Deborah Hirsch – President, Choreographer and Instructor
Deborah, a self-proclaimed dance addict, founded Philly Dance Fitness in early 2010 with the help of her husband and business partner, Seth Weiner. Deborah has been dancing since she could stand (her grandmother will tell you how she would hold herself up as a baby, using the coffee table for balance, and bounce in time with whatever music was playing). She has yet to find a style of dance that she doesn’t like and can often be found surfing Youtube for hours looking up new moves.
Since she never seems to get enough dancing, becoming a dance fitness instructor seemed like a natural path. After completing her group exercise certification in 2008, she become licensed to teach Zumba®, Urban Striptease, mat Pilates, step aerobics, target kickboxing and Piloxing. She also teaches aqua dance, cardio bellydance, hip-hop, sculpt and boot camp, and is a certified personal trainer.
For Deborah, running this company is a way to promote her favorite activity as an exciting, accessible form of exercise. She still can’t get over the amazing community that’s come together through Philly Dance Fitness and the devoted students who endlessly inspire her to work harder.
In addition to Philly Dance Fitness, Deborah teaches wedding dance lessons through sister company Ballroom Bliss. Before immersing herself in the fitness world, she spent a decade reporting and editing at various newspapers, and occasionally still does a little freelance journalism. In 2012, Philadelphia Magazine honored her as one of 16 “Health Heroes.” Her dance and fitness programs have also been featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Metro Philly, Be Well Philly, the South Philly Review and a variety of local television stations.
Alexandra Sanyal – Digital Marketing Intern
Alex is a recent graduate of Bryn Mawr College and a new addition to the Philly Dance Fitness Marketing team. Outside of marketing, Alex is an avid dancer. She started training in two different styles of Classical Indian Dance at the age of 5 and took modern and hip hop classes throughout high school. While at Bryn Mawr College, Alex was the president of two dance teams – one South Asian Fusion team and one team focusing on styles rooted in the African Diaspora. On top of being a dancer, Alex worked as a choreographer and administrator for the team all four years of college. Alex is a strong advocate for dance as a form of mental and physical healing and wants to encourage as many people as she can to take up dancing and join the Philly Dance Fitness family. Her goal as a marketing intern is to promote Philly Dance Fitness’s through writing, design, photography, and social media management.
Antima Marandola – Bollywood & Bollywood Tech Instructor
Antima started her training in various styles of Indian classical dance at the age of 5. In college, she was a choreographer for her Indian classical dance and Bhangra teams. Upon graduation, she started teaching and performing with Nritya Creations Academy of Dance, a premiere dance school and performing arts center in New Jersey. With Nritya, she performed at major venues like the NJPAC and the NJ State Theater. She has also performed with Bollywood stars at the Atlantic City Convention Center. By day Antima is an attorney in Philadelphia, but she continues to teach and perform throughout New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Beverly Holskin-Ballet, JazzTech & BalletEXTREME Instructor
Beverly, owner and director of Major Moment Studio, began dancing at the age of 3. She has studied classical ballet and jazz through much of her life. A former member of the Philadelphia Civic Ballet corps de ballet, Beverly was introduced to the world of modeling at a fashion event featuring ballet dancers as backdrops for the show. Since that night, Beverly became choreographer and lead model for a major fashion show production company and over the last 20 years has done hundreds of fashion shows in the tri-state area.
Today, she shares a partnership in Major Moment Productions, a fashion show production company, as choreographer, assistant producer and lead model. Beverly has also taught modeling, creative movement and dance to children and adults of all ages. Recently, she became involved in Next Level Teen and AB FAB GIRLS, where she helps teenagers build confidence and poise.
Brooke Blair – House Party Fitness® Instructor
Nothing makes Brooke feel more alive than teaching dance fitness. She’s worked in the fitness industry for many years as a certified group exercise instructor and personal trainer. In recent years, she created her own program called House Party Fitness, which combines hip-hop dance with strength and conditioning drills. In just a short time, “HPF” has taken off in several states with many instructors spreading the funk. Outside of fitness, Brooke is a mom and a full-time school teacher.
Courtney Summers – Graphic Design Intern
Courtney is a self-taught graphic designer and has a passion for all things fitness. Although, not a formal dancer, she loves dancing and having fun with her friends. Courtney is a student at Temple University, pursuing a degree in Advertising with a concentration in Art Direction. Before working at Philly Dancing Fitness she spent time at Runner’s World magazine. Wherever she is, she embraces the fun and culture of the environment.
Gloria Yiming Li – Zumba® Instructor
Gloria Yiming Li is a certified Zumba instructor and has been dancing Zumba for 3 years. Gloria trained in hiphop dance in college and was the captain of a street dance team. While becomign more involved with fitness in grad school, Gloria found out a way to her to combine her two passions, fitness and dancing, together – through Zumba. Gloria is looking forward to continuing her Zumba journey and getting more and more people to dance along with her and fall in love with it like she has.
Lee-Ann Doncevic – Tap Tonic & Cardio Pop Instructor
Inspired by her grandmother, who danced professionally in NYC, Lee-Ann’s love for dance began at a young age. She grew up in Southern Maryland, where she trained in ballet, tap, jazz, and modern dance. As a young dancer, she competed nationally and performed on various stages, such as Tomorrowland Stage at Walt Disney World and the NYC Tap Dance Festival. Lee-Ann earned a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from the University of Maryland, where she focused on choreographic development. She has danced professionally for the NBA’s Washington Wizards dance team for three seasons and performed with a modern dance company in Washington, DC. Upon moving to Philly, Lee-Ann recently earned her MBA degree in business and works for a non-profit organization. She has been teaching dance for over 10 years; specializing in jazz technique, ballet barre, modern, and tap dance instruction. She enjoys the inspiration she gets from teaching in various studios in the arts culture-rich Philly area. Along with dance, Lee-Ann began her Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training Program (RYT 200) and looks forward to continuing her practice into yoga therapy in the future.
Lehla Olson – Zumba®, African Dance Revolution and POUNDFitness Instructor
From her early childhood roots in the Central African Republic, dancing became synonymous to walking for Lehla. There and in the United States, she developed her passion for music and movement by participating in band, choir and international dance ensembles. She attended her first Zumba® class in 2009 and was hooked right away. After becoming licensed to teach in spring 2011, she went on to obtain a primary group exercise instructor certification from the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America as well as specialty Zumba® programs including Toning, Sentao and Gold. Her goal is to create a safe, effective and fun workout that draws upon musical styles from around the world. From wherever their starting point may be, Lehla encourages participants to push themselves mentally, spiritually, and physically — with as much smiling as possible. When Lehla’s not letting loose in Zumba®, she teaches middle school and studies Brazilian samba and Japanese taiko drumming.
Margo Ling Staricco –
Margo is a certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor with 6 years of experience in the fitness industry. While still working for corporate America, she began her career as a part-time Zumba®instructor. When a chance came for her to become a full-time instructor came along, she took it and expanded her love of fitness with getting certified to teach Kettlebell training, barre, House Party Fitness, and Spin, and is always looking for her next certification. Dance is her favorite way to feel good, to celebrate, and relieve stress – getting fit at the same time is a bonus. She works full time as a Health Fitness Professional at a corporate gym and loves that her passion to help others can be fulfilled in her work.
Maya Sethuraman – Hip-Hop Instructor
Maya has been teaching dance for 20 years and group fitness for more than a decade. With roots in hip-hop, she became licensed to teach Zumba in March 2007, before the fitness trend exploded into the multi-faceted global operation that it is today. Maya enjoys sharing her love of dance and fitness with diverse groups of people.
Marianna Hunter – Zumba® Instructor
Marianna developed a love for Zumba® after taking her first class in 2010. She began teaching in 2015 and since then, has also obtained specialty Zumba® program licenses to teach Aqua and Toning. Marianna loves to motivate and inspire new and advanced students alike to simply let loose and enjoy life through dance. Her classes have a fun party atmosphere where you will certainly get a great workout. Marianna is also a hoop dancer and fire performer. She was featured on Hooping.org, a major online resource for the hooping community, and can be seen performing at community events and festivals around the Philadelphia Metro area.
Pamela Hetherington – Tap Tonic Instructor
Pamela Hetherington is a professional tap dancer, educator, artistic director and community arts leader in Philadelphia. In 2013, she joined the Philly Dance Fitness team as a Tap Tonic instructor. In 2015, she began her journey as a studio owner and opened her first percussive dance space in a small converted warehouse in Brewerytown. In 2017, the space expanded to 2511 West Girard Avenue and is now the principal home for all kinds of percussive, street and world dance in Philadelphia… and of course, “Philly Dance Fitness – Fairmount.” She enjoys working for Philly Dance Fitness in this capacity, because she loves meeting new dancers at the studio! Her full professional, performance and teaching biography is at www.pamelahetherington.net.
Roberto Mejia – Cardio Bellydance Instructor
Roberto began studying belly dance at the age of 15. His love for the rich movement vocabulary, music and history of this dance inspired him to continue his education, as well as going on to learn numerous styles of folk dances from Turkey, North Africa and the Middle East. As a performer, Roberto creates authentic and imaginative performances for audiences of all walks of life, drawing inspiration from a decade of formal training with internationally renowned instructors and dance researchers, his Turkish and Arabic-speaking clientele, and time spent in Egypt. As a teacher, he aims to inspire his students to have fun while dancing to the beat of a new drum; holding and practicing the belief that dance can be used to bridge cultures.
Timaree Schmit – Dance Party Boot Camp, Striptease and Cardio Pop Instructor
Timaree has been teaching dance for almost 10 years and performs as a dancer professionally throughout the city, including her weekly burlesque show Full Front Street. With a PhD in Human Sexuality from Widener University, Timaree also works as a sexuality educator. She is now adjunct faculty at Widener, as well as West Chester University and Community College of Philadelphia.She is also a regular contributor to Philly Weekly with her column “Timaree’s Body” and the sex and relationships expert for Philly.com. She aims to empower every student to have a positive, loving, fun relationship with their own body.
Sherrilyn Billger – Tap Technique Instructor
Sherrilyn doesn’t even remember her first couple years of dance classes, but the recital photos reveal that she started tap and jazz a long, long time ago. In college she added modern and Broadway to the mix. A few years after that, she took up bellydance. Sherrilyn has studied with many of the top teachers in their genres, and that varied background led her to become a professional fusion dancer. She has been on stages in Europe, Canada and across the U.S. Recent performances include Bellyqueen’s Journey Along the Silk Road, as well as solo and duet work throughout the Northeast. She is a core member of PURE Philadelphia and Philly Follies.
Sherrilyn started teaching dance in 2005 when she opened her own studio in Bloomington, Ill. In 2013, she relocated to Philadelphia and eagerly jumped into the thriving dance community here. She thoroughly enjoys blending dance and fitness, providing a fun and high-energy workout.Aiwa!
Trina Lyons – Cardio Pop, Dance Party Boot Camp, Jazz-Cardio Fusion, and Hip-Hop Instructor
Trina has been in the fitness industry for more than a decade, drawing on her background in dance and music. She is certified in Body Works Plus Abs, kickboxing, cycle, Aqua Fit, circuit boot camp and Senior Fit. She has toured through Italy, Switzerland, London and Brazil while choreographing and dancing as an “Ikette” for the late Ike Turner. She was also featured in “The Ike Turner Revue,” a documentary about the singer’s life. Before moving to Philadelphia, she served as the artistic director of Afta Shock San Diego, a 25 and up theatrical hip-hop dance troupe, from May 2009 – June 2013.
Michelle Krichilsky – Cardio Pop and Dance Party Boot Camp Instructor
Michelle has been dancing since before she could walk. Starting at a very early age with ballet and jazz classes, Michelle’s interests quickly shifted to performing. In an effort to get into tip-top shape for the Tough Mudder in 2012, Michelle started going to group fitness classes at her local gym, hoping to increase her cardio endurance. One day, the hip-hop instructor did not show up, and Michelle found herself teaching her very first class. Fast forward a year, and she was teaching dance and kickboxing at the very same gym! Now certified in both group exercise (AAAI) and House Party Fitness, Michelle is ecstatic to bring her unique sense of style to Philly Dance Fitness. Some other favorite fitness activities include hiking, snowboarding, biking and swimming. In addition to her love for dance and fitness, you can catch Michelle singing at your favorite local Philly bar or enjoying live music at a nearby festival.
Kayla Babicki – Contemporary Instructor
Kayla has been dancing to “The Nutcracker” in her parents’ living room since before she could walk and started formal training at age 3. Although originally focusing just on ballet, she went on to study modern, contemporary, tap, jazz and hip hop when she joined a successful competitive dance troupe for Kicks Academy of Dance, which cross-trains dancers in all disciplines. She has studied with various choreographers you may recognize from the show “So You Think You Can Dance,” such as Travis Wall and Sonya Tayeh. Although she has spent much of her time on stage, her favorite experience was having the opportunity to dance in Walt Disney World parks. Kayla has been teaching dance to children for 7 years and her choreography has been featured in the regional competitive dance circuit. She is excited for the opportunity to share her love of expression through movement with students at Philly Dance Fitness!
Kira Stein – East Coast Swing & Ballroom Instructor
Kira is a social dance instructor for Philly Dance Fitness and a private dance instructor for its sister company, Ballroom Bliss. In her private lessons she teaches Waltz, Foxtrot, American Tango, Rumba, Salsa, East Coast Swing, Cha Cha, Bachata and Blues. In other parts of the city, you’ll find Kira coaching the UPenn Swing dancing team and volunteer teaching for the nonprofit Philadelphia Lindy and Blues. She has been a guest dance instructor at events in San Francisco (hip-hop, fusion), Denver (blues), New York (blues), Poughkeepsie (all ballroom styles), Wilmington (lindy hop, tango, blues), Lancaster (fusion), and Montreal QC (blues). In the rest of her life, this Vassar grad is a real estate developer, a sexuality educator, a sex and intimacy coach, a film festival coordinator and the president of her own nonprofit.
Sydney Schatz – Zumba Instructor
Sydney began teaching Zumba in Syracuse, New York, before moving to Philadelphia in 2014. She received a degree in Inclusive Elementary and Special Education from Syracuse University and now works as a first-grade teacher in Camden, New Jersey. Sydney has been teaching Zumba for two years and loves to share her passion for fun fitness with others.
Emily Tara Sabalbaro – Power Stretch & Sculpt Instructor
Emily Tara has been practicing yoga since 2004, hooked by the feeling of surrender that she finds on her mat. She began teaching in 2011, after a push from her instructor, and completed her 200-hour Yoga Alliance certification with formal training in mantra-based meditation. She’s since added over 40 hours of training in trauma-sensitive and post-natal instruction and recently traveled to Nepal to expand her practice.
Emily received her Bachelor of Arts in Communication from American University, graduating magna cum laude. Drawn by her mantra of “Relentless Forward Motion,” she left her marketing career to pursue yoga and meditation full-time. She believes that the human body and mind are meant to be pushed to their capacity, and she enjoys inspiring students to enact measurable changes that amount to huge accomplishments, both on and off the mat.
In class, she aims to foster a supportive, all-levels environment where students feel confident. Her training in soccer and CrossFit supports an interdisciplinary approach to instruction that combines strength training and functional mobility movements, along with mindfulness and gratefulness practices.
Gabby Bill – Director of Marketing
When Gabby was 4 years old, her mom enrolled her in dance classes in an attempt at containing her boundless energy, which she just couldn’t handle on her own. For 12 years, Gabby lived at the studio, training in tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical and pointe, not letting severe scoliosis (and the resulting surgery to correct it) stop her from expressing her love of movement. After transitioning her love of dance to a love of theater, Gabby performed as an actor, singer and dancer in local, regional and state performances, her favorite of which was starring as the lead role of Peggy Sawyer in the tap musical “42nd Street.” As an adult, Gabby studied journalism at the University of Florida, received her Master’s in Business Administration from Harvard Business School and went on to work in corporate marketing roles at Walt Disney Parks & Resorts and Capital One for eight years. In fall 2015, Gabby decided to strike out on her own as an entrepreneur and now runs her own career coaching and marketing consulting practice, while also maintaining her 6-day-a-week workout regimen and saving lots of time to cuddle her chihuahuas, Bailey and Bella. For marketing, partnership and publicity related questions, feel free to contact her at email@example.com.
Lael Leach – Dance Party Boot Camp Instructor
Lael has more than seven years of experience teaching aerobics and eight years teaching Caribbean/hip hop dancing, but her interest in fitness began long before that. At 7, she begged her mom for a weight bench and dumbbells for Christmas, and throughout her adolescent years, participated in numerous physical activities including track, volleyball, field hockey, basketball and dance. In 2009, she represented Bally Total Fitness at the Oaks fitness expo as an elite fitness member.
Coming from a dancing family, it was only natural that Lael also developed a love for dance. She’s been a member of numerous dance, step and drill teams and first began teaching aerobics and dance as a sophomore at Briarcliffe College. Looking for new fitness trends, Lael came across Zumba® and became a licensed instructor in 2011.
Seth Weiner – Chief Operating Officer
Seth is the technical and logistical mastermind behind Philly Dance Fitness. From website editing to stripper pole installation to developing class management software, Seth makes this company run smoothly and efficiently. He can hardly contain his joy at becoming the unofficial company chauffeur or occasionally being coerced into guest teaching. Would he be in this role if not for his wife’s incessant need to dance? Probably not. But at least he has another job as a director of software engineering at Comcast to maintain his sanity – and get advice on his PDF applications.