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SMC|Academic Programs|Dance|Faculty & Staff

Faculty & Staff

Full Time Faculty

Judith Douglas, Dance Department Chair

Ballet, Dance History, Dance in American Culture, African, Mexican, World Dance Performance

Judith Douglas

Professor Judith Douglas currently serves as Chair of the SMC Dance Department and she has been teaching dance at SMC since 1974. She is the founder and former Artistic Director of Global Motion, World Dance Company (formally Folklorico de SMC). Since coming to Santa Monica College, professor Douglas has taught Dance in American Cultures, Dance History, all levels of Ballet, Modern dance, Jazz dance, Tap dance, African dance and Mexican dance. From childhood through adulthood she has performed dance on stage and television. She holds a B.A. in Art, M.A. in Dance, and a lifetime Secondary Teaching Credential.

Judith Douglas began dance training in Cecchetti Ballet as a young child. She continued with the Imperial Society of Dance to pass all of the ISTD examinations in Cecchetti Classical Ballet Technique. She then went on to study and perform regional Mexican Dance, Traditional West African, Katharine Dunham Technique and Tap Dance. She has also taught at Los Angeles Pierce College, West Los Angeles College and Mission College.

Aside from SMC, Judith has served four years as a board member of Asociación Nacional de Grupos Folklóricos and has taken students to study and perform Mexican dance throughout the U.S. and Mexico. She has adjudicated the Amalia Hernandez National Ballet Folklorico Competition for two years and has created performances for the Los Angeles Mayor's Office. Judith Douglas has been an active participant in the SMC Academic Senate. She has served on the Sabbaticals and Fellowship Committee for four years, as the Senate Treasurer for two years, Chair of the Social Committee for two years and has served as chair of the Professional Development Committee for the past four years. She has served on the SMC Global Council, the Basic Skills Initiative Committee, and the Facilities Planning Committee. She was the recipient of the SMC Foundation Chair of Excellence Grant and was sent by the college to attend the Salzburg Global Seminar. She has recently been awarded a Sabbatical to write a course reader in Dance in American culture. Email address: douglas_judith@smc.edu 


Jae Young Lee

Ballet, Modern, Dance History, Choreographer

Jae Young LeeJae Lee began her dance training in South Korea where she earned a B.S. degree in ballet from the Han Yang University. In Korea, she was a member of the Lee Ballet Company and danced professionally from 2001 to 2002. In 2003, Lee attended the State University of New York, College at Brockport and earned an M.A. degree in dance. From SUNY Brockport, she studied under Bill Evans, Juanita Suarez and Suzanna Newman. Lee also holds an M.F.A. degree in dance with an emphasis in choreography from the University of California, Irvine. Through her training and education in Southern California, she has had the opportunity to work and study with well-known choreographers, dance researchers and filmmakers, such as Donald McKayle, Lisa Naugle, Jennifer Fisher and John Crawford.

In 2007, Lee presented one of her major works, Searching for My Voice (2007) at the Orange County Performing Arts Center as part of the Fall for Dance Concert. She has been actively participating the American College Dance Association (ACDA) and her choreographies have been selected to be performed in 'best of festival' Gala Concerts. In 2014, Lee’s contemporary ballet, Interwoven (2013) was one of the 11 dances selected for the Culminating Gala Concert in the ACDA. Recently, Lee was honored as recipient of the Luis Nazar Chair of Excellence in the Performing Arts and will use the award to implement a guest artist series; exposing our students to international leaders in the field of dance. Lee is a full time faculty at Santa Monica College teaching ballet, contemporary modern dance, choreography, and dance history, while co-directing Synapse Dance Theatre as an artistic director. Email address: lee_jae@smc.edu


Mark Tomasic
Ballet, Modern, Dance History, Choreographer
 
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Mark Tomasic has worked with a variety of renowned dance companies in his 20+ year career as a professional dancer including Ballet Contemporaneo de Buenos Aires, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Cleveland San Jose Ballet, Tom Evert Dance Company, The Dancing Wheels Company & School, and Verb Ballets. Among others, Mark has performed principal and featured roles in the masterworks of such notable choreographers as Martha Graham, Donald McKayle, Paul Taylor, David Parsons, Sean Curran, May O’Donnell, George Balanchine, Antony Tudor, Flemming Flindt, Heinz Poll, Talley Beatty, Dennis Nahat, Mauricio Wainrot, Nils Christe, and Agnes de Mille.
 
On national television, Mark has been seen in the principal role of Big Boss Man in Dennis Nahat’s Blue Suede Shoes (PBS), as a featured performer on Christopher Reeve: A Celebration of Hope (ABC), and as a dancer on The Drew Carey Show (ABC). Theatrical credits include the Great Lakes Theater Festival and Cleveland Opera.
 
As a choreographer, Mark has created work for Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company, Verb Ballets, the Dancing Wheels Company & School, Laguna Dance Festival, Ashland Regional Ballet, Belhaven University, Loyola Marymount University and University of California, Irvine.
Mark has worked extensively in the field of physically integrated dance with the Dancing Wheels Company & School, one of the premier arts and disability organizations in the United States. He currently serves as Artistic Consultant to the Company and travels nationally and internationally to teach physically integrated dance to students and professionals alike.
 
Mark holds an MFA in Dance from the University of California, Irvine and a BFA in Ballet from the University of Cincinnati – College Conservatory of Music. He has taught at various institutions including the University of Cincinnati, Ohio Northern University, Hiram College, University of California, Irvine, and Loyola Marymount University. Email address: tomasic_mark@smc.edu
 

Part Time Faculty


Seda Aybay

Modern, Ballet
Seda Aybay.jpgSeda Aybay: born and raised in Istanbul/Turkey, began her dance training at the age of five with ballet. She completed the exams of The Royal Academy of Dancing/England while studying modern, jazz and tap dance forms. After being awarded three-times first place in modern dance at the Turkish National Dance competition, Aybay came to Los Angeles/USA, graduated with honors from SMC and with Summa Cum Laude from UCLA Worlds Arts and Cultures in dance/choreography. After completing Alvin Ailey program in New York, she returned to LA and found her company Kybele Dance Theater (2003) which won her choreography awards from Dance Under the Stars Festival, MAD BAD Festival as well as RAW 2011 Los Angeles Performing Artist Award. Her works had been toured and presented in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Fresno, Concord, San Jose, Palm Desert, San Diego, San Francisco, New York, and Seattle.

Aybay has also been invited to choreograph for Calstate Fresno, LACSA, Santa Monica Collage, Praxis Project, Cerritos College, Pierce College, Spectrum, Why Dance, La Dance Festival and Pasadena Dane Festival. She also created solos and small group pieces for Youth America Grand Prix 2012- 2014 and got invited to NY finals.  Mrs. Aybay has performed with numerous dance companies including  "Praxis Project", Lion's Pounds Theater, Lula Washington Dance Theater, Kin Dance, Brockus Project, Bethune Danse Theatre, Paradigm Dance Theater, Magan and Jefferey Hornaday. She was featured as a dancer on KTLA channel 9, Univision Kmex34, and Fox11 as performer. Email address: aybay_seda@smc.edu 
 


Mary Bender

Modern, Dance History

Meri Bender has been teaching, dancing and choreographing in the Los Angeles area for over 30 years. She received her BA (with honors) and MA in Dance from UCLA and was the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship. Ms. Bender was director of choreography at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts for 16 years and received seven grants from the Los Angeles Cultural Affairs Department and other organizations to bring dance/dramas to underserved high schools. Ms. Bender's dances have appeared on "Dance Kaleidoscope" at Cal State LA, the Fountain Theater, the Miles Playhouse and Barnsdall Park. Videotapes of her dance/dramas have been used to stimulate discussions in ESL classrooms around the country. Recently, she presented a full length evening of dance at Highways entitled "Dance Cycles". Email address: bender_mary@smc.edu

 

Laura Canellias  

Ballroom, Salsa

Laura Canellias

Laura Canellias, also known as the "First Lady of Salsa," is one of the foremost salsa instructors on the west coast. Originally from Texas , Laura started dancing jazz, ballet & tap at an early age and continued on into musical theater where she developed her skills as an actress & stage performer. She later focused her energies on various social dances which encompassed everything from ballroom to swing, Latin & country western. After moving to Los Angeles 16 years ago, Laura has made a name for herself in the world of salsa, affectionately referred to by some of her students & friends as "The Salsa Queen," she has been teaching as well as choreographing for television & stage while also appearing as a featured dancer in films such as "The Mambo Kings," "Out To Sea" & "Dance With Me." One of the high points in her career was choreographing & performing "Oye Como Va" & "Ran Kan Kan" with the great Tito Puente at the 1998 4th Annual Achievement in Arts Award Show sponsored by The Whitney Houston Foundation. She was most recently honored in San Juan , Puerto Rico at the 2000 Bacardi World Salsa Congress with the Anibal Vasquez Award, one of the most prestigious awards in the salsa community. She was also recognized for her contributions to this industry at the 1999 & 2003 West Coast Salsa Congress.

She has taught in Japan , Europe , Canada & Puerto Rico. Five years ago Laura was invited to join the eclectic salsa performance group, Salsa ConFunkshon, but soon after, assumed the role of artistic director & choreographer for the group. They are best known for their unique blend of theater, comedy & originality, while experimenting & incorporating various rhythms & dance styles in their theme-based performances. They have performed every year at the West Coast Salsa Congress in Los Angeles. She also teaches at Rudolpho's in Silverlake, Sportsman's Lodge in Studio City & Cafe' Roberto's in Culver City .Laura's honors include: "Outstanding Achievement Award" West Coast Salsa Congress 2003,Los Angeles , CA, "The Andy Vasquez Award" Bacardi World Salsa Congress 2000,San Juan, Puerto Rico, "Outstanding Achievement Award" Bacardi West Coast Salsa Congress 1999 Los Angeles, CA. Email address: canellias_laura@smc.edu  


Keali'i Ceballos 

ceballos-bio.jpgKeali'i Ceballos is an internationally acclaimed teacher, dancer and choreographer of Hawaiian and Polynesian dance in Los Angeles. he is also Director of Halau Keali'i O Nalani a Los Angeles based Halau Hula (Hula School). He studied under renowned teachers such as Cecilia Cissylani Ceballos, Nona Beamer, George Na'ope, Kawaikapuokalani Hewett and Robert Uluwehi Cazimero. Ceballos has taught over 2000 dancers over the past 30 years and Halau Keali'i O Nalani is today one of the largest schools for Hawaiian dance in southern California. Through his school Kumu Ceballos shows tremendous dedication to teach and bring the work of the students to the concert stage. Halau Keali'i O Nalani regularly enters competitions in Hawai'i and on the mainland, and placed 4th in the 2008 Merrie Monarch Hula competition (Kane Kahiko).

Most recently his school performed in the 2008 Emerging Voices Youth Project for the World Festival of Sacred Music. He is also knowledgeable and teaches the dance of Tahiti, Maori and Samoa. Keali’i strives to perpetuate the Hawaiian culture - its art, its identity, its language, its sense of ’ohana.  Email address: ceballos_bernard@smc.edu

 

Kristin Deiss

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Kristin grew up in Philadelphia, PA where she first received her dance training at the Rock School of the Pennsylvania Ballet before attending both the School of American Ballet as well as the Miami City Ballet School.  She started studying modern dance with mentor Cheryl Clark while earning a B.A. in History from Drew University and later continued to train under Marion Hopkins as she pursued a Masters in History from UNC Chapel Hill.  In 2012,

Kristin received an M.F.A. in Dance Performance and Choreography from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University where she performed original works by Pamela Pietro, Sydney Skybetter, and John-Mark Owen.  

Also a certified yoga teacher through the Mind Body Dancer® 200 Yoga Teacher Training, as well as a Reiki Master and an advanced Integrated Energy Therapy Practitioner, Kristin continues to investigate the body in a myriad of ways. Most recently, she has performed with Cherylyn Lavagnino Dance and Ensemble Dance in NYC and is currently on faculty at AMDA College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts, Relativity School, and Santa Monica College. Email address: deiss_kristin@smc.edu

  

Sheetal Gandhi

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Sheetal Gandhi’s work has been described as “eloquent, inventive, virtuosic dance-theater” by the Philadelphia Inquirer utilizing “incisive commentary offset by brilliant touches of humor” (Narthaki).  She is a multi-hyphenated artist (singer, dancer, choreographer, actor) with a career that has spanned genres and disciplines including work as a creator and performer in Cirque du Soleil’s Dralion, playing a leading role in the Broadway production of Bombay Dreams, dancing throughout Ghana with the traditional West African dance company Novisi, and singing with the New York based, all-female a cappella group,
Anamcara.   

Today, Gandhi is based in Los Angeles where she initiates her own creative projects, choreographs and acts for theater, film, and television, and offers workshops and school-assembly shows that serve to educate, inspire and entertain.  She holds an M.F.A. in dance from UCLA and teaches at various universities.  She collaborates with artists and theater companies including Cornerstone Theater, Dan Froot and the Who’s Hungry project, Post Natyam, South Coast Repertory, and more. Gandhi’s acclaimed solo dance-theater work, Bahu-Beti-Biwi, which received the 2012-13 NDP Touring Award has been performed widely across the U.S. and in over 5 countries. She was also awarded two prestigious artist residencies in 2014 (Djerassi and Montalvo), the 2012 Annenberg Community Beach House Choreography Residency, a 2011 COLA Individual Artist Grant, the LA Dance Advance Grant, and was a participating member of the 2012 Choreographers in Mentorship Exchange (CHIME) Program.  Her passion for intercultural exchange has been supported by the 2010 Asia Pacific Performance Exchange (APPEX), a Cultural Exchange International (CEI) fellowship in Amsterdam, and an invitation to attend the Tanzmesse International Festival for Contemporary Dance in Dusseldorf, Germany.  Gandhi received her formal training in dance studios in Northern California, New York City and at the University of California Irvine (UCI).  While here, she studied with and performed for her most influential dance mentor to date, world-renowned modern dance choreographer, Donald McKayle.  McKayle encouraged Gandhi’s love for rhythm and character work.  This love for rhythm and culture inspired Gandhi to spend a year in Ghana, West Africa, where she was deeply immersed in the music, dance and culture of the region.  It also returned her back to her roots in India for an extended time to study the North Indian classical dance form, Kathak.  
 
Gandhi’s commitment to artistic innovation, personal transformation and social change continues to lead her to work with various artists and non-artist communities - both locally and abroad - where she strives to build bridges across class, gender, age and cultural differences through the arts. Email address: gandhi_sheetal@smc.edu

Gustavo Gonlez 

Dance in American Culture, Dance History and Choreography

gustavo website.jpgGustavo González is an accomplished dance artist and adjunct faculty here at Santa Monica College where he teaches Dance 2-Dance in American Culture, and Dance 5-Dance History. Mr. González is known for creating dance works and developing his own dance technique and style that celebrate the Mexican American experience. He has worked and/or participated with accomplished artists and various dance companies with whom he toured throughout the United States and Mexico. In 1996, he founded AguaLuna Dance Company as a vehicle where to express his creativity and research findings as well as his advocacy for the field of dance and arts in education.

Hence, his professional development, community arts and arts advocacy involvement, Mr. González has taken part in participatory arts projects and arts in education programs throughout Southern California including: Orange County, City of Santa Ana, Fullerton, Anaheim, and Los Angeles County, City of Los Angeles Parks and Recreation, Cultural Affairs Department of Los Angeles, City of Long Beach Parks and Recreation, Arts Council of Long Beach, Los Angeles County Arts Commission and Los Angeles Music Center on Tour Education Division, as dance master, teacher, grant panelist, consultant, advisor, committee member, and producing artistic director.

During his postgraduate studies at Pacific Oaks College, Mr. González expanded his views of dance to include dance in a social, cultural and historical context of human development. Email address: gonzalez_gustavo@smc.edu

 

Rochelle Guardado
 
Contemporary
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Rochelle Guardado is a dancer, teacher and choreographer.  She has taught at various performing arts institutions such as Orange County High School of the Arts, International Dance Academy in Hollywood, Antelope Valley College and many Southern California dance studios.  In 2007 she founded the Hidden Entropy Movement Project; a contemporary dance company that performs in the Antelope Valley and Los Angeles areas.  She has danced with Gluck Modern Touring Ensemble, Antelope Valley Ballet, Hidden Entropy Movement Project and Joseph Allen Decker Dance Company.  Recently, she has both performed and showcased work at venues around Europe and the U.S. including WUK Im Flieger in Vienna, Danscentrum Jette in Brussels, CCN Ballet De Lorraine in France, American Dance Festival at Duke, El Portal Theater in Los Angeles and an installation piece at the Lancaster Museum of Art and History.  Rochelle holds an M.F.A which she received through the Hollins University/American Dance Festival M.F.A. program in dance. Email address: guardado_rochelle@smc.edu
 
 

Lauren Hall

Jazz
 
Lauren Hall.jpgLauren Hall is a choreographer, teacher, and dance media artist.  She received her MFA in Dance from the University of California, Irvine, and a BFA in Dance from Marymount Manhattan College.  Lauren has guest lectured and set choreography at the University of Central Oklahoma, Lamar University, Stephens College, University of Hawaii – Manoa, and the Beijing Dance Academy.  She also spent two years as a Visiting Assistant Professor in the dance division at Southern Methodist University where she taught all levels of jazz technique, developed a dance technology curriculum for the program, and directed their student choreography concert.      
 
In 2013, Lauren took residency in the dance department at Western Michigan University as part of their “Great New Works” program.  While at WMU, she created a new work on the students, taught master classes in jazz, and led dance media workshops. 
 
Lauren’s dance films have been shown at Dance Camera West, the Newport Beach Film Festival, Dance Camera Istanbul, and the Beijing International Dance Film Festival.  In 2010, Lauren was featured on ABC’s Emmy award winning show “Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution” where she choreographed a huge flash mob that combined dancing and cooking.  Recently, Lauren has taught courses at Chapman University, CSU Long Beach, and CSU San Marcos.  Currently, she is adjunct faculty at Long Beach City College and Santa Monica College. Email address: hall_lauren@smc.edu

Cati Jean

Ballet, Modern, Jazz

 Originally from Paris, Cati has studied classical ballet since the age of 8. She studied extensively with renowned teachers and choreographers of the Cuban Ballet, the famous Rosella Hightower fro Cannes, the Marais School in Paris and the Opera de Paris. Modern and contemporary dance were introduced to her as she went on to study Jose Limon and Martha Graham techniques in Paris. Before moving to Los Angeles, Cati worked in television for 5 years in Paris while performing in the famous cabaret shows Aleazar de Paris and Le Paradis Latin. She is the creator and choreographer of the highly acclaimed stage performance, L'effeur de Sens, a French variety cabaret. Cati Jean has been a guest choreographer and judge for Bravo's dance reality show "Step It Up and Dance" . She has also choreographed for MGM Grand's new television campaign and judged for CBS's "Big Shot Live". Email address: jean_cati@smc.edu


Jennifer Jesswein

Middle Eastern Dance

Jennifer Jesswein 1.jpegJennifer Jesswein holds a BA in Fine Art from California State University, East Bay. Beginning with Baton at age four, her background also includes Ballet, Tap, Turkish-Egyptian Dance, Theatre Arts and Fine Art. Jesswein began studying Turkish-Egyptian dance in 1996 and has been teaching classes and workshops since 2001. She began teaching Mother-Daughter Bellydance for Santa Monica College's Continuing Community Education in 2005. Jesswein has been a faculty member with the SMC Dance Department since 2008 after guest choreographing in 2007 for Folklorico de SMC. She was a founding troupe member of both Al Rakasaat Turkish-Egyptian Dance Company, under the direction of Karen Custer-Thurston, and Tahiya and the Staggering Goddesses of the Omphalos with the YWCA in Santa Monica.

 As a student of world renowned, Ansuya, and Los Angeles based, Tahiya, she has been professionally performing Middle Eastern Dance since 1997. Venues include Cairo Caravan on the Long Beach Queen Mary, Santa Monica's Chamber of Commerce Buy Local Expo, and The Children's Burn Foundation of Los Angeles at LA Ballet. Jesswein is Artistic Director of the Bellydance troupe, Raqs Nouveau, and has choreographed for SMC's Global Motion for the past seven years. She was the five-time Director and Producer of the collective Bellydance showcase, Raq the Casbah, in Flagstaff, Arizona. She was a member of the regional non-profit organization, Theatrikos Theatre Company for 15 years.  Backstage credits include scenographer and assistant director with lead acting credits as "Sister Woman" in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, "Rowena" in Biloxi Blues, and "Doris Walker" in Miracle on 34th Street. Jesswein is also a volunteer seamstress for Westside School of Ballet, productions include The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote.  Email address: jesswein_jennifer@smc.edu


Angela Jordan

Modern, Jazz

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Angela Jordan holds a BA and MFA in Dance from UCLA where she received several fellowships. Angela also studied and researched West African dance in Guinea, West Africa. She has taught dance at UCLA and Bates College. She currently teaches at Santa Monica College, Debbie Allen Dance Academy and Lula Washington Dance Theatre. She has choreographed music videos and independent films. Email address: jordan_angela@smc.edu 

 

 


Jessica Kondrath

  
Jessica Kondrath - headshot.jpgJessica Kondrath, originally from Oak Park, IL, began her training studying and performing the techniques of Doris Humphrey, Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis, Charles Weidman, and Martha Graham training under Karoun Tootikian, Deborah Carr, Lori Belilove, Ernestine Stodelle, Linda Hodes, and Perl Lang.  Jessica holds a BFA in Dance from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an MFA in Dance from California State University, Long Beach. She has shown work throughout Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, and New York City, in particular at Dance Chicago, Dance Mission Theater, D.U.M.B.O Dance Festival, The Merce Cunningham Studios, and Baryshnikov Arts Center.  Jessica has had works commissioned by Moorpark College, CSU Long Beach, Beverly Hills High School, Momenta! Performing Arts Company, and Malleable Dance Theater, and has been a guest instructor at Loyola Marymount University, Fullerton Union High School, and Cerritos College.  As a dancer, Jessica has performed with Earl Mosely's Diversity of Dance, in the community cast of Underground with David Dorfman Dance, as well as in the works of John Pennington, Sandra Kaufmann, Pavel Zustiak|Palissimo, Carol McDowell, and Doug Varone, among others.  Jessica is the Artistic Director of JESSICA KONDRATH | THE MOVEMENT, as well as a lighting designer and Pilates Instructor. Email address: kondrath_jessica@smc.edu  

 

Denise Leitner

Jazz
 
Denise Leitner

Denise Leitner, born and raised in Los Angeles, started her dance training at age 3. As a serious ballet student she received her training from Stephen Wenta, Stanley Holden and Margaret Hills. After her studies at the Royal Ballet School in London, Denise returned home and discovered her love for jazz and contemporary dance. She became assistant to master teachers and choreographers including Hama, Ben Lokey and Joe Bennett. Denise has choreographed across the globe for stage, screen television and music videos. She travels throughout the United States and abroad conducting workshops and master classes. Denise has trained numerous dancers who have gone on to work in all entertainment mediums and she is a private coach to many artists including Kate Hudson, Goldie Hawn, Topher Grace and Elizabeth Berkeley.

She has worked with many artists including Bjork and Nona Hendrix. Her company, Dancer's Voice was founded in 1993 and has been critically acclaimed by the Los Angeles Times, and was nominated for a 2008 Lester Horton Award. The company continues to perform for dance festivals throughout the country. Currently a faculty member at Edge Performing Arts Center, she works intensely with young dancers working towards their professional careers. Denise is also a faculty member at Loyola Marymount University where she just completed her third commission for the University. Other faculty positions include Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, , Innerspark, UCLA, Maui Performing Arts Academy, and Idywilld School for Music and Art.

Her adjudicating credits include the great Canadian Dance Festival and Loyola Marymount University. Most recent choreographic credits include Tommy the Musical, choreography for Olympic and World Champion ice dancers Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, and movement coordinator for Columbia Pictures. Her work was recently featured at Pasadena's Dance Theater "Conversations with Choreographers" As a photographer Denise has photographed dozens of dancers and companies throughout Los Angeles including Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Theater, Body Traffic, Donna Sternberg and Dancers and Vaughn Dance Company. Email address: leitner_denise@smc.edu  

 

Karen McDonald

Modern 
 
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Ms. Mc Donald’s Broadway credits include Purlie, Two Gentleman of Verona, and she was featured in both The Wiz and Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies.  After returning to Los Angeles, Karen began choreographing theatre shows including, Voices, Sing Out Sweet Gospel, and Show Girls for which she received an N.A.A.C.P. Image Award for “Best Choreographer.’’  She has also worked as Associate Choreographer and Assistant Director on productions such as Bigger Than Bubble Gum at the Pasadena Playhouse, the Broadway musical Don’t Bother Me I Can’t Cope (rewritten and remounted with a Los Angeles cast), and Jezebel presented at the Vision Theatre.

She has received the Lester Horton Award for “Excellence in Teaching” as well as an N.A.A.C.P. Image Award nomination for best choreographer for the theater production of Dark Legends In Blood.  Karen has appeared on both stage and screen with artists such as Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson (Thriller) and Diane Reeves. 
Ms. McDonald joined the Debbie Allen in 2001 and is the Director of the Academy.
In January 20014, Ms. Mc Donald filmed a Commercial for Toyota featuring Beyoncé entitled “Get Going". Email address: mcdonald_karen@smc.edu
 

Cynthia Molnar

Ballet
Cynthia MolnarCynthia was born in Virginia, where she began to study ballet at age six. Upon moving to Los Angeles her training continued with David Lichine and Tatiana Riabouchinska, as well as with Stanley Holden at the Los Angeles Music Center. Cynthia received her advanced training on a full scholarship to both the San Francisco Ballet School in San Francisco and the Stuttgart Ballet Co. in Stuttgart, Germany.

Cynthia Molnar continued her ballet career as a professional with David Lichine’s “Ballet Society of Los Angeles”; starring in his acclaimed ballet “Graduation Ball”. Ms Molnar performed with the San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, under the direction of Kent Stowell, performing as soloist in such ballets as George Balanchine’s “Concerto Barocco” and “The Four Temperaments”.
Ms. Molnar is enjoying a successful career as teacher, choreographer and coach. Teaching ballet beginning through advanced levels at Santa Monica College, Carla Luna’s Dance Arts Academy, The Edge and Y.N.S. Has taught at Westside  Ballet, Agoura Hills Dance and choreographed for the Agoura Hills Youth Ballet Theater, master classes and choreographer at the Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena and The Downtown Dance Loft at The New Los Angeles Theater Center. Her teaching style encompasses her training in ballet with the Cecchetti and Royal Academy of Dance techniques. Cynthia’s approach to ballet training creates an atmosphere of attention and caring that allows each student to grow and strengthen, to develop awareness, confidence, and grace.

Ms. Molnar is a sought after choreographer and coach for local and visiting artists, music videos and performing groups. Cynthia’s original works have been performed by SMC “Global Motion Company, “Kybele Dance Theater”, Sarah Burges’s “Lions Pounce Dance Theater”, “Katnap Dance Presents” and in “BIR” and in community outreach programs for the city of Los Angeles. She directed and choreographed and danced in the music video “Tracks of My Tears”. Email address: molnar_cynthia@smc.edu
 
 

​Brian Moe

Modern Dance

Brian Moe.jpgBrian Moe received his MFA from CSULB in 2012.  He holds a BFA in dance and a BA in psychology from SUNY Fredonia, as well as an AAS in music from SUNY OCC.  He is classically trained in the Royal Academy of Ballet and has studied with the NYC ballet.  Since graduation Brian has taught at CSULB and AMDA, and has choreographed for CSULB Department of Theater, SMC, TE San Pedro Rep, and CSU Monterey for an evening with Susan Egan. 
 
He serves as artistic director for INKED Dance.  Brian is a member of BMI and the Society of Composers and Lyricists, he composes the scores of most of the works he creates. Email address: moe_brian@smc.edu

 

Cihtli Ocampo
 

Described as a “…young, powerful dancer” by Dancemagazine, Cihtli Ocampo began her dance studies at the age of eight and first stepped onto the stage at UCSD’s Mandeville Auditorium at the age of nine. She began teaching and choreographing at the age of twelve for Stage 7 Dance Theater in San Diego, CA. At seventeen, Ms.Ocampo moved to New York City where she spent over ten years studying Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Modern (Horton & Graham), Dunham Technique and Theater Dance under such masters as Gregory Hines, Judith Jamison, Ann Reinking, Joan Peters, Honi Coles, Wilhelm Burman, Milton Meyers, Alexander Filipov, Zena Rommett and Cecilia Marta amongst others. Email address: ocampo_cihtli@smc.edu

 

 

Katiana Pallais

Brazillian
Katiana Palla.jpg

Katian
a Pallais (dancer) began her dance training as a young child. After attending high school at Idyllwild Arts Academy, she attended Santa Monica College before transferring and receiving her BFA in Dance at California Institute of the Arts in 2005. She then went on to receive her MFA in Dance from UC, Irvine in 2011. Her training includes Ballet, Jazz, Modern, West African, Afro-Caribbean, Hip Hop, Afro-Brazilian dance, Dunham and Silvestre techniques. She has studied under renowned dance companies such as Joffery Ballet, Dance Theater of Harlem and Alvin Ailey. 
Katiana has been a principle dancer with Viver Brasil Dance Company since 2001. She has also danced with several smaller dance companies as well as performing and choreographing for several commercial projects. Katiana is currently on the faculty, teaching a variety of dance forms including Ballet, Afro-Caribbean, Jazz, Street Dance and Afro Brazilian at Ventura College, Cypress College and Santa Monica College. Email address: pallais_katiana@smc.edu
 
 

Raquel Ramirez

Mexican Dance, World Dance Performance, Co-Director of Global Motion

 Raquel Ramirez

Raquel Ramirez holds a BA in Dance and is an accomplished dancer and alumna from Santa Monica College. She is the co-director of Global Motion, SMC World Dance Performance Company, part time instructor at SMC and the founder and director of Ballet Folklórico Flor de Mayo. Her performances include the International Mariachi Festival in New Mexico; Asociacion Nacional de Grupos Folklórico in Mexico and the U.S.; and a tour with El Mariachi Azteca del Sol in New York City. She most recently directed a nation-wide tour to promote the tradition and culture of the state of Jalisco, Mexico sponsored by Tequila Cazadores. Email address: ramirez_raquel@smc.edu

 


 

Sarah Reich

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Sarah Reich (Performer, Choreographer, Instructor) has emerged as one of the new leaders in the Art Form of Tap Dance. At the young age of 15, this Los Angeles native was featured in Dance Spirit Magazine’s article, “20 Hot Tappers Under 20” and was named one of the “25 To Watch” in the 2009 Dance Magazine article. Ever since, Sarah has been sought after to perform, choreograph, and teach in over ten countries outside of the United States including France, Spain, China, Brazil, Costa Rica, Argentina, Honduras, Belgium, Canada, and Sweden.
 
Sarah was most recently seen on Season 11 of FOX’s So You Think You Can Dance with Chloe Arnold’s Syncopated Ladies. With her own company, Tap Music Project, she has choreographed and performed at the Ford Amphitheatre, UCLA’s JazzReggae Festival, Blue Whale, and the LA County Holiday Celebration. Sarah was also a performer at Madison Square Garden for the opening of the NY Knicks 2013-2014 season.
 
In addition to her vast international travels and countless television appearances, Sarah has had the honor to perform at some of the most prestigious venues back home in Los Angeles such as The Hollywood Bowl, the Ford Amphitheatre, the Greek Theater with Mexican Pop-Star, Cristian Castro and the Kodak Theater with the great Herbie Hancock.
 
Currently Sarah is developing new exciting works with her company, Tap Music Project and Sole Sisters – a collaboration with Melinda Sullivan. Sarah produces a weekly class/tap jam for the Los Angeles tap community, Monday Night Tap Experience. She also frequently performs around the city with popular local bands, Magnolia Memoir, Oskar Cartaya's Latin Jazz Band and Dessy DiLauro. Email address: reich_sarah@smc.edu

 

Charlotte Richards

Ballet
 

Charlotte Richards is a former founding member with the Pacific Northwest Ballet, dancer with Pittsburgh BalletTheater, London Dance events, Los Angeles Ballet and Los Angeles Chamber Ballet, where she also held the position of Ballet Mistress for three years. After a ten year performing carreer at home and abroad, she returned to los Angeles, to become a prominent teacher of Ballet in Southern California. Known for her lively, dynamic teaching personality, she truly motivates and inspires her students to reach past their limits and improve with remarkable speed.Ms. Richards has been on staff at the major private studios in Los Angeles such as The Stanley Holden Dance Center, Westside Ballet Academy and The Dance Arts Academy.She is currently an Associate Professor at Santa Monica College.Ms. Richards was also on the faculties of Loyola Marymount Universty and Long Beach State University.

Charlotte Richards assists many local dancers and choreographers in presenting their work to the public and has been a health and fitness consultant for Shape Pregnancy Magazine. Ms. Richards has also taught for the Inland Pacific Ballet School and Company since their inception in 1991. Email address: richards_charlotte@smc.edu


Sri Susilowati

Indonesian, World Dance Performance, Co-Director of Global Motion

Sri small.JPGSri Susilowati is a dancer, choreographer, and storyteller. Originally from Indonesia she has choreographed extensively in the U.S. and Indonesia establishing dance groups and teaching students. She is the producer of Dancing in the Margins Festival, and the director and founder of Sri Dance Company, a dance group that creates and performs contemporary works on the subjects of community, gender, and ethnicity through dance and multi-media. She has been the recipient of many fellowships and distinctions including Rainbow Award, Lester Horton Award, City of Los Angeles Artist-in-Residence (AIR) and COLA grants, the Puffin Foundation grant, the James Irvine Foundation grant, Center for Cultural Innovation grant, and Global Citizenship Initiative grant. Sri received her BFA from Indonesian Institute of Arts in Yogyakarta and MFA from UCLA.

Sri currently teaches at Santa Monica College. Her current projects include collaboration with David Rousseve on a dance-on-camera work, Two Seconds After Laughter. Sri recently made her directorial debut in Shimmer, a new dance-on-camera film.
Email address: susilowati_sri@smc.edu
 

Roberta Wolin-Tupas

Modern,
Choreography, Dance History, Fundamentals, Dance Teacher Training
 
Roberta Wolin-Tupas, a professional in the field of dance for over 40 years, has a BA in Literature from Reed College and MA in Choreography and Performance from UCLA. From 1999 - 2007, she was Producer of Marian Scott's Spirit Dances series, and was nominated for two Lester Horton Awards for Outstanding Production of the Spirit Dances series. Wolin-Tupas is Co-Artistic of R Dance Company, and has created a large body of original, critically acclaimed modern dance works. Her choreography has been presented at the Broad Stage, Highway Performance Space, UCLA, Wilshire Ebell, california Choreographers Festival, Brand Library Modern Dance Series, L.A. Open Festival. Wolin-Tupas served as Co-Artistic Director of SMC's Synapse Dance Theater and has been involed in bringing students to American College Dance Festival.
 
Her dance Beneath the Surface was performed in an ADCFA adjudicated concert in 2011. Since 1996, she has also brought creative dance experiences to thousands of pre-K and elementary school students in the Los Angeles area. Email address: wolin-tupas_roberta@smc.edu
 

Staff 

Pamela Nemeth

Administrative Assistant

 

webpam.bmpPamela Neneth was born and raised in Los Angeles. She has a BA and paralegal certification from UCLA and adult education credentials. With mediation and arbitration certifications, Pam has experience mediating with the Superior Court and facilitating in community events as well as public arbitrating with the NASD/Finra. Working in both the Dance and ESL Departments at SMC, Pam is also active in the SMC CSEA Chapter 36 Classified Union with the intention of promoting the highest quality of life on campus for all. Email address: nemeth_pamela@smc.edu

  

 


Mark Litver

Permanent Accompanist

 

Mark LitverMark attended the State College of Arts in Krasnoyarsk, Russia and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Piano. In 1984, he attended the State Conservatory in Tashkent, Russia and received a Masters Degree in Piano and Music. As a student of the Conservatory, he began working as a concert pianist with the State Philharmonic Orchestra and toured internationally to Germany and Poland as a soloist with the Philharmonic Orchestra. Upon graduation, Mark began working with the State Theater of Opera and Ballet and the State School of Ballet as a pianist and piano instructor. During that period he was sent to the Theater of Opera and Ballet “Bolshoi” in Moscow for additional training.

He moved to Los Angeles in 1995 and attended the “Evans School of Languages” studying English and working as a pianist for the Lula Washington Dance Theater. He has been teaching piano at the “Evergreen Music Conservatory in North Hollywood, CA since 1996. Since that time he has been an accompanist at Santa-Monica College Dance Department, California Arts Institute, UCLA’s Department of Arts and Culture, Pomona College’s Dance Department and California State University of Fullerton’s Department of Theater and Dance.
He has also worked with such ballet masters as: Susan Jones (American Ballet Theater), Charles Maple (American Ballet Theater), Stanley Holden (Royal Ballet), Margaret Hills (Royal Ballet),Evelyn Cisneros (San Francisco Ballet), Finis Jhung (Ballet Techniques, New York), Yuri Grigoriev (Moscow Stanislavski Ballet), Marat Dukaev (Kirov Ballet),as well as worked with such companies as:Les Ballets De Monte-Carlo, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Houston Ballet, Pasadena Dance Theater, California Dance Theater, Inland Pacific Ballet, Anaheim Ballet, Ballet Pacifica.In July 2014 Mark was accepted for the Summer Intensive Program to the L’Ecole de Danse de l'Ora national de Paris – Paris Opera Ballet School. Email address: litver_mark@smc.edu

 

Part-Time Accompanists:

  • Valerie Spinly
  • Levon Abrhamyam 
  • Kirk Brundage, percussionist
  • Rozanne Muradyan, pianist
  • Alla Plotkin, pianist
  • Malik Sow, percussionist
  • Patrick Xenakis, pianist, percussionist