Executive Artistic Director
Joan Christensen has been the Executive/Artistic Director of Joan Lynn Dancer Center and Company for 35 years. Prior to opening Joan Lynn Dance Center, she was the Assistant Teacher to Ron Fucci of Ronnie’s Dance Workshop in North Haven for 15 years, for a total of 50 years of dance experience.
Joan has taught all styles of dance, including ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, musical theater, and aerobics. Joan has had a lifelong love of dance, and has studied many different styles and techniques throughout the years, with much emphasis in Jazz and Tap. She studied extensively in New York City under such notable teachers as, Charles "Chuck" Kelly, Judy Bassing, Luigi, Wayne Cilento, Patty and Leslie Lockery and continues to further her knowledge with the vast, digital dance available online.
Joan has a love for the theater arts and musical theater dance. She has choreographed many local productions across Connecticut, for high schools, and area theaters. For the past 20 years, she has been the principal choreographer for the Whitney Players, a local theater company under the direction of Cindy Simell-Devoe. Most recent productions have been Young Frankenstein, Shrek the Musical, West Side Story, Matilda, Anything Goes, Godspell, to name but a few.
Together with Cindy Simell-Devoe, Joan runs a 2-week musical theater camp in the summer. The camps' main focus is for children and teens who want to further their studies in acting and musical theater. Joan also runs a summer intensive for JLDC dancers.
As a performer, choreographer, director and teacher, Joan’s priority has always been to keep the performing arts alive and well in our community, and to give her students a strong base to build vital careers in the Arts.
Associate Artistic Director
David has been with the Joan Lynn Dance Center and Company as Director of Tap and Musical Theatre since 2012. He holds his B.F.A. in Musical Theatre performance from The Boston Conservatory at Berklee where he was assistant choreographer to Michael Susko in their production of 42nd street. In 2012 he was a featured dancer in a piece choreographed by Aaron Tolson at Broadway Dance Center in NYC. David has written multiple shows which have been featured at various theaters around the country including Pittsburgh CLO, Casa Mañana, Joe's Pub and 54 Below in NYC, the Children's Theater of Cincinnati and the Bloomington Playwright’s Project among others.
Assistant Artistic Director
Tammi has been with Joni since the age of three: first as a student, then an assistant, then a teacher and now as an Artistic Director. Tammi helped to create the Joan Lynn Company Dancers Performing Group. She has been an integral part of connecting with various charities and setting up performances. Tammi enjoys teaching all levels.
Tammi began her love of dance at age three under the direction of Ms. Joan. She evolved with the studio from a student to an assistant and she has been a teacher for the last 23 years. Tammi helped to create the original Joan Lynn Performing Group which danced at charitable events and raised money for a variety of causes. She was an integral part of transitioning the group into a competition team. Tammi currently resides in North Haven with her four sons. She has been a school social worker with the New Haven Public Schools for the past 14 years. Tammi enjoys educating her dancers on controversial topics and current events, and then integrating them into her routines. She sees a new dance as an opportunity to not only learn choreography but also to reach a new emotional space. She teaches many subject areas but has a special love for contemporary. of dancers and especially loves lyrical. Tammi has a strong background in child development due to her career as a Social Worker with the New Haven Public Schools.
Amber has been dancing with the Joan Lynn Dance Company since the age of 2. She then decided to further her studies at Hofstra University in Long Island where she graduated with a B.S. in Dance Education. Amber has worked as an assistant, teacher, and choreographer and is well versed in ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, lyrical, and modern. She has performed in works by Maxine Steinman, Rachel List, José Límon (restaged by Pablo Ruvalcaba Tovar), and Anita Feldman. Amber is also the recipient of the New York State Dance Education Association Undergraduate Award.
Amber was President of the Dance Education club on campus, T’DAA (Teaching Dance as Art) as well as Hofstra’s chapter of the National Honor Society for Dance Arts. Amber was also Lead Teacher of an integrated creative dance class for adults with varying abilities.
Dolores Dégagé Hopkins
Director of Ballet and Ballet Mistress to the Company
Dolores currently resides in Naugatuck, Connecticut and is excited to bring her 40+ years of experience and love of dance to the Joan Lynn Dance Center & Company as the newly appointed Director of Ballet and as Ballet Mistress to the company. In the 1980’s Hopkins performed professionally with Ballet Florida under the Artistic Direction of Marie Hale, Ballet Mistress Claudia Cravey and Choreographer/Artistic Director Vicente Nebrada. Privileged and honored to be invited by Nebrada to perform two consecutive seasons as a guest artist with the National Ballet of Venezuela touring throughout South America culminating in a gala performance in honor of Dame Margot Fonteyn of the Royal Ballet. Dolores attributes her continued success and longevity in the dance world to the wealth of knowledge acquired working with these three incredible artists. A native of Texas, Dolores grew up with a passion for Fine Art, Photography and the Performing Arts. She attended Columbia College, Missouri on four scholarships in Dance, Theatre, Voice and Fine Art graduating with an Associates of Arts Degree. As a photographer Dolores Dégagé has been published in numerous national publications including the Advocate, New Your Times and her child portraits / headshots of Natalie Portman were used for her first audition for the film The Professional and appeared in the film Black Swan. After a two year assistant job with renowned NYC entertainment photographer Jack Mitchell (250+ Dance Magazine Covers) the call of dance brought Dolores to Connecticut where she founded and directed her own dance school and ballet company for the next 30 years. Acquiring a reputation of excellence with her first production of Stravinsky’s Firebird quick to follow were productions of The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Romeo & Juliet, Peter & the Wolf and The Adventures of Little Red Riding Hood collaborating with Choreographer/Artistic Director Victor Trevino, Ballet Master Steven Hyde and Ballet Mistress Linda Giancaspro. As a founding Board member of the Connecticut Dance Alliance the mission of connecting the dance community state wide was begun and continues today. Dolores was on the original CDA committee helping create and run the Connecticut Classic Ballet Competition. Hopkins is proud to have had students audition & be accepted into the summer intensive programs of Ballet Florida, Houston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, School of American Ballet (NYC Ballet), Boston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Kirov Academy, North Carolina School of the Arts, Burklyn Ballet Theatre, Walnut Hill School, Nutmeg Ballet, Hartford Ballet, The Rock, Pittsburg Ballet Theatre, Marin Ballet, Ballet Regent, Suny Purchase, Centre de Danse International in Cannes, France, Ballet Concerto in San Juan, San Diego Ballet, South Carolina Conservatory and The Washington Ballet Professional Training Program. Numerous dancers trained by Hopkins have gone on to College Dance Programs as well as professional careers in dance, theatre, television and motion pictures. Most notably Brooke Lyons for her acting career and recent role as the forensic scientist “Kate” on the NBC psychodrama “Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector”, Crista Jackson (Westley) former aerialist for The Metropolitan Opera and current Assistant Artistic Director at Cirque du Soleil and Gianna Forte for her dance career and recent appointment to trainee with The Washington Ballet under the Artistic Direction of Julie Kent. As an activist for Equal Rights for the LGBTQ community for the past 45 years Dolores is proud for her recent appointment to the Board of Directors of the New Haven Pride Center. She is equally proud of her brave decision to finally live an authentic life beginning her journey of transition Fall of 2019. Here at Joan Lynn Dance Company she has found a home of inclusion full of love and respect.
Melanie has been part of the JLDC family since she was 4 years old and began teaching full time at the age of 18. She graduated from Quinnipiac University with a Master's Degree in Journalism and worked in the television industry for many years before landing on her final career in digital marketing.
She has also worked in the fitness industry for many years as a certified Zumba instructor bringing her love and passion for dance to people of all ages and backgrounds.
Alyssa has been a part of the JLDC family for 20 years. She started as a student at the age of 8 and was one of the early members of the original JDC Performing Group. Throughout her High School career, Alyssa was an assistant for many classes here at the studio. She began teaching in 2015 after graduating from Southern Connecticut State University with a Communication Disorder Degree. Throughout high school and college, Alyssa worked as a nanny. Ever since she was young, she always had a passion and love for children. After graduating, she worked as an ABA Therapist with children between the ages of Preschool and Third Grade. Alyssa teaches Ballet, Tap, and Jazz to our younger students. She resides in Wallingford with her husband and two young boys.
Director of Hip Hop
Vincent has been working at Joan Lynn Dance Company for the last 15 years. Teaching all ages and levels, Vin has trained multiple dancers who have gone on to receive their degrees in dance as well. Vin has trained with a variety of industry professionals in NYC, as well as bringing guest teachers to JLDC, including Dancer/Choreographer/Producer Matt Steffanina.
As a musician and actor, Vin has been featured in many productions and venues throughout the area, most recently playing the role of Pharaoh in the Whitney Players
production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Vin has choreographed all of the JLDC Competition Team Teen Hip Hop numbers, many of them winning First Place and Judges Awards at regional and national events.
Kolby has been a part of the Joan Lynn Dance Center for the past 21 years, both as a student and as a member of the faculty. She has studied a wide variety of subjects during her time as a student of the Joan Lynn Dance Center, such as ballet, pointe, modern, jazz, hip-hop and lyrical, but her true passion in life is tap. Kolby was also an inaugural member of The Joan Lynn Dance Company, and it’s predecessor, The Joan Lynn Performing Group.
She has been an attendee at The Big Apple Tap Festival in Manhattan, New York, where she learned from some of the leading names in the tap dancing world, such as Professor Robert L. Reed, Anthony LoCascio, Ray Hesselink, Germaine Salsberg, Avi Miller and Ofer Ben. She has also taken many tap classes at the pre-professional level at Broadway Dance Center, during her time as a student at Marymount Manhattan College. She also performed at the collegiate level in a tap number choreographed by one of her college professors. Kolby has also worked closely with Lanene Charters from the original Broadway production of Mamma Mia.
Kolby has been a proud member of the faculty of The Joan Lynn Dance Center for the past six years, and can always be seen teaching tap classes from ages 8 to adult in her signature pink and black tap shoes.
Mr. Trevino is the Founder and Artistic Director of Ballet Eloelle/Les Ballets Grandiva, Men in Tutus, and Men in Pink Tights. He has created various works for the company including Romeo and Juliet, Le Petite Nutcracker Suite, Spartacus, Swan Lake Act II, Bolero, Near the Middle Somewhat Below, Love Wrongs, Peridot, Minkus Gala, Pocahontas Pas, Dracula, The Changing Room, and he has staged numerous classical duets and solos as well. Beyond Les Ballets Grandiva his creations include The Adventures of Little Red Riding Hood, Peter and the Wolf, and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Mr. Trevino also was an original member of Ballet Florida under Marie Hale and danced with Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo for ten years. He is currently working with Joan Lynn Dance Company, a community-based dance school in Hamden, Connecticut; Males on Pointe, a project for dancers in South America, and has been the performance coordinator and liaison for Palm Beach Atlantic University's dance department in Florida as well as an adjunct professor. He has studied under many of the world’s leading ballet teachers including David Howard and Wilhelm Burman. Victor's extensive career as a Ballerina includes most of the great female leads such as Odette, Odile, Giselle, Kitri, Aurora, Sugar Plum Fairy, Juliet, and Carmen. Mr. Trevino still enjoys the laughter of a live audience and is thrilled to be able to contribute to the dance communities around the globe.
Kathleen Popielarczyk is a Connecticut based dance educator holding her BS in Human Resources from the Southern New Hampshire University. She received her early dance training at Gloria Jean’s Studio of Dance under the direction of Gloria Jean Cumming. She serves on faculty at Gloria Jean Studios of Dance and Joan Lynn Dance Company teaching students of all ages. Outside of dance, she has a special interest in inclusive programming including coaching youth sports for athletes with and without disabilities. Kathy integrates her passion for education, inclusion and dance creating a welcoming environment for all her students to grow and develop.
Makayla Johnson is 20 years old and I has been dancing for the last 7 years. She enjoys other genres of dance, but has a special love for tap. She enjoys working with children and has been assisting at the Joan Lynn Dance Company since high school. She also works at a daycare and attends school to be a licensed practical nursing in hopes of becoming a neonatal or pediatric nurse soon.
Bradley is excited to be joining JLDC co-teaching a Musical Theatre Class. He is currently the Founding Artistic Director of The Magnolia Theatre in Hamden. You may see him in working backstage at many JLDC productions or as Mother Ginger in the annual Nutcracker production. Bradley most enjoys being on stage with his two daughters.
Sharon Monnes is a lifelong lover of the performing arts and has been a Theatre Arts teacher for 15 years at the middle school level. In this role, she has directed several musicals including Seussical Jr., Into the Woods Jr. and The Wizard of Oz. She regularly runs after-school clubs focusing on the topic of improvisation and sketch comedy. Her passion for theatre is driven by seeing the positive effect that it can have on the self-esteem of young people and the community-building aspect of putting on a production. Apart from teaching, she loves baking, hiking and spending lots of time with her family.