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DIRECTORS

Jennifer and Robbin Shahani bring decades of professional experience to the studio as well as their continuing love of ballet and the world of performing.

JENNIFER SHAHANI, Artistic Director, received her early training with Jon Rodriguez, Finis Jhung, Josephine Schwartz and Howard Sayette. Jennifer had the distinction of being the youngest dancer ever to be invited to work with Stuart Sebastian, then Artistic Director of Dayton Ballet, and later resident guest choreographer with the Royal Ballet of Flanders.

Miss Jen enjoyed a 12-year career with Dayton Ballet, Louisville Ballet and Ballet West, specializing in soloist roles in many contemporary ballets, such as Val Caniparoli’s Lambarena, Antony Tudor’s Echoing of Trumpets, Leaves are Fading and Continuo, Ben Stevenson’s Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland, John Butler’s Carmina Burana, Paul Taylor’s Company B, and Frederick Ashton’s The Dream, as well as all the classics. 

Before establishing California Dance Academy with her husband, Jennifer served as Ballet Mistress for Dayton Ballet's junior division, Ballet West’s Nutcracker, and Rozann-Zimmerman Ballet Center.  She also taught extensively with Jacques d'Amboise's National Dance Institute, which has been widely recognized for its work in enriching the lives of many young people, and motivating them towards excellence.

Currently Miss Jen teaches and coaches all levels of ballet at CDA, and feels that a positive start to a child’s dance training will ensure a lifetime love of the joy of movement and music.

ROBBIN SHAHANI, Executive Director, enjoyed an extensive career with Houston Ballet, Dayton Ballet, Boston Ballet, Indianapolis Ballet Theatre, and as a character soloist with Ballet West.  Favorite roles include Iago in Jose Limon’s Moor’s Pavane, the lead in Antony Tudor’s Continuo, Alias in Eugene Loring’s Billy the Kid, Van Helsing in Stuart Sebastian’s Dracula, and character roles in Peter Anastos’s Peter Pan, Nutcracker and Ben Stevenson’s Alice in Wonderland.

Mr. Robbin enjoys choreographing and coaching CDA students in vital craft of performance technique– expanding stage presence, communication and character.

Robbin holds a Bachelor’s degree in Dance from the University of Utah as well as a Master’s degree in Film.  He has written, directed and produced numerous documentaries for Discovery Channel, and his award-winning short films have been seen across the country. Robbin continues to entertain audiences as a character artist in CDA productions.

DANCE INSTRUCTORS
   
Jo Bolden Headshot JO BOLDEN         Lyrical, Contemporary, Jazz Funk

Jo is particularly recognized for her unique lyrical, jazz and jazz funk styles but known for her work with dancers to unleash powerful presence and connection in each moment. She has a creative philosophy grounded in owning who you are, what you have to offer and then reaching for more artistically, energetically and physically from there.

Jo is represented by Go 2 Talent Agency. She remains part of an International Faculty for Phoenix International Dance Workshops (New Zealand), Head of Performing Arts at renowned studio Ettingshausens in Sydney and as a guest tutor for The American Jazz Dance Affiliation (NZ).  Performance credits extend from TV/Film to corporate and live stage shows including the A.R.I.A. and Mo Awards, Australian Fashion Week, choreographing for the Miss Chinese Australia Pageant, General Motors (Mitsubishi) and much more.  We can't believe it's already our fourth year welcoming Miss Jo to the CDA family!


Becky Castells BECKY CASTELLS    Kids Hip Hop Jazz, Beginning Ballet

Originally from the east coast, Becky graduated Cum Laude from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA.  She studied with the Hungarian Ballet in Budapest, Hungary, and was a principal dancer in the Chester County Ballet Company in Pennsylvania, the Hollywood Ballet Company, and the Donlavy Dance Company in Los Angeles. In addition to being a highly regarded dance teacher for 20 years, specializing in ballet, pointe, lyrical, jazz, musical theater, tap, and ballroom, Becky is a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild and has appeared in numerous commercials, TV shows, movies, and music videos.  Becky has also enjoyed a long and decorated career as a choreographer, and has had the opportunity to choreograph in many different genres, from TV and Film to Musical Theater. Becky has been the proud recipient of many awards and was recently honored by the Simi Valley Cultural Association as the 2016 Artist of the Year. CDA is very happy to continue our partnership with Miss Becky for the third year!


Veronica Centasso Headshot VERONICA CENTASSO         Beginning Ballet

Veronica Centasso was born in Venice, Italy, where she started attending ballet classes at age 3.  She trained with Alessandra Vianello, Sabrina Massignani, James Urbain, Mauro Astolfi and Steve La Chance and entered, at age 18, Arte Danza Company, today known as Venezia Balletto.

Later, Veronica discovered a love for teaching and she choreography for both children and adults. She is versed in styles as diverse as Flamenco to Ballroom, Jazz and Lyrical.  She also brings the years of experience dancing as a member of the Jean Laws Entertainment group performing in different islands of the Caribbean. Veronica recently moved to California where we are lucky to count her as part of the CDA family.


Keena Ferguson Headshot KEENA FERGUSON       Jazz, Lyrical, Jazz Funk

Being born to a mother who was a dancer at the famed Dance Theatre of Harlem, dancing was sure to be a part of Keena's life. Keena's dancing background is versatile, as she has been trained in modern, ballet, tap, jazz, Hip Hop and West African. Upon her move to Los Angeles, she quickly jumped into the dance scene performing for artists such as Gloria Estefan, Marc Anthony, Nelly and Kelly Rowland to name a few.  Keena was a dancer in the Universal film The Rundown starring the Rock and has choreographed and danced for Nike and Reebok.  She was selected to participate in the Black College Dance Exchange as a teacher of contemporary and modern dance and choreographs for various University dance companies.  Keena also received much acclaim stepping in to choreograph for the regional theatre production of Pippin and her choreography for the popular traveling group, Safety Kids.


Jensen Freedman JENSEN FREEDMAN       West Coast Tap

 At 18, Jensen busted into the scene tap dancing professionally for Gregg Russell's Tap Sounds Underground as 3rd generation. In the fall of 2019 she began her 4th year touring with Tap Into the Network – an all-tap intensive with three headliners including her mentor Ryan Lohoff, Angela Carter and Mr. Russell. Jensen will be teaching Hip Hop and House for TITN 2019 cities Temple, Cleveland, San Jose and Denver.  She is also lead principal dancer and assistant choreographer for Rithem Dance Company – a professional company with a media focus and youth program.  Jensen also teaches Tap for The Bridge training program under ImmaBeast Dancer and teacher Donavon Gibbs who she met touring and teaching for the Streetz Dance Convention.  She is a passionate about empowering beginning and professional dancers to feel no boundaries (with tap shoes on or off), and regularly donates workshop proceeds to causes near to her heart.


Randall Graham Headshot RANDALL GRAHAM       Beginning,  Intermediate & Advanced Ballet,Boys Class, Partnering

Trained in Dallas, Texas and moving on to a performing career with Boston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet under Robert Joffrey, New York City’s Metropolitan Opera, and numerous plays and musical theatre productions around the world, Randall Graham brings a wealth of knowledge and excitement to his students. After a long ballet career dancing principal and soloist roles across all dance styles, Mr. Graham began a close working relationship with Agnes de Mille’s long time associate, staging numerous de Mille productions of Brigadoon, Carousel and Oklahoma! across the country. In addition Mr. Graham performed for President Bush Sr. as the principal male dancer in Carousel for the Houston Grande Opera.

Audiences throughout the United States have seen Mr. Graham perform in Robert Goulet’s Camelot and shortly thereafter Mr. Graham was assistant director for Carousel with Shirley Jones in Boston. In 2000 he relocated from New York City to Southern California and quickly established himself training students who received scholarships and acceptances to the top ballet school in the nation. Mr. Graham recently taught for Ballet West's Summer Intensive 2012. We are extremely happy to have Mr. Randall on the faculty at CDA!


Jerry Kokich Headshot JERRY KOKICH        Intermediate, Advanced Ballet

Jerry Kokich was born into a theatre family. His father, Kazimir Kokich, danced with the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, and on Broadway. Jerry's mother, Iva Withers, was in the original productions of Oklahoma!, Carousel, and many others. Jerry began his ballet training the week he graduated from high school after spending his formative years as a hockey player. Studying with Tina Youskevitch, Gabriella Darvash, Stanley Williams, Andrei Kramerevsky and Richard Rapp prepared him for the Joffrey II Dancers and eight years with The Joffrey Ballet. Jerry has danced ballets by Robert Joffrey, Gerald Arpino, George Balanchine, Agnes DeMille, Kurt Joos, Jiri Kylian, Margo Sappington, Laura Dean, Charlie Moulton, and John Cranko. Former students have danced with The Joffrey, San Francisco Ballet, Alonzo King's LINES, Dresden Ballet, Grand Rapids Ballet, Washington Ballet, Oklahoma City Ballet, and have advanced to the finals of the YAGP. Jerry starred in 39 episodes of the multi-award winning web series, The Adventures of Superseven, winning two Outstanding Actor awards. He is also a published author, with the pulp action/adventure novel, Monuments of Doom, and the upcoming sequel, Hell's Fury, along with the sci-fi detective story collection, Belt City.   We’re very happy Jerry is joining CDA this year!


Sarah Kruger Headshot SARAH KRUGER        Beginning Ballet

A graduate from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Radio-Television-Film, Sarah Hernandez Kruger came to LA to pursue a career as a director, writer, actor and choreographer. As a dancer, she trained at Bellas Artes Academy of Dance in South Texas under the direction of Juan Jose Burgos and Mrs Sheila McKay, alumnus of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Canada. Sarah was a ballet soloist several times over, trained in tap, jazz, modern and lyrical, and was a member of the Folkloric & Flamenco company.

Sarah has danced in the Macy's Day Parade in New York City, has taken intensive workshops from the Royal Winnipeg Ballet school, and currently teaches dance to both children and adults in Los Angeles. This will be her 8th year as an instructor and choreographer.


Laurie LeBlanc Danceshot

LAURIE LeBLANC      Associate Director
Intermediate & Advanced Ballet, Pre-Pointe, Pointe, Variations

Laurie LeBlanc began her dance career with the Pennsylvania Ballet at the age of 16, performing corps de ballet and soloist roles over her seven year affiliation, and working with such notable choreographers as Benjamin Harkarvy, Merce Cunningham, John Butler, Peter Martins, Choo San Goh, and Lynn Taylor-Corbett. Simultaneously, she choreographed several ballets for Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, received two scholarships to attend National Association of Regional Ballet choreographic workshops, a choreographic fellowship grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a choreographic residency for the Carlisle Project, as well as guest taught and performed in the area.

Upon joining Pacific Ballet Theatre (later Oregon Ballet Theatre), Laurie performed soloist and principal roles in addition to holding the positions of Acting Artistic Director and Resident Choreographer. She was also a member of the teaching staff at Portland State University.

Following employment with Ballet Arizona in Phoenix, Ms. LeBlanc moved to New York City where she was cast in Andrew Lloyd Weber’s The Phantom of the Opera, with which she toured the U.S. and performed on Broadway, and later performing in Papermill Playhouse’s production of Brigadoon and Nicholas Hytner’s National Tour of Carousel. Ms. LeBlanc taught extensively for RZBC prior to joining the CDA family at its inception.


Udee McGeoy Headshot UDEE McGEOY        Hip Hop

Udee has been a professional dancer & choreographer in the entertainment industry for over 15 years in Los Angeles. Udee trained in jazz, ballet and modern while living in San Diego but ultimately found her love in Hip Hop.  Her numerous television appearances include several episodes of the The Tonight Show, the ESPY, Video Game, American Music Awards, The Jimmy Kimmel Show, and Dancing With The Stars, amongst others.  Udee is not only a veteran in film and television but has also danced on stage with artists like Snoop Dogg, Monica, Limp Bizkit, Bon Jovi and Mya, and in music videos with the legendary artist Stevie Wonder, the much missed Notorious B.I.G., Marcus Houston, Christina Aguilera and J.C. Chasez. 

Udee’s love for dance and music runs deep and she believes that both music and dance are therapeutic for your mind, body and soul.  She has been all over the world teaching and performing and loves to teach those who want to learn and give forth maximum effort.  This year marks Udee’s fifth season with CDA, and we love having her!


Tania Possick Headshot TANIA POSSICK         Jazz, Tap, Lyrical & Team

Tania is a Southern California native and UC Berkeley graduate that has had the privilege of pursuing a career as a performer, teacher, and choreographer. Specializing in jazz, tap, musical theatre, and hip hop, she received notable training under the direction of Dennon and Sayhber Rawles, Lisa Locke, and Bradley Rapier of the Groovaloos. Her performance and choreography credits include Cabaret, Beauty and the Beast, Forum, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Chicago, and West Side Story. She is currently a company member and advisor for The Musical Theatre of Los Angeles theatre company, and also belongs to Belly Twins dance company, with which she has toured North America and the Middle East performing Bollywood, belly dance, and several other ethnic dances.

In addition, Tania began her own production company in 2008 called Dance Fusion Los Angeles (DFLA), which launched its run with multiple sold out shows. She’s beginning her seventh year with the CDA family, and absolutely loves it here!

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