MENTAL HEALTH IS ESSENTIAL HEALTH: LET'S CHANGE OUR MINDS TOGETHER
Laura grew up in Natick, Massachusetts and is a graduate of Stonehill College. After meeting her husband Todd in Newport, Rhode Island, they moved to Connecticut to start their family. While raising their two children, Taylor and Mitchell, Laura was a successful real estate agent and investor. With an unwavering passion for self-help, Laura transitioned into Results Coaching and is honored to serve businesses and families in Connecticut and across the US. Laura and Todd live in Fairfield with their two teenagers and a sweet dog named Cooper. When she is not coaching she can be found behind the lens of a camera, with her head buried in a self-help book, or enjoying the sweet smell of the ocean at their home in Rhode Island.
Laura loves to dance but her self-proclaimed "two left feet" have kept her interest a secret…until now. INSPIRE’s mission of serving local families has her happily leaving it all on the dance floor tonight.
Brian grew up in the Naugatuck Valley in a working-class family, who instilled in him the value of a strong work ethic and the importance of education. He and his siblings were first-generation college graduates who all went on to earn multiple degrees. He is currently an adjunct professor at Fairfield University and the University of Connecticut. Brian and his wife Kimberly are the proud parents of two children. He is an active volunteer on the Sherman and Ludlowe Middle School PTA and coaches youth soccer, basketball, boxing and football. He was a State Representative in Fairfield in 2020 when he hosted food and mask drives and helped constituents with small business loan assistance during the pandemic. Brian officially breaks through his comfort zone with his debut performance on FTC's dance stage tonight! He is excited to support INSPIRE’S mission, especially in the aftermath of the pandemic. He believes mental health concerns have reached a crisis level in both our country and our local community of Fairfield.
Mary Alice was born in Houston but has spent much of her adult life in Kansas City and Vancouver Island, Canada. As a child she loved acting and dancing. After graduating from the University of Houston she worked as a corporate trainer. While raising her children in Kansas City, she started her own business creating and selling original handmade jewelry. She was a co-founder and board member of The Culture House, a local non-profit arts organization. Mary Alice relocated to Fairfield in 2020 and is now a real estate agent with the Mar Jennings Team at Higgins Group. She is enjoying being so close to family and her new grand baby!
As an avid volunteer, life coach and creative artist, Mary Alice is delighted to learn of INSPIRE’s pursuit of improving mental health and wellness. She has always wanted to learn ballroom dance and could not resist when asked to take a chance to dance in support of her new community.
“Do it big, do it right, and do it with style.” - Fred Astaire
Parker was born and raised in Southport, CT and is the youngest of four siblings. As the son of the ministers, Parker has been an active member at Southport Congregational Church his whole life, and currently is the director of their live-stream program. Parker's educational background includes attending high school at Greens Farms Academy and later went on to graduate from Syracuse University's School of Architecture in 2019. Since then, he has been working as a designer on residential and commercial scales alike. When Parker is not working, he enjoys rock climbing, 4x4 off-roading, tennis, snowboarding, and finding new ways to challenge himself … including trying his hand (or feet) at dance, which he has never attempted before!
As a strong believer in the importance of mental health and well-being, Parker is thrilled to be a part of INSPIRE’s event and mission to help the people of the community that he knows and loves.
Alessandra was born in Long Island .She played golf and took ballet and tap lessons from a young age. By high school she was taking jazz and became captain of the dance team. She has a BA in Biology from Hofstra University where she met her husband, Tom. They moved to Fairfield in 1994 and expanded their household to four children (Thomas, Gabriella, Nathaniel and Brian) and two dogs (Lady and Ginger). She worked at Bayer Pharmaceuticals through 2001 and received an MBA in Marketing from Fairfield Univ. in 2003. She is now a full time mother and committed community volunteer. She has taught her children's religious ed. classes for 12 years and taught English at The Mercy Learning Center. Alessandra is a past member of Junior League and donates her time and baking skills to raise funds for St. Baldricks Childhood Cancer research and The Thomas Merton Center. She feels music and dance can be an effective reliever of stress and anxiety, and views NSPIRE's event is a great chance to put her dancin' shoes back on!
Cindy is a Boston College grad and earned an MBA in Marketing from UCONN. She worked in Consumer Packaged Goods for 20 years with most of her time spent in Global Marketing. She left the corporate world in 2017 to become full time mom to T.K. (11) and Reagan (9). Cindy has been a dedicated advocate for Reagan, who has Hydrocephalus and a rare genetic disorder. She and her husband Tim are the CT Chapter Directors for the Pediatric Hydrocephalus Foundation. They have raised over $300K and founded the Reagan Sloane Shanley scholarship to support students who work toward finding more advanced treatments for the brain condition. The Shanleys live in Fairfield but also love spending time at their home in the Poconos. Cindy is a Bar Method instructor, SEPTA volunteer and on the board of the Fairfield Garden Club. Reagan’s condition has taught Cindy the importance of mental health and emotional wellness, and she is honored to dance in support of INSPIRE's unique and much needed programs.
Manuel is a native of Spain where he was a three-time Spanish Champion in the International Ballroom and Latin style division. He has also won the European Viennes Waltz Championship and over 5O other similar competitions. He has been part of the cast of various Spanish dancing television shows, most recently 'Dancing With The Stars.' He relocated to the United States ten years ago in his quest to capture an American Championship. In 2019 he became an American citizen and the proud owner of his own HOME in Norwalk! He has taught dance for 19 years. Manuel's infectious high-energy, enthusiasm and confidence has motivatesd all his students to reach new heights. He has spent 7 years on the Fred Astaire team and is honored to dance in this INSPIRE event for the seventh year, partnering with the lovely Laura Treonze.
Originally from Serbia, Sanja took her first dancing steps when she was 12. She began with Urban dancing styles such as HipHop and Dancehall and shortly after added on Latin Dances to her repertoire. Zagreb Salsa Festival etc. She competed with groups and formations and became a finalist in many international competitions in Serbia and across Europe.
In 2017 Sanja started working in Serbian CDT-Continuum Dancing Theater as a choreographer, instructor, performer, and coordinator and performed many times at the Serbian National Theater in leading roles for many music videos. Together with her partner Dusan she moved to USA in 2019 to join the FADS team and to continue to work on fulfilling her dance goals.She is excited to take the FTC Stage twice this year for INSPIRE; with Parker Whitmore and also Brian Farnen.
Stefan has been a ballroom dancer for the past 20 years and a teacher for the past 12 years. He is a regional champion in Serbia as well as a national and international 10-Dance (Ballroom and Latin) finalist. Stefan obtained his Bachelor’s Degree from University of Novi Sad in Faculty for Sports and Physical Education (FSPE) majoring in Latin American and Ballroom dances. In 2015, his love and passion for ballroom dancing brought him to Fred Astaire Dance Studios in the United States of America. Since then, Stefan has helped his students achieve national and regional championship titles. He loves to see his students reach their own personal goals through dance and is happy to partner with the delightful Mary Alice Graham!
Felix started dancing at the young age of seven and was trained in ballroom and latin dancing. A few years later, he expanded his dance pallet and added jazz, tap and hip hop to his repertoire. During his young years of training in ballroom, he was simultaneously performing and training in acting. Due to his extensive passion for the stage, he later decided to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre. He also competed and won several collegiate ballroom competitions throughout his time at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU). During his time at SCSU, Felix had the opportunity to train at the prestigious Circle in the Square Theatre School in NYC. After graduation, he was a part of many of the professional productions around the Tri-state area. In 2013, Felix began his professional career at Fred Astaire. He brings his love of the arts and joyous energy to the studio everyday as he passes on his skill to his students who have won several regional championships. Felix is passionate about teaching dance because it offers his students a sense of pride and fulfillment. As well as being a full time teacher, Felix also competes professionally in American Rhythm.
Dusan was born in Serbia and at the age of 6, his mother took him to his very first dance classes for Latin & Ballroom Danceing. He soon became a frequent competitor & finalist at National and International dance competitions.
In 2011 Dusan added additional dance styles like hip hop, street style, dancehall and modern dances to his performance skills. He became part of a hip hop formation that achieved the 6th place on the national TV show SERBIA HAS TALENT.
In 2017 Dusan started to work at the Serbian CDT- Continuum Dance Theatre as a choreographer, instructor, performer, coordinator and performed many times at the Serbian National theater. In 2019 he moved to USA together with his partner Sanja to be part of our FADS team and to continue his dancing career. He has the district pleasure of dancing with Cindy Shanley in 2022 A CHANCE TO DANCE at FTC.
BILLY BLANKS JR. is a dancer, choreographer, author and the creator of feel good fitness programs such as Billy Blanks Jr’s Dance with Me, which is set to three different dance genres (Hip Hop, Bollywood, Country). Billy pitched his business on Shark Tank in May 2012. The program was re-named DANCE IT OUT! and has been a huge success ever since. He and his wife have been called “America’s First Family of Fitness” and Dr. Oz called them “America’s Fat Fighting Couple”. Self-taught and working professionally in his youth, Billy has had Paula Abdul as a mentor, advisor and close friend since he was 11 years old. He has danced in music videos with Paula, Madonna and Quincy Jones and other top artists. His credits include TV and film appearances and he starred as Tyrone Jackson in the Boadway musical FAME European touring company. Billy lives in Greenwich with his son, Elijah, and currently serves as Creative Director of Talent Recap. He is the son of fitness guru Billy Blanks of the Tae Bo Exercise program fame. OUR BIG THANKS to Billy for returning to FTC for our 2022
A CHANCE TO DANCE judges' panel.
VICTORIA CAREY is the owner and director of Flash Pointe Dance and Glitter & Grime in downtown Fairfield. She opened the studio to provide a nurturing environment that would support and inspire everyone to explore the world of dance. As a mother of four, Vickie feels strongly that keeping our children active and involved in activities that they love, in an environment that encouragesthem to spread their wings, is a critical tool for both self-esteem and confidence. Since its inception in 2013, Vickie has been an incredibly loyal supporter of the A CHANCE TO DANCE event. She has generously supplied instructors, celebrity dancers, rehearsal space, and even our opening act:
The Flash Pointe Dance Competition Team!
INSPIRE is very grateful to Vickie for her involvement in this event and support of our mission.
'I would like to applaud all of our courageous contestants for taking on this challenge, and look forward to the opportunity to recognize the unique offerings that you will each bring to this event !" V.C.
Tom Coppola has been a director/choreographer for over 20 years in the NY tri-state area. Productions include: Into the Woods, Baby, Mamma Mia, Gypsy, Nunsense, Forever Plaid, Grease, The Most Happy Fella, The Great American Trailer Park Musical, and countless musical revues. By day, Tom is Director of Production at AKA NYC, a full service ad agency focusing on Broadway, live entertainment and culture, and a Board Trustee of Westport Country Playhouse.
We are thrilled to have him bring his ever-enthusiastic and fun personality to the FTC stage for our show this year.
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PLEASE NOTE: INSPIRE programs are not a substitute for medical attention, examination, diagnosis or treatment.
If you are feeling depressed, anxious or highly stressed, we recommend that you consult a physician.
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