Our House Instructors
Youth Modern / Jazz
Beth has been teaching in the East Bay since 2010. She has trained professionally in tap, jazz, ballet, and theater dance. She is honored to have worked for the Alvin Ailey Dance Camp at Cal Performances for two summers where she assisted middle school students in learning the dance styles of Horton Modern, jazz, West African, and ballet. Beth is currently an instructor and manager for The Bar Method Berkeley. She is a dedicated athlete who is a Boston Marathon qualifying runner.
Bianca Rodriguez began dancing Clásico Español at the age of 3 in Laredo, Texas with Cristina Greco and Mina Gutierrez, who both performed with Jose Greco. She learned Sevillanas at the age of 7 from Jose Greco II and began assisting classes in her school. Bianca received a degree in flamenco dance from the University of New Mexico under the direction of Eva Encinias. Bianca’s proudest moments have been working with gypsy singers Keka Villar, Silverio Heredia, Kina Méndez, Jose Mendez and legendary dancer Carmen Ledesma. In 2013, Bianca moved to the Bay, performs regularly in tabloas and co-produces and directs, along with Jenny Luna, Balkan and Turkish singer, “Ole, Opa!” She has worked with Theatre Flamenco since 2017 and visiting artists such as Juana la del Pipa, Pastora Galván, and Adela Campallo.
Chi Chi Okonmah
Student, teacher, choreographer and performer of rhythm tap, Chi Chi’s style and passion (greatly influenced by the late tap master Gregory Hines) emphasizes the importance of solid technique, flawless rhythm, dedicated practice and personal style.
Gabriel Bata, M.A is a percussionist / dancer from Cameroon specializing in traditional performing art forms from West/Central Africa and the Caribbean. Gabriel Bata has taught and performed percussion / dance extensively. He has taught workshops at Houston Community College, Akwaba festival (Houston, TX), University of Central Oklahoma, Tarrant County College, University of South East Missouri, Afro Latin Dance Festival (Houston, TX), Baget Centre (Port au Prince, Haiti), Makonen dance festival (Cap Haitien, Haiti). His performance credits include The Black Choreographer’s Festival (Oakland, CA), The San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, Chicago African Arts festival, Cuba Caribe (San Francisco, CA), Movement Evlution (Houston,TX), Ifest (Houston, TX), Fithye music Festival (Turkey), Yemanja Festival (Berkeley, CA), Makonen (Cap Haitien, Haiti). Gabriel Bata is currently an educator specializing in African Studies utilizing his cultural knowledge of African performing arts to enrich the lives of his students.
Gregg’s background includes the study of piano, jazz music (history, theory, and on piano), gymnastics and psychology. This range provides students the technical feedback, musical, and artistic qualities necessary to develop within and outside the classroom setting. He has studied with 35 instructors over 18 years including Gregory Hines, Dianne Walker, Roxane Butterfly, Linda Sohl-Essel, Mark Mendonca, to name a few. He makes an ongoing study of tap masters like Eddie Brown, Honi Coles, Cholly Atkins, Baby Laurence, and Jimmy Slyde. He has been called a teacher/artist/performer with the emphasis in that order. Gregg’s been teaching in California for 14 years. His first love is that of teaching — seeing students grow and enjoy the process and expression it provides.
Irina & Nick
Tap & Swing
Irina and Nick met each other on the dance competitions where they perform with different partners. By that time (about 20 years ago) they both were top swing dancers in Russia. They constantly competed against each other in regional, national, and international championships for a few years until… they got married. Each has a unique experience as dance instructors and choreographers, their students were champions and prizewinners in Russian and Ukraine nationals, their own three kids along with “Swing Kids Dance Company” actively perform recently in Berkeley, Alameda, San Francisco, LA, and Oakland. Nick and Irina are passionate about Swing Dance. They actively teach, perform, and compete for the sake of “Old Time Style” and New Generation Development.
Katy Yong has an extensive dance and movement background and training since the age of 8. As native of Peru, Katy grew up immersed in Latin American and Chinese cultures. Her earlier studies involved Peruvian folklore, Afro-Peruvian and Chinese dances as well as Jazz, Ballet and Modern Dance. In addition, she trained competitively in Rhythmic Gymnastics throughout high school. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Worlds Arts and Cultures with Dance concentration from UCLA. As an instructor, she continues to be inspired by her students’ energy, dedication and pure joy for dancing.
Jacque hails from Seattle, and is a master samba teacher, choreographer and, performer. She began her formal training in 1967, studying everything from ballet to afro-jazz, to the African dances of the Diaspora. Upon her arrival to the San Francisco in 1978, she began a historic partnership with Jose Lorenzo, Founder and Director of Batucaje the first African Brazilian Music and Dance Company & Escola de Samba in the United States, performing nationally and internationally. Batucaje was integral to the development of San Francisco’s Carnival. Jacque has a BA in Anthropology from UC Berkeley, in addition to 3 years of graduate Studies in Expressive Arts Therapy from CIIS in the City. She is a mother, grandmother and heart failure survivor.
Kathryn Golden is a certified instructor practicing yoga since her teens. She believes in creating an environment to work creatively, deeply and safely where practice can be a therapeutic release in our day-to-day routine. Golden’s passions include dancing, performing and is an award-winning filmmaker.
Laurie Fleurentin was born in Haiti and began dancing at the age of five at Academy of Ballet and Arts under the direction of Miss Heileing Herzog. She studied traditional Haitian dance with Armande J. Piard and Vivianne Gauthier and received a Diploma in Dance at L’ ENARTS (Ecole Nationale des Arts) school of Arts in Haiti. She is also a trained vocalist in Haitian Folkloric Traditional chants. Laurie became a professional dancer for Vivianne Gauthier Dance Company where she met Florencia Pierre and started dancing for Afoutayi Jaka. She has also performed at San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival with Eloi Movement and the Haitian Festival at San Francisco with Afoutayi. She is a versatile Haitian dancer of our times and has dedicated herself to the research, development and promotion of traditional Haitian dances, songs and storytelling.
Luz Mena is a cultural geographer, dance instructor, and performer. Her research explores how dance articulates meanings related to gender, race, class, and other forms of social differentiation. She co-directs ANDARES, an international and multidisciplinary art project seeking social justice in El Salvador. Having trained in a wide gamma of dances, including Afro-Cuban, Afro-Brazilian, Cuban popular, jazz, modern-contemporary, flamenco, and ballroom, Luz now specializes in Latin American rhythms, which she teaches with an emphasis on cultural expression. She has been a member of Arenas Dance Company since 2010.
Nina Cooper received early ballet training at American Ballet Theater in New York. She studied jazz in Paris and performed in the modern dance company at UC Berkeley. She found her artistic home studying modern jazz blues with Elvia Marta and Bayan Jamay over the course of several decades.
Nives Wetzel de Cediel
Nives, aka Professora Sambambaia, will instruct you in the art and technique of samba de roda, bloco, afoxé, axé, and puxada de rede. She emphasizes the importance of body alignment, balance, theatricality and musicality to the execution of sublime movement and the enjoyment of deep dance practice. Her class is challenging, rewarding and suitable for all levels of skill and experience.
Ballet / Pilates
Paul parish is a certified Pilates trainer with 30 years of study in ballet (also in lindy hop, West African, Limon, Cunningham, contact improvisation techniques. He has performed with Dance Brigade, Remy Charlip, UC Dance and Drama, Omega West and Folawole. He is also a dance critic and has written for San Francisco Magazine, Ballet Review, The New Yorker and the Bay Area Reporter.
Roger has been a dancer, teacher and choreographer since 1979. He has trained extensively throughout the U.S.A. and overseas, studying an assortment of dance styles and techniques including modern, jazz, blues, Afro Haitian and ballet. Roger currently teaches (modern jazz blues) for adults and creative movement classes for children and teens.
Susan Main is a Northern California dance teacher, choreographer, producer and performer. She has taught tap at U.C. Santa Cruz and Razz-Ma-Tazz Dance Company in Santa Cruz; Santa Rosa Junior College, The Dance Center and Sebastopol Community Center in Sonoma County; Mason-Kahn Studio and The Center For Performing Arts in San Francisco; and Gualala Arts and The Arena Theater in Mendocino County. She also teaches modern, jazz, musical theater, storytelling, singing and dancing for everyone, and general playfulness.
Susana Arenas Pedroso is an internationally recognized Cuban folkloric and popular dancer, choreographer and director. Trained in La Casa de Cultura de Matanzas, Conjunto Folklórico Nacional and Raíces Profundas in Havana, she performed professionally for 17 years in Cuba before relocating to the United States in 1998. Since then Susana has choreographed and performed in numerous works that have been exhibited throughout the United States, Mexico, Cuba and Hong Kong. In 2004 she founded Arenas Dance Company, which specializes in Cuban folkloric and popular traditions. She has received special awards and glowing reviews for her dance company’s peformances, most recently for “Manos de Mujer a la Obra,” presented in the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival at the War Memorial Opera House in 2018.
Yismari Ramos Tellez
Cuban dancer and choreographer, Yismari Ramos Tellez, graduated from the National School of Art in Havana, Cuba with a degree in modern and Afro-Cuban folkloric dance in 1992. For six years Yismari danced with the Tony Melenedez Dance Company in Cuba, and later for the Ballet de la Television Cubana in Havana. She regularly performed on television, in video, and in live shows for the top bands in Cuba. She toured in Italy, Russia, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Ecuador, Canada, and Panama. With more than 20 years of experience as a teacher, Yismari is currently the artistic director, choreographer, and soloist of The Cali Dance.