Lydia P. Gazzo, B.F.A.
Northshore Academy of Dance is owned and directed by Lydia Pond Gazzo. This year is Lydia’s 25th year of bringing the art of dance into the community and into the lives of all the students who study at NAD. Upon graduating from the University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance, Lydia had many choices to make – there are worldwide opportunities for trained dancers! In considering all of her options, Lydia knew what was most important to her and deep within her heart. She wanted to give back to her community – the people and families she grew up with and made memories with. Lydia knew what she wanted most in her professional life… to share her love for the arts, to educate people of all ages about the benefits of having dance in their lives, and to help shape young women and men into well-rounded individuals through offering opportunities which build character, confidence, and self-worth.
Lydia opened Northshore Academy of Dance in 1995with the dream of sharing her passion and knowledge of dance through discipline, positive reinforcement, and a genuine care for the students and families she was blessed to work with. It was her goal to encourage every student to find their personal love for dance and to utilize the skills she had to offer not just in the studio, but in everyday life, as individuals learning to make choices, deciding on priorities, and shaping a future for their mental and physical health. Lydia has successfully created a means of making a difference through the art of dance in these last 25 years!
Lydia’s achievements and experience are quite impressive. She has been dancing for over 44 years. Born and raised in Covington, she was always involved in dance within the community and her school. She was captain of the Covington High Dancin’ Darlin’s and continued in a leadership role as she served as captain of USM’s Dixie Darlings for three of the four years she was a member of this college dance team. Lydia was also a member of USM’s Southern Misses Basketball Dance Team. In addition, Lydia has choreographed, taught and performed for dance conferences and concerts along with worldwide events including locations such as Austria, England, Bermuda, Bahamas and throughout the entire United States. Lydia was involved with many NFL Super Bowl pregame and half-time performances as well. She has coached and choreographed for Tulane University’s dance team, Shockwave, in addition to working with many local high school dance teams. Many of NAD’s former students are on college and professional dance teams.
Lydia works hard to offer opportunities for her dancers. Lydia organized an extraordinary opportunity for dancers throughout the South a few years ago. This summer she will once again be hosting the dance intensive called “REFINED” (Reaching Endless Fundamentals In Nourishing Excellent Dancers), Lydia has networked & collaborated with the amazing Kim Wolfe, Tre’ Holloway, Stacy Boeddeker, Nate Poole, Dee Caspary, Danielle Sten-Guillermo & Lance Guillermo just to name a few. All will be teaching at REFINED in August! Lydia’s staff is extremely diverse in their dance background, education, and professional experience. She feels this gives Northshore a solid program to offer to a wide range of students interested in various disciplines of dance and who respond to different teaching styles and qualities. Lydia’s accomplishments have been recognized by “Who’d Who in Executives and Professionals” for reaching a level of success in her respectable field. For the fifth year in a row, NAD has been voted “Northshore’s Best” Dance Studio. Ten years ago, Lydia also got to travel to Ghana, Africa to do mission work at an orphanage with 90 orphans ages 5-`18. While she was there, she was so blessed to have the opportunity to teach dance every afternoon to all the orphans.
Lydia’s biggest blessing of all is her family! She is married to her best friend & the love of her life, Jimmy Gazzo. He has been her rock and the most wonderful husband and father to their children anyone could ask for. Lydia has 18 year old twin daughters, Olivia Grace and Emma Christine who have recently graduated high school and a 23 year old son, Steven Joseph Gazzo “Joey”. Olivia loves theatre, music, and soccer. She is currently attending Pace University in New York on an academic scholarship. Emma’s love is dance. Emma will continue to pursue her love of dance in New York. Joey is a part of the National Guard and works in the oil field.
Lydia is so thankful that the dream she started with has become a reality and that she can continue to share her love of dance with so many. She couldn’t do any of this without her AMAZING staff and thanks God for them everyday! They are truly the heartbeat of NAD and why NAD continues to provide the best dance education and experience for all their students. She is so proud to be part of such an amazing community. Thank you to all who make this possible and to 25 blessed years!
Brittany is NAD’s Assistant Director, as well as an instructor. She has been a part of NAD’s staff for thirteen years, is an alumnae of Northshore and has danced for many years. Brittany is an invaluable part of the staff and can always be counted on to go the extra mile! Not only is she great with the administrative details, but she is always willing to do what is needed to keep things running smoothly whether she has to put in extra office hours, teach an additional class, or run a much needed errand.
Brittany has an endearing manner in which she teaches her Preschool, Beginner and Hip Hop classes. She also started and runs our Fairytale Princess Ballet program. She has an instinctive nature to know what each of her dancers respond to best, whether extra nurturing, encouragement, or even gentle firmness. Brittany is able to quickly win the hearts of her dancers and their parents with her sincere approach and creative classes.
Brittany is a graduate of Southeastern Louisiana University with a Bachelor’s Degree in General Studies. Within this degree she has a major concentration in Applied Sciences and minor concentrations in Humanities and Applied Behavioral Sciences. She has also worked as an artist-in-residence within the public school system.
Last February, Brittany was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. She had a stem cell transplant in August and was able to come back to work after Thanksgiving. She is doing very well so far and is so happy to be back doing what she loves! She would like to thank all of the NAD families for their love and support, to her classes for being patient and so accepting of her when she got back, to her NAD sisters for standing by her through this journey; especially Kristen for stepping up and taking care of her classes while she was out and to Cristen and Lauren for holding down the fort in the office, and to Lydia for being the amazing boss and friend that she is for allowing her to still do what she loves to do even though she had to take some time to recover. And to her wonderful husband, Jason, thank you for your unconditional love and for always being there no matter what. This past year has been a trying one, but she has overcome it because of all the amazing people in her life!
Parents please keep bringing those smiling faces to the office window each day! To all of her dancers…good luck and big smiles!
Lauren Kebodeaux is the Artistic Director, as well as an instructor at NAD. Lauren has studied dance for over twenty years, six of those years with Northshore. She was a member of the NAD competition team and is trained in the areas of Jazz, Ballet, Lyrical, Pointe and Hip Hop. A graduate from Louisiana State University, one of her proudest accomplishments in the five years she spent as an LSU Golden Girl! In addition to the demands of a college dance team, she also studied dance while at LSU. Lauren has choreographed for junior high and high school dance teams around the United States. Lauren’s background blending classical training with hip hop and jazz techniques, in addition to her performance experience, is exactly what dancers are looking for these days! As dance teams become more and more technical and competitive, Lauren’s expertise in this genre is a valuable tool to offer NAD’s dancers.
Lauren and her husband, Trevor, have three beautiful children, London, Lane & their newest addition Layton.
Have fun and smile big!
A native of Mandeville, Louisiana, Ashley Stephens is the current Pro Director for NAD, where she has been an instructor since 2011. Prior to becoming a full-time instructor, Ashley led a dedicated career performing and instructing in the artforms of dance and aerial silks. As a performing dancer, Ashley took the stage in a multitude of places, including Los Angeles where she interned with the internationally acclaimed Diavolo Dance Theater. Prior to that, Ashley participated in collegiate competitive dance across the country, representing her alma mater’s dance team, the LSU Tiger Girls, where she was a four-year member and captain. Ashley has also performed and choreographed pieces with the LSU Theater Department for the International Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. As a committed teacher and choreographer, Ashley has choreographed for several high school and college national competitions, and she has worked extensively with Universal Dance Association to teach workshops in China, Columbia, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Ecuador, Slovenia, Scotland, Finland, and Korea. As one of the founders of Bel Vol, her former aerial silk performance company, Ashley served as Artistic Director, spearheading the company’s performances at venues such as the Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans, LA.
In addition to her love of dance, Ashley is also quite the fitness enthusiast. She is a National Academy of Sports Medicine certified personal trainer, and she currently teaches Pilates and HIIT classes at Evolve Studio in Mandeville.
Along with her husband, John, and their toddler, Gray, Ashley is grateful to be a part of the local community, and Ashley feels so blessed to be a part of the Northshore Academy of Dance family!
Cristen grew up in Mandeville/Covington and was a graduate of St. Scholastica Academy in 2012. She attended Northshore Academy of Dance for 14 years and was a member of the Pro Company for 8 years as well as the Elite Company for 6. Since then, Cristen attended Louisiana State University where she was an LSU Tiger Girl for 3 years and then continued on to the University of Memphis where she was a member of the Pom Squad for 2 more years. She graduated from the University of Memphis in December of 2016 with a Bachelor’s Degree of Professional Studies with a Concentration in Child Development and Family Studies.
After college, Cristen moved back to Louisiana and is currently working in dance and fitness. She loves being active and involved in the community. Cristen enjoys training others part time at Evolve Studio in Mandeville teaching Pilates and HIIT. Being back at NAD full time is her passion, so being with these kids has brought her so much joy and entertainment. It’s always a fun day at work when you’re doing what you love!
Heidi Pear is in her third year teaching at Northshore Academy of Dance! Heidi has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in Deaf Education! Heidi previously worked for Heather Barone at Creative Dance Studio in Slidell!
Heidi and her husband, Jon, have been married for 12 years and have two amazing children, Peyton (9) and Mary Grace (5) Heidi’s favorite daily activities include; watching her son play baseball and football, watching her husband help coach, enjoying her daughter’s fun and energetic personality and drinking coffee!
Heidi’s favorite days of the week are Mondays and Tuesdays; she loves sharing her joy of dancing with the girls at Northshore!
Caitlin “Katie” Guillory is Director of Northshore Academy of Dance’s talented Rec Company. She is a former student of the NAD competition team and NAD alumni. Katie is a proud Skipper alumni, and UL Ragin’ Cajun graduate of 2012. While at the University of Lafayette, Katie immersed herself in dance by studying several levels of Modern, Ballet, and Hip Hop dance in addition to her regular courses. She was a member of Louisiana’s Jazz Extensions Company and Senior Company Classical Connections of Louisiana for four years. Katie also enjoyed teaching and choreographing several dance pieces for a prestigious Lafayette studio. She was head coach and choreographer for an elite Louisiana tumbling/acrobatic team who performed at major sporting events, Mardi Gras balls, and other charitable events.
This is Katie’s 11th year of teaching dance and 7th year back with her NAD family. She teaches several classes, but can’t help but have happy feet for Tap dance! She finds joy in being around all those smiling faces and watching her dancers grow from year to year.
Apart from dance, Katie is wife to Dustin Guillory, mother of their four children (Joby-6, Jacques-4, EllaJane-2, and Elijah-6 months), and owner of Breath of Life Birth Services.
Elizabeth Gibson is an instructor with almost 30 years of teaching experience. After graduating from Mandeville High School where she was a member of the Spinnaker Dance Team, Elizabeth attended Louisiana State University where she was also a member of the Golden Girls dance team. After receiving a degree in Psychology, she went on to pursue her passion for reaching and dance working for American All-Star, a company specializing in dance team summer camps and special events production. During her 15 years with AAS, Elizabeth served as their head instructor and choreographer, trained and managed summer dance staff and organized special events such as state and national dance team championships. Elizabeth was also the assistant producer/choreographer for ten NFL Superbowl shows and served as the New Orleans Saints Saintsations Director/Choreographer for three years.
After marrying her husband, Kelly, she took a short break from dance to become a fitness instructor getting certified in Spin and Body Pump group exercise programs. Elizabeth and her husband along with their daughters, Elle and Ava, moved back home to Covington in 2010. She was still teaching fitness classes at Franco’s Athletic Club but felt the need to nurture her love of dance once again and became the coach for the MHS Spinnaker Dance Team. It was a memorable 5 years but as life got a little more hectic with jobs and kids, Elizabeth had to take a step back to spend more time with her family. It didn’t take too long for the dance bug to bite again because after only two months of “retirement” she was teaching summer classes at NAD and is currently the Assistant Rec Team Director. Her philosophy is that we dance because it brings us joy and not everyone finds that kind of inspiration in life so don’t be afraid to dance to the fullest. And to remember that we are all capable of achieving amazing things if we work hard and believe in ourselves. These past two years at the studio have been a wonderful experience and Elizabeth can’t wait to see what the future holds for all these fantastic dancers!
Janet Colley Morse
A former NAD student, Janet is proud to have been a part of the Northshore family since its inception, having participated for several years as a member of the original competition team. Janet immersed herself in the dance world throughout her high school years by participating heavily in musical theatre and her high school dance team, the Mandeville High Spinnakers where she spent 3 years as an officer of the team. Janet traveled to Vienna, Austria to perform with American All-Star and was lucky enough to perform in the 1997 Super Bowl hosted in New Orleans. She had the honor of performing in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade also through American All-Star.
She continued her dance training at the University of Georgia where she minored in Dance Education and participated for 3 years as a member of the Dance Dawgs basketball dance team. While in college, Janet was able to participate in the Jazz Dance World Congress in Chicago through the world renowned company, Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago as well as receiving master classes and performing under a wide range of established company directors and choreographers.
Currently, Janet serves as Vice President for her 4th generation family business based in New Orleans. Janet is a lifelong resident of Covington where she still resides with her 2 children, Anna and Grant. She is thrilled to be a part of the ever growing NAD family. She would like to thank the rest of the amazing NAD staff and especially her students for making the art of dance so enjoyable!
She wants to continue her passion for dance through teaching and inspire others through the art of dance.
De’Jonelle Gleeton has been teaching at Northshore Academy of Dance for three years. De’Jonelle is from New Orleans, Louisiana and a former Alum of Northshore Academy of Dance where she was a member of the Pro Company for the 2 years she attended.
She received her BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography where she studied in Laban and Bartenieff Fundamentals at the University of Southern Mississippi.
During her years in college, De’Jonelle performed as a Dixie Darling for four years and served as captain her last two years in college. She had the opportunity to share her love for dance by performing at events such as 2017 Essence Festival, American College Dance Association (ACDA), UDA, and the University of Southern Mississippi Repertory Dance Company 4 years in a row.
Kristen LeBato is from Lake Charles, Louisiana and has been dancing since she was two years old. She grew up participating in sports, gymnastics, and cheerleading but dance has always been her passion. Since she was a studio dancer she attended many conventions and competitions throughout her life.
She is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Studies. While at LSU she was on the competitive dance team, the LSU Tiger Girls. The Tiger Girls compete in jazz and hip hop at a competition every year called UDA. They have placed top 5 in the past few years out of all the teams in the United States. Currently Kristen is in the process of completing her Masters of Social Work Degree online at Western New Mexico University!
This is Kristen’s fourth year on The Northshore staff and has loved every second of it! Even though she is not from this area and did not grow up at this studio all of the staff members and students make her feel right at home!
Albert Blaise Cattafi
Albert was happily born in northern New Jersey of Italian descent, his artistic journey began at the age of five. Cattafi has enjoyed an illustrious performance career appearing in several episodes of Saturday Night Live, as a guest artist on So You Think You Can Dance, and was featured in an international Coke Zero Commercial. He has performed on the Video Music Awards for Florence and the Machine, and on the American Music Awards with Kelly Clarkson. Known for his technical prowess and artistry, Cattafi was an original member of both internationally recognized dance companies, Rasta Thomas’ Bad Boys of Dance, and LA based company Shaping Sound. To great acclaim, he has worked with Tony Award winning directors Des McAnuff as Toto in The Wiz, and Jerry Mitchell in Peepshow, featured with Holly Madison and Spice Girl Mel B. No stranger to the lights of Las Vegas, Cattafi later returned as a member of Cirque Du Soleil in The Beatles LOVE. He was The Walrus.
Choreographically, Albert Blaise was the assistant choreographer on Franco Dragone’s INDIA. He has assisted some of the country’s top choreographers, including Emmy Award winner, Mia Michaels, and Broadway ’s Tony Award winning, Sergio Trujillo. A lover of theater, Cattafi was happy to assist in the production of several major Broadway shows including Spiderman, Billy Elliot, Tarzan, and Flashdance. As a choreographer, he has set work for John Legend, Cirque Du Soleil, recording artist Nikhil Korula, and the film Opid with music by Sigur Ros. In 2015, Albert premiered his first full length contemporary ballet, String Of Thoughts, on the Phoenix Ballet at the Lodz International Ballet Festival in Poland.
Currently Albert Blaise Cattafi is a faculty member of Los Angeles based dance convention, L.A. Dance Magic, and is the Resident Choreographer for the Phoenix Ballet.
Micah has been dancing since the age of the two, and is a proud alumna of Northshore Academy of Dance. Micah was a member of the NAD Pro Company for nine years, graduating in 2013. While in the Pro Company, she won the West Coast Elite Dancer award several times, finishing twice in the top five at WCDE Nationals in Las Vegas. During Micah’s dancing career, she has also had the honor of dancing with many legendary artists, including the Pointer Sisters, Patti LaBelle, and Broadway artist Linda Eder. While in college, Micah was a four-member and a two-year captain of the LSU Tiger Girls Dance Team. She graduated in 2017 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance, and now works full-time as a Corporate Retirement Account Administrator in New Orleans. Micah is blessed to continue pursuing her passion in dance alongside her professional business career. She is so honored to be teaching at the studio that shaped the woman and dancer she is today!
Paige Lapeyrouse Hall is from Mandeville Louisiana. She is a graduate from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a bachelor’s of fine arts. During her time in Lafayette she taught for a local studio and in 2004 started her college coaching career with the ULL Ragin Jazz dance team.
After graduating, Paige moved back to Mandeville and started coaching the Lionettes at Southeastern Louisiana University. After being there for only 2 years, she was named Spirit Coordinator and would take on overseeing the cheerleaders, mascot, and Lionettes. During her time at Southeastern both Lionettes and the Southeastern Cheerleaders achieved great national success. In 2018, the Lionettes took their first national championship in D1 Hip Hop.
In addition to Paige’s coaching career, she has worked for Universal Dance Association for the past 21 years. Currently she is the Varsity Dance State Director for Louisiana as well as the Music/Choreography Director and Judges Coordinator. Paige continues to choreograph for numerous dance teams across the country.
Maurie Cattafi was born in Monroe, Louisiana where she started dancing and competitive gymnastics at the age of three years old. When she was eight years old she joined the Twin City Ballet Company and participated in performances with them three times a year in addition to her regular dance school classes and gymnastics meets. At the age of 12 Maurie suffered a foot injury that eventually took her out of gymnastics for good but she continued on with her dance training and joined her studio’s competition dance team.
Maurie graduated from high school in 2006 and attended Louisiana State University from 2006-2010. During her time at LSU she joined the Tiger Girls dance team and is still friends with her teammates to this day. After graduating college, Maurie moved back to Monroe and began training in yoga and teaching dance for her former dance school. In 2012, Maurie opened up her own yoga studio where she taught yoga and barre classes. She continued teaching dance in her spare time and was able to incorporate her yoga training into dance classes and teach injury prevention for the dancers.
In 2015 Maurie was teaching at a summer workshop for Twin City Ballet where she met her future husband, Albert Cattafi and in 2016 they moved to Scottsdale, Arizona to work with the Phoenix Ballet Company as their resident choreographers.
Maurie and Albert currently live in New Orleans, Louisiana where they own a production company that works on various dance and directorial projects across the country. On weekends you can find Albert working on the LA Dance Magic competition-convention as their resident ballet teacher with Maurie as his assistant. During the week Maurie and Albert enjoy their scenic drive across the causeway to teach the dancers at Northshore Academy of Dance. Maurie is so thankful she was able to convince her New Jersey-born husband to move back down to the south and the opportunity to work alongside the wonderful staff at NAD and its many talented students.
Lauren Matherne (Lazaro)
Lauren Cassidy Matherne has been dancing from the young age of two years old. She began dancing competitively in first grade and has continued to attend regional and national dance competitions, winning many overall and top achievement awards. Lauren has had the pleasure of being a part of dance companies that rank nationally with other studios nationwide. Around the age of 13, Lauren was introduced to the world of choreography and teaching by Sarah Shipman. Being mentored by Ms. Shipman has led Lauren to accomplish many amazing opportunities. Lauren began teaching independently at the age of 17, choreographing many award winning solos and group numbers for her students. Lauren’s senior year of high school, she danced alongside the Senior Pro Team at Northshore Academy of Dance. Once graduating high school, she went on to judge for Dance Magic, Inc. as a regional and national judge. She had been a judge for DMI going on 3 years now. She loves being on that side of the dance world.
Her dancing didn’t stop there, Lauren’s first two years of college were spent at the University of Southern Mississippi where she auditioned and co-founded EDGE Dance Collective on Campus, and was named one of the lead choreographers for the dance company. She’s proud to say the company is still around today.
Lauren returned back home to start teaching for Northshore Academy of Dance in the fall of 2016. She immediately joined the staff of the NAD Rec Company, where she has been the Teen Rec Coach ever since. She has been blessed to have a special crew of girls every year who turn her choreography into more than she can ever imagine. She has multiple choreography awards under her belt, but she gives it all to her dancers because she couldn’t do it without them. In summer of 2017, Lauren & Ms. Delaney Olister, co-choreographed a contemporary piece for the PRO Company that won second overall at the WCDE nationals teen division!
In 2018, Lauren graduated from cosmetology school and is now a licensed cosmetologist of 2 years. Though she loves doing hair, her students and dance always have the biggest spot in her heart. She can’t imagine not having all the chances to see her students grow and reach the goals they set. Her students inspire her more and more every year, & she can’t imagine life without her dancers! Every single one has made a huge impact on her heart!
Rhonda began dancing at the age of 3 years old at Jean Shane Patrick’s Dance Studio. For the first 10 years she studied tap, ballet and jazz. After my tenure, she found her love to be completely with ballet, and under the instruction of Mike Harrington, Richard Rholdon, and Cindy Guillot, this is where I began.
At the age of 13, Rhonda auditioned for the Nutcracker with the New Orleans Ballet under the direction of Harvey Hysell and was cast in the corps de ballet in the roles of Waltz of the Flowers and Snow Scene.
Subsequently, Mr. Harrington, Mr. Rholdon and Ms. Guillot formed a ballet company, Ballet Etoile. Performances included: Sleeping Beauty, Stars & Stripes Forever, Scottish Symphony, Spartacus, Rhapsody in Blue, Claire de Lune and Coppelia.
Additionally, under the direction of Ms. Guillot, Rhonda performed excerpts from the above ballets at the Blue Room, Channel 4, New Orleans Christmas in the Oaks, and various Mardi Gras balls.
Throughout her high school years, she joined the Crescent City Ballet Company, and attended ballet workshops with Robert Joffrey and Madame Krassovska at various dance conventions held in New York and Texas.
After graduation, she auditioned for the National Ballet of Illinois under the direction of Australian-born, Gwendolyn Ashton. Rhonda was accepted to the ballet company and attended classes from instructors such as Alexander Bennett from London, Antony Valdor from New York, Skip Watson from Florida, as well as the director Gwendolyn Ashton. The company toured throughout neighboring states such as Missouri and Wisconsin. Performances included, Les Sylphide, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, La Bayadere, Giselle, and Coppelia.
In the interim, upon her return to New Orleans, she began teaching for various dance studios located on the Southshore and Northshore.
Delaney has been dancing at Northshore since she was about four years old and we haven’t been able to get rid of her!
She attended Saint Scholastica Academy where she was a member of the Royalettes dance team. While on Royalettes, they became the first team allowed to travel to UDA Nationals. She did dance team for a year then decided to focus her time strictly on studio dance.
While at NAD, she was on our Pro Team for 11 years. She started on the Junior team and worked her way up to the Senior team. During her years of competing, she received numerous types of scholarships from different conventions. Her most favorite scholarship was the Triple Threat Award she received from NYCDA. This recognized her skills in ballet, contemporary, tap. She also received the Rockette Award from the same convention. In 2016, she auditioned for the New York City Rockette Summer Intensive and was accepted! She spent a week in New York training with the legendary Rockettes. It was an incredible learning experience she cherishes.
After graduating high school in 2012, she went to the University of Southern Miss, where she was a dance major, for her freshman year. After a year there, she then made the decision to transfer to LSU to be part of the Tiger Nation (Geaux Tigers)! She then became a member of the LSU Tiger Girls dance team and was a part of that for two years. While at LSU, she studied Early Childhood Education. In 2018, she graduated with a degree in Education. Delaney has been teaching kindergarten in Baton Rouge for two years now.
Delaney has been teaching at Northshore for four years now! She feels incredibly blessed to be able to come back and teach at the studio where she grew up. Her favorite part of teaching at Northshore is watching her students evolve into confident young women.