Dance Academy USA Teachers
Amanda, born in Riverside, California, grew up a competitive dancer at the age of six. She has won numerous titles, including representing the United States in Australia, winning the international title of ‘Dancer of The World’ in 2006. She toured the world dancing on a cruise ship, was a background dancer for ‘Foreigner’, and enjoys print modeling. You may have seen her on the Fox series ‘So You Think You Can Dance’, season 5, making it to Top 30 girls. Amanda danced two seasons in the NFL with the San Diego Chargers. She continued to represent the NFL as an All-Star Cheerleader and was an ambassador at the international games in London. Amanda graduated college from California State University, Long Beach with a BA in Dance, and is Pilates Certified (BASI). She currently teaches conventions and master classes throughout the nation, is a nationally recognized choreographer, and judges internationally including Japan, Mexico, and Canada. She just recently judged The 2015 USASF Dance Worlds! During Amanda’s free time she loves to enjoy the outdoors, feeding her adventurous side traveling, hiking, bungee jumping, kayaking, and scuba diving.
Angel, a native of Santa Cruz, has been dancing since the age of two. As a child, she won the Royalty Miss Pageant in elementary school and stared in several musical theatre productions for Children’s Musical Theatre in middle school. She also danced competitively on a salsa team from San Jose, kicking off off 12 years of competitive dance training.
Before graduating from Abraham Lincoln High School in 2010, she was part of the National Championship winning dance team, The Convertibles. Angel was the principle dancer and choreographer for both Bliss Dance Company and Illusion Dance Company at Ohlone College in Fremont. She has trained with studios throughout the Bay Area, including Nena Dean Dancers, Dance Attack, Dance Kraze, Ballet San Jose, T and Company, Infinity, and Motion Pacific Dance. Her greatest dance inspiration is her mother.
Angel currently teaches adult Lyrical at Ariel Dance Productions, Tap/Ballet at Dance Academy USA, and multiple styles at Santa Teresa Academy of Music and Dance. In her free time, she enjoys watching movies, spending time with friends and family, going to the beach, reading, and dancing.
Bella Leal grew up in the Bay Area and began her dance training in high school through color guard. She developed a love of teaching and aspired to help others find their passion, which guided her to become a dance major at San Jose State University. Over the course of her college career she has been trained in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, West African, and various modern styles including Limón, Graham, and Gaga. She believes that her education has given her valuable knowledge to work with different learning styles, anatomies, and backgrounds to make dance a fun, safe, and welcoming environment.
Ms. Cassidy began at Dance Academy USA at the age of 4 training in Jazz, Tap, ans Ballet until she got accepted into DAUPC at the age of 10. She competed in Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop, Lyrical, and Contemporary dance until she graduated high school. While on DAUPC she worked hard alongside her teammates to win multiple nationally ranked awards and scholarships. She was able to work alongside choreographers such as Jackie Royal, Mitchel Federan, Karen Chuang, Greg Chapkis, Gigi Torres and many others. She was also a Teacher Assistant at DAU for 6 years. She is now and Elementary Education major and Dance Minor at the University of Utah and is excited to pursue a professional dance career and teaching career.
Chalatorn Ujamras graduated from California State University, Long Beach with a bachelor’s degree in dance. She attended Orange County School of the Arts. Chalatorn has traveled throughout the United States as an assistant to Tina D’Amato Sidoni, assisting with dance instruction and choreography. In 2004, she also traveled as an assistant on LA Dance Magic Conventions.
Chalatorn choreographs and teaches master classes throughout the United States at various dance studios and high schools. She is an instructor and choreographer at Orange County School of the Arts, West Coast School of the Arts and South County Dance Company. She has also been a part of Unity LA, under the direction of Tessandra Chavez. She has performed in a Camp Rock 2 promo, and appeared on various episodes of America’s Got Talent, and The Big Bang Theory.
Charlene has over 23 years of experience dance training in the disciplines of Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary and even Cheer-leading. For over 12 years, she participated in conventions and competitions where she had the opportunity to be instructed by several professional dancers and choreographers. In high school, Charlene was captain of the Archbishop Mitty Varsity Competitive Dance Team. She was awarded USA All-Star for her rigorous dance technique ad dynamic personality on stage. She was also named Scholar-Athlete of her dance team.
Charlene attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where she received a degree in Graphic Communications. While in college, Charlene was a member of Orchesis Dance Company. She regularly took classes at the world renowned EDGE and Millennium Dance studios in LA. Her professional credits include Alice in Wonderland and The Nutcracker. In 2011, Charlene started her own business, Tutu Doll, which combines her love of dance and design. Charlene taught at DAU for 7 years before taking some time off with her husband to start a family. She has 2 beautiful children, one of which is already following in mom's footsteps here at DAU. Charlene is excited to be back teaching at her dance home!
Corrine grew up in San Jose and has over 18 years of dance and cheer experience. She started in cheer at the age of 4 years, in her cheer life she won over 7 National title ships in song pom performance. She joined her first dance studio at the age of 8, with styles in Jazz, Ballet, Tap, Lyrical, and Hip Hop. She was apart of her studios performance and competition team winning four Crystals in tap and many others. With her studio was able to attend various conventions and learned from many different professionals such as Mia Michaels, Kenny Wormald, and Sonya Tayeh. During high school at Santa Teresa was on the Song and Cheer competition team.
Now graduating from San Francisco State University, with a BA in Dance and a minor in Special Education. In college she honed her studies in Ballet, Modern, and Jazz. She also was chosen to perform with the schools University Dance Theater, and has done work with Janice Garrett, and Cathleen Mccarthy. Also has been able to learn from Jessica Lang Company. With her college career coming to a close she is excited to being her new path of teach the next generation. She hopes to in the future become a Dance Movement Therapist and work with kids to adults with disability and making dance possible for anyone.
Mr. Gwatkin started ballet training at age 7, and received a scholarship to attend the Royal Ballet School, London at age 11 under the instruction of Richard Glasstone and Murray Kilgour. After dancing as a corp de ballet, a senior corp de ballet, a soloist and a senior soloist for the three years at the Performing Arts Council of Transvaal (PACT) in South Africa, he was promoted to a principal at 21 years of age, the youngest in the history of PACT. In South Africa, he danced many classical and neo-classical principal roles in full length ballet productions. He received the Marilyn Jenkins Award for the Best Performance as Porthos in the Three Musketeers, awards from The Friends of Ballet and AA Vita, Dalro Award for the Best Performance for dancing Spartacus in Spartacus. He premiered Spring Waters Pas de Deux for PACT, choreographed by Asaf Messerer, and was invited to the Bolshoi Theater by Messereer.
He guested with the CAPAPB Ballet in Cape Town, Smuin Ballet, London City Ballet for Coppeliea and Giselle, and Los Angeles Classical Ballet for the Nutcracker and the Midnight Summer's Dream. He danced principal roles, and coached and rehearsed company dancers for the Ballet San Jose for the last 15 years. He also taught students in preparation for professional dancing careers. He has a profound understanding and extensive experience in dancing various ballet styles and working with choreographers of different genre over 25 years of his dancing profession. Daniel is married with two children and as such, brings an understanding to the classroom of how children learn and grow.
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!"
Ms. Dylan has been a training at Dance Academy USA since she was three years old in Jazz, Ballet, Hip Hop, Contemporary, and Tap. A junior at St. Francis High School in Mountain View, she is a member of the St. Francis dance team and a board member of the SF Unity Dance Club. Additionally, Dylan is a first year member of Hollywood Connection dance convention's Teen Company. Dylan has also trained in tumbling, has attended four years of Joffrey Ballet summer programs in SF and Dallas, and also trained with Complexions Contemporary Ballet Academy in New York and LA. Dylan enjoys working with kids and teaching all styles of dance and gymnastics.!
Ms. Emily is a DAUPC alum trained in Contemporary, Lyrical, Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop, and Jazz Funk. She has performed in LA shows such as So You Think You Can Dance, Carnival, and Jete Cabaret choreography showcase. She is a member of Cat Cogliandro's company "Catastrophe!" She danced for recording artist Madame Gandhi in her recent music video and live album release. Emily has assisted for choreographers like Alexa Anderson, Gigi Torres, and Cat Cogliandro. Emily is pursuing her dance career in LA and is currently a sophomore at Studio School studying to graduate with her BFA in Commercial Dance.
Erica is a San Jose native, and started dancing at the age of 5 with Nancy Doize. She is trained in ballet, jazz, lyrical and hip hop, and has been teaching and choreographing around the Bay Area for over 18 years. She competed with Pioneer High School’s award-winning dance team, and was also 1st Runner Up in Miss Cal State USA – Northern CA. She has also danced professionally with the Golden State Warrior Girls, the San Jose SaberKittens, and the San Francisco 49ers Gold Rush teams. While with the 49ers, she was able to perform with Huey Louis and the News, and the Backstreet Boys.
She has choreographed for Nancy Doize’s School of Dance, leading her teams to be national champions. She has also choreographed for the 49ers Gold Rush dance team, and has studied with teachers such as Mia Michaels and Benny Smith, to name a few. A cosmetologist by trade, she is happy to be sharing her talent and passion with her dance students. We are so excited to have her join our team!
Gabriella Bruno (Ms. Gabby) is a proud Bay Area native, professional dancer, choreographer, performer, and educator. 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 in 2014. Since graduating 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 companies like Tap Overload, abunDANCE, and Psychosomatic Dance, to name a few. 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 also directed and choreographed for her own dance collective, SHIFT, which gained a lot of traction for their pieces about social issues, more specifically mental health awareness. Gabriella was able to debut her choreography for many popular performance venues throughout well-known dance circuits and venues Brooklyn and Manhattan.
Gabriella is honored to be Tap Director, along with the many other 'hats' she wears at DAU. She looks forward to having fun creating movement, rhythms, and growing our incredible dance family even more!
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.
Jaelyn Andrade has trained extensively in tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical/contemporary, and hip hop starting when she was three years old. She began dancing at West Coast Dance FX in Hollister where she competed for ten seasons, attending multiple competitions and conventions throughout the Bay Area. When she began high school she became a teacher’s assistant, working with multiple levels of students at her studio. Around age fifteen she began teaching classes of her own in all genres, which is where she really decided she wanted to pursue dance as a career. Since then, she has served several roles such as competition team director, studio manager, as well as an instructor at several studios getting a glimpse into multiple aspects of the dance world.
On top of it all, Miss Jaelyn is currently attending San Jose State University where she is continuing her training as a Dance Major and will graduate in the spring of 2020. She owes her entire dance career to her long time instructor Miss Jessica Smiley Kim, who has always given her excellent advice and inspired her to chase her dreams, and of course her family who supports all of her dreams. Jaelyn is forever grateful for the all of the opportunities she’s been given and can’t wait to continue sharing her talents and passion!
Ms. Jamie, the 2nd daughter of Jim and Jane Carter, trained and danced in every style at DAU all her life on DAUPC alongside her sisters. She was an exemplary TA and was incredibly involved in studio life. She is part of the DAU Legacy! She later completed her undergraduate degree from USC with an emphasis in Finance, and followed that with a Master’s degree in Finance, also from USC. She is also a former USC Song Girl. Go Trojans! She worked at Goldman Sachs for two years, and now works full time for a private equity firm in San Francisco – where she and her husband reside.
Jaylen Pea – a native of San Jose – has been dancing for 7 years. His dance journey started in high school with a junior hip hop team named A-Youngin’, and ever since then, his love for dance has grown every day! He eventually joined a competitive hip hop dance team named Hungry Fam and then moved to a new team - Syndicate - which enlightened his journey even more.
From there, he started to develop his own artistic voice, leading him to teach at local studios/workshops. He is currently signed to a dance agency, Clear Talent Group in Los Angeles, traveling back and forth for auditions to live his dreams of becoming a working dancer. Mr. Jaylen is looking forward to joining our family at DAU, and working with the next generation of dancers!
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.
Jennifer has been teaching for 34 years. She studied Classical Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Acrobatics and Lyrical. Her ballet training consists of Russian technique as well as Royal Academy of Dance technique. Jennifer continued her training with Gus Giordano, Frank Hatchet, Sam Fiorello and Ballet Mistress Herida May (RAD-UK) and attended Dance Masters of America teacher training program at Kent State University.
She directed the New England Children's Dance Company for 1990-2001, where she received many awards for choreography and coached the Company to be dance world champions in 1999. Her choreography and dancers were presented at the Gus Giordano World Congress opening ceremonies in 1998. Many of her students have received scholarships to Joffrey Ballet, School of American Ballet, and have gone on to work with Prince, Madonna, Ricky Martin, Brandy and Mandy Moore. Jennifer owned and operated her own dance studio and dance company from 2003-2009
before moving to California. As artistic director she wrote, directed and choreographed several children's ballets as well as directed The Nutcracker.
Since Moving to California Jennifer has had the opportunity to choreograph for two
independent short films.
Jeremy began his intensive ballet training at the HARID Conservatory at age 15. At the age of 17, Jeremy became one of the first group of dancers to be selected for San Francisco Ballet's pilot year of the company's trainee program.
After his time at San Francisco Ballet, Jeremy went on to dance for many different companies where he eventually worked his way up to Principal Dancer. Some of the companies and guest appearances were with Cincinnati Ballet, Ballet San Jose, Tiit Helimets & Company in Estonia, Zhukov Dance Theatre, and the Stars of American Ballet Gala.
After retiring from professional dance, Jeremy attended culinary school, and eventually worked his way up from a dishwasher to Chef De Cuisine. Now working for Bon Appetit at Google, Jeremy attributes his success in a second career to everything he learned through dance.
Teaching in the bay area for nearly 15 years, Jeremy's time at DAU is one of the most meaningful aspects of his working career. Sharing his knowledge with the kids at DAU has been repaid exponentially by what they have taught him about life.
Jessalyn is a native of the Bay Area. She is a graduate from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a BA in Psychology and Sociology and also has an extensive background of choreography and dance. With her education and passion for dance, Jessalyn has taken two roads of success in her life.
In the world of dance Jessalyn has been a dancer and choreographed for several professional dance teams and hip-hop crews which include Richmond Rocket Girls, Silhouette, THYCK, Fusion Latina, Culture Shock Oakland, Phase II, Oakland Raiderettes and the NLL Stealth’s Spy Girls. She is the choreographer and currently dancing in Great America’s CULTure Pop. She was also a feature performer in the show Mixed Element, had the lead role of Doris in the School of Rock Live musical and was a part of the traveling Las Vegas Legends in Concert production. Jessalyn also had the privilege of working with artists such as LL Cool J, Amerie, “Weird Al” Yankovic and choreographed the Oregon tour for the Universal Recording Artist Dol Re’. While working with all the groups and artists she has also managed to keep the movement and inspiration of dance alive while currently being a Master Instructor and Choreographer for several dance studios and youth dance teams in the Bay Area.
With her passion in Psychology & Sociology, she is currently a Case Manager for the Bill Wilson Center working with at-risk adults in the Bay Area. She is committed to empowering today’s society through counseling, the teachings of education and values.
Jessalyn is devoted to her craft, committed to sharing her dance knowledge, education, and passion for life with students and dancers of all ages. “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” - George Bernard Shaw
In her free time Jessalyn enjoys traveling and exploring the world. Spain, Italy and Hawaii are amongst her favorite vacation spots. She enjoys baking for family and friends and loves to sing, play the piano and watching movies. Jessalyn feels truly blessed to be a part of the DAU family. She is excited to be a part of such amazing staff and talented dancers.
Jessie Carter is born and bred Dance Academy USA and is technically the very first student (baby) of the business starting in 1990.
She was a USC Song Girl, NFL Charger Girl, and NBA Clipper Girl. Among cheerleading circles at USC, she is affectionately referred to as, The Legend, for her participation on all three of those iconic teams. After retiring from the Chargers and Clippers, she was the demonstration-dancer for cheerleading tryouts in both organizations.
As an actress, her credits include Taylor’d Problems, The Crazy Ones, Movie Star Idol, Campus Security, Player and Wifey, Stuffed, and Kris. And she worked in a commercial with Paris Hilton and was also a Sports Reporter for USC.
As an instructor and director: she ran numerous camps for United Spirit Association; was the Director of a high school dance team in Los Angeles; was a certified instructor for yoga, spin and body sculpting; has been teaching at Dance Academy USA on-off for over fifteen years; and is currently on the Production Company Staff.
As her day job, she is currently one of the top EMC/Dell enterprise sales representatives in the country. Jessie has been a strong advocate for young woman to entire the technology industry, particularly in sales, and encouraging those young woman not to be intimidated. She took the initiate to film two videos on that topic. In parallel, she filmed a tutorial for EMC/Dell that has had over 15,000 views. Those messages can be seen here, https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=jessie+carter+technology+sales+woman.
Jessie’s heart and soul is with DAU, and the students and staff of DAU. She is excited to be joining the On-Demand Faculty and looks forward to connecting and positively impacting many young lives through our On-Demand classes.
Teaching dance to children is Jessie’s way of giving back.
Ms. Jodie, the 3rd and youngest Carter daughter, truly has a gift for working with youth. She loved teaching the little ones at DAU many years ago, and continues to exercise that passion by currently volunteering with foster children in Texas. Ms. Jodie graduated from UCSB majoring in economics, and followed that with a Masters of Accounting from the #1 accounting program in the nation, University of Texas. Go Longhorns! She now works full time for BTS which provides strategic consulting services, and implementation, for large companies around the world. Ms. Jodie is thrilled to be moving from Texas back to the Bay this month.
Joy is a DAU Alumni who has trained at DAU for 18 years, since the young age of 3. She was an esteemed member of DAUPC and has been a staff member for the past 4 years. Ms. Joy has been classically trained in all styles including, Ballet,Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop, and Contemporary. She is excited to share her expertise in Contemporary, Hip Hop, and Jazz with all of her students!
With a teaching career that spans over 40 years, Joyce is one of the most respected Ballet instructors in Silicon Valley, not to mention one of the most beloved teachers at DAU. She trained at the Stone-Cameron School of Ballet in Chicago and went on to study with and teach for the legendary Gus Giordano. Joyce has also had an impressive professional career. In Chicago, Joyce danced in the Stone-Camryn Ballet Company. After more than a decade of teaching in Illinois, Joyce moved to the Bay Area where she has taught for over 30 years. She has performed with the Palo Alto Theater Company and the Picalilly Players, an improvisational comedy group. She has also choreographed for performances at Archbishop Mitty High School and Yerba Buena High School.
Over 25 years ago a colleague recommended she check out Dance Academy USA, a then new studio looking for new teachers, and the rest is history! As our very first Ballet teacher who started in 1990, Joyce is the foundation of our thriving Ballet program and a much loved member of the DAU family. Over the years she has watched the Ballet program evolve and grow into what it is today. She looks forward to the days she comes to work at DAU and credits her students for keeping her so young!
Her passion for Ballet and her students' success shows in her work. Joyce sees each child as an individual and teaches each one to reach his or her potential. For decades, her students have credited Joyce with providing them with a strong technical foundation, a love of classical Ballet and the discipline necessary to succeed in the dance studio and beyond. When she's not in the studio, Joyce enjoys attending local Ballet performances throughout the Bay Area and encourages her students to do the same to expand their knowledge and love of this beautiful art form.
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!
Kenneth Serafin (Kenn) is a member of Str8jacket Dance Company. He has been passionate about promoting creativity, grit, growth, and mental awareness through dance and music. As an instructor, he preserves the very roots of hip-hop and its foundations; Popping, Waacking, Housing, Locking, & Breaking. Having performed at NBC World of Dance Season 3, America’s Got Talent Season 12, 1st place WOD BAY & LA ‘17 & ‘18 and many other performances led him to work twice as hard for his students to improve and grow the dancer they want to be.
After sneaking into her older sister's closet to try on her ballet shoes, Kimberly decided that she wanted to take her first dance class. She first stepped foot in a San Jose dance studio at the age of five and has since then acquired over 22 years of training and dance experience ranging from Jazz, Tap, Ballet, Hip Hop, Lyrical, and Creative Movement. Aside from years of recitals, competitions, and conventions,
Kimberly's highlights and credits include dancing for Nickelodeon at former Paramount's Great America for two years, touring as a dancer for vocal artist Yvette Jones, and dancing alongside Brittany Murphy in Paul Oakenfold's "Faster Kill Pussycat" music video.
As a fierce advocate of performing arts education, Kimberly returned to the studio environment as an instructor for local studios in the Sacramento area. Outside of the studio, Kimberly brought dance to children in charter schools, Boy Scout troops, and the Parks and Recreation department of Sacramento. These environments allowed her to adapt her dance expertise and teaching skills to a variety of students, all from different walks of life.
Although Kimberly still loves performing, and occasionally does with a local dance team, she feels most at home inspiring students to be just as inspired as she is by music and dance. Understanding the positive impact of the arts in one's development is one of the driving forces behind her passion for the performing arts.
Currently Kimberly keeps herself on her toes as a mother (to her very own tiny dancer) and a K-8 dance instructor at The Harker School in San Jose, and teaching classes at DAU. She loves introducing the younger generation to creative movement, "It is the first taste of dance for these kids, and I love getting to be the one to expose them to that. You always hope it's going to be an enjoyable experience for them." Kimberly is thrilled to pass down her passion for dance, and is excited to continue her love of teaching at here at DAU.
"Music is a more potent instrument than any other for education because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul."
Mahina Haughey is a DAU Alumni who has trained at DAU for 16 years. Mahina has danced recreationally since the age of 2 and later joined DAUPC at the age of 13. She has been classically trained in all styles such as jazz, hip hop, tap, lyrical/contemperary, ballet, pointe and more. Mahina wishes to inspire others through dance and pass down technique and knowledge to future dancers.
Marcie, a Silicon Valley native, discovered her passion for dance at age seven when she enrolled in her first ballet class - she truly felt at home in the studio. She enjoyed making new friends, learning technique, and most of all loved the feeling of camaraderie as her class worked on their recital routine. Marcie continued her study of dance in the disciplines of ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and ballroom for twelve years. Her love of the performing arts led her to audition for her first musical theater production at the age of fourteen, and from that point on she couldn't shake the theater bug.
Over a series of twelve years Marcie starred in countless theatrical productions throughout Northern California and Massachusetts. Her favorite roles included Gladys in Pajama Game, Bonnie in Anything Goes, Little Red Riding Hood in Into the Woods, and Kristine in A Chorus Line. She married a fellow musician and actor, Steve Shapiro, and the two of them enjoyed performing together as well as teaming up to choreograph and music direct local community theater.
Marcie's studies led her to a professional career in bio-tech and hi-tech where she exercised her skills in marketing communications and public speaking. Her comfort level with delivering corporate presentations stemmed directly from her years of experience in the performing arts.
After she and Steve became parents to two little girls, Marcie decided to leave her corporate life and volunteer her time in her daughters' classrooms where she found true joy working with young kids. And now, having the opportunity to combine her love of children with her passion for the performing arts is a dream come true. She is absolutely thrilled to "return home" to the studio and teach the young students of DAU.
With all her life experiences, Marcie understands that her time with students is not just about dance. Studio time is also about discovering an inner confidence, one that will allow her students to shine and be the best they can be in their life ahead. Helping children develop that inner confidence is just about the most rewarding job Marcie can imagine.
Native of San Francisco, Mimi started with learning all types of dance from ballroom to traditional cultural dances from a young age. She officially started her formal hip hop training back in 2015 with competition team, Str8jacket (San Mateo), with her focus and passion mainly for Waacking, a type of underground hip hop style.
She has competed in competitions such as Prelude Norcal, Collaboration & World of Dance: Bay Area, Los Angeles & Finals. She then moved on to performing with the Tribe Dance Company (San Carlos) in events like SF Hip Hop Dance Festival as well as performing in productions such as Hip Hop Cinderella & The Hip Hop Nutcracker.
Now mostly focusing on teaching, freestyling & further development in her own style, Mimi's goals are to not only continue the learning & development in her students techniques, but to also be able to help build their confidence in their own styles as rising dancers.
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...
Ms. Myky has been dancing since the age of 2 ans competed in dance until the age of 15. She also did competitive cheer for 6 years while maintaining some dance training. She has experience choreographing for multiple local shows. She loves tumbling and gymnastics as well! Ms. Myke is a 'Friends' tv show expert and is super excited to be on board with DAU!
Myles Mitchell started dancing at the age of 6 and hasn’t stopped since. He has trained in jazz, hip hop, ballet, contemporary, and musical theatre at several Bay Area dance studios and went on to win dozens of national dance convention scholarships, including multiple Male VIP titles. After holding the titles of co-captain and captain of the Sequoia High School Dance Team, he went on to pursue a degree in Dance from Skyline College. His professional experience includes dancing for LinkedIn and Relay For Life, as well as teaching technique classes and successfully coaching competitive teams for the past two years. Myles strives to bring out the best in each of his students and always aims to inspire by example.
Ms. Nicole comes to DAU with training in all classical dance styles but has a strong focus on Ballet. She has trained extenseively with the Colorado Ballet/International Ballet School, the National Ballet Academy of Denver, and Belliston Ballet Academy. She has performed with Ballet San Jose as a dancer on the company and as a Guest Artist for Ballet Arts Center, Morgan Hill Dance Center, Western Ballet Company, Cassand Ballet, and Peninsula Ballet Theater. Ms. Nicole has experience teaching Ballet throughout the Bay Area at highly credible schools including Western Ballet School & Company, Morgan Hill Dance Center, Lana's School of Dance, Academy of American Ballet, Mission Dance & Performing Arts, First Position Dance, Urban Body San Jose, Academy of Classical Ballet, and Menlo Park Academy of Dance.
Ms. Nicole received her B.S. in Business Administration & Finance from SJSU, graduating Magna Cum Laude. She is also certified teaching in Pilates through Urban Body San Jose.
Mr. Neil has been dancing for over 7 years in various original hip-hop styles, specializing in bboying/breaking. Neil teaches strong foundational techniques he has learned over the years from experts and experiences that has helped various levels how to merge/flow the styles in the dance.
Neil has performed on various stages showcasing, soloing, and preforming all over the bay area for several years such as with Mission in the Mix, SF Hip Hop International, Tribe Dance Company's Cinderella and Hip-Hop Nutcracker, various street shows, corporate parties, schools etc. He has competed in local jams or competitions all over California and as he takes a step back to develop more of his style, Neil has found the joy and the reward to passionately teach what he has learned by giving back as others has done for him.
Sarah Chan began her dance training in classical ballet, pointe, and modern at the age of 3. She studied at Eastern Connecticut Ballet under Gloria Govrin, a former New York City Ballet soloist, and Libby Nye, a former Jose Limon dancer. She has performed lead roles in multiple ballets here, including The Nutcracker, Interplay, Balanchine's Raymonda Variations, and Tarantella. Sarah also participated in ABT and Atlanta Ballet Summer Intensive Programs.
She graduated from Ohio State University with a B.S. in Human Nutrition and a minor in Dance and is now also a Registered Dietitian. During her time at OSU, Sarah danced and choreographed for Dance Connection, a student-led organization, while performing in various Dance Department shows. Upon graduation, Sarah joined Columbus Modern Dance Company and had the pleasure of performing with them and teaching their open adult ballet class. Sarah is currently a dancer for ArcTangent Dance Company. Sarah has 4+ years of dance teaching experience and is excited to bring her knowledge and passion to Dance Academy USA.
Ms. Shana started dancing at DAU when she was 6 years old and has been dancing with DAUPC since she was 8 years old. She has been a part of the Teacher Assistant Program for six years and has had training in many different styles of dance including Jazz, Ballet, Pointe, Lyrical/Contemporary, Tap, and more. Ms. Shana is currently a Junior at Cupertino High School and leads many different clubs at her school.
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.
Virginia Munday is a dancer, choreographer and educator based in Silicon Valley. She received her BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana in and went on to pursue dance in New York City. Continuing her studies in dance, Virginia went on to earn her MFA in Choreography with Distinction, at Roehampton University of London in 2012. Her choreographic works, with dance artist Tiffany Gibson, were presented at Roehampton University, Dance4 Nottingham and The Place, London. She has also presented her choreography in the U.S., Japan, and Europe.
Virginia enjoys sharing her passion for dance with students of all ages. Her teaching credits include appointments at San Jose City, Foothill, West Valley, Roehampton University Dance Society, and Cabrillo Colleges. She has been a guest choreographer and teacher at Yerba Buena High School, Bayer Ballet Academy, Harrison Arts Center, Rochelle School of the Arts, and Hillsborough Community College. As a teaching artist with Joe Goode Performance Group in San Francisco, Virginia shares creative practices with elementary through high school students around the Bay area. As an active member of the California Dance Education Association, she is also engaged in advocating for dance and dance educators across the state of California. Virginia is currently teaching at Santa Clara University in the Theater and Dance Department for the 2019-2020 school year.
Yana Shybaila started dancing at the age of 4 and joined DAU at the age of 11. She joined DAUPC in her second year at DAU. She has trained in Jazz, Ballet, Hip Hop, Tap, Pointe, and Lyrical/Contemporary. Yana is currently attending the University of Arizona, studying Communication with a minor in Marketing. Yana has been able to continue her dance journey by taking classes at school. She is so excited to be back at Dance Academy USA teaching the next generation of dancers!