Dance Counselors

Rutgers Summer Dance Conservatory counselors from summer 2017 are listed below.  Updates will be made during the spring of 2018.  

Njelama Dacas, Ed.M. – Head Counselor

Caitlyn Barrows, Ed.M. – Head Counselor

About Your Counselors:

Your counselors aim to help you have a fun, safe and memorable experience at Rutgers. As alumni and students themselves, with impressive performing and teaching resumes, they are an excellent resource for questions about the nature of college dance study. 

All counselors are either alumni or current graduate students enrolled in the Graduate Dance Education Program, a partnership program between Mason Gross School of the Arts and the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University, an elite program leading to a master’s degree and PK-12 teacher certification in dance. Some have also completed the Pilates Teacher Certification program or the Yoga Teacher Certification program at Mason Gross, Rutgers as well. All of your counselors completed a BFA dance major at Mason Gross or other undergraduate institutions.

As a part of their studies at Rutgers, your counselors completed dance performance courses, graduate education courses, and dance pedagogy courses, as well as practicum and teaching internships in NJ and NYC elementary, middle and high schools.  Some of your counselors are returning alumni who have PK-12 teacher certification in dance and have been teaching as well as performing in dance companies professionally already.
Additionally, your counselors have completed the following certifications:
  • American Red Cross CPR and AED
  • Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying Prevention
  • Protection of Minors
  • ConcussionWise Training
  • HeatWise Training
  • HeartWise Training


Your Counselors

Barrows Headshot

Caitlyn Barrows – Program Coordinator

I hold my Ed. M. in Dance Education (2014) and my B.F.A. in Dance performance (2013) from Rutgers. For the past four years I have been a full-time dance educator in the NJ Public School System. This is my 8th year working at the Rutgers Summer Dance Conservatories, and this year I am one of your program coordinators. I’m so excited to meet you all! Please don’t be shy if you ever have a question or concern.

Nje D 2016

Njelama DacasProgram Coordinator

Njelama Dacas is a 2017 EdM in Dance Education graduate as well as a 2015 graduate of Rutgers University Mason Gross School of the Arts.  She holds her Bachelor in Fine Arts in Dance Performance and is the Dance Educator at Hedgepeth Williams Middle School of the Arts in Trenton, New Jersey.  Hailing from Brooklyn, New York she spent her junior year of undergrad studying abroad at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London, United Kingdom. During her time abroad she was privileged enough to travel to over five different countries and perform in the Trinity Laban Theatre.  Also during her Undergraduate years she has served as Head Counselor, movement and workshop instructor at the Rutgers Pre College Summer Dance Program. During her studies she has gained experience in Dance pedagogy, Dance technique, Dance history, choreographic and improvisational skills, and kinesiology. She has also been privileged enough to perform works by Keith Thompson, David Parker(The Bang Group), Kendra Portier , Marina Collard and Summation Dance.

sara mSara Martino

Sara Martino is a 2017 Summa Cum Laude BFA graduate from the Mason Gross School of the Arts Dance Department at Rutgers University. During her studies at Rutgers, her passion for teaching flourished, so she obtained her masters in dance education (Ed.M.) and PK-12 Dance Teaching Certification.  While at Rutgers University, she worked with many choreographers, including  Doug Elkins, Keith Thompson, Randy James, Chien-Ying Wang, Jodi Melnick, Joe Goode, Netta Yerushalmy, Nick Bruder, and Soon Ho Park. Sara Martino is also a recipient of the Mason Gross Hanya Holm Scholarship, Mastrobuono Scholarship, and most recently, the Margery J. Turner Choreographer’s Prize for presenting her work at the American College Dance Association.  She also serves as Ed.M. Faculty for the Rutgers Summer Conservatory, and most recently, as a part time lecturer in the Dance Department at Mason Gross, Rutgers University. She is extremely grateful for all of the opportunities that she has received, and is looking forward to what the future holds.

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Veronica Cheeseboro

Veronica Cheeseboro is a native New Yorker who has served her community in a variety of ways. Throughout her life, her profound grounding in culture expresses itself in her choreography, teaching, community based practice and work in youth empowerment. In 2016 -2017, she received many awards regarding her leadership skills and ability to lead the youth in her community. These awards reflect her strong commitment to service in her New York community while pursuing bachelors and masters studies at Rutgers University, New Jersey. In 2016, she attained a Bachelor Fine Arts in Dance at Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University; where she received an academic scholarship. Alongside studying modern, ballet, improvisation, and choreography at Rutgers, she has had the opportunity to work with many professional choreographers. Currently, she sets work for various New Jersey high schools.She is a student in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University;pursuing an EdM degree in Dance Education with a K-12 certification; anticipated graduation May 2018. Upon graduation, she aspires to teach, choreograph and dance simultaneously in the professional realm.

Grier, T. Head Shot - Grier, T.Thea N. Grier

Thea N. Grier is a Brooklyn, New York native who began her dance training at the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Youth Arts Academy under the artistic direction of Peggy Alston and Karen Thorntan. As an alumnus of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High school for Music & Art and the Performing Arts, and Rutgers University, where she obtained her Bachelor of Fine Arts (Cum Laude) in Dance, and Masters in Dance in Education (Ed.M), PK-12 Teacher Certification, Thea has worked under the tutelage of well-renowned artists and educators, whom she credits for the artistic growth that has manifested throughout her dance journey. She has also studied at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, and has performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Apollo Theatre, and the New Jersey State Prudential Arena, amongst others. Under the direction of Franco De Vita and Raymond Lukens, Thea received her ABT© certification in Pre-Primary- Level 3 in 2016. Thea’s zest to enrich the lives of students, through the dance discipline, spawns from the rewards she has derived from her identity as dance artist, first. This is her second year with the Rutgers Summer Dance Conservatory.

LaurenSunflower - Lauren Raffaelli

Lauren Raffaelli

Lauren Raffaelli received her BFA in dance from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. She is currently in her fifth year, studying dance education in the EdM program at Rutgers. She had the pleasure of studying at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in her fall semester junior year as well as traveling to Yucatán, Mexico with the Graduate School of Education to engage in a community-based teaching experience in January 2018. During her time at Mason Gross she performed in works by faculty members Keith Thompson and John Evans and guest artist Jodi Melnick. Her passion for dance and teaching has brought her to many places and people, which she plans to continue throughout her life!

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Anthony Deleon








Counselor Highlights:

Some of your counselors began their careers at Rutgers by attending the summer program in the past!  

Njelama Dacas

2011 Summer Program Alumna
2015 BFA Dance
2016 EdM Dance Education 
When I think back on my time in the Rutgers Summer Dance Camp and Conservatory I would have to say my favorite part was getting the chance to dance every day in the same space that Mason Gross dancers use almost all the time during the academic school year. It was almost as if I was getting to dance at the Joyce Theater every day and it really puts you in the mindset that “I am present and here to dance !”When I attended the Rutgers Summer Dance Camp and Conservatory I was already accepted into Mason Gross School of the Arts as a dance major so I was really trying to get a feel for the Rutgers dance lifestyle before the fall semester began. What I loved is that the same teachers Mason Gross students have for their classes are the same ones that you have during the summer. I got a feel for what this program would be like while also getting a taste of the rigor needed to be successful in the program. Being a graduate of the 2015 class of Mason Gross dancers I feel like this first initial step into the camp/ conservatory was the most important for my college dance career.

It is great to come back as a teacher and head counselor because I have the insiders scoop of what it was like to be in the throws of everything and feel unsure during the first couple of days…BUT IT IS OKAY! You will have so much fun dancing, learning and networking with new people. You meet friends that last a lifetime! I’m excited to meet you (dancers) and LETS HAVE SOME FUN! – Nje Dacas

Photo Credit: Tom Caravaglia

Caitlyn Barrows

2007 Summer Program Alumna
2013 BFA Dance
2014 EdM Dance Education

In 2007 I attended the summer dance program at Rutgers and had the experience of a lifetime! I remember my favorite part of the summer program was the fact that I was getting to experience dance in so many new ways. I was so excited to be completely immersed in dance for an entire two weeks with so many other passionate dancers, many of whom I still keep in touch with today! After attending this program I felt extremely confident when applying to colleges as a dance major because I knew exactly what I was getting myself into. From living in a dorm, to eating in the dining hall, to studying from notable college professors, attending the program really gave me a sense of what it would be like to be a dance major. I was so excited to return to the program as a counselor and teacher! It was so fulfilling to watch the students have a blast and continuously improve each day. I am so thankful that I am able to contribute and give back to the program that was such a memorable part of my personal dance history. A piece of advice that I have is don’t be afraid to take chances and try something new…really go for it and take advantage of the fabulous dance community we will create together! I am excited to meet you (dancers) and I can’t wait to have a blast together this summer! – Caitlyn Barrows