Setting the Barre
for Excellence 

EMpowered Dance and Wellness Center Faculty 

Faculty and Staff

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Emily Norris
Founder and Artistic Director

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Emily is the owner and artistic director of the EMpowered Dance Center. Emily has professional dance experience as well as education to create a strong, technically sound program. Professionally, Emily worked as a trainee with the elite Joffrey Ballet Company under the direction of Edith d'Addario and performed as a soloist with the Baltimore Ballet Company, under the direction of Cem Catbas. Contemporary professional experience, Emily performed with Surge, under the direction of Ken Skrzesz. Beginning her dance education at Peabody Conservatory she was awarded a full scholarship to the Arts for Talented Youth Program. Emily performed with the Washington ballet as a student, under the direction of Rudolph Kharatian, and as a soloist in the Pas de Trois in Kharatian's original ballet, Into the Light. Receiving scholarships for summer programs including Virginia School for the Arts, Joffrey Ballet, and Hartford Ballet, Emily attended American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, Burklyn Ballet, and Virginia School of the Arts for summer intensives. Emily graduated from Carver Center for Arts and Technology, holds an AAS in both Massage Therapy and Physical Therapy Assistant. Completing her Bachelor of Science in Health Studies and ultimately her Masters of Science in Kinesiology and Wellness Management from SUNY Plattsburgh. Emily holds certifications as a Physical Therapist Assistant in Brain Injury, Neuromuscular Developmental Techniques, and is LSVT BIG certified for Parkinson's Disease. She is also certified in Pilates technique, Adaptive Dance, Progressive Ballet Technique, Massage Therapy, Pregnancy Massage, Yoga, and CPR. Emily always looks for ways to introduce dance to everyone and created a wheelchair dancing program at the University of Maryland Rehabilitation and Orthopedic Institute (formerly Kernan). Emily manages both Chapters of Dance Honor Society for the studio, through the National Dance Education Organization and is a member of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science.

Proudly, Emily's students have attended Alvin Ailey School, Kirov Academy, Burklyn Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Washington Ballet, The Rock School, Ballet West, Kaatsbaan Summer Intensive Programs. Professionally, students are working as trainees and corps de ballet members in Kansas City Ballet, Ballet Tucson, Rochester City Ballet, Ballet West, and Ballet Theatre of Maryland. Sharing a love of anatomy and kinesiology in the classroom many students are pursuing degrees in the medical field and often choose to work specifically in sports medicine. 

Emily's pedagogy is that every student in the classroom is the best student in the classroom. ALL are welcome here, dance is truly for EVERY BODY. 

Linda O'Brien

Linda O’Brien is a professional instructor and award winning choreographer, working in the Maryland area since 1987. Linda has been on faculty at The Community Colleges of Baltimore County, also acting as Assistant Director of their resident company from 2008-2015 and at Dance Conservatory of Maryland and Harford Ballet Company (now Ballet Chesapeake). In addition to teaching all levels of Vaganova ballet for DCM, she was also Ballet Mistress and Associate Artistic Director and Choreographer. Her students have studied at Baltimore School of the Arts and George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology and have received scholarships in dance to Goucher College, Shenandoah University, Point Park University, Marymount Manhattan and Mercyhurst University. Linda is also a ERYT-200 yoga instructor and has been teaching vinyasa and yin yoga classes at Peace Yoga for 10 years. Linda is very excited to be joining the faculty of EMpowered Dance Center.

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Caitlin Varipatis


Caitlin received her B.A. degree in Dance Education from Goucher College graduating Cum Laude.  While there, she performed in numerous student, faculty, and guest artist pieces.  As a senior, she produced and choreographed her own concert.  She followed that with a Masters in Education degree (also from Goucher) and has work experience in the many aspects of the developing dancer/student. For seven years she worked as an Integrated Arts Specialist with Cecil County Public Schools where she also headed an after-school dance program to further dance experience and performance opportunities for students.  She also was involved in dance curriculum writing and development for the school system. Ms. Varipatis has been involved with Goucher's Moving Classroom Project which educates students and teachers on techniques for incorporating movement and the arts within the classroom setting. She has also taught at the Baltimore Actor's Conservatory, The Park School, Carver Center for the Arts, Parkville High School, Cecil Dance Center and the Moving Company Dance Center.  She is thrilled to be joining EMpowered for her sixth season!

Ballet, Modern, Yoga, Jazz, and Contemporary Instructor 


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Tap, Lyrical, Modern, Jazz, and Hip Hop instructor

Leah is a graduate of Towson University with two degrees in Dance Choreography and Performance, as well as a Pre-Physical Therapy. Leah is a graduate from the prestigious George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology in the dance prime. Leah was a member of both Towson University's Ballet Company as well as Dance Company at Carver. Leah is a proficient aerialist dancer and has had an opportunity to work with the elite Cirque du Soleil in New York. Leah began her dance training with Emily and continued her studies through graduation from EMpowered Dance Center. She was a member of the Swing Club in Baltimore and learned various styles of ballroom dancing.  Leah is the rehearsal maitree of EMotions dance team. Leah attended Martha Graham's summer intensive and currently trains with Rhonda Malkin for The Rockettes.

Ava Correlli

Musical Theatre, Ballet, Tap, Jazz

Ava Correlli has been performing for nine years in both dance and theatre. Ava performed for Disney World as a character performer showcasing both her technique in dance and vocal performance. Ava is pursuing her B.S. in Dance Education from the renowned Goucher College. Ava performs professionally with Urban Pirates as your favorite pirate friend, Judy Doubloon and Falling Star Parties LLC.   Ava has taught for the Jewish Community Center dance and theater programs and choreographed for local music videos. A firm believer in positive reinforcement and sharing experiences with her students, Ava has fallen in love with the core values of EMpowered and is thrilled to be a part of the team!

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Dania Lanaa

Modern, Jazz, and Lyrical Instructor 

Beginning her training in Mount Laurel, NJ, Dania studied a variety of dance styles including ballet, jazz, modern, tap, improvisation and hip hop. Dania chose to further her exploration of dance at Towson

University as a Dance Performance major, graduating in May 2020. Her experience as a choreographer began at Towson as she discovered a true, deep passion for creating meaningful, transformative and honest art through movement. While in attendance at Towson, Dania worked under accomplished educators and choreographers including Linda-Denise Fisher-Harrell, Ray Mercer, Catherine Horta-Hayden, Runqiao Du, Alison Seidenstricker, Will B. Bell, Therese Ghaul and Vincent Thomas. Dania aspires to dance for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in NYC and plans to continue exploring and sharing her passion for dance as a teacher and choreographer.

Assisting Teacher Artists


Sophia Azzaro

Sophia is currently a Sophomore at Susquehannock High School. She has been dancing for 6 years. Roles she has played in past EMpowered productions include Clara in The Nutcracker (soloist) and Jumping Doll in The Nutcracker (Soloist).  Performed in 5785- Honoring late Off. Amy Caprio

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Lilly Krafft

Lilly has been dancing at EMpowered for 4 years. Lilly is a dance company member at Dulaney High School as well as an EMotions Dance Team Member of EDWC.  Roles she has played in past EMpowered productions include Harlequin Doll The Nutcracker (soloist) and Lead Card Guard Alice in Wonderland (demi-soloist)


Madelena Lapinski

Madelena is currently a junior at Dulaney High School. She has been dancing for 8 years. Roles she has played in past EMpowered productions include Ruby Red Slippers in Wizard of Oz, Card Guard in Alice in Wonderland, Drosselmeyer in The Nutcracker (soloist), Lead Soldier in The Nutcracker (soloist), and Snow Queen in The Nutcracker (soloist). 

Business Staff

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Sandi Thomas, CFO

Sandi is Emily's FAVORITE Aunt and is the EDWC CFO. Sandi is here to help with any acccount service questions and also is the backstage manager of all EMpowered Productions from front of the house to student facilitation.  

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Dr. Jenn Norris, M.S. PA-C, PhD

Dr. Jenn is Emily's FAVORITE sister, the office manager, organizer and resident medical staff for EDWC.  Jenn is the assistant stage manager and profession 'quick change' guru helping students get on-stage, on time.

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Patti Norris

Patti is the reason behind EDWC as Emily's FAVORITE mom and major supporter.  Patti is ready to help with bumps and bruises as well as give an encouraging word to all the students.  Patti is also an account services manager and looks forward to bringing her grandchildren to the studio.