Meet Our InstructorsWe don't just teach Steps - We teach you how to Dance
Luann D'Agostino (owner)
Luann has been dancing since childhood with 15 years of classical ballet, tap, and jazz and many years of community theater work. She started her Ballroom career in 1989 as a student, competitor, and then instructor with the Arthur Murray Studio in Wilmington. Leaving the Arthur Murray Studio (then Candlelight Dance Studio) in 2006, she and Nicole opened the original Take The Lead in Wilmington (Pike Creek). Now at the new Hockessin Studio, Luann continues to teach primarily Social Ballroom and Latin Dances sharing her continued passion for dance with all of her students.
Nicole also started her Ballroom career training and teaching with the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Wilmington. Leaving the Arthur Murray Studio (then Candlelight Dance Studio) in 2005, she and Luann opened the original Take The Lead in Wilmington (Pike Creek). Now at the new Hockessin Studio, Nicole teaches Social Ballroom and Latin Dances, and is always ready to offer her special choreography to our many brides and grooms wanting to add a little flash to their big day.
Rene Ostarek and Bronislava Vrtalova
Rene and Bronislava have been dancing together for 18 years. They began their careers in the Czech Republic at the tender ages of 8 and 10 respectively. In 1992, they partnered and competed as amateurs in both the International Latin and Standard styles winning titles in Latin, formation team match, and polka divisions. Turning professional in 1997, they soon became seven time Czech National Champions representing the Czech Republic at World and European Championships. In 2002, they immigrated to the United States and began teaching in Philadelphia. Now in Delaware, they teach both International and American styles. Rene and Brona now proudly represent the US in all World Competitions.
Justin grew up in Delaware and excelled early on in music and martial arts. It was while attending the University of Delaware that he discovered Ballroom and Latin dancing and was able to merge his passions for music and athleticism. He is a member of the University of Delaware Ballroom Dance Team and currently serves the team as an assistant coach. He taught classes for the team for several years, and also instructed at Crystal Dancesport before coming to Take The Lead. Justin has competed throughout the country in the adult amateur division and focuses on the American-style dances. Justin and his competitive partner Marianna Melnikova are the current United States National Rhythm and National 9-Dance champions as well as two-time National Smooth finalists.
Mike started his athletic career studying Wu Shu Kung Fu. However, dance has become his number one passion as both an instructor and competitor. He has been dancing with Sarah since 2007. They recently turned Professional after winning the Ohio Star Ball, Amateur Smooth Championship in 2009. Mike has his Bachelors in Human Resources from the University of Delaware and Masters in Elementary Education from Wilmington University. Mike was an elementary school educator for 5 years, while at the same time teaching and training in dance. Eventually, his zeal and devotion to dancing became his number one priority and he now teaches and competes full time.
Though Mike has competed in all four Ballroom categories, he is proficient in American style. Between training for competitions, Mike is studying for his Licentiate exam to become a judge.
Lisa Bentley DeBevec
Lisa has been teaching for 26 years, 19 of which were spent as a competing professional. She began her training with a Fred Astaire Studio but spent thirteen of her career years with Arthur Murray's. She holds numerous Rising Star and Open titles in both American Rhythm and Smooth styles, was ranked in the top twelve of the US in the American Smooth for 3 years and was ranked 2nd in the 9 Dance Division. She was the choreographer and lead dancer for the opening ceremonies of the 1996 Olympic Soccer Games held in Orlando, FL. She is currently a part-time instructor at Take The Lead Dance Studio in Hockessin and a certified instructor with the American Dance Wheels Foundation. Lisa continues to travel the ballroom circuit with her business, GlamourPuss- a combination of hair design and make-up artistry - to over 23 competitions a year "glamorizing" some of the top female competitors in the US.
A professional dancer since his teens, Joe Figueroa has pushed the boundaries of the dance world with his exciting and innovative style of freestyle salsa. Joe began his career as a professional dancer for MTV Studios. In 2000, this accomplished artist and choreographer transitioned his passion and talent to the art of salsa dancing and quickly became a prominent figure on Philadelphia's burgeoning salsa scene with his unique body movement and choreography.
Tim started figure skating when he was 2.5, during the span of his 17 year competitive career he competed in the Ice Dance, Pairs, Men's Freestyle and Synchronized Skating Divisions. During his skating career he achieved an 8 time top 10 ranking at the US Figure Skating National Championships, including winning the Gold Medal in Ice Dance at the US National Figure Skating Championships and the Gold Medal at the North American Challenge Skate in Memramcook, New Brunswick, Canada. In 2003, Tim launched his competitive ballroom dance career, quickly achieving impressive results including becoming the Open to the World Amateur Smooth Champion and Vice-Champion at the Ohio Star Ball Amateur Smooth Championships. Tim today coaches many competitive dancers in both Pro/Am and Am/Am divisions as well as the University of Pennsylvania Latin and Ballroom Dance Team.
Raisa trained, competed and taught with the University of Delaware Ballroom Team and competed as an amateur before coming to Take The Lead Dance Studio. Raisa is our primary 'wedding coordinator' at TTL doing follow up from our Bridal Events and working with many of our Brides, Grooms, and their families on their special dances.
Info for additional Instructors Emanuele Papacena and Francesca Lazzari, and Taka Kubota coming soon.
On occasion, other Guest, Visiting, or Specialty Instructors can be found teaching or performing at Take The Lead.
Be sure to watch our Group Class listing and Event Schedule for details.