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.
Benedicte has ten years of experience teaching ballet and jazz at UCLA and choreographing the kids version of the Eurovision Song Contest for Norwegian Broadcasting; she spends most of her summers in Norway teaching summer dance workshops and choreographing shows.
Edouard Kouzmitch (Ballet)
Edouard studied at the National Ballet Choreographic College of Minsk in Belarus (the same of Ivan Vasiliev and Igor Kolb) for 10 years.
He earned his B.A. Degree in Fine Arts from Marii State University in Russia.
He has danced with the Belorussian Bolshoi Ballet State Theater, the National Ballet Company of Mexico and the contemporary dance company Gineseo at the University of Guadalajara. He has danced and traveled extensively with companies through Asia, Europe, Mexico and Cuba and also performed as a guest artist throughout the United States.
He has been teching ballet at the Edge Performing Arts Center in Hollywood and LACSA (Los Angeles County School for the Arts).
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.
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.
Pla Arjharnwongs (Ballet)
Jeni Jones (Jazz)
Born and raised in SoCal, Jeni started her dance journey at Jimmie Defore Dance Center. As a kid, she performed with the Joffrey Ballet and was in Defore’s touring dance company. While in High School, she was on a full scholarship at Defore’s and performing all over SoCal with Christine Baltes’ Company, Jazz Spectrum. She has been on stage at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, The Downey Civic Light Opera House, and several other venues in CA. Jeni moved to NYC and earned her BA in Theatre Directing and English Literature from Fordham University, while training at Ailey’s, Broadway Dance Center and Luigi’s Jazz Centre. She was accepted into the Broadway Theatre Project in Tampa, FL where she studied Musical Theatre with legends Ann Reinking, Tommy Tune, and Ben Vereen. She spent time working behind the scenes in theatre in NYC, before moving back to L.A. to earn her MFA in Film Directing from CalArts. While Jeni has experienced many styles of dance (from ballet to hip-hop to Zumba) and studied other types of movement, such as Martial Arts, Jazz Dance remains her primary passion. She’s been blessed to train with the Master, Hama, for decades and is grateful to be influenced by his lyrical, rhythmic style, as well as the jazz styles of Claude Thompson, Christine Baltes, and several other wonderful Jazz teachers. Jeni looks forward to sharing her love of Jazz Dance and passion for movement with you.
Cihtli Ocampo (Flamenco)
Cihtli, 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).
Cihtli 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.
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!
Sa’eeda Al Bint (Belly Dancing)
424 235 5944
Sa’eeda has been studying Middle Eastern dance since she was a teenager, performing professionally beginning in 1990, and teaching since 1997. With her instinctive understanding of the soul of Middle Eastern music, Sa’eeda embodies the beauty and spirit of the art of belly dance. She continues to enjoy the depth and variety of expression that is available in this dance form. Sa’eeda’s love for dance encompasses many countries from North Africa and across the Middle East. She specializes in both contemporary and folkloric dances of Egypt. Her desire is to transmit an authentic expression of this rich and historic culture.
Cabeza de Vaca Cultura (Baile Folklorico)
Derek majored in Theatre at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, where he continued film and stage work in Chicago, and has been in the film and stage worlds in the Southern California area since 2000. Some of his stage work includes Hamlet at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Equus at Morgan-Wixson Theatre, and Catching the Butcher at Long Beach Playhouse. Training includes Laban Theory, Viewpoints, Stanislavski Method, and Shamanic Theatre Philosophy.