Julie Berger-Cummings, Founder and Artistic Director
A pioneer in the dance industry, Julie fulfilled her childhood dream to open a dance studio 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.
In 2012, Julie received a Masters in Education degree from West Chester University and implements many effective teaching methods to make her dance classes fun, effective and inspiring!
In 2019, Julie fulfilled another long-time goal: to be a “salsa professor!” She joined the staff at Bryn Mawr College.
In 2020, Julie used the shutdown due to the pandemic as an opportunity to buckle-down and create video tutorials of her entire one-of-a-kind dance curriculum. These videos are available by subscription in a private Facebook group and they benefit folks from all over the world who subscribe. She also starting teaching group classes virtually and has taught students all across the country.
Since founding Salsa in the Suburbs, over sixteen years ago, Julie has taught 1000s of people to dance both at her studio and at off-site facilities. These away locations include: Swarthmore College, Penn State, ACAC Health and Wellness Center, and Neumann University to name just a few! She is consistently told by her students that her role in their lives has made a huge impact on their well-being and joyfulness. These words continue to fuel her career.
Tommy Bennett, Latin Dance Instructor
Tommy came to SITS as a student of Latin Dance in 2021. He quickly fell in love with both Salsa and Bachata and spent a lot of time taking classes, private lessons, bootcamps, and dancing socially. Being the driven individual he is, Tommy graduated or took all of the Latin Dance Curriculum at SITS in record speed. He then went on to be a class helper, shadowing and assisting with hours of classes. He also completed the instructor training course and then completed his dance certification test to officially start his career as an instructor. Tommy brings years of leadership and adult training to the studio from his time in the business world. The culture and family atmosphere has been a great fit for Tommy, and many students have been motivated and encouraged by him to also complete the SITS curriculum by taking classes multiple days per week and to go out social dancing. Tommy has leveraged an upbringing in sports with attention to detail and hard work, which has been his platform for picking up Latin dancing. You can find Tommy at the studio or at Latin socials continuing to both learn himself, as well as inspiring others to find their path to joy through dance.
Marie Evans, Latin Dance Instructor
Marie came to Salsa in the Suburbs with a great deal of dance experience! Marie started her journey in the 1990s in Queens, NY by taking Jazz, African, and Tap. Later on in the 90s she continued her studies in Manhattan. With that start, she built upon her experiences by dancing at Broadway Dance, Steps on Broadway, Djoniba Drum and Dance, Manhattan Motion in addition to a ballet studio above Lincoln Center. After a move to Long Island in 2000 Marie focused on ballet, tap, hip hop, and jazz at Nassau Dance. Marie found Salsa in the Suburbs shortly before moving to PA, where, upon arriving at the studio, made it a point to try every class. She immediately felt the warm, welcoming sensation all feel when coming to the studio, which kept her coming back for more!
Marie thoroughly enjoys teaching and makes it a point to learn more from each class she takes, not only as a dancer, but also as an educator. She thrives on the challenges presented to her in classes as she soaks in the knowledge of how to both lead and follow every step of the way. Marie appreciates the work it takes to build upon a foundation set at the beginning of each class to help grow each and every one of her students.
Through Marie’s passion as a dance student and teacher, she is driven to continue increasing her level of excellence in the world of Salsa! From that passion grew her desire to be part of the Salsa in the Suburbs team where she can continue to grow and help others grow along with her in an already supportive environment.
Marie’s teaching style can be defined as patient, understanding, and comforting. She makes it a point to keep her students at ease and allow them to grow at a pace that works for them. Through her energy and incredible drive she reminds students that dancing is all about the enjoyment of life and having fun!
Since joining the Salsa in the Suburbs team in 2020, she has gotten certified to teach many Salsa and Bachata courses which make up our one-of-a-kind Latin Dance curriculum under the direction of founder, Julie Berger, and she is currently training on higher level courses too.
Victor Cummings, Dance and Music Instructor
Victor is a passionate music and dance educator, professional musician, and martial artist. He is currently in his 15th year in the public education field where he has taught general and instrumental music classes at the elementary, middle, high school, and collegiate levels.
As a high school band director, Victor is in charge of several musical ensembles and thoroughly enjoys bringing the world of music to any and all of his students. In addition to being an educator he is a professional freelance trumpet player who has played a multitude of performances in a variety of styles in the tri-state area, and was on tour in Belarus during the summer of 2019 with the rock group Whiskey Logic.
While already taking on the busy schedule of an educator and a musician, Victor also trains in martial arts. He earned his black belt in Ryukyu Kempo in August of 2020, and also become an instructor/sensei for a short while, before shifting all his free time over to dance.
Victor joined the Salsa in the Suburbs team in 2020, in order to use his talents to help people “Find the 1” or find the beat in music. Since then, he has learned the entire Latin dance curriculum as a student, and has been steadily teaching more and more private lessons and group classes. He’s even been teaching wedding dance choreography and his students have all raved about his enthusiastic personality and ability to break things down to make learning fun and easy!
Lastly, he is available to teach trumpet, beginner guitar, percussion, piano, and voice lessons to all who would like to learn!
Robert Ranalli, Latin Dance Instructor
Several 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 advanced levels of Salsa, Bachata, Argentine Tango, West Coast Swing, East Coast Swing, and Kizomba. On top of all that, he also performed Salsa routines as well as Bachata routines 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!
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!
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”.