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.
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.
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.”
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.
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!
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.
Amanda is a versatile Performer, Instructor and Choreographer in multiple dance styles including Jazz, Contemporary, Ballet and Latin Dance. She specializes in Latin Jazz and NY Style Salsa On 2, otherwise known as Mambo.
Amanda has been an instructor at some of the most prestigious dance institutions in NYC including The Joffrey Ballet School, Ballet Hispanico, Alvin Ailey, Broadway Dance Center, and Peridance.
In 2012 Amanda signed with MSA Talent Agency in NY and worked closely with Latin Choreographers Sekou McMiller and Maria Torres. Performance credits include Broadway Bares Equity Fights Aids at the Hammerstein Ballroom, The Latin Billboard Awards, where she danced for pop star Don Omar, The New York Knicks Latin Family Night at Madison Square Garden, The 33rd New York Salsa Festival at the Barclays Center, featuring Willie Colon, Grupo Niche, Eddie Palmieri, Frankie Negron, Eddie Santiago and Jerry Rivera, multiple benefits for The Latino Commission Against Aids, The Latin Nutcracker, television appearances on Telemundo, Univision, The BBC Vancouver and The Fox Upfronts featuring Terry Bradshaw and Regis Philbin at the Marquis Theater.
Amanda is a certified Yoga Instructor through Greenpath Yoga in San Francisco and holds her BA in Sociology with a concentration in Family Studies from San Jose State University.
Native San Franciscan Nicholas Korkos has danced professionally with Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Les Ballet Jazz de Montreal, Aszure Barton & Artists, Hubbard Street 2, Loni Landon Dance Project. Zhukov Dance Theatre, Robert Moses’ KIN, project agora, tinypistol, San Francisco Opera, and most recently has collaborated in numerous projects with director James Darrah, including three programs with the San Francisco Symphony. He also teaches at the LINES Ballet School B.F.A. and Training programs. CVPA is honored to have him join our faculty teaching contemporary, lyrical and conditioning for dancers.
After graduating from SJSU with a Bachelor of Arts in 2008, Dominique pursed her two passions – Dance and Teaching – and became a Professor of Dance at her Alma Mater. Her expertise allows her to teach all levels of Jazz, Modern, Improvisation Techniques, Ballet and she continues to choreograph for University Dance Theater. Her works EmbodyONE and MissShapen Fortune were selected to be performed by University Dance Theater and were presented at the American College Association 2009/2013. She also danced for sjDANCEco. and currently performs with the REACH BC Dance Company. Dominique is an avid teacher all throughout the Bay Area, using her innate abilities to inspire students and fellow dancers alike to pursue their passion for the art of dance.
Cindy Heen has been dancing since the age of 2. Currently she is a professional dancer, choreographer, educator and working on her MFA in Dance at Mills College in California. During the fall of 2017, she will be teaching a Jazz Class at Mill’s as a graduate student. With her studies, she is becoming a dance scholar. She has her Florida Department of Education Certificate to teach dance in the public schools for grades K-12. She has a strong background in Vaganova Method Ballet and teaches ballet from this base. Recently she worked for American Ballet Theatre as a mentor to their preprofessional students at the University of Texas, Austin. Some of Cindy’s choreography credits include “American Dance Legend(Season 3)”, “The Pajama Game”, “Legally Blonde”, “Grease”, “Joseph and The Technicolor Dreamcoat”, “Seussical”, “Aladdin Jr The Musical”, “Lion King Junior”, & “School House Rocks. Miss Heen is a graduate from the University of Central Florida . She has danced for various dance companies in central Florida including: Dawn Branch Works , Emotions Dance Company, and Vixen Talent Productions. She has been a guest performer with Aretuza’s Ballerina Project, Center for Contemporary Dance, and various other companies and choreographers. She has taught Drama and PE at The Crenshaw School for grades K-12 for four years, as well as directed shows for them. She has taught various master classes throughout Florida. She is currently bi-coastal, and is really enjoying the west coast dance scene. Dancing, choreographing, teaching, and being an advocate for the arts is what Cindy has dedicated her life to. Styles of dance Cindy teaches: contemporary, jazz, ballet, pointe, musical theater, and some gymnastics.
Rachel Kuczynski grew up in Northern California and started training as a competitive gymnast and athlete, earning statewide awards in both disciplines. She extensively studied Ballet, Jazz, Modern and Tap at the Academy of Performing Arts in her hometown of Tracy, CA. With that, she has received many awards for her Jazz, Contemporary and Musical Theater pieces in multiple competitions. She went on to continue her training at California State University Long Beach on a Track and Field Scholarship, majoring in and acquiring a B.A. in Dance.
After college, she moved to New York to pursue her dance career . Rachel has also studied with the Long Beach Ballet Academy, Atlanta School of Ballet amd Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. She has performed works by Martha Graham, Susan Mclain, “Gruisin Suite” by Frank Chavez, “Table of Silence” and Requiem” with the Buglisi Dance Theatre in NYC. Her most recent works include dancing and touring with, The Modarts Dance Collective Company, based in New York. Traveling with the off-Broadway show, “Dancing Queen,” by Spirit Productions and performing in the Musical Theater piece ” Love Rerouted” for the Capezio A.C.E. Awards. She continues to travel in the U.S. judging dance competitions and choreographing for multiple dance studios. Rachel is excited to join the CVPA Faculty!
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 has been dancing since the age of five under the direction of Janet Taddie. After being given the opportunity to assist in children’s classes at the age of 13, she quickly realized her passion for teaching and has now been part of the CVPA staff for over 20 years. Melissa formerly coached and choreographed for a number of years at CSU Hayward and Bishop O’Dowd High School. She is also a 4 year former member of the Golden State Warriors dance team. Now a busy Mom of three, she is still enjoys sharing her love of dance with little ones at CVPA.
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.
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.
Mariana Sobral began her study of ballet in Argentina as a student of the Escuela Nacional Danzas. She later attended the University of Buenos Aires where she studied dance in a newly created performing arts program. Her performance experience includes working as a principal dancer and soloist in many traditional classical and contemporary ballet works such as “Giselle”, ” The Sleeping Beauty”, “Coppelia”, “Les Sylphides”, “La Bayadere”, and ” Who Cares?” among others.
Over the years, Mariana has developed ballet programs and created award winning choreography for many studios throughout the Bay Area. She has taught and directed students of all ages and experience levels for The New Ballet School (formerly The Silicon Valley Ballet), Bay Area Dance School, Santa Clara Ballet, South Bay Dance Center, Pacific Ballet Academy, Peninsula Ballet Theatre, and San Jose State University. Mariana is the founder of eMOtion Arts, a company dedicated to offering educational and enrichment programs in the way of workshops, master classes, and seminars to dancers of all backgrounds, ages and levels. In 2017, she partnered with the recording artist Mario Spinetti and co-founded “Muse”, the first company in the world dedicated to musicality training for dancers.
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!
Meredith has been dancing since the age of two, spending the majority of her training under Janet Taddie, Janel Tomblin-Brown, Bob Macke and Deborah Skinner. She received her B.A. in Dance Performance/Choreography as well as a minor in Musical Theater in June of 2000 from San Jose State University. Her most recent training comes from Robert Moses, Janet Van Swoll, Janie Scott, Fred Mathews and Gary Masters. Her professional career started at a young age with numerous performances in The Oakland Ballet’s Nutcracker and with Joannie Greggains “Dance Fitness” television show. She, then, moved on to perform in many shows at Paramount’s Great America as well as becoming their Entertainment Manager. Most recently, she could be seen as a dancer and performer in various shows in Disneyland. Meredith’s teaching style is warm, calm and affirming. She believes every child is a unique individual and makes it her goal to help them discover and nurture their individuality through dance. She enjoys teaching students of all ages – toddler through adult. Her specialties are tap, jazz, hip-hop and lyrical as well as musical theater.
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.
Kelsey Wood has been dancing since the age of six. She always knew there would be a place for her on stage or in a classroom setting. Starting her journey at Castro Valley Performing Arts in 2001, she continued at the studio for twelve years and became a teacher in 2013. While completing her B.A. in Psychology, Kelsey has been a member of the the Cal State University East Bay’s urban hip-hop community. She has competed on various hip-hop teams throughout the Bay Area including “Full Potential Dance Company”, “The Tribe” and “The Tens” Heels Performance Crew in San Francisco with whom she performed in Las Vegas in 2016. In 2015, Kelsey trained at the “Debbie Allen Summer Intensive” in Los Angeles and performed in the 2015 Special Olympics airing on ESPN under the direction of Miss Debbie Allen, herself. From 2016-2017, Kelsey spent eight months in the Debbie Reynolds Professional Dance Studio Scholarship Program in North Hollywood. This scholarship program awarded Kelsey over 25 hours per week of dance and fitness training, image consultations, mentor sessions and injury prevention workshops. With her vast knowledge of the various dance styles, Kelsey is not only able to teach hip-hop, jazz funk, popping/locking and wacking but is also well-qualified as a contemporary, jazz and tap teacher. Castro Valley Performing Arts welcomes Kelsey back to our faculty!
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.