My story...

I began dancing when I was five years old at the local dance studio in Caldwell, NJ called "Skip Randall Dance Center".  My mother enrolled me in dance class because I was clumsy and thought that dance would teach me to be graceful. Haha...

There was something about my very first class that sparked my passion for dance and little did she know, what she has started. I knew on that very day, in my very first dance class with Miss Martha, that when I grew up, I was going to be a dance teacher.

Being raised by a single mother taught me so much about work ethic and family values. I learned very early that I was in charge of my destiny and had to work hard in order to achieve my goals. Mom was always willing to work overtime so that she could have a little more spending money to do something nice for my brother and I. As perhaps most memorably, Mom was there for me every time I stepped onto a stage. She never missed a single performance.

When I was younger, she could only afford one dance class a week. When I was in high school it was  my teacher/mentor/idol, Sandra Coyte, that allowed me to assist in trade for dance classes. I will never forget the gifts she gave me and still does to this day with her gentle reminders that I am on the right path and I make my mom so proud of my accomplishments as she watches over us from above.

After high school, I went to Montclair State University for six years all of which was paid by grants, scholarships and loans that I took upon myself to pay back. I took nothing for granted.  Two bachelor’s degrees and 190 credits later, I graduated.

Now that I am the dance teacher, I strive everyday to inspire my dancers, push them and teach them values such as perseverance, honesty, loyalty, humility and faith.  You don’t have to be the best dancer in the world because at the end of the day, who cares if you can do 25 pirouettes? That skill is only something you will be able to do temporarily.  What inspires me is the girl who dances on that stage with everything she has and does it with passion oozing from every cell in her body. Passion is a lifelong gift…

I love all my dancers from the little two year old it took me six weeks to win over to the hip hopper that said “I will never take ballet” (you should see her in her leotard and tights ready for ballet). From the dancer who stuck with me through thick and thin all these years and makes me cry every time I watch her dance to the little boy with autism who tries so hard in his tap class to get those shuffle ball change sounds clean and happens to call me mom.

I strive everyday to be a better teacher than I was the day before. I go to dance teacher and studio owner conferences to learn from the dance industry's greats and I am a proud member of IDEA (International Dance Entrepreneurs Association).  I encourage all my teachers to be continual learners and evolve as educators as well.

I value children remaining children without wearing revealing costumes or dancing to songs that exceed their maturity level. I believe in balance to a child's dance training with equal performance opportunities, competition and conventions.  I don't believe that tricks make a dancer great and above all else, I aspire to develop a relationship with my dancers that is built on respect, admiration and loyalty. Oh and HUGS...lots and lots of big squeezy hugs!

I am the dance teacher/mentor/role model you’ve been looking for…. I invite you to get to know our dance family, you will be happy that you did!


Ceylan Gentilella

Founder/Artistic Director