Artistic Director & Staff
Denise Cecere brings a wealth of experience to Northeast Youth Ballet. Born in Melrose, Massachusetts, Cecere began her dance training under the direction of her mother, Sandra McNaught, at the Northeast School of Ballet (formally Sandra Marie’s School of Ballet). Later she became a scholarship student at the Boston Repertory Ballet, under the direction of Samuel Kurkjian, Boston Ballet, under the direction of E.Virginia Williams and Violette Verdy, and the School of American Ballet, under the direction of George Balanchine. She performed with Boston Ballet, Ballet Theater of Boston and North Star Ballet in Fairbanks, Alaska. During her career her repertoire ranged from classical to contemporary, including The Nutcracker, Coppelia, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Don Quixote, Flower Festival, many galas and neo-classical works. Her guest appearances have taken her internationally. In 1991 Cecere was a participant in Japan’s 1st International Choreographer’s Competition.
In 1996 Cecere founded Northeast Youth Ballet. As Artistic Director, she is committed to the cultural development of future generations. It is her mission to educate, inspire and create opportunity for young aspiring artists. Cecere has endeavored to provide programs and performances designed specifically for children. She has created a repertoire for NYB of many classical and contempory works. In addition, Cecere has choreographed over 30 ballets for the young company and has invited nationally recognized choreographers to set original works. Her collaboration with Boston Musica Viva, under the direction of Richard Pittman, has produced four full length ballets, including “A Boston Cinderella”, “Ma Goose” and the “Three Little Pigs” by composer Bernard Hoffer. For the past 17 years Cecere continues to display the young company’s diversity both at home and on tour.
Cecere is currently co-director of Northeast School of Ballet (NSB) in Reading, Massachusetts, the official training school for the Northeast Youth Ballet, where she has been teaching ballet technique for 25 years. Her students have gone on to perform, teach and choreograph for world class ballet organizations in the United States and abroad.
Sandra Marie McNaught has been a dance educator for over 50 years. She began her training, at the age of seven, in Melrose at the E. Virginia Sawyer School of Ballet where she later became an assistant teacher. Mrs. McNaught attended Melrose public schools and was president of Melrose High Schools Dance club. Upon graduation, she attended the Boston Conservatory as a dance major. Mrs. McNaught has studied and taught at several ballet schools in the Boston area and is a gold pin member of the Dance Teacher’s Club of Boston associated with the American Society of Dance. In 1971, she founded Northeast School of Ballet (formally Sandra Marie’s School of Ballet) and along with her daughter and co-director, Denise Cecere, has been committed to maintaining high standards in dance education. Both McNaught and Cecere co-founded Northeast Youth Ballet, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities for young children and playing an active role in the cultural life of the communities they serve. Mrs. McNaught feels priveledged to share her love of dance with NSB’s next generation of dancers.
Caitlin O’Connor Pesce
Caitlin Pesce began her early training at Northeast School of Ballet under the direction of Sandra McNaught and Denise Cecere. Later she attended Mercyhurst College in Erie, PA working towards her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. She has danced with Northeast Youth Ballet, Erie Ballet Theatre, North Star Ballet, Roxey Ballet and Colorado Ballet. She performed many full length classic ballets as well as original contemporary works. Her favorites include The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Swan Lake, Les Sylphides, Sleeping Beauty, Balanchine’s Serenade, and Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes. Caitlin has been a faculty member of NSB since 1996 and also currently serves as the Assistant Artistic Director of Northeast Youth Ballet.