Dance Academy USA Teachers
A San Jose native, Adrian has 14 years of extensive training and competition experience in the disciplines of Break Dancing, Hip Hop, and House dancing. He was first introduced to the world of dance through his friends - together they formed the HeadHunters Crew, attending events and workshops in California, Texas, Seattle, New York and Florida.
Adrian and his crew have performed won awards at some of the most prestigious dance events in the country such as Empower SJ, Out for Fame Seattle, Out for Fame Oakland and Evolution FL. The HeadHunters Crew also puts on a yearly break dancing battle in San Jose, entitled "II Birds, I Stone," that draws in crews from around the Bay Area.
As a dancer, he is always looking to sharpen and extend his own dance skills by continuing to challenge himself to seek new knowledge of his craft. He attends workshops in the area, most regularly at City Dance in San Francisco that draws in top choreographers from around the country. He looks up to and has learned from some of the best including Elite Force Crew, Soul Sector Crew, and DS Players.
As a dance instructor, Adrian strives to instill in his students a desire to continuously strengthen their fundamental technique while challenging themselves to learn new skills and be innovative. He has been a member of our DAU family since 2011 and rightfully earned quite a following of students who continue to sign up for his classes. He brings his patience and big heart that he gets from being a father (to his own tiny dancer) to the classroom and always makes class time entertaining and fun for his students. He enjoys their energy and looking back and seeing how much his students have grown over the years.
Aimee comes to DAU with over 15 years of dance experience in the genres of Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Hip-Hop, Lyrical, Modern and Contemporary. As a young dancer she joined the competitive team at her studio and participated in conventions and competitions where she had the opportunity to take from various professional dancers and choreographers including Mia Michaels, and Travis Wall. In high school, she danced with her dance and song teams and attended USA Song Camps where she was awarded "Miss Super Sensational" for her dynamic teaching methodologies and charismatic stage presence, which would be no surprise to anyone who has experienced her bubbly personality.
She then went on to coach and choreograph for Los Altos, Monte Vista, and Fremont High Schools. While in college, she was an assistant teacher for Folsom Lake College's dance program as well as Assistant Director of a touring dance company that toured across the United States. While on tour, she had the opportunity to take classes from top dance studios in New York City such as Alvin Ailey and STEPS. Her professional credits include having the opportunity to perform as a local hire with the Moscow Ballet tour of The Nutcracker Suite in 1999.
Aimee's love of working with children has carried into her education at Pacific Oaks University where she graduated with a BA in Human Development with a specialization in Child Development. Aimee continues to bring her enthusiasm, passion for dance, and contagious energy every day she comes to the studio. She is thankful for the bonds she has formed with her fellow teachers and staff and has enjoyed watching her students grow over the years.
Ho Ming “Angus” Wu, from Hong Kong, trained in folk dance from the age of eleven. In 2010 he came to the United States and attended Irvine Valley College, studying under former Alvin Ailey dancer, Marie De La Palme. He attended different dance programs, such as Jimmie Defore scholarship program and was awarded a lifetime scholarship upon completion as well as Alonzo King LINES Ballet Summer Intensive.
In 2015, he obtained a B.F.A. Degree in Dance in Choreography and a B.A. in Psychology and Social Behavior at the University of California, Irvine. During his time there, he trained under Molly Lynch, Diane Defenderfer, Tong Wang, Shaun Boyle, David Zurak and Idan Cohen. Angus joined Menlowe Ballet as an apprentice in 2016.
Caitlin Malone grew up in Cupertino, and started dancing at the age of 3. She became a part of the Dance Academy USA family in 2011, when she joined DAUPC. She has trained in jazz, tap, ballet, hip hop, lyrical/contemporary. While attending Monta Vista High School, she was a member of the Monta Vista dance team, and was an officer her junior and senior years, leading the team to Nationals in 2016 & 2017 where they received 1st place both years.
Caitlin is currently attending San Jose State University, hoping to become an elementary school teacher and she is thrilled to be back at DAU, teaching the next generation of dancers. A fun fact about Ms. Caitlin: she has two pugs named Mac & Ollie.
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!
Born and raised in San Diego, CA, Chris Banaga is a 25 year old alumnus of the urban Hip Hop dance team, The Company. Chris graduated from Santa Clara University in 2011 with a Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering and has balanced working full time as a Project Engineer with teaching dance workshops around the country, and even around the world. He has taught in France, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Russia, Poland, Spain, Portugal, NYC, Virginia, Texas, and Illinois. His professional choreographic credits include Gallant and KPOP group, 2PM.
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!"
A Bay Area native, Diane started her earliest ballet classes at the age of 4. Throughout her life, Diane has trained in ballet, jazz, tap, improvisation, hip-hop, modern and contemporary. In high school, she was a member of her high school dance team, the Lynbrook Valkyries and Dance Academy USA Production Company. Diane received her Bachelor of Arts in World Arts and Cultures and Dance from UCLA, and a minor in Visual and Performing arts Education. She also studied with Ballet San Jose and attended California Institute of Arts where she received conservatory training in ballet, contemporary, and choreography under Colin Conor, Rosanna Gamson, Laurence Blake, Stephen Petronio, and Andre Tyson.
After college, Diane lived in Los Angeles for several years to continue her dance training and pursue performance and choreographic opportunities. She was a member of the award-winning Creating Arts Company. Dance has allowed Diane to perform all over the world, including Orian Dance Theatre in Paris, Cudamani Institute of Gamelan and Dance in Bali, and in dance installations for Nick Cave, Hammer Museum, UCLA, Downtown LA Art Walk, and El Camino College. Diane stayed involved in the competitive dance world, by coaching competition jazz and character dance teams and attending conventions.
In addition to dance, Diane also teaches barre fitness and is a registered yoga instructor, providing challenging power, vinyasa, sculpt, and bikram yoga classes to students of all ages. Currently, Diane is pursuing higher education in physical therapy. In her spare time, Diane enjoys yoga, skiing, cooking and spending time with family and friends.
Diane brings a wealth of dance and education experience into each class, and students will enjoy her bubbly personality and fun, engaging teaching style. Diane is passionate about sharing her joy of dance and movement with her students of all ages.
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 is a professional dancer and choreographer originally from the Bay Area. She has studied all genres of dance including tap, jazz, ballet, modern, hip-hop, contemporary, world dance, and musical theater. Her dance career and training have taken her to LA and NYC, but her heart has always been in NorCal.
Gabriella received her BFA in Dance Performance from Chapman University and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a minor in English. She has performed in various highly-acclaimed venues in both Northern and Southern California as well as throughout New York City. She has been an integral member and performer of such dance companies as Tap Overload, Suku Dance Lab, abunDANCE, and Psychosomatic Dance. She also had the honor of being a principle dancer in Keomi Tarver's hit 5-woman production of, Love and War, which debuted as a sold out show in NYC in 2016.
Gabriella is honored to be a member of the Dance Academy USA family as well as the Tap Director. She looks forward to working hard and having fun creating movement and rhythms!
Grant Torino has been dancing as long as he can remember, but started his formal training at age 16 after auditioning and being selected for a dance team, Future Shock, San Jose. He has been training ever since, further developing his passion for hip hop, street style, and urban choreography. He has battled and competed on teams such teams as Gen Two, The Company, Versatile Styles, and currently competes for The Tribe. He has performed in San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Sacramento, Irvine and all over the Bay Area. Grant has been teaching for three years now and loves helping students cultivate a passion for learning and appreciation of dance.
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.
Jeremy Kovitch was born in Camden, NJ. Raised in Israel, Jeremy moved back to the USA with his family at the age of 10. He began his formal ballet training at the age of 15, on full scholarship at the HARID Conservatory. After two years, he was awarded a full scholarship to the San Francisco Ballet School, and within one month was offered a traineeship with SFB. Jeremy left SFB in 2005, and joined the Cincinnati Ballet as an apprentice. In 2006, Jeremy joined Ballet San Jose. He was promoted to the position of Soloist in 2008, and Principal in 2011.
In the summer of 2008, Jeremy joined Zhukov Dance Theatre for its premier. His performances with ZDT earned him a nomination for an Isadora Duncan Dance Award, and a feature article in Pointe Magazine. In the summer of 2011, Jeremy also joined a group of dancers from around the world on a tour to Tallinn, Estonia, for the premier of Tiit Helimets & Company. In addition to dancing for many different companies, Jeremy has also made many guest appearances. Most notably, at a gala entitled "Stars of American Ballet".
Aside from his career as a professional dancer, Jeremy has also been a teacher, coach, and choreographer for students in the bay area over the past for 8 years. We are very excited to have him at DAU and have been thrilled with the direction that he and Ballet Director, Julie Ma, have taken our Ballet program.
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 another DAU legacy; she is the eldest daughter of Ms. Jane and Ms. Jane's husband, Jim Carter. She started dancing at 2 years old, and trained in ballet, pointe, tap, jazz lyrical, contemporary, and hip hop. She was a member of DAUPC for 13 years, and was a T.A. for 5 years, eventually becoming an Apprentice Teacher when she was 15.
Jessie is a graduate of the University of Southern California, and holds a degree in Communication. While at USC, she was a member of the world renowned USC Song Girls traveling all over the country for USC Athletic Events and London to perform at the Olympics. Jessie was also a NBA Los Angeles Clippers Spirit Dancer, and a NFL San Diego Chargers Girls. Jessie taught dance to junior high and high school dance teams for the United Spirit Association (USA) as a Song Leader, as well as teach Dance as an Elective at Birmingham High School in Southern California. Today Jessie is an Account Executive at Dell Technologies supporting some of Silicon Valley's biggest companies.
Ms. Jessie believes that “the skills you attain through dance class – commitment, hard work, time management, teamwork, leadership, persistence, responsibility – will transfer to a successful college career and eventually to a successful career and family life. Acknowledge that, be proud of your dedication to dance, and take confidence in knowing you have these skills.”
Jomar is a native of Tracy, California, and started dancing at the age of 6. He trained in hip hop and other urban styles of choreography, which led him to perform with Chocolate Factory, Training Ground (based in Daly City), and is currently with Syndicate Dance. He has also studied with Jason Rillera and Pat Cruz in Daly City, and previously choreographed for Chocolate Factory.
Jomar is currently at DeAnza College, majoring in Sociology. He is a part of and choreographs for DeAnza’s Grand, a club for dancers of all levels who want to come together to enjoy their craft. Jomar loves to teach and spread the things he’s lived throughout his dance life, and wants to share it with anyone who wants to grow and learn. “Work hard and be kind” is Jomar’s personal motto, and he is looking forward to sharing that with all of his students.
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.
Julie grew up during the Chinese Cultural Revolution where dance, music and art were state-sponsored programs. This allowed her to perform in her first ballet recital at age six other school and community celebrations over the years. She continued her passion for dance in college, where she led a dance team and choreographed students at the Central South University of China while pursuing degrees in both Dance and Engineering. Julie came to the United States when she received the opportunity to attend Virginia Commonwealth University. There she pursued her passion for dance through the Dance and Choreography Department. Her continued training influence included her beloved faculty of VCU's dance department under the directorship of Andrea Jung and Ms. Ispas, a retired Romanian Prima Ballerina. She then attained her MBA from VCU's School of Business with the interest in pursuing a career in a field outside of dance.
In recent years, Julie has performed with China Dance, Cassand Ballet, Santa Clara Ballet, Ballet Academy of America, and Western Ballet, in full-length and excerpts of classical Ballet, Chinese and Contemporary works, in corps de Ballet, soloist and title roles. She served on the board of directors at Western Ballet and was the Ballet Mistress for two years at a French style Ballet school.
With her college and MBA degrees, she worked in high tech marketing and business development and was a Senior Product Manager at Adobe Systems. She eventually quit her "real" job after giving birth to her second son in 2003 and has been teaching Ballet since 2006. She also was the choreographer and dance team coach for the Cupertino Chinese Language Immersion Program for their participation at the San Francisco Chinese New Year parade, whose team took away titles for several years.
Julie's expertise, professionalism and approachability all make her an asset to the DAU program and as our studio's Ballet Director. A member of our team since 2012, she hopes to instill and uphold the skills/standards of classical ballet training as well as adapt this training to the needs of our students and studio.
Julie thrives to instill the love of dance in students, and to encourage them to dance from the heart. As a mother of two, she is able to balance the most important roles in her life: being a mother and influencing the next generation of Ballet dancers. Her motto for teaching comes from Ben Stevenson: "To be inspired, inspire."
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!
Kelly started dancing at the age of 3 ½ at Katie’s Dance Studio in El Cerrito. She started taking classes in tap and jazz, and then added ballet, lyrical/contemporary, and hip hop to her repertoire. While at Katie’s Dance Studio, she competed with Dance Masters of California and performed professionally with the entertainment company Velocity Circus Arts. She has also performed as a backup dancer for Alan Tam, Teresa Carpio, and Sam Hui at the Oracle Arena in Oakland. In the summer of 2016, she was accepted into the Rockettes Summer Intensive, where she studied for a week with the world-famous Radio City Rockettes in New York City.
Currently, Kelly is attending San Jose State University, majoring in Dance. Her choreography credits include choreographing for her high school dance program (while she was still in high school!), and for the student concerts at SJSU.
Kelly is excited to be a part of DAU’s staff, and share the love and joy that comes along with dance. “It’s not only something fun to do as exercise, but makes you feel good in general!”
Kelsey Kroening came to us with 13 years of dance experience. She has studied the disciplines of jazz, tap, ballet, hip- hop and lyrical. Kelsey began competition dancing in 2004 after her years of performing in cheerleading. During her years at Valley Christian High School she performed on the cheerleading for three years as well as Nor Cal Elite.
In 2012, she transferred from West Valley to St. Mary's College of California in Moraga. During her time at St. Mary's she joined the rowing team as the coxswain for the 6 and 4 boat in novice. While on the rowing team she helped her team earn two medals, one including first place at the Head of the lagoon in Foster City. At St. Mary's she studied communications and earned her bachelor’s degree in communication in 2014.
In 2010, she continued her passion of performing by joining the San Jose Saberkittens. After two years on the San Jose Saberkitttens, she began a season with the San Francisco 49ers Gold Rush in 2013.
Kelsey's passion for dance and working with children made her realize that her next step was to become a teacher and help others see the meaning behind dance. To her dancing allows you to forget about everything else and express yourself in a different way.
Outside of dance Kelsey is a sales executive and tutors children grades Junior High to High School.
Kiersten Lipkin, a California native, has worked in many facets of the entertainment industry. She is a dancer, choreographer, former dance studio owner/director, master class teacher, competition judge, and dance studio consultant. Dancing since the age of 3, she's won numerous dance scholarships, awards, and overall titles at dance conventions and national talent competitions.
Kiersten's TV credits include Beverly Hills 90210, In Living Color, and a Fox TV Special. She has performed with Chris Isaak, and iconic hip-hop artists such as Vanilla Ice, MC Hammer and Montell Jordan. Her industrial credits include 24 Hour Fitness, Body Motion Activewear and Redken, to name a few.
She has worked as an artistic choreographer and judge for the USFSA. Her choreography has been featured in North America and Europe, in countries such as Hungary and
France. Kiersten has done choreography and halftime routines for various NBA and NFL teams, as well as, performing and choreographing for the Golden State Warriors Dance Team.
As a former owner of a highly successful dance studio and director of its national award- winning competition team, her studio credits include numerous national overall titles, along with "Outstanding Choreography" and "Entertainment" awards. Kiersten has received the Teacher Icon of the Year Award, and her dance teams have been featured in Dance Spirit magazine. She has motivated, mentored, choreographed and influenced thousands of dancers for 30+ years. Her students have attended a wide range of universities such as UCLA, USC, LMU, UC Irvine and Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, to further pursue careers in dance. They've performed with artists such as Madonna, Britney Spears, and Pink. She has also enjoyed seeing some of her former students now move on to become dance studio owners/directors.
Kiersten's versatility, experience, and passion for dance continue as she travels across the country as an in-demand master class teacher and competition judge.
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."
Lacin Keles began her dance training in Turkey, where she is originally from, and continued in Spain, Russia, and the USA. She has practiced various styles such as flamenco, ballet, modern, jazz, and contemporary. In Turkey, she performed with famous singers and musicians Levent Yuksel and Tanini Trio in their concerts. In Russia, she danced in the company of Jose Carmona. She had the privilege to take classes from Manuel Betanzos, David Perez, and Violeta Ruiz. In Spain, she also went to well known dance schools Ados Escuela de Flamenco and Carmen de las Cuevas. She stayed in Costa Rica as a volunteer in 2015 and taught dance in a low-income school and an orphanage.
Ms. Keles quit the corporate life in 2015, married, moved to San Jose, and she has been dancing and teaching ever since! She participated in many dance festivals and dance concerts as a performer and choreographer around the Bay Area including Push Dance Festival, SjDanceCo Santana Row Dance Festival, Black Choreographer’s Festival, and SPF10 Summer Dance Festival. She is interested in linguistics, literature, and philosophy in addition to teaching dance and making choreography blend different techniques and cultural elements. She is also a traveler and writes her own travel blog. She has a BS in Mechanical Engineering and is currently an MFA student in Dance-Creative Practice at St Mary’s College of California. She believes in the power of hard work and optimism.
Lilian began ballet at the age of 5, and has been pursuing dance ever since. She began expanding her training to include hip hop, contemporary, and jazz, and was a member of the Production Company for 2 years. Outside of dance, Lilian spends her time singing and working at a daycare, where she greatly enjoys spending time with the children. She hopes to provide her students with a safe and welcoming experience where they can explore their creativity and ignite their passion in dance.
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.
Mayumi started her ballet lessons at an early age with a local ballet school in Japan. She continued her studies at the Lichine Ballet School with Tatiana Riabouchinska Lichine, one of the three "Baby Ballerinas" of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, enlisted by George Balanchine. She received personal coaching and guidance from Marat Daukayev (the former Kirov Ballet principal and Artistic Director of the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington D.C.), Yuri Grigoriev (the former Moscow Classical Ballet principal and Master Teacher of the Bolshoi Academy), Alexander Greschenko (the former Bolshoi Ballet soloist), and Vitaly Artiushkin and Alla Khaniashvili-Artiushkina (the former Bolshoi Ballet principals). She was asked to join a regional company in New York after audition, and joined their tour in Pennsylvania. She has a B.A. In Economics from UCLA, and worked in Los Angeles, New York, and Tokyo, among other locations in the United States.
Penny Boyes graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Dance from the University of North Carolina - Greensboro. Her studies included Theater Education which broadens the scope of expression for stage presentation. She is currently teaching in both public charter and private schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her experience includes work as a County Cultural Commissioner in South Carolina. A professional dance teacher and choreographer, Penny has been working in the performing arts for over seventeen years. She has had the opportunity to premier her works and teach workshops nationally, in Israel, the Netherlands, Germany, and Portugal. She is really looking forward to working with her students here at Dance Academy USA and we feel very lucky to have someone with her rich experience.
Samantha is a native of Fresno, CA and started dancing at the age of 3 with Dance Studio of Fresno, and moved to its sister studio, Dance Studio 2, when it opened in 2007. She has trained in all styles of dance from ballet and hip hop, to lyrical and musical theater. In the 8th grade, she started competing with her home studio in all styles of dance. As she became older, she started choreographing for Dance Studio 2, and was given the opportunity to travel to Austria to perform with her studio during the summer of her senior year.
Samantha has previously trained with teachers such as Mia Michaels, Peter Chu, and other various master teachers through conventions and competitions around California. She has also danced backup for Nic Neufeld, both on his tour and in his music videos. Samantha is currently at San Jose State University, majoring in dance, and she was a part of SJSU’s University Dance Theater. She is very excited to have the opportunity to teach at DAU, and is looking forward to sharing her love of dance with all of her students.
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.
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.
Vicktoriea “Torie” Carroll was born in Sherwood, AR. She began dancing at the age of 2 at North Little Rock School of Dance. Torie began competing at the age of 5 and began teaching as a Junior in High School at the age of 16. She was awarded her first choreography award at the age of 17 and has since won numerous choreography awards at both the Regional and National level in Tap, Jazz, Lyrical and Hip Hop.
Torie is a graduate of Davidson College in North Carolina where she was Captain of the Dance Team. While at Davidson, she founded a Non-Profit Organization entitled Forever Pressing Forward in which she seeks to use dance and other art forms to address racism, domestic violence, police brutality and other social issues. After graduating from Davidson, with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Minor in Dance, Torie decided to move to San Jose to pursue her love for dance and for teaching. As a teacher, it is her desire to inspire and encourage children to foster their love for dance as both an athletic sport and an expressive form of art.
Zoey has been an avid performer for her entire life. She acts for both the stage and the screen and has studied voice for years, but is most dedicated to the art of dance. She has explored most dance styles but specializes in jazz, tap, and modern. Zoey has performed both professionally and recreationally in countless theatre and dance performances as well as choreographing many musicals. She currently attends San Jose State University with a BFA in dance and competed at USA Nationals with the Spartan Competitive Dance Team. She loves working with students and sharing her passion for dance with them.