Elite Faculty Bios

Our faculty consists of qualified, professional teachers who share a passion for their work. You and/or your child will enjoy an encouraging atmosphere to learn and grow.

Lauren Mangano

Owner & Director

Owner and Director of Elite Academy of Dance is an honors graduate from Dean College, where she received her Bachelors Degree in Dance with a graduate focus in Pedagogy, Composition, and Creative Movement.

Lauren opened Elite in 2008, and had quickly become known for her choreography, quality training and dedication to her students. As a teacher her choreography has been recognized on a regional and national level, her dancers have taken top honors at well known, high caliber dance competitions around the country and have been cast in Broadway shows, movies, print work, company work, T.V. shows including “So You Think You can Dance”, “Live to Dance” and other exciting opportunities. Lauren travels as a judge for several national and international dance competitions and is an in demand teacher in the convention circuit. She has taught at events including ConQuest, Dance Masters of America, Dance Teachers Club Boston, and The Broadway Experience. She was the first New England based teacher to be certified in Acrobatic Arts training certification.

Lauren has run several local pageants in the past and currently serves as board member, choreographer and producer of the Miss Massachusetts America Pageant Organization.

Lauren’s goal is to continue to set standards and pave the way for Elite Academy of Dance. To provide your dancer, no matter what age and level with the highest quality dance education and opportunities that cannot be found anywhere else. Her dedication to her craft and to her studio is unique, and her love for the art of dance and teaching is what makes Elite Academy of Dance “Massachusetts Premier Dance Studio”!

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Erika Haydon

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR

Erika Haydon is the Assistant Director at Elite Academy of Dance. Erika holds many years of teaching experience and extensive knowledge in all forms of dance both at recreational and competative levels. She holds a B.A. in Dance from Dean College, where she was a member of the Dean Dance Company for four years. She has also been certified by the prestigious Acrobatics Arts. Erika brings high energy, passion and creativity to all of her classes. Her choreography has been recognized and awarded on both regional and national levels. Most recently, she was awarded the Al Gilbert Tap Award. Erika continues to enrich her own dance education by taking intensive classes and attending conventions in both NYC and the New England area. Students of hers have gone on to achieve great success in many different facets of performing. Erika hopes through her love and knowledge of dance to motivate and inspire all of her students.

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Hope Specht

Dance Instructor

Hope Secht comes to Elite with years of knowledge and experiences having owned and directed a dance- acrobatic school in new england for 17 years. Hope is a member of the Chapter #5 Dance Masters of America and Dance Teachers' Club of Boston. Her students have performed in commercials, Disney, the Macy's day parade, Madison Square Garden, and Times Square in New York. Performing in musicals such as: Grease, Dr. Seuss, Annie, Bye Bye Birdie and the touring broadway musical "Fosse". Also achieving, 16 acro titleist of United States, bringing home 3 world gold medals at the World Championships in Showdance, world gold medalist in tap & 4 world silver medals in 2005-2006, as they represented our country in Riesa, Germany. Hope had the prestigous honor of being nominated to perform her choreographed acro-dance production routine "Glory" for President Bush.

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Tami MacDonald

DANCE INSTRUCTOR

Ms. MacDonald has been teaching dance for over 25 years. She formerly owned and operated Tami's Dance Connection in Leominster, MA., for 17 years with much success and involvement in the community. Ms. MacDonald graduated the Dance Teachers’ Club of Boston's Teacher Training School with high honors. She served as President of Dance Masters of America's New England Chapter #5 and also sat on the National Board of directors for the organization. Tami continues to work as an adjudicator for several major organizations throughout the country. Her students have gone on to become top choreographers, educators and performers in every aspect of the dance world. She is on the faculty of many prominent dance studio's throughout the Northeast and is known for her unique and creative ideas and choreography. She enjoys passing on her love of dance to each of her students and is excited to be a positive influence in their dance education.

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Tucker Knox

DANCE INSTRUCTOR

Tucker Knox, joins the Elite Academy of Dance faculty with focus on company training. Tucker was born in Nashville TN, where he began his dance training at age 11. From there, he then moved on to study under the renowned Denise Wall. During that time, he assisted many conventions including JUMP Dance Convention. After his competition years were over, he attended The Juilliard School in NYC to pursue his college degree. He has been highly trained in the Alexander technique, used for correct body alignment to maximum dancing ability, body placement, and in a teaching technique developed by Denise Wall using imagery and touch activation. He has worked for dance companies during his time in school like Gallim Dance and Jose Limon. Later he danced for River North Dance Chicago, giving him opportunity to dance internationally in countries like Switzerland, Germany and Russia. Following his company work, Tucker then became a finalist on So You Think You Can Dance, placing him as one of the top 4 males in the program and becoming dance captain for the tour. Other performing credits have included commercial work for Pepsi and television shows including Nashville.

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Erin Stomski

DANCE INSTRUCTOR

Earning her Bachelors of Science in Psychology at Worcester State University, Erin continues to train and audition within the dance industry. Dancing for 20 years, she has trained intensively in areas of ballet, pointe, jazz, contemporary, lyrical, modern, hip hop and tap. Her teachers include Teddy Forance, Jolanta Valeikaite, Derrick Yanford, Karin Tremblay, Katy Speadbury. She has also trained at Walnut Hill summer intensive program with Michael Owen and Kathy Kozel. Erin’s community involvement includes building a dance club for grammar school aged children for over five years and working as the original choreographer for Mike Nyman Photography's park project, “Dancers in the Parks”.

Erin’s professional credits include dancing and modeling for Reebok Industry; choreographing and assisting at “Turn It Up Dance Challenge” Nationals, TD Bank WOW awards and modeling for Capezio dance wear. Erin’s performance credits include, Sean Kingston’s concert dancer, Boston Symphony Orchestra, KISS 108, HGTV, Boston Contemporary Dance Festival, The Nutcracker presented by Ballet Arts Worcester, Miss Massachusetts Pageant, Boston Celtics game, the Worcester State University Dance Team, Boston Contemporary Dance Project and New Age contemporary company. Within the past year she has assisted James Alsop (Beyonce’s choreographer) and Matthew Kzmierczak (sytycd) to name a few. Erin is a member of several hip hop crews in Boston including: CONceptARTists, PROject Nailz, and Static Noyze. Her crews have been numerously crowned champions in competitions including World of Dance Boston, New Jersey, and New York as well as Prelude New England. Static Noyze, a hip hop crew presented on the well-known television show America's Best Dance Crew has led her to many championships as well as performance and choreography opportunities. Outside of her dancing she loves teaching, choreographing, and judging all styles of dance as her full time job at numerous studios around Massachusetts.

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Omar Merced

DANCE INSTRUCTOR

Omar Merced comes to Elite from Franklin MA, he was featured in season 3 as one of the top 50 male dancers in the USA for TV hit show "So You Think You Can Dance". Omar has studied with world renowned choreographers such as Ann Reinking, Mia Michaels, Brian Friedman, Lisa Attanasio, Doug Caldwell and Tyce Diorio to name a few. Merced is also an accomplished performer, shows include: Featured male soloist- FOSSE National/ International Tour, featured dancer for top country recording artist Dolly Parton, Guys & Dolls, Grease and principal soloist for the State Ballet of Rhode Island. Omar has also traveled the country with major dance competitions as a regional and national adjudicator and master teacher for many dance companies and conventions throughout the USA and Canada. Collaborating choreography for Elite Academy of Dance has taken top honors in 2011, he joins the Elite Staff as a resident teacher and competition choreographer.

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Deanna Tomasetta

DANCE INSTRUCTOR

Deanna Tomasetta is a Massachusetts native where she received her dance training with Elite Academy of Dance in Shrewsbury MA. She was a TOP 17 Female Finalist of So You Think You Can Dance, Season 9. Deanna has trained with the industries leading choreographers and has modeled for Capezio, Edgy Dancewear and Hasbro Products USA. Dee is the 2011 recipient of the Gaynor Minden Dance Major Scholarship Award. Performance credits include, Radio City Rockette Christmas Spectacular - opening number, North Carolina School of the Arts “Soloist”, Alvin Ailey, Festival Ballet of Rhode Island, Mark Morris summer dance group, Boston Ballet and was a finalist for “Baby June” Broadway Musical “Gypsy” in her early career. Dee traveled as an assistant under the direction of Lauren Mangano for numerous national dance conventions and master classes. She currently attends the University of Michigan School of Music, Dance and Theatre in the fall as a dance major and has joined MOTIV8 as its official Tour Apprentice.

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Alaina Mangano

DANCE INSTRUCTOR

Alaina Mangano, a Worcester Ma native, began her dance training at the age of 3. Over the years she has continued her dance education by studying in NYC, Boston and Ohio as well as many other schools nationwide. For the past 8 years, Miss Mangano has traveled and worked with a nationally recognized dance competition.

After Highschool, Miss Mangano studied early childhood education at Framingham State University and has recently became the creative director of our recreation program here at Elite Academy of Dance. Her most recent accomplishment has been traveling the world with Holland America Cruiselines, performing in the casts of the M.S Prinsendam and Zaandam. Her passion is working with children and she has returned from the high seas to do so.

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Laurie Lebeau

DANCE INSTRUCTOR

Laurie comes to Elite Academy of Dance with twenty years of experience as a leading gymnastics coach for both dance schools and gyms, including the Gymnastics Learning Center of Shrewsbury. Laurie is our tumbling/ technique instructor here at Elite! Laurie received her coach’s training and safety certification through the United States Gymnastics Federation, and is CPR/First Aid certified. Laurie is also employed by the Auburn School system as an ABA.

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Felisha Messier

DANCE INSTRUCTOR

Felisha Messier's love, passion and experience for dance has brought her to become a Dance Instructor here on Faculty at Elite Academy of Dance.

Over the years she has studied at the Monsters of Hip Hop and many PULSE conventions with Tabitha of Nappy Tabbs, Jamal Simmons, Kevin Maher, Rahbsody, Dave Scott, Brian Friedman, Twitch and many more. Felisha is proud and blessed to have studied Jazz Intensive’s with Frank Hatchett and Joan Sherry. She is a a former crew member of Hip Hop ConnXion Boston.

The technique of dance is a huge part of Felisha's teaching specialties, along with having a energetic positive attitude in all her classes. Her goal is to always strive for kids to learn more and more as they grow. She continues to teach all ages and specializes in Hip Hop, Jazz, Tap, Ballet, Contemporary, Modern, Acro, Tiny tots/Tumbling.

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Ashley Fournier

DANCE INSTRUCTOR

Ashley Fournier joins the innovative and artistic faculty of Elite Academy of Dance. She is a graduate of Elite and has trained in Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Musical Theater, Contemporary, Modern, and Tap. Dancing since the age of two, Ashley has been competing since the age of eight. She has received numerous overall high score placements and was part of Elite’s Senior Company and National Competition Team. She has expanded her dance training with nationally ranked conventions as well as participating in intensives in the Boston and New York City areas. Her teachers include Teddy Forance, Mia Michaels, Missy Lay Zimmer, Andrew Hubbard, Katy Speadbury, and Tom Richardson. Ashley is currently a senior psychology major where she has a focus on sports psychology and helping athletes with nutrition and health. She has brought her talents to Elite for the past three years as a substitute for our teachers and has trained closely with Lauren Mangano and Erika Haydon to expand her horizons and become a teacher. Ashley is appreciative of all the chances she has been given and is excited to share her passion and education with her students!

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Interested in joining the Elite staff? Call us today at (508) 842-5500 or send us an email

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