Artistic Director and Program Director
Jane Carter, Founder and Artistic Director. Ms. Jane was born in Fort Bragg, North Carolina as the daughter of a three-war veteran---World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. She earned her Bachelor's Degree from San Jose State University where she was a member of the Spartan Spectrum Dance Team. At SJSU, she studied Human Performance/Fitness with a minor in Nutrition and Food Science.
In 1985, Ms. Jane was selected by Dole Corporation to be the company's ambassador to promote dance, modeling, and aerobics in Japan. That same year, she was on the very first dance team for the NBA Golden State Warriors that consisted of ten dancers. After two seasons with the Warriors, she went-on to dance for the San Francisco 49ers as a Gold Rush cheerleader. She frequently represented the Warriors and 49ers at charity events, promotional business, and television appearances. These unique experiences allowed Ms. Jane to be introduced to some of the best choreographers in the world.
More background. Ms. Jane has been featured in Fit & Runner's World magazines, Evening Magazine, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and several local papers. She also danced in a Jeep commercial as well as Super Bowl XIX. She was the Managing Director of American Spirit Association (ASA), which held 3-5 day dance camps at colleges all over the United States. Ms. Jane was also the Artistic Director of School House Sports (SHS); SHS was the largest dance studio outreach program in Northern California at one time and offered dance classes to pre-schools, public schools, and private schools. She is also the Former Director of the NBA Warrior Dance Team and former Creator and Director of Arena Football's, San Jose SaberKittens.
In 2013, Ms. Jane was awarded America's Dance Educator of the Year by Co. Dance.
In 2014, she won the most prestigious dance teacher award in the United States of America; Dance Teacher Magazine awarded Ms. Jane the 2014 Dance Teacher Award in the Private Studio/Conservatory Category. She was presented this extraordinary honor in New York City; there is no higher honor in the dance education industry.
Ms. Jane founded Dance Academy's USA's competition team in 1991; she named the team, The Production Company. The Production Company has grown from ten members to almost two hundred, and, regarded nationally as a California powerhouse. Ms. Jane's students have won awards and scholarships, received national titles, and attended a wide range of universities including Juilliard, American Musical and Dramatic Arts, UCLA, USC, NYU and many more. Ms. Jane has seen many of her students grow and develop into professional teachers, professional dancers, Broadway performers, and world-class choreographers.
On a personal note, Ms. Jane has been married to Jim Carter since 1988. They met in college where Jim played football and was awarded "All-American". Jim has been involved in the real estate industry since 1993 as a broker, syndicator, investor and now President of the Real Estate Coaching Organization. As somewhat of an empty-nester hobby, he has published two books: A Guide to MAKING IT in Real Estate (non-fiction); and, The Rip-Off (fiction-novel).
Jim and Jane are proud of all three daughters, Jessie, Jamie and Jodie. Jessie graduated from USC and is a former USC Song Girl, NBA Clipper Girl and NFL Charger Girl; she is a sales professional for EMC-Dell and will be starting, a post-graduate business program at Harvard in July. Jamie also graduated from USC and is a former USC Song Girl. She is currently finishing a Master's Degree in Finance (also at USC) and will be moving to Utah in August to work at Goldman Sachs. Jodie is graduating from UCSB in June and will be moving to Texas in August to begin a Master's Degree in accounting at University of Texas. She has a job waiting for her at PWC when she finishes her Master's Degree.
Ms. Jane is exceptionally proud of the DAU staff, parents and dancers for collectively making Dance Academy USA a place of warmth, friendship, encouragement and teamwork.
Performance Team Director
Denise brings along over 30 years of dance teaching experience with her to Dance Academy USA, including 15 years as an Assistant/Artistic Director. Denise is the director of the studio's Performance Team that began in 2012. She is responsible for overseeing this special team of students that performs at local community and charity events in the area.
Denise began her training at the age of three studying Jazz, Tap, Ballet, and Tumbling to name a few. While attending Fremont High School, she was a member of the award-winning dance team the "Fremont Featherettes." She began student teaching and coached the Monta Vista High School Dance Team for four years, including the year they took first place at the USA Cal State and Nationals championships.
Denise is the mother of three wonderful children, with whom she has found time to become involved in their extracurricular activities as well. She has been a board member for the Sunnyvale Southern Little League, volunteered at many Sunnyvale Pop Warner events, and was named "Volunteer of the Year" at Cherry Chase Elementary. She has choreographed for many local elementary and junior high events and talent shows and has had the pleasure of performing at Disneyland and many 49ers half-time events.
When she's not at DAU, Denise volunteers at HOPE teaching dance classes for adults with disabilities. For the past seven years, she has also worked with "Starting Arts," a non-profit organization that provides dance at elementary and high schools in the area. Denise continues to attend many conventions with her students, including JUMP, NUVO and Hollywood Connection, to stay abreast in the dance world. Her passion and commitment to her students makes her one of DAU's most in demand teachers. She loves teaching and finds it rewarding to watch her students grow and blossom into artistic, talented dancers and express their love for what she is passionate about. Have fun, and "Dance From your Heart!"
Hip Hop Director
Grant Torino has been dancing as long as he can remember, but started his formal training at age 16 after auditioning and being selected for a dance team, Future Shock, San Jose. He has been training ever since, further developing his passion for hip hop, street style, and urban choreography. He has battled and competed on teams such teams as Gen Two, The Company, Versatile Styles, and currently competes for The Tribe. He has performed in San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Sacramento, Irvine and all over the Bay Area. Grant has been teaching for three years now and loves helping students cultivate a passion for learning and appreciation of dance.
Gabriella Bruno is a professional dancer and choreographer originally from the Bay Area. She has studied all genres of dance including tap, jazz, ballet, modern, hip-hop, contemporary, world dance, and musical theater. Her dance career and training have taken her to LA and NYC, but her heart has always been in NorCal.
Gabriella received her BFA in Dance Performance from Chapman University and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a minor in English. She has performed in various highly-acclaimed venues in both Northern and Southern California as well as throughout New York City. She has been an integral member and performer of such dance companies as Tap Overload, Suku Dance Lab, abunDANCE, and Psychosomatic Dance. She also had the honor of being a principle dancer in Keomi Tarver's hit 5-woman production of, Love and War, which debuted as a sold out show in NYC in 2016.
Gabriella is honored to be a member of the Dance Academy USA family as well as the Tap Director. She looks forward to working hard and having fun creating movement and rhythms!