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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Olivia Katz

B.F.A. in Dance and Choreography from California Institute of the Arts (CalArts).
Olivia Katz grew up in Pasadena, California where she studied ballet at The Collenette School of Dancing, and was a part of the Mayfield Senior School Dance Conservatory, where she studied under Denise Darnell and Frit and Frat Fuller. Her training background includes ballet, contemporary, modern, jazz, hip-hop, lyrical, and improvisation. Olivia has over 10 years of experience teaching students from ages 2 years to adults; her cumulative experience has included teaching in Pasadena, Los Angeles, Kansas, and Washington D.C. Olivia studied at The California Institute of the Arts from which she graduated with her BFA in Dance and Choreography in 2012. During her time at CalArts, she was mentored by Andre Tyson, and performed in works by Daniel Charon, Natalie Metzger, and Darrell Grand Moultrie in addition to choreographing a handful of her own pieces. Additionally, two of her works premiered in the CalArts New Works Festival, one of which was a site-specific dance-theatre piece. After graduating from CalArts, Olivia performed throughout Los Angeles in works at REDCAT, Highways Performance Space, ARC, and Pieter Performance Space. She then moved to Washington D.C. where she lived for two years, teaching in various dance schools, and was a company member of Glade Dance Collective. She has performed in many cities including Pasadena, Los Angeles, Washington DC, and at Green Space in Queens, New York. Olivia is also a mother of two little children. She is thrilled to be a part of the faculty at Focus Dance Center and has a great passion for educating all forms of dance and movement . Olivia hopes to inspire students at every level to embrace their love of dance and achieve their artistic goals.
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Ashley Nichole Medina

  • Fullerton College, 2016

Ashley Nichole is an American dancer.

Ashley Nichole began her dance career as a cultural dancer due to her Boriken background and New Yorker Dancing Father with Latin dances (Samba, Salsa +), Afro Caribbean, Hip Hop, and Ori Tahiti.

Later, Ashley Nichole explored and developed through concert dances in various styles of dance: Ballet, Tap, Modern, Jazz.

Ashley Nichole also teaches and develops ballet curriculum for figure skaters and hockey players levels 1 to Olympic. She also choreographs for figure skaters. Ashley Nichole has extensive training in Acro, Bachata, Ballet, Latin Jazz, Salsa, Samba, Ori Tahiti, Tap, and Hip Hop.


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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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Joanne Arakaki

  • BS in Accountancy from the University of Illinois

  • American Ballet Theatre (ABT) certified teacher in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT National Training Curriculum)

  • Progressive Ballet Technique

Joanne’s love for dance started in Hong Kong at the age of 5. Joanne has always wanted to be a ballet teacher and believes that dance can be accessible and appreciated by all ages and levels. Joanne trained under the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) curriculum to Advanced level in Hong Kong. After moving to the US, she danced with the Springfield Ballet Company in Illinois in their seasonal productions such as Nutcracker and Giselle.  While studying Accounting in college, she continued her ballet training and explored different dance forms at the university. Joanne has also performed with a local ballet company and a Christian dance troupe.  To pursue her passion for teaching ballet, she successfully completed the rigorous ABT Teacher Training in Pre-Primary through Level 3 in NYC, taught by the curriculum founders. Joanne is also trained and certified in Pilates and Progressive Ballet Technique. Joanne continues taking ballet classes and workshops for professional development, and has performed in the Orange Coast Faculty Concert.  Besides dancing, Joanne is an Internal Auditor in public companies and she is a mother of two busy Irvine kids. Joanne enjoys biking with her kids, running marathons, volunteering at schools’ PTO board and church, and playing with her two adorable ragdoll kittens.

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Note: All FOCUS faculty have been background checked.