At Heartbeat Dance Center we do more than just teach dance. Our staff is full of talented, positive, caring, and creative people who inspire children to be the best they can be. Our philosophies and teaching methods provide students with a sense of accomplishment and pride as they improve each year and achieve their goals in and out of the dance classroom. We encourage you to read through our staff’s biographies to fully appreciate and understand the high quality and commitment our staff brings to our Heartbeat students and families.
Owner, Director, Instructor, Choreographer
Christine Stevens is the proud Owner and Director of Heartbeat Dance Center and has been teaching children the art of dance for over 15 years. Christine is always eager to share her love for dance and the performing arts in a positive atmosphere and strives to teach her students integrity, work ethic, dedication and an overall love of learning.
A native of New Jersey, Christine studied from a young age ballet, tap, jazz, pointe, modern, contemporary, acrobatics, hip hop, and performed on the competitive level studying under many industry renowned professionals such as Dawn LaViola-Schaub, Yuliya Akopyan, Chris Lee, Mary-Kate Felber, KC Castellano, Alicia Monaco, Bill Larson, Amber Perkins, and many more at her home studio. Christine has her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with minors in Dance and Education from Bucknell University where she was the recipient of the prestigious Arts Merit Scholarship in Dance. By audition, she was a member of the Bucknell Dance Company performing works by José Limón, Cathy Young, Michael Foley, Dustyn Martincich, Er-Dong Hu, Kelly Knox, and was selected to choreograph for both the Dance Showcase and Bucknell Dance Company.
A graduate from Broadway Dance Center’s Summer Intern Program, Christine studied with its world-renowned faculty in all styles of dance with a concentration in tap under the mentorship of Jared Grimes and extensive training with Sheila Barker and Natalya Stavro. She is shown dancing in Telihana’s Music Video “All Night” and the Step Up 3D Video Promotion produced by Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures directed by Derek Mitchell. She has studied on scholarship at the American Dance Festival’s Six Week School, worked behind the scenes at the coveted summer PULSE event, and participated in the American College Dance Festival.
Christine continues to further her education and professional development to bring the best to her students. She received her graduate diploma from the Dance Masters of America, Inc. Teacher Training School for certification in all four genres: Ballet, Tap, Jazz, and Modern. She also more recently achieved teaching certification through Acrobatic Arts and continues to attend teaching workshops, seminars, and training programs in commitment to growing as a dancer, educator, and choreographer to bring the very best to her students and staff.
As an instructor and choreographer, Christine has worked with students at numerous dance studios, schools, and workshops throughout the tri-state area teaching and choreographing dance for all ages, dance styles, and levels in addition to sharing her talents by choreographing high school musicals including Shrek, Anything Goes, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and The Drowsy Chaperone. She is the recipient of numerous choreography awards in various styles of dance, and has led her students to numerous prestigious wins including first place overall awards, invitations to the World Dance Championships, highest scoring dance routine at Nationals, among many other forms of special recognition. She most recently was invited to return to her alma mater, Bucknell University, to choreograph for their dance program.
Monika Aimova started her journey to ballet while training for the Czechoslovakian junior Olympic gymnastic team. It was here Monika’s teacher recommended her to audition for the best dance academy in the country – the Conservatory of Prague. For the next eight years Monika trained with Czech and Russian teachers in the Vaganova technique and Alain Bernard of Switzerland in contemporary dance.
During her 10 year professional career, Monika was dancing in over a thousand performances at major dance companies, theaters, and television shows in the Czech Republic, Slovak Republic, Poland, and Germany. Among the highlights were Swan Lake, Giselle, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Peer Gynt, Carmen, Don Quixote, and Romeo and Juliet.
For twelve years, after moving to New Jersey, Monika was director of the Ballerina/European Dance Academy specializing in ballet, pointe, contemporary, pilates and acrobatics. Besides teaching all levels and all ages including adults, Monika choreographed hundreds of recitals, workshops, auditions, and competitions for both groups and solos.
Now teaching group classes and private lessons throughout Northern New Jersey, Monika’s focus is always on individual approach to each student so they can be the best they can be.
Yvonne Hernandez has been coaching the sport of gymnastics and sports alike for the past 23 years. In that time, she has had the pleasure of teaching not only artistic gymnastics from recreational to level 9 but also power tumbling (levels 4 to 9), sports acrobatics (level 4 to 9), beginning rhythmic gymnastics (floor only) Diving, Trampoline, powerlifting and olympic weightlifting. Due to her expertise and experience in the world of gymnastics Yvonne has been teaching dancers for the past 18 years. Through this experience her skills and knowledge have grown, and she has gained a greater understanding, leading her to create curriculums especially for the needs of any dance level.
Claire Liskiewicz began her dance training at the age of two and has been in love with the art form ever since! As a native of New Jersey, Claire has trained in a wide variety of dance techniques, including ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary, lyrical, and modern dance. Claire entered the competitive dance circuit at age 10 and continued competing for the next 8 years. During this time, she received various overall high scoring awards and titles from both regional and national dance competitions.
Claire graduated Magna Cum Laude from Towson University in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance and Choreography, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Economics. At Towson, Claire had the privilege of training under Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrel, Catherine Horta Hayden, Vincent E. Thomas, and many other sought-after dance professionals. She pursued her passion for performance by participating in various student showcases, and by performing as a member of the Towson University Dance Company since 2018. Claire made her professional debut in 2019 performing as a company member and featured soloist with the VTDance Company in Baltimore, Maryland.
As a native New Yorker, Nicole studied competitive dance at her local studio as well as took classes in all styles at Broadway Dance Center while attending the prestigious LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts as a drama major. She holds a B.A. in Theater Arts and English from Arcadia University, where she was president and choreographer for the dance team, and a M.A.T. from Columbia College. Her 15+ years of teaching dance has taken her from New York to San Diego, and finally, New Jersey where she has settled with her family. Previously, she was the Performing Arts Department Head at the Purnell School where she directed and choreographed for the competitive Dance Synthesis Company. Throughout her tenure her dancers earned various awards including a “Performance Award” at Nexstar Dance Competition and “Spirit of Dance” Award at Groove Dance Competition. Over the years she has choreographed numerous musicals, one-act and full-length ballets, including such favorites as Emma: A Pop Musical, Mamma Mia, The Nutcracker and Alice in Wonderland for students ages 3 to 18. She strives to create an environment for her dancers that promotes creativity, open mindedness, and a sense of community. Nicole is currently the Theater Teacher and Drama Club director at Warren Hills Regional High School.
Brielle Kraus has been dancing for almost 20 years with 10 years of competitive dance experience. She has won many awards and has been selected for multiple invitational dance convention/performances such as “Team Rave” and “Jump Dance Conventions”. Brielle started assistant teaching at 12 years old and instantly fell in love. Brielle teaches a wide array of ages spanning from 2 years old to 18 years old, and teaches many genres of dance such as Ballet, Tap, Lyrical, Contemporary, Jazz, and Musical Theatre. She especially enjoys teaching/dancing Lyrical and Musical Theatre.
Brielle has had many years of experience in child care, and she has great understanding of how every child learns differently. She uses that knowledge to improve the children’s dance skills, while creating a safe and fun environment for the children to bloom and become confident as dancers and as people. Brielle’s ultimate goal is to create a supportive atmosphere where children learn the proper technique of various genres of dance while allowing her to combine her love of dance with her love of teaching children.
Catherine Wheeler is a New Jersey native who started her dance training at the age of two. Throughout her years of training Catherine has studied various styles including ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop, acrobatics, lyrical, musical theatre, contemporary, modern and West African dance. Catherine fell in love with teaching when she began assisting at the age of 11. She competed for 8 years winning many awards and high scores, as well as working with many guest choreographers throughout her competitive career including Derek Mitchell and Al Blackstone.
Catherine attended Passaic County Technical Institute where she was able to work with many dance professionals such as Jay T Jenkins, Lara Marafanyi, Carolyn Dorfman, and Daniel Padierna. She was a member of both the National Honor Society for Dance Arts and National Honor Society for all 4 years. She has also performed at the Earl Mosley Diversity of Dance Showcase and for the I Love the 90’s Tour for Rob Base. After high school, Catherine further pursued her training at Slippery Rock University. There she was able to expand her studies in dance technology, wellness for dancers, improv/choreography, and dance history. She has recently made the move back to New Jersey to pursue her love for teaching and is excited to begin her journey at Heartbeat Dance Center.
Tori Hayeck has been dancing for 16 years. Throughout her years she has trained in many different styles of dance including ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, and hip hop, but has a special place in her heart for lyrical and jazz. During her 4 years in high school, she was part of Roxbury’s Advanced Dance Program. She then became student director of the program for her junior and senior years where she learned how to be a leader, run a class, and create choreography. Tori was also in 6 school musicals throughout middle school and high school where she was featured as a dancer. Tori is excited to share her knowledge and experience in dance with children and give them a safe environment to express themselves to music and learn technique. She can’t wait to help them grow as a dancer and performer.
Tori also works for her family’s travel agency that specializes in Disney vacations, Mickey World Travel. She is excited to have work involving her two favorite things, dance and Disney! She is thrilled to be teaching this year and sharing her love and passion for dance!
Erin Wood has been dancing for 10 years. Over the years she has trained in tap, jazz, lyrical, and musical theater. Erin was also involved in her high school’s advanced dance program where she studied additional styles such as contemporary and hip hop. Erin also had the pleasure of being a featured dancer in 3 musicals throughout her high school career.
When teaching, Erin’s goal is to create a supportive space so that children learn great technique in the art of dance while being able to show her love of dance and working with children. Erin is studying Child and Family studies at CCM with the goal of becoming a school teacher. Erin is excited to be instructing at Heartbeat this season!
Kendra Haughey has been dancing for over 12 years and is currently a member of the Heartbeat Dance Company training in ballet, jazz, and tap. Kendra is also in the Advanced Dance Honors program at Roxbury High School, where she explores many other styles of dance while working with esteemed guest choreographers. In this program, she is given the opportunity to perform self-choreographed pieces alongside her peers. Throughout her dance career, she has competed at the regional, national, and international levels, as well as benefited from the expertise of world-renowned judges and won many awards at all three levels. Over the past few years, Kendra has gained experience as both a student teacher and substitute teacher. She is excited to share her love of dance and ensure a loving, challenging, and fun environment for her students to thrive. Kendra is looking forward to this next step in her dance journey!
Before Sami Murphy became a professional performer, she was just a young dancer born and raised in northern New Jersey. When she was three years old she started dancing at her home studio, and at six years old began competing.
Sami has won numerous regional and national dance and acrobatic titles in the Junior, Teen, and Senior categories over the years, and was also a member of the United States Dance Team for ten years. With the U.S. Dance Team, Sami performed at many venues including Broadway Cares, Madison Square Garden, the Prudential Center, Hershey Park, and Universal Studios and Disney World in Orlando, FL.
Sami was a touring dance assistant for SYTYCD season 9 winner Chehon Wespi-Tschopp. She was also the featured dancer, actor, and model in Al Blackstone’s opening number at the Dance Teacher Summit in Manhattan. Sami was chosen among elite dancers to attend the Rockette Summer Intensive Invitational program for four years. In addition to dance, Sami has been performing and singing in musical productions at local community theaters since 2014.
Once she turned eighteen, Sami immediately began auditioning for professional dance jobs. She was also accepted into the Montclair State University Dance Program and was set to begin working towards receiving her BFA in dance in September of 2017. In July of 2017, Sami received the job offer of a lifetime that she could not refuse. She was chosen as one of only six dancers across the United States to join the cast on the Ovation of the Seas. Since accepting her first contract with Royal Caribbean Productions, Sami has traveled to nearly 30 countries while performing in RCCL’s original production shows.
Sami, since her high school graduation, has been working professionally as a dancer and singer all over the world. Sami is a dancer vocalist and showgirl for Royal Caribbean and has accepted three different long term contracts with them. Sami performed in the off-Broadway production of The Little Mermaid in early 2020. She also is a voice over singer for Fisher Price’s web show called MEGA. Her television and film credits include work on Season 4 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.
Sami began student teaching dance while she was in grade school and started teaching her own classes when she was only fourteen years old. While on hiatus from Royal Caribbean, Sami teaches and choreographs all styles of dance including Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Contemporary, Lyrical, Acrobatics, and Hip Hop to studios all over New Jersey and New York. She has a passion for teaching and absolutely adores working with young dancers sharing her love of dance with them.
Alexa Schear is from Wayne, New Jersey where she trained in jazz, lyrical, ballet, contemporary, acro, hip hop, and tap. Growing up, she received several honors and awards and was a member of the United States Dance Team. She was varsity cheerleader and dance team member during all four years of high school and was named captain during her senior year for both sports.
In May 2014, Alexa proudly graduated Penn State University with degrees in Commercial Management and Public Relations. While in college, she was a four-year member of the Penn State Lionettes Dance Team, holding a captain position her senior year, leading the team to their third consecutive NDA College National Championship. As a Penn State student, Alexa interned for the Brooklyn Nets, where she worked closely with the Brooklynettes Dance Team and the Brooklyn Nets Kids.
Currently, Alexa works for iHeartMedia. She is a member and choreographer for DanceWorks New York City, the city’s largest performance-based dance organization for advanced and technically trained dancers who want to continue choreographing and performing post-college. Most recently, she began teaching technique and conditioning for a new company, City Movement Company, as well as choreographing for studios throughout New Jersey.
Chloe Paul began dancing at the age of four, where she was trained in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, pointe, hip hop, and acrobatics at her dance studio. At the age of eight she became a member of her studio’s competition team, competing on both the regional and national levels. Her dancing was continuous all the way through high school, as it became part of Chloe’s everyday life. In 2010, Chloe attended Fairleigh Dickinson University, where she became a co-captain of the Devils Dance Team as a freshman team member. As Chloe missed competing on a collegiate level, she transferred to the Ramapo College of New Jersey, where she joined the Ramapo College Dance team. That year the dance team took home their second ever first place title in their division at the National Dance Association Nationals in Daytona Beach, Florida. Chloe graduated Ramapo College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, along with a minor in Art in 2014.
After her collegiate dance days, Chloe pursued auditioning for a professional dance team and became a Soulmate dancer for the Philadelphia Soul arena football team. The following year, she received a traveling opportunity to China. Chloe was a member of the China Hoops dance team, where she was able to tour and dance for the USA men’s basketball team. She is excited to travel to China for a second time this year and dance during the games of the CBA pre-season. Chloe has shared her passion of dance with many dancers over the past 8 years, including many different genres, levels, and age groups. Experiencing the happiness dance brings to each student is truly rewarding and she can’t wait to dance with the dancers at Heartbeat Dance Center!
Samantha Sivolella is life-long Jersey girl and has been dancing since she was five years old. Over the years she has studied various disciplines including, ballet, jazz, modern, lyrical, contemporary, and musical theater. During high school she was the dance team captain from sophomore through senior year. She participated in various school dance performances, theatre productions, and competitions. She worked at a performing arts summer camp for several years and was responsible for stage management, assisting the dance instructors and choreography. Sam continued dancing through college and graduated from Manhattanville College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance and Dance Therapy. In addition to choreographing and performing in dance productions, she was a member of multiple dance clubs in college. Sam also was the House Manager for the campus theater. Sam has recently earned a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Rider University. Sam has taught dance to students ranging from two through eighteen years old in various dance genres. Her hope is to share her passion for both dance and teaching to make a difference in students’ lives. She loves dance as an art and also sees the benefits of dance as a form of expression, a source of enjoyment and accomplishment, and a great outlet for students of all ages.
Sharon Quinn has been working in our Heartbeat office since 2013. She is originally from Clifton, New Jersey and moved to Flanders with her husband, Darrell in 1996. They have been married for 25 years with two children, Samantha and Brian, both in their twenties. They have a puppy Brody, an 8 month old mini Goldendoodle. Sharon has always enjoyed her work at the studio. Talking with and helping the dancers keeps her time full of excitement! She also enjoys always having music to listen to during her time at work and wishes everyone a wonderful upcoming season!