Quality - Joy - Inclusiveness - Inspiration
For 40 years, the MDS philosophy has been to provide quality dance education in a caring environment. We aim to inspire our students to be the best dancers they can be, whether they are recreational or intensive dancers. We dedicate ourselves to developing self-esteem and confidence in each child, and aspire to have a lasting positive influence on each and every student.
We believe in a positive atmosphere for our students, their families, and our staff. Although parents and teachers might view the child’s learning process in different ways, the goal is the same: we want every child to have the best experience, both physically and mentally. Respect among the parents, students, and faculty provides a caring and positive environment.
Our school takes the responsibility of educating and guiding your children very seriously. The lessons learned at dancing school go beyond the techniques and steps they master. We believe dancers gain an understanding of discipline, commitment, teamwork, and the value of working hard. We offer them a way to express themselves and have a better understanding of themselves. Dance is an individual art form. We strive for our students to feel satisfied with their own accomplishments, to be supportive of others and to feel good about being at our school.
Someday our students might forget most of the steps they learned at dancing school, but never the experience. We hope that experience will provide them with the skills and confidence for a successful life whether or not it includes dance.
Our faculty is more than a group of wonderful dancers. Each member of our teaching staff has a college degree in dance, and many have additional specialties and certifications in the field. Our teaching staff includes those who are certified to teach dance to students with special needs, those with a Masters Degree in Dance Education, and dance artists with specialization in choreography and composition.
Faculty | Administrative Staff
Kayla (EdM, BFA) is a graduate of the Dance Education program at the Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University. In 2021, Kayla graduated with her B.F.A. in Dance Performance from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University. While at Mason Gross, she received extensive training in various dance genres, somatic practices, kinesthetic/anatomical principles, and educational frameworks. She performed the works of Paul Taylor, Shannon Gillen, Stefanie Batten-Bland, and the Hub City Opera & Dance Company. Her dance teaching experience ranges from K-12 across both New Jersey and New York public schools. Currently, Kayla is pursuing a Pilates certification and provides individualized tutoring to middle school students across various subjects.
Favorite Song to Dance To: "Dancing Queen" by ABBA
Brittney is a recent graduate of the State University of New York at Potsdam with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance. Originally from Central Massachusetts, she began dancing at the age of 7. She started teaching dance when she was 16 for a dance program that she organized with a fellow dancer from her studio, featuring the styles of jazz, contemporary, and hip hop. She was also a substitute teacher and paraprofessional for Orange Elementary Schools for 3 years during her college breaks.
Favorite Animal: Honey Bee
Faculty | Administrative Staff
Jaime began her dance training at the age of 2.5. She has studied styles of dance
including ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, modern and acro. She began competitive dance at the age of 9 when she won several top scores at both Regional and National levels. She competed and took convention and Master classes all around the country. After high school graduation, Jaime attended Marymount Manhattan College where she graduated with her BA in Dance and minor in education while student teaching all over NYC public schools. Jaime has close to 20 years of teaching experience with students ranging from ages two to adult and has won
several top score, choreography and special awards at regional and national level. Jaime’s love of children, dance, and dedication to both have proven she loves to share her passion with everyone around her.
Favorite Sweet Treat: Frozen Snicker’s Bar
This Midwest girl has been dancing since preschool! After high school Danielle moved to NYC to attend Marymount Manhattan College. There she studied many styles of dance and received her BFA in Dance with a minor in Education. After college, she spent 10 years performing on various tours, industrials, and cruise ships around the USA, Caribbean and Europe. Danielle's greatest passion is teaching children the joy of dance! She has taught at The Ailey School, ABT’s Summer Intensive, Manhattan Movement Arts Center and Apple Seeds in New York City and numerous dance studios in the tri-state area. Danielle started teaching at Michele's Dance Studio in 2011 but in 2014 after having her second child, Danielle chose to stay home full time with her son and daughter, returning to teach at MDS in 2021. She is excited to share her love of dance with more MDS dancers.
Favorite Song to Dance To: "Someone Like You" by Adele
Katelyn is a choreographer, performer, arts administrator, and teacher/facilitator originally from Austin, Texas. After graduating summa cum laude from the University of Houston with a B.A. in English Literature and a minor in Dance, she moved to the east coast where she has built a multidisciplinary arts practice spanning dance, writing, installation, and fiber art. She holds a New Jersey teaching certificate for high school English, is a 2012 Teach for America New Jersey corps member, and is the owner and artistic director of SMUSH Gallery, an art space dedicated to creative and community work in Jersey City, NJ.
Hidden Talent: Spreadsheets!
Khayla is from Brooklyn, NY. She began her dance journey at the age of 13. She studied dance at her local studio, Ultimate Dance Academy in Queens, NY, taught by Anthony Borello. During her dance career, she was a competitive dancer, earning many awards, scholarships, and even won the title of Miss International Queen. She was also a member of a very well-known Hip Hop league called Urban Dance League based in NYC. She was seen as a featured dancer on AwesomenessTV and was a part of the dance ensemble for Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day. Also, she was a Student Representative for the American College Dance Association. She had the honor of working with Shaun T, Ant Boogie, Rhapsody James, StrykeForce, Dr. Ew, Emily Berry, Aviva Geismar, Maria Bauman-Morales, Erika Pujic, Charles Smith, Kyle Marshall, and many more great choreographers. Khayla has her A.S in Dance and is currently attending Rutgers University to gain her B.F.A and Ed.M in Dance.
Favorite Teaching Saying: "Feel the Music!"
Faculty | Studio Director
While Ross has performed as a dancer, choreographer, and musician all over the country and internationally, he has also taught at many of the best dance studios in NJ. He has been dancing and teaching consistently in Livingston, NJ since childhood. Ross grew up participating in almost exclusively tap and hip hop and continues to study these forms and participate in these cultures as part of his regular upkeep in staying an effective educator and studio director. Ross combines his passion for dance with a desire to understand how children learn. His years of experience and a belief that dance is for everybody have helped him develop a set of values and classroom tools to adapt to many different types of students.
His credentials include a B.F.A. in modern dance from Ohio University, a C.E. to teach dance and K-6 in NJ public schools, a Sivananda advanced yoga teaching certificate and he is certified by Rhythm Works Integrated Dance to teach children with special needs. Ross is also a certified dance teacher by the Dance Educators of America.
Favorite Sweet Treat: Cranberry Cookies
Diana is a first-generation American, NYC/NJ-based teacher, dancer, choreographer, visionary, and believer. She has diverse dance training and holds a BA in Contemporary Dance and Psychology from Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts at The New School. Diana has performed with nia love, the Isadora Duncan Dance Company, the Cotton Series and more, while continuing to grow as an educator, teaching dance at Greenhouse Arts Center, IHAD Foundation, and Michele's Dance Studio. As a lifelong learner, Diana creates safe classrooms for all students to explore different dance qualities, navigate physical challenges in movement and build genuine community. Her mission is for every student to feel seen, cared for and authentically empowered while learning about themselves and others.
Favorite Livingston Spot: Seymour's Cafe
Heather is a dancer, educator, artist, and arts advocate. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Modern Dance from Point Park University and is the founder, director, and instructor of the award-winning dance program at County Prep High School, where she built a specialized curriculum focused on creative process with attention to cultural and social responsibility. She currently serves on the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Workgroup for the National Dance Education Organization. She has presented professional development, movement workshops, and lectures for NDEO, Dance New Jersey, Jersey City Public Schools, Montclair State University, and the Brooklyn Arts Exchange. She has performed in a wide range of performance genres (modern dance, West African dance, tap dance, music, theater), in venues throughout the east coast, including the NJ State Theater, Mass MoCA, Ars Nova, White Eagle Hall, Chashama, and the Williamsburg Art & Historical Center.
Favorite Sweet Treat: Cap'n Crunch
Have you ever wondered who put the “Michele” in Michele’s Dance Studio? Look no further than this newspaper clipping, courtesy of the West Essex Tribune from almost 40 years ago. Back in 1982, Michele Sandler, better known around town as Miss Michele, put on her leotard, opened her studio, and began sharing her love of dance. From these small and humble beginnings, MDS grew to be the leading presence for dance education in Livingston, NJ.
Over the years we've taught many generations of dance students. That goes for our family, too! From the beginning, Michele's sons, Scott and Ross, took classes at MDS and would show off their b-boy and tap routines around town as well as on the MDS stages. Since those early days, Ross has gone on to have an extensive career as an international performer, choreographer, and dance educator. We are proud to have such high quality dance education run in the family and to offer it to our wonderful community.
In the forty years since our founding, MDS has grown into a supportive studio for all of Livingston’s young dancers - it has become a place where a love of movement is fostered and where excellent training is the standard.
After 40 wonderful years, MDS just keeps getting better. With a highly educated faculty and top-notch clientele, MDS is now led by its second generation of the family. Studio owner Ross Sandler is a professional performer of dance and music with a B.F.A. in modern dance & choreography as well as certifications in yoga and teaching special needs students. Under his leadership, MDS is growing its community and enriching its curriculum to include even more artistry and performance. It continues to be a joyful, inspired, and inclusive studio where Livingston students can enjoy The Quality Dance Experience.