Board of Directors

JR Linden

Dancers at Heart, President

Director of Finance, Easter Seals New Hampshire and Faculty Member at Melissa Hoffman Dance Center

JR, born and raised in Connecticut, began his dance career when he was only three years old and has made it his life’s passion. Since his early beginning in dance, JR trained under many notable teachers including Judy Bassing, Laura Hausmann, Bob Rizzo and Tom Ralabate. JR excels in many styles of dance and that versatility has earned him various roles in musical productions such as 42nd Street, A Chorus Line, South Pacific, and Music Man and ballets including The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. In the fall of 2014, JR was cast as a dancer in the 2014 national holiday commercial.

JR graduated from the Dance Masters of America Teacher Training School at the University of New York at Buffalo in 1998 and received his certification as a dance educator in Ballet, Tap, and Jazz. For 16 years he was a member of the Dance Teachers’ Club of Connecticut, Chapter 18 where from 2002 to 2004 he served on the Board of Directors. In the fall of 2014 he transferred his membership to Dance Masters of New England Chapter 5. From 2003 to 2005, he served as the National Co-Director of the Teen Miss/Mr. Dance of America title competition. He also taught and served on the Board of Directors for New England Civic Ballet (Lawrence, MA) from 2001 to 2004.

JR has been fortunate to teach master classes at various studios and conventions throughout the United States and Canada. For the past three years, JR has been a part of the Credit Unions Kids at Heart team raising money for Boston Children’s Hospital by running the Boston Marathon. Jr has raised over $100,000 during this time thanks to the generosity of the dance community. He also worked as a volunteer judge and choreographer for the Miss Hampton Beach and Miss New Hampshire preliminary pageants.

Currently, JR is a dedicated and enthusiastic faculty member at Melissa Hoffman Dance Center (Hudson, NH). JR is a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University where he received Bachelors of Science Degree in Accounting (cum laude) and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (magna cum laude). He works fulltime as the Director of Finance for Easter Seals NH located in Manchester, NH, and resides in Concord, NH, with his wife Cathy and their daughter Sophie.

Sandi Duncan

Dancers at Heart, Vice President

Faculty Member, Melissa Hoffman Dance Center; Director, Subtle Intuition

Sandi Duncan has been a dance educator in the New England area for 40 years working with students of all ages. She owned and directed Dance Productions in Woburn, Ma for 9 years before becoming a senior faculty member at the Melissa Hoffman Dance Center in Hudson, NH. Sandi has taught, choreographed and adjudicated for numerous dance organizations throughout the US and Canada. Choreography credits include The Revolve Tour for Grammy nominated recording artist, Britt Nicole. Subtle Intuition Dance Ensemble, The Brightleaf Music Workshop at Duke University. The Next Stage Music Workshop of Durham, NC. The Healing Power of Love, breast cancer benefit.

Sandi is also a faculty member of the Generation IV summer workshop at Smith College, has written for Dance Studio Life Magazine, and teaches at Rhee Gold’s Dance Life Retreat Center and DanceLife Teacher Conference. She is a personal development coach for dancers. She can be found conducting self-esteem and team building workshops for dance students and educators throughout the country through her business Ignite A Dancer's Light.

Tania Atkinson

Dancers at Heart, Director of Events

Event Consultant, Sperry Tents Seacoast

Tania’s love of dance began at the age of 4 when she took her first ballet class. She continued under the strict instruction of the late Mara Maier in Andover, MA where she studied the Vaganova method for the next 14 years. Her love of dance has continued through watching her oldest daughter, Emily, commit her childhood to studying almost every form of dance, and soon, beginning a new chapter dancing at PACE University in Fall2020.
Tania has worked in the Event Industry planning corporate and social events for the past 10 years. She has planned many projects within the profit, and non-profit industry and her work as taken her to Quebec, Tokyo, Dubai and many cities in between. She currently works as an Event Consultant for Sperry Tents right here is New Hampshire.

Tania’s proudest achievement is by far, her 3 children. She has enjoyed a very busy soccer/dance/gymnastics schedule for the past 10+ years with them. “Their love of their own individual activities has shaped us as family and has given me a special bond with each of my kids.”

Tania’s love of dance in particular, and the joy in bringing people together for events that benefit children, has been what Dancers At Heart is all about for her.

Tracey Dickey

Dancers at Heart, Treasurer

CSWI, Global Sales Coordinator

Tracey brings us years of experience working in the non-profit world - The Credit Unions Kids @ Heart, Make A Wish (Massachusetts and Rhode Island) and the Windham Basketball Club. She has participated in the Falmouth Road Race to benefit The Joe Andruzzi Foundation and the 2019 Boston Marathon to benefit Boston Children’s Hospital. She currently works for CSWI as the Global Sales Coordinator.

Dancing is a very important part of Tracey’s life, her daughter Julia has been dancing since she was 3 years old and hopes to have a career in dance. Tracey looks forward to utilizing her expertise in the non - profit world and her love of dance to serve to those in need.

Cathy Linden

Dancers at Heart, Secretary

Middle School Teacher, Shaker Road School

Cathy is a longtime lover of dance. She started dancing at the age of 3 at a studio in Concord, NH and danced through her sophomore year of high school. After taking time off from dance to complete her schooling, Cathy returned to dance as an adult attending the same studio she went to as a child. As luck would have it, Cathy had JR Linden as her adult tap instructor and the rest is history. Although she no longer dances, she still has a deep appreciation for the art of dance and enjoys watching talented dancers perform.

In addition to her love of dance, Cathy is also passionate about teaching. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in Math Education and earned her Masters degree in Elementary Education in 2001 also from UNH. She’s been teaching middle school at Shaker Road School in Concord, New Hampshire for the past 17 years. When she’s not busy at work, Cathy enjoys skiing, swimming, and spending time with family and friends.

Melissa Hoffman

Owner, Melissa Hoffman Dance Center

Melissa has owned and operated Melissa Hoffman Dance Center in Hudson, NH for 30 years. Recognized by the governor as Outstanding Small Business, MHDC continues to be one of New Hampshire’s largest dance centers with a reputation for its community involvement. Dancers involved are encouraged to volunteer and give back.

Since opening, her school’s culture and philosophy has been based on giving back to the community through dance. Through the years her school has raised over $150,000 for organizations such as New Hampshire Make a Wish Foundation, local food pantries, Travelling Tutus and to local families in need. Becoming a board member of Dancers at Heart was a natural progression as here she can continue giving through the gift of dance.

In addition to teaching and directing her school she is also a presenter for DanceLife Teacher Conference and DanceLife Retreat Center. Here she is able to spread the word of giving through dance. Melissa is also a practicing dental hygienist, specializing in pediatrics and special needs.

She resides in Manchester with her 4 grown children.

Alicia Gyorda

Dancers at Heart, Director of Merchandise

Guest Service Coordinator, Salon Bogar

Alicia has worked for Salon Bogar for twelve years as their Guest Service Coordinator and enjoys being part of a fast growing business and helping ensure that guests have memorable experiences.

Dance has always been special to Alicia, dancing herself from age 3 to her early high school years, then being able to watch her daughters’ dance journey for fourteen years.

With both children off to college Alicia looks forward to working with Dancers at Heart and the dance community to make a difference in children’s lives.

Erica Schroder

Dancers at Heart, Digital Marketing/Website Manager

Sr. Manager, Web Marketing, ServiceTitan

Erica Schroder is a Boston-based choreographer, performer and teacher. Erica performed in the Boston Contemporary Dance Festival and all over New England with various companies including Urbanity Dance, Company Four and Forty Steps. Before moving to the Boston area, Erica owned Stardancer Studios in Newport, NH. In her 20+ years of teaching, she has won numerous choreography awards and her students have received high score awards, special judges awards and titles. In addition to teaching in private studios, Erica served as Adjunct Professor of Dance at Colby-Sawyer College. She has been a guest performer and teacher at the Vermont Annual High School Dance Festival and for the Vermont Alliance for Arts Education. Erica has a BFA in Dance with Teaching Certification from the University of Michigan and a Master of Non-profit Arts Management degree from Carnegie Mellon University. Erica is the Director/Resident Choreography for the Dance Companies at J & D Dance Academy of Reading and a member of Dance Masters of New England Chapter 5, and Dance Masters of America.

Outside of dance, Erica has had a career in both the non-profit arts and software technology industries, at organizations including the Arts Education Collaborative, the Hopkins Center for the Arts at Dartmouth College and the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. She also brings years of experience in web development and digital marketing from her years as front end web developer for Acquia, Web Manager for Brainshark, Director of Web Strategy for Buildium and now Senior Manager of Web Marketing for ServiceTitan.

Jenn LaBranche

Jenn lives in Londonderry with her husband, daughter and dog named Bogey. She has been teaching middle school for 18 years. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education and General Special Education as well as a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration. One of her biggest accomplishments was being a member of the 2021 Dancers @ Heart, Reach the Beach team. Dance has been a major part of her life for years. She danced in her youth but has been able to watch her daughter grow and develop in the studio since the age of 3. Her biggest passion is helping children see and achieve their potential and their goals.

Shawn Terenzi

Shawn is from Haverhill, Massachusetts and began dancing at the age of 4. At 16 years old he started teaching at local dance studios and at 18, Shawn started dancing professionally at Busch Gardens. Afterwards, Shawn toured the world performing on cruise ships before moving back to New England. Shawn now owns and operates his own dance studio in Lawrence, Massachusetts which is going into its 18th season.

Shawn has been a member of The Dance Teachers Club of Boston for 16 years and is a Past President of Dance Masters of New England (DMNE), Chapter 5. Shawn is currently the Treasurer, Performing Arts Competition Director, and Membership Chair for DMNE, Chapter 5. He has also served on the National Board of Dance Masters of America for 10 years in various roles including Delegate, National Area Director, Performing Arts Competition Liaison, and on the Examination Committee. Shawn is a Nationally Certified Examiner in Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Acro, and Modern. Shawn was not only the regional director for Headliners Performing Arts Competition for 8 years but also a Conference Administrator for Rhee Gold’s DanceLife Teacher Conference in 2018, 2019, & 2021.

Shawn is thrilled to be joining the Dancers At Heart team and helping this organization change the lives of children.