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Faculty and Staff


Ashleigh Doede began her training at Le Studio under the direction of Philip Fuller, Charles Fuller, and Gilma Bustillo. Along with her ballet training, she attended Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, where she began to broaden her dance techniques and versatility. Ashleigh then went on to work professionally with Anaheim Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet's Second Company, and Nevada Ballet Theatre. While in Nevada, she had the opportunity to choreograph The Velveteen Rabbit for NBT as well as The Vertical Hold in the Cirque du Soleil collaboration with NBT. She's also attended San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, Hubbard Street Dance Company, Northwest Professional Dance Project and Springboard Dance Montreal during various summers as a professional dancer. She is currently associate artistic director and dancer of Nancy Evans Dance Theatre as well as a yoga instructor with 500 hours or training through YogaWorks. Ashleigh joined Pasadena Dance Theatre in 2009 where she has not only had the opportunity to dance solo roles from classical to contemporary work but has also choreographed Surrender in 2014 for PDT's Master DanceMaker series Conversation With the Choreographer. That year the Company Edition carried the title of PASSIONmoves. She is currently PDT's Conservatory Director.

Ashleigh Doede

Ballet Mistress


Ashleigh Doede began her training at Le Studio under the direction of Philip Fuller, Charles Fuller, and Gilma Bustillo. Along with her ballet training, she attended Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, where she began to broaden her dance techniques and versatility. Ashleigh then went on to work professionally with Anaheim Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet's Second Company, and Nevada Ballet Theatre. While in Nevada, she had the opportunity to choreograph The Velveteen Rabbit for NBT as well as The Vertical Hold in the Cirque du Soleil collaboration with NBT. She's also attended San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, Hubbard Street Dance Company, Northwest Professional Dance Project and Springboard Dance Montreal during various summers as a professional dancer. She is currently associate artistic director and dancer of Nancy Evans Dance Theatre as well as a yoga instructor with 500 hours or training through YogaWorks. Ashleigh joined Pasadena Dance Theatre in 2009 where she has not only had the opportunity to dance solo roles from classical to contemporary work but has also choreographed Surrender in 2014 for PDT's Master DanceMaker series Conversation With the Choreographer. That year the Company Edition carried the title of PASSIONmoves. She is currently PDT's Conservatory Director.

Ashleigh Doede

Ballet Mistress


Jessamyn Vedro trained with Cynthia Young and Laurence Blake at Pasadena Dance Theatre, on scholarship at San Francisco Ballet School, at ABT New York, Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle, and with Alonzo King's Lines Ballet School in San Francisco.  She danced as a Soloist with ABT's Studio Company in New York where she performed in premieres of contemporary ballets by Dominic Walsh, Stephen Mills and Brian Reeder.  Her roles with PDT include Sugar Plum Fairy, Snow Queen, and Arabian Soloist in The Nutcracker, Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Beauty in Beauty and the Beast, the lead role in Cinderella, and she has performed in many contemporary ballets by Laurence Blake, Charles Anderson, Scott Putman, Jodie Gates, Cynthia Young and Francisco Martinez.  Ms. Vedro has received several awards for her choreography, including RDA/Pacific Award for Outstanding Choreography.  Her work, Some Thousand Hundred Million More Bright Worlds  premiered in Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York.  She is a graduate of UCLA Law School and is an active member of the California Bar. Ms. Vedro is currently PDT’s Interim Artistic Director and is creating all new choreography for Nutcracker 2022!

Jessamyn Vedro

Artistic Advisor


Jean-Marie Martz holds a ballet master diploma from the Association Française des Maîtres de Danse Classique in Paris. During his 30-year career as a ballet instructor he has taught at the Centre International de la Danse in Paris, Colorado Ballet in Denver, Idyllwild Arts Academy in California, University of California, Riverside, and as a guest internationally. After studying ballet in France at the Fédération Française de Danse Classique and in England at the Legat School of Russian Ballet, he performed in Germany with the Stuttgart Ballet and the Munich Ballet. He subsequently pursued his interest in modern dance in New York at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance and the Merce Cunningham Studio, and studied dance kinesiology with Dorothy Vislocky. His studies in somatic movement modalities have included the Body-Mind Centering® certification program and the Feldenkrais® Method. Presently based in Los Angeles, Jean-Marie has conducted anatomy-based ballet pedagogy workshops internationally for organizations such as the Theatre School in Amsterdam, the Chichester Institute of Higher Education in England, the Royal Academy of Dance in Mexico City, the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies in New York, and the European League of Institutes of the Arts. He's been teaching for PDT since 2008.

Jean-Marie Martz

Ballet | Pointe

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Julia Ortega

Ballet | Pointe

Julia Ortega trained at the School of Arts in Holguin, Cuba, and the School of the Ballet Nacional de Cuba. She danced with the Ballet de Camaguey and the Ballet Nacional de Cuba, rising to the rank of soloist under the direction of Alicia Alonso. In 1989, she was named gold medalist in the International Ballet Competition in Peru. Julia became a member of the Cleveland Ballet in 1992, performing a variety of Dennis Nahat's works as a principal dancer, including the premiere of Blue Suede Shoes. She has performed the lead female roles in classical and contemporary pieces, including Giselle, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Le Corsaire, Paquita, Sleeping Beauty, Who Cares?, Allegro Brillante, Romeo and Juliet, Serenade, Tarantella and Pasadena Dance Theatre's production of The Nutcracker. Julia has been a member of PDT's faculty since 1999.


Noel Dilworth

Ballet | Elementary Division | Pilates

Prior to dance, Noel Dilworth was a competitive rhythmic gymnast for 10 years. After retiring, she began her ballet training at Contra Costa Ballet in Northern California. She has also trained at Maryland Youth Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet School, The Alvin Ailey School/Fordham University, and North Carolina Dance Theatre as an apprentice before joining their second company. She has danced professionally as part of North Carolina Dance Theatre II, ARC Dance Seattle, San Diego Opera, Los Angeles Opera and Pasadena Dance Theatre. She has a BFA in Dance Performance from UC Irvine, and received second prize at the Washington D.C. National Society for Arts and Letters', Mary Rich Peery Fife Dance Competition. Noel also holds a 400 hour Pilates Certification from Studio du Corps in Orange County. 


Liza Barskaya received her early dance training in Los Angeles and spent summers training with American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet and Ballet Austin where she danced for two seasons as a Professional Division Trainee. Upon completing her traineeship, Liza spent two years in NYC where she danced with Dances Patrelle, American Swiss Ballet and worked at Ballet Academy East. In 2015, Liza was among a select few chosen to create a performance piece for Upper Manhattan’s Inaugural Higher Ground Festival where she directed and choreographed an adaptation of Khalil Gibran’s “The Prophet”. Upon returning to Los Angeles, Liza danced with LA Choreographers and Dancers and Benita Bike’s DanceArt Company. In addition she has performed with the Martha Graham Dance Company, Ballet Austin and The Assembly. Liza was featured in John Tesh’s “Alive: Music and Dance” concert special and has danced in additional media work with Red Hot Organization, Darling Media and in “My Big Fat Blonde Musical”. Liza’s choreographic work includes the musical “I Love You Because”, presented by the Red Brick Road Theatre Company and Endeavor Theatre Ensemble along with music videos for Emelia Austin, “Zeinapur” and “Surf Curse”. In 2017, Liza assisted the Artisic Director of the Mesopotamian Opera Company, Peter Wing Healey, in the creation of his original opera about Benjamin Franklin.

Liza is currently the resident stage director and choreographer of Independent Opera Company. She has staged many rarely performed operas including “Mozart and Salieri” and “Kaschey the Immortal” by Rimsky-Korsakov, “Little Red Riding Hood” and “The Puss in Boots” by Cui, “The Medium” by Menotti, “Orfeo ed Euridice” by Gluck and “The Cossack Beyond the Danube” by Hulak-Artemovsky. For IOC, Liza has choreographed “Eugene Onegin” and “Queen of Spades” by Tchaikovsky, “The Tsar’s Bride” by Rimsky-Korsakov, “The Bartered Bride” by Smetana, “Goyescas” by Granados, “Pigmalion” by Rameau, “Aleko” by Rachmaninoff and a recent dance film, “Visions Fugitives”, featuring the music of Sergei Prokofiev under the same title. Liza teaches at Anna Cheselka Dance Center and is incredibly excited to be joining the faculty of Pasadena Dance Theatre!


Liza Barskaya


Latina Los Angeles native and recent California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) BFA Dance Graduate, Rivka Villanueva has boundless training in jazz, hip hop, modern, and improvisation with Rebecca Lemme, Andrew Vaca, Keith Johnson, Rebecca Bryant, and Rosanna Tavarez. During her time at CSULB, Rivka performed in various works choreographed by both students and faculty members. Some of Rivka’s post grad work includes choreographing for Montebello High School’s 8th Annual Dance concert as well as collaboratively creating and presenting work for Stomping Ground LA’s Black Artist Showcase alongside Derrick Paris.


Rivka Villanueva


Helga de Kansky received her basic training in New York from Mme. Anderson-Ivantzova, former prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet. Throughout her career she studied in Europe with Mmes. Preobrajenska, Nijinska, Volkova, Nora Hightower and John Taras. Helga was engaged by the Colonel de Basil Ballet Russe for seasons in London (Covent Garden) and Paris in 1947. She then joined the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas, being named soloist after three years and remaining with the company for eight years. She worked with choreographers Massine, Nijinske, Dolin, Lichine, Balanchine, Taras and Dollar. Her roles included Queen of the Willis in Giselle (Perrot/Dolin), Taglioni and Grisi in Pas de Quatre (Perrot), the Prelude in Les Sylphides (Fokine) and prominent roles in Princess Aurora (Petipa), Sebastian (Caton), Petrouchka (Fokine), Jeux (Lichine), Dessins pour les Six (Taras), etc. In 1956 Helga danced for a year with The Netherlands Ballet as a principal ballerina. She began teaching in Paris in 1957 and has been teaching in California since 1960, giving master classes for Dance in Action, Pasadena City College and Pasadena High School, and was an associate professor of dance at Cal State LA (1985/86). She founded Concert Ballet of California in 1981, for which she choreographed Designs (Czerny), Bach Concerto, Five Dances (Chopin), A Tale of Undines (Poulenc), A Celebration (Pachelbel) and Clouds (Halpin).

Helga De Kansky

Adult Ballet


Francisco Martinez



Joan Fricke is a FIlipino-American, multidisciplinary artist and educator. She is currently Assistant Choreographer for B. Dunn Movement, and dances with immersive dance-theatre creators, Iris Company. Joan has most recently worked with Heidi Duckler Dance, Acts of Matter, Carlon, Nancy Evans Dance Theater, and A. Ordaz Dance. Joan's stage credits include Zoe Scofield, Yuanyuan Wang, Don Martin, Jiří Kylián, and Hans Van Manen.

As a maker, Joan uses voice and choreography to investigate the nonlinear existence of time and space. Collaborators include Grammy-Award winning musician and composer Alex Wand, installation artist Isabel Beavers, and composer Jaco Wong of C3LA Choir. Her work can be seen across the stage and screen. Commercial and video credits include Athleta, Solange, Jessie Ware, Malynda Hale, California Milk, Fyohna among others. Joan is on faculty at Los Angeles Music & Arts School, Pasadena Dance Theatre, and LA's Best, an after school enrichment program that serves schools in neighborhoods with the fewest resources yet the greatest needs. She studied Dance Pedagogy and earned her C-I Training™ teacher certifications under distinguished Dance Science researcher and professor, Donna Krasnow, PhD. Joan is one of four C-I Training™ certified teachers for both Levels 1 and 2 in Southern California. Joan attended LACHSA, and is an associate alumni of the Boston Conservatory. She holds a BFA in Dance Performance & Choreography from California Institute of the Arts, where she was nominated for the Princess Grace Award.

Ballet | Contemporary

Joan Fricke


Liberty Cordova is a multi-faceted dancer, actress, and singer based in Los Angeles with an extensive background in Ballet that began in Salt Lake City, Utah. Liberty trained with The Ballet School, Ballet West faculty, and protégés of George Balanchine, Joy and Conrad Ludlow. Liberty’s extensive Jazz, Tap, contemporary, and Hip Hop training continued concurrently at the University of Utah while competing with Pulse 31 until moving to Los Angeles. Liberty has trained with teachers and choreographers across Los Angeles and New York at Edge PAC, Millenium, Debbie Reynolds and Playground LA, and  Broadway Dance Center and Peridance in New York City. She has appeared in a long list of commercial campaigns, TV, and feature films. Her professional work ranges from appearing in live performances with artists as a dancer and in award shows, to working as a dancer in variety shows and for Chivas USA MLS pro team. She has worked on numerous music videos as a dancer, as well as a choreographer. Liberty, has taught for Ballet West, Central School of Ballet in London as well as various studios abroad. Her passion is rooted in her love of dance and in creating a safe and healthy environment for dancers to thrive.


Liberty Cordova


Angie Vaughn is a Pasadena native and a graduate of Pasadena High School, class of 2008. After graduation, she attended Musician’s Institute, in Hollywood, California focusing her studies on Recording Engineering and Music Business programs. In 2010, she began working with several dance and theater companies including the Lineage Performing Arts Center, Parsons Nose & the Nancy Doede Dance Theatre where she executed a multitude of jobs including sound and light engineering, marketing, and choreography, specializing in Hip Hop dance styles. Since then, Angie has focused her time on several dance team programs in PUSD through the Pasadena LEARNs after school program, including teams at Pasadena High School and Muir High School. Dedicating herself to the youth of Pasadena, Angie has empowered students in various aspects of life through the performing arts; modeling self-respect, love, determination, and teamwork.

Hip Hop

Angie Vaughn

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Jacob Schmieder-Hacker

Bounding Boys

Jacob Schmieder-Hacker began dancing with Pasadena Dance Theatre in the annual Nutcracker at eight years old. At ten, Jacob was selected to perform in Swan Lake with the Australian Ballet at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. At the same time, he officially began training at PDT’s conservatory year-round and recently graduated. He had additional training at Marat Daukayev School of Ballet, Amirian Ballet Academy, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, International Ballet Academy, and BalletRED. Jacob values cross-training as essential to his dance journey and has trained in Pilates, Yoga, and Gyrotonics. He holds a black belt in taekwondo and is also an Eagle Scout. Jacob has performed in many Nutcrackers, dancing roles such as the Fritz, Nephew, Fighting Nutcracker, Russian, and the Prince! In addition, Jacob has danced in multiple classical and contemporary works, notably, Affirming Flame, Nocturnes, Bonfires Green, and Incantation. Jacob has also choreographed both solo and group pieces, including Pearls, Remember, Footprints in the Sand, and Valley of Dry Bones. Jacob currently dances with Nancy Evans Dance Theatre as a trainee and with PDT in the studio company, as well as the teacher for the new Bounding Boys program.

Guest Teachers

Mr. Almaguer first performed with the Ballet de Camagüey under the leadership of the father of the Cuban Ballet, Fernando Alonso, in 1988. Then, after achieving a Gold medal in the International Ballet Competition in Peru, he became a soloist with the Ballet Nacional de Cuba under Alicia Alonso touring to Europe, Asia and the American continent. In 1993 Mr. Almaguer started his dancing career in the US with the Cleveland San Jose Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet and other American Ballet Companies; he was also featured in US National TV in the Jerry Louis Telethon . Mr. Almaguer has appeared in the productions of the LA Opera company such as The Queen of Spades and La Traviata. In 2004 the Teatro Real of Madrid, Spain and the LA Opera invited Mr. Almaguer to choreograph The Queen of Spades, where he worked with some of the world’s lead Opera Singers, including Placido Domingo and Tatiana Obratsowa, amongst others . Additionally, Mr. Almaguer has been invited to teach at several Colleges and Universities in Southern California; he has been a Judge in several International Ballet Competitions in Japan and Europe , and a mentor and Ballet Teacher for the men at the English National Ballet School in 2016 and 2017, representing the ENB Company and school at the prestigious Prix de Lausanne in 2017. In his dancing repertoire Mr. Almaguer includes most of all the major male roles of the traditional classical ballet menu. He has also delved into the musical theater arena as well as contemporary and neoclassical styles; such works include those of Jiri Kylian, Jorge Lefebre, Vicente Nebreda, George Balanchine and Roland Petit.  He has also been featured on national television in the US and Mexico and has been a guest artist of the Los Angeles Opera company where he has danced the Matador in La Traviata under the conduction of Plácido Domingo and Direction of Martha Domingo. These successful appearances with  LA Opera awarded Mr. Almaguer the invitation to reprise " The Queen of Spades" in 2004 for the Teatro Real where Mr. Domingo and Mrs. Tatiana Obratsowa led the season in the main roles.

Guest Teacher - Ballet

Roberto Almaguer


Peggy Burt

Guest Teacher - Yoga


South African born Lew De Villiers has traveled the world as professional performer and teacher within several “World’s Best” institutions. Graduating with a B.A. in Theatrical Arts  (HON) from the University of Western Cape (Cape Town/SA, later advancing his skills at the prestigious University of Cape Town’s School of Ballet earning certifications in the RAD Classical style. He performed as solo artist with the then CAPAB Ballet Company (now Cape Town City Ballet). A few years later he joined NAPAC Contemporary Dance Company (Durban/ SA) with its expanded principles in musical theater, jazz and contemporary dance. He was scouted by a Theatrical team to dance in the South African production of “SPELLBOUND: A CONCERT OF ILLUSION”, a Dick Foster production, later rebranded as “SPELLBOUND” for its American Tour. He followed the show as performer, choreographer and eventually assistant director for the show’s Nevada runs in Reno, Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas. He later joined the award-winning Crystal Cruises Entertainment branch as production dancer, and thereafter served as Artistic Associate, orchestrating dance training, assistant choreography duties and new show development within the corporate artistic team. While juggling the multifaceted responsibilities at Crystal Cruises, he served as guest instructor at Ballet Petite (La Canada/CA).   Alongside late Artistic Director / Owner Jill Sanzo, he co-developed the Senior Dance program and assisted in the mounting of seasonal dance showcases and regional productions. He was blessed with the recent approached to teach a Musical Theater program for the Summer Intensives at Pasadena Dance Theater (Pasadena/CA), seasonally teaching theatrical dance to senior students in order to preparing them for more performance opportunities within the dance world.  With a multi-decade’s rich awareness of the human body through dance and movement, Lew recently graduated from Southern California Health Institute/SOCHi (Reseda/CA) with Certifications as a Medical Massage Therapist, Physical Therapy Aid and Sports Rehabilitation Specialist. He now offers dancers a full spectrum of training, performance, injury and recovery.

Guest Teacher - Musical Theater

Lew deVilliers

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Nancy Evans Doede studied with and danced for modern dance pioneer, Hanya Holm, and then danced with the Nancy Hauser Dance Company under the direction of Nancy McKnight Hauser. She also taught and choreographed while with the company, and her choreography was included in the Hauser Company repertory. She conducted the pilot program for the Minneapolis performing arts high school and produced work with her own dance company while in Minnesota. As an original member of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre, Nancy was an actress and the company’s first female director. In Los Angeles, she was an assistant director at the Taper, Too, and a directing intern at the Mark Taper Forum New Works Festival. She was a producer of the Children of the World Project which received a Grammy nomination in 1985. Nancy was Managing Director, producer, director and actress with the Actors’ Company, as well as a founding member of Outpost Theatre Ensemble where she also wrote and produced her own plays. Nancy has been commissioned as both a master teacher and choreographer by various studios and companies nationally and internationally, and her choreography has been showcased in various regional and local festivals. Nancy’s teaching includes being a member of both dance and theatre faculty at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, head of dance faculty at La Salle Preparatory High School, and master teacher of modern dance technique, improvisation and dance composition classes at the Hamburg Ballet School in Germany, National High School Dance Festival in Miami, FL, Pasadena Dance Festival, and local colleges. Nancy has also been featured in Emmaly Weiderholt’s book “Dancing With Experience.” Nancy is a certified instructor of Zena Romett Floor-Barre™ Technique. Developed by ballet dancer Zena Rommett in the late 1960’s, this technique addressed helping ballet dancers to avoid injury, recover more quickly from injury, and realign their bodies while using the floor for support.  The technique is now a world-wide, multi- disciplinary training that benefits athletes, non-dancers, mature adults, and all styles of dancers. Nancy received her first certification in 2016, and has maintained it yearly. She teaches an online class, which can be accessed at “The beauty of Zena’s technique is that it is a concentrated approach without inducing strain or stress on the body, and allows each individual to apply it best to their own body needs and skills.” Nancy launched Nancy Evans Dance Theatre in June of 2010, and the company has been producing and performing steadily since. The company has been commissioned twice by the Norton Simon Museum, and has garnered critical acclaim for its work. Visit our website at, or our Facebook page. Nancy also trained with Murray Louis, Alwin Nikolais, Gladys Bailin, Daniel Nagrin, Billy Siegenfeld and Valda Setterfield. She graduated with honors from Illinois State University, with a degree in Acting/Directing. 

Guest Teacher - Floor Barre®

Nancy Evans Doede

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Francesca Jandasek, born in Namibia, Africa from Czech Parents, is a Choreographer/Artist based in Los Angeles, who creates using a synthesis of movement, music/sound, theater, film, and visual art.  Francesca Jandasek is also an authorized GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® pre-trainer, owner of SOURCE Studio in Altadena, CA, and part-time professor at California State University, Long Beach, and California State University, Los Angeles. She has worked with dance, theater, and film companies, schools and universities, has received awards and fellowships for her films, choreography, music and visual art, and has performed internationally (USA - New York, Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia, Los Angeles, Russia, Canada, India, Bangladesh, Czech Republic and Argentina). Francesca holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Dance from California State University, Long Beach.

Francesca finds the GYROTONIC® Method to be an incredible tool for preventing or rehabilitating injuries, increasing efficiency of movement, balancing the body, and building flexibility and strength. She has studied with the creator of the GYROTONIC EXPANSION SYSTEM®, Juliu Horvath, as well as master trainers Justine Bernard, Tracy Monaco, Nathan Martin, Sebastian Plattenberg, Sylvia Frosali, Mariarosa Gugliemi, Adrianna Thompson, Jackson Kellogg, Alicia Head, Christina Stroh, Valéria Mauriz, Gina Paolillo, Elizabeth Jackson, and Abel Horvath. Francesca has completed additional training in GYROTONIC® applications for Dancers, GYROTONIC® applications for Osteopathy, GYROTONIC® therapeutic applications for Osteoporosis, GYROTONER® specialized equipment, GYROTONIC® Level 2, Program 1, GYROKINESIS® Level 2 Beginner,  GYROKINESIS® Level 2, GYROKINESIS® Essentials, GYROTONIC® Pre and Post Natal Applications, GYROTONIC® Explorations into the Extremes, and the Jumping-Stretching Board and Archway 1 and 2 specialized equipment.  Francesca has taught GYROKINESIS® workshops to company members at Synetic Theater in Crystal City, to professional dancers in the Washington DC area and at Dance, Theater, and Health Festivals Internationally. She has taught GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® exercise classes, private sessions, and workshops at Elements Fitness and Wellness Center in Glover Park, DC (where she also worked as a PT Aide), The Pilates Room in McLean, VA. the Joy of Motion Dance Center, DC, Pilates Eagle Rock, Orange County School of the Arts, In-Spiraling Movement Arts, Bodyscape Integrative Physical Therapy, California State University, Long Beach, Cal State LA, and California Institute of the Arts. Francesca offers GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® classes, pre-trainings, and private sessions at her studio, Source Studio in Altadena, CA and at Axis Classical Pilates in Long Beach, CA.

Guest Teacher - Gyrokinesis®

Francesca Jandasek


Mark Litver attended the State College of Arts in Krasnoyarsk, Russia,and received a bachelor of arts degree in piano. In 1984, he attended the State Conservatory in Tashkent, Russia, earning a master's degree in piano and music. As a student of the conservatory, he began working as a concert pianist with the State Philharmonic Orchestra and toured internationally with them to Germany and Poland as a soloist. Upon graduation, Mark began working with the State Theater of Opera and Ballet and the State School of Ballet as a pianist and piano instructor. During that period he was sent to the Theater of Opera and Ballet "Bolshoi" in Moscow for additional training. He moved to Los Angeles in 1995 and attended the Evans School of Languages, studying English and working as a pianist for the Lula Washington Dance Theater. He has been teaching piano at the Evergreen Music Conservatory in North Hollywood since 1996. Over the years, he has been an accompanist at Santa Monica College's Dance Department, California Arts Institute, UCLA's Department of \ Arts and Culture, Pomona College's Dance Department and California State University of Fullerton's Department of Theater and Dance. He has also worked with such ballet masters as Susan Jones (American Ballet Theater), Charles Maple (American Ballet Theater), Stanley Holden (Royal Ballet), Margaret Hills (Royal Ballet), Evelyn Cisneros (San Francisco Ballet), Finis Jhung (Ballet Techniques, New York), Yuri Grigoriev (Moscow Stanislavski Ballet) and Marat Dukaev (Kirov Ballet). In July 2014 Mark was accepted for the summer intensive program at the Paris Opera Ballet School. He has been with Pasadena Dance Theatre since 2004


Mark Litver


Clifford Casapao



Nonna Ter-Avanesova


Nonna Ter-Avanesova. People usually don't like their jobs. I do, because my job is to play the piano. I started my piano experiments when I was 5. I am much older now, and my childish curiosity about the piano has turned into a love of playing, and this love is what I am doing for a living. What's more, my fingers don't have a Russian "accent" like my language. My English-language was recognized - in 2009 I was invited to join the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. My membership in this society has lasted eight years. But in order to preserve my Russian, I hosted several shows and events and received a Certificate of Appreciation from the West Hollywood City Council in recognition of outstanding performance in the Russian Style Festival in 2013. Now I am among children, working as an accompanist in PDT's Conservatory. And when my dancers are smiling while I am playing music from the Nutcracker, I understand that art is universal -Nutcracker bridges all differences between my two countries. And this is amazing!


Margarita Vardanyan has accompanied ballet classes since 2005. She previously worked at State Dance College in Yerevan for 13 years. Ms. Vardanyan moved to the United States in 2018, where she began working as a piano accompanist at Pasadena Dance Theater and a piano teacher at Sonata Music School. Ms. Vardanyan holds a Master’s degree in piano and pedagogic from Komitas State Conservatory in Yerevan graduated with honors.


Margarita Vardanyan 


Vega Pierce-English



Preston Gonzalez Valle


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