MEET OUR FACULTY AND STAFF

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

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Christine DiBrita
Company Director/Teacher

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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 owners Bonnie Walker and Nancy Carole.  While a student at the studio, she was a member of the Award Winning N. C. 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!

Christine DiBrita is a returning member to the Next Step School of Dance. She has danced with the Competition Team ever since it was still known as the Nancy Carole School of Dance Company. 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 be back at the Next Step School of Dance. She is excited to meet her new students and have fun dancing with them!

Katarina Barbosa

Pre-School Coordinator/ Teacher/Assistants Program Director

Miss Katarina was a student at Nancy Carole School of Dance for 15 years and was part of the award winning NC 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!

Mallory Nolting

Teacher

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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!

Mikaela Papasodero 
Teacher

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Mikaela Papasodero is from Middleboro, MA. She received her training from The Gold School under the direction of Rennie Gold. While at The Gold School she was a member of Project Moves Dance Company and had the opportunity to work with artists such as Tyce Diorio, Teddy Forance, and many more. Mikaela graduated Cum Laude with a BFA in Dance Performance from The Hartt School at The University of Hartford in 2019. She has had the pleasure to perform works by Shannon Gillen, Paul Taylor, Jose Limon, Manuel Vignouelle, Bryan Arias, Martha Graham, Katie Stevenson-Nollet, Debra Collins-Ryder, Ralph Perkins, and Stephen Pier. Mikaela has had the pleasure of teaching the Music and Movement class at PCC in 2017. She was the Dance teacher for Boston Children's Theater summer program in 2019. She was also an instructor for Sparkidz (an Organization offering dance classes to children with special needs).

Gianna Mongelli
Teacher

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Gianna is very excited to join the Next Step School of Dance staff! 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!

Cassidy Szymanski 
Teacher

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Cassidy Szymanski has been a member of the Next Step/Nancy Carole dance family since she was three years old. After years of dancing recreationally, she decided to audition for the competitive Nancy Carole Dance Company. From there, she found joy in performing at competitions, recitals, parades, charity events, and more. 2018 was the year Cassidy began working with children. In the studio, she started as an assistant dance teacher, and outside of NSSD, she's spent the last four years as a special education teacher's aide, daycare teacher, nanny, and tutor. During high school, Cassidy volunteered to choreograph plays for local elementary schools and community theaters. As soon as she graduated, she knew she wanted to continue to spread her love of dance with our students. She's super excited to continue her dance life at The Next Step. Now, Cassidy is currently working to receive a Bachelor's degree in Communication Disorders and Sciences and hopefully a Master's degree from William Paterson University. She plans to continue teaching dance as she fulfills her dream of becoming a pediatric speech pathologist. 

Alessandra Izaguirre
Teacher

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Alessandra Izaguirre started dancing at the age of four with The Next Step School of Dance at the time when it was known as Nancy Carole 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.

Heather Nolting
Teacher

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