Our Instructors

John Vitti, ISTD and NDCA

john-vitti“Anyone can learn” to ballroom dance says John Vitti, a dance instructor for over 50 years. John grew up in Stamford where he learned to dance at age 7 when his mother sent him and his 5-year-old brother to dancing classes. He and his brother started competing in Stamford and went on to other competitions, eventually winning the National Championships in New York, Philadelphia and Miami. John continued dancing through adulthood and taught dancing on the side during his career as an engineer. After 35 years with Pitney Bowes, John retired and began teaching dancing full time. John was selected 3 times to represent the United States at the World Dance Championship in Europe. Former North American Champion and New England Latin Champion. In 1975 John decided the time was right to open his home studio, where he still offers private lessons. In 2010, John and his wife Andrea opened their new studio on Precision Drive. John is a member of National Dance Council of America (NDCA), and is certified by the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD), which is the world’s leading dance examinations board.

Debbie Linley

debbie-linley

Deb’s love of dance began as a young girl.  She spent many years acting, singing and dancing in both professional and regional theatres and holds a B.A degree in Theatre as well as an MBA in business.  She went on to do much work on stage, film and t.v, but especially loved the time she spent dancing in musicals such as West Side Story, A Chorus Line and many others.   She became actively involved in Ballroom & Latin dance under the tutelage of John Vitti, and continued to study with other world class instructors such as Julias Kaisar, Bill Davies, Marion & Kenny Welsh, Billy Fajardo, & Frankie Martinez.   Deb spent many years competing in NDCA competitions in both American and International divisions before moving into the teaching arena.   She continues her training in all dance arenas on a continual basis.

Deb brings her passion, enthusiasm, and love of dance to all of her classes.  Through patience, encouragement and sense of humor she can help even the most novice dancer get over the initial fear of learning to dance!  She currently offers both group and private classes in Ballroom, Latin, Salsa & Hustle.  You can find out more about her classes at www.dancin4joy.com  or email info@dancin4joy.com

Bill Davies

bill-daviesGuest instructor Bill Davies started his professional dancing career in 1958 with the Arthur Murray Dance Studios in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1963, he left Hartford for New York City to begin his independent teaching and competitive career in what is now called DanceSport, and was one of the founding professionals of the Pro/Am competitions. During his career spanning more than forty years, Bill has studied with three generations of top world class coaches, competed with five different professional partners, and was a member of the first, as well as several other United States teams which represented our country at Blackpool. Bill placed eighth in the 1978 World Championships in Tokyo. He is a nine time “North American Champion”, and a two time “United States Champion.” From 1966 through 1972, Bill Davies was Vice Chairman and Chairman of the National Dance Council of America. He is currently the Eastern Vice President of the Professional Dancer’s Federation having held this position since 1994. Mr. Davies holds Membership and Fellowship degrees with the Imperial Society of Teachers Dancing and is an examiner for the North American Dance Teachers Association. Currently, he is coaching and judging amateur and professional couples throughout the world.
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Christoph Lawatsch

ChristophLawatschBorn in Germany, Christoph started to dance at the age of 14. He competed very successfully at the amateur level (special Standard) before he became a professional. He opened his own dance studio in 1987, and teaches amateurs of all ages and levels from beginner to the State Champion. He became a certified Aerobics Instructor in 1996 for Aerobic, Step Aerobics, Thai Bo, and Power Dumbbell. He moved to USA in 2003 and joined the Fred Astaire Dance Company from 2003 – 2012 and worked in different studios in Connecticut, Georgia, Florida and New Jersey. Since 2013, he worked as an independent Instructor in Fairfield, CT and Westchester, NY. He is a certified Dance Teacher and Adjudicator at the US Terpsichore Assoc. (USTA) and the National Dance Council of America (NDCA). He teach American and International Style.
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Anna G.

anna_gAnna found a passion for music and dance as an outlet for her creativity and high energy at the age of ten, and was competing by the age of twelve at the adult level. Her competitions included the Northeastern Open, NJ DanceSport Classic, New England Fall Challenge, Manhattan Classic,  UConn Ballroom Husky Classic and the Yale Ballroom Dance Competition and she placed First, Second or Third at nearly every competition.  Anna has also performed at many venues including graduation parties, at nursing homes and at the Danbury Music Center. While she was in high school, she took adult level dance classes in the theory, practice and teaching of dance. In 2014, she took the Licentiate Dance Certification Exam and passed it with high honors! Anna’s aspires to help others learn to reap the benefits she has found in dancing.  The feedback from her students show that she not only excels at dancing, but at teaching as well.  Her classes are a lot of fun and her students learn quickly because of her clarity and focus.
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Gem Duras

gem_durasGuest instructor Gem Duras received his tango training from the stars of the famous show “Forever Tango” most notably the legendary Carlos Gavito with whom he had the opportunity to study extensively for several years, incorporating his technique, elegance and musicality into his own dancing and teaching. Later he studied performance tango and men’s/women’s technique with Francisco Forquera and Carolina Bonaventura in Argentina to become a certified instructor and tango dancer. Gem co-founded Tango Sueno with Dale Ellison, and during their partnership they have developed a reputation as dynamic Argentine Tango teachers and performers in milonguero, nuevo and performance styles of tango, teaching and performing throughout Connecticut, New York and California. They have traveled to Buenos Aires numerous times to perfect their technique by studying with Gustavo Naveira, Juan Carlos Copes, Osvaldo Zotto, Oscar Mandagaran, Chicho Frumboli, Geraldine Rojas and Susana Miller among others.
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Annette Kokkola-McLean

AnnetteKokkola-McLeanAnnette Kokkola-McLean is a Licensed Zumba®, Zumba Toning® and Zumbatomic® Instructor with a passion to share the joy of dance with anyone who steps into her fun-filled classes. With background in Latin dance and a growing interest in a variety of music styles and dance choreography, Annette knew immediately what to do when she discovered Zumba® in December 2008. She would soon obtain her Instructor’s License for this exhilarating and always growing and evolving dance fitness program. Annette received her License to instruct Zumba® in July 2009, and began instructing at several local gyms and cultural center ballrooms, as well as holding her private lessons on the side filling local basketball courts in doing so. With a growing following, she now leads her six or more weekly classes at Vitti’s Dance Studio as well as a weekly Zumba in da Club at Molly Darcy’s, a local night club, and loves every minute of it. Her training includes: 2009- Zumba® Instructor Licensing, 2010 Zumbatomic® Licensing, 2011 Zumba Toning® Licensing. “Zumba® incorporates aerobic exercise, muscular strength exercise and Interval training. Because of these training techniques, participants will see results such as toned muscles, controlled blood pressure, reduced body fat and of course improved physical appearance! Zumba also improves balance and posture, reduces stress levels and increases flexibility and range of motion. Zumba® is designed for everyone! Participants at any age, any fitness level, or any background can start Zumba right away. Zumba’s basic steps formula makes it easy for all to follow, yet challenging enough with more advanced modifications to keep even the most enthusiastic dancers and Zumba-Vets on their toes! You will leave class happy, feeling great and looking forward to the next Zumba class! Welcome! Oh, and did I mention you burn HUNDREDS of calories in our one hour classes!” Exclaims Annette.
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Hanni Ott

[–Bio coming soon–]

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melissaMelissa Carlo-Gonzales

Born and raised in New York City, Melissa fell in love with music and dance when her mother first enrolled her in ballet at the age of six. She has been dancing every chance she gets, since. Throughout her undergraduate years, she enrolled in jazz classes and began to partake in dance fitness regularly. After the birth of her twin sons in 2009, Melissa decided to get back into working out and decided to take a Zumba class. After many years as a student, Melissa became a licensed Zumba instructor in 2016 and is Pro-Skills trained. Mixing low and high-intensity moves, which focus on cardio, muscle conditioning, balance and flexibility, Melissa’s Zumba classes are fun, energetic, and filled with awesome music.

Melissa’s easy going personality yet engaging approach helps participants gain confidence, release stress and feel amazing. More information and pricing can be found athttp://mcarlogonzalez.zumba.com/  or email zumbawithmcg@gmail.com

Dolores Matzen

Dolores Matzen

Widely known and well-respected master teacher, Dolores Matzen, (Riskallah Riyad) has taught the dances of the Middle East for more than 40 years, and is known for her originality and ability to communicate dance to students of any level. She has taught and performed extensively throughout the Eastern U.S, as well as California and Washington state. Riskallah Riyad was recently featured as the cover story in Zaghareet Magazine, an international Middle Eastern dance publication.

Sandra Hernandez

sandra-hernandezBorn and raised in Spain. Sandra started her formal Flamenco studies at the age of 9 and learned under the tutelage of several flamenco masters such as “La Maria José” from “Cuadro Flamenco El Amanecer”, but she obtained her true knowledge with, internationally known as  “La Chamela” (Isabel Ruiz). Sandra performed for 12 years in Spain at Flamenco Festivals, Competitions, Cultural Events and Fairs. She was a dance member of “El Anrenal” (Girona). She began her solo performances soon after throughout Catalonia, Granada & Sevilla. She moved to the USA in the year 2000 and continued performing and instructing in CT and NY. Sandra became a Flamenco Dancer for “Val Ramos Flamenco Assemble” in 2003.  With 30 years of experience she is currently Instructing and working on her Dance Company “Flamenco Duende”.
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Theresa Gillotti

tgillottiI am a 20 year Danbury resident and mother of three. Currently, I am a co chef for the Mothership bakery and Cafe managing the kitchen and staff at Belimo Air Controls in Danbury. I am also a group exercise instructor and owner of Cardiosculpt Fitness.
I started my Exercise Instructor career 30 years ago at Livingwell Lady, North Street in Danbury. I also obtained my Series 7 Brokerage license along the way while working at Lafayette Bank and Trust. I moved onto Ridgefield Bank where I was a Trust Officer as well as the Manager of the Trust Dept.
About 15 years ago I left the corporate world to raise my children. It was then that I became certified through The American Council of Exercise (A.C.E) and began teaching classes at the Danbury YMCA. In 2004 I formed my own business called Cardiosculpt Fitness and taught at the War Memorial in Danbury for 6 years. I am employed as Co-Chef at the Mothership cafe and bakery and have happily accepted the opportunity to teach my Cardiosculpt Classes at Vitti’s Dance Studio.
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Ivan Castillo

IvanCastilloIvan Castillo is a Hip Hop Dance instructor/Choreographer/Freestyler. He has been teaching for 6 years and dancing for 7 years . Born and raised in a small town of Danbury, CT he found his passion and love through several other dancers and companions around the CT and NY area . Training with others and developing better skills is very important to him and luckily enough he had worked under several different styled Dancers/groups (United Outkast, Team Leggo). Popping/locking/tutting/street jazz/waving are the styles he has trained in. He has recently joined Double up Dance company as a former member of Team Leggo.
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