Director & Instructors
Jackie Figueroa is the owner and director of Elite Stars Dance Academy. Elite Stars opened its doors in September 2013. As a mother of 3 daughters who all grew up taking dance classes, she personally witnessed the positive influence it had on them. Although Jackie was immersed in this culture for years, she never dreamed of or imagined owning her own studio. Her push came when she realized the environment she wanted her youngest daughter to dance in was not readily available or affordable; and so, Elite Stars was born. Jackie believes her faith, her commitment to the children of the community and her dedication to our Elite families has set us apart. Hundreds of children have come through our doors, many are now young adults that still return to visit from time to time. Although Elite Stars is a dance studio, we are so much more than just dance. Dance teaches discipline, structure and provides a healthy form of exercise in addition to just being FUN! Our instructors have all worked professionally in the industry but also share Jackie’s passion for children and teenagers. While we pride ourselves in building an atmosphere of community, love, acceptance and family, we also focus on building relationships with the families we serve. Our goal is to not just create great dancers, but to walk alongside our families and help raise our students to be great people.
Danielle Figueroa began dancing at the age of 3 at the Starlite Dance Studio. Under the direction of the late Mr. David Melendez she excelled and was usually the youngest in all her classes. Danielle competed in National Competitions with Starlite’s Company Class until he chose her to become one of the original Starlite Sweethearts at the age of 8, becoming the youngest Sweetheart ever. A duo, Heart & Soul came shortly after, in which Danielle danced with her first partner Timothy Lanier. Already having taken Ballet, Tap, Hip Hop and Mambo, Danielle decided to add Modern to her dance resume and joined the Boden Performing Arts Program at her church, Crossroads Tabernacle in the Bronx. In Boden, Danielle studied under prestigious Alvin Ailey Dancers, such as LaTrisa Harper, Hope Boykin and Matthew Rushing. At the age of 13, Danielle started taking classes at Santo Rico Dance Studio, where she was asked to join their semi -professional dance team shortly thereafter. Around the same time, Danielle was also accepted to Professional Performing Arts HS and continued studying Modern and Ballet as well African Dance at Alvin Ailey as part of her HS curriculum. At the age of 15, Danielle became a dancer for the Santo Rico professional dance team and the Director, Tomas Guerrero’s partner, where she remained until November 2013. By the age of 20, Danielle had travelled to over 23 countries dancing as well as teaching alongside Tomas Guerrero. In the Fall of 2012, Danielle was invited to join Sugar and Spice Dance Company under the direction of Kesha Nichols (Basketball Wives) and was a featured dancer in several videos as well as a performer for Tom Pappas’ Comic Relief show in 2013. In addition to dancing Danielle has had the privilege to be included as an extra in some movies and tv shows including, New Year’s Eve, Law & Order SVU, A Gifted Man, Person of Interest and several others. In the Spring of 2013, Danielle was chosen as a dancer for New York’s Major League Lacrosse Team – the New York Lizards for the 2013 season. In January 2014 Danielle joined Yamulee Dance Company where she remained for 2 years. Due to an injury, Danielle decided to take time off from her own personal dance career and focus on teaching at Elite. Currently, Danielle teaches at Mott Haven Academy as well as teaching Ballet, Musical Theater and Salsa in Elite and is keeping herself very busy raising her son, Aiden.
Cristian Moreno currently resides in Harlem. He is from the Dominican Republic and was raised in New York City since the age of 5. Cris has been teaching at Elite Stars Dance Academy for five years. At Elite, his my main dance styles are Bachata and Hip-hop. Although Cris has learned and trained in various other styles, bachata and hip hop are two styles that make his feet go on for hours. Cristian currently dances with La Fuerza Kingsmen and has traveled to various cities to perform with them. He really enjoys sharing his dance experiences with his students. Cris' bright demeanor and electric personality keeps his students engaged in whatever class he finds himself teaching. He loves to teach and work with kids.
Mariah Soto is 21 years old and an Elite Stars Dance Academy Alumni. She started off in Fancy Feet when she was 6 years old and began a new journey with Elite around the year 2014. With Elite, Mariah has traveled to dance in places such as Puerto Rico, Miami, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston and many other local areas in New York. She currently teaches HipHop and Salsa for children ages 3-12 and she has trained in various styles of dance such as Salsa, Bachata, Hip-Hop, Contemporary, Street Jazz and many more. Mariah is currently dancing with a New York based dance crew called Creative Genius. They are a Freestyle Movement Hiphop group focused on various techniques such as isolations, waving, popping, gliding & story telling through dance. She plans on taking her dance career professionally. Mariah would love to, one day, be given the opportunity to travel and work for artists, creating choreography for big shows/events and go on tour. She also plans on, one day, having her own studio & training group as well! Teaching is something she LOVES and will always have a passion for!
Angel Peguero joined our teaching staff 3 years ago. He is a Dominican Native, born in New York City, and raised in Philadelphia. Angel started off as a sport’s athlete, multi-talented in various sports; predominantly in boxing, basketball, and football. At the age of 18, Angel discovered his passion for Latin dance and never looked back. He began his training with 4x World Champion, Darlin Garcia, then also trained with 2x World Champion, Noel Rodriguez. Angel learned various styles of Latin dance, such as Salsa, Bachata, and Merengue. Angel has competed in the World Salsa Summit where he won 3 World Champion titles. He has trained in various countries including Italy, China, and Canada.
While teaching in his workshops, Angel is known for his charisma and high energy, all while challenging his students with dynamic shines and intricate partner work. Angel and his partner, Stephany, have travelled the world performing, training and teaching. Today, Angel resides in New York City where he continues to train and establish himself as a rising star in the New York Dance Scene!
Danielle Peterson (Petey) is very excited to be a part of the Elite family. She started dancing at the age of 8 and began teaching at multiple studios by the age of 15. Petey loves getting to pass on her knowledge of dance and inspire students of all ages who are ready and willing to learn. Her training includes tap, jazz, hip hop, ballet, contemporary, lyrical, musical theatre, gymnastics, and yoga. She has performed in multiple shows including Legally Blonde at the Downtown Cabaret in Bridgeport, CT, Broadway Dance Center’s Showcase at Symphony Space, NY, and Generation IV’s Showcase at the Academy of Music, MA. In addition, Petey received an amazing opportunity to dance with the Rockettes at the Rockette Summer Intensive. Most recently, in 2019, she graduated from Montclair State University with a BFA in dance and since then has been a full-time physical education teacher at a charter school in the Bronx.