Katherine Barkman wins first place in Youth America Grand Prix Semi-Finals

On January 12th, Katherine Barkman, 17, of Richboro, was awarded first place in the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) Philadelphia Semi-Final Classical Dance Category. Her teacher, Nadia Pavlenko, received the Outstanding Teacher Award.

In April, Katherine will go to New York to compete in the YAGP Finals. YAGP is the largest ballet competition in the world, and gives out more than $250,000 in dance scholarships every year.


Dani Tucci-Juraga’s living her dream and helping others shine

by Tara Lynn Johnson

Dani Tucci-Juraga’s life keeps her on her toes. She’s a wife, a mom, a business owner, a dancer, a choreographer, an actor, a producer, and apparently a juggler adept at keeping all of those balls in the air.

Dani, owner of and teacher for her own dance studio, is the resident choreographer for the Actors’ NET of Bucks County (the non-profit actor-driven non-equity theater in Morrisville) as well as seasonal choreographer for Pennsbury, Truman, and the BCTech Schools. And this month she’s not wearing only her business owner, teacher, and choreographer hats. Additionally, Dani is producing, making costumes for, and performing as Judy in “White Christmas” at Actors’ NET.

She’s thrilled to do it all, though, and happily took the reins of the creative side of the production, even though it’s a challenge.

“I love this show,” she said. “A project like this is worth it. It’s a holiday favorite for many people and Judy is a dream role for me.”

Dani’s life is a dream come true for her. Her love of dance began at age two-and-a-half when she went to her older sister Sharon’s class.

“Her teacher let me in and I was hooked,” she said.

Sharon stopped dancing when she was 12, but Dani couldn’t get enough. She added more and more classes as she grew up in the Indian Creek section of Levittown with her encouraging parents, Ron and Marlene Tucci.

“They were always very supportive of my dreams to become a professional dancer and studio owner from a very young age and still are,” she said.

Dani knew in middle school that she wanted to own a dance studio, but when she grew up, she went on the road first, performing internationally with “Sesame Street Live” (they performed in the U.S., Canada, and Asia). She also performed in “The Magic School Bus” and toured with various dance companies. Her last professional job before opening her studio was on a Disney cruise ship. Not only did she get to do what she loved to do, she found the love of her life, Kresimir Juraga, of Croatia, who was a waiter on the ship.

After their contracts ended, they decided to settle in the U.S., get married and have a son, Adam, who’s now 12. The Juraga (your-AH-ga) family lives in Morrisville.   

“After five years being on the road, I was ready to unpack my suitcase,” she said.

Dani and Kresimir opened the dance studio with the mission of providing a unique approach to teaching, positive encouragement, and a place where everyone can simply feel happy. He has a successful photography business, too.

During her day Dani creates lessons, completes business administration tasks, and various tasks that need to be done for her creative endeavors. She spends five hours teaching nightly at the studio, but it doesn’t feel like work. Being organized is key to getting it all done. Having a great staff and production team at the theater helps, too, she said.

Tap is Dani’s passion, but she teaches ballet, jazz, and contemporary dance, too. She continues to take classes as she can, even after all the years of instruction and experience.

“I’m still growing all the time. I like to keep learning,” she said.

She feels blessed that dance came naturally to her.

“We all are given a gift, something we can nurture,” she said. “I’m really thankful that it was given to me and I can grow with it.”

Dani, who was a featured dancer in the movie “The Silver Linings Playbook,” continues to audition for similar opportunities if they arise.

“It’s fun for my students to see me do things like that and say ‘my teacher’s in a movie,’” she said. “That’s what I enjoy most now – inspiring people and being an example for all of my students.”

Dani teaches people of all ages, including adults who may have never danced before. And she choreographs steps for those who maybe are actors more than dancers. But she knows she can help everyone to feel at ease on stage.

“With creativity and encouragement, you can make everyone look good,” she said. “Even if dancing isn’t their natural ability, you can find something that is going to make them shine.”

PHOTO CAP: Dani Tucci-Juraga


Roxey Ballet’s ‘Dracula’ is a dance you can sink your teeth into!

In time for Halloween, Roxey Ballet is staging its spectacular production of Bram Stokers, “Dracula.”  Roxey Ballet’s groundbreaking, original ballet choreography was created in 2001. It follows the classic “Dracula” horror story of 18th century England, telling the tale in a “total theater experience.” 

“The audiences are as close to the performers as possible. But don’t be afraid – they don’t bite,” says Mark Roxey, Artistic Director. Audiences will recognize the unwary Renfield who accidentally falls victim to the vampire on his way to the ball; lovely Lucy, whose beauty attracts Dracula who seduces her; and Dr. Van Helsing, who leads the attack to rescue Lucy and others who have fallen prey to the vampire’s attacks.  

“Dracula” runs through Halloween. The set is abstract and minimalist, designed by Lisa McMillan.  Costumes created by Nilda Roxey Jones and Alicia Worden. Performances are held at Canal Studios, 243 N. Union Street, Lambertville, NJ.

For information or tickets visit Roxey Ballet, www.roxeyballet.org.


Doylestown Dance Centre expands to second location in Lahaska


by June Portnoy

Doylestown Dance Centre is excited to announce that its established dance studio of 18 years recently acquired the Dance Junction at Peddler’s Village, so it’s now the second Doylestown Dance Centre (DDC) in the Central Bucks County community.

“I am honored to continue to offer quality dance education in a caring environment at our second location,” says Dina Winter, owner and director of the Doylestown studio since 2010.

“Whether your child comes to our studio once a week for recreational dance or is an aspiring professional dancer who participates in multiple classes throughout the week, she/he will receive equal attention from our experienced, talented instructors,” adds Dina, who has 22 years of dance experience and 14 years of teaching experience.

The newest studio will remain directly above Giggleberry Fair at 165 Carousel Lane in Peddler’s Village in Lahaska. It will continue to offer its very popular acro dance classes in its large studio with all the same acro equipment. It will also continue to offer birthday party packages.

Plus, you will be pleased to find several of your favorite instructors from Dance Junction teaching acro, ballet and modern dance.

A noteworthy addition is DDC’s award-winning competition team that will now be available for students at both locations. Dancers accepted into this competition team will compete locally, regionally and nationally.

Also new to the Lahaska Studio is the DDC Ballet Company. This Ballet Company offers four levels of classes based on skill.  Interested students are required to audition.

Ballet Company dancers will perform in community events, and Dina anticipates that there will now be more performance opportunities in events at Peddler’s Village being its newest studio is located here. Due to DDC’s expansion, it can now offer more classes with teachers in both locations.

“We’ve gone from two studios to four, and therefore, can provide your favorite teachers in our Doylestown and Lahaska locations, just 10 minutes apart,” says Dina.

Both locations offer a range of classes for all ages.  Choose from ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, modern, musical theater, acro and hip-hop. Pre-ballet and creative movement classes are available for three- and four-year-olds, and its wiggle club is ideal for two-year-olds.

DDC also offers adult dance classes in ballet and stretch, tap, jazz and modern.

The culmination of the year is the studio’s annual spring recital and its ballet performance. The fall session runs from September through June, and DDC is currently accepting fall enrollment for all ages and class levels.

If your child is interested in DDC’s Ballet Company or competition team, call 215-230-3777 to schedule an audition.

To enroll in classes or for additional information, visit www.doylestowndance.com or email Dina at missdina@doylestowndance.com.

The studio’s Doylestown location, and mailing address for both locations, is 800 N. Easton Road, Suite 2, Doylestown, PA 18902.

PHOTO CAP: Doylestown Dance Centre owner and director, Miss Dina Winter (left), with Mini Competition Team members Stephanie Bullock (center) and Hannah Donsky (right).  


PSPA holds new company auditions and summer dance workshop

This August the PA School of Performing Arts (PSPA) is looking for passionate dancers for its NEW Performance Company on August 19th and 20th from 1:00pm to 2:30pm during their contemporary/ballet dance workshops.

PSPA is calling all dancers, male/ female, ages nine to 18 for intermediate through advanced levels in ballet, contemporary, jazz, and lyrical. You can preregister online at pspastudios.com for an audition class slot on August 19th or 20th, or sign up for ballet/contemporary workshop summer dance classes from August 19th-22nd.

If you cannot attend the auditions on August 19th or 20th, please call to schedule an audition during callbacks on Tuesday, September 10th or Thursday, Sept 12th. There is a $25 fee to audition for class.  

The PSPA Performance Company will attend a number of competitions, conventions, workshops and benefits throughout the 2013-2014 year.  Come visit PSPA at their booth during Northampton Days in Richboro, Sunday, September 8th for free gift bags and studio information.

For more information about PSPA’s Performance Company, located at 2324 Second Street Pike in Newtown, call 215-598-8513 or visit www.pspastudios.com.