The Instructors

Studio Owner/Director

Vicki Suemnicht, Studio Owner/Director
Footnotes company co-director

As the owner and director of The Dance Center, Vicki has been teaching, choreographing and producing shows in Sonoma County for over 30 years. Her background includes, tap, jazz, ballet and musical theatre and she’s had the privilege to train with tap greats Gregory Hines, Eddie Brown and Honi Coles. Vicki’s on the board of the Santa Rosa Sister City Program, a foreign exchange program with Jeju, South Korea. Dance Center company dancers travel regularly to Korea to perform in the International Fire Festival while our dancers host Korean students each summer. The studio’s goal is to bring this international experience to the company dancers as a part of their training.

Vicki is the choreographer for Montgomery High School’s musicals which include Bye, Bye Birdie; Music Man; Kiss Me Kate; Guys and Dolls; Hello Dolly, and Some Like It Hot. Her choreography with the Sixth Street Playhouse/Santa Rosa Players includes Little Shop of Horrors, Chorus Line, Urinetown and others.

Dance and music are the two basic elements in life no one should be without.

Teaching staff

Allison Budlong – Hip Hop

Allison McLeod Budlong’s lifelong passion for dance was triggered at a young age from watching and imitating her favorite 1980’s MTV music videos. Though Allison has received formal training in Modern, Jazz & Musical Theatre, most of her growth as a dancer has been either self initiated (informal practices with friends) or “on the job” (performing in various community and professional theatrical productions). Over the span of 20 + years Allison has worked as a dancer, choreographer, singer, songwriter, stage manager, director and producer. She was recruited on full scholarship by the fine arts department at Brigham Young University-Hawaii where she obtained her BA in Vocal Performance and AA in Theatre in 1998. While attending BYU-Hawaii Allison toured the Hawaiian Islands, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan with the Universities song & dance company, Showcase Hawaii. After completing her undergraduate degree, Allison returned to Sonoma County where she worked as a professional Singer / Songwriter, Fitness Instructor, and Hip Hop Program Director and Instructor for the Dance Center. Allison had the great honor of co-directing Dance Center Hip Hop Companies DC Tribe and DC Crew with the late Gary Kendall, legendary innovator in the Hip Hop Dance community and founder of the world famous Hip Hop crew Jabbawokeez. In 2002, Allison took a hiatus from the Dance Center and re-located to the birth place of Hip Hop, New York City. While there, she choreographed for as well as danced and toured with the Hip Hop dance company Culture Shock NY. New York City provided what Allison considers her most formative years as a Hip Hop Dancer primarily because of the hours clocked in attending local Battles and night clubs where dancers of all styles and backgrounds came together to leave everything they had on the dance floor. Today, Allison enjoys passing on her love for Hip Hop culture, history, technique and style to the next generation of dancers while being a wife and mother of two.

 

Anakarina Sanchez – Hip Hop
DC Tribe, The Troupe, and DC Fresh Crew hip hop company director

Anakarina Sanchez has been dancing for 11 years now and is trained in Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Contemporary, Musical Theatre and Hip Hop. She has choreographed pieces for the Santa Rosa Junior College’s spring dance show for three years in the style of Jazz and Hip Hop. She has been a part of the hip hop dance company Prophecy from Chapkis Dance Studio in Suisun City. With them she competed and performed in Las Vegas, San Diego, San Francisco, Vacaville and Vallejo. She also teaches hip hop at Twin Hills Middle School in Sebastopol and has held a number of master classes through out Sonoma County. She has co-choreographed and assisted for many musicals at the Santa Rosa Junior College such as Legally Blonde The Musical, My Fair Lady, and Sweeney Todd. Anakarina loves teaching and sharing the art of dance to as many people as she can.

 

Danielle Maca – Modern, Jazz

Danielle’s training began at The Dance Center at a young age in jazz, hip hop, tap and modern with teachers Nina Raggio, Heather Visser and Gary Kendell. She competed for 7 years and has been teaching for 4 years. Danielle has performed in Jeju South Korea, Washington D.C. South Carolina and at San Francisco’s Hip Hop Fest. She has been a member of Shadow Optix and Secret Society and is also in a traveling performance group called InnerActions where she performs for teens with a message of prevention through inspiration.

Ellen Murray – Hip hop

Ellen started dancing at age 6 and has not stopped. She fell in love the moment she stepped into the one-room dance studio where she grew up in Boston. Ellen trained in modern and jazz, and then jumped in to an adult hip hop class a few years ago. “And now, I get to teach wide-eyed, excited children who are the same age I was when I first took class.” She enjoys starting kids on a lifelong involvement and appreciation of dance. Her daughter, Brynn, grew up at the studio and is now a student at San Diego State University.

Emily Hartley – Tap, Jazz, Musical Theatre
Taptations, Footloose and Rhythm tap company director

Emily fell in love with tap dancing at age 9. She grew up dancing at The Dance Center with Nina Raggio and Vicki Suemnicht as her teachers, and she’s been on the studio’s teaching staff teaching staff teaching tap, musical theatre, and jazz fro the past 9 years. Discovering musical theatre at age 14 changed her life. She has a B.A. in Theatre Arts from CSU Fullerton. After college, Emily spent 8 years dancing in L.A. She had the opportunity to work with Paula Abdul and Kenny Ortega. Some of her favorite projects include dancing in the film Pearl Harbor and the on the television show Commander-in-Chief. Emily is the proud mom of twins, Lily and William.

Gabrielle Thompson – Ballet

Gabrielle Thompson is dance director at Cardinal Newman High School and has been teaching in Sonoma County for many years. Gabrielle began her pre-professional training under the tutelage of Tamara Grose and Anna Bribiescas receiving Highest Honors in the Royal Academy of Ballet Examinations. During her extensive training throughout the US and France she earned full scholarships from the Sarasota Ballet in Florida and the Nutmeg Ballet in Connecticut. Gabrielle danced professionally with several contemporary ballet and modern companies in the Bay Area including Ballet Counterpointe. As a highly acclaimed teacher and choreographer at Roco in Mill Valley for more than fifteen years, Gabrielle helped to build the foundation of the ballet and jazz departments. For ten years, Gabrielle choreographed and trained students in state and national dance competitions as an honorary member of Dance Masters of America. Currently, Gabrielle teaches ballet at the Movement Lab and directs a co-ed dance program at Cardinal Newman High School where she produces 2 full productions per year.

Gregg Geoffroy – Tap

Gregg’s music training is evident in his teaching of rhythm tap as an innovative teacher/choreographer. His background includes the study of piano, jazz music, gymnastics and psychology. Gregg has studied with tap masters such as Steve Condos, Eddie Brown, Honi Coles, Cholly Atkins and Jimmy Slyde. He has been called a teacher/artist/performer and his passion for tap is expressed through teaching. Gregg’s been teaching at The Dance Center for 7 years. He has performed with many local groups, among those the Escovedo Family and as the percussionist for a jazz trio. Little known fact: he used to perform a bullwhip demonstration and can take a cigarette out of a bystander’s mouth.

Heather Visser – Jazz
On the Accent & On the Beat jazz company director

Heather was a pre-professional jazz dancer in City Jazz San Francisco at age 14 and choreographed/directed a full-length jazz production at Petaluma Ballet at age 19. She also choreographed and directed the “Journey Through Jazz” production, as well as “Dance From the Heart”, a studio fundraiser. As jazz director at the The Dance Center for 15 years, she has trained dancers who continue to dance in university dance programs and performing arts institutions. Many of her alumni dancers are working professional dancers and choreographers who regularly return to the studio as guest choreographers. Her latest project is Club 6- “being the change”, a dance party promoting positive movement. Heather teaches Pilates and also teaches jazz at Sonoma State University. She combines her study of body alignment with strong technique in teaching dance fundamentals.

Holly Sheen – Tap, Jazz, Musical Theater

Bio under construction! Check back soon!

Jasen – Hip Hop

Bio under construction! Check back soon!

Lea Poisson – Jazz, Modern

Lea has been dancing for over 20 years, having trained locally as well as in southern California. She received her AA at Santa Rosa Junior College and holds a bachelor of arts in dance at Cal State Long Beach. Lea attended Sonoma State University, working on her Masters in Education, with a Concentration on Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning; and an Emphasis on Kinesiology. Lea has taught and choreographed at several studios and institutions, including SRJC, SSU, Santa Rosa High School and Mendocino College. Lea was also a 49er and Golden State Warrior cheerleader and danced with Shadow Optix, Expressive Motion and De/Em dance companies. “Dance is a collaboration of artistry and athleticism, which can touch the soul of the dancer or viewer. It can bring any emotion, tell any story, or just be a pleasing vision. It is my never-ending passion. I can’t imagine life without it.”

Lindy Wandel – KinderJazz/Tots tap

Lindy was born and raised in Santa Rosa. She took her first class at the Dance Center at the age of seven and has been happily dancing ever since. She is a proud member of Rhythm tap company and has been a teaching assistant for the younger tap classes and companies for the past two years. In addition to tap, she also enjoys jazz and ballet classes. She has competed for the past six years at venues around the Bay Area. She is also a member of her school dance team and participates in various performances with her peers from other high schools. What she loves most in dance is the complete freedom it grants the dancer: there is no correct or incorrect in the world of dance, which makes it unique in every way. She is currently a junior at Maria Carrillo High School.

 

Lyndsey Johnson – Tap, Ballet

Lyndsey’s started dancing at three years old and hasn’t stopped since. She was in ballet company with Petaluma School of Ballet and performed in festivals within the Pacific region. Lyndsey performed in principle rolls with the company such as Lilac Fairy in Sleeping Beauty and Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. She has studied many forms of dance including tap, ballet, jazz and modern. Lyndsey has been teaching tap and ballet at the Dance Center for six years. She is also a mom of two girls, Kylee and Eliana.

“I dance because I can express feelings and emotions through movement, and that is beautiful to me.”

 

Nina Raggio – Tap
Footnotes company co-director

Nina has been teaching at The Dance Center for over 20 years. She started dancing at the age of 3 in her hometown of Long Beach, CA. From age 12 through high school, she traveled to Hollywood to study with tap master Louis DaPron. She began her professional career dancing with Donald O’Connor and performed on television shows including the Smothers Brothers and Glen Campbell, as well as in Vegas. Nina received her BA in theatre arts and has choreographed many productions for local theatres, such as Summer Repertory Theatre, Santa Rosa Players and the Sixth Street Playhouse. She enjoys Broadway shows in San Francisco and loves to trade tap steps with her son, Vince, who lives in Vegas and also danced at The Dance Center. Little-known fact: Nina loves horses.

 

Rebekah Green – Modern
DC Gravity, DC Harmony & DC Motion modern company director

Rebekah has been directing The Dance Center’s modern dance companies for 10 years. She grew up dancing under her mentor, modern dancer Dorothy Sturtevant, and competed in all styles of dance including modern, tap, jazz, hip hop, and ballet. Rebekah came to Sonoma County 10 years ago after dancing all over California and Western Europe. She studied in Belgium for 5 years where she attained her Masters Degree in graphic design and speaks fluent French. Rebekah is our resident graphic designer for our logos, performance flyers and programs. She has been teaching for 20 years and enjoys the styles of Jose Limon and Dorris Humphrey. Movements are inspired by the use of gravity, aka, “fall and recovery”.

Vanessa – Jazz, Modern

Bio under construction! Check back soon!

 

Office staff (under construction)

 

Sue Brown – Business manager

Sue has been an integral part of our office staff since 1994 when her daughter began her dance training. After Amanda left for college in 2002, Sue stayed and continued lending her experience as business manager. With a keen eye for decorating combined with a sense of humor that won’t quit, Sue has been a valued and enthusiastic member of our staff. Little known fact: she is an avid Indy Racing League fan and, between her and her husband, they have owned over 70 cars.

 

Judy Koski – Costume Manager

Judy has been an invaluable part of the studio since 1988 in one way or another: her two daughters, Kelley and Nikki, grew up dancing at The Dance Center from the age of 3. Kelley is now a professional dancer.  Judy has worked at a variety of studio positions, but her true love and talent is costuming.