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Meet the Company


Amanda Papa (Artistic Director)  is a dancer, choreographer, and a dance educator. Amanda received her BFA in Dance from Montclair State University. While attending MSU, Amanda was asked to join The Dawn Lau Dance Company with whom she was a soloist and their dance captain until 2007.  At Montclair she had the opportunity to work with artists such as Freespace Dance Company, Alexandra Beller, Maxine Steinman. Amanda spent her summers In North Carolina attending the American Dance Festival, with whom she worked with Gerri Houlihan, Robert Battle, David Dorfman, and Bill T. Jones. 

After graduation, Amanda spent time studying her art in Castiglioncello, Italy, where she truly began her journey as a choreographer and created 3 works of her own. Since then Amanda achievements include the creation of more than 50 works that have been performed through the TriState Area.  She has choreographed Musical productions such as Thoroughly Modern Millie, Rent, Oklahoma!, Singin' in the Rain, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Drowsy Chaperone, High School Musical, & Camp Rock. Her choreography has been 

recognized from Rising Star Awards and several NJ community theatre Companies.

Currently, Amanda is an Adjunct at Mercer County Community College, where she teaches Modern, Jazz, and Ballet.  She also is a full time staff member teaching all genres of dance at Metuchen Dance Centre, and School of the Arts in North Brunswick. She is also a certified dance instructor through Dance Educators of America. 


Cristen Pennello (Artistic Director) received a B.F.A. in Dance from Montclair State University and her M.A. degree in Dance Education from New York University. While at MSU, she received extensive training in Ballet, Modern and Choreography and she performed works by Alwin Nikolais, Pat Graney, Freespace Dance Company, and Nicole Smith. She has performed with various professional dance companies, such as NYC Hip Hop Company From the Ground Up, and is a founding and current member of moe-tion dance theater, for the past six years, where she has learned so much about the process from her incredible director, Maureen Glennon. She continues to perform professionally in NYC and NJ with moe-tion dance theater. 

Cristen spent a summer studying, creating, and performing in Montescuidao and Castiglioncello, Italy. She was a guest choreographer and has also taught as an Adjunct for a number of years at Middlesex County College.  She has performed lecture demonstrations for Rutgers University: Mason Gross School of the Arts. Cristen was the Head Dance Instructor at Mercer County Performing Arts High School from 2006-2009, and since 2009 she has run the dance program at Union City High School where she has also choreographed a number of musicals, including The Wiz, Pippin, West Side Story, Urinetown, In The Heights, & Xanadu. In the spring of 2013, Cristen created the very first New Jersey High School Dance Festival for NJ High School Dance Programs. She was later presented with the very first Jeté Award, given by Dance NJ in June of 2013. 

Cristen has always dreamt about creating a company. She is thrilled and honored to work with such a talented artist like Amanda, and fortunate to have such incredibly dedicated dancers!


John has been an avid member of the dance community ever since he was a child. Metuchen Dance Centre is where his training had all started for him at the age of 3, there he had studied all forms of dance including, Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Modern, Hip-Hop, & Ballroom. At the age of 16 John became a certified dance teacher through Dance Educators of America (DEA). After his training he then got right to work as a full time teacher at Metuchen Dance Centre where he began the 1st ever ALL Boys Jazz Class. John has choreographed pieces for multiple dance companies: Middlesex County College (MCCDE), Mercer County College (Tomato Patch), Metuchen Dance Centre's Teen Dance Company (Dance Reflections), Artistic Visions Dance Company where he is also a member. Most recently John started his own Entertainment Company "A-KATCH Entertainment" in which is is the main DJ of. John has been a part of Solo Danza since its inception and is thrilled to still be apart of the company to this day. Much love to Amanda & Cristen who push him each and every rehearsal and performance, to be better than the day before.


Alicia Giglio is a dancer, choreographer and dance educator. She received her B.A. in Dance from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and her M.A. in Dance Education from New York University. Alicia has performed with Freespace Dance Company, Insurgo Dance Project, and other freelance collaborations. She is excited to be making her debut with Solo Danza.

Since 2006 she has directed the dance department at New Brunswick High School’s Fine, Visual and Performing Arts Themed Institute. In this role she has had the pleasure of choreographing a number of musicals including: Seussical The Musical, Smokey Joe’s Café, The Wiz, High School Musical, Two by Two, Little Shop of Horrors and The Apple Tree. Alicia has also choreographed for dramatic productions, including The Tempest and 12 Angry Jurors.

Alicia has taught in a variety of summer programs including: The Newark Museum Summer Camp, The American School in Switzerland (TASIS), and The Rutgers University Summer Dance Camp.

She currently serves on the board for Dance New Jersey and has been a board member since 2010. She continues to be inspired by her students and is proud to be a part of Solo Danza.


Alicia Pagan is thrilled to be making her debut with Solo Danza . Alicia has her Associates in the Arts in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Dance. After college she went into the city to pursue her dancing career and got her certification in José Limón Technique. Alicia has performed original pieces with Lustig Dance Theatre in New Brunswick as a guest artist for their performances of Jangala and A Jazzy Nutcracker. Dance has been a part of her life ever since she could walk. Pagan has recently rekindled her love for theatre again as well and was in the production of Children of Eden as a featured dancer and dance captain. 
Alicia's choreography credits include seven years at Middlesex County College, original choreography for the production of "My Mother's Song", two years for Artist Visions Dance Company and teaching at various dance schools throughout NJ.  She gives her dance technique credit to her teachers Maria Elena Rico, Lisa Heyer, Barbara Gonzalez, and Aimee Mitacchione.


Leah Jean Boyce is excited to join Solo Danza. Leah Jean is a dancer, choreographer, and dance educator. While attending Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University she received her B.F.A in Dance and her M.A. in Dance Education from the Graduate School of Education. There she studied a variety of modern dance techniques, African, ballet, and jazz. As well as dance pedagogy, dance history, choreographic and improvisational skills, kinesiology, conditioning methods, and performance techniques. She has performed works by artist such as John Evans, Keith Thompson, Randy James, and Robert Battle. 

Leah Jean has been dancing for the Jill Mollinaro Dance Company as one of the original cast members for two years. She has taught and choreographed for Be.You.Dance Center, Lustig Dance Theater, Metuchen Dance Centre and New Brunswick High School Dance Company as a guest artist.