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The Next Step School of Dance faculty members are certified dance educators with numerous years of teaching,certification, and national tour experience. Faculty members continually study by attending conventions and workshops so they may bring the latest trends in dance to their students. Our staff takes pride in the accomplishments of their students who perform for local benefits, take top honors in local competitions, and even moved on to the Broadway stage! They are also equally as proud of their recreational dancers who perform on the stage for the very first time, or just get the step they've been working on for weeks, and, of course the students who get great joy out of dancing!

Here are some of the Programs our teachers have completed certifications from: 

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Julie Schirm 
Artistic Director/Owner


Miss Julie is the Artistic Director/Owner of The Next Step School since January 2022. Miss Julie has been a member of the studio family for over 26 years, starting at the age of 2.5 under the direction of previous owner Bonnie Walker.  While a student at the studio, she was a member of the Award Winning Dance Company,  an assistant teacher and participated as a dancer in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with Camp Broadway, as well as participated in musicals throughout her school and community theatre programs.  Miss Julie was the Office Manager/Enrollment Coordinator for many years at the studio before taking on her new role. She can also be found in the classroom with students in all levels, as well as our Hip Hop and Musical Theatre Classes. She received her NJ High School Dance Completion Certificate from High Tech High School, as well as graduated with a BS in Business Administration from William Paterson University in 2015. She has received certificate completions from MTJGD Teacher Programs, as well as Lisa Howell Stretch & Flexibility Courses. Miss Julie is excited to share her love and passion of dance with each and every student, and continue to strive to grow into the best teacher and leader she can be!

Katarina Barbosa
Pre-School Coordinator/ Teacher/
Assistants Program Director

Miss Katarina was a student at the studio for 15 years and was part of the award winning Dance Company. She also traveled with Dance Olympus as a VIP and studied with choreographers from around the country.  Miss Katarina has also had her certification in Acrobatic Arts since August 2015. She is also our Pre-School curriculum Director and brings an amazing energy into our Pre School Classes. Miss Katarina has been a part of our dance family for over 20 years. She is looking forward to sharing her love of dance with each and every one of her students this year!

Heather Nolting
Company Director/Teacher


Mallory Nolting




Heather Nolting started dancing when she was two years old and started dancing competitively shortly after. She also trained in musical theatre with NJPAC's Summer Conservatory, Random Farms Kids Theatre, and The Broadway Workshop. She attended Marist College, where she received a B.S. in Chemistry and was president of the Marist College Dance Team. She continued her dance training at Broadway Dance Center with the Professional Semester. Her favorite performance credits include: 42nd Street at the Fulton Theatre; My Fair Lady, Wizard of Oz, and The Music Man at the Fireside Theatre! 

Mallory began dancing at the age of two and soon began performing with her studio's competition team. Growing up, not only did she dance in the competition circuit but also performed with Camp Broadway in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, NJPAC's Summer Conservatory, Random Farms Kids Theatre and The Broadway Workshop. She continued her training by attending Marymount Manhattan College, receiving a Bachelor of the Arts in Dance, concentrating in Teaching Dance Arts. She also studied at Broadway Dance Center in their Summer Professional Semester and attended the Goodspeed Opera House Musical Theatre Dance Intensive. Soon after college Mallory began her professional career in performance, teaching, and choreography. Mallory has taught many master classes and workshops around the country while she was on tour. Her favorite performance credits include; 42nd Street National Tour, Swing The Musical! on Norwegian Cruise Line, Holiday Inn at Papermill Playhouse and most recently the first national tour of Bandstand!

Alessandra Izaguirre

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Gianna Mongelli


Alessandra Izaguirre started dancing at the age of four with The Next Step School of Dance. After having taken recreational classes until the age of 13, she decided to further her training and audition for the competition team. During her time as a company member, she attended various intensives, conventions, and workshops; received the first Dancer of the Year award; trained as a part of the pre-professional team; and joined the National Honor Society for Dance Arts. In 2017, she trained and performed with the Rutgers Dance Pre-Conservatory Summer Program, affirming her goal to study dance in college. She started studying dance at Rutgers University in 2018, having graduated in May 2022 with her B.A. Dance and B.A. Communication Specializing in Public Relations and Mass Communication. While at Rutgers, she was also a company member and choreographer of the Rutgers Performing Dance Company, a student-run dance organization, and she took drop-in classes at Broadway Dance Center during her spare time to develop her skills in styles such as jazz funk, street jazz, Latin fusion, and heels.

Brooke Niemiec



Brooke is a graduate of Sacred Heart University where she was a 4-year member of the nationally ranked dance team from 2019-2022. Her love for dance started at a young age when at 2 years old, she began her ballet and tap training. She was a competitive dancer for 18 years as a soloist and group performer. While competing, Brooke enhanced her training at the Joffrey School of Ballet. Brooke was the talent winner at East Coast USA, America’s Miss, and USA Ambassador pageants for her tap solos.  She is trained in tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, as well as hip hop, modern, and contemporary. She is so excited to join the NSSD Team! 

Gianna is very excited to be back with the Next Step School of Dance staff this season! Dancing since the age of 3 she continues to improve her technique in all styles of dance. She graduated from DeSales University with her BA in Dance. She has performed work by Martha Graham and was selected to be in one of her famous works, Steps in the Street, restaging by Jennifer Conley. She had the opportunity to learn numerous modern techniques during her four years at DeSales. In her free time she has taken ballroom lessons at Dance with Me in Fort Lee, NJ. She has performed, assisted and choreographed numerous musicals since she was a sophomore in high school. She has also choreographed for Pequannock Parks and Recreation in Pequannock, NJ for three years. That has allowed her to teach children what it truly means to be a part of the arts! She loves sharing her passion with young artists!

Sophia Ricci

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Sophia Ricci is a teacher, choreographer, and performer from northern New Jersey. She received a B.F.A. in Dance from Rutgers University and currently performs with treadFAST Dance Company in NYC. She has performed works by Steven Blandino, Tentacle Tribe, Suzy Fischbach, Kyle Marshall, Abby Zibikowski, and Ananya Chatterji. Sophia’s choreography has been showcased at events such as Love Moves, Women’s Day Dance Festival, Small Plates Dance, as well as in the short film Marco by Tino Ciatti. Her passion for dance includes teaching and choreography, hoping to inspire artistry and self confidence in her students.

Samantha Giordano



Christine DiBrita
Company Administrator/Choreographer


Samantha is thrilled to be returning to the Next Step School of Dance!  Starting at the age of two, Samantha developed a passion for dance as she performed various subjects, eventually becoming a part of the Next Step company.  She later graduated from Hofstra University with a Bachelor of Science in Dance Education.  While at Hofstra, Samantha performed at various concerts with choreographers such as Anita Feldman, Amy Marshall, Robin Becker, and many more.  She was a member of the national organization T'DAA (Teaching Dance as Art), where she taught studio workshops and attended the National Dance Education Organization conference.  She also was lead teacher and coordinator of the program Dancers in Schools, which brought college students to public schools throughout New York City and taught choreography workshops.  In addition to her love of teaching, Samantha has been continuing to seek opportunities to perform.  Samantha was a member of DanceKerr & Dancers where she served as performer and rehearsal director.  She was also dancer, choreographer, and guest engagement for the dance teams Staten Island Yankees Pinstripe Patrol and Newark Honey Bears.  Samantha is so excited to return to the studio where she found her love of dance and meet her new students!

Christine DiBrita is the Company Director at the Next Step School of Dance. She was a member of the Award Winning Competition Team for many years. In 2014, Christine was a student teacher at the Next Step and grew a passion for teaching dance. She took this passion and attended Rider University, studying Dance and Elementary Education. In May of 2018, Christine graduated Rider University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Dance and Elementary Education and has just received her Master's Degree in Dance Education from NYU Steinhardt. She has trained with exceptional teachers and companies such as Randy James and the 10 Hairy Legs, Cheryl Whitney, Jennifer Gladney, Geoffrey Doig-Marx, and more. She has worked as a substitute teacher at the Princeton Ballet School, teaching early childhood and elementary ballet classes. In addition, Christine is also a member of the NDEO, also known as the National Dance Education Organization. Christine is very excited to bring her love of dance to her students at the Next Step School of Dance and is excited to meet her new students and have fun dancing with them!


Regina Vinacco

Office Manager


Morgan Keyes
Accounts Manager



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