coached partners for pas de deux work. Mr. Mitch loves to work with children and has a upbeat and positive teaching style. He understands how dancers perform, and provides technical skills while instilling a love for the art form.

Ivan Owens

Instructor

Ivan is thrilled to join the faculty of Garden City Dance Studio! Ivan started his dance journey at the age of thirteen in Sierra Vista, Arizona. At nineteen, Ivan relocated to Los Angeles to work closely with Debbie Allen and Chloe Arnold. Ivan studied with Tessandra Chavez, Tyce Diorio, Karen McDonald, All Khaniashvili, and Vitaly Artiushkin of Bolshoi Ballet. Ivan has toured the high seas for several years and visiting countries like Spain, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, France just to name a few. In the midst of it all, Ivan landed a wonderful opportunity to dance in Tokyo Disney's Big Band Beat! Since then, Ivan has relocated to New York City in 2015 and later joined Chloe Arnold's Tap company Apt 33. Ivan is currently an Artist in Residence at American Tap Dance Foundation. Ivan was 2nd assistant choreographer to Chloe on Ames Corden Crosswalk The Musical for THE GREATEST SHOWMAN starring Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron and Zendaya. Ivan has performed on Good Morning America and has feature film credits. Ivan cannot wait to meet each of the students at Garden City Dance Studio to help achieve their success! Let's fly!

Danielle Franz

Ballet Instructor

Trained in classical ballet and in the Vaganova method, working with schools such as Eglevsky Ballet School, American Theatre Dance Workshop, and Joffrey Ballet. Danielle’s technique experience includes the American Ballet Theatre Curriculum, Modern dance and Theatre dance as well. Danielle has had numerous theatre and ballet experiences, working with professional dancers in both the ballet and theatre industry, trained with members of the Broadway Musical, Wicked, and with members of The Kirov Ballet. As of recent, Danielle is a graduate of Hofstra University with her Masters of Science in Early Childhood and Childhood Education.

Hawmee Hwang

Ballet Instructor

Born in South Korea, Haemee Hwang came to New York City at the age of sixteen. Upon her high school teacher's encouragement to pursue dance, Haemee ultimately fell in love with ballet. In 1996, she was awarded a scholarship from Long Island University to further her education in dance. Soon after, she received a scholarship to attend Marymount Manhattan College where she graduated with a B.F.A in dance in 2002. She studied in the Master's program at NYU Steinhardt: ABT Ballet Pedagogy. Haemee first began teaching ballet classes at Marymount in her senior year of college, following a recommendation from her dance instructor, Katie Langan (Professor & Chair, Dance Department). Her love of teaching and working with children in particular was realized upon graduation when she began teaching at Ballet Academy East and Steps in New York City. Since then, she has taught at numerous dance schools throughout New York City and Long Island and has amassed more than fifteen years of experience as a ballet teacher. Currently, Haemee teaches children's ballet classes at: Oceanside Dance Center (4 to 18 yrs. competition team, pre-professional level) In her children's classes, she aims to provide a fun and friendly environment with an emphasis on providing her students with a strong technical base. In addition to teaching, Haemee regularly performs with American Ballet Russe (2009-2018), New York Evangelic Opera Company (2004-2008), Woodside Ballet (2002-2017), and Victoria Ballet Company (guest, 2019). In the past, she has performed with Dance Collage NYC. Haemee loves ballet as a dancer, performer and teacher and hopes to inspire love and enthusiasm for dance in her students.

Bella Schneiderman

Instructor

Bella Schneiderman is a choreographer, dancer, and educator based in New York. She presented her choreography at the Young Choreographer’s Festival in June 2023, as well as White Wave’s SoloDuo Festival in February 2024. Along with this, she has received the New York State Award of Excellence for Dance Choreography and was a part of the National Honor Society for Dance Arts. Bella earned her BFA in Fine Arts from Long Island University a year early and will be attending Adelphi University for her Masters in Art Education starting in Fall 2024. She was a part of the Garden City Dance Studio competition team, in addition to training at Koin&Co Dancers as a Junior Company member, Broadway Dance Center, Joffrey Ballet School, Peridance, Boston Community Dance Project, and more. Bella Schneiderman is a Division 1 college athlete and is the 2023 and 2024 UCA D1 Spirit Program Game Day National Champion winning back-to-back with the LIU Cheerleading team

Hayden Pontius

Instructor

Hayden Pontius is a dance teacher and dancer living in New York City. She is from South Florida where she trained in dance for over 15 years and even had opportunities to train and perform with Miami City Ballet and Joffery Ballet. Hayden loves choreographing and creating dances which has led her to become a dance teacher in recent years. She teaches all ages, levels, and styles, and has loved seeing her students grow. She is currently studying acting and dance at Marymount Manhattan College, and plans to receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts. She dances and teaches every style, but the most notable styles include musical theater, contemporary, ballet, jazz, and lyrical! Hayden loves to teach and is excited for everything ahead of her.

Stephanie Q

Instructor

Stephanie Q started dancing in a competitive dance team on Long Island, New York, traveling and winning Grand National Championships throughout the U.S. and Bahamas. Moving to Miami for college, Stephanie was one of the Captains for Barry University Dance Team. Having a drive to perform and a love for sports, she took her dance talent to the Pro level. In 2008 she cheered for the NFL Miami Dolphin Cheerleaders. Off the field, she choreographed and performed for local Miami artists, danced in FloRida’s music video, performed at Super Bowl halftime show with Prince, choreographed and danced with Vanilla Ice, taught combo classes at dance studios throughout South Florida, as well as coaching for Miami Springs High School Cheerleading team. After graduating Barry University she went on to dance for NHL Florida Panthers for two seasons 2012-2014. Stephanie moved back to New York after dancing for the Panthers to study all styles of dance under world renown choreographers at Broadway Dance Center’s Dance Program. She had the opportunity to work side by side with the top choreographers and dancers from all around the world. Still having a drive to perform, she finished her Pro Dance career on the court with the NBA Houston Rockets Power Dancers. Making her way through the Pro Dance world it has become her passion to help others achieve and reach their dreams and goals through dance!

Meredith Julia Muirhead

Instructor

Meredith Julia Muirhead is a Long Island-born performer, teacher, and musician with a BFA in Drama from Hofstra University. Stage credits include 35mm (Balladeer), Woyzeck (Woyzeck), Everybody (Girl/Time), Hair (Crissy), and Carrie (Carrie). Music direction credits include Annie KIDS, The Music Man KIDS, Heathers, and Rent. Meredith also works as a party princess with Once Upon A Daydream parties and loves to bring the magic of performing to kids of all ages!