Our Instructors


Patti Friedman
Artistic Director/Teacher

Patti received her BA in Elementary Education from Purdue University in 1991. She has been teaching for Creative Dance Arts since 1985 and was named Co-director in 1993. Patti took over ownership of Creative Dance Arts in 1999 from its founder, Donna Turner. Patti has been a choreographer for Shenendehowa’s Choraliers, Dance Director for Clifton Knolls Day Camp, RPI Dance and Drama camp, Shenendehowa kaleidoscope as well as Albany-Colonie Diamond Dogs Dance Team. She has also appeared in C-R Productions Thoroughly Modern Millie. Dance study presently continues at Broadway Dance Center and with Ballet master Finis Jhung, Tina Baird and many others. Most recently she is Choreographing for C-R Kids and is teaching the dance technique classes for the cast. Presently, Patti teaches Ballet, Pointe, Jazz and Tap at all levels as well as Toddler Movement.

Email Patti: dance@creativedancearts.org
Laurie Fitsik
Information Coordinator/Teacher

Laurie received her Bachelor’s degree in Speech Pathology/Audiology from Fredonia College and Master’s Degree in Speech/Language Pathology from University of Denver and works with students at Shenendehowa Central School. Her true love is dance and her specialty is with our young students. Laurie teaches Creative Movement, Pre-Ballet and Pre-Tap, as well as levels I and II in Tap. Laurie is also our information coordinator liaison.

Email Laurie: info@creativedancearts.org
Sarah Nelson

Sarah grew up taking Ballet, Jazz and Tap from Creative Dance Arts. She also worked with former principals of the NYC ballet including Michael Steele and David Otto and has performed with the Berkshire Ballet Company and Capital Ballet Company. She received her associate’s degree in Dance Performance from Valencia College in Orlando, FL where she was accepted as a member of the Valencia Dance Theatre. She then received her Bachelor’s degree in Dance Performance from Southern Utah University with a minor in Health Education. She has attended and performed at the American College Dance Festivals in Washington, Kansas and Montana. She took part in the filming of “High School Musical 2” for the Disney Channel as a background dancer. Most recently, Sarah choreographed “State Fair” and “Hello Dolly” for Barc Youth Theatre Company. Sarah had a fantastic experience as an intern at Broadway Dance Center summer of 2011!
Brittany Fitsik

Brittany has been dancing at Creative Dance Arts since 1992. She studied Ballet, Tap, Jazz and musical theater while attending Creative Dance Arts. Brittany attended St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY from 2007-2011 where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Childhood and Special Education, with a minor in Instructional Technology. During her time at St. John Fisher, Brittany was on the dance team. She performed at the Men’s Soccer and Lacrosse games, as well as at different events on campus. Brittany was also a choreographer for the dance team where she choreographed group and solo dances. Brittany completed her master’s degree in Literacy at the College of St. Rose in Albany, and is presently teaching 4th grade at Boulevard Elementary School in the Gloversville Enlarged School District. Brittany is presently teaching Jazz at all levels at CDA.
Kristen Douglas

Kristen received her BA in Elementary Education in 1993 from Potsdam College as well as her master’s degree from SUNY Albany. She has been with Creative Dance Arts since its inception. She teaches Ballet and Tap, Jazz and Modern Dance. She has also been the choreographer for several musical productions of Clifton Park’s Not So Common Players. Most recently, she founded the Performing Arts Ensemble S.T.A.N.D. (Stand Together Against Name-calling and Discrimination) This is a dance ensemble who perform at community events and in schools who represent the message of anti-bullying presented through the arts (Dance, Music, Theatre, and Visual Arts). She is presently teaching 2nd grade at Mayfield Elementary School.
Stephanie Walsh

Stephanie has been dancing at Creative Dance Arts since 1986. She received her BA degree in Therapeutic Recreation with a minor in Dance from Ithaca College. She teaches Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop and Lyrical and Modern. Stephanie has been a choreographer and performer with IC Unbound, a member of the nationally ranked Ithaca College Dance Team, a member of the Ultimate Dance All-stars in Albany and a choreographer for the Not-So-Common Players. Most recently, Steph was certified in Zumba and Zumba Gold. Coupled with her dance training, she is a dynamic Zumba instructor! Steph is currently the CEO for Care Tactics Training Center in Clifton Park.
Wendy Gaughan

Wendy has been dancing at Creative Dance Arts since 1987. She holds a BA degree in Psychology from Siena College. In addition, she graduated from Russell Sage College with a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy. Wendy was a member of the Albany Conquest dance team in 2002 and 2006 and on the Siena Dance Team from 2002-2005. Wendy was also a member of the Ultimate dance team and teaches at the Siena Summer Dance Camp. She is currently teaching Jazz and Hip Hop and is presently employed as an occupational therapist and a professor Sage Graduate School. Wendy has completed her 200-hour teacher certification in Yoga and Yoga for kids!
Lindsay Miakisz

Lindsay Miakisz has been dancing at Creative Dance Arts since 1988. She began teaching Tap and Jazz in 2001. She remained a guest teacher at Creative Dance Arts throughout her college years, while she attended Cazenovia College from 2003-2007 and pursued her degree in Elementary and Special Education. There, she founded the Cazenovia College Dance Club, became a member and leader of the Legacy Hip Hop dance team, as well as the Cazenovia College Women’s Step Team. Lindsay has shared these unique styles of dance that she learned with many of the students and faculty members at Creative Dance Arts. Lindsay is currently teaching Tap, Jazz, Step, and Hip Hop. She is presently teaching 1st grade at Pashley Elementary School.
Ashley Bontorno

Ashley began her training with the Kansas City Ballet at age 8 and quickly immersed herself in performing. Continuing to study ballet and other forms of dance, she performed with community and professional theatre companies in her community until heading to college and receiving a BFA in Acting. Since then, her professional work has included performing, directing, choreographing, teaching and coaching across the country at various theatres and performing art studios including the award-winning Coterie Theatre and Kansas City’s Starlight Theatre. Her desire to share the power and joy of the arts led her to an Arts Education Internship at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., which in turn led to her working with students at the School of American Ballet in New York City. She happily joins the Creative Dance Arts Team ready to continue her journey in the arts along with the wonderful students who are starting on their own journeys.
Katie Rodriguez

Katie started dancing at a young age, receiving her training with the Albany Berkshire Ballet. During this time, she performed and toured in professional productions such as The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella, Petrouchka, Carmina Burana and many other ballets and contemporary pieces. Katie received a scholarship to receive additional training from Walnut Hill School. She also attended Boston Ballet and The Rock School where she had the pleasure of training under such Dancers/Directors as Bruce Marks, Wendy Whelan, Kyra Nichols and Devon Carney. Katie moved to New York City after receiving a scholarship from New York University to attend the Tisch School of the Arts. This is where she received her BFA in Dance. Katie also has received her Pilates Mat Certification from the Kane School of Core Integration in NYC as well as a Barre certification through Booty Barre. Katie’s main focus as a teacher is to help the students with proper alignment and execution as well as remembering to have fun through dance and self-expression. She is thrilled to join a fantastic team!
Joe Davila
Guest Teacher

Joseph danced with CDA for 14 years. He has worked in many regional theatre companies including CR-Productions, SLOC, Debuts Theatre Co., TAG, CAPS, SYFI and Performing SmArts. He has also done work in television with Smith & Jones. He studies voice privately with Heather Baird and attended the New York State Summer School of the Arts: School of Choral Studies (NYSSSA SCS) in July 2012. He was fortunate enough to be asked to perform in the NYSSSA Honors Recital at the closure of the program. Joseph was also the winner of the Burnt Hills Oratorio High School Vocal Competition in May 2013. He is presently attending Buffalo State University to receive his Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in Dance!


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