The Kennedy Dancers is a non-profit Jersey City Based Professional, American Dance Company established in 1976 with a mission of bringing high quality dance training and professional performance opportunities to the NY/NJ Metro area. Since it’s inception, the company has grown to responds to the community’s special needs serving low income/at risk/incarcerated teens/senior citizens through diverse dance classes offering fun/fitness/performance opportunities.
The company was founded by Artistic Director, Diane Dragone, in 1976, to bring high quality dance performances to Jersey City, greater Hudson County, and the tri-state area. Since it’s inception, the company has responded to needs in the community, and has grown to include a community dance school, dance programs in local public school systems, including programming designed specifically for the learning disabled, physically challenged and urban youth, dance programs for the elderly, and Dance Vista, a television program reaching 20 states focusing on emerging women and minority dance artists.
The professional dance troupe performs a regular season each year in and around its home base, Jersey City. Each year the company reaches 6,500 through its public performances, with an additional 2,000 reached through touring performances. Kennedy Dancers tours have ranged the mid-Atlantic coast, from New England to Washington, DC. Video footage of the company has also been shown in international venues in France, Spain, Malta, Germany and Austria. Additionally, the Kennedy Dancers’ performance of Artistic Director Diane Dragone’s Variations on a Folk Song: Giles and Josephine, a work which portrays the American immigration.
New Jersey University certified teacher of dance by NJ Department of Education. Taught special education dance 1984-1992 at Hudson County Schools of Technology. Performer/Teacher/Choreographer Regional and National Broadway Tours and North Jersey Dance Company. Frequent guest teacher at several grammar/high schools and universities. Executive producer of award winning Dance Vista cable television program-now in its 25th season. Artistic director/choreographer for the Kennedy Dancers.
Abby is a graduate of the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. She has worked with choreographers such as Mimi Quillin, Joanna Mauer, Salvatore LaRussa, Jennifer Muller, and Mary Seidman. Abby is currently also dancing with Beth Soll and Company, Zco/Dance project, Katharine Pettit Creative, and Dance Visions NY. She has performed on stages such as Radio City Music Hall, the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space, Jazz at Lincoln Center, BAM Fisher, University Settlement, New York Live Arts, Dixon Place, Westbeth Theatre Center, Steppingstone Waterside Theater, The Episcopal Actors Guild Hall, Triskelion Arts Center, and multiple performances at the Owen J. Grundy Pier and at the Ailey Citigroup Theater. Along with being a multidisciplinary movement artist, Abby is also a teaching artist with Mark Morris Dance Center.
Quincy Southerland is a Graduate of Georgian Court University (2022) with a BA in Dance. Some of his past credits include Hairspray the Broadway Musical [Royal Caribbean Entertainment], Nutcracker Rocks, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and more with [Axelrod Contemporary Ballet Theater]. As well as A Chorus Line, Mama Mia, Newsies, Music Man, and more with [Phoenix Productions]. Quincy is excited to be a part of the Kennedy Dancers Holiday Showcase! He is very thankful for the opportunity to work with this talented cast and thankful to his family for all their support. @quincydances
Abigail Haugh is a dancer, teacher, and personal trainer originally from the Philadelphia area. She
obtained her BFA in dance performance at Hofstra University, where she trained extensively in
modern and ballet. Additionally, she has trained in various jazz, contemporary, tap, and musical
theatre techniques. During her time at Hofstra, she performed in pieces by Max Stone, Adam
Barruch, Earl Mosley, Maxine Steinman, Rachel List, and Larry Keigwin. She continues to
perform in dance projects and companies throughout New York City. Most recently, she has been
in rehearsals with Salvatore LaRussa Dance Theatre, Chutzpah Dance, and Anna Paterson Dance
Company! In addition to performing, she works as an independent personal trainer, a dance teacher
and condition coordinator at Divine Rhythms Dance Studio, and as an Assistant Teaching Artist
with the Mark Morris Dance Group. Abigail is excited to be dancing with the Kennedy Dancers
this holiday season!
Sarah Hutchinson grew up in Washington State where she trained in ballet and contemporary for 12 years. She graduated in spring 2023 from Utah Valley University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance with an emphasis in Modern/Contemporary. Sarah has been awarded multiple scholarships while attending UVU including John A Salisbur Endowed Scholarship and Barbara Schnebly Shaw Scholarship. While at UVU She performed on Contemporary Dance Ensemble and Synergy Dance Company. Some of the choreographers she has performed works by are Yoshito Sakuraba, Jesse Obremski, Ihsan Rustem, and Joseph Hernandez. Along with performing Sarah was chosen to choreograph for Synergy Dance Company and for the Movers + Maker workshop.
In his second season with Emerge125, Dennzyl Green is a graduate cum laude with a BA in Dance
from California State University, Fullerton 2020. He has danced professionally with Nannette
Brodie Dance Theatre and Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble. He has performed works by
Darshan Bhuller, Milton Myers, Bernard Gaddis, Colin Connors, and Doug Varone to name a few.
He has attended American Dance Festival and has performed at Jacob’s Pillow. He is also a
company artist with Axelord Contemporary Ballet Theater based in Holmdel, New Jersey.
Erica is originally from Connecticut where she danced with Ballet Hartford, Dimensional Dance and Mystic Ballet before going on to become a co-founder of New England Ballet Collective in 2019. Since moving to New York in 2020, Erica has performed in productions of Ballet Bloom Project, New Rising Sun Dance Project, the Muse Brookly and American Liberty Ballet.
Born in Brooklyn, NY, to Trinidadian parents, Omari Contaste has always had an affinity for music and dance. Contaste graduated from Goucher College with a double major in Dance (Choreography) and Psychology. After college graduation, he attended the Dance Theater of Harlem Summer Intensive (July 2014), before relocating to Virginia for an apprentice contract with Charlottesville Ballet (2014-2016). Since his 2016 homecoming, Contaste has been dedicated to bringing his talents back to NYC through his passion for performing, creating and teaching. He rejoined Forces of Nature in 2016, and later joined Kofago Dance Ensemble in 2020.
Caleb is a naturally talented professional dancer/choreographer. His original piece, “Recalculating.is a fun play on those GPS systems that can never quite get directions right!
Jamia Nicole received her BA in English from the University of Mary Washington in 2012 and most recently received her Masters of Arts and Certification in Dance Education K-12 at New York University as a 21st-century scholarship awardee. Originally from northern Virginia, Jamia has studied dance with LillyVonn Dance and the Creative & Performing Arts Center (CAPAC)
Alycea LaHay moved to New York City when she was 18 years old to pursue a career in dance. Since being here she has been able to work as a choreographer for an off-Broadway musical, dance in contemporary showcases, and teach classes for dancers from 18 months to 35 years old, and many more projects. She’s looking forward to continuing her career and acquiring a diverse plethora of experiences along the way.
Kat is a a graduate from Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts and is trained in Ballet, Modern, Tap, Lyrical, Jazz, Hip Hop, and Musical Theatre. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BFA in Dance.
Nikola Palivoda began dancing at a young age with his church’s traditional Serbian Folk Dance group, Dukati, where he learned, performed and eventually choreographed professional and traditional repertory for 20 years. He trained and performed with the dance programs at Middlesex County College, Montclair State University and Raritan Valley Community College. Nikola has performed with the Nikki Manx Dance Project, T.MAJ Dance, HealthQuest Fitness, Luminarium Dance Company, for Freespace Dance, at several Dance New Jersey events and at the Koresh Showcase Series. He also Produces and Directs two annual dance concerts. Nik is one of the newest members of Kennedy Dancers Repertory Company.
Anna Antongiorgi is a choreographer, dancer, and writer from Redondo Beach, California. She received her B.A. in English from Harvard and was awarded the Suzanne Farrell Dance Award for her contributions to Harvard’s dance community. She works as a math and biology tutor and just graduated with her MFA in Creative Writing at The New School in New York City. Anna is currently performing with The Kennedy Dancers Repertory Company.