Melissa Burns – President and Director
Melissa Burns has been a long-time, motivated member of the dance industry. Growing up dancing, at an early age, Melissa had the opportunity to dance on board the Norwegian Majesty Cruise Ship, at the Olympic Stadium of Munich, Germany as well as many other cities and countries all over the world.
She then went on to receive a degree in Business Administration and a concentration in Fine Arts from Stonehill College located in Easton Massachusetts. At Stonehill College, Melissa studied with such dance professionals as Valerie Robertson and Adriene Hawkins among others. While attending Stonehill College, Melissa founded and directed the Stonehill College Dance Team, which she brought to national recognition in Daytona Beach, Florida. There, her team was featured on CBS Television and received high accolades.
After graduating, Melissa taught Vagonava ballet as well as jazz, tap, hip-hop, lyrical and contemporary throughout the New England area. Melissa was also featured at the Fox Theater of Foxwoods Resort & Casino in Connecticut and at the Avalon in Boston, Massachusetts where she was a finalist with the World-Champion Celtics Dance Team.
Melissa has been highly involved in competitive and non-competitive dance her entire life. During these times she had both positive and negative experiences in the competition industry. With her passion for dance, she saw the need for a professional, yet friendly and accommodating venue for dancers to be able to compete.
Nine years ago she began a journey to fulfill this need through founding the company Turn It Up Dance Challenge, Inc. Understanding what teachers, choreographers, and students endure during practice, performance, and competition, Melissa continues, through Turn It Up Dance Challenge, to give them a competition experience they deserve.
Lora Bertoldi – Vice President & Convention Director
Our Vice President & Convention Director, Lora Bertoldi, has been working for Turn It Up Dance Challenge since our second year of business. She started dancing at the young age of three and went on to teach several styles of dance throughout her high school and college years. After graduating with a Marketing degree from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, she decided that pairing her passion for dance with her education in business was the best of both worlds which lead her to her current role at Turn It Up Dance Challenge. In 2010, Lora pitched the idea to enhance Turn It Up Dance Challenge with the addition of conventions. This has proved to be a huge success as the following for conventions has rapidly grown ever since. Growing up attending dance conventions locally, Lora knew this was something that would fulfill her need to help young dancers learn and grow within the realm of Turn It Up. Lora continues to grow convention attendance while managing many other aspects of the business.
Elizabeth Girczyc – Office Director & Registration
Elizabeth Girczyc, also known as Liz, joined our team in 2013 upon graduating college from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Marketing. Liz started dancing at the age of three and continued until she was 18. Her favorite styles include tap, hip hop, and acro. Aside from dance, Liz was heavily involved with cheerleading beginning at an early age. Liz cheered throughout high school and college and has even taken cheer beyond the collegiate level where she continues to be a part of a competitive adult all-star team. Her high school team won many league, regional, state, New England, and National championships. Liz also had the honor of coaching the UMass Dartmouth team for several years following her graduation. Liz enjoys working in the competitive dance industry and looks forward to growing with Turn It Up Dance Challenge!
Christine DeGrasse – Travel Manager and Event Coordinator
Christine DeGrasse discovered a passion for dance at an early age. She began taking lessons at a local dance studio at four years old and was a member of the studio’s competition team throughout high school. To further her dance education, she went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Dance Management and Instruction from Plymouth State University. At PSU, Christine studied Jazz, Tap, Modern and Ballet technique and enjoyed performing with the Contemporary Dance Ensemble and at the American College Dance Festival. Upon graduation, she began teaching dance and has loved working with students of all ages! She has performed as a precision dancer in Reagle Music Theater of Waltham’s “Christmas Time” and has been very grateful to attend the Rockette Summer Intensive in NYC for three summers. Christine is excited to continue working in the field she is most passionate about, and is thankful to Turn It Up Dance Challenge for all of the new and wonderful opportunities.
Cassandra Phillips – Social Media Manager & Event Coordinator
Cassandra, also known as Cassie, began taking dance lessons at the age of three and was quickly ignited with a passion for the art. She danced competitively at a local dance studio in North Andover, MA all the way through until she graduated high school. There she had the opportunity to be a part of the United States Tap Team and also perform as the opening act for the Radio City Rockettes. Continuing this passion, Cassie went on to pursue a Dance and Performance Studies and Global Communications Degree from Roger Williams University. She was a member of the Dance Club as well as the Dance Theatre in college and had the opportunity to choreograph for both. Upon graduation, she moved to Orlando, FL to work as a cast member in the Disney College Program. Cassie started as an Attractions cast member for Walt Disney World, but following her passion for the performing arts soon moved into working as a Character Performer. Eventually, her program came to an end and she decided to return home to Massachusetts and received the opportunity to work for Turn It Up Dance Challenge. Cassie is thankful to be a part of Turn It Up Dance Challenge and is excited for future with them!