The New England Academy of Dance has long enjoyed a reputation for providing quality dance training. The staff includes a permanent faculty of men and women of very different backgrounds who have danced with such acclaimed companies as the Dance Theater of Harlem, the Paul Taylor Dance Company, Ballet Hispanico, and many more. The faculty is occasionally augmented by professional dancers from quality companies in New York City.


Frances Ortiz, co-director
Ms. Ortiz earned a BFA at SUNY Purchase and an MA in dance education at NYU. She received scholarships to Dance Theater of Harlem, The Martha Graham School and The Ailey School. She has performed works by Kevin Wynn, Elisa Monte and Ti Martin, and her choreography has been showcased on PBS in City Arts. In 2002 Ms. Ortiz co-founded Thomas/Ortiz Dance with Ted Thomas. She has taught and presented dance works at Yale and NYU and in addition to her responsibilities at NEAD, is currently a teacher at Greenwich High School.

Ginna Ortiz, co-director
Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Ms. Ortiz studied dance at the New World School of the Arts in Miami, FL, and received her BFA from SUNY Purchase with her twin sister Frances. From 1994 to 1998, Ms. Ortiz performed with Dance Theater of Harlem, and subsequently worked with a number of independent choreographers in New York City.  She is currently a company member and rehearsal director with Thomas/Ortiz Dance Theater. Ms. Ortiz has been teaching at NEAD since 1996, and became co-director in 2003.

Ted Thomas, associate director
Mr. Thomas attended La Guardia High School of Performing Arts in New York City, earned his BFA in dance from SUNY Purchase, and his MA in dance education from NYU. He spent seven years as a member of the Paul Taylor Dance Company, and he has also performed with Ballet Hispanico, the Elisa Monte Dance Company, and Nikolais/Louis Dance. In 2002 Mr. Thomas co-founded Thomas/Ortiz Dance with Frances Ortiz. He has also taught at Barnard College.


Mary Lynn Poin
Miss Mary Lynn has been teaching at NEAD for over thirty years. Mary Lynn began her dance training as an adult at Ballet Etudes in Norwalk, CT in 1971. She later danced with Ballet Etudes Repertory Company and conducted her own classes, workshops, and performances for children and adults at the school. She also completed an intensive teacher training program. She teaches for the Connecticut Dance School in Southport CT as well as at New England Academy of Dance. She is presently head of  Elementary Dance Education for the Student and Children Divisions at NEAD.

Laura Tashji
Miss Laura has taught dance locally at the Ballet School of Stamford, Darien Dance Center, Westport Dance Center, Conservatory of Dance in Georgetown and at the Alvin Ailey Camp at the University of Bridgeport. She has appeared in the off Broadway musical, Scott and Zelda, as in the dream Zelda- ballet dancer, and she sang the role of Gertrude in Hansel and Gretel at the Palace Theatre in Stamford. She has performed in regional theaters in plays including, A Few Good Men, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and musicals, which include The Sound of Music and Pal Joey. She has appeared in Law and Order and was cast in an indepent film by Andre Degas. Laura grew up in NYC and attended NYC’s High School of Performing Arts.

Gabrielle Gilchrist
Received her early dance training at the New England Academy of Dance in New Canaan, CT. under the direction of Ginna Ortiz, Frances Ortiz, and Ted Thomas as well as attended Ballet Regent, American Academy of Ballet, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. Gabrielle has since performed various lead roles in ballet such as the Nutcracker, Con Amore by Lew Christen, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and George Balanchine’s Valse-Fantaisie under the direction of Bettie-Jane Sills. She went on to receive her Bachelors of Arts Degree in Arts Management at SUNY Purchase College. She is presently a teacher and rehearsal assistant at New England Academy of Dance and a member of Thomas/ Ortiz Dance.

Guest Teachers

Kristen Prescott
Kristen began her dance training at Connecticut Ballet and went on to graduate from the Greenwich Ballet Academy under Sara Knight and Michael Shannon. In 2007, Kristen won a bronze medal in the Contemporary Division of the Youth America Grand Prix in South Carolina. She has studied at Walnut Hill School for the Arts, Nutmeg Conservatory, and Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and attended Colorado Ballet’s Summer Program on full scholarship, where she was later offered a position with the Studio Company. She has danced professionally with Configuration Dance Theatre, and Connecticut Ballet, Ballet des Ameriques and Thomas Ortiz Dance.

Danielle Shupe
Danielle trained at the Woodbury Ballet and later the Joffrey Ballet School in NYC as a full scholarship trainee. She danced with New York Theatre Ballet for three seasons and currently dances with Connecticut Ballet, Thomas/Ortiz dance and freelances in NYC.  She is ABT certified in levels pre-primary- level 3.


Samantha Goldman