More About Dutchess School Of Performing Arts
Dutchess School of Performing Arts, located at 46 Noxon Road in
Poughkeepsie, NY opened in September of 2013 under the artistic
direction of Denyse Looney.
Since that time we have been offering personalized, professional instruction to dancers of all levels and interests in LaGrange, Wappingers and throughout the Hudson Valley. We believe that dance is a celebration, not a competition and strive for quality not quantity.
Our faculty, Ms. Denyse Looney, Mr. Todd Hall, Ms. Bella O'Connell, Ms.
Leighann Kowalsky, Mr. Walter'Sundance' Freeman, Ms. Carolyn Freeman and Miss Christine Lovett have all worked and
performed as professionals in their fields.
Collectively, they have been members of, The New York City Ballet,
The Boston Ballet, The Chicago Lyric Opera Ballet, Eglevsky Ballet,
The National Dance Company of Zimbabwe, Erick Hawkins Dance, J-Han
Dance, The D'amby Project and Riverdance.
Dutchess School of Performing Arts offers professionally taught classes at all levels,
from Introductory to Pre-Professional, in Classical Ballet,
Traditional Irish Step, Contemporary Dance, and new
this year, Rhythm Tap.
Our goal is to provide and maintain a truly professional
environment for young people to study multiple dance techniques. We
are eager to pass our knowledge and dedication to the Arts onto our
students and to mentor their talent and continuing personal
Here at Dutchess School of Performing Arts we help our dancers meet the challenges of impeccible Classical Ballet technique by utilizing the most successful methods (syllabi) of the best-know international schools of dance. Placement in our levels of instruction are based on; experience (if any), understanding the technique, and an ability to execute the technique correctly. Each student is placed in the level that will provide them the greatest opportunity to study, to grow, to discover and to excel as an individual dancer.
Dutchess School of Performing Arts offers professional training at all levels of classical ballet technique, beginning with 3-4 year olds in Creative Movement or Introduction to Ballet and continuing through the Advanced and Pre-Professional levels.
In terms of the focus of its technique, contemporary dance tends to combine the strong but controlled legwork of ballet with modern dance movements that place an emphasis on the torso. It also employs contract-release, floor work, fall and recovery, and improvisation characteristics of modern dance. Unpredictable changes in rhythm, speed, and direction are often used, as well.
Tap dance has its roots in the fusion of several ethnic percussive dances, including African tribal dances, English clog dancing and Irish jigs.
Traditional Irish Step
Stepdancing as a modern form is descended directly from old-style step dancing. There are several different forms of stepdancing in Ireland. Irish stepdancing is primarily done in competitions, public performances or other formal settings.
Dutchess School of Performing Arts is so excited to be able to offer Traditional Irish Dance with Leighann Kowalsky. This is not a “competition Irish” class. Leighann’s primary focus is the technique and movements of traditional Irish Step.
Mr. Hall began his training with the Festival Ballet in Rhode Island and then continued in New York City at the School of American Ballet and Joffrey Ballet School. As a professional dancer, he performed with the Boston Ballet and Washington Ballet. He has been a guest artist with a number of ballet companies in the United States and currently teaches and choreographs throughout the Northeast and overseas.
Meet our unparalleled staff at Dutchess School Of Performing Arts. Focused on teaching exceptional technique and creating unforgettable experiences, our team of professional colleagues is committed to our dancers’ satisfaction and success.
The Faculty at Dutchess School of Performing Arts is dedicated to providing an environment that inspires young people to learn and grow through the Art of Dance and Music.
The Conservatory-based training nurtures positive attitudes, dedication and development of artistic potential. The value of this training offers students the tools for life-long success including, confidence, self-esteem, creativity, discipline and individual growth.
Our LaGrange, Dutchess County New York location has two beautiful, brand new dance studios.
Read through our instructors’ bios below, and if you’d like to set up an introductory meeting don’t hesitate to reach out.
Denyse Looney is the Artistic Director of Dutchess School of Performing Arts.
She was a full scholarship student at the official school of The New York City Ballet, The School of American Ballet. She has danced professionally with, The New York City Ballet, under Mr. George Balanchine, The Chicago Lyric Opera Ballet, as a soloist under the direction of Maria Tallchief.
Denyse has also been a member of the Washington Ballet, the Hartford Ballet, a soloist with the Eglevsky Ballet Company under the direction of founder, Andre Eglevsky and later, Mr. Michael Vernon. Denyse studied additionally with David Howard, Melissa Hayden, Robert Denvers, Bobby Blankshine, and Dianna Cartier, among others, and taught professionally in New York City at the studios of both Robert Denvers and David Howard.
Denyse has been teaching in the Hudson Valley for over 30 years.
Leighann Kowalsky is the Co-Artistic Director of Dutchess School of Performing Arts.
Leighann Kowalsky began teaching dance in 2008, an important use of her skills as a critical means for developing the next generation of movers. Kowalsky continues to engage in an illustrious performance career as a professional dancer with multiple companies, choreographers and artists. Some featured venues include the LUMA Theater at the Fisher Center for Performing Arts, the Queen Elizabeth Theater in Vancouver, B.C., and Jacob's Pillow. Kowalsky was also the Steps on Broadway Performance Lab recipient in 2017, and was part of a creative residency with hypha, an aerial dance based company, at 5th Wall Studio in Brooklyn, NY in 2021 thanks to a CityCorp Artist grant. She has received numerous awards for her choreographic and dance on film based work. Kowalsky continues to perform with the Erick Hawkins Dance Company, and a number of independent choreographers.
With a BA in Communications and Psychology from Marist College and an MFA in Choreographer from Jacksonville University, Kowalsky continues to perform, collaborate and engage professionally in the dance industry. Having taught at Dutchess School of Performing Arts since it's inception in 2013, Kowalsky is responsible for the Contemporary and Irish curriculum, and teaches multiple levels of dance exclusively at DSPA. Otherwise, she travels global as a guest educator, choreographer and performer.
Kowalsky was the Director for Dance & Circus at Millbrook School from 2012-2021, the Director of Dance & Film at Festival Theater Hudson in 2020, and the Director of Operations at the Contemporary Circus and Immersive Arts Center in 2022.
Christine Lovett has a BA in dance from Butler University- studied many schools of dance, with a focus on ballet. She's performed both on and off-broadway as well as regionally in such Musicals as Me and My Girl,
On Your Toes, South Pacific, and many more. She has experience teaching all levels of ballet, tap, jazz, and musical theatre dance. She's choreographed for middle school, high school and college musicals, and at the Candlewood Lake theatre. She also works as an Adjunct Professor the History of Musical Theatre at Marist College. She's excited to bring her talents to DSPA!
Mr. Freeman is the most sought after Rhythm Tap Teacher in Dutchess County.
Mr. Freeman has taught Master Class Internationally and at the American Tap Foundation where he was named 'Tap Teacher of the Year' in 2007.
Mr. Freeman has had the honor of performing for two U.S. Presidents, Prime Minister Tony Blair of England, and the Presidents of both Ireland and Germany.
Mr. Freeman has starred in two Broadway Shows, the three time award winning show Black and Blue at the Minskoff Theatre and Riverdance at the Gershwin Theater.
He is also featured in five films, The Principal, with Lou Gossett Jr.,Worlds Greatest Dancers, Bojangles starring Gregory Hines, Riverdance: Live in Geneva, and Tap, also starring Gregory Hines
Please see Mr. Freeman in action on Youtube!
Carolyn Freeman was the owner & director of American Stardom Dance Academy from 2001 - 2016. She has 35 years experience working with young children in dance. She also has experience working with students of different ages, special needs, and ability levels. From 1994 - 2002 she directed and owned American Stardom Talent Competition with much success, which she ran on the East Coast for 8 years until she opened her own studio. She has studied dance in New York, Europe, Athens, and in Greece and has studied under numerous teachers from New York City. In addition, she has taught for the Greece American Club military families. She was honored in 2007 with Tap Teacher of the year award by the world renown American Tap Dance Foundation in New York City.
Carolyn holds to the highest degree of professionalism with staff, parents, and students. She has sent many of her students on to continue their dance education with prestigious companies such as ABT and others. She has had numerous experiences staging special types of production, such as; Mother Goose, Mini Nut (mini Nutcracker), various studio recitals and charity benefit productions. Carolyn continues her dance education studying in master classes and workshops hosted by a variety of instructors including those sponsored by Dance Olympus, Dance Educators of America, Dance Caravan, Tremaine, and Dance Masters of America.
Mon: 3:30pm - 9:00pm
Tue: 4:00pm - 9:00pm
Wed: 4:00pm - 9:00pm
Thu: 3:30pm - 9:00pm
Fri: 3:30pm - 9:00pm
Sat: 10:00am - 2:00pm