Providers of Exceptional Performing Arts Education


Mission Statement

Stratford Performing Arts Academy offers a high-quality performing arts education to children and adults, in a noncompetitive and competitive, inspiring environment.

We believe that performing arts (dance, vocal, and theatre), enrich the lives of our students and families, and help to build community through cultural awareness.

We focus on the proper use of technique, while developing artistry and self-expression, and of course, having fun!

"Dance plus academics equal education" has been our message to our students, with the hope that they will strive to reach their full potential, whether or not they choose a performing arts career.


Lillie Toni

My family loves it here!!!

The coaches are amazing-thank you for what you do and how you do it

My girls are more confident young ladies because of all of you!!

Keyla Medina Rentas

Love the discipline, motivation, and fun my girls have because of SPAA


Julie Maida Braziel, Brittany, Deborah Maida, and Wendi.

You ladies have taught me more than I can ever thank you for. I cherish every moment I shared with you all, living, learning and dancing through life. Love you all so much

Patricia Clark Sperling

Awesome! Very family-oriented studio! I've watched my daughter grow tremendously

Tara Caponigro

Incredibly talented staff who obviously love what they do! Their students are simply AMAZING!!

Meet Our Amazing Faculty

Bed & Peter

Peter and Deborah Maida


Our business was established in 1982 (formerly Stratford Academy of Dance), and we are proud to be celebrating our 42nd performance season. We were honored with the "Best Director" Award at Access Broadway Competition, presented by Mr. Ron DeVito, in January 2019 and 2022.

Miss Deb and Coach Pete have been teaching dance and vocal for more than 40 years and are proud to have trained students at various levels that have led to many professional careers. Miss Deb has trained extensively in Ballet, Jazz, and Tap and currently teaches Adult Tap and Mini Ballet Company classes, and has directed the Baldwin Tap Ensemble at the Stratford Baldwin Senior Center for the past seven years. Her mini ballet company has received a Broadway Star Award, Overall High Scores, and Special Awards.

Coach Pete is a classically trained musician and vocal instructor. His knowledge and experience have contributed to the success of many professional performers. His vocalists continue to receive many Overall High Score Awards and Special Awards, including Top Vocalist at That's Entertainment PA 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019 2021, and Access Broadway, Groove, That's Entertainment, Star Quest, and Turn It Around 2022.

Some of our honors, include the "Inspired by Passion" Award, Groove Competition 2019, and "Top Company" Award at Turn It Around Competition, the ADCC Studio of Excellence award, at Groove Competition, in East Haven, February 2018, Access Broadway 2020 and Groove Competition 2020, "Best Musical Theatre School, Access Broadway 2021, The Groove Award, Best Technical and Best Choreography, Groove 2021, The Viral Video Award at Star Quest, Best Production at That's Entertainment and the Spotlight Award at TIA. We are truly proud of our Dance Family and appreciate the opportunity to share our love of the Arts with so many talented students.

Julie Braziel

Julie Braziel

Co-Director, Sr. Company Lyrical, Modern, Ballet

Julie celebrates 42 years with Stratford Performing Arts Academy and is Co-Director of SPAA, currently teaching Senior levels of Ballet technique, as well as Senior Lyrical/Contemporary and Modern. Julie is a teacher's teacher, sharing 40 years of knowledge in the dance industry.

Julie was an alumnus of Stratford Academy of Dance for 12 years and has been teaching for the Academy for the past 29 years. She graduated from the Hartford Conservatory with a degree in Dance Pedagogy, and also attended Louisburg College in North Carolina as a Dance Major. She continued her studies with several master's teachers in the NYC area. In 2005, Julie instituted the first CT chapter of the National Dance Honor Society (Nu Delta Alpha) where she served as an advisor for several years. She is currently a member of NDEO (National Dance Education Organization). Julie has choreographed several plays in the community such as "Wizard of Oz", "Into the Woods", "Babes in Toyland", "Big River", "Carousel", "West Side Story", "High School Musical", "Hello Dolly", and many more.  Her Senior Company has won overall High Scores at Competitions including Nationals, for the past several years.  Julie was also the recipient of several "Best Choreography" awards for more than 15 seasons. Her work has been featured at the Joyce Theatre in NYC, and her company was ranked Top 3 in CT for competitive studios in 2009. She has served on the judging panel at competitions in the tri-state area and is also a freelance writer and former home-school teacher.

Tracey Pitman

Tracey Pittman

Assistant Company Director/Ballet Instructor

This season marks Tracey's 40th season with Stratford Performing Arts Academy.

Throughout her years at SPAA, Tracey has been assisting with the organization of our competitive program and is a Ballet instructor for our Petite through Senior Companies. She is a graduate of the Hartford School of Ballet, and her credits include performances at Carnegie Hall, Martha Graham, and Downtown Cabaret, Children's Theater.

Tracey continues to mentor and teach classes to children ages 8 through teens and is currently a Specialist at Griffin Hospital Cancer Center, where she was nominated for employee of the year, in 2015.

Wendi Zdru

Wendi Zdru

Company Lyrical Instructor

Wendi has been a member of the SPAA family for the past 34 years, including her years at Stratford Academy of Dance where she danced and competed for more than 10 years. Over the past 21 years, she has taught Ballet, Lyrical, and Jazz to our competitive and recreational students. More recently, she has been teaching Lyrical to our Petite, Junior, and Teen Company Members. Over the years, her students have been recipients of many awards that include Overall High Score, Most Entertaining, and Best Choreography. She received her Bachelor's Degree from Southern Connecticut State University and also works as an IT Specialist, in addition to her time at SPAA. 

Elise Pittman

Elise Pittman

Company and Noncompetitive Instructor

Elise is celebrating her 27th season as a member of the SPAA family and her 9th year as a member of our faculty and Assistant Director of our Non Competitive program. She is an alumnus of Stratford Academy of Dance/Stratford Performing Arts Academy, where she began her dance training at age two. Elise attended the studio for 18 years, and throughout those years, was a member of our competition team. She became our youngest soloist to compete at age 5. Elise served as Vice President of the National Dance Honor Society Chapter in 2010. She is a graduate of Sacred Heart University where she was a Psychology major and a member of the Sacred Heart Division 1 Dance Team. She also holds a Master’s in Developmental Psychology and currently working on her Master's in Counseling. Elise was the Assistant Dean of Students at New Haven Academy, and the Head coach of the Shelton Intermediate Dance Team. She is currently a fifth-grade educator at Six to Six Magnet School.

Her classes at SPAA include Junior, Teen, and Senior Jazz Companies, Pre-Ballet, Creative Movement, and solo lessons for competition. Her senior jazz company was voted "Best Production at Nationals in 2015, and she, along with members of our staff, received Best Choreography at Access Broadway 2020 for a jazz production. Her students continue to excel in all performance aspects.

Aubrey Sierer

Aubrey Joy Sierer

Vocal and Theatre Instructor

As a 23-year member of our SPAA Family, Aubrey continues to share her vocal talents with our Junior and Senior Vocal Companies. She competed vocally, for more than 10 years and has achieved the highest honors throughout the years. Aubrey is a 2016 graduate of Fairfield University as a Theatre/English major and pursues her career as an actress and wardrobe mistress for theatre companies. She worked with the Seacoast Rep. Summer Stock Theatre in Portsmouth, New Hampshire in 2016, and is currently a vocal and theatre instructor at SPAA. She was on tour with "A Christmas Carol", as wardrobe mistress in December 2018. 

Miss Lindoria

Lindoria Pittman

Pre Ballet/Jazz/Tap; Company Tap, Senior Company Assistant

Stratford Performing Arts Academy has been Lindoria's second home for 23 years. She began taking classes as soon as she learned to walk. Throughout her 17 years as a student, she competed in all styles of dance. She fell in love with tap and competed in a tap solo almost every year, from 6 to 17. In 2016, she won the overall high score at nationals, with her solo, "The Hanging Tree", choreographed by Julie Braziel. After graduating from High School in the Community, she attended Sacred Heart University. She was a member of the SHU Dance Team, and performed at NDA, national ranking 3rd, in Division 1 Hip Hop. In addition to teaching Tap, Hip Hop, and Pre-Ballet and Jazz at SPAA, she is a graduate of Oxford Academy of Hair Design, as a licensed cosmetologist. Her Senior Company received overall High scores at 5 regional competitions this season and the Apogee Award of Excellence at Star Quest 2022!

Miss Catie

Catie Simon Henning

Company Modern, Hip Hop, Ballet/Jazz, Preschool

Catie is an alumnus of SPAA, after dancing and competing for 10 years. She has been a member of the SPAA faculty for 8 years. Catie has been dancing and competing since the age of 3, and has consistently won many overall high score awards, scholarships, and grand champions. She graduated from Southern Connecticut State University, in 2016, with a degree and certification in Special Education, and now currently teaches at CES (Cooperative Educational Services) in the Developmental Learning Center. Catie was a 4-year member of the SCSU dance team and president and Captain of the team. Catie was also secretary and president of the National Dance Honor Society. She is currently teaching Pre School Ballet/tap/jazz, Company Modern, and Lyrical. Her Junior Modern class was awarded the Apogee Award of Excellence at Star Quest in 2022. She is the proud mom of MacKenzie Grace!

Kelsey Senteio

Kelsey Senteio

Company Hip Hop, Modern, Musical Theatre

Another amazing SPAA Alumni, Kelsey has co-directed our Summer Musical Theatre Camp for the past eight seasons. She is a graduate of Pace University, New York City, as a Theatre Major. She recently returned from performing in a production of "West Side Story", in Bay View, MT. She is co-director of our Musical Theatre Program and is currently a Junior and Teen Hip Hop and Teen/Senior Modern Company. Kelsey continues to pursue her acting career. 

Shawn Blowes

Shawn Goodhue

Modeling for Pageants and Competitions

Miss Shawn has been involved in pageants and dance for over 30 years as a pageant and dance mom, coach,   and contestant.  She is the owner and coach of East Coast Divas Pageant Coaching and is also a certified makeup artist.  She has produced many supreme title winners both on the local and national levels.   She has co-directed several fashion shows as well as trained models to walk at New York fashion week and bridal fashion shows in Connecticut and York.

Ms. Shawn has previously held the titles of:2008-2010 Americas Classic Liberty Ms. 2009 Miss New England Classic Model Queen, 2009 Miss Royal America Classic Model Queen, 2009 Heavenly Angel/Dreamland Diva Supreme Queen,  2000 International Princess Regional Beauty, Model and Photogenic Queen, 2010 International Princess National Modeling Queens, 2010 Miss Northeast Plus Beauty Queen.  She also held titles in 2012: America's Yankee Miss Model Queen and 2012 Americas Yankee Miss Beauty Princess in 2020. 

She is the Mom of two daughters, Ashely and Yanni who are both dancers and pageant title holders. 

Miss Talia

Talia Simpson

Princess 1, Ballet/Tap, Hip Hop 1

Talia is celebrating her second season as a member of the SPAA Faculty.   She is an instructor for our Princess 1, Ballet/tap program, and now adding Hip Hop 1 to her class schedule. Talia has extensive dance training and is a former Liturgical dancer and cheerleading coach for St. James Church/School.    She has been a SPAA Mom for the past nine years and is the proud mom of 11-year-Old Shianne and 2-year-old Tamia, who are members of our SPAA family as well.  Talia is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.- Theta Tau Omega Chapter.

Miss Jazzy

Jasmine (Jazzy) Braziel

Pre Ballet, Hip Hop 2, and Noncompetitive Lyrica/Contemporary

Jasmine will be joining our SPAA Faculty this Fall.   She is an Alumnus of Stratford Performing Arts Academy and has had extensive training for 17 years.   Jasmine has studied Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Lyrical, Modern, Hip hop, and tap and has excelled in all areas.  She has received several Overall high scores and Titles as a competitor throughout the years and is excited to share her talents with her students.  Jazzy is currently a student at the University of New Haven as a Pre Law major.