YOUR TEACHERS

Daniel McGee

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 15 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.

Jameson Kilburn

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 is the 2014 World Hustle Champion awarded at the Internation Hustle and Salsa Championships in Miami, Florida. He has also gone on to win 1st Place in every major Hustle Division at all of the IHDA sanctioned events of 2014.

Michael Petroski

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

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 Grutzmacher

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.

Kellilyn Robbins

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.

Nina Feldman

Nina Feldman became a member of the Top Hat family in 2005 when she embarked on her first ballroom group class.  She immediately felt welcomed by the strong sense of family at Top Hat.   It didn’t take long before she knew she wanted to work with the youth program.  She began assisting with Youth Program and eventually became a teacher in her own right.  After a few years of teaching she took some time off to raise a family.  Shortly thereafter, Nina resumed her lessons and teaching at Top Hat.  Over the years, friendships that Nina made at Top Hat had grown and deepened.


Nina's experience as a preschool teacher helps her relate to the children she teaches at the studio.  She incorporates song, movement and imagination into each class.  She strongly believes children learn best through play and encourages creativity and fun in her lessons.  Nina is very excited to continue her work at Top Hat through her involvement with the special needs community.  The students she has met, working as an instructional assistant in a special needs classroom, have inspired her to go back to school.  Nina is now working toward earning her teaching degree in Early Childhood and Special Education.   Nina lives with her partner and son in New Jersey. 

Jose Maldonado

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

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.

Joseph Kerner

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 Solorzano

Isabel Solorzano 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 Cruz

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!  

Jose "Pepe" Garcia

Jose Garcia aka “Pepe” has been dancing since he was 13 years old. He began with Mike Andino at Estilo dance studio. There he fell in love with salsa and was asked to join the kids team “kids con Estilo.”  Shortly after, he moved to the teens team, “Más Estilo” and within his first two years he was recruited into the adult team “Estilo dancers”. After his time at Estilo he trained with Rey Velez from Muévete Dance Company from which he learned to break out of his shell and translate his emotions into movement. Later he continued his dance education under Jose Maldonado for what has now been 6 years. His passion for dance and Jose Maldonado’s believe in him has lead him to compete at the World Salsa Summit.  Jose’s leadership has earned him a top spot on the Rumberitos dance team. José is also an aspiring solo artist.

Yana Orlova

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.  

Michelle Krymsky

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.  

Samantha Robbins

Samantha has been dancing for 17 years and began her teaching career over 5 years ago.  She enjoys sharing her knowledge of dance, specifically in the genres of modern and hip-hop, while attending college to study early childhood education.  

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.

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​© 2016 by Top Hat Dance Studio   /   10771 Bustleton Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19116   /   info@tophatdancestudio.com   /   T  215 676 3100

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