Owner/Founder/Director, Tap Program Dept. Head

Monie Adamson

  • B.F.A. in Dance Choreography and Performance
  • Orange County Lifetime Teaching credential
  • CTG Talent Agency & TRIO Talent Agency
  • 3 time Emmy Nominee
  • American Choreography Award Recipient
  • Television Academy Member

Monie Adamson’s diverse choreographic abilities have earned her three Emmy Nominations, five American Choreography Award Nominations, and winner of the American Choreography Award for “Outstanding Achievement in Television Variety Series” (MAD tv) in 2003. She is a recipient of the Choreography Media Honor for her choreographic work in the television industry, and is currently a member of the Television Academy, and represented by both CTG and TRIO Talent Agencies.

For almost a decade she was Resident-Choreographer for Warner Bros. Television on such shows as Family Matters and Step-By-Step. For nine years Monie held title as Resident-Choreographer for FOX’s MAD tv, and choreographed for Taco Bell, Blue Collar Television, and the music video “If I Didn’t Have You” starring Hannah Montana’s Mitchel Musso & Emily Osment.

In 2015 Monie performed as a dancer in the movie La La Land, the television show Crazy Ex-Girl Friend, and was “on screen talent” for “I Can Make You Dance”. She has performed in Music Videos, at Disneyland, and was a Principal Dancer with the highly acclaimed dance company, Rhapsody in Taps, for eight-years. Monie has studied with such Tap-Masters as Gregory Hines, Arthur Duncan, Pat Rico, Sandman Simms, and Eddie Brown. Other training includes such teachers as Joe Tremaine, Doug Cauldwell, El Gabriel, Jere Curry, and Linda Sohl-Ellis.

She holds a B. F. A. in Dance and Performance from the University of California, Irvine, and has her Orange County life-time teaching Credential. She has been on the faculties of the University of California Irvine, United States International University, Cypress College, Chapman College and held a Professorship at California State University, Chico. She was an Adjunct Faculty Member at Orange Coast College for 20 years and, while Director of Orange Coast College’s Danc’N E.T.C. (Educational Touring Company), was named “Adjunct Faculty Member of the Year” and received a “2000 Dance in Action Award” for her work with Danc’N E.T.C.

Monie is known for her vivacious teaching style and creative choreography. As a Choreographer as well as Director/Founder of FOCUS Dance Center for the Performing Arts (Irvine, CA), her contagious energy and fresh approach are well known. Monie has a great enthusiasm and immense passion for dance, and a huge desire to instill this in her students and dancers.

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Ariana Avina

Ariana grew up in Modesto, California where she started dancing at the age of four. She has trained in styles such as tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop, and contemporary. She is currently attending the University of California, Irvine and is studying Political Science and Education where she plans to graduate in June of 2019. She is also a member of The Corps Dance Crew where she has performed at conventions such as Anime Expo and San Diego Comic Con. She is currently the financial and events coordinator of Common Ground Dance Team and has competed at Vibe, Body Rock, Arena LA and more. Ariana is excited to share her passion for dance at FOCUS Dance Center.

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Gassia Barin

  • B.F.A. in Kinesiology Candidate
  • CSUF Dance Team

Gassia was born and raised in Orange County, California. She started dancing at the age of four and started competing at the age of five. She began training in styles such as ballet, lyrical, jazz, contemporary, acro, tap, musical theatre and pom. She has won numerous awards and titles and she was chosen OC 2016 Varsity top 10 Artists of the Year. She was part of her high school dance team and she was co-captain her senior year. She is currently attending Cal State University of Fullerton studying Kinesiology and is part of the 16th time National Championship winning CSUF Dance Team. She is excited to share her love and passion for dance at Focus Dance Center.

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Rebecca Butkivich

  • Graduate, Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, CSULB

Rebecca Butkivich is a graduate from the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music, CSULB where she majored in Vocal Performance with a focus in Opera.

Born and bred in a competitive dance studio, Rebecca found herself drawn to Musical Theater where she could include both her love for dance and singing. Since graduating college, Rebecca has continued to build her repertoire in Musical Theater. This includes Annie as Grace Farrell, Chicago as Hunyak, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum as Philia, Little Night Music, Mary Poppins, Bonnie and Clyde, Sweeney Todd and many more in the Orange County Area.

In addition to performing on the theater stage, Rebecca has also found a stage to perform on in the spin studio as an instructor for Union Ryde, fitness trainer for AKT as well as entertains children as various characters for Lexi’s Little Princesses.

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Michelle Chong

  • B.F.A. in Choreography Candidate
  • Minor in Business Management Candidate
  • Certified in Yoga Candidate

Michelle has been dancing since she was 4, first learning ballet, jazz, tap, and musical theatre at the Pasadena Civic Ballet Center. She began dancing hip-hop in 2012 when she joined Miniotics, the junior crew established by Poreotics (ABDC Season 5 Champions). Under the mentorship of Dumbo Nguyen, she has been trained in the funk style of popping, additionally learning waving and tutting as supplemental genres. From 2013 to 2016, Michelle has placed Bronze in the Junior Division, Gold in the Varsity Division, and Bronze in the Adult Division while competing with Miniotics in Hip Hop International, USA Championships. In 2016, she appeared with Miniotics on America’s Got Talent as a televised competitor. Currently, Michelle is a student at the University of California, Irvine as a Dance Major with a Business Minor. She aims to earn a B.F.A in Choreography and to eventually found her own dance company in the future! For Michelle, dance is not only her passion but her philosophy for life. She hopes that she can spread the joy she has for dance with her students!

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Cheryl DeKeyser

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Kameryn Denaro

  • B.S. Statistics
  • M.S. Statistics concentration in Biostatistics
  • Ph.D. Computational Science with an emphasis in Computational Statistics

Kameryn Denaro, a native of San Diego, is now based in Orange County, where she is thrilled to be a faculty member of FOCUS Dance Center of the Performing Arts. Kameryn’s extensive dance training covers many areas of the art including tap, jazz, contemporary, and west coast swing.  Kameryn was a company member of the Rocket Swing Dancers for six years where she appeared in many live performances and music videos for the band, “Speak Easy Spies”. In addition to studying dance at San Diego State University, she received her M.S. degree in Statistics. She has been working in the business since the age of 18 and continues to perfect her art attending regular classes at the Edge Performing Arts Center. Kameryn’s classes have a deep focus on stretch, strength and placement. Her combinations are creative, athletic, and unique. Kameryn believes that dance brings balance and a creative outlet to a dancer’s life.

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Chelsea Freeman

  • BFA Dance Choreography
  • BA Psychology and Social Behavior
  • Registered Behavior Technician (Candidate)

Chelsea began her dance training in Northern California where she competed as a studio dancer for 11 years. She received further training traveling to numerous conventions throughout the Bay Area where she was granted a scholarship to Broadway Dance Center’s intensive as well as an invitation to perform on Carnival Cruise Line as an apprentice with Celebrity Dance Competition. She began teaching at the age of 16, training young dancers in multiple disciplines and choreographing for high school dance teams and competitive studios.

Chelsea holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance Choreography along with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and Social Behavior from University of California Irvine, where she graduated in June 2017. While at UCI she performed in original works by graduate students Leann Alduenda and Darlisa Wajid-ali and appeared in a rendition of Jose Límon’s original work “There is a Time”, under the direction of Límon Company member Dante Puleio. Chelsea has created and produced original choreography for several undergraduate dance concerts and was awarded by the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program to fully fund her final dance thesis concert under the mentorship of Loretta Livingston.

Chelsea began her professional career in 2014 as a dancer in the Pixar Play Parade at the Disneyland Resort and appeared in Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz tour promo where she worked with award-winning director Diane Martel. Recently, Chelsea completed an internship in arts administration at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Orange County’s top performing arts nonprofit organization. She continues her work as a choreographer for competitive dance studios along California, and is currently gaining experience working with children with disabilities as a Behavioral Interventionist. Chelsea strives for excellence in each of her students by setting high performance standards that are met with passionate energy and challenging movement vocabulary.

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Tyson Garner

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Nikki Hester

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Sam Katz

A native Southern Californian, Sam has been teaching tap for over 30 years in Orange & L.A Counties. She also trained over many years in ballet, jazz & modern dance. Specializing in rhythm tap, over the last 20 years, Sam studied intensively with Linda Sohl-Ellison of Rhapsody in Taps. She studied locally with Sam Weber, Monie Adamson, Cathy Lozano, Liz Hess, Joan Golden & the late Eddie Brown, Leonard Reed & Henry LeTang. She has also studied as a scholarship student at tap festivals in Boston, Colorado & Portland & later at the So-Cal, Vancouver & LA Tap Festivals with such Tap Masters as: Honi Coles, Steve Condos, Cookie Cook, Chuck Green, Buster Brown, The Nicholas Brothers, Willie Covan, LaVaughn Robinson, Dianne Walker, Heather Cornel, Sarah Petronio, Brenda Bufalino, Anita Feldman, Lynn Daly, Sam Weber & assisted in a class at the Portland Tap Festival. Sam was the assistant choreographer/rehearsal director for the Orange Coast College Performing Dance Ensemble for 2 years in the early 90’s & has choreographed concert pieces in both tap & modern dance. She can be seen in Gene Nelson’s video “Come Tap With Me” and the “Leonard Reed’s Shim Sham Shimmy”. Sam has performed with two So. Cal. tap companies, including working for over 3 years as the artistic director of “The Next Step”, choreographing & performing with special electronic tap equipment & has performed in several states across the U.S. She has been commissioned several times to choreograph pieces for selected dancers at Laguna Beach High School and has worked as a choreography coach for students in the LA Unified School District. In August, 2010 Sam was on faculty at “Tap into a Cure” In Edmonton, Alberta Canada as well as performing in “Magical Rhythms.” at Festival Place, Sherwood Park, Alberta.

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Morgen Keim-Lopez

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Marshea Kidd

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Nicholas Kitchen

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Dante Lara

(B.A. Theater Arts – Chapman University)

TAP DANCER, Dante Lara, based in both NY and L.A., has been seen in performing in nightclubs, major music festivals, jazz clubs, restaurants, corporate events, hotels, videos and on TV. A graduate of Chapman University with a BA in Theatre Arts, Dante Lara earned his SAG card at age seven, and has been performing professionally ever since.

As a soloist, Dante recently performed at LA.’s Ford Amphitheatre; The Dolby Theatre; The W Hotel Hollywood; The Culver Hotel, The LA Film Festival; The Big Apple Tap Festival, and many other venues in California and New York.

RAWArtists.com named Dante one of their ”Top Three Performing Artists for 2014.”

In addition, Dante is a successful and well-known street performer in New York City, where he hones his craft collaborating with jazz musicians, including the viral jazz band, Receta Secreta. Together, they have performed at hotels, bars, restaurants, and parks in NYC over the past three years.

Dante’s television appearances include World of Dance (NBC), The Talk (CBS), The Nikki Show (WB), Dance Revolution (CBS), and many commercials. Most recently, Dante appeared in the just-released music video for the band, The Dispatch.

Company work includes Chloe Arnold’s NY-based Apartment 33, Parris Mann’s Here’s II Lyfe, Chris Scott’s The Nitty Grittyz and Steve Zee’s LA Ironworks.

Dante teaches at renowned festivals, colleges and studios, including The LA Tap Fest, RIFF: Dallas 2018 (Alongside Savion Glover), Pittsburgh Steel City Tap Festival 2018, The Las Vegas Tap Festival 2018, The Washington DC Tap Festival 2018, Rhapsody in Taps National Tap Day Celebration and Chapman University. Recently, he had the honor of serving as Artist in Residence at Colorado Mesa University.

Dante’s choreography has been showcased at several venues and festivals including The 2017 Hollywood Fringe Fest, the Phoenix Area National Tap Dance Day Celebration, the LA Tap Fest and at many university, high school, and competition stages.

“My mission is to spread Tap Dancing to new audiences and to inspire everyone – especially the next generation of dancers – to sign up for classes, and explore this wonderful, musical dance form.”

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Terre Marriott

  • Certified in Jazz and Ballet through Dance Masters of America

Terre Marriott has been teaching dance for over 35 years. She started teaching dance at the young age of 17. She received her certification to teach dance from Dance Masters of America, Inc. in 1983. As a member of the Executive Board of Directors for Dance Masters of Southern California, Terre formerly served as the 1st Vice President. Terre directed the Miss and Mr. Dance of Southern California Competition for three years. Terre was one of FOCUS Dance Center’s competition choreographers from when the studio opened until 2011. Terre is now the director of FOCUS Dance Center’s Dance Stars Workshop and Summer Intensive programs, and she puts together the photo gallery on the FOCUS website each year. In addition to her status at FOCUS, Terre is currently the Student Activities Director, Dance Drill Team and Boys Crew Director, Head of the Jr. High Puppet Ministry and School Webmaster for Bethany Christian Academy. Terre received commendation from the City of Westminster Mayor and City Council for being one of Westminster’s finest and dedicated performing arts teachers. Terre danced with and was the assistant director, for Orange Coast College’s Educational Touring Company, under the direction of Monie Adamson. She also danced for choreographer Monie Adamson on the Warner Bros. Television pilot entitled “New York Daze”. She was the choreographer and teacher of the 1984 Jr. Star Search Dance Champions. Terre was the former owner of the Marriott Dance Center, which she directed for seven years. Many of Terre’s students have gone on to successful dance careers on Broadway, major Ballet companies, dance videos, film, television, and many have become successful dance teachers and choreographers. Her motto to all of her students is “The sky is the limit!”

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David McMahan

  • B.F.A.
  • M.F.A. Candidate
  • Fletcher Pilates
  • PMA®-CPT, NASM®-CPT

David McMahan is a graduate of the dance program at Orange Coast College and the highly competitive University of Arizona School of Dance, where he studied under Linda Sohl-Ellison, Jose Costas, Amy Ernst and Douglas Nielsen. During his time dancing in New York, David furthered his studies at the Martha Graham School and the Merce Cunningham Studio. Currently working with modern dance company, Habitat Dance, David has performed with Copious Dance Theater, RAW Dance Project, Marie de la Palme’s motion/TRIBE, Opera Pacific and UA Dance Ensemble, as well as in the masterworks of Paul Taylor, Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, Bella Lewitzky, George Balanchine and Sir Frederick Ashton. David has taught throughout Arizona and California, including California State University Long Beach and the University of Arizona, and been an international guest teacher in Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Philippines and South Korea.

Through the influence of first-generation Pilates visionary, Ron Fletcher and the mentorship of master teacher Kyria Sabin, David discovered his passion for empowering people toward their movement potential. David serves as Faculty and Director of Marketing for Fletcher Pilates® and has taught educational programs in Europe and Asia. He has been featured in Pilates Style Magazine and Pilates Anytime, and has presented at industry conferences for Fletcher Pilates and the Pilates Method Alliance. David is certified through the Pilates Method Alliance and has his personal training certification through National Academy of Sports Medicine.

Through his multifaceted background incorporating dance, Pilates, kinesiology and neuromuscular conditioning, David’s classes emphasize the importance of correct body alignment and clean dance technique to support dancers toward achieving their full potential.

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Maria Paula Medellin

  • B.A. in Child Development Candidate

Maria started her training at the very late age of 11 years old. Training at different studios in Orange County she found her love through many different styles, modern being her first love. Though time was of essence, Maria was determined to train as much as she could in order to keep up with her now colleagues and peers. Maria has worked with Several different choreographers and teachers in Orange County and at the ripe age of 14 she started taking classes at FOCUS dance center where it’s original location was at the university town center! Competing only one year at the age of 16 she started taking her path with her art to another level and continued training hard until her senior year ended at FOCUS! Maria has join multiple dance groups and teams after that time including the Orange Coast College dance team, Irvine Valley College performing dance ensemble with the late Marie De La Palme (may she Rest In Peace), The Elle Vie Dance Company and many more versatile groups. As well as contemporary and lyrical/ballet etc., she also has an immense love for the art of hip-hop and has been involved in many of the dance community’s groups and projects whether she has choreographed or been a part of someone’s work! She is currently heavily involved in many different avenues of dance in different communities, Boogiezone Utopia (under the direction of Elm Pizzaro) being one of them which is a big part of her life now. She teaches there as well and is a part of their dance company who has given her many amazing industry opportunities and the courage to put her name and herself out in the industrial world of dance. Maria prides herself in her versatility in different styles and strives to spread the love of her art to younger generations for years to come in hopes they will deliver a positive message through movement and interpretation. Already having a heavy load, Maria was also inspired by Miss Sarah Johnston, which has carved the path to a separate career to be a child development major in the works of being a preschool teacher. She is humbled and honored to always be around amazing talent and mentored by some of the biggest influences in the dance world INCLUDING her FOCUS Family which has molded her and put her in the right direction to where she stands now.

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Maddie Miller

  • B.F.A. in Dance Performance and a Musical Theatre and Kinesiology Minor, Chapman University, California Class of 2020
Originally from Texas, Maddie Miller received her early dance training at Expressions Dance and Music under the direction of Melissa McDonald. Maddie currently continues her studies at Chapman University in California expecting to graduate in the spring of 2021, with a B.F.A. in Dance Performance and a Musical Theatre and Kinesiology Minor.

Maddie has had the privilege of working with industry professionals such as Will Johnston, Julianne O’Brien, Jenny Backhaus, Steven Sofia, Wilson Mendieta, Talia Favia, Justin Giles, Chaz Buzan, and Karen Chuang.

Maddie has taught and choreographed at numerous studios around Texas and California and enjoys getting to foster an encouraging environment for artists to explore movement and individualism. Maddie looks forward to continuing her training at Chapman and expand her knowledge as both an artist and an intellectual.
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Frank Restrepo

Coming Soon…

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Santiago (Santi) Rivera

  • B.A. Drama and a Minor in Education

Santiago was born in Los Angeles, CA where he started his dance training in eighth grade. He trained in many styles from Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Contemporary, Musical Theatre etc. Throughout his training he discovered his love for choreography and teaching. He recently graduated from the University of California, Irvine in 2016 with a B.A. in Drama and a minor in Education and feels blessed for what he has accomplished. He has been cast in productions in and outside of school, he has choreographed for events like Take Back the Night and Bare Bones Dance Theater’s “Erased and Retraced”, he has self produced two dance concerts “The Process” and “The Promise”, choreographed for companies like Breed Dance Company. And most recently made his Off-Broadway debut not only as a performer but also as a choreographer through UCI’s New York Satellite Program 2016. He has had the privilege to dance for companies and ensembles like; The Hubbard Collective, Jess Harper and Dancers, Interface Ensemble, Celeste Lanuza Dance Theatre and Insight Jazz Ensemble. He loves working with children, and teaching dance at an early age is something he wants to implement in the Hispanic community. Aside from teaching he aspires to be a professional dance concert choreographer. Not only does he want to share his love for dance with aspiring artists but expose concert/commercial dance to the Hispanic community as well.

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Geminise Robin

Bio coming soon…

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Laura Russom

Is a passionate and dedicated dance teacher who has been teaching since the age of fourteen. She has been dancing since the age of three and won numerous awards and titles while competing. She also danced with the Joffrey Ballet, in the role of Clara’s friend, and with The San Francisco Ballet in the role of Arabian. After high school, she was a member of the national award-winning Long Beach State Dance Team. She also was a member of the Los Angeles Laker Girls for two years. In addition, she has appeared in numerous commercials, including Target and Subway, and television shows, including dancing in the opening number of The Emmy Awards on CBS. She currently teaches lyrical, jazz, modern, ballet and pointe. She has a strong ballet background and believes good ballet technique is the core of every good dancer.

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Shea Saulino

Lead with kindness, teach with compassion, learn with empathy. 

  • Senior Bachelor of Arts in Dance and Minor in Entrepreneurship student at Chapman University

Shea Saulino is a senior Bachelor of Arts in Dance and Minor in Entrepreneurship student at Chapman University. For the past three years, he has trained under Larry Rosenberg of Anaheim Ballet, Will Johnston of Entity Contemporary Dance Company, Jenny Backhaus of Backhaus Dance Company, and Jackie Sleight of LA Dance Magic.

Shea is well-versed in contemporary, modern, ballet, and jazz. Music video credits include Growing Pains with choreography by JoJo Gomez, director, and dancer in Karencitta’s Cali Soul, assistant choreographer and dancer on Karencitta’s Cebuana and No Apology, and dancer in Sara Boe’s Gold. Television credits include featured ballroom dancer on Lifetime’s True Love Story and featured dancer in a commercial choreographed by Bonnie Story. Stage credits include dancer in So You Think You Can Dance’s Choreographer’s Showcase, a dancer in Energy Flow at Movement Lifestyle, and dancer in I am Force’s Creator’s Exhibit.

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Noelle Snavely

  • B.F.A. in Dance, Performance and Choreography
  • M.F.A. in Dance
  • Pilates Certification

Noelle Snavely holds a Masters of Fine Arts and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from University California, Irvine. Noelle also holds a Pilates Certification from Studio De Corps. Her formal training includes studying with dance masters David Allen, Donald McKayle, Loretta Livingston, Linda Sohl-Ellison, Tong Wang, Diane Diefenderfer, and Molly Lynch. Dancing since the age of three, Ms. Snavely has been teaching and choreographing for the past 13 years. Her teaching styles include ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, hip-hop, modern, swing and Latin dance. As a diverse dancer, she has performed with Ballet Pacifica, Dance N’ ETC, Fiesta Latina, Orange Coast College and UCI Jazz Ensemble.

Ms. Snavely began her teaching career at age 16 at Irvine Dance Academy, where she continued to teach for eight years until its closure. For five years, Noelle assisted the administration office and was a faculty member of the Ballet Pacifica Conservatory. She collaborated with the annual Ballet Pacifica production of The Nutcracker, the Ballet for Children Series and other company productions. While choreographing for Ballet Pacifica’s Summer Intensive program, Ms. Snavely facilitated summer enrollment and Nutcracker auditions. Before Ballet Pacifica’s retirement, Ms. Snavely performed in Robert Sund’s production of Alice in Wonderland.

Ms. Snavely has studied acting with South Coast Repertory and performed in SCR’s Much Ado About Nothing with Tony nominee, Douglass Sills. She has appeared on the television production The Great Pretenders and has been featured in Orange Coast Magazine as well as Dance Magazine. Ms. Snavely competed in the professional division of Palm Desert’s Dance Under the Stars festival dancing in Blue Java. Ms. Snavely was also honored as a top solo performer with the original choreography of The Awakening which continues to be requested by audiences. Ms. Snavely’s awards for teaching and choreography include the Karen Shanley Scholarship, Anita Mann Grossmann Memorial Scholarship, Tremaine Dance Scholarship and the OCC Dance Award.

Ms. Snavely is also on faculty at Saddleback College, St. Margaret’s Episcopal School, and Maple Conservatory where she teaches a myriad of other forms of dance. Ms. Snavely is also a member of the Orange County-based ArchiTexture Dance Company which has performed in various sites such as The Pilgrim in Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano Mission and in San Francisco.

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Julie Soto

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Will Tran

  • B.A. in Dance
  • Teaching Credentials in PE/Dance Candidate

Will Tran has been dancing since he was 15. He started on his high school dance team at Fountain Valley High School where he won numerous awards and titles with both his team and solos. He trained at Saddleback Dance Center under Kelly Reed-Devine and won Mr. Starpower in 2006. Before he danced, he trained in gymnastics at Newhope Gymnastics and continued it at Saddleback Dance Center under Theresa Turner. After high school, Will carried on his education at Chapman University as a Dance major and Advertising minor. While at Chapman, Will started and lead the nationally ranked dance team to 2 national wins. His legacy lives on and has won 7 consecutive years in a row. He was also on an all-star dance team called Pace Empire in 2012 under Dan Saap. Pace competed at Dance Worlds and won 2nd in jazz and 1st in pom. They were also chosen to represent USA at International Cheer Union that year and won 1st place for pom and jazz. Right now he dances for Disney and coaches at FOCUS Dance Center and University High School. He has won many 1st place and choreography awards with his acrobatic, jazz, lyrical, musical theatre, and pom routines. He loves what he does and continues to be inspired by everyone he teaches.

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Jaemie Valencia

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Laura-Ashley Whittaker

  • B.F.A. in Dance and Choreography
  • Minor in Creative Writing

Laura-Ashley Whittaker started training at the age of two at Pacific Dance Center. She later continued her training at FOCUS Dance Center of the Performing Arts, where she spent the remainder of her competition years until her senior graduation. Laura-Ashley will be graduating from the California Institute of the Arts in spring of 2017 with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance and Choreography, as well as a minor in Creative Writing. She has trained around the world in France, Japan, and South Korea. With 5 years of teaching experience and counting, she has taught dancers as young as age 3 to adults. Laura-Ashley has worked with choreographers such as Andre Tyson, Sarah Swenson, Marie de la Palme, Laurence Blake, Cynthia Young, and Colin Conner. Miss Whittaker has advanced diverse performing experience in many dance styles, and training, in Ballet, Pointe, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Modern, Contemporary, Musical Theater, and Hip Hop, which she delights in sharing with her students at FOCUS Dance Center.

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Shannon Willard

  • B.F.A. Dance Performance
  • B.F.A. Dance Choreography
  • B.S. Mathematics
  • Certified Pilates Instructor

Shannon Willard is a Southern California native, born and raised in Irvine, California, where she discovered her love and passion for dance at a young age. She primarily trained at FOCUS Dance Center in Irvine under Monie Adamson. She graduated from the University of California, Irvine in the spring of 2015. Shannon earned, with honors, a B.F.A. in Dance Choreography, a B.F.A. in Dance Performance, and a B.S. in Mathematics, Cum Laude. During her four years at UC Irvine, she performed as a member of Modern Dance legend Donald McKayle’s Etude Repertory Ensemble, danced in various BFA and MFA thesis projects, and choreographed for many shows, including presenting her forty minute long BFA Honors Thesis concert at the end of her senior year. During Shannon’s last two years on campus, she was the club accountant for Bare Bones Dance Theater, a student-run nonprofit organization that encourages and supports all art, but especially dance, on campus. After graduation from UCI, Shannon trained and received her certification as a Pilates instructor under Diane Diefenderfer at Studio Du Corps in Costa Mesa. In addition to her choreographic work at UCI, Shannon is currently on Faculty at FOCUS Dance Center where she teaches all levels, gives Pilates privates, and choreographs for the competitive competing program. She also teaches both Pilates private lessons and Pilates group classes at Studio Du Corps. Shannon loves inspiring today’s youth through creativity and movement, and enjoys incorporating elements of both the concert dance world and the commercial dance world in her classes and choreography.

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Chris Zou

  • Bachelors of Science in Biology at UC Riverside

Raised in the Bay Area, Chris found his passion for dance at a young age while standing in front of the TV imitating the moves to “Eye to Eye” from “A Goofy Movie” before actually even knowing what dancing was. It was much later after a year of being on his high school’s hip-hop dance team when he decided to pursue his passion for dance while studying for his Bachelors of Science in Biology at UC Riverside.

Since then, Chris has danced, choreographed, directed, and competed throughout California on various teams including 909 Dance Troupe, Collective Faction, Team Millennia, Hall of Fame, and The G.O.O.D. Project, while also having trained with Kreativ Mindz Dance Academy where hes had the opportunity to learn from renowned choreographers from all over the world.

In the midst of his training, he fell in love with teaching and has been teaching hip-hop to all ages for 7+ years. Excited to be at FOCUS, he’s is pumped to share and apply his knowledge to provide a strong hip-hop foundation for the students. Mixing various styles such as popping, tutting, and housing, into his choreography, accompanied with fundamental grooves, and the occasional trendy dance move, Chris’s class emphasizes quality of movement, growth, and most of all a good time! He hopes to teach the students that skills and tools learned in dance also apply and are valuable in everyday life.

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Note: All FOCUS faculty have been background checked.