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Castro Valley Performing Arts Staff

“Behind every dancer who believes in themselves is a teacher who believed in them first!!”

The Castro Valley Performing Arts faculty are professionals in their field of study. CVPA’s faculty is comprised of some of the most sought-after teachers in the Bay Area who understand that teaching dance is not just about teaching good technique. It is inspiring, encouraging and nurturing the artist in every student.

Janet Nordgren-Taddie

Janet Nordgren-Taddie

With over twenty-five years of experience in the entertainment industry, Janet has toured with such names as the Temptations, JoAnn Castle, Bob Hope and Dorothy LaMour. She also spent several years performing aboard Princess Cruise Lines (The Love Boat) singing and dancing in their nightly musical productions. Her television credits include “Dick Clark’s Special of the Year Show” and various commercials for Princess Cruises and American Express. Her choreography credits include a dance fitness television pilot featuring Joanie Greggins, Billy Hufsy from FAME and MC Hammer; The Teen Miss California Pageant; Miss CA Pageant; Outstanding Teen of California Pageant; Ohlone College Summerfest theater productions of “Grease” and “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to The Forum;” and numerous industrials throughout the state of CA. She also served as dance director of the syndicated television program “Morning Stretch.” Prior to opening Castro Valley Performing Arts, Janet was the director of The Academy for the Performing Arts in Fremont and Newark and a member of the faculty in the drama department at Ohlone College in Fremont.


Gia Solari

As a director, choreographer, educator and administrator, Gia has been involved with performing arts production for over twenty-five years.  Creative credits include Legally Blonde, The Musical (Dir./Chor. – Diablo Theatre Company), Sweet Charity (Dir./Chor. – American Conservatory Theater MFA3 Series), Dreamgirls (Assistant Dir. – West Coast Tour), Little Shop of Horrors (Assistant Dir./Chor. – AMTSJ), Evita (National Youth Theater Award, Best Choreography – CMTSJ), national projects for the Golden State Warrior Girls Dance Team, America’s Junior Miss, Universal Dance Association, regional work with American Musical Theatre of San José, Diablo Theatre Company, Center Repertory Company, Willows Theatre Company, Theatre on San Pedro Square, Pocket Opera, Children’s Musical Theatre of San José, among others. A member of Actors’ Equity, Gia’s favorite performing adventures include national tours of Evita (25th Anniversary Tour / Dance Captain, Dir. Harold Prince) and The Hot Mikado (Dance Captain), twelve shows with American Musical Theatre of San José, Royal Caribbean, Disney and Nickelodeon. An adjunct faculty member at California State University, East Bay and Notre Dame de Namur University, she has taught for the Universal Dance Association, Mills College, U.C. Davis Experimental College and Music Theatre Conservatory. She proudly served as Artistic Associate for American Musical Theatre of San José and Producing Director for Diablo Theatre Company and was a member of the Castro Valley Arts Foundation Board of Directors from 2009-2012. She holds a Master of Social Work degree with a concentration in Health and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Dance with an emphasis in Choreography and Performance. Gia’s MFA thesis is entitled “Curriculum Implementation in Dance Education: How Benchmarks and Goal Setting Affect Student Learning Experiences and Outcomes.”


McGarry Caven

McGarry comes to us with extensive training in ballet, modern and jazz. He has studied with the San Francisco Ballet School, Joffrey Ballet, Banff School of Fine Arts and the First Chamber Dance Lab. He has toured with Chita Riviera in the national touring company of Chicago; with the Joffrey Ballet Company; and danced the lead in Bare Touch of Vegas, Casino Des Paris, Viv Les Girls, Dance Fever, Bravo Vegas, Branded in Las Vegas. Along with his performing career, he was the artist in residence in the dance department at UNLV for five years. While in Las Vegas, he taught at the Backstage Dance Studio and choreographed for the Actors Repertory Theater. He has choreographed shows for Harveys, Lake Tahoe; The Crystal Room, Tokyo, Japan; and the Aruba Concorde Hotel in Aruba. He currently teaches at CVPA and travels extensively as a freelance choreographer and teacher throughout the US and Canada.


Lindsey McLevis

A dancer from the age of three, Lindsey moved to Southern California to pursue her dance career. Through her time there, she has been lucky enough to work with artists such as Beyoncé, Kat Graham and Lil’Wayne. She was requested to train Charlie Sheen for his dance scene in the Roman Coppola film “A Glimpse in the Mind of Charles Swan the III,” in which she also appeared on-screen as a dancer and actress. She has been a part of the Grammys, the Latin Grammys, the Olympics and has appeared on television shows such as “So You Think You Can Dance,” “America’s Got Talent,” “First Look LA” and the news. Commercial credits include Old Navy, SENSA and Salon Pas, with industrials for NIKE, Amway, Sexy Hair Company. and Oakley Sunglasses. She has performed and taught internationally in places such as the Costa Rica, Guam, the Bahamas and has performed for one of the Saudi Arabian royal families. Lindsey trained a troupe of Chinese acrobats and was the dance captain and assistant choreographer for a major production overseas. Her company credits include Terry Beeman’s Dance Co. as a dancer and aerialist, Joelle Martinec’s SoleVita Dance Co. and RhetOracle Dance Company. She also attended college and received a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and is a certified diversity trainer. She is the director of “Perspectives Dance Company” – a new and innovative professional company located in the Silicon Valley.

Ali Lambrecht

Ali Lambrecht has been teaching and choreographing in the San Francisco Bay Area for twenty-two years. Most recently as Owner/Director of Coastal Vibe Dance Company in Santa Cruz, California. Her dancers have been accepted into the nation’s top dance programs such as Chapman University, the Boston Conservatory, the Alvin Ailey School, Loyola Marymount University of Manhattan, Alonzo Kings Lines, UT Austin, UC Irvine, Julliard and USC. Ali’s students have gone on to perform on FOX’s “So You Think You Can Dance”, “The Ellen Show” and Holland America Cruise Lines to name a few.


Vanessa McGautha

Vanessa joined the CVPA staff in 1998. She is a former head instructor and choreographer for Universal Dance Association where she taught across the country as well as judged the National Dance Team Championships televised on ESPN. Vanessa is also a former dancer and choreographer for the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. Her innovative fusion of jazz and hip-hop provide a style that is challenging yet exciting for her students.


Sarah Dougherty

Sarah currently travels all across the Bay Area to coach and perform. Sarah brings her energy and experience to CVPA as the tumbling instructor. She has competed in Nationals on a Tumbling and Acrobatics team from the East Bay and now has almost a decade of coaching experience with all ages, skill levels, personality types and learning preferences. She feels that proper progress is the result of a supportive environment and positive reinforcement. While much of her coaching has been in a gym, she loves coaching dancers in a studio given their high level of body awareness and control prior to their training in tumbling. It is Sarah’s belief that combining the beauty of dance and the power of tumbling creates a breathtaking performance and offers grace and strength simultaneously.


Kristina Dresen

Ever since Kristina eagerly slipped her feet into her first pair of ballet slippers at the tender age of five, it has been difficult to keep her out of them! Kristina has studied at three different dance studios in Castro Valley, but CVPA was always been the place that felt most like home to her. After being a passionate student at CVPA, Kristina was inspired to give back to the community and spread the love of dance to children of a variety of ages. She dabbled in choreographing and teaching for Douglas Morrison’s theater camps and has been teaching at CVPA since 2007. Helping to foster positivity, creativity and self-confidence in children is her number one passion in life. She currently has a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts with a minor in childhood studies and a multiple subject teaching credential for grades K-6. While she is not dancing her heart away at CVPA, she can be found molding the young and eager minds at Stanton Elementary where she teaches Kindergarten. Kristina’s dance classes are both fun and challenging. She has a large following of tiny dancers who adore her – appropriately calling her the “the little old lady who lives in the shoe” – tap shoe that is!

nicole ‘coco’ liboiron

Born and raised in Montreal, Canada, Nicole ‘Coco’ Liboiron became a member of the Royal Academy of Dancing in 1972. She studied with Dame Ninette de Valois, Julia Faron, and David Blair of the Royal Ballet, London. Her training also included jazz with Eva Von Gensky, Les Ballets Jazz de Montreal/modern with Eduard DeSoto, Jose Limon Company, NYC. She was a scholarship student at Harkness Ballet, NYC before becoming a soloist for the Les Ballet Russes de Montreal, Canada.

Coco has had an illustrative career as an educator.  She was a doctoral candidate of Education-Language, Literacy, and Culture at the University of California, Berkeley and has a Masters in Engineering, SFSU. Since 1970, Coco has taught classical ballet to children and adults both nationally and internationally.


Lataycha Washington

Lataycha Washington started dancing at the age of four. The root and foundation of her training started in hip hop and later expanded as she got older. Hip Hop started out as a hobby but soon developed into a full blown passion. Lataycha is currently pursuing a professional dance career and has performed alongside music icon, Janet Jackson. She was also a part of 2016’s Super Bowl half-time show with Beyonce. Lataycha has recently received her associates degree in dance from Diablo Valley College where she studied all forms of dance as well as dance history. She trained daily in hip-hop, ballet, jazz, modern, swing, salsa and Latin while balancing her academics and her growing dance career. Lataycha encourages dancers to try all genres of dance as all genres are important to build a well-rounded dancer.


Meredith Neyer

Meredith has been dancing at CVPA since the age of five and she has been teaching dance for the past three years. As a member of the CVPA senior competition team, she is proficient in many different dance genres such as tap, jazz, ballet and contemporary.  Meredith has received numerous scholarships in tap from various competitions and last year received a scholarship to the week-long tap intensive, “Slide” through Break the Floor Productions in Long Beach, CA. She has been lucky enough to study with “So You Think You Can Dance” choreographers, Anthony Morigerato and Al Blackstone. Meredith enjoys teaching young students and believes that it is not only important to teach good technique but equally important to cultivate a love of dance. Dance provides a wonderful community that Meredith enjoys sharing with her students.


Chloe Waldrep

Chloe Waldrep grew up dancing at Castro Valley Performing Arts. Her love for dance and love for children along with her advanced skill levels in a large array of dance genres eventually landed her a teaching position at CVPA. For the past 7 years, Chloe has been a popular teacher at CVPA teaching tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop and creative movement classes. She is currently a teacher for CVPA both at our studios and through the Hayward Area Recreation Department. Students find her classes to be both fun and challenging as she encourages her students to step out of their safety zone in a safe and nurturing environment. In addition to teaching at CVPA, Chloe attends CSU East Bay where she is pursuing a degree in Marketing Management. Her dance goals are to continue teaching and to encourage young dancers to have fun while gaining valuable mental and physical skills.

carolyn wilson

Carolyn Wilson

Carolyn Wilson began her ballet career in Alameda at the Alameda School of Dance and with the Alameda Chamber Ballet under the direction of Ms. Victoria Turner Rosas where she quickly made her way from Apprentice to Principal dancer. In 1996, Carolyn moved to Boston, where she continued her training under Elena Solovieva and the faculty of the Boston Ballet. She moved to Las Vegas in 1998 to continue her professional career with the Nevada Ballet Theatre. Carolyn moved back to the Bay Area and graduated from California State University, Hayward with a degree in Business Marketing and received a Wedding Consultant Certificate. She continues to pursue her other passion – working in the Weddings & Special Events Industry as a Certified Wedding Planner and owning her own business, Carolyn Wilson ~ Weddings & Events. In 2003, Carolyn joined the newly formed Alameda Civic Ballet as Soloist and in 2004 was promoted to Principal. No longer performing, Carolyn has dedicated her spare time to teaching for Alameda Ballet Academy, Castro Valley Performing Arts and assists Alameda Civic Ballet as Ballet Mistress.

Melissa M at CVPA

Melissa Mancini

Melissa Mancini is a Bay Area artist who recently graduated from the University of San Francisco with a degree in Performing Arts and Social Justice, (Dance concentration). Melissa grew up doing competitive dance until she finished high school. Since then, she has been a member of various dance teams and clubs throughout the Bay Area. She’s been trained in contemporary, jazz, hip-hop, modern, tap and ballet. Melissa has been passionate about dance her entire life and is excited to share her passion for dance with the students at Castro Valley Performing Arts.


Dallas Martin

Born in to a family that owned their own dance studio, Dallas has been dancing since she could walk. Dallas began her dance studies at her family’s dance studio. Upon its closing, she joined Castro Valley Performing Arts. Throughout her teenage years, she studied tap, ballet, jazz and hip-hop at CVPA where she quickly became known as the girl with the “fast-talking feet.” While in college, Dallas continue studying tap dancing with an emphasis on “rhythm tap”. Dallas is now the “rhythm tap” specialist at Castro Valley Performing Arts. In addition to her teaching at CVPA, Dallas is also a first grade teacher in the Dublin Unified School District where she can often be caught tapping down the hallways of Frederiksen Elementary School!


LaRissa Sterling

LaRissa began training at Castro Valley Performing Arts at the age of 12. Being a passionate and dedicated dancer, LaRissa soared through classes, eventually earning a spot on CVPA’s senior competitive tap team and senior hip-hop crew. While in high school, LaRissa was a member of the Varsity Song/Pom team. She was also a member of the Honors Dance Program in which she choreographed dances and participated in performances and festivals. She is a recent graduate from Loyola Marymount University where she minored in Dance. During her time at Loyola Marymount, LaRissa continued performing as a member of their hip-hop crew and also enjoyed sharing her passion for dance as a creative dance teacher for under-privileged children. Now, back in the Bay Area, LaRissa is looking forward to once again sharing her passion for dance as a member of the CVPA staff.


Alyssa Porte

Alyssa joined Castro Valley Performing Arts in 2006 as a student studying tap, hip-hop, jazz and ballet. She has been a member of the senior competition team at CVPA since 2011. Since that time, Alyssa has competed in numerous regional and national dance competitions, winning many top awards and scholarships in both tap and hip-hop. In 2015, Alyssa placed in the top ten overall senior solos at the national convention and competition at The Dance Awards in Las Vegas. In addition, she received a $500 scholarship to study at The Hollywood Summer Tour. Alyssa is currently teaching hip-hop and tap at Castro Valley Performing Arts where she enjoys watching the younger students develop a love for the arts just as she did.


Lili Eshtehar

Lili has been dancing at Castro Valley Performing Arts since the age of 3. She is proficient in a large number of dance genres including tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, hip-hop, contemporary and lyrical. She has attended summer and extracurricular programs studying with New York City’s Joffrey School of Ballet in Los Angeles; at Broadway Dance Center and Steps On Broadway in New York City; and Dancerpalooza’s hip-hop intensive, “KAMOTION” in Long Beach. In 2015, Lili was honored to be offered a position in the Joffrey Ballet Trainee Program in New York City. Lili has been the recipient of the tap, hip-hop, contemporary, lyrical and jazz scholarships from the JUMP and NUVO conventions. She was excited to be part of the 2016 “KAMOTION” music video choreographed by well-known hip-hop choreographers: Kenny Wormald, Misha Gabriel, Twitch, Willdabeast and Randi and Hefa. Dance is Lili’s passion that she loves sharing with the young dancers in her classes.


Diane Wagner

Diane Wagner began her ballet training at Central Valley School of Ballet with Beverly Payne Harrison in Turlock, CA who trained at the Royal Academy of Ballet in London. Diane also took summer sessions focused on the Cecchetti method of ballet. She went on to dance with Central Valley Dance Company for four years. She studied summers under Armin Wilde at Colombo School of Dance in Zurich, Switzerland. She later studied jazz and tap with Backstage Academy of Dance and was in their company for three years and ran their ballet program for one year teaching eighteen classes per week. Diane was a guest performer, dancing with Theater Ballet of San Francisco for two years. She then received a scholarship to Oakland Ballet Academy of Dance and went on to dance professionally with Oakland Ballet Company for eleven years with Ronn Guidi as Artistic Director, Howard Sayett as Ballet Master and Betsy Erikson who is now the Ballet Mistress for San Francisco Ballet. She also studied with Sally Streets at Berkeley Ballet and was honored to study with internationally acclaimed ballet teacher David Howard in New York who taught for the Royal Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, Joffrey Ballet and the National Ballet of Canada whose pupils included Gelsey Kirkland, Patricia McBride and Mikhail Baryshnikov. So inspired by David Howard and his accompanist, Lynn Stanford, Diane uses their ballet music for her classes.

After retiring from a professional dance career, Diane has created her own Ballet Fitness program and teaches ballet at Castro Valley Performing Arts. Besides dance, Diane is a corporate spokesperson, actress, television Host and producer. She hosted the Entertainment Network Dining Guide, co-hosted “The Real Estate Show,” wrote, produced and hosted “Inside Out with Diane Wagner” for fourteen years, has been honored with a National Cable ACE nomination and has won nineteen national Telly awards along with many others.


Bronwen Wilson

Bronwen Wilson grew up and trained in New Zealand. She holds a Bachelor of Dance from AUT in New Zealand. She has been teaching dance for over fifteen years and completed her Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) ballet teacher training with distinction. She also holds the RAD Teaching Diploma in Anatomy, Dance History and Child Psychology and Development and a Post Graduate Teaching Diploma in education that qualifies her as a high school teacher. Bronwen has performed in New Zealand, Canada and China and has had roles in several stage shows including Sound of Music, Godspell, High School Musical and West Side Story. Throughout her teaching career, Bronwen has taught at several tertiary institutions in New Zealand as well as for many private studios. Bronwen loves to teach both ballet and Broadway jazz; imparting both strong technique as well as a love of dance to her students. Bronwen recently moved from Canada to the USA and lives with her husband and two small children in Castro Valley. She is thrilled to be teaching at Castro Valley Performing Arts.

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Specializing in Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Lyrical, Contemporary, Hip-Hop, Tumbling, Stretch and Strengthen, Turns and Leaps, Musical Theater and Zumba for children and adults of all technical levels from beginners to the advanced. Group, private and semi-private classes are available. Boys' classes are also available.

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