After over twenty years of teaching dance at the Darien Arts Center, Bonnie Gombos, DAC Dance Director, has announced that she will be leaving the position. Known affectionately as ‘Miss Bonnie’, Gombos has welcomed thousands of dance students of all ages to a large variety of dance classes at the DAC, and under her leadership, the dance program has grown exponentially. She has nurtured countless students who often entered the dance program as toddlers to grow and develop into members of the Junior and Senior Dance Companies, becoming part of her close-knit and inclusive dance family. Bonnie’s tremendous shoes will be filled by Claire Mazza, who currently teaches at the DAC.
“After 26 years with the Darien Arts Center, it is time to pass the baton. It has been a great honor to be able to teach so many dancers over the years, many of whom are still part of my life. I will miss the everyday bustle of the DAC, but I will still be here in spirit. I have every confidence in Miss Claire Mazza, we share the same visions for our students and the DAC Family. I have worked very closely with Claire this past year and she is ready to take the reins. Claire is a wonderful teacher and I am sure the dancers will all love her”, said Gombos.
As artistic Director of the DAC’s Senior and Junior Dance Companies, Bonnie has orchestrated performances in the DAC Weatherstone Studio, the Palace Theater, charity events and Disney World. She has directed and choreographed the annual "Scenes from the Nutcracker" each December and her own original spring Ballet Series each April. She has delighted in teaching students of all ages a wide range of dance styles from classical ballet, to jazz and modern and is looking forward to her retirement in Florida with family.
“Bonnie Gombos is the heart and soul of the dance school at the Darien Arts Center. She has tirelessly pursued greatness and kindness at the same time and has helped multiple generations of students find their voices and their passions. To borrow from another icon, the performing arts is 90% mental and the other half is physical. Bonnie teaches in a manner that prepares her students for both. The Board of Directors of the DAC are thrilled that Claire has agreed to take the helm of the dance program and look forward to her leadership,” added DAC Board President Carolyn Cavolo.
Claire Mazza, a native New Yorker, began her dance training at the School of American Ballet. She studied privately with Francois Perron and also attended Studio Maestro (currently Manhattan Youth Ballet). Claire launched her professional career, dancing with Les Grands Ballet Canadiens de Montreal, Brooklyn Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre and Richmond Ballet, among others, and was a soloist with Connecticut Ballet. Claire is currently a soloist with the New York City-based company, Ballets With a Twist, and Kathryn Posin Dance Company. She recently performed as a principal in Balanchine’s "Who Care’s?" and starred as Titania in "A Midsummer Night’s Dream." She has also been seen dancing in television productions such as Kings, Royal Pains, and Elementary. Claire has been teaching dance to students ages three to eighteen for the past ten years, and in 2019, co-founded East Coast Contemporary Ballet.
“Bonnie has made a tremendous impact on the dance community of Darien and her presence continues on in all of her students and those that worked with her—I count myself as one of those fortunate people. I am honored to be given the opportunity to carry on Bonnie’s legacy, and I look forward to both maintaining and invigorating Darien Arts Center’s nurturing and versatile dance education. To be able to use my skills as a professional dancer and founder of my own dance company to further build on the strong program already in place at DAC is a privilege. I eagerly look forward to the coming years and am delighted to offer new and exciting classes as well as traditional offerings for the fall semester!”