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Dance faculty

Trista DeFilippis, High Tech HS Performing Arts - Dance

Trista DeFilippis
Concentration in Performance 

Trista DeFilippis holds a BFA degree in Dance from Rutgers University's Mason Gross School of the Arts and an MA in Dance and Dance Education from New York University. She obtained her Supervisor's Certificate from Saint Peters University and serves as adjunct professor at Raritan Valley Community College.  Currently, she is heading up the Dual Enrollment program with RVCC for the High Tech Dance Department.


It was at MGSA where she first gained an appreciation for modern dance; especially the Nikolais/Louis technique.  She was awarded a scholarship from the American College Dance Festival to study at the Nikolais/Louis Dance Lab in NYC.  Upon graduating magna cum laude she went straight to study at the Lab.  Trista remained a scholarship student for one year when Mr. Louis invited her to join the company.  Mrs. DeFilippis danced professionally with Murray Louis and Nikolais Dance where she had the opportunity to travel the world doing what she loves.  She serves on the Nikolais Legacy Committee whose mission is to preserve the works and pedagogical philosophies of these legendary modern dance pioneers, Murray Louis and Alwin Nikolais.


In addition, Trista has also performed with Beyondance, Inc., Janetti/Haver, Acrodanse Theatre, FreeFallDance Company, KDNY and Thomas/Ortiz Dance.  She ran her own company, R2Dance, collaboratively with colleague, Sarah Rutledge presenting their work at SWEAT, YourMove, HATCH, NYC, Centenary College and the Kasser Theater in Montclair.

She has performed original works by Claudia Gitelman, Don Redlich, Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE and Bill T. Jones.


Her students have been recognized by NDEO, Hudson County and NJ State Teen Arts, NJ Governor's Award for Performing Arts, the National and Regional High School Dance festivals, the National School Board Association as well as numerous scholarships from universities for their academic and dance achievements.  


Graduates from her program dance professionally with companies like Paul Taylor American Modern Dance, 10 Hairy Legs, Freespace Dance, Nai Ni Chen, Shen Wei Dance Arts, Camille A. Brown as well as recording arts Khalid, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Lopez, Ava Max, Rihanna, Diddy, Usher and Camila Cabello.  In addition, graduates of the High Tech Dance department have been placed on some of the most competitive college dance teams in the country including Ohio State, Rutgers, Temple and Pitt. 


Prior to joining the faculty at High Tech in 2002, she worked as the Creative Movement Specialist at the Stevens Cooperative School in Hoboken.  In addition to being the head of the dance department, she has served as Liaison for the Performing Arts, Arts Academy Supervisor and is currently the CTE Coach for the Performing Arts.

She has taught numerous master classes and workshops in universities and festivals globally including guest artist at the National High School Dance Festival. Mrs. DeFilippis is a member of NDEO and DanceNJ.  In 2021, she was nominated for the Monmouth University William Roberts Charitable Foundation Outstanding Teaching Award. She is also the chapter sponsor for the National Honor Society For Dance Arts at High Tech. 

For over twenty years, Mrs. DeFilippis has been instrumental in creating and implementing a rigorous dance curriculum for high school dancers.  As a dance educator she enjoys challenging the minds and bodies of young dancers in preparation for the progression of their educational and future dance careers.  


Dance faculty


Heather Warfel Sandler
Concentration in Choreography 

Heather Warfel Sandler is the recipient of the 2023 NJ Governors Award for Exceptional Leadership in Dance Education. She holds a BA in Modern Dance from Point Park University, and is a Certified Functional Awareness® Movement Educator. She also holds certifications in Yoga and Progressing Ballet Technique, and served as an Adjunct Professor of Dance at NJCU for over 10 years. In 2021 Ms.Warfel received a Presidential Award from the National Dance Education Organization (NDEO) for her contributions to the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Workgroup, and currently serves on NDEO’s Action and Accountability Committee. She has presented her teaching philosophy in workshops across the country, and is a Board Member of Dance NJ and co-founder of the Jersey City Arts Council.  In 2022 Ms.Warfel was invited to be part of the first GLUE cohort at Triskelion Arts - a collective of working choreographers and dance improvisers.


Ms.Warfel began her work at HCST in 2000, creating a unique curriculum for dance that includes rigorous investigation of the creative process.  At HCST she has also served as Liaison to the Hudson County Teen Arts Alliance, Director of the Talent Show, and moderator of the CP Artist Collective, where she demonstrates the importance of creative play in education and personal development. 


Ms.Warfel pioneered the Choreographers in Residence Program (ChIRP), which gives students the opportunity to work closely with professional choreographers.  Her students have been recognized by the NDEO, HCATA, NJ State Teen Arts Festival, VSA NJ, NHSDA, the NJ Governor’s Award for Performing Arts, as well as acclaim among the NJ professional dance community. 


Ms.Warfel continues to study, create, and present her own work as both a performing and visual artist. She has been featured in the JC Art & Studio Tour, Your Move Modern Dance Festival, Movers and Shapers Podcast, and the Mignolo International Screendance Festival.  Her professional career includes work as a tap, modern, and West African dancer, and also as an actor, musician, and clown. Because of these varied artistic experiences, Ms.Warfel strongly values creativity, individuality, and open-mindedness in the classroom and the world.

Meagan Woods.JPG

Meagan Woods
Adjunct Instructor

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