Nancy Hyland-Zindell: Director, Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Hip Hop
Nancy has been dancing since age three, and studied at the Academy of Dance from age eight. By the time she was 17, Nancy was teaching several classes of her own at the Academy. A graduate of Skidmore College with a Bachelor of Science in Dance, she studied and performed ballet and jazz in New York for several years before returning to the Academy as a teacher in 2002. In June of 2007, Nancy took the reins as director/owner of the Academy.
Tollie Barrato: Ballet, Modern, Jazz
Tollie Barrato was born and raised in Westport, CT. She began her dance training at the Academy of Dance and received her BFA in dance from S.U.N.Y. Purchase, where she studied ballet and modern with Gayle Young, Kevin Wynne, Bettijane Sills, and Kazuko Hirabarashi. While at S.U.N.Y. she performed works by Balanchine, Jose Limon, Mark Morris, and Kevin Wynn. She has danced professionally in both New York and Connecticut with the Kevin Wynn Collection, Cindy Bernier Company, and Ballet Etudes Company. (Photo Coming Soon!)
Catalina Bohiltea: Ballet
Born in Bucharest, Romania, Catalina Bohiltea began her ballet training at the age of nine at the Bucharest Ballet School. She performed with the Bucharest States Opera since she was 15 in Coppelia, Giselle, Paquita, Le Corsaire, La Sylphides and The Nutcracker. In 1990 it was a full scholarship at Joffrey Ballet School that brought her to the United States. At 18 she was offered a company contract with Vienna States Opera. Her repertoire with the company included Don Quixote, La fille Malgarde, Romeo and Juliet and Balanchine’s Serenade and Four Temperaments. In 1993 she joined Hartford Ballet, where she performed in Raymonda, Serenade and The Nutcracker. She has been teaching at the Academy since 1994. (Photo Coming Soon!)
David Fernandez: Ballet, Modern
David Fernandez began his teaching career at a young age, helping out at the Centro de Arte y Ballet in his native Mexico City, where he was studying classical ballet. When he won a scholarship to study at Giordano Jazz Dance in Chicago, David continued to build on his teaching experience while enjoying a successful dance career. Since moving to New York in 1998, David has taught classes for numerous schools and companies in the Tri-State area. He is proud to be a Teaching Artist with the American Ballet Theatre’s award-winning Make a Ballet program, an education and outreach initiative targeting underserved schools and communities. During his dance career, David has performed with Chicago’s Boitsov Classical Ballet company; Lyric Opera of Chicago; Ballet Theatre of Chicago; and numerous small companies in the U.S. One recent highlight of his later career was performing alongside Mikhail Baryshnikov in the play “The Doctor and The Patient” at the Lincoln Center Festival. David is also an accomplished choreographer; he has been commissioned by numerous companies including Ballet for Young Audiences, Staten Island Ballet, and the Westchester Ballet Theatre. His work has been featured at the prestigious Jackson Competition and at The Bryant Park Culture Fest in New York City. He is currently resident choreographer at City Center Ballet in New Hampshire.
Aleksia Hill: Hip Hop
Aleksia is a dancer, teacher, and choreographer. Aleksia began her dance training as a former student of Anita Deprey Studio of Dance in East Hartford, CT. She started taking tap classes at the age of two, and has not been able to get out of a studio since. As she grew older she began training in various styles of dance such as, jazz, ballet, pointe, lyrical, contemporary, hip hop, and heels. After graduating from Glastonbury High School in 2011 she is currently continuing her education at Manchester Community College to pursue an Associate’s degree in Business Administration. She frequently trains in NYC at Broadway Dance Center, and travels to LA each summer to train with some of the best choreographers around the world. Currently, Aleksia is a company member of Double Up Dance Company/ Team Leggoo. Team Leggoo’s main objectives are performance, management, dance, and education. You can find Aleksia previewed in Kat Deluna’s latest music video “What a Night” feat. Jeremih. Some of her most memorable performances to date have been her appearance on Good Morning America with Flo Rida, NBC with Nick Cannon for the Red Nose Fundraiser, and the 2014 Staples Back to School Commercial. Most recently, Aleksia just traveled back home after training in LA for 3 months under the mentorship of Dana Foglia, one of Beyoncé’s choreographers. Her joy for dance grows more and more each time she steps in the studio. She truly enjoys having the ability to impact the students and people around her as they grow together sharing the same passion.
Theodore Pollen III (Ted): Ballet, Partnering
As a dancer, Ted has performed with The Alvin Ailey Repertory Ensemble, Marlies Yearby’s “Mov’in Spirits Dance Company”, “Footprints” and Tyrone Aiken’s “Ethos” dance company. He retired from a full time performing career in 1980, but has always kept dance an integral part of his life. Mr. Pollen served as Artistic Director of the Westport Academy of Dance and its former official performing company, The Children’s Ballet Theater of Westport, from September 1980 until June 2006. He was invited to this position by the founder of The Academy of Dance and CBT, Paula Fichtenkort. During this time Mr. Pollen had the opportunity to work with many talented young dancers from Westport and surrounding communities, staging and choreographing performances at local venues which include, The Levitt Pavilion, The Italian Festival, and The Apple Festival. Working with his long time friend and mentor, Paula, Mr. Pollen co-choreographed productions of “The Nutcracker”, “The Tales of Beatrix Potter”, “Mary Poppins”, and “Beauty and the Beast”. Mr. Pollen continued to work at the Academy with Mary-Ellen Marpe who became the new director of Academy in September 1996, During this time he had the opportunity to witness first-hand how “The Academy” flourished and expanded under Ms. Marpe’s guidance and vision to include a dance competition program and its current beautiful home on the Post Road in Westport. As an educator, Mr. Pollen has been an elementary school teacher at Midtown West Elementary School, P.S. 212, for the last 23 years. He currently teaches the fourth grade. He has completed three graduate degree programs at Bank Street College of Education which include: Teacher Education, The Literacy Program, and the Principal’s Institute.
Courtney Poulos: Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Modern, Hip Hop
Born and raised in Smithsburg, Maryland, Courtney later moved to New York City to pursue her professional career. She has been dancing since the age of five and went on to East Carolina University, where she received her BFA in dance with a concentration in Modern. Courtney was a company member with the National Tap Ensemble and Tappers With Attitude in Washington, D.C. She is currently a member of Tap Fusion, a professional tap/modern company based in NYC. She has had the opportunity to perform at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., Lincoln Center, Duke Theater and Symphony Space in NYC, and spent five months performing on the Mariner for Radisson of the Seven Seas Cruise Line. She has taught dance throughout Maryland, North Carolina, and the Tri-State area including New York University.
Caitlin Roberts: Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Modern, Hip Hop
A local from Fairfield County, Connecticut, Caitlin started dancing at the age of 3, studying at a number of dance schools locally and in New York City. Caitlin continued her education and received a degree in Dance and Choreography from Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania. She has also participated in many well-known programs including the American Ballet Theatre's Collegiate Summer Dance as well as interning with the Broadway Dance Center and working for the Ailey Extension. Her performance credits include dancing in several music videos, films, flash mobs, and productions of 42nd Street, Brigadoon, Spamalot, Sweet Charity, and Seussical The Musical. She is currently dancing with Velocity Dance Company and has previously danced with Connecticut Ballet, New England Dance Theatre, Dancebyfire, and The Mercyhurst Dancers. Choreographing is one of her greatest passions. Her pieces have been performed at venues throughout the east coast and have been well received. Caitlin is currently choreographing for several local musical productions, creating new works, performing, teaching, and still loving dance.
Abby Evans: Office Manager
Abby grew up in Westport and developed a lifelong love for dance studying at Westport’s Academy of Dance. She continued her dance training at Mercyhurst University and Central Connecticut State University where she earned her BA in Psychology with a minor in Dance. Abby has performed in Connecticut with Albano Ballet Company in Hartford and Clark Dance Theater in New Haven. She is thrilled to be part of the Academy family working with the teachers who inspired her for so many years.