About Ambition Dance Academy

1. an appetite for fame, success or power
2. a desire for achievement and the willingness to strive for its attainment

Helping to Mentor The Next Generation of Dancers

Founded in 2006 by Director Mary Ann DeCarlo, Ambition Dance Academy provides premier dance training for students who wish to learn the art of dance. With a variety of classes for students of all ages and skill levels, ADA is developing the skills of New Jersey’s rising talent.

Our Team

Mary Ann DeCarlo

Mary Ann DeCarlo has over twenty years of training in various styles of dance. Starting dance class at age three she knew immediately she wanted to grow up to be just like her dance teacher. Mary Ann soon became captain of her dance troupe and competed in solo and group dances in tap, jazz and lyrical dance in regional and national competitions. She performed as a feature dancer throughout New Jersey, appeared on Channel 9 Children Programs and danced at PaperMill Playhouse with the New Jersey Ballet Company.

After High School, she focused on ballroom and latin dance, learning lifts, styling and technique from world class champion trainers. She performed and competed throughout the U.S. with multiple entertainment companies for five years. Mary Ann successfully completed her teacher training through Dance Educators of America and has been teaching performing arts and ballroom dance ever since.

She continues her training with the commitment to stay current with the newest dance moves and trends. Using her knowledge of the dance world and her eclectic background she founded Ambition Dance Academy in the summer of 2006. Mary Ann is extremely thankful to her family and friends for their love and constant support!

Lily Muniz

Lily Muniz began her formal dance education when she was two years old. She graduated from Oneidas Dance Studio in Guttenberg New Jersey where she participated and completed the Dance Educators of America Medal Testing Program. She graduated with superior honors and received various achievement awards. Lily has not only received formal training in ballet but also in other forms of dance including, salsa, hip hop, lyrical, tap, jazz, tango and many more.

Throughout her years dancing she participated in local, regional, and national dance competitions placing in the top 5 and winning numerous gold and platinum awards. Upon graduating from her dance studio, Lily became a dance teacher at Ambition, her senior year of high school. While attending Fairfield University, Lily was the Captain of the Fairfield University Dance Team, as well as a choreographer and member of the Fairfield University Dance Ensemble. While on the Fairfield Dance Team, she attended UDA Nationals with the team, where they performed dances in jazz and hip hop, that were nationally ranked.

Lily’s strong passion for dance led her to Ambition Dance Academy, where she has been since the studio opened and will continue for years to come!

Linnea Quintino

Linnea began her dance career at four years old. She received her formal dance training from local dance studios in New Jersey. Linnea has studied ballet, lyrical, jazz, tap, modern and musical theater. She attended Ramapo College of New Jersey, where she studied dance, education and business. She currently holds a NJ Teaching Certificate and has been teaching dance in NY/NJ for the past three years. She has also choreographed regional/high school musicals throughout NJ. She is very happy to be part of the staff at Ambition Dance Academy.

Cassie Vallejo

Cassie participated in recreational cheerleading from the time she was 7 years old until 2006 when Ambition Dance Academy opened and she instantly fell in love with dance. She danced and competed with ADA from the time we opened until she graduated high school in 2011. While attending Westwood High School she was a part of the Woodington Players, acting in plays and being on the costume crew. Since graduating, Cassie has went on to study psychology at Montclair State University. She has also been the stage manager for the past two recitals and can’t wait to spend many more years with ADA.

Shawn Rawls

Shawn Rawls is from Cleveland,Ohio. He has performed with over a dozen shows and dance companies throughout the United States and abroad including Pilobolus, the Aluminum Show, Ad Deum, Monster Energy Drink and the Roots, Culture Shock, the Roxey Ballet, Chicago Dance Crash, Tygo Ballets, K-Theory, Son Kiss’d Hip Hop Contemporary and the Chicago Lyric Opera. As a freelance choreographer for more than Seven years, he recently won the first round of NYC XYZ choreography competition and placed runner up in the final round.

Shawn Rawls choreography has been featured on Dancing Wheels and the Roxey Ballet. Shawn Rawls works has also been seen in NYC 10 festival, and he recently presented an evening length piece at the Houston Fringe Festival. Shawn is the founder and artistic director of Emotions Physical Theatre, a dance company that performs in New York and around the United States.

Jessie Whelan

Jessie Whelan graduated Magna Cum Laude from Montclair State University’s Department of Theater and Dance with a B.F.A. Dance degree in 2012, & again in 2016 with a degree in Nutrition: Dietetics. Native to Waretown, New Jersey, Jessie began her dance training at age 5 with Eileen Juric at Basically Ballet Studio in Forked River, New Jersey, a school focusing on strict ballet and modern dance technique, where she is currently on staff. Under the wing of Kristin Dexnis, Jessie began assistant teaching at the age of 16. By her senior year of high school, Jessie was a regular substitute teacher at Basically Ballet prior to graduating and moving on to continue her studies at Montclair State. While studying at Montclair State, Jessie continued to substitute classes, and perform both academically with Montclair State University’s Dance Company, and professionally with DeXdance, a contemporary company.

Jessie has studied various styles with artists such as Jao Carvalho, Nancy Lushington, Beth McPherson, Maxine Steinman, Jennifer Chin, Karen Gayle, Jay T. Jenkins, Cynthia Thole, Brian Harlan Brooks, Nyles Ford, Tyler Gilstrap, and many more. In her studies, she has performed in works by Charles Weidman, Frederick Earl Mosley, Lane Sayles, and Jessica DiMauro. Jessie has performed throughout the tri-state area, Indiana, and Canada. Jessie holds additional certifications through Acrobatic Arts: The Professional Curriculum for Acrobatic Dance, Balanced Body Pilates, & ISSA Personal Training/Nutritional Professionals. She is on staff with Lifetime Athletic Princeton, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Repertory Ballet, and is thrilled to be returning to Ambition Dance Academy for another year.

Janette Rawls

Janette Rawls holds a B. F. A. in Dance from Belhaven University with additional summer studies at American Ballet Theatre and the American Dance Festival. Janette started her professional career in Kansas City with Stӧrling Dance Theater, performing in the large productions Underground and The Little Match Girl. In Houston, Janette danced with Earthen Vessels: Sandra Organ Dance Company and appeared as a guest artist with FrenetiCore, Jhon Stronks, and for several commercial dance and modeling projects with Dance Houston. In the northeast, Janette worked with Catapult on an international tour after their feature on “America’s Got Talent.”

She has also toured with Elements Dance and currently performs with Warwick Dance Collective. Janette has over ten years of teaching experience including teaching at the collegiate level, for summer intensives, at conventions, and in performing arts schools. She is certified in Stott® Pilates and holds an ABT® National Training Curriculum teacher certification in primary through level five. Janette currently teaches in the New York/New Jersey area and serves as the administrative director, production manager, and occasionally as a dancer for Emotions Physical Theatre.

Mariah Tarabocchia

Mariah has been dancing since she was 3 years old and competing since the age of 10, training in styles including jazz, modern, contemporary, hip hop, musical theater, tap and ballet. During her time at Pascack Hills, she was on the Pascack Valley Regional Dance Team, a nationally ranked dance team.

She graduated from Penn State University with Bachelors Degrees in Dance and Kinesiology. While in college, she studied dance abroad in Ireland at the Dublin Dance Festival. Mariah is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Physical Therapy at New York Medical College. She has been teaching dance for 3 years and is very excited to be a part of the faculty at Ambition Dance Academy.

Erica Densmore

Erica is 22 years old from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She trained for ten years under the instruction of Jenny McGrath at Fairgrieve School of Dance in Gibsonia, PA. Erica attended Penn State University and received her degrees in Theatre (Dance Performance) and Integrative Art.

Her previous teaching experience includes The Central Pennsylvania Dance Workshop and Kennedy Dance Centre. Her dance training includes modern, hip hop, ballet, jazz, contemporary, and West African.  Erica eventually plans to attend grad school to receive her MFA in dance.

John Schmidt

John Schmidt received his Bachelor of Music Education with a concentration in Voice from Nyack College in New York and his Master of Arts in Educational Administration from Caldwell College in New Jersey. He received his vocal training under Esther Hinds, renowned Metropolitan Opera singer and Broadway performer; Dana Talley, and Terrance Kennedy.

He has performed ensemble and solo work in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Alice Tully Hall, Avery Fisher Hall, New York City Opera House, and the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and has sung with choirs throughout Germany, Poland, Holland, Canada, and across the United States. He is the former Director of Music at Brookdale Baptist Church in Bloomfield, NJ, is active in his church music ministry, and sings at many churches throughout North Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

He currently teaches vocal music, guitar/piano, and choral music for the Bloomfield Public School District in Bloomfield, NJ in which his choirs consistently achieve superior ratings in festivals and competitions. He is an Adjunct Vocal Instructor at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, NJ, manages the North Jersey Regional Chorus, and is consistently involved in educational opportunities throughout the state.

He has been teaching voice and piano lessons for the past 15 years. His students have performed on Broadway, off-Broadway, National Broadway Tours, been seen in movies and tv, high school shows, and in college theater and music programs throughout the northeast. John is excited to be a part of the Ambition Dance Academy team. He is forever humbled by the successes of his former and current students and strives to assist them in achieving their goals and true vocal potential.