How StrapUp 360 came to be!
StrapUP 360, Co-Founder
MFA (Dance, University of Michigan);
Certified Pilates Instructor (CPI); May O’Donnell Technique (Appointed Certifier, NYC); Verlezza Dance (Artistic Director)
StrapUp 360 Master Trainer
Sabatino danced as a soloist with the May O’Donnell Dance Company, NYC and also performed with the Joyce Trisler Danscompany, Sophie Maslow, Norman Walker, Glenn-Lund Dance, Claire Porters/Portables, and Dances/Janet Soares, among other artists. He has choreographed for many companies and individuals including the Joyce Trisler Danscompany, Joffrey II, Christopher Walken, Ben Vereen, Billy Idol, and his own company Verlezza Dance. Sabatino has presented his work in numerous national and international venues to critical acclaim including Ailey Theater (NYC), Joyce Theater (NYC), and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He has taught at and choreographed for colleges, universities and professional studios, nationally and internationally. From 1994-2003, he served as co-artistic director/choreographer of Cleveland-based Dancing Wheels, a professional company comprising dancers with and without disabilities. Since 2000, he and his wife Barbara Allegra Verlezza teach weekly classes for senior adults with developmental, physical and sensory disabilities through the HELP Foundation, Inc., OH. Along with their O’Donnell colleague Nancy Lushington, the Verlezza’s teach annual summer intensives for children-adults with disabilities through the Steffi Nossen School/Foundation, NY, as well as co-teach/direct the annual May O’Donnell Technique Certification Summer Intensive, NYC under the auspices of The O’Donnell-Green Music and Dance Foundation, Inc. In addition to StrapUp 360, Sabatino’s other partnerships include Verlezza Dance (Artistic Director, 1988-present) and St. Louis-based Illuminations Dance Company (Co-Founder/Artistic Director, 2015-present). As co-founder, teacher, and choreographer of StrapUp 360, Sabatino has collaborated with co-founder Suzanne Kalafian on numerous live and virtual classes, workshops, performances, and events. He is also the creative mind behind the StrapUp 360, Suspended Fitness Strap.
StrapUp 360, Co-Founder
StrapUp 360 Master Trainer
Associates of Business Management (Widener University)
Diploma in Relaxation Therapy (CRT)
Animal Behavior College Dog Trainer (ABCDT Certification)
Suzanne, forever a student, received her Diploma in Relaxation Therapy, from The Centre of Excellence. Graduating with Distinction in the fall of 2021. She has since continued her education in the area of relaxation through movement. Teaching movement as a way of relaxation has led her to create a method to ease tension and promote calmness called, Relaxation in Motion. Relaxation in motion combines 6HL movement with relaxation techniques to bring mind and body together focusing awareness to our bodies and how we move as a complete system. Prior to her work in Relaxation Suzanne spent her time in the company of dogs. She has been a professional dog trainer since 1997 and holds several certifications and titles including: Dog Trainer through Animal Behavior College; Mentor Trainer for Animal Behavior College; Treibball Trainer and Certification Trainer; Canine Good Citizen Evaluator for the American Kennel Club (AKC); and Service Dog Trainer/Certifier, State of North Carolina. She owned and operated Superior Dog Training from 2003-2018 where she taught Puppy Obedience and Dog Obedience. Subsequently, she opened a training facility and worked with Canine Sports (Agility, Nosework and Treibball) and Canine Fitness. She has also served as a national Treibball judge in numerous competitions. In 2017, Suzanne and Sabatino Verlezza began their collaboration in two dance/movement workshops for Creativity in Motion, a dance studio in Cary, NC. The students comprised youth with various disabilities and included a service dog. Sabatino served as teacher/choreographer for the students and Suzanne advised and choreographed for the dog. In 2018, they launched 6 Hairy Legs, a Dance/Fitness platform for humans and canines presenting classes, workshops, performances and other activities in North Carolina and Ohio. They eventually produced and presented “The Nutcracker and his Mutt” for two holiday seasons with Sabatino as main choreographer and Suzanne as canine choreographer. Additionally, they co-produced a human/canine competition entitled So You Think You Can Prance, attracting participants from across the United States through the use of a virtual platform. Her professional development continues through dance and fitness classes with various teachers, and her certification in Relaxation Therapy.
Barbara Allegra Verlezza
6 Hairy Legs, contributing choreographer, author and editor
MFA (Dance, University of Michigan); May O’Donnell Technique (Appointed Certifier, NYC); Verlezza Dance (Associate Artistic Director); Kent State University, Associate Professor, Dance
Barbara had an extensive professional performing career in NYC as soloist with American modern dance pioneer, May O’Donnell (1979-1988) as well as with Sophie Maslow, Norman Walker, and the Joyce Trisler Danscompany. Since 1988, she has served as Associate Artistic Director of Verlezza Dance, a company founded in NYC by her husband Sabatino Verlezza. From 1994-2003, she was the Associate Artistic/Education Director for Cleveland-based Dancing Wheels, a professional company comprising dancers with and without disabilities. Barbara is a fulltime professor at Kent State University (KSU) where she teaches O’Donnell Modern Technique, Dance Composition, Dance History, Dance Appreciation, and freshman and senior seminars (2003-present). She also choreographs for KSU’s annual mainstage concerts. With colleague Joan Meggitt, she co-developed a course entitled Teaching Dance and Movement for Nontraditional Populations to address the inclusion of people not traditionally welcomed into dance spaces such as people with disabilities, senior adults, and those with chronic illness. She has presented/co-presented her work at national and international conferences and has authored/co-authored papers, articles and other written materials regarding her work with dance and disability/diversity. Sabatino and Barbara were honored with the 2003 Northern Ohio Live Dance Achievement Award for their body of work in integrated dance and the 2008 Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities Inclusion Award in recognition of their work with senior adults with disabilities. Barbara has also been the recipient of the Dance Teacher Magazine Award for Outstanding Teacher in Higher Education (2005), KSU Mother’s, Mentors, and Muses (2013), and the KSU College of the Arts Distinguished Teacher Award (2017). Barbara and Sabatino continue co-directing dance education and dance programs for people with disabilities in Ohio and New York.