Artist In Residence: Vincent E. Thomas
Vincent E. Thomas, dancer, choreographer and teacher, received his MFA in Dance from Florida State University and a BME in Music from the University of South Carolina. He has danced with Dance Repertory Theatre (FSU), Randy James Dance Works (NY/NJ), EDGEWORKS Dance Theater (DC), and Liz Lerman Dance Exchange (MD). He is the Artistic Director/Choreographer of the national touring What’s Going On project. Read more about Vincent >>
Akari Takahashi – Embody You
Akari is a dance educator and founder of Embody You Dance, a step-by-step curriculum helping adults who have never embodied how to express their most confident self through dance.
She graduated from Cal State Long Beach as a Dance Major and have trained extensively in Modern dance with Keith Johnson, Summer Brown, Gregory Dawson and Rebecca Lemme. She also trains and fuses her dance background with martial arts, Tai Chi, and Jiu Jitsu (Kron Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academy).
From her training and experience in Dance and Martial Arts, she found her purpose to help others to connect back into their creative, authentic self using elements of the voice, body, and breath in dance. Unlike many dance forms, Akari’s purpose of her movement practice is to not show you how to look like a certain way but to uncover one’s unique true expression and strength through dance.
Christy McNeil Chand – Jazz
Christy McNeil Chand has enjoyed life as a dancer since age three training at a studio just outside of Seattle. She was honored with the full-tuition Kreielsheimer Scholarship from Cornish College of the Arts where she earned her B.F.A. in dance and was named an Outstanding Dance Major. She has been on the faculty of Cornish College of the Arts and Boulder Jazz Dance Workshop, and has served as a guest artist for U of Idaho, U of Texas Pan-American, Riverside College, Grand Canyon University, the International Dance Day Festival in Lebanon, and the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, among others. She is a dancer and choreographer for Interweave Dance Theatre in Boulder, CO with whom she has danced since 1998. Other performing credits include Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, Chamber Dance Company, and events for Microsoft, Group Health, and Hilton Hotels. Christy holds an M.F.A. in dance from the University of Washington and is an associate professor at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo where she directs the Orchesis Dance Company and chairs the Theatre and Dance Department
Cami Bettencourt – Contemporary Dance
Cami Bettencourt attended Cal State University, Sacramento and received her BA in Theatre Arts, Dance. She has been teaching and choreographing since 2002 and is currently finishing her 12th year at Oakmont High School in Roseville, California. Prior to teaching at Oakmont high School, Cami also taught and created dance companies at Whitney High School and Pleasant Grove High School. In her early years, she taught and directed the dance company’s at Florin High School and Elk Grove High School.
Cami currently serves as the Dance Program Director at her high school, Vikings Dance Coach and the IB Dance teacher but she is also a leader in CAHPERD, serving as vice president of the dance division in 2016 and most recently as Dance and at Movement Director in 2018. She also was awarded Dance Teacher of the Year, 2018.
Kevin Kane – Ensemble Movement Theatre
Knowing how essential the arts were to his personal development and education, Kevin has dedicated his career to making artistic, academic, and career opportunities available and accessible to youth of all backgrounds, and working with educators to develop effective curricular strategies to teach the arts. Kevin began his own training at age 14 as a scholarship student in ballet, theatre arts, and music, in his hometown of Philadelphia. The first in his family to attend college, Kevin went on to receive his Ph.D. in Cultural Studies, with an emphasis in Arts Education, from Claremont Graduate University; an MFA in Dance Choreography from the UCLA Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance (WAC/D); and a BFA in Theatre Arts from Hofstra University. A devoted arts education scholar and community arts practitioner, Kevin currently serves as the Director of the UCLA Visual and Performing Arts Education (VAPAE) Program, guiding UCLA students in developing a teaching practice as well as an arts practice. Kevin began his own teaching career at John Marshall High School in the Los Angeles Unified School District, where he developed a multidisciplinary performing arts program called Theatre Workshop, leading hundreds of youth in the creation of original dance theatre productions. After his time at Marshall, Kevin moved on to UCLA, serving ten years as an adjunct faculty member in the UCLA WAC/D Department, designing/ directing the award-winning summer arts program director from 2006-2013, and producing/ directing numerous original dance theatre productions in collaboration with UCLA students. Kevin currently teaches the Introduction to Community Engagement through the Arts class in the UCLA School of the Arts & Architecture, and is on faculty at the Los Angeles County High School of the Arts teaching the Introduction to Theatre courses. He also co-founded and served as the Executive Director of The Flourish Foundation, a not-for-profit organization whose mission is to support youth wishing to participate in the arts and higher education, and to fund arts and educational programs for teens in the Los Angeles area.
Jaclyn Riesz Attefat – Ballet Basics for Teachers
Jaclyn Riesz Attefat serves as the Dance Academy Chair at CHAMPS Charter High School of the Arts where she has been teaching for the last 9 years. She also serves as an Associate Director of the LA Youth Ballet/Team Theatrics performing groups and is the Tap Division Head at Los Angeles Ballet Academy, where she has taught consecutively for 21 years.
Jaclyn’s passion for teaching began at age 16, where she was entrusted to teach ballet to elementary students through the Charleston County School District’s after school program, sponsored by a grant from the SC Arts Commission. She also began teaching preschoolers in the Charleston Dance Studio, at that time. A career teacher, Jaclyn has always enjoyed sharing her passion with young dancers. In 2005, Jaclyn completed the Royal Academy of Dance’s Teacher Certification Program and is a Registered Teacher with the Royal Academy. Jaclyn earned a BS in Kinesiology, as well as her CA Secondary Ed Dual Teaching Credentials in Physical Education and Science from CSUN. She also attended Oklahoma City University, where Jaclyn gained in-depth knowledge of a variety of styles of dance, and pedagogy.
Jaclyn began her professional career in her hometown of Charleston, SC with the Robert Ivey Ballet Company. Jaclyn has trained with world renowned teachers like David Howard, Edward Villella, Jo Rowan, Andrew Kuhursky, Doug Caldwell, Gus Giordano, Joe Tremaine, Rei Aoo, Buster Brown, Peg Leg Bates, Gregg Russell, among others. Jaclyn has performed locally at the Dolby Theater, Ford Amphitheatre, Wilshire Ebell, Thousand Oaks Civic Center, Alex, Madrid, El Portal, Ivar, and more.
Janelle Perez – Whacking
Janelle Perez graduated from UCLA with a BA in World Arts and Cultures-Dance Concentration in June 2015. While there, she trained and studied different styles of dance, choreographic theories, history, and how dance can be an impactful art-form for activism and uplifting underserved communities. One year later, she was welcomed as Alumni to return and choreograph for the Chancellor’s reception for incoming students and an audience of over six thousand. Non-profit dance companies she trained with are Versa-Style, Contra-Tiempo, and Culture Shock Los Angeles who all emphasized giving back to the youth and creating change. She first began dancing in middle school and given her background, the idea of “each one, teach one” is very important to her. The main styles she has been training extensively in are Hip Hop, House, and Whacking. She was a teaching artist who taught for a middle school and high school. The diverse dance community of Los Angeles has really expanded her knowledge of multiple dance styles and through those experiences she has developed in the art of being a practitioner. She is eager and honored to share what she knows.
Pat Taylor – The Movement in the Music: Jazz Dance
Pat Taylor is the founding artistic director/choreographer of Los Angeles-based JazzAntiqua Dance & Music Ensemble. Her work has been presented at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts, Hollywood Bowl/Playboy Jazz Festival, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Dance Mission Theatre (San Francisco), The Southern Theatre (Minneapolis), Mesa Performing Arts Center (Phoenix), Glashuset (Stockholm, Sweden) and CIAEI Theater (Sao Paulo, Brazil), among many other venues. Her recognitions include a Brody Arts Fund Choreography Fellowship and grant awards from Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Doolittle Foundation, California Arts Council and the Center for Cultural Innovation. She holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts (jazz aesthetic emphasis) from Goddard College She is on the dance faculties at California State University, Long Beach and Peabody Conservatory/Johns Hopkins University.
Elissa Dawn Strutton – Yoga, Movement and Self-Care
Elissa’s approach to teaching draws from over 1000 hours of formal training in yoga, anatomy, biomechanics, corrective exercise, therapeutic movement, meditation, breath work and 14 years of teaching experience with beginning and advanced students as well as teachers seeking to continue their education.
Her most extensive studies and certifications with influential teachers of yoga and movement include Ana Forrest, Brian Campbell, Jill Miller and Jules Mitchell. A life-long student, Elissa consistently seeks to improve and expand her offerings with continuing education courses, workshops, and trainings. Her intention is to empower others with practices and effective tools to facilitate growth, reduce stress, alleviate tension, restore a sense of well-being and move through life with integrity, purpose and grace.
Kellie Johnston – Merge Power Flow
Kellie Johnston has over 30 years of extensive dance training in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, and hip hop and has been teaching since 2001. While dance was her first love, yoga has become not only one of her favorite physical practices, but has completely changed her life and perspective in every situation. In life in general, Kellie feels her purpose or her “why” is to build community and connection in a healthy and positive way whether it be through group classes or in social situations. This year she devoted her time to finding new ways to be healthy which lead her to Merge, the Practice where she became a Level 2 Practitioner. Merge creates stability and balance through strength and flexibility and helped accelerate her healing from many lingering injuries and immune challenges. Her other recent venture was becoming a Chapter Owner of LeadHer, LLC which offers confidence and resilience coaching for young people. She’s looking forward to building confidence and empowering youth in Orange County. An Orange County native, Kellie lives with her husband, Kyle and two beautiful boys, Jake and Sam. She holds a BA in Organizational Communication and a Single Subject Teaching Credential in Physical Education. Other certifications include RYT-200, Prenatal Yoga (RPYT), Level 2 Merge
Shana Habel – Relating through the Language of Dance
Shana is a K-12 Arts Specialist for the Los Angeles Unified School District, where she helped initiate an elementary dance program in 1999. In her life before elementary, Shana taught secondary dance grades 7-12, and has also taught Creative Dance for Children at Loyola Marymount University. She is a past-president of the California Dance Education Association and served as a member of the National Coalition for Core Arts Standards writing team in dance. She is active in dance and arts advocacy in California. Shana received a BA in Dance from BYU, and an MA in Dance History from the University of Utah.
Summer Williams – Beg/Int Tap
Summer earned a B.A. in Dance at SDSU and a Masters in Education and Teaching Credential from National University. She has danced with Pro Danza Italia, Debbie Allen Dance Academy, Momentum Dance Theater and Capital Tap, and has performed for DC Tap Festival, and Sony Production’s Taylor Swift Commercial. She is the owner of Rap A Tap Center For The Arts, a dance studio located in the city of San Diego, and also teaches dance at Creative, Performing and Media Arts Magnet Middle School.
Oscar Gonzalez – Progressions / Musical Theater
Oscar Gonzalez was born and raised in Orange County, California. Oscar trained at the Anaheim Ballet School, American Ballet Theater and the Joffrey Ballet School and has been accepted into the Alvin Ailey school and The Rock school summer intensive. He is formally trained in Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical, Modern, Musical Theater and Contemporary. Gonzalez has been a soloist with the Anaheim Ballet, Festival Ballet, and was a resident company member and instructor for Diavolo. Oscar travels around the world to educate and inspire artists. He has successfully trained dozens of dancers that have been accepted into college dance programs. He was last seen in Aladdin “A Musical Spectacular” at the Disney resort. Oscar has performed in professional musical theater productions such as, Hello Dolly, WestSide Story, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, A Chorus Line, Evita and has been a principal in The Glory of Christmas at the Crystal Cathedral. Oscar performed for the grand opening of the King Abdulah University of Science and Technology in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Oscar was chosen by former ABT dancer Kristine Elliott to create and teach a 2-week dance intensive in Capetown, South Africa. Gonzalez was formerly the ballet director at McCoy Rigby Conservatory of the Arts, under the direction of Broadway star and former Olympic athlete Cathy Rigby, and was living in Omaha, Nebraska starting a ballet program for a performing arts studio. Oscar recently received his BA in Liberal Arts Education in Performing Arts, from St. Mary’s College, and is currently pursuing his Master’s Degree in Education. Oscar has taught many workshops to dance educators in California to help spread his knowledge of dance and teaching techniques. Oscar has been teaching for over 15 years and is committed to educating and inspiring young dancers and pushing them to their fullest potentials. Oscar has begun his new adventure as the dance director at Anaheim High School.
Rachel Berman – The Legacy of Paul Taylor
Originally from Hawaii, Rachel Berman has had a diverse career in the field of dance, the bulk of which was a decade spent performing principal roles with the Paul Taylor Dance Company. She has also performed with Ballet Hispanico, May O’Donnell, The American Repertory Dance Company, The Joyce Trisler Danscompany, and the hula companies of Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu and Pua Aliʻi ʻIlima O Nuioka. Ms. Berman appeared in numerous television productions with the Taylor Company and was featured in the Academy Award nominated documentary DANCEMAKER. She served as Associate Producer for Dancers Responding to AIDS, Company Manager for Company C Contemporary Ballet, Development Officer for the Taylor Company and Programs Manager at Dance/NYC. She is also a freelance dance writer.
Ms. Berman stages Mr. Taylorʻs works throughout the United States and has been on faculty at the Joffrey Ballet/ New School BFA program, Mid-Pacific School of the Arts High School, LASALLE-SIA Singapore College of the Arts, the American Dance Festival, University of the Arts, the Colburn Dance Academy, California Institute of the Arts, Mills College, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and the Taylor School. She is currently the chair of the Orange Coast College dance department and teaches at the William J. Gillespie/ American Ballet Theatre school at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Ms. Berman holds a BFA from Purchase College and an MFA from Hollins University/American Dance Festival and is certified in Pre-Primary through Level 5 of the ABT ® National Training Curriculum.
Erin Landry – Afro Caribbean
Erin Landry, a native of California, is a Full Professor of Dance at Cypress College. She holds a BFA in Dance from CalArts, and an MFA in Dance from UCI. Ms. Landry danced professionally in the internationally acclaimed PHILADANCO!, Bella Lewitzky Dance Company, Lula Washington Dance Theater, and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, where she was awarded a merit scholarship. Her choreography has been performed at the American College Dance Association National Gala, Laguna Beach Dance Festival, Orange County Dance Festival, Spectrum Dance LA, International Association of Blacks in Dance, and the South Coast Dance Alliance. She is on the dance faculties at Long Beach City College and the American Musical and Dramatic Academy LA.
Samantha “Sam” Katz – Intermediate / Advanced Tap
A native Southern Californian, Sam has been teaching tap for over 35 years. Specializing in rhythm tap and improvisation over the last 30 years, Sam studied intensively with Linda Sohl-Ellison of Rhapsody in Taps. She also studied locally with Sam Weber, Monie Adamson, Cathy Lozano, Liz Hess, Joan Golden and the late Eddie Brown and Henry LeTang. She has been a scholarship student at tap festivals in Boston, Colorado, Portland, and Austin; studying with such Tap Masters as: Honi Coles, Steve Condos, Cookie Cook, Chuck Green, Buster Brown, Dianne Walker, Heather Cornell, Brenda Bufalino, Lynn Dally and Sam Weber, among many others. She was an assistant instructor to Lynn Daly at the Portland Tap Festival. Sam was the assistant choreographer/ rehearsal director for the Orange Coast College Performing Dance Ensemble for 2 years in the early 90’s and has choreographed concert pieces in both tap and modern dance. Sam can be seen in Gene Nelson’s video “Come Tap With Me”, “Leonard Reed’s Shim Sham Shimmy” video and has danced on Fox’s MadTV. She performed with two So. Cal. tap companies, working for over 3 years as the Artistic Director of “The Next Step”, choreographing & performing with specially built electronic tap equipment. For over 20 years, Sam volunteered and taught at Paul and Arlene Kennedy’s Universal Dance Designs in L.A.. She has been commissioned to choreograph tap pieces for Laguna Beach High School students and has been a choreography coach for students in the L.A. Unified School District. In 2010 Sam was on faculty at “Tap into a Cure” In Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and performed in “Magical Rhythms.” As a long time writer and a So. Cal. Rep. for the International Tap Association, Sam is well versed in tap dance history. She is proficient in and teaches Kahnotation (a notation system for tap dance). In addition to being on faculty at Orange Coast College, as a professor of tap dance; Sam teaches and runs a jam session at FOCUS Dance Center in Irvine, Ca. and often performs with the Ron Kobayashi Jazz Trio in Orange County.
Hip Hop – Jackie “Miss Funk” Lopez
Jackie Lopez aka Miss Funk is a first generation Los Angeles native. She was the first in her family to graduate high school, continue her education in LA Valley College, transfer to a UC and graduate, all due to the impact of the arts and dance in her life. Jackie graduated Summa Cum Laude from UCLA in 2004 from the Department of World Arts and Cultures, with a concentration in Dance. For the last 20 years, Jackie has been working as a professional dancer, choreographer, teaching artist and cultural educator who has worked with students and artists of all ages from LA, NYC, Philly, Israel, United Kingdom, France, Colombia and India.
Jackie is the Co-Founder/Co-Artistic Director of Versa-Style Dance Company (a certified 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization). Versa-Style’s mission is two-fold; it’s a professional hip-hop touring company providing dancers from the inner city to thrive as full dance professionals, while also providing Hip-hop arts programing to the youth in underserved communities in Los Angeles. Jackie has created a pipeline in which many first generation students have benefited both artistically and academically. Furthermore, she’s currently Lecturer at UCLA’s Dept. of World Arts and Cultures/Dance teaching Hip-hop dance.
Simultaneously, she is the Executive Director for The Flourish Foundation, which is non-profit private philanthropic organization, which begun as a response to lack of funding in the arts. Most recently, she joined the USC team, as Visiting Lecturer for the Spring 2018 Arts Leadership Program.
Vera Wagman – Petit Rat Film
Vera Wagman Director/Producer/Choreographer Vera has written, directed and produced short films including Interlude (Hypnotic Films, Sundance Channel), High Noon (PBS’ “Are We On”), Gangsta Camp (Funny or Die) and Jeopardy, a documentary short film about an at-risk youth program in Los Angeles where the students who train as boxers also learn how to dance. Vera has worked with innovative choreographers such as Ohad Naharin, Kathryn Posin, Nina Weiner and Creach/Kester. Currently, she produces cultural events for the City of Santa Monica Cultural Affairs and has produced fundraising events for Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center, Los Angeles Ballet, Operation Gratitude, The Wounded Warrior Project, and Art Share Los Angeles. Vera received an M.A. in Film Production & Business at New York University, a B.A. from Penn State University and completed graduate studies at USC in Arts Leadership. She is an advisory board member for Locomotion Dance Theatre for Children in NYC. Petit Rat Trailer.