Staff

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Owner/Founder/Director, Tap Program Dept. Head

Monie Adamson

The key to happiness, embrace your best you in all you do.

  • 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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Instructor

Chloe Andersson

Originally from Dallas, Chloe Andersson developed the majority of her dance training at Kj Dance in Plano, Texas, and now studies at Chapman University with the intention of graduating in the spring of 2022 with a B.F.A in Dance Performance and a double minor in nutrition and digital design. She focuses in all forms of dance, but especially enjoys contemporary and composition because of their push for authenticity within a dancer.

One of Chloe’s most valuable experiences as an artist was having been a part of the 2018 SoulEscape company intensive where she spent 5 weeks working closely with Justin Giles and his new creative work. This opportunity allowed her to understand the importance of dance not just personally, but its influence on a community. Ida Saki, Dancer with Sleep No More NYC and formerly with Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet, has also been one of Chloe’s greatest contributors to her growth. Getting to learn repertory and collaborating to create a new work with Ida was an eye-opening experience, where she felt like she really found her voice as a dancer.

Chloe is eager to share her knowledge, both technically and artistically, with every space she has the opportunity to be a part of.

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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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Marshea Kidd

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Nicholas Kitchen

“To do what ought to be done but would not have been done unless I did it; I thought to be my duty.” – Robert Morrison

  • B.A in Dance Candidate from the University of California, Irvine
    B.A in Education Sciences Candidate from the University of California, Irvine

Nicholas Kitchen’s background with arts established with an early interest in videography and performance culture. Starting his dance career on school teams, Nick was given an opportunity to dance that would not have normally been within his or his family’s grasp. Through his mentor and coach Amberlee Prosser, his studies of traditional western dance genres such as ballet, jazz, contemporary, and modern began at 15. During these high school years, Nick spent his 4 years in the drama program and his mornings at dance practice for his school team, in which he was captain for 2 years as the team began the competition process, and help led them to multiple placings in USA competitions in Northern California. His afternoons were spent all day, every day in-studio training. During these years, he competed with his studio’s company in a variety of styles and competitions, winning numerous awards and titles, such as runner up at Sheer Talent Nationals Las Vegas 2015. With a little more than 2 years of training, Nick was accepted into numerous UCs and CSUs for dance before ultimately deciding on the University of California, Irvine.

At UCI, Nicholas Kitchen has been studying Dance as well as Education Sciences. Nick has had the opportunity to expand his mental cognition behind his movements and blend his passion for film with his love for dance. Working with the Film-Arts-Drama-Alliance on campus, Nick has been brought on numerous times as a choreographer for the annual big film project, such as “The Greatest Show at UCI” and “Don’t Stop Us Now”, both available on YouTube. In 2018, Nick was the director and choreographer for a segment of UCI’s annual philanthropy Greek Songfest, in which his direction received a 2nd place award, as well an award for best choreography against 7 other productions. Along with other’s efforts, the philanthropy raised over $10,000 for the make-a-wish foundation. Opportunities outside of university included his work product testing and modeling for Discount Dance Supply and All About Dance. He was a call center representative for the companies as well, and deepened his knowledge of dance gear, costuming, and business models. As a teacher, Nick strives for an open and trusting environment with his students, encouraging engagement through student-centered learning and the acknowledgment of each student’s individuality. Through repetition and learning using scaffolding techniques, students can build their own repertoire of movement and find confidence in their own aesthetic. He bases his classroom on his knowledge gained through his studies in Education Sciences. Nick hopes to take his experiences in dance and drama into his career as he aims to open his own studio and find efficient ways to widespread dance to those who can’t access it in the normal capacity such as his own origins with dance.

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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
  • Certified in Pediatric and Adult CPR and First Aid

Terre Marriott has been teaching dance for many decades. Terre started teaching dance at the young age of 17, receiving 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. She was the director of the Miss and Mr. Dance of Southern California Competition for many years. Terre is one of the original faculty members since FOCUS Dance Center first opened its doors.  Terre has served as a FOCUS competition choreographer until 2011 and she’s also the director of FOCUS Dance Center’s summer programs which includes all dance camps, intensives, and audition clinics featuring top industry dance professionals.

In addition to her status at FOCUS, Terre is currently the Student Activities Director and competitive Dance Drill Team and Boys Crew Director at 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. Terre has danced for choreographer Monie Adamson on the Warner Bros. Television pilot entitled “New York Daze”. Terre was the choreographer and teacher of the 1984 Jr. Star Search Dance Champions and she is 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 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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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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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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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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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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Instructor

Laura-Ashley Whittaker

  • B.F.A. in Dance and Choreography
  • Minor in Creative Writing
  • ABT® Certified in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum

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 graduated from the California Institute of the Arts in 2017 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and Choreography, as well as a minor in Creative Writing. She is currently pursuing a PsyD in Clinical Psychology at Azusa Pacific University, with a Focus in Children and Adolescent Psychology. She has trained around the world in France, Japan, and South Korea. In addition to her training, she has spent the last 3 years performing with the Corps Dance Crew all throughout Southern California and as far as Las Vegas, Nevada.

Laura-Ashley is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. With 8 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, Marie de la Palme, Laurence Blake, Cynthia Young, and Colin Conner. Laura-Ashley has advanced diverse performing experience in many dance styles, and training, in Ballet, Pointe, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Modern, Contemporary, Musical Theater, Hip Hop, and Tumbling, 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.