Vicki Suemnicht, Studio Owner/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.
Alyssa Carnahan Ballet
Alyssa has been dancing for over 20 years starting at age 4 with Ballet Califia in Cotati. She was in Santa Rosa High’s ArtQuest program as a featured dancer and choreographer. Alyssa minored in dance at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where she performed as a member of Orchesis Dance Company in addition to choreographing the music department’s production of RSVP. In 2007, Alyssa performed in the Walt Disney World College program. Alyssa has danced a variety of roles including the Princess in Firebird, Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker and Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty.
“I love to dance because I get to be both an athlete and an artist.”
Katy Derby Jazz technique
Katy grew up in a dance family at Petaluma School of Ballet. She received training from the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, Sacramento Ballet and was on scholarship with Milwaukee Ballet School. She performed roles such as Swanhilda in Coppelia, Bluebird in Sleeping Beauty and the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. Katy is also a licensed Zumba instructor and teaches fitness classes.
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.
Rebekah Green Modern, Jazz
DC Gravity modern company director
Rebekah is in her 6th year of directing DC Gravity and teaches both jazz and modern at the studio. She studied under modern dance mentor, Dorothy Sturtevant, for four years. This sparked her love of modern dance. She also enjoys the styles of Jose Limon and Dorris Humphrey. Rebekah was a competitive dancer in jazz, tap, modern, hip hop and ballet throughout high school and college. She received her master’s degree in graphic design and advertising from St. Luc University in Belgium. She has taught throughout California and immersed herself in dance during her 5 years of European travels. Her love of graphic arts and passion for choreography go hand-in-hand. In addition to speaking French fluently and being a twin, she appreciates graffiti and street art.
“Dance is my therapy. It is my voice, my joy.”
Mike Harris Hip hop
Mike began dancing at the studio as a teenager and his love for hip hop started after training with the late Gary Kendell, the studio’s hip hop artistic director for many years. He has not stopped dancing since. He is a former member of Shadow Optix and currently directs and choreographs his own hip hop company, Secret Society. Besides dancing, he can be found skating around town and snowboarding the hills of Tahoe. He also unleashes his inner nerd by playing video games.
“Without dance, I’d probably be in the Navy.”
Emily Hartley – Tap, Jazz, Musical Theatre
Taptations, Taprrific and Tappettes tap company director
Emily fell in love with dance after watching old Fred Astaire movies. She took her first tap dancing class at age 9 and hasn’t stopped moving her feet ever since. In high school Emily stepped into the wonderful world of musical theatre and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theater Arts. She has worked with Paula Abdul and Kenny Ortega. She also danced in film and television shows while living in LA. Emily loves sharing her passion for dance with her students. She was also a tap dancing Christmas tree in a holiday show. When she’s not dancing, she’s swimming, scrap-booking and spending time with her family.
Why does she dance? “I love, love, love it!”
Lyndsey Johnson – Tap
Lyndsey’s been dancing all her life and trained locally with many teachers. She was in ballet company with Petaluma School of Ballet and performed in festivals in the Pacific region. Lyndsey has choreographed 3 contemporary ballets and has studied many forms of dance including tap, ballet, jazz and modern. She is also a preschool teacher and has been married 7 years has a 2 ½ year-old daughter.
“I dance because I can express feelings and emotions through movement, and that is beautiful to me.”
Danielle Maca – Hip Hop
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.
Lea Poisson – Hip Hop
Lea has been teaching and dancing for over 20 years and 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, receiving her masters in education with an emphasis on teaching and kinesiology. She has taught and choreographed at 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.
“I love expressing myself and telling stories through dance, it’s my life-long passion. I can’t imagine life without it.”
Nina Raggio – Tap
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 is a fan of the television show “Dexter.”
Shelley Scott – Ballet
Shelley has been directing our ballet department for 5 years. As a world-renowned dancer, Shelley is one of the last 4 dancers to work with and be personally trained by George Balanchine. She was a lead dancer with the New York City Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet, appearing at Covenant Garden, Paris Opera, Kennedy and Lincoln Centers, and danced on Broadway with Marakova & Co. Shelley trained at the School of American Ballet with premiere ballet teachers and as a professional dancer, she worked with notable choreographers Jerome Robbins, Rudolph Nureyev, Mikhail Barishnikov, Michael Smuin, Mark Morris, Twyla Tharp, Robert Joffrey and others. She is dedicated to teaching, choreographing and passing on the traditions of classical ballet from Balanchine. Shelley is the director of Ballet Califia in Cotati.
“I dance because without it, there would be no beauty, inspiration, or reason to exist.”
Heather Visser – Jazz
On the Accent, On the Beat & On the Mark jazz company director
Heather has been teaching at The Dance Center for 13 years and has trained dancers who have gone on to become dance majors in college as well as working professional dancers. She’s been dancing all her life and became a pre-professional jazz dancer in City Jazz at age 14. She choreographed and directed her first full-length jazz production, Aladdin, at Petaluma School of Ballet at age 19. Heather also coaches Pilates classes as well as teaching Zumba. She combines her study of body alignment with strong technique in teaching correct dance fundamentals. Heather has trained with Petaluma School of Ballet, Jim Campbell, Susan Matthies as well as Marin Ballet under Dede Arnonia.
“Dancing helps me think and express myself, it brings me happiness.”
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.
Amber Woodson Office manager
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.
Jennie Hitman – Assistant office manager
Jennie’s background includes many years of dance training in ballet, jazz and tap. She was on our teaching staff for y years before leaving to become a teacher’s aide at Oak Grove Elementary School while raising her three sons. She returned to dance and to teach at the studio six years ago and is now a smiling face at our front desk. Jennie recently became a grandmother and couldn’t be happier.
Jessyca Chosy – Desker
Jessyca was born and raised in Santa Rosa and is currently attending Santa Rosa Junior College. She has always loved performing and started acting, singing and dancing at an early age. She hopes to combine her interest in science along with the performing arts.
Jessyca Chosy – Desker
Jessika is a senior at Montgomery High School and studies jazz and modern at the studio, which she absolutely loves. Before she began dancing, she was active in cheerleading growing up. After high school, she plans on attending Santa Rosa Junior College and possibly join the Air Force.