The Team

Deborah Hirsch

Founder & President

“Just go for it, don’t worry if you’re doing the ‘right’ step because that’s not nearly as important as just moving, sweating and having fun. Crash and burn!”

Styles I teach: Dance Party Boot Camp, Zumba, Barre Fit, Strong, Striptease and more

What to expect in my class: Variety and lots of energy! I love mixing up my playlists and movements to make sure there’s always something fresh and exciting.

Outside of instructing: As the founder of this busy little operation, I eat, sleep, and breathe Philly Dance Fitness. When I’m not working, you’ll find me trying to entertain my three kids, going to shows with my husband, or testing out new choreography.

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: Seeing a community grow around a shared love of dance, and the joy on students’ faces after finishing class.

I dance because: It feels like I have no choice but to move when I hear music! When I’m dancing, I can be completely in that moment and not think about any of the million other things going on in my life.

Fun Fact: Since I was too easily distracted to make it through ballet classes as a little kid, I didn’t have any traditional training until senior year of high school! Instead, my first “organized” dancing started at age 11 with an Israeli folk dance performance troupe.

What drives me: My students, hands down. My goal is to create a workout experience where everyone will be simultaneously challenged, entertained and engaged. That’s a tall order, because what works for one person may not work for another – so I’m constantly exploring different teaching tactics and programs to see what resonates.

Deborah Hirsch

Antima Chakraborty

Don’t just dance — face dance! Let loose and show the happiness and joy in your face!

Style I teach: Bollywood Technique

What to expect in my class: Intense choreography that gives you a great workout. Each class builds on choreography and we stay focused on one routine per month.

Outside of teaching: I work as an attorney at a large law firm
My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: Deborah and Beverly! They are the best!

I dance because: #becausedancecomesfirst

Fun Fact: I am trained and certified in a classical Indian dance form called Bharatnatyam, which I incorporate into our class routines.

Favorite Quote: “I would believe only in a God that knows how to dance.” – Nietzsche

Antima Chakraborty

A-Shanti Jenkins

I want dancing to feel exhilarating yet blissful for everyone!

Style I teach: Traditional West African

What to expect in my class: Expect to be working almost every bit of your body at some point with high leg moves and big arms, flowing into a lot of core and hip movements and sometimes all at the same time! Enjoy a great variety of music new and old, upbeat and rhythmic!

Outside of teaching: I’m a burlesque performer in Philadelphia and a freelance makeup artist.

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: There’s a wonderful variety of classes that are also for beginner levels, so all can feel comfortable!

Fun Fact: I am the oldest of my 6 siblings with 3 older half/God sisters

Favorite Quote: “Peace fills us, peace surrounds us, We are peace.”

AShanti

Beverly Holskin

Ballet Director & Studio Manager

I went to dance class as a toddler and never stopped — it’s part of my DNA.

Styles I teach: Ballet (all four levels in our adult program), Pointe, JazzTech, BalletEXTREME and, for kids, Creative Movement & Pre-Ballet.

What to expect in my class: Structured focus and technical expertise (which I developed from studying and performing in a classical ballet setting since the age of 3) delivered in a relaxed, supportive atmosphere. Early on in forming the ballet program here, I realized that our students wanted a more laid back, ‘fun’ experience than what was offered at more traditional studios. Eight years in, I couldn’t be prouder of how our ballet community has evolved and grown.

Outside of teaching: I wear a variety of administrative “hats” to assist with day-to-day activities of the company: answering calls, helping students with any questions, making sure the studios are in order, scheduling private events and so on.

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: It’s the reason I get out of bed each day and look forward to what the day holds.

Fun Fact: I was the lead model and choreographer for a modeling production company for 20 years doing hundreds of runway fashion shows in the tri-state area. I also have a “former life” as a research scientist in Molecular Genetics doing drug discovery for important disease states. I left the biopharmaceutical industry not long after opening the doors to Major Moment Studio on South Street. The rest is history.

My Mantra: No challenge, no change!

What inspires me: Without a doubt, my students! They are my “raison d’etre.”

Beverly Holskin

Brittany Almquist

I come from a long line of dance lovers. I dance for fun, I dance for joy, I dance when I need to relieve stress or tune out, and I dance when I eat a good meal.

Styles I teach: Hip Hop, Cardio Pop, Jazz

What to expect in my class: Having fun during a great workout. The first half of my class is follow-the-leader style cardio and the second half of the class we work on learning a long routine over the course of several weeks.

Outside of instructing: I take care of my almost 2-year-old son, work full time as the director of admissions for a physical therapy rehab, am a member of the Philadelphia Rotary Club, and have a BA in Fine Arts.

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: THE COMMUNITY!!! The staff and students are all such amazing, versatile and fun individuals!
Fun Fact: I love ordering sushi for the table.

Brittany Almquist

Chenelle Boatswain

Dance like everybody is watching YOU!

Style I teach: Zumba

What to expect in my class: Lots of rhythms, especially salsa, merengue, soca and hip-hop. We celebrate hard and encourage one another to make the movement work for you!

Outside of teaching: I love old school video games, soccer (watching and playing), and board games.

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: The joy and inclusive dance environment we create together.

I dance because: It’s my favorite way to share space with others; it liberates me!

Fun Fact: I used to be a competitive roller skater.

My Mantra: Enough Talking, More Dancing

Chenelle

Dana-Maxx Pomerantz

Membership Director

I love connecting and getting to know people, and strategizing ways to give them a better experience than what they hoped for.

Outside of working here: I enjoy listening to music and spending time with family and friends.

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: The diversity and the loyalty. It’s also so rewarding when students and members contact me to let me know that I positively impacted their experience here.

My Mantra: Self-love is the best love!

Fun Fact: I tried out for Christina Ricci’s role in the movie Mermaids when I was younger. I couldn’t swim so I didn’t get the part!

Favorite Quote: I have thousands! Find them on my Instagram account @thebehappyproject, which now has over 350,000 followers! I find inspiration in the people that follow it and the posts I create daily.

Dana-Maxx

Deeksha Seth

Time to shine: This is your stage, your song, your performance — you are the rockstar.

Style I teach: BollyX (Bollywood fitness)

What to expect in my class: High energy, upbeat music and moves set to a mix of different Bollywood-style songs — folk, Bhangra, modern Bollywood, etc. Lots of posing! Dripping sweat. Noise, cheering, clapping and big smiles! Here is what not to expect: memorization of steps or prior Bollywood experience. We pay no attention to the ‘correctness’ of the steps. The entire class is devoted to moving, sweating and feeling like a total rockstar!

Outside of teaching: I am a wife, a mom of an almost-2-year-old and a mechanical engineering professor at a local university.

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: The incredible, helpful, encouraging and respectful team of instructors and the absolutely phenomenal community of students.

I dance because: It doesn’t matter how ‘good’ I am at dancing — when the music starts and I start to move, I tend to forget all stress. Dancing takes me back to my childhood, performing on stage at school. It takes me back to college, which is where I met my husband. We were co-choreographers for a dance team and we never looked back!

Fun Fact: I wanted to be an Air Force pilot when I was young. My bucket list has two items: 1) Meet Hugh Jackman, 2) Learn to fly an airplane.

Favorite Quote: “You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.” – Oprah Winfrey

Deeksha

Delaney Malloy

Marketing and Social Media Coordinator

I love helping people uniquely and creatively express themselves.

Outside of working here: I do freelance marketing and writing, practice dance, yoga and meditation, and blog about my experiences. Of course, everyone has a guilty pleasure, and mine just so happens to be playing The Sims.

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: The immense, loving energy that radiates out of everyone.

I got into marketing because: Exercising creativity — and helping others do the same — as a career is a dream come true!

Fun Fact: I met my best friend at my very first dance class. We later competed together as a tap duo and took home a few trophies. We have dance to thank for our strong bond!

Favorite Quote: “Cause we have no time for getting old, mortal body, timeless souls.” -Troye Sivan, lyric from “Youth

Delaney

Emily Jester

Dancing is part-workout, part-therapy and ALL food for body, mind and soul!

Styles I teach: Dance Party Bootcamp and Cardio Pop

What to expect in my class: Party, Power and SASS!

Outside of teaching: Nerd-alert! I run a data software portfolio for Comcast, take all sorts of dance classes both here in Philly and up in NYC, and travel loads!

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: The magic that happens in a room when everyone is dancing together… the energy, the confidence and the fun is just contagious!

Fun Fact: I’ve previously lived in Hong Kong, India, and Abu Dhabi but probably more interesting is that my favorite food is whipped cream.

My Slogan: “Show me the sass!”

What drives me: Love. Do all things with love.

Emily Jester

Gloria Yiming Li

It’s pure happiness every time I teach a class.

Style I teach: Zumba

What to expect in my class: Passion and groove! I just love dance-y music.

Outside of teaching: I have a career in international business and education. I also model sometimes, and I love drawing and calligraphy. I moved here from China for graduate school at Penn and never left the neighborhood. I feel lucky to represent a “bridge” between American and Chinese culture.

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: The high energy classes and judgement-free zone. Also, there’s such genuine enjoyment of dancing! I’ve grown as an instructor from teaching here, and continue to get better and better.

Fun Fact: I practiced Chinese calligraphy for 8 years when I was young and can write in four different styles with a soft brush.

My Mantra: “Dance it out. Werk!”

Gloria Yiming Li

Jody Thigpen

Dance is life! I’ve been dancing since I could walk and don’t know life without it. It’s the best way to feel better physically, mentally, emotionally, and just let it all out. If music is playing, I’m dancing.

Styles I teach: Hip Hop and Diva Pop, also sometimes Jazz Fusion, Contemporary & Cardio Pop.

What to expect in my class: A fun but relaxed vibe with lots of sass. I love intricate choreography that plays off the music and will try to challenge my students in a supportive environment.

Outside of teaching: I’m a social worker, often running around. If I’m not working or dancing, I’m doing something to relax – reading, checking out events in the city, watching trash tv, hanging out with friends or family.

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: The variety of classes and amazing community of both staff and students.

Fun Fact: I worked with giraffes in Santa Barbara for three years.

My Mantra: Leave it on the dance floor!

Favorite Quote: “If you can dance and be free and not be embarrassed, you can rule the world.” – Amy Poehler

Jody Thigpen

Kira Stein

I love vintage styles and old-timey music. Dance is another way to get into a past era.

Styles I teach: Partner dancing (Ballroom, Latin, Swing) with sister company Ballroom Bliss

What to expect in my sessions: Confidence! I tailor each lesson to my clients, so no worries if you have no experience. I build off of your strengths to create dances that really match you, your ability level and your personality.

Outside of teaching: I’m a brand representative and love to travel.

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: The non-corporate vibe. Each instructor gets to do their own thing.

Fun Fact: I did karate before I danced.

Favorite Quote: “I’ll take care of me for you, and you’ll take care of you for me.”

Lael Leach

 Miracles happen when the mind is open to limitless potential. Move toward your purpose and let success chase after you.

Styles I teach: African Caribbean Fitness, Dance Party Boot Camp, Zumba, Power Stretch and more. 

What to expect in my class: Vast music selection, powerful movements and an intense, awesome workout. You will be glowing with sweat by the end.

Outside of teaching: I’m a multi-dimensional jack-of-many-trades. I ‘captain’ for a catering company, co-own a window cleaning business called Clean Streak, practice martial arts and offer personal training. I’ve also created a functional mobility program, which I designed to rehab myself from a back injury.

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: The culturally diverse variety of classes. We truly have a class for everyone on all fitness levels.

Why I dance: Music flows through my veins. Beat rhythms are the language of my soul — I exist to express my passion.

Fun Fact: I got into homeopathic medicine in 2018 to treat my cat, Alluka, who was diagnosed with kidney failure. I went on to help my mother cut down on her medications with homeopathic and ayurvedic methods. Recently, I started my own homeopathic herbal company for humans and animals alike, called Alluka’s Herbs. 

What drives me: Assisting others in their growth and development as they strive to be the best version of themselves. An adaptive mind, strong body, powerful spirit and peaceful soul make for a balanced person. 

Lee-Ann Barber

Dancing is my passion and has always been a big part of my life. It makes me who I am!

Styles I teach: Jazz, Tap, Barre, Contemporary, Yoga

What to expect in my class: A positive dance experience with upbeat energy. I’ve always been told that “dancing comes from the soul,” so I encourage students to make every move their own and have fun doing it, no matter the level. Dance is for everybody!

Outside of teaching: I work full-time for a nonprofit, manage my own business and enjoy spending time with my loving family (including my two kittens). In the summer, I find any chance I can to get to the beach.

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: The community! Philly Dance Fitness is full of really amazing people! My students are so supportive, and I’ve gained a lot of really great friends here.

Fun Fact: I used to play the alto saxophone.

Favorite Quote: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – R.W. Emerson

Lee-Ann Barber

Liz Giraldo

Nothing brings me more joy than bringing smiles out of my students.

Style I teach: House Party Fitness

What to expect in my class: FUN!

Outside of teaching: I enjoy spending time with my three grandkids, who I love dearly.

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: No “Monday blues “ exist in my life since joining the Monday Squad. I absolutely love and personally connect with each of my class attendees, whether it’s a high five or an acknowledgement of their presence.

Fun Fact: I’ve been teaching dance fitness for 10 years now.

What drives me: The art of moving — keep moving!!

Liz Giraldo

Marianna Hunter

Great things never come from comfort zones.

Styles I teach: Zumba, Cardio Pop, Hip-Hop Cardio

What to expect in my class: A dance party where you will have so much fun you won’t realize you’re working out and burning tons of calories.
Outside of teaching: I’m a hula hoop dancer, fire performer, stage kitten for burlesque shows, and a chair dancer with The Philly Flames.

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: The specialty classes here are amazing, unique and so much fun.

I dance because: It’s a complete escape where I can truly be myself and hopefully inspire others to just have fun and have confidence no matter what size they are. Dancing helps me to feel good about myself and pushes me to keep progressing and improving.

Fun Fact: I love getting cute animal and mythical creature tattoos.

My Mantra: Dance is cheaper than therapy.

Marianna Hunter

Michelle Gilboy

Every class feels like a party!

Styles I teach: Zumba

What to expect in my class: High energy, a good workout and the chance to escape for the outside world for an hour.

Outside of teaching: I’m a corporate transformation director for a global pharmaceutical company.  I love live music, city living, cupcakes and yoga.

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: The variety of classes and the instructors!

Fun Fact: I’ve moved 5 times in the past 5.5 years. I’m new to Philadelphia and after 13 years as an instructor I’m thrilled to teach here.

What drives me:  The hope that I can positively impact another persons’ life- even if just for an hour.

Michelle Krichilsky

This is YOUR workout – do what’s right for you, but keep moving!

Styles I teach: Cardio Pop, Dance Party Boot Camp, Power Stretch & Sculpt, and sometimes Striptease and Hip Hop

What to expect in my class: Good music, cool dance moves and a judge-free zone for any experience level.

Outside of teaching: I work in data management and analytics in the pharmaceutical marketing industry (not as boring as it sounds!) I also love performing music, whether singing or playing the keyboard or ukulele. I volunteer once a month to play for patients at Jefferson Hospital.

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: It truly is the most fun kind of workout and the students and teachers are all uniquely amazing.

I dance because: It’s a fun way to burn calories, release endorphins and de-stress after a crazy day at work. Coming to PDF feels less like a job and more like an after-work party!

Fun Fact: I have traveled to over 15 countries and speak three languages.

What drives me: My students’ hard work and dedication. They inspire me every time they show up ready to work. They are the reason I continue to teach, and they never fail to put a smile on my face by the end of our workout.

Michelle Krichilsky

Nick Guesto

I like having a deep connection with the music. When the choreo matches the tempo and the mood just right, it’s something beautiful to see, especially if you’re the one creating it.

Style I teach: POUND

What to expect in my class: Loud music, rockin’ out, pretending to be a rockstar drummer, and having a good time…oh, and lots of squats.

Outside of instructing: I’m taking a break from teaching high school math to look for work in higher ed at one of Philly’s universities.
My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: The variety! I love getting to explore new types of dance and check out the many offerings.

Fun Fact: I’ve never had ramen noodles before!

My Mantra: “Find your happy place!” (specifically when we go for a long set of squats, hip thrusts, or frogs.)

Favorite Quote: This lyric from an Andy Mineo song we use in POUND: “I got two choices when I do this: make moves or make excuses!” And also this classic from Thomas Edison: “I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Nick Guesto

Rachel Back

Move in a way that you feel most comfortable with. Own it — make it your own!

Styles I teach: Zumba, Cardio Pop

What to expect in my class: A bubbly personality and a whole lot of dancing!

Outside of instructing: I teach Family and Consumer Sciences to high school students in Bucks County, giving them life skills so they can be healthy, independent adults after they graduate.

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: The endless options of dance and fitness classes. Plus, the events and parties. I love being a part of this awesome dance community.

I dance because: It’s my therapy! I’ve been dancing since age 2 and can’t imagine my life without it.

Fun Fact: I traveled all the way to Colorado as a teenager in 2009 just to get a Zumba teaching license because there were no other trainings offered near Philadelphia at the time.

Favorite Quote: “If you dream it, do it!”

Rachel Back

Rachel Savoca

Tap class is a time to get your body moving and have fun.

Styles I teach: Tap

What to expect in my class: We will do some technique in the center of the room, across the floor technique, and learn a short combination. I like to use a variety of music and styles to show the diversity of styles within tap. This class is an opportunity to experiment with new steps and have a great time no matter your skill level.

Outside of instructing: I am a senior at Temple University earning my degree in Early Childhood Education. I also enjoy cooking, travelling, and spending time with my friends and family.

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: I love that Philly Dance Fitness creates a space for people to come dance together in a fun and low pressure environment.

What drives me: Seeing how much joy dance brings to people and how much joy it has brought to me always keeps me going.

Fun Fact: I danced in the 100th anniversary of the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day parade.

Favorite Quote: “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

RaGina McKissick

Helping people change their lives for the better drives me in whatever I do.

Styles I teach: Dance Party BootCamp, Barre Fit, African Caribbean

What to expect in my class: A targeted burn that’s going to get the heart rate up as well as strengthen, shape and tone your entire body. Expect an epic playlist every class and explosive energy!

Outside of instructing: I am a Legal Social Worker and Personal Trainer

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: We offer every style of dance fitness or dance a person could want at really affordable prices!!!

Fun Fact: I still dance, teach a variety of classes and personally train clients with 48% of my ACL in my left knee!!

Favorite Quote: “get in how you fit in”!  It means, figure out what works best for you when it comes to fitness and DO IT!!!

What drives me:  The success stories are what drives me. I don’t need the accolades. I just want to know that I made an impact because I know I have so much for offer as a fitness professional and a social worker!!

Ricky Evans

Dance helps me express myself and it’s a great way to connect with the world.

Styles I teach: Hip Hop (Intro, Mixed Levels and Cardio)

What to expect in my class: A fun and informative learning environment with feasible challenges.

Outside of teaching: I perform, compete and instruct in different hip-hop settings — everything from theater performances to battles to international workshops.

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: The diversity of the people who come to class. I’m always amazed by the variety of backgrounds all under one roof for the love of dance.

Fun Fact: I love to roller skate!

My Mantra: Wrong and Strong!

Favorite Quote: “Don’t move to the music, let the music move you” – Ejoe Wilson

Ricky Evans

Selene Rose LaGrone

I’m driven to share the pleasure of dance.

Style I teach: Belly Dance Fitness

What to expect in my class: An exciting, low-impact workout that introduces you to belly dance technique and choreography in a movement-oriented setting.

Outside of teaching: I work at a local technology company.
My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: How helpful the staff is and meeting people who’ve never belly danced before.

I dance because: It brings me joy!

Fun Fact: I’m fluent in French

Selene Rose LaGrone

Sydney Spargo

Make it your own. Nothing you do in class is wrong.

Style I teach: Zumba

What to expect in my class: Fifty minutes of upbeat, sweaty dancing, jumping and having fun where EVERYONE can have a great workout!

Outside of instructing: I am a special education elementary school teacher in Camden. I’ve taught third grade, first grade and kindergarten, but so far being an interventionist is my favorite role. I love working with small groups of students and coming into various classes to provide support.

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: By far, the members who come to my class. They always make me want to have fun, try something new and crank up the energy.

I dance because: It is the perfect way to workout and relieve stress while having fun and letting loose. No matter how tired I am before class starts, I feel amazing and energized by the end.

Fun Fact: I taught myself calligraphy a couple of years ago and am now the designated card and poster-maker at the school where I teach.

Favorite Saying: “Make yourself a priority.” Simple but meaningful.

Sydney Spargo

Teena Varghese

Dance is a way for me to escape life’s stresses and just have fun. In a world where so much is out of your control, it’s incredibly encouraging to see the progress you can make in your health and dance abilities with more practice.

Style I teach: BollyX (Bollywood fitness)

What to expect in my class: A great HIIT workout to upbeat Bollywood and American music with a wide array of dance styles from hip hop to bhangra! Absolutely NO experience with Bollywood or dance is required! You might learn a step, discover a great song or meet a new friend while cheering during our ‘performance round’!

Outside of teaching: I work as a research scientist in drug discovery at a pharmaceutical company. Most of my spare time is still spent dancing, either prepping for performances or studying Indian classical dance. Otherwise I’m usually crafting, painting, cooking or baking. Weirdly, the more meticulous it is, the more I want to do it!

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: The support and enthusiasm the instructors have for each other!

Fun Fact: I started professionally dancing in college, but when I was younger I’d secretly learn choreo to Bollywood dances and practice them in my room!

My Mantra: We’ll learn from each other.

Favorite Quote: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you said, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

Tiel Guarino

We stand to fail the most when we don’t try. Just go for it — whatever it is.

Styles I teach: Cardio Pop, Zumba, Dance Party Boot Camp, Contemporary

What to expect in my class: Positivity, joy and all support

Outside of teaching: I am a burlesque performer in the Peek-a-Boo Revue here in Philly, a mother of two, a cabaret dancer in Atlantic City and an aerialist.

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: The community!

I dance because: I have to. My mother said I could dance before I could walk. I have always just been driven to move.

Fun Fact: I am ambidextrous.

What drives me: Finding joy in the joy of the humans around me. I am incredibly inspired by watching others succeed. It pushes and motivates me.

Tiel Guarino

Timaree Schmit

Dance is how I experience the world. It’s my church, therapy and language.

Styles I teach: Dance Party Boot Camp, Cardio Pop, Pilates, Striptease

What to expect in my class: We’re here for the party and to sweat our faces clean off.

Outside of teaching: By day, I’m a sexuality educator, writer and podcaster with a PhD in Human Sexuality. By night, I’m a burlesque performer and producer.

My favorite thing about Philly Dance Fitness: I’ve been here since nearly the beginning and I just generally love it. The students are phenomenal, the team is so fun and I feel respected as a professional.

My Mantra: It’s your body, enjoy it and don’t let anyone tell you what you can or can’t do with it.

Fun Fact: I’ve danced on every continent except Antarctica!

What drives me: These classes are often the highlight of my day and not just because it’s a fun time, but because it creates meaningful change for people. There are so many folks I’ve gotten to know through teaching dance who are incredible and who share with me the ways in which it’s helped them feel stronger, more powerful, and more empowered in their sexuality.

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