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.