EDEN ROESSEL WATSON, Artistic Director and Instructor
Eden Watson has been dancing at ABDC for over 20 years-first as a student, then a teacher, and now as artistic director. She began dancing at ABDC in 1998 under the direction of ABDC’s founder, Melinda Samperi. Working as a student assistant, Eden discovered her love of teaching and sharing her passion with younger dancers! She went on to study dance at Skidmore College where she studied ballet, modern, tap, jazz, choreography and improvisation and performed in faculty and student choreography performances. While at Skidmore, Eden had the opportunity to work with dancers from the American Ballet Theater, Martha Graham Dance Company, Doug Varone and Dancers, and performed in works choreographed by Martha Graham, Robert Battle, Doris Humphrey, and Isadora Duncan. Eden always remained close to her Acton-Boxborough Dance Center family, and after graduating Skidmore with a B.S and Honors in Dance, returned to her hometown and home studio as a teacher, and now as Artistic Director. Community involvement has been a focus of ABDC under Eden’s direction, and ABDC students have performed at Robbins Brook, Life Care Center of Acton, the Beacon Santa Telethon, and Move for the Movement, a benefit performance for the American Cancer Society. ABDC has raised money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation, donated hats and gloves to Cradles to Crayons, sent costumes to dancers in need, and participated in National Dance Week Foundation’s Kick for Kindness video contest. Eden is committed to making ABDC a place where dancers feel at home, and where they receive quality dance education while making lifelong friendships and memories, just like she has! Most recently, Eden has completed her certification in Progressing Ballet Technique and enjoys continuing her education at various conferences and workshops. Eden is also Youth Protection Advocates in Dance (YPAD) certified- meaning she has completed a course on dance safety, injury prevention, CPR/First Aid, and safety and emergency preparedness. She also completed a course on the wellness and development of youth dancers which covered social media, social media safety, today’s dance culture, developmentally appropriate artistry, body image, nutrition, disordered eating, bullying, and conflict resolution.
Brittany Safran, Assisting Instructor and Competition Team Director, brings to ABDC over 20 years of performance and competitive dance experience. She began training at an early age under the direction of Jim Caisse and Melissa Caisse. As a member of their dance team, Brittany performed and trained throughout the United States and abroad. She continued her studies at Dean College where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance with a focus in choreography and pedagogy. Through this program, she had the opportunity to study modern dance with artists from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.
Shortly after college, Brittany joined Perceptions Contemporary Dance Company, who she performed with throughout New England and in New York City. In 2010, Brittany was accepted into The Boston Tap Company, directed by Sean Fielder. In her eight years with them, she has had the opportunities to perform at The Beantown Tap Festival, the Wang Theatre, and on the Inside/Out Stage at Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. More recently, Brittany has continued to expand her knowledge of rhythm, dance, and movement. In doing so, she has performed with DrumatiX, a Boston-based rhythm and dance company, and has also started to further her education in studying Physical Therapy – in an effort to provide her students with a stronger and safer technical foundation.
As a dance educator and choreographer, Brittany has received numerous outstanding choreography awards, including a regional Industry Dance Award nomination. Her students have gone on to dance at both the collegiate and professional levels. Brittany has been with ABDC for over ten years and can’t wait for another exciting season!
Jen Conry, Assisting Instructor. Jen has been dancing since the age of five. She danced at ABDC for 14 years as a student and a student assistant. During her time at ABDC, she took ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, pointe and modern classes. She also danced for ABDC’s competition team throughout her high school career. Jen recently graduated from West Chester University of PA with a bachelor’s degree in both Early Childhood and Special Education. She performed for WCU’s Dance Company during her freshman year there, and attended a variety of master classes at the university shortly after that. To continue her passion of teaching and dance, Jen taught ballet, tap, jazz, and musical theatre classes in the Boston area this past year. She is very excited to continue with that as well as return to her ABDC family, giving the current students at the studio an experience to remember just as she received for 14 years as a student.
Robin Wilson, Assisting Instructor, Robin is a graduate student from UMass Amherst with a degree in Musical Theatre Education . She also attended the Acton Box-borough Regional School systems.
She currently works as a special education ESP in the Ashland public school system and is getting her masters in Theatre Education and Special ED from Emerson College. She has an extensive experience as a choreographer, having choreographed a show in Walt Disney World , as well as working for multiple theatre organizations including Theatre With a Twist in Acton MA. She also had the opportunity to study dance at the University of California Los Angeles and in Florence Italy. Although she has experience in many different dance styles, her favorite are Tap and Jazz, and her favorite show to choreograph and perform in is CATS. As a child she attended ABDC and looks forward to working with the students here to share her art and experience.
Melanie Najarian, Assisting Instructor. Melanie Najarian has been teaching dance in New England since 2002 – and part of the ABDC family since then as well! She holds a B.A. in Music from Clark University, where she danced with, choreographed for, and co-directed the Variant Dance Troupe. Following her passion for teaching dance, Melanie earned her A.A. in Dance from Dean College. At Dean, she took classes in all styles of dance as well as pedagogy, choreography, and creative movement for children. She has since then danced with the SRO Players of Lowell, participated in Boston Ballet’s Adult Summer Dance Program, attended the Dance Teacher Summit in CA, and been a member of Moving Arts Exchange’s Adult Dance Company. With MAX, Melanie had the unique opportunities to perform at the Sandisfield Arts Center, The Mount, Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, and twice on the beautiful Inside/Out Stage at Jacob’s Pillow. Also while in the Berkshires, Melanie was a retail supervisor at Tanglewood, managed two non-profit art centers, and managed The Pillow Store at Jacob’s Pillow. Before moving to the Berkshires, Melanie was the General Manager of Dance This Way in Concord, and also co-choreographed the annual musicals at RJ Grey Junior High School, including the junior versions of Guys and Dolls, Honk, Willy Wonka, Once On This Island, and Bye Bye Birdie. Prior to college, Melanie studied at the former Belmont School of Ballet.
Christine Masci, Assisting Instructor. Christine graduated magna cum laude from the University of New Hampshire in 2018. There, she completed her bachelor’s degree in Therapeutic Recreation, and minor in Dance; studying jazz, contemporary, aerial, tap, ballet, and pointe. During her time at UNH, Christine was a part of the UNH Ballet Company, and the UNH Jazz, Tap, and Aerial company. She also choreographed numerous pieces for the Student Showcase. Prior to starting college, she danced competitively in jazz, tap, ballet, pointe, lyrical and modern at the Dance Works for eleven years. She also completed Dance Teacher Training through Dance Teachers Club of Boston in 2013. Christine has additionally gone on to teach dancers all ages in the Portsmouth area. She is excited to be teaching and sharing her love of dance at ABDC!
Dee Okoth, Assisting Instructor, Dee has been dancing since the age of eleven. She has been part of multiple dance studios over the years, learning hip hop, contemporary, ballet, lyrical, tap and jazz; with her main focus in Hip Hop. Dee has competed in multiple advanced competition groups, winning solo and group awards. For several years Dee was the Dance Facilitator and Choreographer for an after-school program in Worcester for middle and high school students. She has also taken her love of dance around the world, teaching and learning in Ghana, Uganda, and Morocco to name a few! Dee says there is no better feeling than watching a student grow and feel good about themself, which is why she is so excited to join the ABDC team!
Caitlyn Corcoran, Assisting Instructor. Caitlyn has been dancing since
the age of seven. She spent 12 years dancing at ABDC and took ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, and modern classes as well as competed on the competition team for four years. Caitlyn graduated magna cum laude from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a bachelor’s degree in Marketing. While at UMass Amherst Caitlyn attended jazz, modern, and contemporary classes at the school as well as at Amherst College. Caitlyn was an active member of the UMass Dance Club as well as the jazz choreographer. In her Junior and Senior year, she was appointed as the Vice President of the club and gained a more active role in the leadership of the club. Caitlyn is excited to return to ABDC and provide students with the unique ABDC experience we all love.
Student Assistants 2020-2021: Nidhi Bhat, Aryn Leers, Ariel Levine, Ciara O’Hara, Ella Santoro, Camille Smokelin.