Dance Academy USA Management
Business Unit Manager
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 born and raised in San Jose, has been dancing as long as he can remember. He started his formal training at age 16 after auditioning and being selected for a dance team, Future Shock SJ under the Culture Shock branch based out of Oakland, CA. He has been training ever since, further developing his passion for hip hop, street style, and various styles in choreography. He has showcased and competed on teams such as Future Shock SJ, Versatile Styles, Funkanometry SF, Gen Two, The Company, and many more. He currently dances with The Tribe Dance Company. He has performed in San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Sacramento, Irvine and all over the Bay Area. Grant has been teaching for nine years now, four of which have been at DAU, and loves helping students cultivate a passion for learning and appreciation of dance.
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.
Several years ago, DAU had grown to the point that it needed a full-time professional in the area of merchandising and costuming. We needed someone with experience in identifying current & future customer requirements, tracking budget expenses, strategic pricing analysis, vendor relationships, market knowledge, client relationships, market trend formation, online security measures, etc. Kim was the perfect fit!
Before coming to DAU (about three years ago), Kim was the Managing Partner of Jayne’s Hallmark shop at Valley Fair Mall. At one time, Jayne’s was one of the most successful Hallmark stores in the Bay Area – Ms. Jane and many DAU families were frequent customers. She co-owned and managed this location for over 15 years. As the Managing Partner, she handled everything from hiring, training and motivating employees; to purchasing & vendor relationships; payroll, scheduling, etc. As the economy changed and her family grew, Kim took a five-year sabbatical from the business/ workforce. Subsequently, as her daughter entered second grade, Kim was ready to re-enter the workforce – and DAU was excited to have her!
As DAU’s Merchandising Manager, everything relative to merchandise and costuming (primarily show related) moves through her desk. She has recently lead DAU through a complete overhaul of our costume ordering process. Our new process is now user-friendly, efficient and we think is a big win for DAU families, instructors, management and ultimately our students.
On a personal note, Kim was reared in the San Jose Area, is married and has a beautiful daughter (as mentioned) – that is enjoying her dance lessons and friends at DAU! Kim says “I have a work schedule that accommodates my daughter’s school schedule along with a very understanding and helpful husband who can pick her up from school and bring her to dance class for me. I have been part of the DAU Team now for about three years, and am very grateful to have such a fulfilling job working with amazing people and being a part of the lives of so many wonderful kids!”
Production Company Manager
The world of social media is growing at a ferocious pace. The complex nature of this field has required even the smallest of companies to: pay attention and learn, learn, learn! As we learn, the more challenging question(s) become: What is good for DAU and what is good for our customers and our staff (and subsequently - what do we do?). Lisa is leading this effort for DAU – however, we take an at large position on this topic at DAU – meaning, the entire Management Team is involved.
Lisa has demonstrated a unique ability to bridge the creative side of the business to the technical components of social media and blend the two into a coherent & cohesive plan that has improved DAU’s customer experience.
At its very core, DAU is a school and Lisa is very comfortable in this environment. She has been in and around the school/children environment her entire adult life. She has worked for Challenger School (as a pre-kindergarten teacher for nine years) and has been very active in her church where she worked as a teacher/bible study leader for the youth group, organized youth functions, Friday night fellowship, etc. She is also no stranger to retail/working with the public – she was the manager of Nine West in the Valley Fair Mall for several years. At Challenger and Nine West Lisa was involved in: developing lessons plans, responsible for monthly communications, mentored teaching methodology, staff selection & training, marketing strategy and store operations (and results).
Lisa’s background in education, teaching, retail, marketing, management, sales and advertising has made her a fantastic addition to the DAU’s Management Team. On a personal note – Lisa is married (to a fantastic guy who is an automotive industry executive) and has three beautiful daughters, all of whom have grown up dancing at DAU.
Program Director and Tap Director
When Ms. Gabby isn't teaching or working as Tap Director, she can be found managing the Teacher's Assistant program as well as many aspects of DAU's social media accounts and all events pertaining to Production Company.
She is so happy to be immersed in all aspects of DAU and looks forward to bringing its community of incredibly talented dancers and staff to a larger demographic audience.
VP of Marketing
Karli Koelliker (Moats) began her dance training at Starstruck Academy of Dance in Denver, Colorado, and was a member or their company team for 12 years. She has trained in ballet, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, and hip hop. Karli was also a member of her high school varsity pom team. Her and her team were 3 time state champions and placed top 5 at UDA Nationals in Florida.
Karli went on to dance with the BYU Cougarettes from 2010-2013. She was the head dance captain, and won 4 National titles with the Cougarettes in Hip Hop and Open Dance. Karli graduated from BYU with a degree in Public Health in 2014.
Karli has been dancing on a contemporary company called Divinity Dance Company for the past two years in Salt Lake City, Utah. She has also been able to work with Bonnie Story on multiple projects including a commercial for Marriott Hotels, and most recently the Hallmark Christmas Movie “My Christmas Love”.
The past 4 years Karli has teaching dance in Salt Lake City, Utah and choreographing for dance teams and studios throughout the nation. She recently moved with her husband John to San Francisco and is so excited for the opportunity to start teaching at DAU!
Molly, a former dancer with San Francisco Ballet, is a native of San Jose. She is excited to be back in the Bay Area and to be a part of the Dance Academy USA family. She will bring 30 plus years of teaching experience. In addition to teaching Molly has Choreographed productions of Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia and Swan Lake. She enjoys helping students achieve their goals and aspirations. She strives to create a positive and inspirational environment to cultivate a successful experience for each individual dancer. To Dance, To Dream...
Early Dance Director
Tami Burton is a California native and grew up in Palo Alto. She started dancing after graduating from college (proving that it’s never too late to start dancing!), and trained in jazz, lyrical, contemporary, tap and hip hop. She happened to walk by a jazz class at Foothill College and decided it would be a fun class to try and was hooked forever.
She attended San Diego State University and has a Computer Science degree. She worked at Franklin Resources (now Franklin Templeton), Cypress Semiconductor and Electronics for Imaging, Inc. before becoming a full-time dance instructor. She continues to volunteer, dance and assist for the Foothill Repertory Dance program run by director, Bubba Gong. Foothill has community performances and often collaborates with other community colleges, especially City College of San Francisco, West Valley College and most recently was the main performance entertainment for the 2017 Community College League of California annual conference held at the San Jose Fairmont last November. Her groups have also performed at several San Francisco Chinese New Year parades.
Being a director of a performing company and attending conventions on a yearly basis offered her the opportunity to take classes from a variety of master teachers such as Tyce Diorio, Jackie Sleight, Kobi Rozenfeld, Scott Fowler, Gregg Russell, and many more. She took classes from Charlie McGowan in San Jose before he landed roles as an actor in movies, such as A Chorus Line and Grease 2.
She has previously danced with a small modern company, Dogpatch Superstars, and also Allegra Dance. She recently choreographed a piece for Adobe and is currently working with the Palo Alto Children’s Theatre student programs.