Daniel is founder and co-owner of Top Hat Dance Studio located in Philadelphia, PA. Since its grand opening in 1995, the strength of Top Hat Dance Studio has been attributed to his abilities, both as a dancer and an instructor. For over 25 years, Daniel has continued to teach, perform and compete in the Ballroom, Latin, and Hustle dance forms. He is currently one of the top-ranked hustle competitors in the country and undefeated in the Pro/Am Theatre Arts Hustle division. Daniel served as Treasurer on the board of the International Hustle Dance Association (IHDA) for 8 years and then as President of the IHDA for the 2010-2014 term. In 2010, Daniel partnered with Jameson Kilburn and Billy Fajardo as owners of the Puerto Rico Latin Hustle Dance Competition held in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Daniel and his partner Ginny Carey are two-time World Hustle Champions. They first won this title at the International Hustle and Salsa Competition in Orlando, Florida in April 2011 and then again in April 2012.
With a score of "Highly Commended," Daniel received his Associate certification in International Standard by the ISTD (Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance) in 2007. Scoring "Honors", Daniel received his ISTD Licentiate Theatre Arts certification in 2008. Also with "High Honors" Daniel received his Bronze Associate certification in Hustle from IHDA/DVIDA in 2009. Daniel is also a member of the National Dance Council of America (NDCA).
Choreographic credits include: International Hustle and Salsa Competition 2006; Stephanie Sands presents...2000, 2001 and 2002; Hempfield High School Dance Theatre Program 2001, 2002 & 2008; "La Boutique Fantasque" at the Fulton Opera House; "Oklahoma", "The King and I"," Fiddler on the Roof", "Little Shop of Horrors", "Annie" and "Hello Dolly!" at Garden Spot High School; excerpts of Top Hat Dance Studio's "Spirit of Dance" 2003, 2004, and 2005; "Evita" 2005 and "Gypsy" 2006 at the Ephrata Performing Arts Center; excerpts of "Voices of Christmas" at Sight and Sound Theatre in Lancaster, PA.
Jameson is co-owner of Top Hat Dance Studio of Philadelphia where he can be found teaching group classes and private lessons in Ballroom, Latin, Swing, & Hustle. For the past 15 years, Jameson has continued to study, teach, compete, and perform in the arena of professional partner dancing.
As a competitor, Jameson has been competing professionally in many different styles of dance for over 10 years. He, along with his partner Christy Kam, won first place in the World Hustle Championships of 2014 held at the Internation Hustle and Salsa Championships in Miami, Florida. He went on to win 1st Place in every major Hustle Division that he entered in 2014.
As a teacher, Jameson was awarded the IHDA Top Professional Instructor of 2013. He has been awarded Top Teacher at Disco America in Philadelphia, Pa and Swing Fling in Tyson's Corner, VA. Jameson received a score of "Highly Commended" on his certification examinations in the International Standard dancing in 2007 and also received a score of "with Honours" on his certification examination in Theater Arts in 2008 with the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD). Jameson is proud to have been an active board member of the International Hustle Dance Association (IHDA) for 6 years. He can be seen at many different dance events throughout the country teaching, judging, performing, and competition. He is best known for the way in which he "de-mystifies" the technical side of partner dancing to make it obtainable by everyone.
Jameson's dance career started in the theater where he was featured as a dancer in 'Kiss of the Spider Woman', 'Anything Goes', 'La Cage aux Folles', and most recently 'Evita'. Jameson has since enjoyed choreographing for competitive routines, shows throughout Pennsylvania, as well as for 2008's installment of 'Dance Theater' in Hempfield, Pa. Jameson has placed in the Top 3 both in the Professional and Pro/Am divisions in numerous competitions; including the International Hustle & Salsa Competition, Mid-Atlantic Dance Jam, Big Easy Dance Classic, Dance Seattle, Philadelphia Festival Championships, North American Dance Championships, and the World Hustle Competition.
Jameson has always said, "Dance should be fun! And most importantly, it should be what you make of it". That statement can be seen in his approach to teaching, performing, and dancing in general. His greatest reward is helping a student achieve a goal; he views it as the best way of returning the favor to all of the wonderful coaches and teachers who have, and continue to help him, on this journey we call dance.
Michael, a native of Northeast Philadelphia, started his theatre and dance career at an early age. He began performing in community theatre with the Chalfont Youth Players and the Junior Vogue Players appearing in Bye, Bye, Birdie, Beauty and the Beast, The Wizard of Oz, and Into the Woods to name a few. Michael also attended the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts where he continued to perform on stage in a myriad of different roles and productions. After graduation, Michael furthered his education in the theatre at West Chester University where he earned his Bachelor of Theatre Arts degree in May of 2010. “I am so excited to be working with everyone at Top Hat Dance Studio. These guys (and girls) are the best!”
Slava Ben began dancing at a young age. Originally starting his dance career in Northeast Philadelphia, ballroom dancing has taken Slava around the world. Competing both nationally and internationally, Slava has won several prestigious events in the United States, including the United States National Championship. After completing his education at Temple University with a degree in Early Childhood Education and Special Education, Slava has combined his professional career with dance to focus his instruction on teaching children to love and speak the language of ballroom dancing. Slava’s students make great strides and achieve top results in competitions around the Tristate area.
Beth has been dancing most of her life. She began her training at the DeFino School in Philadelphia and received a B.S. in Dance Education from New York University. Beth has worked with renowned choreographers including Colin Connor (Jose Limon Co.), Doug Elkins, and Kevin Mahoney (Merce Cunningham). Upon returning to Philadelphia in 2004, Beth began working with the Golden Wings Theater Co. at Council Rock South H.S. - she has choreographed their productions of Bye Bye Birdie, Oklahoma, and Little Shop of Horrors. Beth also teaches fourth grade at the Solis-Cohen Elementary School in Philadelphia.
Kelli has been dancing since the age of 2 and is trained in ballet, jazz, tap, and acrobatics. She was trained at DeFino's Studio of Dance and received her teaching certificate from the Jay Dash Teachers Convention over 25 years ago, and has been teaching ever since. Kelli teaches all ages (2 through adult), and all subjects, but tap is her favorite, and preschoolers are her speciality. For the last several years, Kelli has choreographed the annual musical for the Hopes and Dreams Foundation and LOVES getting to work the special needs children and adults that are a part of that wonderful group.
Jose is a Latin dancer, choreographer, instructor, and competitor who has taught extensively in the Philadelphia Tri-State Area. At the age of 4, Jose Maldonado began his dancing career in Puerto Rico, where he began studying the traditional Latin American folk dance called Bomba y Plena. His talent combined with an early appreciation for dance led Jose to a unique opportunity to attend a selective high school program for the Creative and Performing Arts. There, he began learning Salsa, Merengue, Bachata, Folk, Hip-Hop, and theatrical dance. At 14, Jose was invited to join the Betty Vega Dancers performing Salsa at a number of East Coast locales including Philadelphia, New Jersey, Delaware, and New York City; he was soon promoted to lead male dancer and choreographer.
Jose is currently training under Billy Fajardo, a World Hustle, Swing, Cabaret, Salsa, and Merengue champion himself, as well as training privately with world-renowned instructors, dancers, and choreographers Alex Morel and Desiree Godsell.
In 2002, Jose founded a teen dance group from Philadelphia, the City Latin Dancers, who performed for the 2004 Rock the Vote Campaign, the 2005 Philadelphia Salsa Congress Kick-Off Party, and placed fourth in the 2004 Puerto Rican Festival. Soon, Jose's reputation for leadership and great performance led to an invitation to join Luna Negra Dance Company (La Luna's Professional Salsa Co. at the time). With Luna Negra, Jose performed at international Salsa Congresses and continued honing his craft by studying with featured artists like Jayson Molina, Liz Lira, Salomon Torres, and the Italian sensation Tropical Gem. Later, he went on to become Captain of Calle Luna Dance Company. With his dance partner of 10 years, Loretta Chianese, Jose has won many titles in Salsa, Bachata and Hustle. www.joseandloretta.com
Dara Johnston began passion for dancing in the 1980s in her home state of Maine. She began through eight-week dance sessions offered in her physical education classes, including Jitterbug, Foxtrot, line dances, and four-count hustle. In 2002, after moving to New Jersey, Dara stumbled upon West Coast Swing. Met John Lindo and discovered a passion for social dance that has escalated exponentially over the years. Her favorites include West Coast Swing, Night-Club Two-Step, and Country Two-Step. Dara’s mentors and teachers, including John Lindo, John Festa, Robert Royston, Jameson Kilburn, and Daniel McGee, have all had a hand in her technical training, and understanding of each dance. She continues to study with many great pros and instructors to hone her dance and teaching skills. Dara comes from a long line of trained Educators and has been a teacher all of her adult life.
Joe comes to us from Top Hat Dance Studio in Philadelphia. A dance performer, competitor and instructor for over 10 years – Joe has studied a variety of dance styles since 1989, including a mixture of street, social and ballroom dances along with ballet, jazz and modern. He is a 3-time International Hustle & Salsa Dance Champion, 2-time Disco America Champion, and Hustle USA Champion. Under the direction of choreographer Arte Phillips, Joe was the dance captain of Philadelphia’s celebrated dance troupes “Philly Dance Connection” in 2003 and “The Hustlefactor” in 2004 and 2005. Look for Joe in the Disco America dinner show as he celebrates his 7th year as a cast member and performer. When not performing, Joe teaches his unique blend of Hustle w/funk, along with Latin and ballroom dance at Top Hat’s Northeast Philly studio and competitions across the country.
Isabel Maldonado studied at Arizona State University achieving two Bachelor’s Degrees, Communications and Early Arts of Early Childhood Development. She also has a Master’s Degree in Infant Mental Health and hopes to go back to school to attain her Doctoral Degree. Isabel has experience working with children 0 to 10 years old. She also used to teach music & movement implementing mommy and me classes at the library as well as child development courses for parents and teachers. Isabel works for Center for Family service as a manager and oversees early childhood care for a nonprofit organization in Camden city that provides high-quality care for the programs in the community. She began her passion in Latin dance at a young age and now is part of Los Rumberitos Pro-Am team competing under the direction of Jose Luis Maldonado, co-founder and choreographer of Los Rumberitos Dance Company. With such a diverse background in early childhood development, she plans to utilize her fun and creative experience of teaching to the mini Rumberitos dance class.
Naloni has been dancing for the last 12 years. In that time, her passion for dance has grown and she has gone on to compete in the World Salsa Summit, bringing home the Junior World Salsa Championship Title. Her specialities are Salsa, Bachata, Cha Cha, Hustle and she enjoys Hip Hop. Naloni is currently training under the World Champion, Jose Maldonado (Los Rumberitos) and also with the Art In Motion Ladies Team and looks forward to sharing her passion for dance with the new up and coming, talented dancers!
Yana Orlova was born in Cherkassy, Ukraine and moved to the United States at three years old. As a toddler, Yana loved music. Her parents decided to take her to a ballet and tap classes and from there, she fell in love with dancing. Wanting to explore other styles, Yana felt a true connection with Ballroom and Latin Dancesport and decided to train full time. Privately working with Paul Killick, Chuck Danza and Olga Rodionova, Yana went on to win several national competitions and perform around the world. Yana put her competitive career on hold to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology. She often travels to teach dance seminars and private lessons in the tri-state area. Yana currently lives and works in New York City.
Yerlin is an evolving multi-linguist expert and culturalist. Always, to make new buddies, to learn new languages, and to offer a mentorship to those ready to challenge themselves with language acquisition. He has studied the French and Portuguese languages and culture at Middlebury College and in Bordeaux, France. When not dancing or studying tongues, he sings, plays instruments, and creates music playlists to be joyful. His niche is found in the following places: little hick-town Middlebury and Burlington, VT, the Posse Foundation headquartered in Wall Street, NYC, H.E.A.F headquartered in Harlem, NYC, North Philly’s best “Mami and Papi shop” Stenton Supermarket, and he adds Top Hat Dance Studio to the aforementioned very enthusiastically.
Jason is a Philadelphia native who began his dance journey at the age of 11. Jason started dancing Salsa and Bachata under the direction of Evelyn Figueroa at Salseros Internacional Dance Company, where he performed for the first time. Over his early teenage years, he focused on social dancing before starting his next dance challenge at the age of 15 when he joined Estilo Dance Company’s teenager team, Mas Estilo. In 2013, Jason began performing in Salsa and Bachata, but this time, under the direction of World Champion, Jose Maldonaldo. Jason attended Temple University, and quickly found himself joining the school’s first and only latin dance organization, Esencia Latina. His Sophomore year he was choreographing for as well as training the team, and shortly after, becoming President of the org for the next few years. Towards the end of his college career, and after, Jason found himself joining Jose’s competition team, Los Rumberitos. Jason loves to challenge himself and those around him when it comes to dance. He is excited to join the Top Hat family as more than just a student and further his skills of dancing and teaching.
Michelle has been dancing since the age of four and began teaching at age 15. She found her way to the competitive floor at age 7 and achieved a high level of success. Michelle finds a sense of joy and happiness in teaching kids how to dance and sharing her passion with them. She satisfies this excitement though teaching for the Top Hat-Cora program.
Allison began dancing and performing at the age of 2, began student teaching at 11 years old, and teaching her own classes by the age of 14. Originally beginning her dance training in the classical styles of ballet, jazz, tap, acro, and hip-hop at DeFino Dance studio. At age 14 she discovered partner dancing and fell in love with it, which has been her main focus ever since. She loves performing, competing, working with students from ages two to adult. Right now, Allison mainly teaches in the classical styles she’s been trained in for almost two decades. Allison’s favorite style of dance is Latin Hustle. She loves dancing and teaching in the family friendly atmosphere of Top Hat Dance Studio. Her passion for dance continues to grow each day and motivates her to strive to become better. Additionally Allison is working towards her degree in early childhood education and enjoys spending time with children.
Heni Glant was born in Hungary and moved to the US in 2006. She has a Bachelor degree in Teaching and a Master degree in Psychology, both from Hungary. According to her mom "She had already danced before she learnt to walk" which means any time there was music in the room, Heni started to wiggle around even as a few months old baby following the rhythm. She was discovered very early as a talented gymnast candidate. She was selected to several gymnast programs for preschoolers. Her talent helped her to learn faster than other children. She had a serious car accident at the age of 8 when her parents were told not sure if she would walk "normally again". But her love and dedication for moving on music, her background as a gymnast helped her through those many tough
years; and when she had her first chance, she decided to put dance first place in her life at the age of 15. She signed up basically to all dance classes she could found in her hometown. She took jazz-ballet, modern, Hungarian folk, and ballroom dancing classes for several years. She was a guest dancer in different senior high school classes to help perform their Prom Class Dances for many years even when she was already in college. Then Belly dance
came to her life.
While she was on a trip and was doing her morning exercises, someone came up to her asking, “Do you belly dance, too?” “No, what’s belly dance?” she replied. After this trip, the first thing she did was to find belly dance classes in her hometown in Hungary. Loving challenges, she signed up for classes with two different teachers. They both asked in the first class “How long have you been doing belly dancing? Why did you come to the beginner class?" “I have never done it before” was her answer. Her new belly dance friends from the advanced group had signed her into a belly dance competition when she was taking classes only for two weeks. She was only two points away to get into the finals. Though it was a great experience, but not being a competing spirit she has never went to another competition again.
Her love for music and dance keeps expanding by being a dedicated student and taking workshops from the bests of the belly dance world. She learnt from Szokolai, Akinda, Zoltan Seres, Tia, and Yasmina in Hungary and continued her training by learning from Daralyn Brody, Sonya Hohmann, Helena Viahos, Judeen, Leila Gamal, Momo, Soraya, Szilvia Salamaca, Alla, Kareena and Kim Leary; from the Bellydance Superstars: Ansuya, Sonia (with
Issam), Aziza and Bozenka in the US.
For 6 years, her main income was from performing as a professional belly dancer at her favorite restaurant at Olympia Grill in Galveston besides several other Greek Restaurants and Vineries at the region not including the many birthday parties, corporate events, weddings and other events in Galveston and Houston. She was invited to perform on the stage of Hayati in Houston, TX. After moving to the East Coast she performed for a few more years
then decided to "retire" from performing but her passion to teach and help to spread the wings of the next generation of belly dancers has never faded.
She started to teach belly dancing in Hungary for children at the grade school she was a school counselor. Later she invited the mothers and the grandmas' of these young girls to dance together strengthen the feminine connection between these three generations. She has been teaching this ancient form of feminine self expression for 20 years
Belly Dancing is the trinity of art, spirituality and sensuality for her. Being a free spirit, she believes in the magic of the moment, so she teaches her students to let their Soul connect and become one with the music and trust themselves that they will move the right way at the right moment on the music. She has a balance between structured teaching and giving the freedom to her students to improvise and dance freely in her classes.
She is the youngest family member of Top Hat Dance Studio. She says: "From the very first class I took with my husband from Michael, I fell in love with the atmosphere of the studio. My dream came true by becoming a teacher again, but at the best dance studio I have ever been to.
Caroline started her dance training at the early age of 4. During her childhood, she trained in all of the classic dance styles: ballet, tap, and jazz at New Horizon Dance Studio and competed on their junior team. In high school, she was an assistant coach for two local elementary school cheerleading teams. While attaining her bachelor's degree at Loyola University in Baltimore, she was a hip hop choreographer in the student-run dance company. After attaining her Master's degree in clincal-counseling psychology from Chestnut Hill College, she had more free time and decided to become a Zumba instructor. She was a Zumba instructor for 5 years and taught hip hop classes at Junod Playground in Northeast Philadelphia. In 2014, Caroline took her first salsa class and was hooked. She has since performed and competed in Salsa, Bachata, and Latin Hustle under the direction of World Champion, Jose Maldonado. She joined Jose's competition team, Los Rumberitos, in 2018 and became the Pro-Am Latin Hustle World Champion at the 2019 World Salsa Summit. She is happy to join the Top Hat dance family and excited for the next steps in her dance journey.
Aliya is a dancer with 14+ years of training and experience in African and Latin dance. She began her training in West African dance in 2004 under the direction of Mama Kariamu and later under Dr. Patricia Merritt-Reid. From there, Aliya followed the drums all the way to Salsa, Bachata, ChaCha and Rumba. Her training in Latin dance began in 2006 where she trained and performed with student dance team Esencia Latina. After taking a break to finish her academic studies, Aliya resumed her Latin dance studies under the direction of Barbara Capaldi, Devin Guzman and Yareli Urbina. From there, Aliya went on to study under the direction of World Champion Darlin Garcia at Art in Motion Dance Academy, where she built on her performance skills and was introduced to competitive level dance. Aliya also began to study AfroCuban Folkloric dance, taking classes with master instructors such as Teresa Castaneda, Gilset Moya and Yesenia Selier, whom Aliya continues to train under. Aliya went on to become an instructor at Art in Motion Dance Academy in 2017, where she taught Salsa, Bachata and AfroCuban Folkloric Dance. Through all of these experiences of training, performing, competing and teaching, Aliya has maintained a deep love and appreciation for dance and passion for life. As a result, Aliya strives to promote that same level of passion in every class that she teaches. As a teacher, Aliya aims to merge all of her experiences and training, and share her knowledge of African, Latin and AfroCuban Folkloric dance with her students. Her biggest goal is to create a safe, supportive space for students to fall in love with these dances just like she did all those years ago!
Scott and Gayle Michielli
Scott started his dancing career by first taking Hustle group classes at Top Hat Dance Studio back in 2000. Shortly thereafter, he competed in his first Pro/Am competition at Hustle USA 2001. Since then, he has been an avid competitor on the Hustle scene for more than18 years. Scott diligently worked his way through the ranks starting out as a Novice competitor and turning professional in August 2013. He has been on staff at the New York Hustle Congress, Disco America and taught Hustle workshops at various venues in New Jersey and PA, as well as, performing showcases at the Annenberg Center for the Dancing with the Stars Tour, The Kimmel Center and the Taj-Mahal. He was part of the weekly Professional rotation at Michael’s cafe. His warm and friendly teaching style attracts dancers of all levels. Scott is skilled at breaking down lessons without allowing them to become complicated. His approach is to teach good technique that dancers can then apply. He currently teaches independently in the PA/NJ areas and at Top Hat Dance Studio.
Gayle started her dancing career at the ripe old age of 4 years when she began studying ballet, tap, jazz and acrobatics. At 17 years old, she became a professional dancer and spanned a career that lasted 15 years. She performed for the USO for eleven years and various foundations such as Polio and the March of Dimes. She ran three dance schools for children whom she taught ballet, tap, acrobatics and jazz for over 35 years.She was the choreographer for the Spins Line Dance Team that featured Country Western line dancing. She has a broad range of dancing experience which includes Fox Trot, Waltz, Cha Cha, East Coast Swing, and Rhumba. In 2007, Gayle developed a love for Hustle and started her competitive journey. As an amateur, Gayle shined on the dance floor. She transformed her Hustle dancing in 2015 when she began to study the rudiments of Cuban motion and received recognition as a result of her accomplishments on the competitive dance floor. She performed at the Annenberg Center as the opening number for the Dancing with the Stars Tour, the Kimmel Center, the Taj-Mahal, Sesame Place, the New Jersey Aquarium and the Philadelphia Art Museum. Currently teaches Hustle at Top Hat Dance Studio.