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Palmyra Academy of Dance students behind the stage during their annual dance recital

Our Mission

Students First. Dance Second.

Back of a girl behind the stage at the Palmyra Academy of Dance recital dressed in a tutu

At Palmyra Academy of Dance, our mission is simple. Students first, dance second. Our studio is a place free of criticism. Our students will be taught proper technique, self-discipline, dance language, and dance education in a nurturing, fun, supportive environment.

Our goal is to encourage our students to love dance, and to grow in personal self-esteem in preparation for life. We have been blessed by the art of dance. We will not take for granted that our students’ love for dance may very well begin in our studio. We look forward to nurturing not only their passion for dance but each student’s personal growth as they mature.

There are few things that compare to the chills a dancer feels when performing on stage. The ability to make people smile, laugh, and cry - simply with movement - is incredibly powerful. Dance is self-expression. Dance builds self-confidence, persistence, focus, collaboration, cooperation, tolerance, innovation, and teaches poise and grace. These are traits our dancers will carry with them far beyond their dancing career. These traits, they will carry with them for life.

Students in 4th position during ballet class at Palmyra Academy of Dance

Why We Dance

Executive Director Agatha J. Barone and Artistic Director Maria Altebrando of Palmyra Academy of Dance

Once upon a time  a mother brought her daughter to her very first dance lesson. Agatha didn’t know it at the time, but she was giving her daughter, Maria Rose, the greatest gift of her life when she was just 3 years old. And so it begins…a love of dance and a life’s passion for Maria Rose, a mother-daughter bond over their mutual love of dance, and their life long dream together…Palmyra Academy of Dance.


Growing up on Long Island, NY, Maria was privileged to be trained week by week with leading professionals in the industry like Robert Christoper, Bill DiRicco, Linda Gache, Juan Sanchez, and Lloyd Culbreath. At 9, Maria became the youngest member invited to audition and perform for the Long Island Ballet Theater. She was a member for the JCLynn Dance Company and the JCLynn Kickline where she performed at different venues across Long Island, NY.  She acted as a student demonstrator for Dance Educators of America, as well as Dance Olympus.  She has taught all levels and styles of dance, but her passion remains ballet.

In 2006, Maria moved to Palmyra with her husband and their first son. Having lived in the community for seven years, she and her husband welcomed two more children into their family and have become rooted in Central PA.  


They are proud of their town, and proud to be part of a community that has welcomed and supported them through all that life has brought them. Shortly after their third son was born, Maria was diagnosed with stage II kidney cancer. After a very successful surgery and an excellent prognosis, Maria gained courage within herself that she never knew she had. She is now living life to the fullest by sharing her talents and pursuing her passion, making her dream a reality.

Maria believes that to be a great teacher, she must be a student first. She continues to travel to NY to train and learn in an ever-growing industry. She believes her students deserve the best, and she strives to be the teacher, and mentor that her teachers were to her.

Little girl at the bar looking out the window of One West Main in Palmyra, PA

Welcome to the Family

We would like to welcome you to the Palmyra Academy of Dance family. We know the hours that are spent here; we know the relationships the students will form over their mutual love for dance; and we know the life long friendships that will be forged along the way.

Students and teachers from Palmyra Academy of Dance posing for a photo in their studio at One West Main

What You Can Expect From Us

You will be supported and encouraged in your dancing career whether it is with us, at another studio, or on Broadway.


We want our students happy, healthy, and evolving as dancers and most importantly as individuals - striving for their personal best.


We will push you. We will not give up on you. Our students will learn.  They will achieve, when at first they didn’t know they could.


This will be done in a nurturing, collaborative, and encouraging environment. We will strive for the moments that build self esteem, pride, and great character.

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