The Instructors

Studio Owner/Director

Vicki Suemnicht
Footnotes company co-director

As the owner/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 has choreographed shows for the Sixth Street Playhouse and Santa Rosa Players including The Producers, The Drowsy Chaperone, Little Shop of Horrors, Chorus Line, Urinetown and others. She choreographs for Montgomery High School’s musicals-Some Like It Hot; Bye, Bye Birdie; Music Man; Kiss Me Kate; Guys and Dolls and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. Vicki is on the board of the Santa Rosa Sister City Committee student exchange program to Jeju, South Korea. She brings Dance Center company dancers to perform in Korea every other year where they wow the international audience as dance ambassadors extraordinaire! Vicki recently attended the Australian Tap Dance festival where she trained with international teachers. She connected with a guest choreographer there who came to The Dance Center as a guest choreographer this summer.

Little-known fact: Vicki’s goal is to tap dance in every country.

 

Teaching staff

 

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

Anakarina, also known as AK, has been dancing for 11 years and is trained in ballet, jazz, lyrical jazz, modern, contemporary, musical theatre and hip hop. She has choreographed for Santa Rosa Junior College and has won 1st place in dance competitions, winning senior awards for her choreography. She has been a member 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 throughout Sonoma County. Anakarina loves teaching, inspiring, and sharing the art of dance with as many people as she can.

Little known fact: Anakarina’s fiancé proposed to her onstage at one of our June shows (in front of 500 people), they are now married.

 

Annette Lee- Ballet

Annette loves kids and is very excited to be teaching ballet this year. She is also looking forward to choreographing for the June show. Annette has been dancing for 5 years in various styles including modern, tap, jazz, musical theater, and ballet. Previous to coming to the Dance Center, Annette trained and competed as a figure skater both in Los Angeles and in Santa Rosa. Annette has a great love of singing, playing music (piano, ukelele, and guitar), and theatrical performance. She was recently part of small teen group, led by Cat Austin of Sonoma, who created a musical, dramatic, and movement original work titled ‘Unleashed’.

 

Christina Kitchens – Jazz
Pulse & Elite jazz company director

Christina has been dancing for 17 years and is trained in jazz, ballet, contemporary and tap. She started her dance career at Revolution Dance Center in Los Angeles and was a part of the studio’s competitive dance company for 11 years. She just graduated from Sonoma State University with a major in dance and theater. She choreographed jazz pieces for many SSU dance concerts and has performed in numerous other shows featured at the university. Christina is very excited to be teaching dance and to be sharing her passion of this incredible art form with others.

Little known fact: Christina loves to bake pastries.

 

Danielle Maca – Contemporary, 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 and grew up dancing at The Dance Center with Nina Raggio and Vicki Suemnicht as her teachers. After discovering musical theatre at age 14, her career path was chosen. She has a BA in Theatre Arts from CSU Fullerton. After college, Emily spent an amazing 8 years dancing in L.A. and worked with choreographers Paula Abdul and Kenny Ortega. Some of her favorite projects include dancing in the film Pearl Harbor and the television show Commander-in-Chief. Emily is thrilled to be celebrating her 10th year teaching tap, jazz and musical theatre at The Dance Center, where it all started. She has enjoyed watching her students grow and flourish as both dancers and people. Emily is the proud mom of four-year-old twins, Lily and William, who started tap this year.

Little known fact: Emily’s college job was working at Disneyland.

 

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.

Katie Carlin- Contemporary, Jazz, & Tumbling

Katie began dancing three years ago after a long career in gymnastics. She has performed on DC Gravity for two years and On the Accent for one. This past August she began teaching jazz and modern at beginning levels. She loves being able to choreograph for such an enthusiastic and talented group of students. Finishing up her last year in high school, Katie is excited to graduate and to continue dancing through college.

Jasen Valdez – Hip Hop

Jasen found his love of dance at 13 and has been training ever since. He has a deep passion for all forms of movement but has mostly focused on Urban Hip-Hop and Contemporary. He is working on a B.A. in Theater Arts (dance concentration) from SSU. He has performed with Soul Purpose, Press P.L.A.Y., the Unit, and is a current member of Auxiliary. Jasen strives to teach not only technique but the values of dance as an art form. “Stay hungry, stay humble”

 

Lea Poisson – Jazz, Contemporary

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, 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 community theatre groups, such as Summer Repertory Theatre at SRJC, 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 Southern California and grew up at The Dance Center. Nina directed and produced last year’s opening number, “Gotta Dance!”

Little-known fact: Nina worked as a magician’s assistant.

 

Rebekah Green – Contemporary
DC Gravity, DC Harmony & DC Motion contemporary company director

Rebekah has been directing The Dance Center’s modern dance companies for 11 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 13 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 Limón and Dorris Humphrey. Movements are inspired by the use of gravity, aka, “fall and recovery”.

Little known fact: Rebekah is an avid cosplayer

 

Shannon Lee – Ballet

After taking 20+ years off, Shannon is very happy to be back studying and teaching dance! As a child in San Diego, she fell in love with theater movement, gravitating most to tap and lyric/musical theater jazz. Her long time tap teacher was Pam Thompson-Spinner, now of the California Rhythm Project . In her teens she embraced ballet ‘because it is good for you’, never as a performance art but to evolve as a well-rounded and balanced dancer. In college at UC Santa Cruz Shannon was heavily involved in the theater/dance program both taking classes and in performance. The school supported almost entirely a modern curriculum and while there she had the opportunity to work with Mel Wong, Tandy Beal, Cliff Keuter, and others. Also while in her early 20’s she taught jazz and turns classes at a hip-hop studio in Santa Cruz. In her 30’s she migrated from dance to shaolin chu’an fa, a Chinese martial arts form, in which she earned a black belt and continues to practice today. “I don’t know if dancing makes me happy, or being happy makes me dance… either way, I’ll be dancing”

 

Office staff

 

Kathy Salisbury – Office Manager

Kathy started working @ the DC in November, 2015.  She was raised in Sebastopol, has a BS degree in Recreation Administration with experience in hotel/resort management and fitness training.  Kathy is a busy mom of 3 girls, but is carving out time to get herself dancing again!

 

Mary Jo – Accounts manager

Mary Jo has worked in theater most of her life and is currently on staff as stage manager for Spreckel’s Performing Arts Center’s productions. Her background also includes many years as office manager for the Santa Rosa Charter School.

Judy Koski – Costume Manager

Judy has been the costume mistress at the Dance Center since 1988.  Her daughters  Kelley and Nikki grew up dancing at the studio and Judy volunteered to take on the costume ordering and planning for their shows. She hasn’t stopped since.  We owe every sequin and fluffy feather to Judy’s careful attention to detail.