Mary Dressendofer ’92

Dance studio keeps alumna on her toes

Mary Pontoriero-Dressendofer '92, her business partner Cathy Karosick and some students at Dancers Pointe.

Mary Dressendofer ’92 is proof that your degree doesn’t limit your career choices – it expands them. Dressendofer majored in psychology at Montclair State, went on to work at a Big Four firm as a tax attorney, then opened her own dance studios.

As a student at Montclair State, Dressendofer was on the executive board of her sorority, Sigma Delta Tau, and was active in events on campus, such as Homecoming. Throughout her career as a student, she lived in various residence halls across campus. “Where didn’t I live?” she jokes. “Montclair State was the best four years of my life. I loved it. I was involved and always motivated. The entire Montclair State experience was great. I loved my classes and did well. At the time, I wanted to be a teacher, and I student taught as well.” Along with her psychology major, she also took dance classes. Her love of the art would never leave her.

After graduating from Montclair State, Dressendofer continued her education. After spending some time teaching ESL at a business school and obtaining a paralegal certificate, Juris Doctor degree and a Masters of Tax Law degree, she began a position as a tax attorney at a Big Four firm. She loved practicing law, and ended up working with the firm for 16 years. Throughout those years as a tax attorney, she never stopped dancing. She continued to teach dance privately, employing the teaching skills she learned at Montclair State with her dance students.

While she was employed at the firm and busy raising a family, Dressendofer began working with Dancers Pointe Studio in 2008.  Her former dance instructor, Cathy Karosick, approached her and together, they opened four more Dancers Pointe Studios across New Jersey. The company has grown from 100 to more than 1,000 students during the time she has been co-director. In addition to the four locations owned and managed by Dressendofer and Karosick, the first franchised Dancers Pointe Studio will open on March 1 in Boonton, N.J. Dancers Pointe holds the record of being the first dance studio in the United States to franchise.

Today, Dressendofer works full-time at Dancers Pointe. “I was laid off from the firm in August, but luckily, I had built up the dance studio enough to make a living.” Balancing work, family and dance is hard work, and Dressendofer credits her personal discipline and drive with her success. “The secret to success is hard work. No one handed it to me. It helps to have a great partnership and support system.”