Arts & Entertainment

Grand Opening of Studio J in Montville

Studio J Dance Studio celebrates grand opening with friends and family. Credits: Courtesy Jessica Mellace
Roahan Padmanabahan and Isabelle Belenky perform Baby It's Cold Outside. Credits: Courtesy Jessica Mellace
Studio J Dance Academy's Performance Team. Bottom from left: Isabelle Belenky, Angelina Hahn. Middle: Arianna DeMaio, Roahan Padmanabhan. Top: Lisa LoPinto, Santa Claus, Nina DaCosta. Credits: Courtesy Jessica Mellace
The Padmanabhan family celebrates the grand opening of Studio J. From left: Anju, Krishna, Roahan and Meghan Padmanabhan. Credits: Gail Bottone
Jessica Mellace, owner and artistic director of Studio J Dance Academy, is with her 99 year old grandmother, Josephine Mellace, at the studio's grand opening. Credits: Gail Bottone
Studio J's Performance Team. Credits: Gail Bottone
Courtney Serpone and Anthony Marchitto, instructors at Studio J Dance Academy, join owner, Jessica Mellace, and student, Avery Veneziano, for the studio's grand opening party. Credits: Gail Bottone
Isabelle Belenky and Roahan Padmanabhan perform "Baby It's Cold Outside" at Studio J's grand opening party. Credits: Gail Bottone
Keira, Gia and Glen Petersen enjoy the buffet at Studio J's grand opening. Credits: Gail Bottone
Jessica Mellace, owner and artistic director of Studio J Dance Academy, welcomes guests to the studio's grand opening party. Credits: Gail Bottone
Keli Eason comes to support Jessica Mellace, owner of Studio J Dance Academy, at the studio's grand opening. Credits: Gail Bottone
Natalie Santangelo and Alyssa De Rogatis come to support their friend, Roahan Padmanabhan, who is part of the Studio J Dance Academy's Performance Team. Credits: Gail Bottone
Angelina Hahn, Studio J Dance Academy student, and Donna Hahn, her mother, are excited about the grand opening party. Credits: Gail Bottone
Jessica Mellace, owner of Studio J Dance Academy, with one of her youngest students, Avery Veneziano. Credits: Gail Bottone

MONTVILLE, NJ - It was quite obvious that at the grand opening of Montville Township’s Studio J Dance Academy, everyone acquainted with Jessica Mellace, owner and artistic director, admired her for her ability to have a dream and make it come true. But more importantly, they admired her for her welcoming, loving and caring nature, as was demonstrated at the event last Saturday night. 

The grand opening not only included great entertainment and food, but a fundraiser for St. Barnabas Burn Unit. Mellace explained, “St. Barnabas has been part of my life since I began working professionally as an x-ray tech in 2011. It was one of the first jobs I took in my field, so it holds a special place in my heart. Additionally, and the reason I chose to do my grand opening in December was because in 1992 Michael, my brother,was admitted to the St. Barnabas Pediatric Burn Unit on Christmas. He was there for a month, and the nurses and doctors took such great care of him. I wanted to give back to the organization that has provided me and my family with so much.”

Her brother, Michael, said, “I am so proud my sister is following her dream. If anyone is meant to do this, it’s Jessica. I know Studio J will be a huge success! My sister, choosing to help St. Barnabas Pediatric Burn Unit, means a lot to me because I was admitted there on Christmas 1992. I was 14 months old and was there for a month. Even though I don’t remember the experience all too well, my parents told me how amazing the nurses and doctors were with me. I am truly grateful for all the people at St. Barnabas who assisted in my recovery, and I am happy my family and I can give back.”

Sign Up for E-News

Anthony Marchitto, acting teacher, stated, “Studio J is a place of nurturing and support, so having the grand opening benefit the pediatric burn unit was the perfect way to start the holiday season. I had so much fun singing carols with some of our students, and I think the event was a success.”

Mellace explained, "Opening up a dance studio has always been a dream of mine. I wanted my studio to be a place where students can find who they are and express their individuality. I am so lucky that I get to share my passion for the arts and can’t believe my dream has finally come true. None of this would have been possible without the love and support from my wonderful family, staff and students."   

Mellace was honored and happy to have her almost 100 year old grandmother present at this dream come true event. Josephine Mellace will be 100 years old in three months. Josephine said she “always encouraged Jessica” to pursue her ambitions.

Mellace’s parents, Anna Marie and Joseph Mellace, said that they are so very proud of their daughter who “had a dream and did it.” They also recognized Dr. Hani Mansour and Dr. Sylvia Petrone for their dedication to the St. Barnabas Burn Unit. Hot coffee had spilled on their son on Christmas 1992 and caused severe burns. Anna Marie admits they took their son to St. Barnabas because it was the closest hospital, but they were so thankful when they found out that the hospital had a special burn unit. All the doctors and nurses gave so much of themselves, and the entire family is very grateful.

Studio J opened its doors in September at 2 Changebridge Road and currently has 36 students and is growing weekly. The studio offers classes starting from 15 months to adult. Classes are offered in acting, acro, ballet, contemporary/lyrical, hip-hop, Irish step, jazz, mommy and me, musical theatre, tap and voice.Starting in January, there will be adult classes in ballet, tap, jazz and hip-hop.

Donna Hahn, mother of Studio J student, Angelina Hahn, said the studio is a “triple threat” by offering dance, acting, and voice. “Her new business represents what Jessica is all about. She believes in giving back to the community. Jessica is not only talented but keeps kids focused so that they can learn a lot. She is a great teacher,” added Hahn.

The parents of student, Isabelle Belenky, Angela and Stan, were happy to be at the performance saying, “This is such a good activity for the kids, and they love to be here.”

The night of entertainment included the singing of Deck the Halls, Hanukkah O Hanukkah, Let It Snow, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, O Holy Night, It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas, and a duet of Baby, It’s Cold Outside. 

The performance team danced to My Only Wish, Rockin’ around the Christmas Tree, Hanukkah O Hanukkah, Let It Snow and Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.

When asked why she chose Montville for her new studio, Mellace said, “Although I didn’t grow up in town, my hometown of East Hanover is just a short drive away. I’ve always attended iconic Montville events like the 4th of July celebration and fireworks, and the community always made me feel welcomed. When I decided to open up Studio J, I knew that Montville would be the perfect fit because it aligns with my values as a business owner.” 

Dance instructor, Alfonse Napolitano, stated, "Studio J is not your typical dance studio. We are a tight-knit family. We care for and love each other, and I am so happy to be a part of this amazing dance family. In addition to this, we spread our love and passion to everyone around us and are so excited to be a part of the Montville community." 

Courtney Serpone, dance and vocal teacher, added, "I think Montville is the perfect fit for Jessica and Studio J. Jessica prides herself on the studio being a place where everyone feels welcomed and successful. She has built a team of staff members that are so diverse, but all work together seamlessly. She is always driven to delivering the best final product, as you will see tonight. Jessica values discipline and hard work. I know this is the beginning of a wonderful partnership!”  

Lisa LoPinto, dance teacher, added, "Studio J has become like a second home to me. Teaching acrobatics here is always the highlight of my week. The students and staff are all such wonderful people. Jessica has done an incredible job of turning the dance studio into a positive, fun and educational environment."​                   

Dance teacher, Dana DelGrosso, is very proud of the studio’s students. “They performed beyond our expectations and really made the night something we will never forget! We also were able to give back this year and raise money to bring happiness and cheer to some of the children in the pediatric burn unit at St. Barnabas Hospital. It has been an all-around amazing evening,and I’m very proud of my Studio J family," said DelGrosso.

Students like Roahan Padmanabahan expressed support. Padmanabahan said, “Studio J is a safe and welcoming place for dancers and performers everywhere. It has given me, along with my team, a place to do what we love with our art. Miss Jess and all of my other teachers have created an environment where everyone can express themselves and reach their full potential. Studio J will forever be a home away from home for me, and I can’t wait to see what the future brings!”

Padmanabahan’s parents, Anju and Krishnan, expressed their happiness for Miss Jess and the group. Anju said her son goes to Studio J classes five days a week and loves it. “He enjoys every minute,” she said.

Another student, Angelina Hahn stated, “Studio J is a great school with great people who actually want you to succeed and help you achieve all of your goals. I am happy to be a part of this amazing family!” Hahn was accepted to Morris County School of Technology for dance and theater being one of 16 accepted out of 120 applications.

Former student, Nina DaCosta, also had praises. “Studio J is an accepting, loving and judge-free studio that has brought new people in with open arms. I have known Miss Jess since I was 12, and she helped me in ways that I did not know were possible," explained DaCosta.

Keli Eason, a former teacher, who worked with Mellace in the past, also came to “support Jess.” Eason said, “This is something Jess wanted to do for a while now.”

Parents, Keira and Glen Pedersen, of one of the youngest children at the studio, two year old Gia Pedersen, also extended their best wishes and stated that their little girl “loves it” at Studio J.

Success is what these performers/students strive to achieve, and most of the students, who performed on this night, have aspirations to perform on Broadway. Following in Miss Jessica’s footsteps, one can say, “Dreams Do Come True!”

Cover photo: Back row from left: Jennifer Dent, Keli Eason, Lisa LoPinto, Alfonse Napolitano, AnnaMarie Mellace, Jessica Mellace, Santa Claus (Joseph Mellace), Anthony Marchitto, Courtney Serpone. Front row from left: Keira Pedersen holding Gia Pedersen, Isabelle Belenky, Angelina Hahn, Roahan Padmanabahan holding Avery Veneziano, Arianna DeMaio, Nina DaCosta holding Maya Ciccone, Dana DelGrosso holding Stella Kokoszka, Jessica Brody.




TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Upcoming Events


Tue, April 24, 7:30 PM

Montville Township High School, Montville

Board of Ed @HIGH SCHOOL



Tue, April 24, 8:00 PM

Montville Township Municipal Building, Montville

Montville Township Committee Meeting



Wed, April 25, 7:00 PM

Montville Township Public Library, Montville

"The U.S. Constitution" (Library Seminar)

Education Government


Thu, April 26, 1:00 PM

Montville Township Public Library, Montville

Milton Hershey: "King of Chocolate"

Arts & Entertainment Education Food & Drink

Calling For The Resignation of Councilwoman June Witty

April 12, 2018

Dear Editor,

This week, Montville Township Republican Committeewoman, June Witty, posted a chart depicting a swastika that compared Democrats to Nazis on her personal Facebook page. This post by Committeewoman Witty was not only insensitive to township residents registered as Democrats but, more importantly, this post is rooted in hate and vitriol toward the Jewish Community. Anti-Semitism is ...

Game Night to Benefit Animal Shelter Sponsored by Girl Scouts

April 23, 2018

MONTVILLE, NJ – The Girl Scouts of Troop 4867 invite girls and boys from grades kindergarten through fifth for a game night/animal shelter fundraiser to be held Friday, May 11, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Montville Township Senior House.

The evening will begin with dinner (pasta, salad and bread), and then there will be games, crafts and activities. Participants can bring kitty litter, ...

Short Evacuation Occurs at MTHS

April 17, 2018

MONTVILLE, NJ – A short evacuation occurred at Montville Township High School on April 17.

After the regular 2:10 p.m. dismissal, a fire alarm sounded but an announcement was made naming it a false alarm, according to a student who was in the building for an extracurricular activity.

The alarm again went off at 2:18 p.m. and the student said an announcement was made that the building ...

Police Officer Offers Cyber Safety Tips

April 21, 2018

POMPTON PLAINS, NJ – Sergeant Tom Rich of the Summit Police Department spoke before a room packed with parents wanting to hear about technology’s effect on their children and his seminar entitled “Media & Cyber Safety: Protecting Children and Teens” on April 12.

The 20-year police veteran discussed his passion for working with and helping children. He said that in a ...

Gov. Murphy Announces Proposed NJTransit Funding Increase

April 23, 2018

Newark, NJ – Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday spread a message of hope regarding future improvements to NJTransit services and infrastructure due to a proposed $242 million increase in funding for NJTransit for the 2019 fiscal year. 

At a press conference held at NJTransit’s Central Maintenance Facility on Doremus Avenue in Newark, Murphy, Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka, and other ...

Hazardous Waste Disposal Sat. May 12 On Hanover Ave.

April 23, 2018

RANDOLPH, NJ- The Morris County Municipal Utilities Authority (MCMUA) will conduct a Household Hazardous Waste Disposal event on Saturday, May 12 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy, 500 West Hanover Avenue in Parsippany.

Morris County residents will be able to drop-off unwanted hazardous materials from their households. Businesses are not ...


Century 21 Open Houses This Weekend

MONTVILLE, NJ - Following are Century 21 Open Houses for this weekend:

Saturday, April 21 from 1 - 4 p.m.

Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using GPS - Enter 66 Two Bridges Road)

Sunday, April 22 from 1 - 4 p.m.

Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using GPS - Enter 66 Two Bridges Road)
172 Pine Brook Road, Montville
10 ...

Century 21 Open Houses this Weekend

MONTVILLE, NJ - Following are Century 21 open houses for this weekend:

Saturday, April 14 from 1 - 4 p.m.

1.  Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using GPS - Enter 66 Two Bridges Road)

Sunday, April 15 from 1 - 4 p.m.

1.  42 Horseneck Road, Montville

2.  Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using GPS - Enter 66 Two ...

Century 21 Open Houses This Weekend

MONTVILLE, NJ - Following are Century 21 The Crossing open houses this weekend:

Saturday, April 7 from 1 - 4 p.m.

Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using GPS - Enter 66 Two Bridges Road)

Sunday, April 8 from 1 - 4 p.m.

Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using GPS - Enter 66 Two Bridges Road)
42 Horseneck Road, ...

Century 21 Open Houses This Weekend

MONTVILLE, NJ - Following are Century 21 The Crossing open houses this weekend:

Saturday, March 31 from 1 - 4 p.m.  

Brownstones at Fairfield, Stonybrook Circle (Using GPS - Enter 66 Two Bridges Road)
1 Kirsten Court, Towaco
42 Horseneck Road, Montville

Saturday, March 31 from 1 - 3 p.m.

12 Pond View, Montville

'The Sting' shimmers and shakes at Paper Mill

‘The Sting ‘slithers and shakes at Paper Mill Playhouse


MILLBURN, NJ – In a premiere production of “The Sting,” Harry Connick Jr. commands the Paper Mill Playhouse stage in Millburn.

Based on the sensational Paul Newman/Robert Redford film in 1973, the 1930s plot centers on a con game and gambling, sometimes on a train between New York and ...

Pet Corner