American Dance Academy opened in 1993 under the direction of Darlene-Giordano Cummings. The staff of American Dance Academy is made up of a wonderful group of caring people who have a genuine love for the art of dance and the children. Our teachers take the responsibility to insure that activities are safe and age/gender appropriate. Each teacher encourages a positive, supportive and respectful working atmosphere while stimulating children’s minds and physical skills. They encourage students to strive to meet their fullest potential and to value the art of dance. They are not only teachers, but positive role models, mentors and motivators.
Miss Darlene, the Studio Owner and Director, has been studying dance since 1972 and twirling since 1974. She started assisting dance teachers in 1981, at the age of 13, and has never stopped teaching and loving it. She has studied with various dance teachers at her alma mater schools and in the Philadelphia and New York areas. As a young child, she studied dance and twirling under the infamous Tony Award Winner Sue Strohman, choreographer of multiple Broadway shows such as “Crazy for You”, “Contact” and “The Producers” to name a few.
Miss Darlene opened the studio in 1993 after teaching elementary and junior high school for 3 years. She graduated from Padua Academy High School and then the University of Delaware with a degree in Education with concentrations in dance and theatre. She has choreographed for many Philadelphia and Delaware theatre groups as well as for various local high school marching band fronts. She has also worked on choreographing and directing industrial commercials. She now focuses the majority of her energy to American Dance Academy and teaches all levels at the studio at various times of the year, although you can find her other places too. Most recently, she choreographed the opening number for the Miss Delaware 2017 pageant and you can also find her on a football field as she choreographs for Salesianum High School's marching band twirlers. She attends multiple teacher training and business seminars each year and is a member of the International Dance Entrepreneurs Association. Her business ideas and philosophies have been used as examples in various dance teacher training manuals.
Miss Darlene is thrilled to bring in new and innovative choreographers and master teachers to her studio, to go along with her very professional staff, and strives to provide a wonderful and supportive atmosphere at the studio. She is married to Dr. William Cummings, a dentist in Avondale PA, where she also does bookkeeping and assists with business marketing. They have 3 children of their own, two teenage daughters and a pre-teen son…by far the greatest yet most challenging accomplishment amongst them!
Jessica Westnedge-Olinik, our Dance Company Director, began her dance training at the age of 4 in Philadelphia, Pa, and has trained in pre-professional dance companies all over the United States. In high school she had the honor of performing in Disney World, the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and has won numerous national titles and awards. For college, Jessica attended University of North Carolina School of the Arts as a Contemporary major and University of the Arts on scholarship studied all genres of dance. Some of her legendary teachers include Brenda Daniels, Andre’ Tyson, Melinda Lawrence, Frank Smith, Duncan Noble, Trish Casey, Ronin Koresh, Pat Thomas, Ruth Adrian, Wayne David and Karla Wolfangle. Her long list of performance credits include the 76er All-Star Dance Team, cast member of the musical Grease, performed with the artist Pink, she was a principle dancer with Contempradance Theatre & Opus One and has been the director & choreographer for several prestigious pre-professional dance companies. For several years Jessica had the privilege in assisting Miss Lucille DiCampli of MSA Agency in NYC in several different projects. She was chosen to be on exhibit as a Degas dancer at the Philadelphia Art Museum during the opening gala of the exhibit. She was also the choreographer for an indoor fancy Mummers Brigade, in Philadelphia, where her choreography was displayed on national television.
Jessica has been the recipient of several overall scores, prizes, special & choreography awards at numerous prestigious competitions. In 2011, her piece entitled “Sister Rosetta” was the recipient of the Revolution Talent Choreography Award, and her piece “Halo” was the recipient of the Bravo Talent Choreography Award. Most recently, Jessica was nominated for four Critiques Choice Awards at Onstage NY and received the Onstage NY Teen Critiques Choice Award for her piece “After the Storm.” Her piece “Hand Covers Bruise” was selected to perform at The Joyce Theatre in NYC for the 2012 Dancer’s Responding to Aids event. Jessica is also on the judging staff for the 2012 Revolution Talent season. She also books and works alongside guest teachers and choreographers such as Purdie Baumann (former Radio City Rockette), Jaimie Goodwin (HSM3 and SYTYCD Season 3), Abdur Rahim Jackson and Olivia Bowman-Jackson (Former Alvin Ailey Dancers/Choreographers), Camille A. Brown (highly acclaimed choreographer), Darrell Moultrie (Ballet Company Choreographer), and Billy A. Griffin (current tour swing in “Mary Poppins”) and several others.
Her goal as a teacher and educator is to enlighten and inspire students in a healthy and positive atmosphere. In her classes, students will focus on technique, strength, performance, artistry, improvisation, dance composition, rhythm/timing and dance vocabulary. She focuses on offering her students self-confidence, self-assurance, and self-reliance so that they can apply these skills to not only dance & performance skills but their daily lives as well. As a choreographer, her work and inspiration is derived from her journey through life, its many lessons & topics where audience members can connect, relate, feel moved and inspired on a personal level.
Jerzy Golek began his dance career at the age of 12, when he won a national audition in his native Poland to receive a full scholarship to the national Ballet Academy in Gdansk. This residential school combines a full academic program with training to the highest levels of professional ballet performance. Upon graduating from the Academy, Mr. Golek returned to his home, Lodz, and performed in the Lodz Ballet. He soon moved on to Warsaw and Mazowsze Dance Company, Poland’s premier international dance company for many years. He also continued his education at Warsaw University, obtaining a Master’s Degree in Dance Education. As a principal with Mazowsze, he toured the world performing from Korea to Brazil, and regularly in the US, performing in Philadelphia at the Academy of Music. Moving to the US to pursue his career in dance education, Mr. Golek currently teaches at West Chester University, Contempra Dance School, and the Pottstown Dance Theatre. He has produced much original choreography, including his signature piece, “Immolation” a tribute to the victims of the Holocaust, set to the score of Schindler’s List. He is President of Cultural Interchanges, which among other programs, annually takes American students and performers to the Ladek Zdroj International Festival of Dance in Poland. He also serves as assistant Artistic Director of the Schuylkill Valley Dance Company.
Tori Closson is originally from Philadelphia, PA. She began her dance training at the early age of 5 years old and studied Ballet, Tap and Jazz for fifteen years at Florence Cowanova Studio of Dance. After graduating from Hampton University in 1999 receiving a BA in English Arts, Tori began dancing professionally, appearing on MTV's Global Groove. She continued training with Rennie Harris PureMovement, studying the elements of Hip Hop Dance: Popping, Locking, B-girl and Street. She has also studied ballroom and Latin dance.
In 2000, Tori created the WTXF 'Good Day Philadelphia' Hip Hop Dance Team. She choreographed for the 76er's Junior Hip Hop Dance Team for four seasons and is a Master Teacher at the 76er's Dance Camps. She has choreographed for the 76er's Dance Team (basketball), The Kixx Dance Team (soccer) and a number of college dance teams. She has danced for Neil Young, The New York Jets and New York Giants Award Ceremonies, NBC10 FitFest, The Illadelph Legends Festival and much more. Tori directed and choreographed for her own company, FloMotion, and pre-professional Company, Flo2. Her company was featured in the national magazine 'Young Dancer' in March 2005. In the summer of 2006, FloMotion was a headliner for a major performance in Tokyo, Japan.
Tori lived in Dallas, Texas three years. She taught Hip Hop and Dance Team Jazz for three years mentoring young women who wished to audition for major sports arena dance teams. She has helped girls land spots on the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and she has mentored for the Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans. From this experience, Tori co-created Arena Dance Pros which is a consulting company assisting young women with going through the audition process. ADP has helped girls with the Philadelphia Eagles Cheerleaders, The New York Jets Flight Crew, The Washington Redskins and many others.
Tori currently lives in Wilmington, Delaware and is the head coach for Padua Academy's Dance Team.
Miss Michelle has been dancing at the American Dance Academy since it opened in 1993. In high school she was on the A.I. Dupont Pom Squad. She then received her degree in Early Childhood Education from Delaware Technical and Community College and teaches the early childhood level dance classes. Miss Michelle and her husband, Brad, have two “early childhood” children of their own.
Miss Kelly, our office manager and instructor, has been dancing at the American Dance Academy since 1994. She was a member of the Padua varsity dance team in high school and the Penn State Altoona dance team. Miss Kelly has her degree from the University of Delaware in Human Services, Education and Public Policy with a concentration in Education and Community Services, and a minor in Psychology. She worked as a youth activities counselor for the Disney Cruise Line after graduation and is happy to be back teaching at ADA.
Vincenza Carrieri-Russo has been dancing at American Dance Academy since it opened.
Prior to capturing the coveted Miss Delaware United States crown in 2015 and securing the 2nd runner-up spot at the prestigious national event, Vincenza competed in pageants for many years, winning dozens of titles along the way. One highlight was when Vincenza was selected as Miss Delaware USA and competed on prime time national television at the Donald Trump-owned event in Las Vegas. She was also the first representative from Delaware to compete in the Miss Italy USA Pageant, placing Top 6 in the nation. One of her more recent titles was being selected from over millions of women across the country as the first ever national Elite Miss Earth United States 2015.
Vincenza works as a model, actress and spokesperson. She has walked the catwalk in New York City for Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, done catalog and print work, appeared in feature films and commercials, emceed and hosted events, fundraisers and nationally televised pageants, and has even been featured on the cover of numerous magazines.
Vincenza’s life, however, is not all about glitz, celebrity and crowns, although she is the “queen of the kitchen” at her new restaurant, the Vincenza & Margherita Italian-American Bistro! The restaurant, which opened in 2014, is the brainchild of Vincenza and younger sister Margherita, 3rd generation restaurateurs. In just a little over a year, the V&M Bistro has garnered hundreds of glowing reviews and was selected for impressive recognition including Best of Delaware 2015 Editor’s Choice for Best Italian Cuisine in Upper Delaware, Best Cocktail for the North DelaWhere Happening List 2015 and Finalist in the Readers’ Choice Award 2015 for Best Italian Restaurant.
In her spare time, Vincenza works tirelessly at Success Won’t Wait, the literacy organization she co-founded in 2002, when she was just an 18-year-old high school senior. Over the past 15 years, she has been active in promoting literacy and has helped collect and redistribute almost 1 million books to communities, schools and organizations in need. Vincenza has been honored with several prestigious awards for her ongoing literacy efforts like the State of Delaware Jefferson Award, the Daily Point’s of Light Award as the Nation’s Volunteer of the Day, the Governor’s Outstanding Volunteer Award, and more. Vincenza was also honored with a National Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for outstanding community service. As a tribute to dedication to community service and serving her community, she has a day named after her. July 15th is “Vincenza Carrieri-Russo Day”. Even with her busy schedule, she always had a passion for dance and has been dancing since the age 3.
Darrell Williams has a unique and diverse background that has brought together discipline, training, hard work, and dedication that can be witnessed when he takes the stage or enters a classroom at a dance studio. From 1981 to 1987 Darrell served as a Sergeant for the United States Army. It was during this time that he capitalized on his inherent belief in training and discipline – key tools to the mastery of his craft. Darrell also credits his early years of studying martial arts and playing Semi Professional Football and Soccer (both in the United States and abroad) to the athleticism that has since translated into agility and grace needed to be a hoofer.
While mastering his craft, Darrell has also dedicated more than twenty years to working with intellectually challenged individuals with varying degrees of special needs. Darrell exhibits a compassion and special ability to inspire and motivate those he encounters. Darrell is studying to become a life coach who exemplifies that hard work and education mixed with a positive attitude creates a winning combination.
Professionally, Darrell has over 25 years’ experience as a professional dancer and actor. Darrell's talents range from choreographing tap to improvisational hoofing. Darrell is also a Master Instructor at various schools in the Tri-State area as well as a major force in the Philadelphia tap scene. Darrell began his early training at the Hedgerow and Freedom Theaters. Darrell attended the University of the Arts and was trained by the late, great, legendary hoofer,La Vaughn Robinson. He has had roles in various performances at the University of the Arts in such plays as A Streetcar Named Desire, The Colored Museum, and Streamers.
In addition to acting, Darrell has choreographed performances for the City of Philadelphia‘s Boscov's Thanksgiving Day Parade as well as Showtime at the Apollo. He has received numerous awards in Tap Choreography, including one that was featured on the Sally Jesse Raphael Show. Darrell has performed live at the Philadelphia Arts Bank, American Music Theater, Merriam Theater, Wilma Theater, Trump Plaza, and most recently at the Kimmel Center of Performing Arts. Darrell students have won awards at the national level including Philly TAP Challenge, Tap Kids, and Break the Floor. His students also took first place in the tap awards at New York City Dance Alliance, On Stage and Rising Star Nationals. Personally, Darrell earned two Choreography Choice awards at Starpower.
Today, Darrell is the founder, producer, director and choreographer of FOOTWERX, a tap intensive workshop for highly skilled tap professionals as well as non-professionals of all ages.
FOOTWERX has 3 annualproductions, which include the Holiday Show at The Arts Bank Theater, a summer intensive workshop that is performed at The Wilma Theater, and a professional production at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre. One of the most rewarding elements for Darrell is to foster talent and enthusiasm in his students. FOOTWERX continues to offer a fun and competitive environment for growth and exceptional performances. As the Artistic Director of these productions, Darrell would like to thank you. FOOTWERX could not thrive without your continued and devoted support.Darrell has seen created shows from the conception stage until the staging of the final production. Under his direction, July 2017 will see the 23rd Footwerx Tap Company production at the Susan Roberts Theater on Broad Street along the Avenue of the Arts. Footwerx Tap Company has had SOLD OUT shows at various theaters (Wilma Theater, Arts Bank, Kimmel Center) along the Avenue of the Arts in Philadelphia. Footwerx Tap Company is the only tap company in the Tri State area to accomplish this mile stone. Darrell has created 23 full length theatrical stage productions – as opposed to recital based productions. He has choreographed Platinum award winning dances performed at NYDA Starpower Groove as well as other dances that have won special awards. Along with Footwerx Tap Company, Footwerx Showcase (Footwerx Tap Jazz & Hip Hop WERX/Shop Showcase) has been held annually since 2012 in Philadelphia.
Darrell’s students are inspired to dance by giving them the tools to learn from their mistakes, to let them know that it is okay to make mistakes, and to let them be themselves. Darrell inspires them to be the best that they can be and let their love of dance shine through. He gives them all he has to give and he makes the classes fun. Yes, you will work hard but there are games and good times too. The games help them to listen and focus - they do not even know that he has them working on those skills. Darrell often says that the dancers inspire him. Watching the dancers grow not only as dancers but as leaders. He also loves to watch them when they master a difficult step for the first time. They take such pride in their work. Darrell Williams is dedicated to his craft, he works well with his dancers – they want to come to class! He invests in his dancers! This is not a hobby but a full-time profession for him!
Darrell is well versed with various programs such as Adobe, Premier Suite, Motion Graphic Designer and Graphic Designer. He is also well versed in video editing production on top of sound editing productions. Darrell is responsible for creating, maintaining, and running the websiteswww.footwerx.com and www.footwerxtshowcase.com. He is also CBT and Mindfulness certified (By PESI). Darrell is currently working towards a Bachelor of Science degree in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT OCW.
All of Darrell’s talents can be transferred into all aspects of his career and what he sets out to accomplish – will be accomplished!
Miss Emily started dancing at American Dance Academy at the age of 4, and went on to join the ADA Dance Company in 2003. After graduating from Sanford School in 2012, Miss Emily continued her dance career on the University of Delaware Dance Team. She returned to ADA and began teaching in 2014, while pursuing a degree in Fashion Merchandising and Journalism. She graduated in May 2016 from the University of Delaware and is happy to still be involved in ADA.
Margherita has been dancing at American Dance Academy since 1993. She has been an entertainer since the age of three and has performed in concerts, plays, pageants, and a variety of competitions, not only for dancing but for her vocal skills as well. She is a professional opera singer, where she trained and performed in Italy, and in the Tri-State Area. She is also currently part of the all-female hip hop crew Flomotion. Outside of her love for the arts she has recently opened an Italian American Bistro in Northern Wilmington, with her sister, Vincenza. The grand opening of V&M Bistro (Vincenza & Margherita Bistro) was in October of 2014.
“They teach us to respect each other, learn discipline and responsibility, and have fun with what each of us loves to do-dance!!! They created “a home away from home” for us to be. Most importantly, they let us know that it is ok to be ourselves and that each and every dancer is special and valued in their own way. They truly believe in their dancers and that is something that has influenced who I am today”
- High School Dancer
Employment: Technically qualified candidates with appropriate teaching experience can send resume, references and cover level including subjects, styles, age ranges and levels you are qualified to teach to:
American Dance Academy
Attn: Darlene Giordano Cummings
126 Lantana Drive
Hockessin, DE 19707
Compensation is based on level of college education and teaching experience.