Meet the Team

Deborah Hirsch – President, Choreographer and Instructor

Deborah-Headshots-8Deborah, 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.

Beverly Holskin-BalletJazzTech BalletEXTREME Instructor

Copy of Beverly-Headshots-6Beverly, 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.

 

 

 

Dana-Maxx Pomerantz – Membership Director

Dana-Maxx began dancing tap and jazz at an early age and continues to pursue zumba, hip-hop and yoga in her adulthood. She believes there is nothing more freeing, centered and expressive than finding a dance class, or two, that allows you to be you! Dana-Maxx studied fashion at The Fashion Institute of Technology and from there had her own successful women’s design company for almost a decade in New York City. Her love of dancing, attention to detail, connectivity with people, genuine salesmanship, and creativity brought her to Philly Dance Fitness as the Membership Director. For any membership inquiries, please contact Dana at dana@phillydancefitness.com.

Deeksha Seth – BollyX Instructor

Deeksha Seth, a PhD student in Mechanical Engineering, spends most of her time in the lab, library, or studio. She loves to cook and eat and fitness is non-negotiable so she sees BollyX as something that combines style, swag, fun, music, dance and burning serious calories! She was born and raised in India, and moved to California in 2003 with herfamily, and currently lives in Philadelphia. She has performed Indian dances since I was a kid – it’s always been her escape from all the stress, work, and school. In college, she was the co-choreographer for a Bhangra team for three years. She has also performed at fundraisers for charity as well as raising money for clubs and organizations. Dancing has always been one of herfavorite hobbies; and teaching BollyX gives her the opportunity to continue dancing, stay in shape, and motivate others to do the same. She’s ready to rock it with all you BollyX, dance, and fitness lovers!

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.

 

Gloria Yiming LiZumba® 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.

Jody ThigpenHip-Hop & Cardio Pop Instructor

Jody began dancing as soon as she could walk. Starting at age 3 through high school, she trained in all styles – jazz, tap, modern, contemporary, hip hop, even bollywood. She competed and toured regionally in California, where she grew up. In college, Jody led a hip hop dance crew and continued performing and teaching. Jody has been teaching dance and choreographing for over 10 years now. When Jody moved to Philadelphia, she immediately found Philly Dance Fitness and fell in love with dance again. After taking classes and performing with PDF for a few years, Jody finished grad school and joined PDF staff. She loves dancing and is thrilled to be part of the PDF community sharing her love and teaching others.

Kayla Babicki – Contemporary Instructor

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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 – Ballroom Instructor

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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.

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.

Lee-Ann Doncevic –  Tap Tonic, Barre & Jazz Instructor

Lee-Ann-Headshots-4Inspired 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.

 

Liz Giraldo Cox Zumba® and House Party Fitness Instructor

Liz developed her love for music at a young age, as a kid she wanted to become a Dancer on Solid Gold. Every time she presses play to teach, a little piece of her gets to live the dream of a being dancer. Her days as a Zumba instructor from 2010 sparked her love for dance fitness. Her personal favorites were Latino dance routines!  Fast forward a few years and Liz felt a calling to try something new, Hip hop. Her dance fitness journey continued after she joined the Party Starter network as a House Party Fitness instructor in 2013. House Party Fitness is where she feels that her heart is, bringing smiles and laughter to her face, while enjoying the feel good music.

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.

 

Maureen Molinaro – POUND Fitness Instructor

Maureen (Mo) is a sports fanatic. She grew up playing everything under the sun and is an Eagles, Sixers, Phillies, and Flyers die-hard! Not only in sports, but in group exercises classes as well, Mo loves trying new things and meeting new people.  After taking her first Pound fitness class in 2014, Mo was hooked. In 2015 she decided to get certified and introduce as many people to this loud, fun, and exciting workout as possible.

 

Maya Sethuraman – Hip-Hop Instructor

Maya-Headshots-6Maya 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.

Michelle Krichilsky – Cardio Pop and Dance Party Boot Camp Instructor

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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.

Rachel Back – Zumba® and Cardio Pop Instructor

Rachel Back, a Philly native, has been teaching dance fitness for nearly a decade as a licensed Zumba® instructor. She has taught classes to people of all ages throughout the Greater Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas, in addition to various countries in the Caribbean and Central America.  She began dancing and performing at the age of 2, and has been trained in multiple genres of traditional and Latin dance formats. In addition to her experience teaching dance, she has been a certified school teacher for more than six years. Rachel enjoys meeting and educating people, along with sharing her passion for dance!

 

RaGina McKissick – Dance Party Boot Camp Instructor

RaGina is a native of Saginaw, Michigan and moved to the Philadelphia area in 2013. RaGina began dancing at the age of 7 in church as a liturgical and hip-hop dancer. As a pre-teen, RaGina began to study other genres including contemporary, lyrical, modern, ballet, jazz, and African dance. RaGina danced on teams throughout high school and college and became a teacher and choreographer at the age of 15.

In 2014 RaGina began teaching dance fitness, and in 2017 she decided to go in a different direction of fitness and become a certified personal fitness trainer along with teaching cardio boxing, HIIT, Tabata, boot camp and other types of fitness regimens. RaGina encourages all of her students to get out there and DANCE!!!

Ricky Evans – Hip-Hop Instructor

Ricky Evans is a Hip Hop dancer, performer, and instructor originally from South Jersey. He practices various urban dance styles such as Locking, Popping, and House. Currently residing in South Philadelphia, he uses his talents through a number of different outlets. He is a member of two dance crews, The Hood Lockers and Hood Nation, which perform and compete in different shows and street dance competitions. Ricky also performs with the Philly-based Hip Hop theater company, Rennie Harris Puremovement, that performs on many stages in and out of the country. Ricky competes in dance battles often, nationally and internationally, as well teaching throughout the world to people of all ages, spreading the knowledge and foundation of urban dance styles that are complimentary to Hip Hop.

Roberto Mejia – Cardio Belly Dance 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.

Sydney Schatz – Zumba Instructor

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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.

Teena Varghese – BollyX Instructor

I started dancing in high school and I’ve loved it ever since!  I’ve trained in Kathak, bharatanatyam, and fusion dance.  After college, BollyX has given me the perfect mix of dance and workout and that’s what I hope to bring to everyone in Philly!

 

 

Tiel Guarino – Dance Party Boot Camp and Cardio Pop Instructor

Tiel has been a certified group fitness instructor for over eight years. Tiel has taught a variety of group exercise formats including Zumba, Zumba for kids, cardio hip-hop, turbo kick, hip-hop hustle, cardio kickboxing, plyometrics, calisthenic strength training for women as well as a variety of aerial dance styles including pole and the aerial hoop. She has had the pleasure of training with Stephanie Masceri, April “smiles” Smith, Tanya Beardsley in the Zumba community.

Timaree SchmitDance Party Boot Camp, Striptease and Cardio Pop Instructor

Copy of Timaree-Headshots-10Timaree 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.

Victoria Muir – Zumba Instructor

Victoria has been a Zumba and group exercise instructor since 2015 when she started teaching Zumba and Hip Hop HIIT classes in Delaware. In Spring 2018, Victoria was named “Group Exercise Instructor of the Year” for the University of Delaware. She joined the Philly Dance Fitness team in Fall 2018 when moving to Philly to pursue her Ph.D. at Penn in Bioengineering. Victoria has taught at numerous local Zumba events, including masterclasses with ZES Janae Smith and International Presenter Travis Algarin. She is passionate about using Zumba to better the community, and she has organized numerous Zumba fundraising events for charity. Her Zumba class philosophy is centered around creating a fun, high energy, safe workout for participants of all fitness levels – she strongly believes that Zumba should be the best hour of everyone’s day.  Join Victoria at PDF for an awesome hour of dance fitness!

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 senior director of software engineering at Comcast to maintain his sanity – and get advice on his PDF applications.