Anne Cichra – Owner/Director
I have been dancing for 26 years, and have trained and performed with some of the most elite in the world of dance. I started my dance training at Cameron’s Dancenter in Gainesville, Florida. I was invited to join the resident Danscompany of Gainesville at the age of ten. While part of the company, I performed in the full length ballet Cinderella. I have performed the roles of Cinderella, Fall Fairy, and Winter Fairy. In addition, I have performed in the Danscompany’s version of Cats, The Wiz, and their yearly galas.
In combination with my yearly training, I have also attended many summer dance programs which have included: The Rock School (Pennsylvania Ballet), Atlanta Ballet, Columbia City Ballet, etc. At these programs, I got to take classes from the greats in ballet: Gelsey Kirkland, Patricia Miller, Edward Villella, William Starrett, and Karena Brock just to name a few.
As a young adult, I trained with the Orlando Ballet. I performed with the company for two years performing in Nutcracker and Carmen under the directorship of Fernado Bujones and Peter Stark (Patel Conservatory).
Through out the years of dancing as an adult, I have continued to further my education by taking Master Classes from: Mia Micheals (So You Think You Can Dance), David Howard, Finis Jhung, Mandy Moore (SYTYCD), Ray Leeper (Tony awarded choreographer), Frank Hatchett (Father of Jazz), Sheila Barker, etc. In addition to the many master classes, I have also gotten certified by Florida Dance Masters in Ballet and Jazz and I continue to remain an active member of this organization. I am a firm believer that as an instructor I should always be learning what’s new and exciting in the dance world so that I may bring this back to the studio to share with the students. I do this by attending conventions and classes throughout the year. I also hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Pre-Vet and Wildlife Ecology and Conservation from the University of Florida.
My goal for Gulf Coast Dancenter is to provide excellent training in dance, a loving and nurturing atmosphere, and to become the home away from home destination.
Nicole Stuart – Ballet
Nicole began her dance training when she was 3 years old. She trained at the Academy of Ballet Florida under the direction of Donna Morgan and Marie Hale and Palm Beach Ballet Center under the direction of Joan Miller. Nicole attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts for her first year of college. At UNCSA, Nicole trained under Melissa Hayden, Fanchon Cordell, and Christine Spizzo, to name a few.
She began her professional career with Orlando Ballet and then went on to dance with Ballet Florida. Nicole was also a guest artist for Palm Beach Ballet Center for multiple performances. Her repertoire includes, Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, Snow White in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Helena in Midsummer Night’s Dream, the Nutcracker, Giselle, and Les Sylphides. Nicole has been teaching ballet and coaching dancers on and off for the last 12 years. Nicole received her B.S. from the University of Florida majoring in Health Science. While studying at UF, she taught, choreographed, and performed with Floridance, a student run dance company at UF. She has obtained her M.A. in Clinical Psychology and is currently working on her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from the Florida School of Professional Psychology.
Nicole loves teaching and choreographing and has a strong passion to help young dancers to reach their full potential. This is her first season teaching and choreographing with Gulf Coast Dancenter. She is excited to be a part of Gulf Coast Dancenter and Gulf Coast Dance Theater.
Amy Dibongrazio – Jazz, Contemporary, and Tumbling
Amy DiBongrazio has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Dance Studies from the University of South Florida. She started her dance training at the age of three at Stewart Johnson Dance Academy in Hamilton, New Jersey. In her spare time, she takes classes with the University of South Florida’s resident dance company Shoes at the Door.
In 2011, Amy received a scholarship to attend the Dance in Paris Program with USFdance. She spent the month studying Modern, Ballet, and Choreography at Micadanses in Paris, France. She performed “Une Chambre ave vue” choreographed by Stephanie Batten Bland. She also performed “Drift,” which included a self choreographed solo, a duet in collaboration with Amelia Son, and group piece with guidance from Michael Foley and Ottowan Nyoung.
Amy is passionate about teaching and is currently teaching Jazz, Contemporary and Tumbling at Gulf Coast Dancenter in Clearwater, FL. She believes in giving back to her community and inspiring today’s youth. She one day hopes to own her own Performing Arts studio with a focus in Dance.
Lyla Menkhaus – Tap
Lyla Menkhaus came into this world as an artist. Born in Buffalo, NY, Lyla has been dancing and performing since the age of three. Lyla has had the opportunity to participate in a variety of shows in the Western, NY area. Her musical theater performances include Copacabana, The King and I and Pippin. Lyla has also had rolls in ballets such as Baba Yaga, Giselle, and The Nutcracker. She has participated in internships with Shakespeare in Delaware Park and the Irish Classical Theater Company. She was also a member of the 2000 US Tap Team under the direction of Matthew Clark and competed in Riesa, Germany at the World Tap Championships.
In addition to performing, Lyla has a passion for teaching, and has been assisting and teaching at studios and schools around Western NY since the age of 11. Since relocating to Florida in 2011, Lyla has been teaching and choreographing in the Clearwater area. In the last year alone, she has produced over 20 shows for performers in the community. Most recently she created a Flash Mob for the Opening Ceremonies for the Clearwater Little League, and choreographed several numbers for X-Factor finalist and Broadway Performer Stacey Francis. She is currently the Performing Arts Director at Delphi Academy of Florida. This is Lyla’s third season with Tapped In.
Breanne Kujumdziev – Ballet
Breanne is our newest staff member, but not new to us, she has been training with Gulf Coast Dancenter since we opened back in 2011. In addition to training with GCD, she has been a senior company member with Gulf Coast Dance Theater, and has performed the role of Alice, Caterpillar, Mad Hatter, and White Rabbit in Gulf Coast Dance Theater’s annual production of Alice in Wonderland and Spring Gala. Breanne has also performed many lead roles in the annual Holiday performance at the Largo Botanical Gardens and ARC Festival of Trees.
Breanne is proficient in ballet, pointe, jazz, contemporary, and tap. She has taken many master classes over the years including ballet and partnering with the Sarasota Ballet, Herman Ramos, and Christina Cichra to name a few.
Breanne is currently enrolled at St. Petersburg College.
Jerel Hercules – Hip Hop
Jerel Hercules is another new addition to our Gulf Coast Dancenter family this year. He graduated from Santa Fe College with his Associate’s of Arts in Dance in 2014. While there he received the Outstanding Achievement Award in Dance for 2013/14 and the Outstanding Perfomer R&B in 2014. After his graduation from SFC, Hercules has continued to work with the college and Dance Department as their Hip Hop choreographer, as well as performing with them on occasion.
In addition to graduating from SFC, Hercules also attended the University of Florida, where he had the pleasure of getting to work with Trent D. Williams Jr. as part of The Black Man Project, as well as getting to work with Raja Feath3r Kelly and Pat Graney. Hercules has also performed works by Stephanie Batten Bland, Doug Gillespie, Michael Foley, Cornelius Carter, Andy Noble, Gerri Houlihan, Alora Haynes, Tari Kendall, Sarah Harkness-Sebastian, Jessica Mayhew-Borrero, Melissa Brenner, and Mohamed DaCosta.
Currently, Hercules is performing as a company member with Tampa Modern Dance Company, a local professional dance company based out of Tampa, FL. He also performs with his Hip Hop based dance crew, The Levitations, out of Gainesville, FL a crew that he created back in 2013. Hercules also teaches Hip Hop, Modern, and Ballet in the Tampa area at Trinity School for Children, Gulf Coast Dancenter, and KanDance Studio.
Manuela Oliveira – Adult Hip Hop and Jazz Funk