Faculty & Staff
Elizabeth M. Gaynor
Mrs. Gaynor founded Connecticut Dance School in 1970, and she has been a dancer, teacher, arts advocate and pivotal figure in the performing arts in Connecticut for over 50 years. She has retired as CDS director, but continues to serve on the board of directors.
Elizabeth Gaynor’s formal dance studies began as a child with Duncan style dance training and continued with studies in ballet and modern dance. Her dance teacher training was with The Royal Academy of Dance in London, where she is a registered teacher. She also studied with teachers and at workshops throughout the United States. She performed professionally with Dancers of Faith, Folk Art Trio, Encore Dancers and Opera New England.
Dona Wiley Kim
Artistic Director, Teacher – Academy & Pre-Professional Divisions
Dona Wiley Kim received her pre-professional dance training at the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance in Connecticut under the direction of James Robey, and studied ballet at many professional level summer intensives including the American Ballet Theater summer program in New York City. Dona Wiley Kim is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 5 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. She is also certified in Progressing Ballet Technique. Ms. Dona joined the CDS faculty in 2017, later becoming Assistant Director to Moira Murphy Wright and then Artistic Director. As a dance instructor, she has taught ballet and pointe, choreographed new works, and set classical repertoire in studios throughout New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Ms. Dona is the co-founder and rehearsal director of CelloPointe, a chamber music and ballet company based in New York City which has gone on tour crossing the nation, performing in Oregon, New Mexico, Arizona, and Connecticut. As a professional dancer she has also performed with Connecticut Ballet, Lydia Johnson Dance, Staten Island Ballet, and many others.
Educational Director, Teacher – Academy & Pre-Professional Divisions
Chihwan Kim holds a Master in Fine Arts for Dance Theater from Kookmin University in South Korea. Kim specializes in the Vaganova technique, which he has taught throughout the United States and Korea. Chihwan Kim is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. He is also certified in Progressing Ballet Technique. As a professional ballet dancer, Kim has performed with many companies, including the Gwangju City Ballet Company as a principal dancer, where he performed leading roles in the entire classical repertoire. He also performed internationally as a guest artist with several companies. Kim received his training at GITIS Korea as well as the GITIS Russian Institute of Theatre Arts in Moscow, under master teacher Illia Anatolivitch Migachev. Upon completing his training, he went on to win a gold medal in the International ballet Competition in South Korea.
Teacher – Children’s Division & Academy Division
Avery Lasky received her pre-professional training at New England Ballet and Ballet Etudes here in Connecticut. She was a student of Christina Fagundes for many years who was a Soloist with American Ballet Theatre. Avery also studied ballet at many summer intensives including, Burklyn Ballet, Joffrey, Kaatsbaan, Next Generation Ballet, Boston Ballet, and Philadelphia Ballet. Avery got accepted into the Philadelphia Ballet trainee program and trained pre professional for two years. She danced in the Company performances of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and Romeo and Juliet. She was also a part of the School of Philadelphia’s ballet outreach performances, school performances and many of Philadelphia Ballets second companies’ performances. Now Avery is a certified 500hr yoga teacher with certifications in kids’ yoga, and yoga for autism. Her passion is sharing her love of ballet to the younger generation.
Teacher – Children’s Division & Academy Division
Giovanna Carrain received her 8 years professional training at the school of Teatro alla Scala in Milan.
At age of 17 she received a scholarship to perform with the company in several productions. After graduating from La Scala she joined the corps de ballet of Arena di Verona where she also took part in the ballet scenes in Lyric Operas as “Aida”directed by F. Zeffirelli, “Nabucco”, “Carmen”, and “ Il Trovatore”. In 2003 she joined Fabulasaltica a contemporary company where she performed in works by renowned choreographers Claudio Ronda, Vito Alfarano, Nicholas Musin, Fabrizio Monteverde, Ismael Ivo, and danced soloist roles in several productions like “Pinocchio burattino senza fili”, “L’Histoire du Soldat”, “Barbablu”, “Dylan Dog”. “Oltre i Confini”. She also took part in “La Forza del Destino” and “Andrea Chenier”.
In 2009 she joined the University of Hartford as full-time faculty member teaching both the college students and the Hartt Community Dance Division alongside former directors Miguel Campaneria and Samantha Dunster. She also performed with Full Force Dance Theatre directed by Katie Stevenson-Nollet.
Teacher – Academy Division
Jess Spinner studied dance at the official school of the Eglevsky Ballet on Long Island. Over the years she attended summer programs including, most notably, Boston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre in NYC, and Orlando Ballet on scholarship. After high school, Jess went to Butler University and graduated with a degree in Dance and Arts Administration. She danced professionally with The Louisville Ballet and freelanced in the Boston area.
She is certified in Progressing Ballet Technique and works as a holistic health, nutrition, and lifestyle coach for dancers through her company The Whole Dancer. Jess has had the pleasure of writing for Pointe Magazine and Dance Teacher Magazine. She is beyond thrilled to join the faculty at Connecticut Dance School.
Teacher – Children’s Division
Debra MacDonald received her pre-professional training at American Ballet Academy, studying under Carol Sumner and Richard Rapp and performed in the Academy’s production of the Balanchine Nutcracker. She joined the CDS faculty in 2010. Debra holds two degrees in early childhood education. She has also been certified to fit Gaynor Minden pointe shoes. After training with the adaptive training program at Boston Ballet, Debra helped to found Dance 4 All Abilities, a program providing dance classes for students with autism spectrum disorder, downs syndrome, and physical disabilities. Past ballet training includes Boston Ballet City Dance Program, East Coast Youth Ballet and Stamford City Ballet. For five years, she served as lower school coordinator and outreach coordinator for the Ballet School of Stamford, under Stephanie Marini. Debra is also a musical theater choreographer and has done productions in CT, MA and NY. Past shows have included Annie, Oklahoma, Pippin, The Music Man, The Adams Family and West Side Story. Her teaching experience in early childhood education, coupled with her extensive experience with ballet dancers at all levels, makes her a valuable member of the CDS faculty.
Teacher – Adult/Teen Ballet and Musical Theater
Lindsay began dancing at the San Ramon Valley Dance Academy at the age of three, and never looked back! She also received training from BalletMet Columbus and The Russian Ballet Society. Lindsay competed at the national level at New York City Dance Alliance and spent two summers studying with them in NYC. This inspired Lindsay to move to the city, where she received full scholarship to Steps on Broadway and was a founding member of their scholarship ensemble. Lindsay’s theater credits include regional productions of The Music Man, Cabaret, and Legally Blonde the Musical, where she served as dance captain. Lindsay can also be seen dancing in the film No Strings Attached, the TV show Boardwalk Empire. Lindsay’s teaching career began back at her home studio, SRVDA, where she both instructed jazz, musical theater, and contemporary. She also directed their Teen and Senior Jazz Companies, and coached many dancers toward college dance programs and professional careers. Her teaching style is rooted in strong technique, while celebrating the individual. Her classes are challenging and full of joy! Lindsay is thrilled to be a part of the faculty at CDS!
Teacher – Contemporary & Hip-Hop
Olivia Innaco is a dancer and recent graduate of Eastern Connecticut State University. Here, she studied Sports and Leisure Management with a concentration in Sport Science and Theater with a concentration in Dance and World Performance. Olivia was also the Co-president of Fusion Dance Crew, where she choreographed, danced, and taught. She has been dancing for 18 years starting in a local studio, training in various styles. In 2021, she began her journey with professional company Team Leggoo. In addition to Team Leggoo, she continues her training through Broadway Dance Center, Brickhouse, and other studios in NYC. Olivia is focused on constantly learning and evolving as a versatile dancer. With the knowledge she gains, she aims to become a strong leader and find new ways to give back to the dance community.
Teacher – Contemporary & Hip-Hop
Serena Innaco is a dancer and choreographer from Shelton, Connecticut. She has recently graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University where she studied Theatre with a Dance and World performance concentration and Sports and Leisure Management with a concentration in Sport Science. Ms. Innaco has been dancing for 18 years and began her experience in her local dance studio where she learned ballet, tap, and jazz. She began learning hip-hop, contemporary, and modern dance at ECSU and continues her dance training through other studios, such as Double-Up Dance Studio, The Lab Creative Space, and The Grind Intensive. She has also expanded her dance education by taking classes at Broadway Dance Center and Brickhouse NYC under choreographers including Jojo Gomez, Galen Hooks, CJ Salvador, Ysabelle Capitule, and more. In addition, Ms. Innaco was the Co-Captain of ECSU’s Fusion Dance Crew where she was a dancer, choreographer, and instructor. She has also recently began instructing classes Connecticut Dance School and has also taught at the Lab Creative Space. Ms. Innaco is dedicated to the artistic development of her craft as a dancer and instructor. She strives to always be in a position of learning, initiate roles of leadership, and find ways to give back in her community.
Patrice Pudvah Logan
Teacher – Dance 4All Abilities
Patrice Pudvah Logan holds a Teacher’s Certificate from the Hartford Ballet School. She has taught, danced and choreographed throughout the state and is well known for her creative work with young children. She joined the CDS faculty in 1987. Patrice has set a standard of excellence in dance training for pre-ballet, beginning ballet and young jazz students. She is highly regarded as a master teacher and has conducted many successful teacher training workshops. Patrice has also conducted outreach programs at Fairfield Library, Westport Library, Stratford Library and Fairfield University and has completed the Boston Ballet’s Adaptive Dance Teacher Training Program. She along with Debra MacDonald implement and manage our Dance 4All Abilities programs.
Marianela Colon joined CDS in February 2022. Marianela loves dealing with children and has worked many years in customer relations and business development. Marianela hails from Puerto Rico, speaks fluent Spanish, and is a professional photographer. She is also the proud mother of two boys. You can call her Nela for short.
CT Dance School Board Members 2023-2024
|Dorothy Curran, President
Ann Harvey, Vice President
Jan Weller, Treasurer
Beatrice Vornle, Secretary
Elizabeth Gaynor, Founder & President Emerita
Dona Wiley Kim, Artistic Director
Chihwan Kim, Education Director