Owner & Director
Ahkai Franklin is a New York City native. After graduating from Wesleyan University in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in Theater he went on to work with a local theater company while dancing, teaching, and performing across the United States. In 2006 Ahkai and his business partner began work on a not-for-profit dance company, The Breakthrough Movement. Recently Ahkai was in A Sketch of New York, Mary V at Theater for the New City, King Lear at the brick, and can be seen in the movie Barry now streaming on Netflix. He continues to teach and perform throughout the tri-state area.
Courtney began dancing at a young age, training and competing on Long Island, later studying at American Theater Dance Workshop and Eglevsky Ballet. She continued dancing at Manhattanville College where she received her B.A. in Dance & Theater with a concentration in Dance Therapy. During her time at Manhattanville, she was privileged to perform in works by many choreographers including Peter Pucci, Bill Hastings, Earl Mosley, Kazuko Hirabayashi and Wallie Wolfgruber and it was there that she also had the opportunity to debut her own choreography. Courtney has always felt drawn toward dance and the performing arts and knew she was meant to share that passion with others. She teaches ballet, tap, jazz and lyrical styles to ages 3 through adult. Courtney has been a part of Merrick Dance Centre since 2011, fulfilling her lifelong dream of studio ownership when she took on the honor of becoming its director in 2018. She is thankful for the wonderful dancers and parents that are apart of the MDC family.
Kirsten Genovese was born and raised in Timberlake, North Carolina were she began her dance training at Nina’s School of Dance. After graduating high school, she continued to study dance technique, history and performance and choreography at East Carolina University in Greenville, NC and later received her Bachelors in Fine Arts in 2015. During her time at ECU, Kirsten danced for the historical outdoor drama, The Lost Colony in Manteo, NC for the 2013 and 2014 seasons. One of the highlights in her college performance career has been dancing Consumption by John Dixon at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. After graduating college, Kirsten decided to move to New York City to continue her performance career and learn from the beautiful minds of the arts. She is currently a dancer in the off-Broadway show SHE, a choreo-play by Jinah Parker. Aside form performing she teaches and choreographs. This is Kirsten's third year teaching with MDC and she is excited to see what this year brings.
Nia Deliso began dancing at the age of 3 in her hometown of Middletown, NJ. Since then she has gone on to study contemporary, lyrical, ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, and musical theater at various studios across the New York/New Jersey area. She has recently graduated from Eugene Lang College the New School for Liberal Arts with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance. Nia has been sharing her love of dance for the past 7 years, teaching students from the ages of 2 to adulthood. Alongside her current studies of American Sign Language, she enjoys creating her own choreographic works and continuing her career as a dance educator.
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