Get To Know Us

Mrs. Theresa Cassese Aubel, Founder and Principal

Theresa Cassese Aubel is a native New Yorker who graduated from the High School of Performing Arts, is an alumna of the School of American Ballet, earned a BFA in dance and theatre from SUNY Empire State College, an MS in Education from Pace University, and an MA in Transpersonal Studies from Atlantic University. 


She was elected to Kappa Delta Pi, the international honors society in education, received the PTA Graduation Award at the HS of Performing Arts, was a scholarship recipient of the Harkness Ballet Program, and has been a frequent dance panelist for the N.Y. State Council on the Arts. Additionally, Aubel holds three teaching certificates from NYS in academics, dance and ballet. She danced with the Garden State Ballet, Capitol Ballet of Washington, DC, and Long Island Ballet Theatre and had an extensive career in musical theatre as a featured performer, dance captain and choreographer, including nine years as Director of Children's Theater at the Club Bene' Dinner Theatre in New Jersey.


Aubel founded the non-profit organization, Once Upon A Time, Inc. in 1972 and has guided its growth from a children's theater and dance company to include its own performing arts school in 1980, its own arts-based childcare programs in 1984, its own chartered academic school for pre-professional ballet dancers, The Theatre Street School, in 1996, and the opening of its own theatre space in 2006. 


Honored in 2005 by Borough President Helen Marshall, Theresa was celebrated as one of the "15 Herioc Women from Queens" as part of a national observance of Women's History Month. 

Our Values

1. Have Respect For One Another


We believe that we are all worthy of respect and that we should be respectful to others. 


2. Always Try Your Best


No one ever learned anything by succeeding all the time. We must try new things and stretch the limits of our abilities to improve. Keep trying until you get better. keep practicing. Hold yourself and your friends to high standards. Always try your best.


3. Be Responsible To Your Community


Elevate your community to new levels. Help others in your community as we are all part of something larger than ourselves. Create a safe, no-bullying environment in which all students learn by helping one another succeed.


4. Keep Learning New Things


Don't get overwhelmed by not knowing everything all at once. Be courageous! Take one new thing at a time and learn it. Keep learning new things all your life.

Our Culture

Theresa Cassese Aubel (and Once Upon A Time, Inc. and The Theatre Street School) has helped lower-income children from New York City to become very well Educated and to train in Ballet and the Performing Arts. It has always been Theresa's goal to offer the opportunities available to mainly the wealthy to everyone instead. Mrs. Aubel has worked her whole life to build her reputation and skill within the industry. Now, Aubel uses her talent and influence to benefit her students and offer them the best opportunities possible. She has been constant a fighting force for the benefit of her students for over 40 years.

Once Upon A Time, Inc.

Once Upon A Time, Inc. is a performing arts company that mainly performs children's classics like Cinderella, Peter Pan, and You're A Good Man Charlie Brown at various schools and other venues throughout New York City, New Jersey, and Connecticut. Find out more by linking to the Once Upon A Time, Inc. page.

Serious Ballet Students

For those looking to make the Ballet a career,Mrs. Theresa Aubel offers private and group private lessons after school and on weekends. Auditions are required. (As a Separate Paid Service). 

Follow Up With Theresa

Speak to Mrs. Aubel at 718-846-9182 or send her a note!

In The News

Star Ballerina Returns To Her Queens Roots

Jennifer Kronenberg, who is now a principal dancer with the Miami City Ballet, spent years practicing at the Once Upon A Time Dance Studios in Richmond Hill with instructor Teresa Aubel .

Performers Of Queens: Once Upon A Time Theater Company

Since 1980, the Once Upon a Time Performing Arts Center and Theatre Street School have provided children in Queens (as well as Manhattan and Long Island) a place to hone their artistic skills and prepare themselves for the performing arts. 

Musings by Sheri Lablanc

 For Jennifer Carlynn Kronenberg, a principal with Miami City Ballet, learning to bow from her first teacher, Teresa Aubel at Once Upon A Time, Inc., in Queens, NY, is a special memory. 

15 Heroic Women Are Honored

Calling them the "Heroic Women of Queens," Borough President Helen Marshall last night honored 15 women from Queens as part of a national observance of Women's History Month. 

How To Teach Ballet To Children: Parental Involvement

 When children take ballet lessons, parental involvement is crucial to offer emotional support.

How To Teach Ballet To Children: Encouraging Ballet in Youth

 To encourage kids to be involved in ballet, bring them to many live performances and support their lessons.