Decades of dedication to dance at Darien Arts Center

Jamie and Bonnie Gombos

For many in Darien, “Miss Bonnie” is synonymous with ballet, modern, tap, hip hop, jazz and multiple other dance opportunities for youth. It’s not a surprise, as Bonnie Gombos has been at the helm of the Darien Art Center’s well-known dance department since 2007 and has been teaching dance at the DAC for 23 years. First hired as a dance instructor, Gombos soon found herself filling the shoes of original DAC Dance Director Val Pullman when Pullman moved to Maryland. Already known for its welcoming and creative dance space, Gombos grew the DAC’s dance “family” into one of the largest dance schools in Connecticut, teaching dance to many generations in Darien.

DAC dance students can begin taking classes as early as three years old and can progress through junior and senior dance companies, with multiple performance opportunities at each level. Gombos has seen young students progress through classes over the years, many remaining part of the DAC dance family through high school graduation. Many have gone on to dance in college, some returning to teach dance at the DAC, including sisters Jordan and Ashley Cassetta and Danielle Dixon, who created a dance group at her college. Many instructors have also been part of the DAC dance department for over 15 years, including Marie Maccarone, Elizabeth Hall, Cindy DeForest and Emily Frangipane. Other longtime teachers include Dana Rodriquez and Neeta Vancek.

The family affair expanded for Gombos at the DAC, as her husband Jamie joined her in creating the art center’s Martial Arts School in 2008. Both husband and wife, who have been studying martial arts for over 20 years, have achieved the ranks of master (5th degree) in Kempo karate. Since teaching martial arts classes for almost 10 years at the DAC, they have become a part of many families studying martial arts together and have promoted over ten black belts. The couple also created the DAC martial arts tournament, now in its seventh year, where other similar schools are invited for a day of fun competition.

“The DAC has become a place to happily nurture our dance and martial arts families over the years. We like to believe that our students return out of our mutual love of dance and martial arts. Our objective is to provide an enriching experience that students will carry with them throughout their lives,” Bonnie commented.

Gombos continues to expand the dance and martial arts programs, which accept ongoing registration for all ages through adults. In addition to traditional classes of ballet, tap and hip hop, newer classes include Pilates and Broadway style dancing for students to hone audition techniques. “We are always open to incorporating new classes that meet the creative interests of our students.” For more information about DAC classes, visit darienarts.org or call (203) 655-8683. Contact Bonnie at [email protected] The DAC is located at 2 Renshaw Road, behind the Darien Town Hall.                                                                        

Founded in 1975, the Darien Arts Center (DAC) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing visual and performing arts programs and events for the community. The DAC offers educational programs in Dance, Visual Arts, Music & Theatre, & special events & live theatre performances by DAC Stage. Private donations, grants, tuition fees & ticket sales fund the DAC, which is located at 2 Renshaw Road, behind the Town Hall. For further information, call (203) 655-8683 or visit darienarts.org.