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Our Staff...

Doreen Freeman  - Studio Owner

Miss Doreen has owned and directed Doreen's Dance Center since its inception in 1986. She is proud to have seen it grow into a leading studio in the community.
Miss Doreen is a former member of the teaching staff at the Judyth Parks Academy of Dance Arts of Wallingford, where she had her dance training, and was also previously on staff at the Glastonbury Dance Center.
She has successfully completed programs by Dance Olympus, Professional Dance Teacher's Association, Joe Tremaine Tours, Rhee Gold's Project Motivate and Dance Life Retreat for Studio Owners, Dance Teacher Magazine's Summer Conferences, and the North East Workshop for Dancers.  Her passion and area of expertise is tap dancing, and she has studied extensively with Anthony LoCascio, the original lead of the nationally renowned Tap Dogs. Addionally, she has studied with Greg Russell, Debbie Dee, Dianne Walker, and Germaine Salsberg. She is a past Vice President of the Conn. Chapter of N.A.D.A.A. (National Association of Dance and Affiliated Arts) and has been a member for many years.
Miss Doreen has served as choreographer for several local high school musicals and has done volunteer choreography and dance training for the Bacon Academy and Nathan Hale Ray High School Drama Clubs, Colchester Community Theater's Children's Summer Program, and Easter Seals Camp Hemlock's program for disabled adults.  Her tap choreography has won several top score and specialty awards in regional and national dance competitions.  She was resident choreographer for the East Haddam Community Theater and was on the judging panel of the Shoreline Arts Alliance Dance Scholarship Program.

Esther Erickson - Studio Director

​​​Miss Essie is a graduate of Naugatuck Valley Community College with an Associate's Degree in Fine Arts and Certificate of Dance.  She was a lifelong resident of Bristol, CT.  Miss Essie has been dancing since the age of five, and competing in dance since the age of nine,  As an adult, Miss Essie was chosen to perform with Earl Mosley's Diversity in Dance Professional Modern Company.  She participated in the USA World Showcase televised talent competition and was awarded First Place in the Adult Dance Category. 

​Miss Essie taught dance for competitive companies and, most notably, received the Choreographer of the Year Award representing the state of Connecticut for the American Dance Awards Competition.  She was also crowned Olympic Miss Dance of CT in 2003.  In addition to teaching professionally, she has also provided dance instruction and choreography for numerous studios, pageants, showcases and performances.  She has been recognized by the Miss America Association for her opening number choreography.​

In 2007, Essie joined the esteemed faculty of Doreen's Dance Center as a member of their core faculty.  Miss Essie teaches tap, jazz, lyrical, technique jazz and acrobatics.  ​​

Her choreography has won many high score, specialty and choreography awards at both Regional and Nationals dance competitions.

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Erin McKenna​​

Miss Erin, a native of Colchester, spent her childhood and teen years dancing at DDC. She was a member of the Dance Company competition and performance team, a valued assistant teacher, and a substitute teacher, when home from school. She was the recipient of DDC’s 2008 Dance Spirit Scholarship, which is awarded annually to one outstanding student.

In May, 2015, Miss Erin graduated from Slippery Rock University with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and a minor in Adapted Physical Activity. She went on to earn her Master of Science degree in Adapted Physical Activity in May, 2016. In July, 2016, Erin completed the 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training with Yoga Alliance and is now certified to teach Yoga, as well as dance and adapted physical activity.

While at Slippery Rock, Erin was a member of the Rock Dance Company. The company provides high-quality, interactive dance performances with children, and does community performances. She also danced on the university’s Dance Express team for four years, performing at sporting events and other campus events.

Erin completed over one hundred practicum hours working with individuals with disabilities during her undergraduate years. She went on to complete her graduate program by interning for Special Olympics. During this time, Erin created Interscholastic Unified Sports programs for schools in the Butler and Mercer counties of Pennsylvania.

In 2013 Erin received the Lucy Isacco Sack Summer Study Scholarship to travel to Hawaii, where she attended the Asia Pacific Dance Festival at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The Department of Dance at Slippery Rock University awarded Erin the Outstanding Teacher award of the 2015 senior class.

Miss Erin has choreographed award winning dances for groups and soloists.

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Arianna Dechalus

​​​Miss Arianna is from Colchester, CT.   She graduated from Bacon Academy High School and will be furthering her education at Mitchell College with a major in Criminal Justice.  She will continue training in dance at Doreen's Dance Center and Studio 8-Sixty.

Arianna started dancing at Doreen's at age 2 years old and was invited the competition team at age 7.  After dancing at Doreen's for 16 years Arianna is now transitioning into the role of  teacher and  couldn't be more thankful to be surrounded but such warm hearted staff and dancers.

 "Growing up at DDC has taught me so much more than just dance... it has taught me how to be open minded; while thinking outside the box and how to work with others while being comfortable in your own skin.
While going into this amazing role of training dancers, I wish and hope that each and everyone of them can find themselves and feel confident after each and every class. My goal; as a teacher at Doreen's, is to make everyone feel at home."

DDC is excited to welcome Arianna home as part of the teaching staff.

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Colby Connelly

 Miss Colby is from Middletown, CT, is a dancer, teacher and choreographer based in the Connecticut area. Colby began her training at age 4, continuing through high school at Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts, and college at University of Hartford- The Hartt School. In school, she studied ballet, pointe, Graham, Limon, Cunningham, improvisation, composition, and more. Colby danced/taught for Sonia Plumb Dance Company & choreographed for Hartford Gay Men’s Chorus, Real History Productions, and collaborations with composers before relocating to NYC to teach at Joffrey Ballet School. She is looking forward to continuing her career back in CT and teaching at Doreen’s Dance Center!

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Emma Brockett

Miss Emma has been dancing since the age of 7, training at a local studio in various styles including jazz, tap, ballet , lyrical, modern and contemporary and started dancing competitively when she was 13. Emma discovered a strong passion for ballet early on in her teens and was excepted into the Joffery summer program at age 16,  and a year later at 17 she was accepted into the trainee program at New England Ballet Theatre in Connecticut under the direction of Victoria Manning. Post-High School, she went on to join New England Ballet Theatre professional company as a Demi-Apprentice. With NEBT she got to dance in shows like “Cinderella” and “Fantastic Toyshop,” choreographed by Rachael Gnatowski, and guest pieces such as “Painted Lady” choreographed by Jacob Taylor, and has performed in NYC at the Alvin Ailey Theatre in Gnatowski’s piece “B-side” and understudied for Saki Morimoto’s piece “Focus Point.” Emma began teaching and choreographing at 15, and has continued teaching ballet classes and privates at both competition schools and New England Ballet theaters school program. She loves to work with kids and watch them grow as dancers each year and wants to continue teaching in her future and leading the next generation to greatness and is looking forward to continuing her dance career. 

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Ella Dubiel

Miss Ella is from Colchester, CT and is a Bacon Academy.  She is currently attending the University of Connecticut pursuing an undergraduate degree of Business Management and Entrepreneurship. Ella started dancing at the age of 3, and was invited to competitively perform at age 9. She further went on to graduate from Doreen’s Dance Center’s competition team in 2022, where she volunteered as an assistant teacher. In addition to DDC, Ella has been involved in multiple dance teams and ensembles where she has explored her opportunities and strengths within the dance community including:  Figments Youth Dance Ensemble, the Bacon Academy Dance Team, and the Suffolk University Dance Company. Here, she was able to choreograph and stage dances of all genres, for children and fellow dancers of all levels. Ella is so excited and grateful to be able to work with such a talented group of students and staff. 

 

“The friends and teachers I met at DDC are amazing, and I wouldn’t be the dancer I am today without all their help. I aspire to guide and encourage students the way I was taught at the studio, all while working to be the best possible teacher myself. My hope is for all my students to be truly happy with their dance experience, and always find a sense of home while at dance, an aspect that I loved most about my time at DDC.” 

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