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Academy of Dance Arts Interview with Doreen Rafferty

Academy of Arts Dance PoseDoreen Rafferty, the Owner and Director of the Academy of Dance Arts in Brookfield, Connecticut, says the Academy is a place where everyone can feel like part of the family. Their staff, students, and parents have become a close knit group, where everyone cares about one another, and everyone works together to ensure that they are all successful. Each dancer is proud of their own accomplishments, as well as those of their classmates, and their parents encourage all of the dancers, not just their own child, to strive to be their personal best. The students take an active role in helping each other, both in class and out.

The Academy offers a well-rounded program for recreational and competitive dancers, with abilities ranging from beginner through advanced, and classes for preschoolers through adults. Each teacher gives a proper, safe, up to date and age appropriate class for each level and style they teach. The development and well being of each of their dancers is a priority and they do what they do in class because it is the right thing to do, not because it is what pressure deems popular. Also, the teachers keep all communication with each other, and with their students and parents, open.

One of her proudest moments in teaching or coaching would be hard to choose! Since Doreen started teaching in the ’80’s, she has had so many wonderful experiences and there have been so many great achievements of both her students and herself. Several of her students have gone on to be accepted into renowned summer training programs like The Rockette Intensives, Walnut Hill, the Nashville Ballet and The Hollywood Summer Tour. The Academy has had, and has, students training at the School of American Ballet, the Joffrey, and the New Jersey Ballet. Many have gone on to work professionally On and Off Broadway, and to perform in National and International touring companies. The Academy also has dancers who are now running their own dance schools, have graduated from colleges with degrees in Dance, and continue to work actively in the entertainment industry!

Academy of Dance Arts PhotoshootDoreen says that something she would have to say makes her proud in general is the attitude of their dancers. Their dancers are humble and appreciative, and don’t hesitate to pep someone up – even when that “someone” is from another school or from a different studio – even if it is a studio they are competing against. The Academy’s dancers are confident enough in themselves, and know what hard work it takes to get to where they are, that they can appreciate others and help others to be accepting and gratified.

Doreen believes that one of the biggest mistakes a dancer can make is to let the opinions of others prevent them from growing as a dancer. She says that so many times she has seen a student shy away from taking more classes or a specific class, or from furthering

their own personal dance skills, because of a relationship or because someone has voiced a negative opinion and prevented them from moving forward. Talking with their teachers about the right course for their training, and working with their parents to accommodate scheduling and finances, should be the course of action. A dancer should never let someone who doesn’t have a vested interest in them squash their dreams and prevent them from being all that they can be.

A dancer should always apply correction on a daily basis in class. Applying correction is paramount, and applying those corrections to every class every day is something that every dancer should be doing. Corrections are what take us to the next level, and applying correction allows us to harness their potential and head towards becoming the dancer of their dreams!

According to Doreen, the studio’s goal is to always give their dancers the best possible classes they can, sharing their knowledge and their passion for dance with them. They strive to keep their students interested and motivated, and they make a point of introducing them to people and opportunities that benefit them as dancers and as students. They work to put each dancer on their path as an individual with a personal style. Doreen says another goal is to help each student to reach their goals!

Academy of Dance Arts PoseDoreen began running a dance studio for two reasons. The first is that her teacher told her she was too short to perform professionally, so she would have to teach. She trained Doreen how to teach and groomed her to be a dance educator. Not wanting to miss out on the opportunity to enjoy everything that she wanted to do, Doreen auditioned anyway and did perform professionally – which she really enjoyed. Performing holds a very special place in her heart, and her love for the stage is there. Doreen has great memories and great friends from those performances. However, during that process she realized that her true passion was in teaching, and in watching her students achieve. Short or tall was not the real issue for her personally, it was that helping others was her true calling. She found that she receives great joy out of teaching and true fulfillment.

Academy of Dance Arts has been in business since 1973, and Doreen is the second owner, having purchased it in 1988. It has always been the small town studio that produces great dancers. It has also been the second home to many wonderful people, and the relationships they have built are irreplaceable. The Academy has a great staff of instructors from varied backgrounds, which includes former students of The Academy who are now on staff as teachers. It is truly a place for kids to develop, and it is always a place for dancers to be able to come back to, for themselves and with their children.

Please post a comment if you have had any experience with Academy of Dance Arts of Doreen Rafferty.

If you would like to know more about the Academy of Dance Arts, check them out on their website at You can also call them at 203-775-1331.or email their director at

Written By Cyndi Marziani


  1. Alysa O'Donovan says:

    I am alumni of Academy of Dance Arts and am now a member of the Sacred Heart University Dance Company. The studio became my second home for the 16 years I was a dancer for Doreen. The whole staff works as a team to encourage their students to not only be great dancers but to be great people as well. The environment is loving yet inspiring and challenging for those students who want to be pushed. There is a balance between the students who only dance recreationally and the competition dancers. I am so proud to have been apart of this studio as a student growing up and to have been given so many opportunities. Academy of Dance Art’s education did not stop for me when I graduated. Doreen has continued to keep me up to date with teaching and choreographing opportunities as well as ones just to be part of the dance family. Being able to continue to watch my peers grow into beautiful dancers under the instruction of the fantastic teaching staff is an amazing opportunity in itself. The Academy of Dance Arts is not only a dance studio but a family to all of its members! It has prepared me for the professional dance world but Doreen and all of the teachers in one way or another prepared me for life!

    • Wow, Alysa! That’s an amazing comment. Thank you so much for all of those wonderful words. You and your family have always been a special part of our ADA dance family, and we appreciate that tremendously. We are proud of you and all of your accomplishments, in dance and in life in general. You are a beautiful dancer and a beautiful person. 🙂