Eleanor Pernia Studio of Dance Staff





Eleanor Pernia
Artistic Director

Eleanor began her dance training in tap and ballet at the age of seven. She looked forward to every class and soon became an accomplished dancer, performing as a regular on two local television shows: Kiddie Kapers and Your Junior Review.

While in high school she traveled to New York for her first professional audition. After passing the audition, Eleanor spent  the following two summers touring the mid-West and Canada with the Roxyettes.  The 1950's found Eleanor entertaining with Military Air Transport (M.A.T.S.)  throughout the United States, Iceland, Bermuda, Nassau and the Canary Islands. In addition, she danced as a featured soloist and chorus member for many professional shows, appearing with such stars as Frankie Avalon, Eddie Fisher and Gordan and Sheila McRae. In the greater Washington area, she entertained for such dignitaries as former President Nixon and the late Senator Hubert Humphrey.

Eleanor continued to entertain and created the Eleanor Pernia Studio of Dance while raising three children; she is now the proud grandmother of two. She is active in her training with dance workshops and conventions and is a member of Dance America.   Many of her students have gone on to become professional dancers and teachers. She devotes her life to creating a studio that embraces the love of dance, and she desires that this love be shared by all her students.


Donna Iriarte
Faculty Member

Donna started her dance training at the Eleanor Pernia Studio of Dance at the age of eight.  She was quickly addicted to the love of dance and decided to pursue a career in theater.  Her performances in television and on stage have thrilled audiences throughout the United States and in many foreign countries.  After extensive dance training in New York City, she returned to the staff of the Eleanor Pernia Studio of Dance.  She brings with her a versatile dance style that her students find exciting and challenging. Donna is a past member of the Cross Currents Dance Company.  She has performed at area industrial and benefit galas. Her choreography has been enjoyed throughout the Washington area and she has choreographed many winning competition routines.


Karen Cerkez
Faculty Member

Karen has a BFA in Ballet from the Philadelphia University of Arts. She was awarded the Ursula Melita Heisman Prize for outstanding accomplishment in Ballet and the Evelyn and James Kennedy scholarship. Upon graduation from the university she received a full scholarship and performed with the Pennsylvania Ballet for four years. Karen has been teaching all ages and levels of dance since 1990. Karen continues to choreograph outstanding competition routines and won a special award
for most creative choreography.


Beth Engel
Faculty Member

Beth started her dance training at the age of five. She continued dancing at a small studio in Wisconsin until she pursued her love more intensely at the Milwaukee Ballet School in Milwaukee, WI. She continued her training at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee until she transferred to a dance department here in College Park. She has choreographed many winning competition routines and other pieces including musicals for area high schools.


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