Dance Academy USA Teachers
Alex is a Bay Area native who started dancing at the age of 3. She has 17 years of competitive dance experience that includes regional competitions and the collegiate championships of Universal Dance Association and United Spirit Association. Alex attended California Lutheran University where she achieved a BA in Art and was a member of the Dance Team. From 2012-2014, Alex was the Treasurer of the team and Captain for the 2013-2014 school year. She choreographed many dance team routines for halftime performances in addition to choreographing her university's theatrical productions of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Dido and Aeneas, and finally, CLU’s inaugural student dance showcase: Moving Images.
Alex has been teaching dance to students of all ages and experience levels since 2014. She specializes in tap, jazz, and lyrical techniques, and has taught hip hop and ballet. Her choreography has received many special judges awards and overall rankings at competition.
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.
Ashlee originally grew up in Los Angeles as a competitive dancer and gymnast. She began her journey in dance at the age of 4 and her teaching career began during her teenage years. Ashlee continued to train and teach while pursuing a degree in Early Childhood Education.
During college, Ashlee coached a gymnastics team which made it to the National Level and placed 3rd overall. She recently relocated to the Bay Area and is so happy to be back at the studio, doing what I loves. Some of her favorite styles to teach are Hip Hop, Acro and Jazz. When Ashlee is not teaching, she loves going on hikes and going to the beach with her dog.
As a teacher, Ashlee feels that it is important for her students to be comfortable, motivated, confident, and inspired at all times. She wants to see her students succeed, be proud of themselves, and enjoy all of the hard work and dedication they put into dance!
Ms. Aviv started dancing at 3 years old. At the age of 5 she joined the DAU family and later DAUPC. She has been a part of DAU’s Teacher Assistant Program for five years and has trained in tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop, contemporary and pointe. She has also trained at Bat Sheva Dance Company’s summer program. Ms. Aviv is currently a senior at Lynbrook High School and is involved in volunteer and leadership programs at school. She is excited to have the opportunity to inspire others and pass on the passion for dance.
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 30 years experience training in the disciplines of Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary and Songleading. During her elementary and middle school years, she participated in competitions and frequently earned scholarships at conventions throughout California. In high school, Charlene was a four-year member of the Archbishop Mitty Varsity Competitive Dance Team. She was captain during her junior and senior years and was awarded the title of USA All-Star for two consecutive years. She was also named Scholar-Athlete of her dance team for maintaining the highest GPA on the team. Charlene attended Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where she received a BS 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 Los Angeles. Her professional credits include Alice in Wonderland and The Nutcracker. Charlene has been a staff member at DAU for over 10 years. She and her husband have two beautiful children, one of which is already following in mom's footsteps here at DAU. Charlene is one of DAU's sought-after Performing Company teachers and loves working with her students to inspire them to be the best they can be.
Corrine grew up in San Jose and has over 18 years of dance and cheer experience. She started cheer at the age of 4 years old. 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, and trained in the styles in Jazz, Ballet, Tap, Lyrical, and Hip Hop. She was a part of her studios' performance and competition team winning four Crystals in tap and many others. Corrine attended various conventions and learned from many different professionals such as Mia Michaels, Kenny Wormald, and Sonya Tayeh. Corrine danced on the Santa Teresa Song and Cheer competition team during her high school years.
Corrine graduated 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. She loves teaching the next generation of dancers. She aspires to become a Dance Movement Therapist and work with individuals who have disabilities and help make dance possible for everyone!
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.
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.!
Ember Hopkins is a Dance Academy USA Alumni. She started dancing at the age of two, competed with the Production Company (DAUPC) from the ages of six to eighteen, and has been teaching dance since the age of sixteen. Ember has trained extensively in the genres of Ballet, Modern, Contemporary, Lyrical, Jazz, Tap, Pointe, Musical Theatre, and Hip Hop. She was also Dance Captain her Senior Year at Archbishop Mitty High School.
Ember graduated from The University Of California Irvine Claire Trevor School Of The Arts in 2020 and has a Bachelor Of Fine Arts in Dance Performance and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Choreography.
As a dancer she has had the opportunity to closely train with and perform works by Modern dance pioneers Lar Lubovitch and Donald Mckayle, among many others during her time at UCI. Ember was a member of Donald McKayle’s Etude Ensemble and had the opportunity to dance in works such as Death and Eros, Crossing The Rubicon, Shaker Life, Uprooted, and Bittersweet Farewell. Dancing with Lar Lubovitch she danced in the works Dvorak Serenade and North Star. She has also trained with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago as part of their Summer program. As a choreographer she has presented many original works both live and digitally in the genres of Contemporary, Modern, and Jazz.
Ember was a member of DTM2 Dance company where she both performed and choreographed works in Rome, Italy. She was also a member of 180° Reach Dance Company based in Southern California.
Aside from dance, Ember is a four hundred fifty hour comprehensively certified Pilates Instructor. She is excited to be back at her second home, DAU!
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.
Dance is more than a form of expression. And for Erica, dance is more than movement: the essence of dance is joy, the joy of creating connections and expressing emotions. Dance has become a joy for Erica that sustains and endures when life is easy or hard. She loves teaching but her real enjoyment comes from watching her students find this joy for themselves, or seeing the wide eyes of a five year old on stage for the first time, or witnessing senior students dancing their last dance.
Erica has been teaching for 22 years and has won many choreography awards. Her dance journey began with Miss Nancy at the age of 5. From that moment it became more than choreographed steps. Her love for dance continued to grow as she learned various dance styles. She was an officer for the award-winning Pioneer High School Dance Team receiving numerous Super Dancer Awards and 1st Runner-Up Miss USA Cal State Dance. She professionally danced for the Golden State Warriors, the San Jose Saber Cats and the San Francisco 49ers Gold Rush Cheerleaders.
Erica specializes in teaching creative dance, lyrical, and jazz but she has a well rounded background in all styles of dance. She loves the adrenaline of hip hop but feels on fire in street jazz. Erica is part of the talented team of choreographers for the Doize Dream Team. She is also a talented cosmetologist who is in high demand from dancers during prom season.
While working as a professional make-up artist and stylist, Erica's love for teaching took over and has been her main focus for the last 15 years. She has been recognized for her choreography regionally and nationally. Her experiences as a pro cheerleader left her with a need to instill in her dancers the confidence, strength, courage, and ambition she learned throughout her life and career in dance. Her emphasis is power and meaning behind every movement and the understanding that anything is possible if you just believe and make it happen.
Erica feels honored to be able to share the things she has learned and continues to learn in order to help her students grow, not only in dance, but in confidence they can take with them throughout life.
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.
Since relocating back to the Bay Area 3 years ago, Gabriella has been dancing professionally with Natasha Carlitz Dance Ensemble, a modern dance company based in Palo Alto, as a principle company member. She is proud to be a living example to her students that pursuing your passions, whatever they may be, can take you far in life.
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!
Hip Hop Director, Grant Torino, is a San Jose native and has been dancing as long as he can remember. He started his formal dance 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 rigorously training ever since, further developing his passion for Hip Hop, Street style, and various other fusion styles in choreography. He has showcased and competed on Hip Hop teams such as Future Shock SJ, Versatile Styles, Funkanometry SF, Gen Two, The Company, and many more.
Mr. Grant 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 11 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 thrilled to be part of the DAU family and enjoys 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 Hammar has now been teaching dance for 36 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. She loves teaching at DAU and inspiring the next generation of dancers!
Jennifer Tipton is a Cupertino native, who discovered her love of dance at the age of four and a passion for theater at the age of twelve, and hasn't stopped since. She is trained in ballet, tap, jazz, and musical theatre.
For the past ten years, Jen has been teaching dance and choreographing for children's theatre and schools around the Bay Area. Creating a fun and positive atmosphere is always her number one priority.
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 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 6 years. Ms. Joy has been classically trained in all styles including, Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop, and Contemporary. She loves teaching at DAU and inspiring her students. She is excited to share her expertise in Contemporary, Hip Hop, and Jazz with DAU dancers of all ages!
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 30 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 nationally ranked high school pom team.
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 Jazz. Karli graduated from BYU with a degree in Public Health in 2014. She then danced for 2 years with Divinity Dance Company based in Salt Lake City, Utah before moving to the Bay Area. She has danced in multiple commercials and movies for companies such as Marriott and the Hallmark channel, and choreographed for many studios and dance teams throughout the U.S.
When she’s not dancing Karli is usually spending time with her husband, John, and her two kids, Cal and Wes. Karli loves teaching and creating, and feels so lucky to be a part of the DAU family!
Kenneth Serafin, who is known around the studio as Kenn, is a former member of Str8jacket Dance Company. He is 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. Kenn has performed at NBC World of Dance Season 3, America’s Got Talent Season 12, 1st place WOD BAY & LA ‘17 & ‘18, as well as several other performances. These well-respected experiences have led him to work twice as hard for his students to improve and shape the dancer they want to become.
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 Shapiro embraces every opportunity she has to build confidence in children, teens, and adults through positive, supportive performing arts experiences. At the age of seven, she herself discovered the power of dance when she enrolled in her first ballet class. From the moment she felt the glow of that recital stage spotlight, she knew she was in for a lifelong dancing journey.
Marcie’s 12+ years of dance, music, and acting training led to cherished performance opportunities in various theaters throughout Northern California. She eventually realized that her greatest thrill is to help children discover the best of themselves through performing arts experiences, just as she had the opportunity to do as a young child. Therefore, Marcie began an incredibly fulfilling career teaching dance at DAU, choreographing and directing shows at local community theaters, and running performance programs for kids and teens all around the Bay Area.
Of all the wonderful experiences she has had as a performing arts educator, she will always consider DAU her home base - a welcoming place of encouragement that made her professional dreams come to life so many years ago. She is proud to be a long-standing member of DAU’s award winning on-demand and recreation dance faculty, and she also finds it exhilarating to spread a love of dance in the DAU community and beyond through her Zumba® and Group Fitness Instructor certifications.
Above all, 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 students develop that inner confidence is just about the most rewarding job Marcie can imagine.
Mimi was raised in San Francisco and started learning all genres of dance from ballroom to traditional cultural dances from a young age. She officially started her formal hip hop training in 2015 with competition team, Str8jacket, from San Mateo. Her passion is 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 from 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 brings 30 plus years of teaching experience.
In addition to teaching, Molly has choreographed productions of Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia and Swan Lake. Outside of teaching, Molly enjoys growing flowers and tending to her vegetable garden.
She enjoys helping students achieve their goals and aspirations, and in turn, Molly is inspired by her students as well. She was particularly impressed with her students during the pandemic shutdown as she witnessed their incredible resiliency and their ability to adjust and persevere.
Molly strives to create a positive and inspirational environment to cultivate a successful experience for each individual dancer. To Dance, To Dream…
Ms. Myky is a Bay Area native who has years of experience in Tap, Jazz, Contemporary, Lyrical, and Hip Hop. Myky started dancing at 2 years old and competed until she was 15 years old. She grew up competing at the Atlas School of Dance and won various titles during her time there including receiving various scholarships from local conventions such as Jump and Urban Jam. She then did competitive cheer with NorCal Elite All Stars starting in 2016 and still competes to this day.
Through her time at NorCal so far, Myky has competed and won some of the most prestigious competitions in the cheer industry such as the National Cheerleaders Association and placing in 2nd at the Varsity Summit. Ms. Myky has also worked as an instructor at Jamz Cheer and Dance Company, traveling throughout California hosting camps for both cheerleaders and dancers! She has also choreographed for multiple local shows.
In her free time, Ms. Myky loves to train in Aerial Silks and go to the beach. She also claims to know the show "Friends" better than anyone else. She's so excited to be starting her 2nd year as a member of the DAU family!
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. Growing up in Colorado, she trained extensively with the International Ballet School and National Ballet Academy of Denver. She performed with the former Ballet San Jose as a dancer in the company and has been a Guest Artist with many ballet companies and schools including Western Ballet, Cassand Ballet and Peninsula Ballet Theater.
Ms. Nicole has experience teaching all levels of ballet throughout the Bay Area at dance schools including Western Ballet, Academy of American Ballet, Mission Dance & Performing Arts, Academy of Classical Ballet, and Menlo Park Academy of Dance. She is also passionate about introducing dance to young children and is the founder of First Position Dance which offers on-site dance classes to preschools, kindergartens, and elementary schools.
Ms. Nicole received her B.S. in Business Administration & Finance from SJSU, graduating Magna Cum Laude. She also completed a 450 hour pilates training and is a NCPT® certified pilates instructor.
Mr. Neil has been teaching at DAU for two years and dancing for over 7 years in various original hip-hop styles, specializing in bboying/breaking. He has performed on various stages showcasing, soloing, and performing 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 have 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.
Sarah graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.S. in Human Nutrition and a minor in Dance. Upon graduation, she joined Columbus Modern Dance Company and had the pleasure of performing with them and teaching their open adult ballet class. Sarah relocated to the Bay Area in 2017 and has since been on staff with DAU. Sarah danced with Perspectives Dance Co. for their 2019-2020 season and also has been dancing with ArcTangent Dance Company since 2018. In addition to teaching dance, Sarah also works full time as a Registered Dietitian.
Sarah has been dancing since the age of 6. She has trained in Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, Lyrical, Musical Theater, Hip Hop, and Tap. At age 15, she started competing at dance competitions with MJM Dance Company.
Sarah is currently a BFA Dance Major at San Jose State University. Since moving up to the Bay Area, she has been able to work with Mark Foehringer’s Dance Project in the Nutcracker’s Sweets and be apart of San Jose State’s dance company, University Dance Theater.
Sarah has been teaching dance to kids for 3 years and is excited to spread her knowledge to the kids at 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 volunteers and assists for the Foothill Repertory Dance program run by director, Bubba Gong. Foothill has community performances and often collaborates with other community colleges including City College of San Francisco, West Valley College and was the main performance entertainment for the 2017 Community College League of California annual conference held at the San Jose Fairmont. Her groups have also performed at several San Francisco Chinese New Year parades and an exclusive 2019 performance at San Francisco's acclaimed Legion of Honor museum.
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!
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Your membership includes 24/7 access to our entire on-demand dance library. New at-home dance classes in multiple styles and levels added every week.
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Our program includes everything you would get as if you were in the studio, including warm ups, technique training, choreography, cool down, and encouragement from our staff!