About Our Faculty

Our Talented Teachers and Staff


Kristina Caksa

irector/ Choreographer/Coach

Kristina Caksa is a teacher, choreographer, and co-owner of Allied Performing Arts Center. Her training began in Riga, Latvia at the age of 5 with ballroom. At 12 years old, she diversified her training into ballet, jazz, modern, and hiphop at a private dance school named LaLi. Soon, Kristina began to travel around Latvia competing, performing; her success in dance being recognized through numerous prizes. 

At age 18, Kristina auditioned for the Royal Olympic Cruise Line’s dance team and was picked to be one of six dancers by Jan Rogers Entertainment. She toured around the world for four years and became the lead dancer and team captain in her third year of touring, highlighting her leadership skills in addition to her talent for dance. 

In the United States, Kristina began her teaching career in 2006 by creating an interactive dance program designed for young children alongside many Zumba programs for adults. In 2012, she became co-owner of Allied Performing Arts Center (named Allied Champions Dance Center at the time). Kristina produces, directs, and choreographs dance show productions, mostly inspired by stories from Disney and Pixar movies. Over the years Kristina has created numerous regional, national, and international champions with her highly personalized mix of coaching and training, as well as her prize-winning choreography.


Natalia Stepanova

Co-owner/ Choreographer/ Teacher
Producer/ Judge
Ballroom & Latin disciplines

Natalia Stepanova grew up in Kerch, Ukraine, where at age 7 she began her dance career at the Ballroom Dance Studio "Rhythm". She received a BS in Dance Art and Stage Productions from the National University of Art (Kiev, Ukraine).

Natalia received an MFA with Honors in Drama, Art and Dance at the University of Art and Tourism (Ukraine). She owned a dance studio named "Inspiration" (Kerch, Ukraine), as well as worked as a choreographer (Havana, Cuba). She taught in the City School of Ballroom Dance "Olympia" (Gatchina, Russia), Shostacovich School of Music, Art, and Dance (New York City, USA), Arthur Murray Dance Studios (New Jersey, USA).

Natalia owned and operated "Alluring Ballroom" Dance Studios (Spotswood, East Brunswick, New Jersey; 2004-2012). In September 2012, she became a co-owner of Allied Performing Dance Center (then named Allied Champions Dance Center) in East Brunswick, New Jersey. 

Natalia is a versatile dancer and teacher, skilled in Ballroom and Latin, Rhythm and Smooth, Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Folk Dance and Theater Arts, bringing over 37 years of multi-cultural teaching, coaching, and choreography experience in these disciplines. Besides coaching USA champions, she aspires to lead by example through her teaching/coaching, and hopes her students recognize the endless possibilities they can achieve with consistent practice, -just as she did-.


Lauren Potter

Acro / Gymnastics / Flexibility Coach / Choreographer / Dance Teacher

Lauren started her dance and acrobatic journey at 4 years old. She started competing at the age of 13, and began to train semi-professionally in various styles such as ballet, jazz, contemporary, acrobatics, modern, and hip hop. Lauren grew a stronger passion for acrobatics while training in gymnastics, tumbling, and cheerleading. She was also a part of her high school dance program, and performed at various venues and sporting events. 

Lauren started choreographing at 16 years old for dance competitions and her high school dance team, marking the beginning of her presence as a dance teacher. Her team has won awards and overall placements with her choreographies. Lauren was picked to be a soloist performer in her dance program, while her choreography was being headlined. 

Lauren is now a senior at Stockton University where she is majoring in Dance and Elementary Education. At Stockton, she is continuing to grow into her career as a dance teacher while studying ballet, modern, jazz, dance composition, and pedagogy amongst accomplished faculty. Lauren is also a part of the Stockton Dance Company where she performs different modern/jazz works in front of large audiences. 

Lauren passionately loves to teach and inspire the future of dance through positivity, motivation, and high expectations.


Mikey D'astoli

Hip Hop / Breakdance / Street Jazz / Funk
Choreographer / Dance Teacher

Mikey D’Astoli is a teacher/choreographer with Clear Talent Group agency. Mikey started dancing at age 13 with a strong focus on Hip Hop styles such as bboying, popping, house, locking, vogue, waacking, and street jazz/industry styles. A subset of his notable performances include opening up for American Idol’s “Jax”, The Red Hot Chili Peppers 2017 Tour, The Cartoon Network Anti-Bullying Tour, Monsters of Hip Hop, The PULSE, Sybarite, Carnival. 

Mikey has been featured on television commercials such as “Bop it Tetris”, “Juicy Drop Pop”, and “Jenga tetris” as a dancer/actor. He can be seen in music videos of famous artists such as Jax (LA LA Land), The Red Hot Chili Peppers (Go Robot), Niki & Gabi (Hair Tie), and Vita Chambers (What If). Mikey can also be seen as ‘Crash’ in the Netflix series “The Get Down” by Baz Luhrmann, as a principal dancer in the feature film “Going in Style” by Zach Braff, and his talent is further featured in TBS series “The Last O.G.”, “Total Request Live” on MTV. 

Mikey's NYC teaching/coaching consists of classes such as Hip Hop and Contemporary at studios including Broadway Dance Center, Peridance Capezio Center, EXPG, and hundreds of prestigious dance battles/events. He has used what he learned throughout the years to derive his own unique style in the way he dances and coaches. 

Mikey has been traveling and teaching all around the United States, and is devoted to technically as well as culturally inspire and enrich the present and upcoming community of dance.

Alisa Kash

Alisa Kash

Teacher/ Choreographer / Assistant
all styles

Alisa has trained at Allied her whole life, on a wide variety of styles. She has recently traveled to Paris, France to win the title of IFDPA World Group and Solo Champion in 2019. She is Miss National Teen Inferno Dance of 2018, winning both solo dance titles with her own choreography. Additionally, she is a Killer B assistant for the Ballroom Project. In the ballroom discipline, she is an Ohio Star Ball Open Level Junior Champion, Blackpool Dance Festival Team USA Representative, and National Junior Open 2nd Runner-Up. 

Alisa has received multiple choreography awards alongside numerous regional, national, and international titles for her choreography at Beyond the Stars, NRG Dance Project, IFDPA, Inferno Dance, and Thunderstruck. Although she trains in all styles, she is known for building her own mixed signature style of International Ballroom Latin with Hiphop and Jazz-Latin Fusion.

In addition to the rare combination of talent in dance and choreography at her young age, Alisa recently demonstrated her resilience and strength in organizational/leadership skills through the adversity and inconveniences of an ongoing pandemic. Alisa played a key role alongside Jesse Kohn, achieving the grass roots establishment of a massively successful remote dance convention, “Journey”.

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Laura Clemente

Teacher, Choreographer
Ballet/ Jazz/ Contemporary/ Lyrical/ Tap

Laura began dancing at the age of 3, and shortly after moved onto competitive classes in New Jersey. Her various styles include: Ballet (Vaganova Method, Balanchine Method), Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Hip Hop, Musical Theatre, and Pointe. 

Laura has performed and choreographed numerous shows throughout Six Flags Theme Parks before attending Hofstra University (Long Island, NY), where she studied Dance and Marketing and received Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business and Dance Education. While attending school in NY, Laura continued her training in Manhattan at Broadway Dance Center and Steps on Broadway. Laura’s dancing expanded outside of school, as she performed at various prestigious events throughout New York City with various performers. 

Following her graduation, Laura moved back to New Jersey, and began studying and incorporating Yoga and Meditation into her teaching experiences. She believes such practices that employ techniques of stronger concentration and self-awareness help dancers focus on their bodies in a positive light and helps prepare for any style.


Margarita Veremyeva

Music and Voice Teacher

Rita received her music education in Smolensk College of Music, Saratov State Conservatory. She was a soloist in Saratov Theater of Choral Music. 

Rita enjoys teaching piano and voice classes to her young students. Her teaching experiences include positions in Shostakovich Music School (Brooklyn, NY) and Music and Art Academy (Matawan, NJ).


Melike Sahin

Art Teacher / Receptionist

Melike loves working with kids. She is a professional in East Brunswick School District, with teaching experiences that cover a wide spectrum of ages and abilities, covering a range students from kindergarten to high school.


Tara Vecchio

Contemporary/ Lyrical  / Jazz/ Funk

Tara is a professional dancer and choreographer in the Tristate area. She is trained in styles including Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, and HipHop/Foundation. 

Tara’s select appearances included dancing with Jennifer Lopez for VMA Vanguard Performance at Radio City, and Jennifer Lopez’s Live Concert on The Today Show, and with BTS (Bangtan Boys) on their “Love Yourself” tour stop in NYC. Most recently Tara has performed with Julianne Hough during her performance on NBC’s 2020 New Years Eve Special. 

Tara is also a skilled choreographer. She has been recognized in prestigious competitions and got selected to showcase her work at the 2019 Young Choreographers Festival in New York. Tara is currently signed with Clear Talent Group.

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