Julie Berger, Founder and Artistic Director
A pioneer in the dance industry, Julie has fulfilled her lifelong dream with the creation of “Salsa in the Suburbs.” As a young girl, she marveled at those who touched lives with the art of dance. Being the driven, passionate person that Julie is, she joined many dance intensive programs at a young age, the first being a national tour with Hoctor Dance Caravan. Throughout the tour, she performed in competitions, assisted with judging and served as a student-teacher in master classes. At the end of this tour, Julie made a commitment to herself to ultimately inspire and change lives by means of dance.
Soon after, Julie took the first step towards realizing this dream by becoming one of the primary tap and jazz instructors at the Media Dance Center; she continued teaching there for the next four years. During these years, her most notable attribute was her natural ability to create and teach dynamic, unique choreography. While simultaneously teaching at the Media Dance Center, Julie decided to make a daring investment to further her dance education. Leaving all that was familiar, she switched schools to attend the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts, where she majored in dance. The experience gained was invaluable.
After graduating high school with honors, Julie received a B.A. in Theatre Arts from Temple University, and studied both domestically and abroad. While studying in London, England, she discovered the art of salsa dancing. Completely awe-struck by this exotic form of dance, Julie was motivated to seek out and study with internationally renowned instructors in England, France, Sweden, and the United States. After her intensive instruction, Julie developed into a master dance instructor. She was finally ready to realize her lifelong dream.
In 2007, she put thoughts to action with the creation of “Salsa in the Suburbs.” Her intention is to use dance as a vehicle to help people gain confidence, learn, grow, and feel inspired. As a secondary goal, Julie wants to make Latin dance accessible to those living far from urban centers.
Shauna Belizéando, Latin Dance, Hip-Hop, and Fitness Instructor
As a woman of Central-American heritage, Shauna has always had a passion for Latin American culture through both music & dance. For over a decade, she has been on the Latin Dance scene. Known for her “sassy-flashy” unique style and incredibly fast multiple spins, she is definitely one of the top Salsa Social Dancers, Performers and Spinners in the Philadelphia/ Southern NJ area.
As a professionally trained Salsa Acrobatic Performer, Shauna has danced all over the world, including Las Vegas, Colombia, Ireland, Los Angeles, and India. Specializing in Aerials/Lifts/Tricks/Spins, she occasionally dances in various shows/events and Congresses. For seven consecutive years, Shauna performed pro-level Salsa-acrobatic routines with her partner at the Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City & and other Philadelphia Latin venues. Shauna entered and won 1st place in one of the Philadelphia College Showdown Competitions held at Drexel University. Being the Dance Captain of a Pro-Football Dance/Cheer Team, Shauna gained additional experience in performing their dance style specialty which consisted of both Pop & Hip Hop Dance routines.
One of Shauna’s passions is occasionally traveling back to Central-America to visit her family where she enjoys donating her time running free dance workshops for school aged children in both Spanish & English. Her life-long passion for health has also led her to a degree in Health/Nutritional Biochemistry, and prior Nursing experience in both specialties of OB/GYN & Medical-Surgical.
Shauna was honored to join the close-knit SITS team as one of the main dance instructors. She currently teaches several group classes — Salsa, Bachata, & Ladies Styling’ performance classes, Shines/Spins, a Hip Hop Performance Dance Team, as well as a variety of genres of Dance-Fitness class/workshops including “Cardio Funk Fusion”, “Flirty Girl”, “Cardio Funky Steps” and “Diva Dance.” Shauna is known for her friendly, bubbly, energetic personality, easy, step-by-step teaching methods and her everlasting patience. She loves working with students of all levels to achieve their personal dance goals and is available for both group & private lessons at Salsa in the Suburbs.
Robert Ranalli, Latin Dance Instructor
A few years ago, Robert Ranalli had turned his physical health and wellness around for the better. He used to be out of shape and overweight, but through a lifestyle change lost over 30 pounds. This new lifestyle included a healthy diet, exercise, running, yoga, biking, rock climbing, and more. There was a place of happiness and pride amidst all of this, but there was something missing and he was not sure what it was. He decided to challenge himself by trying something completely new, and this new challenge was to learn how to dance.
This new challenge led him to discover salsa classes at Salsa in the Suburbs, so he signed up right away. This was the smartest decision he made in his early years of adulthood. He was instantly hooked! Before he even graduated Beginner I Salsa, he signed up for his first Bachata class and then he developed a serious addiction. This addiction to dance led to a hunger to learn more styles of dance. Now he has reached intermediate levels of Salsa, Bachata, Argentine Tango, West Coast Swing, East Coast Swing, and Kizomba. On top of all that, he also performed a Salsa routine as well as a Bachata routine in front of hundreds!
He knows what it is like to walk into the studio not knowing what to expect, to be intimidated, and to question himself. He broke through that wall and now his mission is to convince anyone who doubts themselves that they possess the ability to dance. Our brain is the only thing that stops us all from dancing. When we open that door in our brain, we allow our hands to connect with others, our feet to gear up and move, and our hearts to connect to the beat of the music. Rob’s goal here at the studio is to welcome every new heart that walks into the studio, provide a comfortable and engaging environment to learn, and to challenge everyone to realize their potential. Most importantly, he will challenge every student to HAVE FUN!
Keila Perez-Vega, Ballet and Latin Dance Instructor
Born and raised in a Puerto Rican household, the love for rhythm and dance started at a young age. Keila began her professional dance training in high school at the Academy for the Performing Arts in Denville, NJ. Here she was introduced to modern dance, classical ballet, and theater. Soon after, Keila enrolled in Sharon Miller’s Academy of Dance, where she became a member of their Performance Workshop Ensemble performing works at local venues and events. Keila thereafter moved to Philadelphia where she received her Bachelors in Fine Arts in Dance at the University of the Arts. UArts has offered her the opportunity to train in ballet, modern, and jazz and continue her improvisational and choreographic research. Keila has had the honor and privilege to train and perform works from world renown artist and train at some of the best programs in the United States.
In 2012 Keila became a dance company member of Eleone Dance Theatre, and became a principal dancer a year thereafter. During this time her love for salsa was ignited, when she was asked to help run the University of the Arts Salsa Club. In no time Latin dance became Keila’s new found passion outside her professional concert dance career. Dancing the night away socially and with the guidance of few mentors Keila flourished in salsa and bachata. She became the lead instructor of the UArts Salsa Club and has taught classes in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas.
As Keila is currently a touring artist with two dance projects in Philadelphia and NYC, she s excited to continue fostering her love for salsa at Salsa in the Suburbs! Keila is not only excited to teach and witness people grow, but hopes to inspire change in people through dance. While challenging students every class, Keila hopes to facilitate a positive environment where dance can move, change, and speak to whoever walks into the classroom.
Nika Shakhmuradova, Ballroom Dance Instructor
Nika Shakhmuradova started dancing as a child in Moscow, Russia. After moving to the United States, she joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Ballroom Dance Team. There, Nika learned to compete in both International and American Ballroom dance styles in addition to Standard/Smooth dances, and Latin/Rhythm dances. Nika continues to actively compete and perform in International Ballroom competition and showcases.
Nike specializes in teaching beginner dancers and particularly enjoys doing unique, dynamic, and elegant wedding choreography. In addition to ballroom dancing, Nika also does other forms of dance, such as Zumba®, modern dance, and acrobatics.
Susan Liberace, Ballroom/Wedding Dance Instructor
Susan started her dancing career in Junior High School, training in gymnastics. Floor exercises soon became her favorite because she could DANCE! Then for the majority of her teenage to young adult years, Susan would watch Channel 12 – Public Broadcasting’s Ohio Star Ball, featuring Sam Sodano (Creator of the Ohio Star Ball and also Chairman on Arthur Murray International Dance Board and Franchisee Owner).
Upon graduating from Business School with degrees in Accounting/Finance and Business Management, she started working at Flanagan’s Night Club (both in King of Prussia & on Philadelphia’s South Street) as Lead Dancer and performing at Pulsations Entertainment Complex in Character Study. From Pulsations’ exposure, Susan was then invited by Philadelphia’s Channel 6 morning program to model Madonna clothing line.
In 1993, Susan was not only able to meet Sam Sodano in person, but received direct training under Sam Sodano and Vicki Venka (creators of the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Arthur Murray Syllabus) while working at Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Narberth, PA. After the studio closed in 1998, Susan continued to dance and choreograph with several theater groups (Barnstormer’s Theater, Center Stage Productions, Footlighter’s Theater, Calvary Chapel Acting-Up, Mermaid Players) and worked in New Hope, PA, with Hewitt Productions performing/dancing in Murder Mystery Dinner Theater Improv group.
Susan also spent time alongside ‘Christina’, Instructor for Art of Exotic Dance for Everyday Women (AOED), and was asked to dance for AOED’s Comcast/On Demand instructional video in 2006, and then worked at Medina Karate Kempo, Springfield, PA; teaching an 8 week class of Introduction to 7 Styles of Dance (Swing, Rumba, Waltz, Jitterbug, Tango, Foxtrot and Hustle).
She is now every excited to meet & dance with everyone at Salsa in the Suburbs!!! Whether you’re searching for the Perfect First Dance, or need some tips before you (or your family!) get on that dance floor in front of all of your guests and videographers, Susan will be happy to help show you a few basic steps or choreograph a special First Dance that you’ll never forget. Why wait? Book your lesson today!
Ryan Morfei, Latin Dance Instructor
Our youngest instructor, Ryan had no dance background and little experience with anything athletic before coming to “Salsa in the Suburbs.” But he loves a challenge! Ryan first became interested in dancing when he watched his mother and her boyfriend practicing Beginner 1 moves in their kitchen. This prompted him to learn the moves himself, so he could “beat” his mother’s boyfriend at salsa. He picked it up quickly, and soon after signed up for his own classes.
Ryan very quickly fell in love with dance. He had always loved music, and found the corresponding dance movements very natural to perform. He loved dancing with a partner, and soon started teaching everyone at his school who was willing to learn salsa. When Ryan approached Julie about potential job opportunities at the Studio, she was at first skeptical due to his age, but knew that he was a good dancer and eventually let him prove himself by helping with Beginner 1. After several months of devoted training, completing two performance classes, and the most advanced salsa classes offered at the studio, Ryan earned his certificate as an instructor.
Ryan understands what it’s like to come into dance having little experience, and loves helping people to learn and better themselves in salsa. He goes out of his way to dance with as many people as possible during each party, and encourages newer dancers to break out of their shell and explore their creativity through salsa.
Craig Jackson, Latin Dance Instructor
Craig’s passion for dance was sparked in college when he took a Latin dance class at Wittenberg University in Ohio. Though he started the class skeptical about what he would learn, he left enamored by the gracefulness of salsa dancing. Craig’s thirst for dance could not be quenched, so he continued to take lessons from top instructors in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Before he knew it, Craig starred in a salsa performance and began teaching shortly thereafter.
Craig’s passion is in teaching beginner Salsa and Bachata students because he enjoys inspiring their love of dance and love of self the same way his was inspired years ago. Like Julie, Craig is motivated to use dance as a vehicle to help people gain confidence, to learn and to grow! While he attends graduate school to become a Physician’s Assistant, Craig continues to evolve as a dancer and teacher by attending various workshops and participating in performances. If you want to take your dancing and your social life to the next level, join us in group class or call us to schedule your private lesson with Craig today!
Jan Carfagno, Barre Instructor
Jan’s first love was dance. As a little girl, she took ballet and tap lessons. Modern dance lessons came later and throughout her career as a Cardio Dance instructor. As a mom and group exercise participant, Jan had something to prove to herself: that after years of suffering from asthma she was in good enough physical condition to actually teach group fitness classes! And she was! And, she did! As an ACSM and Advanced Certified Instructor, she taught classes in Step, Body Shaping, and Dance Fitness in various fitness clubs and studios throughout Delaware County. When her children attended Swarthmore Friends Nursery School, she was a substitute Creative Dance instructor there. Exemplifying her passion for helping women look and feel their best, Jan is a licensed Cosmetologist, Makeup Artist, and has worked as a Medical Esthetician. After years of exploring her many passions she is thrilled to be back teaching fitness. Jan’s passion and love of music, and her keen ability to help women feel and look fabulous are evident in her upbeat, cardio-inspired Barre classes!
She and her husband, Steven, and their kids lived in Springfield, Delaware County for 24 years. Now, Jan and Steven reside in Media Borough with their four rescue cats. Jan believes we’re all connected through energy and has her Reiki Level 2 designation. In keeping with that belief, she is a plant-based eater who is actively involved in animal advocacy and causes.
And, she truly believes one of her favorite quotes: “Not all who wander are lost.” J.R.R. Tolkien
Rebecca Damia, E-RYT – 500, Yoga Instructor
Rebecca Damia comes to Salsa in the Suburbs as a highly experienced and masterful yoga instructor. Rebecca has been practicing yoga since 1998 and teaching yoga since 2002. She is amongst the best trained yoga instructors, having accumulated over 1,000 hours of various yoga training programs, and she spends several hours per day practicing her own yoga techniques. Rebecca’s primary practice & studies have been devoted to the Ashtanga Yoga method since 2004. As of 2016, she has made a commitment to devote herself fully towards sharing her love of yoga with others. She is thrilled to join Salsa in the Suburbs as her new yoga home and primary teaching location, and is excited to start building a yoga program which will heal, strengthen and bring forth peacefullness for her students and consequently our community.
Kelly Yiadom, Zumba Instructor
Born and raised in Washington Heights, located in New York, NY, Kelly Yiadom recalls the echoes of Latin rhythms such as Salsa, Merengue, Reggaeton and Bachata permeating the air around her high-rise apartment. With these sounds, and an extremely musical family environment, she fell in love with music and movement.
Kelly began her ballet training at the age of five at The Harlem School of the Arts. She continued her dance education, in the area of tap, at The Michelle Compa dance studio in Bronx, NY. Kelly later trained for four years at Swarthmore College in a contemporary African dance style called Umfundulai. It was this form of dance that truly touched both her spirit and soul and inspired her to perform. Upon graduation, she apprenticed with Kariamu and Company and was a member of Troupe Dada, a West African and Afro-Cuban dance ensemble.
After having her first child, she sought to re-enter the dance world through Zumba and was certified in February 2010. She taught Zumba classes at the Lansdowne YMCA, held classes for her co-workers, and volunteered for Zumba fundraisers as a way to give back to the community.
As a full time teacher and mother of three, Kelly uses her educator skills to coach and uplift those in her presence. Furthermore, the passion she has for dance metaphorically transforms the space into a lively party; and her energetic and encouraging approach creates a class atmosphere that is exciting, supportive, yet challenging. Kelly is dedicated to ensuring that you have a dynamic and unforgettable Zumba experience. She is pleased to be part of the Salsa in the Suburbs team.
Donna McCoy, Zumba Instructor
Donna’s life as a dancer began as a salsa student at Salsa in the Suburbs back in February 2014 . She was feeling a little low and disconnected, so she decided to do something to pick herself up. She bought a few classes, intending to use them for Zumba classes, thinking a little exercise might do her some good. It just so happened that, when she called to inquire about signing up for Zumba classes, a Beginner I Salsa class was starting and she said, “what the heck, I’ll try Salsa.” She loved it so much that she kept coming, and since she still wanted to try Zumba, she then signed up for some of those, too. Her first Zumba class was Nicole’s Saturday morning class and she had so much fun, she forgot that she was working out until she stopped and realized that she was sweating. That was nearly two years ago and, to this day, it is still one of her favorite ways to spend a Saturday morning.
Over the past year, Donna has lost over 95 pounds and is still working toward her weight loss and fitness goals. She attributes a big part of her success to her attendance in Salsa and Zumba classes at Salsa in the Suburbs! She has completed all of Salsa in the Suburbs’ Salsa syllabi and graduated into the highest level salsa class offered, as well as participated in two Bachata Performance classes! She has attended every Zumba instructor’s classes at the studio and has attended Zumba many times per week, consistently, for the last two years.
She feels she has undergone a transformation – she calls it that because nothing else describes why things are different for her now than they have been with her past attempts at weight loss. Salsa in the Suburbs’ classes have made the difference she needed in her life. She cannot think of a time when she’s been happier or healthier. She decided to teach Zumba because she wants to share with other people the incredible feeling that Zumba gives her – the joy, the sense of accomplishment, and the power she feels as a result of having overcome something that’s been a monkey on her back for years. She is putting together a class with music that makes her happy, so hopefully it will make others happy, that lets her and her students have fun with some of the Latin dances she has come to love so much with the goal of helping others achieve their fitness and weight-loss goals along their journeys.
She is thrilled to be able to contribute to something really special and is determined to do it justice!
Nicole Lanciano, Zumba Instructor
Nicole began her dance training as a small child, excelling in both Hip Hop and Salsa. She has performed at many venues, including the 2006 Phiiladelphia Salsa Congress. She has taught hip-hop for the last ten years to both children and adults in and around the Philadelphia tri-state area.
When Nicole discovered Zumba, she was immediately convinced that she was destined to share this amazing Latin-inspired, dance-fitness class with others. She was Zumba trained and certified by Maria Browning in College Park, Maryland. Zumba allows Nicole to combine elements of her favorite dance forms into a fun, fat-burning, dance party. She is delighted to have the opportunity to bring Zumba to Salsa in the Suburbs!
Carrie Krause, Zumba Instructor
Although exercise had always been of importance to Carrie, she always found it difficult to stay interested and motivated. However, it was love at first shimmy when a friend introduced her to Zumba in 2009. After learning from some of the best instructors in the area, Carrie became licensed to teach Zumba in 2011. She is also licensed to teach Zumbatomic for children. Her passion for Zumba truly exploded after attending the Zumba Instructor Convention in Florida that summer. After achieving weight loss success and a positive outlook on life through Zumba, she is pleased to help others attain their fitness goals.
“I love the idea that Zumba is for everyone; I love that exercise can be fun again! It’s a challenge that leaves you feeling sexy, strong, empowered, and above all else confident in the person you see in the mirror.”
Sarah Carkner, Sensual Striptease Instructor
No, she’s not a professional stripper, although she’s a great striptease instructor! Sarah actually obtained her Bachelors in Neuroscience and Masters of Wellness Management while also pursuing her love of dance and fitness. An advocate of personal growth and self-development, Sarah acquired her Professional Coaching Certification and started a successful Life and Business coaching practice out of Malvern, PA. Sarah has established herself as a local fitness expert teaching exercise and dance classes to crowds of hundreds. No stranger to the stage, Sarah has appeared as the guest expert Life Coach on Navigating Your Life with Nat Williams and has presented at a range of venues from the Mind, Body, and Spirit Expo to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Sarah has been a certified group fitness instructor for thirteen years and personal trainer for ten. Sarah’s intention is to make each class so much fun that time flies and the benefit of exercising are only secondary to the elation that is felt when doing something good for your mind, body, and spirit. Sarah is currently available for private parties such as bachelorette parties or Girls’ Night Out Events at the studio or at your home!
Kahina Asurah, Bellydance Instructor
Kahina Asurah, native of Kiev, Ukraine, is a professional belly dance artist and she enjoys sharing her love of dance with others. She has graced stages in Ukraine, Romania and Mexico. Review after review will attest to the satisfaction of having Kahina perform at your event.
Kahina performs Egyptian cabaret and modern Egyptian dance. She regularly performs across the tri-state area, to name a few venues: the MERCEDES BENZ GALA; the opening act for concert of REKNOWN ROCK STAR Michael Angelo Batio; The PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER Travel Show at the Philadelphia Convention Center; BALLY’S, HARRAHS and the BORGATA CASINO in Atlantic City, NJ.
Kahina has appeared on the MIND TV program in the history of Belly Dance section. Her articles are published in “MOSAIC”, London,UK and “SHIMMY”, USA. Kahina holds certificates in “Journey Through Egypt” Level 1 and 2, and “Sahra-Style Cairo Oriente”.
She expresses “that it is difficult to explain her fascination with dance in a simple, linear way. One can start by discussing the feminine, spiritual or self-expressive side of dance, and one can mention that most of the ancient civilizations used dance as a ritualistic tool for communicating with the divine; but she thinks that dance also helps us to understand our roots, the world around us, and ourselves”.
Kahina started dancing early in her childhood, while spending summers in the Black Sea region and in the Steppes, where she stayed with her grandmother. Her first memory about dancing is the vision of caravans of gypsies wearing colorful skirts, singing and dancing. Their bodies moving in hypnotic motions, bestowing spells on those around them. She reveals: “I am certain it cast a spell on me then; and now, much later in time, and on a different continent, I still feel the power of that enchanted potion”.