NJHS Dance Fest

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Who's Who

NJHS Dance Fest Committee Members

Cristen Pennello (Event Coordinator) began her training at age two, at local dance studios in NY and NJ. Cristen went onto perform in regional and national competitions throughout the tri-state area, as well as performing in the half time shows of the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida and Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida. She has also done print work for various costume catalogs. Cristen received a B.F.A. in Dance from Montclair State University and her M.A. degree in Dance Education from New York University. She has performed with various professional dance companies, such as NYC Hip Hop Company From the Ground Up, and is a founding company member of moe-tion dance theater, established in 2007, and continues to perform professionally in NYC and NJ.  Cristen spent a summer studying, creating, and performing in Montescuidao and Castiglioncello, Italy. She was a guest choreographer and has also taught as an Adjunct for a number of years at Middlesex County College. She has performed lecture demonstrations for Rutgers University:Mason Gross School of the Arts. Cristen was the Head Dance Instructor at Mercer County Performing Arts High School from 2006-2009, and pioneered the dance program at Union City High School in 2009. Cristen is the Co-Director with her colleague and long-time friend Amanda Papa, of their dance company, Solo Danza.  While at Union City High School, Cristen pioneered and developed the dance program. She established the UCHS Dance Company, coached for the Drillettes Dance Team, and choreographed the following musicals: The Wiz, Pippin, West Side Story, Urinetown, In the Heights, and Xanadu.

Cristen Pennello founded the New Jersey High School Dance Fest in the spring of 2013. With the help of many important Dance Professionals, including fellow colleague Erin Pride, it was made possible and has continued annually ever since. For her efforts, Cristen was presented with the very first "Jete Award" by members of Dance New Jersey in June of 2013 for 'Taking a Leap of Faith' and creating this festival for New Jersey's High School dance students. Cristen is an active advocate for Dance Education, and truly believes in having Dance for Every Child as a crucial component to NJ's education system. 

Rachel Miranda  is the dance educator and program director at Ridge High School in Basking Ridge, NJ where she implemented and grew the dance program over the past eight years. Rachel directs several extra-curricular dance activities at Ridge High School and is the choreographer Ridge Drama Club’s spring musicals. She has choreographed the following musicals: Rent: School Edition, The Secret Garden, Legally Blonde, Robber Bridegroom, Bye, Bye Birdie and The Addams Family. Rachel is a graduate from Rutgers University and holds a Masters of Education in Dance Education. Prior to this, Rachel graduated summa cum laude from Montclair State University where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and a Bachelor of Arts in English Education.  While at MSU, she received extensive training in ballet, modern and choreography. She performed works by Jose Limon, Alwin Nikolais, Alexandra Beller and Lonne Morreton. Aside from her work at Ridge High School, Rachel was the former Director of Dance at the Wharton Institute for the Performing Arts (WIPA) in Berkeley Heights, NJ. WIPA is a non-profit community performing arts center, which services over 1,400 students in various performing arts. Rachel is also certified in Pilates through STOTT Pilates and teaches Pilates at various studios throughout NJ. She is a founding company member of moe-tion dance theater, a NJ-based modern dance company, since 2007. Rachel has a deep interest in the benefits of an integrated dance education for today’s 21st century learner, young dance artists and students with special needs.

Lindsey Della Serra is a full time dance educator at Franklin High School in Somerset, NJ.  She graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance from Mason Gross School of the Arts and a Masters degree in Dance Education from the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University.  During her time at Mason Gross, she performed in works by Robert Battle, Paulette Sears, Randy James, Doug Elkins, and Shen Wei Arts.  Born and raised in Cranford, NJ Lindsey teaches dance to students ages 3 to 17 years old at multiple studios in Union County.  Lindsey has her PMA-CPT in Pilates training and works with clients at Gold Medal Fitness in Garwood, NJ and Health in Motion in Westfield, NJ.  Lindsey is a lover of all things movement and truly believes in the power of arts education.