Cathy Mucci, Owner of Dance Centre North

1. Dance Centre North is celebrating its 35th season. How has it changed and evolved over that time?
When I first opened Dance Centre North, I was teaching all the dance forms and all the levels on my own. I quickly realized that the intensity needed to keep up that pace would not last, and by the next year, had begun to hire other teachers. It’s not easy to let go and allow others to assist in the development of the students, but I have been extremely fortunate that the staff I have acquired is now and has always been very well-trained professionals. They are gifted with the ability to pass on that training. Not everyone who is a good dancer is also a good teacher. It takes the desire to share those gifts, nurture, instill, and inspire the students from the first time they enter the studio until their final bow when they graduate.

2. What kind of impact do you think you have had on the community?
Over the course of our years here in Syracuse, we have always strived to keep a standard of excellence in addition to developing the pure joy experienced through movement. Through the many performing opportunities that we provide at Dance Centre North, our students gain the expertise needed for the stage. Those skills acquired are useful in both their academic and future employment requirements, thus developing responsible young adults joining the community workforce, and also during their training creating entertainment and contributing to the arts in our Syracuse community.

 3. What types of classes and programs do you offer?
We are primarily a ballet school which encompasses the styles of Vaganova, Cecchetti and Royal Ballet. However, in addition to classical ballet, variations and pas de deux, we offer Modern, Jazz, Tap, Conditioning for Dancers, and Dance for Musical Theatre. This year, we have begun to add Adult Ballet, as well as a “Mommy & Me” class for 2-and-3-year-old children and a parent. Our curriculum is based on incremental progressive levels of training, which develops physicality and advances each student as an individual.

4. What do you see in the future for Dance Centre North?
As with other arts institutions throughout the world, DCN has been challenged to keep its doors open throughout the recent years, dealing and operating during the pandemic. Fortunately, our staff and students were able to maintain classes online. Now that some normalcy has been established, I hope to rebuild within the school’s levels, and focus on developing additional performing opportunities for our dancers in collaboration with other arts organizations. Though I never imagined seeing DCN into year ’35,’ I am eternally grateful that God has given me this work, an incredibly wonderful staff that has had my back all along, and super families who entrusted their precious children to us these past 35 years.


Larry Crabtree, Instructor

1. What is your background in dance?
I started tap dance in the Syracuse City School system after-school program when I was 4 years old. Later, I delved into jazz through my teen years and competed locally and nationally. I performed in high school musical productions, television, and musicals with the Pompeian Players. Upon graduation from North Syracuse High School, I continued training with Deborah Boughton, at the Center of Ballet & Dance Arts, for three years. I worked in retail clothing and as a Syracuse Post-Standard paper distributor during this time until my departure in 1984. In 1984, I moved to New York City, where I had a successful career as a dancer/teacher/choreographer with numerous companies for 23 years. These included the Anglo-American Ballet, New York Theatre Ballet, New Jersey Ballet, Peter Pucci Plus Dancers (Modern), the New York City Jazz Company, and others, performing nationally and internationally.

As a teacher, I have taught for the Anglo-American Ballet, Circle in the Square Theatre School, New Jersey Ballet, and 23 years later here in Syracuse at Dance Centre North (2006-present), Le Moyne College (11 years), Syracuse University (10 years), among others, teaching classical ballet, body conditioning, pas de deux, musical theatre, and jazz classes.

Additionally, I have choreographed numerous plays, cabarets, and musicals in New York City and in the Syracuse area, for the International Healthy Buildings Conference, and am the director/choreographer of CNY Arts’ annual holiday production of Dasher’s Magical Gift.

2. What do you do during the day?
During the day, I am a full-time Mentor for Advocates, Inc., empowering individuals with developmental disabilities to direct their own lives and create a vision for their future. Additionally, I teach about eight classes weekly at Dance Centre North.

3. What is your favorite part of being a dance instructor?
My favorite part of being an instructor is watching a student develop, learn, respect, and progress in dance so that they appreciate the art form and those that have danced before them. The reward of teaching is carrying on the art as it has been taught to me by my teachers, passing on knowledge and experience that I hope will benefit my students as they progress, whether it be in the arts, or in other areas. Dance trains you for many things in life; it helps you learn, know, develop your mind and body, and excel in all aspects of life, individual well-being, and as a community contributor.


Julie Lombardi, Instructor

1. What is your background in dance?
I grew up taking classes at Dance Centre North throughout high school and then went on to major in dance at SUNY Purchase College, obtaining a BFA in 2001. I furthered my dance education, mostly focusing on studying at the Paul Taylor Dance Company school in New York City prior to returning to Syracuse. Upon my return to Syracuse, I began teaching at Dance Centre North and have been an instructor there for 20 years. In addition to teaching dance, I recently began performing again with a local Modern dance company, Speak Dance CNY.

2. What do you do during the day?
My full time career is as a physical therapist. I specialize in working with patients with neurologic conditions. I most recently began a new position as an assistant professor and director of clinical education at Upstate Medical University’s Physical Therapy program.

3. What is your favorite part of being a dance instructor?
As a dance instructor, I really enjoy analyzing movement and facilitating students’ awareness of their own alignment and placement to assist with their improvement in technique. The next step is then to help them learn to move through space sometimes with control and sometimes trying to abandon this control; for me, that is the most fun aspect of teaching.


Samantha Dougherty, Instructor

1. What is your background in dance?
I have always been a jack of all trades when it came to dance when I was younger. I always wanted to experience new styles and expand my understanding of dance. I was born and raised in Central New York and have studied ballet, jazz, lyrical, hip hop, modern, and tap dance disciplines in several area dance schools for the past 25 years. From 2006 to 2009, I was a member of “The Light of the World” professional ballet company, under the directorship of Ashley Rollinson. During that time, I had the opportunity to perform in venues all over New York state, as well as in China. While in China, I had the privilege of promoting the arts through dance in several school districts located in southern China and tourist venues in Beijing. From 2010 to present day, my love and passion for contemporary/modern dance has grown and really developed through Dance Centre North. It has brought my connection with dance to a whole new level.

2. What do you do during the day?
I am a marketing executive assistant that manages and directs books of business with Prudential. I’m so blessed to be able to work from home.

3. What is your favorite part of being a dance instructor?
I would have to say my favorite part is seeing my students not only put the time and effort into their passion, but using those tactics and lessons in their daily lives. Striving for excellence not only in class, but with school, sports, homework, building relationships. Having integrity in themselves and in what their passion is. Keeping a commitment not just towards their fellow classmates, but with themselves. Never giving up on the first try because you failed to execute it. Having them remember who they are and what they represent. This is what I push to instill in my students. Seeing it develop in the dance studio is really heartwarming as a teacher.

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Courtney Kless is the Editor in Chief of Family Times. Courtney is originally from Maryland. She earned her Master’s degree in Magazine, Newspaper and Online Journalism from Syracuse University. Courtney began her career as a sports journalist, then spent several years working in higher education, before joining the company in August 2019. She enjoys traveling, reading and hiking, and recently adopted a Labrador Retriever, Bailey.

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