Benedicte Schoyen – Owner of Born To Play (Ballet and Jazz)
Benedicte was born and raised in Oslo, Norway, where she danced at the Norwegian Opera Ballet School and continued to study at The National College of Dance.
She worked as a dancer for several years both in Scandinavia and LA before opening the Santa Monica Dance Studio.
After twelve years she started Born To Play Productions and produced The Music Box, A Dance Along Fairytale, a DVD for kids.
Beside teaching kids and adult classes at Born To Play Studio, Benedicte is also teaching ballet and jazz at UCLA.
For the past ten years Benedicte has been choreographing the kids version of the Eurovision Song Contest for Norwegian Broadcasting and spends most of her summers in Norway teaching summer dance workshops and choreographing shows.
Liliana Isella (Ballet)
Liliana is a former artistic gymnast from the Italian Societa’ Varesina Ginnastica e Scherma where she trained until age sixteen. After gymnastics she became part of the theatrical company TeatrObliquo in Milan where she later worked also for fashion and commercials. In 2006 she moved to Los Angeles and soon discovered Russian Vaganova Ballet through former Bolshoi dancer Edouard Kouzmitch, with whom she has been studying ever since. In order to learn the Balanchine Ballet Method as well, Liliana has been integrating her daily training at Westside Academy of Ballet. In 2012 she has started teaching ballet at Born To Play Studio under the direction of Benedicte Schoyen. The first short ballet drama she wrote based on the bestselling novel My Friend Leonard is set to be filmed in Los Angeles in 2013.
Alexandra Rozo (Flamenco)
Alexandra first stepped onto the stage at the age of three. At the age of eight she received a ‘Who’s Who in Dance’ award for outstanding achievement and leadership in the field of dance. Alexandra has training in ballet, modern dance, jazz, classical spanish and flamenco. At the age of fourteen she was accepted into New World School of the Arts, where she furthered her study of dance under the instruction of Daniel Lewis, Peter London, Tina Santos, Rosa Mercedes, Ruth Weisen, Gerard Ebitz, and Rebecca Cannan. In Miami, Alexandra danced in “Pepito’s Story” directed by Debbie Allen and in Pro-Arte Grateli’s production of ”La Verbena de la Paloma.” In L.A. she has worked with Pars National Ballet and Gulistan Dance Theatre. Alexandra has also danced on The Today Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Latin Billboard Awards, and American Idol. Alexandra recently came back from Spain where she studied flamenco with the legendary Juana Amaya.
Cithli Ocampo (Flamenco)
Cithli, described as a “young, powerful dancer” by Dancemagazine, began her career at the age of eight and first stepped onto a stage at nine. She began teaching and choreographing at twelve for Stage 7 Dance Theater in San Diego, CA. At 17, she moved to New York City where she spent over 10 years studying Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Modern (Horton & Graham), Dunham Technique and Theater Dance.
In 1999 she was awarded the William J. Fulbright Scholarship for the study of Flamenco and Spanish Dance in Spain. This scholarship marked the beginning of an eleven year residency in Seville where she immersed herself in Gypsy culture.
From 2000-2007 Cithli trained exclusively with the legendary Farruco family.
In 2004, she debuted in Farruquitos production of “Alma Vieja”.
That same year Ms. Ocampo was the featured female dancer in Tony Gatlif’s film “Exils” (Best Director, Cannes Film Festival).
In 2005 she performed with Farruca and Farruco chico in “Familia Farruco”.
Since 2006 she has worked as the co-founder and featured dancer of Arte y Pureza Flamenco Company. With Arte y Pureza, she has toured the USA on four occasions to sold out theaters and rave reviews.
In 2009 she choreographed five original pieces for Ethan Margolis’ production of “Spanish Day: The Flamenco Rock Opera”.
She is currently featured in one of LA’s newest projects, Sir Sultry. The film by Jeff Katz, “Spanish Day: The Documentary” is presently being edited and will showcase her life in Spain with husband, Ethan Margolis (acclaimed Flamenco guitarist, musician, and composer).
Cithli teaches and performs extensively throughout Europe, South America, Mexico and the USA. Her performance credits include Los Farruco, Concha Vargas, Inés Bacan, La Macanita, Miguel Funi, Diego del Morao, Jose Valencia, Manuel Molina, Montse Cortes, Antonio Moya, El Bobote, and Tito Puente.
She is known for her strength and power while maintaining an elegance of line that comes from a lifetime of dancing.
Her teaching style can best be described as a dive into the essence of Flamenco. She is a rigorous teacher with an eye for proper alignment while encouraging individual style.
She is wholeheartedly committed to diffusing Flamenco as a complete art form focusing on students’ ability to transmit emotion and knowledge while taking their aesthetics and rhythmic capabilities to a whole new dimension.
Marie Bergenholtz (Ballet)
Marie was educated at the Ballet Academy in Gothenburg, Sweden, and the Dance Academy in Stockholm, Sweden.
Marie is also an accomplished singer and actress and has performed all over Europe, Japan and the U.S. Her numerous credits include Cats, Fame, Cabaret, Phantom of the Opera, Grease and Carmen, among others.
With a deeply loving and yet demanding attitude and a true dedication to teaching, Marie has been “raising” ballerinas in Los Angeles for the last ten years.
Holly Chorengel (Jazz)
Holly has an extensive professional performing background in Musical Theater, Film, Television and Studio Recording all over Europe and US. One of the highlights of her career includes performing for 10 years in the Broadway production of Cats in Hamburg, Germany, with Miss Marie. Other memorable shows: Annie, The Sound of Music and West Side Story; just to name a few. Holly has been teaching dance, drama and music to children of all ages for years. She is a certified Music Together Teacher. Holly is married and a proud mother of three beautiful children.
Natsuo Tomita (Ballet)
Natsuo has performed with numerous ballet companies, as well as having worked extensively in front of the camera in music videos, films, television and commercials.
Most recently Natsuo has written and directed experimental multimedia theater combining acting, dance, music and film. Starting from 2004, her productions Lolita, Caught Between, Hysterica and Isabelle premiered in the US and Japan.
Her stretch class mixes techniques from Japan and the Paris Opera Ballet, two of the places of her early years of dance training; she focuses on the deep relaxation, connection, awarness and strenghtening of muscles, mind and soul… a must for all dancers!
Cristian Oviedo (Salsa)
Dancer, choreographer, model and actor – was born November 19, 1979, in Cuscatlan, El Salvador.
In his career, Oviedo showed remarkable range and depth, impressing audiences with his ability to convey complex emotions. He has won many competitions since 2003, with different partners. He has also danced with big artists such as Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, El Gran Combo, Cachao and many more.
Working in Hollywood, Oviedo is now a movie choreographer, including Dancing With The Stars in his credits.
Showing people how to enjoy salsa and making them better dancers is a goal for this former 2009/10 World Salsa Champion. For him, the important thing is not to focus on ‘the show’ but on its ‘roots’ in the inner joy of movement. He says that a great salsa dancer is made by the connection to his/her own feelings of enjoyment… word of World Champion!
Monitor Espirro (Capoeira)
Monitor Espirro (Thang Truong) started Capoeira in 2002 under Professor Chin in Santa Barbara. In 2004, after moving away from his Capoeira group and becoming the sole representative of Sul da Bahia in Los Angeles, Espirro met Mestre Batata of Capoeira Besouro. Espirro gravitated towards Mestre Batata’s welcoming energy and acceptance, training and learning from him until this day. With all the different groups and styles that Espirro had encountered, he has had many mentors along the journey including Professor Saleciano (Sul da Bahia), Contra Mestre Gui (Centro Sul), Mestre Boneco (Brasil), Mestre Batata (Besouro), and Mestre Paulo Batuta (Mandinga). However, throughout all the dynamic experience, learning and training, Espirro still holds onto Capoeira Sul da Bahia, its style, philosophy, and etiquette and remains one of Professor Chin’s devoted students.
Outside of California, in the last decade Monitor Espirro has been to Brazil four times – as well as in Canada, Chile and Peru - to train and learn from various teachers within the Sul da Bahia group.
Madison Moross (Modern/Contemporary)
Madison is a dancer and choreographer who specializes in modern/contemporary, choreography and therapeutic movement practices. After receiving her B.A. in Dance and Education, she went on to dance professionally, as well as perform and and teach internationally in places like Taiwan, Mexico, and The Kingdom of Tonga. She is currently continuing her education to become an Ayurvedic Health Practitioner, and believes strongly in dance as a vehicle to enhance the health of our bodies, minds, and spirits!
Pla Arjharnwongs (Ballet)
Cabeza de Vaca Cultura (Baile Folklorico)