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Our instructors are trained and experienced professionals that are dedicated to the artistic and creative growth and development of each dancer that becomes a part of our All-American Dance family.

Blake Balathunis

Studio Owner & Dance Team Director

Blake A. Balathunis is a professional and award winning choreographer, dance educator, and adjudicator from the Western Massachusetts area. He has over 15 years worth of prestige dance training from several top rated dance schools in Western Massachusetts and expert gymnastics experience from Chicopee Gymnastics. In high school, Blake received the “3T” Triple Threat Award, presented by his performing arts studio, which allowed him to preform in a one week dance and theater summer intensive in Montgomery, AL under the direction of Broadway star and film actress Tonea Stewert. Blake is a graduate of Greenfield College with both a Certificate & Degree of the Arts in Dance. He continuously keeps expanding his knowledge of dance by attending and enrolling in multiple teacher training programs provided by organizations such as Dance Teacher Summit, Dance Educators of America, and  CLI Studios. He later went on to became an assistant coach of his High School Gymnastics Team for several years. During that time, Blake also was teaching dance at a performing arts middle school in Springfield, MA and was also the Competition Director and choreographer of STAR Dance Studio for a period of time. In addition, Blake has had many years of teaching experience at dozens of studios across the country, he is also a Regional & National judge & convention teacher for several Dance Competitions & Intensives all throughout the United States & Canada.

Grace Cannady

Dance Instructor & Dance Team Choreographer

Grace Cannady hails from Westfield, MA. Grace has the distinction of being the youngest dancer (at age 10) allowed to audition for and join The Boston Tap Company in 2011 under the direction of Sean Fielder (Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk). She teaches tap dance at All-Stars Dance Center, Westfield, MA, and serves as a dance captain for #Taplifetoo; mentoring aspiring tap dancers for the Springfield area, and continues to train in all forms of dance. She has won numerous regional/national solo dance titles over her competitive years, with her own choreography, and now produces solo/duo/trio and group choreography for others. She has trained with Sean Fielder, Derick Grant, Jason Samuels Smith, Michelle Dorrance, Dormeshia Sumbry Edwards, Corey Hutchins, Sarah Reich, Diane Walker and many others. Over the years, she has attended Beantown Tapfest, Jersey Tapfest, DC Tapfest, North Carolina Rhythm Tap Festival, Chicago’s Rhythm World, Sarah Reich’s Tap Music Project and The Intensive. Her stage performances include Beantown Tapfest, DC Tapfest, North Carolina Rhythm Tap Festival, Rhythm in Motion (NYC), Soul Walk (NJ), Rhythm Stories (CT), The Urban Nutcracker (Boston), and the Northampton Jazz Workshop. Most notably, Grace was selected to perform in “Maurice Hines is Tappin’ Thru Life” as a featured soloist for over 60 shows at The Cutler Majestic Theater, Boston and The Allen Theater, Cleveland, OH. She thoroughly enjoys improvisation and has performed live with members of The Diva Jazz Orchestra, The Three Divas and Medusa. More recently, she was cast as a tap dancer in the soon to be released movie “Breaking Brooklyn” starring Louis Gossett Jr. Her ethos is “People go throughout life wasting time… Tap Dancers keep it.”

Dina L. Del Buono

Dance Instructor

Dina started her love of ballet at age 12 at Ballet Theater School in Springfield under the direction of Diana Vancini. She attended multiple summer intensive dance camps Boston Ballet and Jacob’s Pillow. Earning her AA in Dance from Dean Junior College/BA in Dance from USF/Tampa. Currently a choreographer in the western mass area for many theater groups. She has won many LOCAL DANCING WITH THE STARS awards. Just finished choreographing MAMMA MIA for Hampden Theater Guild. Now working on SPRING AWAKENING for Ware Community Theater. The past 3 years she has been teaching Jr/Sr Ballet and Pointe Classes along with Adult Broadway Jazz at STAR Dance Studio in West Springfield. Also she is a judge for the Miss American Organization. When not on her toes she works for Phillips Insurance Agency Inc in Chicopee MA where she lives with her husband Rick and their cat Duke. She loves all things Disney and her 2nd home in Florida.

Reese Deshaies

Dance Instructor & Choreographer

Reese Deshaies started her love of dance when she was 2 years old. She danced recreationally until she was 8, when she auditioned for company and started competing in all styles of dance. During this time she attended multiple conventions where she learned from top choreographers such as Teddy Forance, Wade Robson, Nick Lazzarini and Travis Wall, to name a few. She received  scholarships for Musical Theater and Contemporary Dance. She has participated, performed and volunteered at the Generation  IV Dance Intensive and got to work with some of her dance idols. She is a Junior at Westfield State University majoring in Health Sciences and minoring in psychology and political science. She is excited to be returning to the dance world and hopes to be even half the teacher and inspiration that her instructors were. 

Cindy Hogan

Zumba & Fitness Instructor

Cindy has been dancing for 38 years, trained in all styles including but not limited to; Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Contemporary and Hip Hop. She has a combined teaching experience of 23 years. Cindy graduated from Salem State University with a dance minor as well as choreographed and performed in the student run Repertory Dance Theater throughout her college career.  She also earned the Presidential Arts Scholarship in the category of dance at Salem State University. Cindy is a certified Zumba instructor and has been teaching Zumba for the past 10 years and Strong by Zumba for the past 4 years.

Emily Ellis

Dance Instructor & Choreographer

Emily Ellis started dancing at the age of 5 at Diane Cournoyer Dance Center in Northborough, MA. She is trained in ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, modern, and contemporary dance. Emily graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Westfield State University and most recently graduated with a master’s degree in Special Education from Springfield College. At WSU, Emily danced on the dance company for all 4 years of her college career and served as the dance company president her senior year of college. While on the company, Emily choreographed a variety of styles and was thrilled to keep dancing post-grad with Shannon and everyone at STAR. Emily currently teaches in her own classroom at the elementary school level and is excited to continue to bring her passion of teaching and dance together.

Shannon O’Connor

Dance Instructor & Dance Team Choreographer

Shannon started her dance career when she was only two years old at The Dance Company in Springfield! She grew up excelling in all styles of dance including, ballet, jazz, lyrical, modern, tap and many other styles.  Shannon admits her favor style is Jazz, but loves and enjoys getting to dance all the other styles that the world had to offer. Shannon is a graduate of both Sabis International High school graduate and Westfield State University where she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Marketing. She also was a principle dancer of the “Girl’s on the Run” Dance Team. She was also a member of her college dance team for all 4 years. Shannon has competed in regional and national dance competitions and received numerous high score awards. For the past 2 years Shannon has been the studio director for S.T.A.R. Dance Studio in West Springfield, MA.

Kim O’Connor

Dance Instructor & Competition Team Choreographer

Kimberly O’Connor is a professional dance teacher and choreographer from the Western Massachusetts area. Kim began dance training at the age of 2 at a dance studio in Springfield MA. Soon after she started studying all styles of dance at The New England Dance Conservatory in East Longmeadow, MA. In 1993 Kim went on to receive a degree and certification in dance from Holyoke College and began her teaching career at The Dance Company in Springfield Ma. In 2000 Kim was the founder & principle choreographer for Girls on the Run Dance Team, which was geared towards entertaining and stimulating the creative minds of elderly patients in various nursing homes in Western Massachusetts. Several years later, Kim founded and became a Studio Director at her own studio in Massachusetts. In addition to owning her own studio and having over 15 years of expert level dance teaching experience, Kim is also 1 of 5 adjudicators for the Choreographers of Western Massachusetts awards Association

Miriam Balathunis

Dance Program Receptionist & Creative Movement Teacher

Miriam’s love and passion for the arts began at a very early age. From grade school to high school Miriam participated in after school theater and dance teams under the direction of several master instructors. After High school Miriam joined a performance group dedicated to providing entertainment to the elderly all across the Hamden County. Shortly after Miriam became an early childhood paraprofessional where she used her background and love for the performing arts to stimulate and expand the creative minds of all the children she taught. Miriam is currently a phlebotomist with Life Labs on the Mercy Campus in the Oncology Department.

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