Faculty & Staff

Marlene Peña-Marin

Marlene Peña-Marin

Director, Ballet Folklórico Dance Conservatory

Teaches: Folklórico Repertory

marlene.penamarin@ocsarts.net

Marlene Peña-Marin studied at La Escuela Nacional de Danza Folklórica del Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes (National School of Folkloric Dance in the National School of Fine Arts) in Mexico City to enhance her teaching and research skills. She returned to Mexico City to participate in the third annual Seminario Transnacional de Danza, studying technique and pedagogies of dance specific to folklórico. Since 1987, she has been an instructor for Relámpago del Cielo Grupo Juvenil. In 2002, Ms. Peña-Marin was appointed director of the Ballet Folklórico Conservatory (now the International Dance Conservatory), and in 2003, she was officially appointed artistic and general director of Relámpago del Cielo Grupo Folklórico.

Ms. Peña-Marin was exposed to the performing arts at a very early age. Her first professional performance, at age nine, was featured at the International Folk Dance Festival at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. Her talent is recognized throughout the dance community, and she has performed in events, such as the Mariachi USA Festival at the Hollywood Bowl, the L.A. Fiesta Broadway hosted by Univisión TV, and El Grito festivities for the City of Los Angeles. She studied Mexican folk dance under various renowned directors, including: Carlos Ochoa, Rosie Peña, Emilio Rivas, and a variety of maestros from the United States and Mexico. She has participated in many dance conferences sponsored by the Asociación Nacional de Grupos Folklóricos (National Association of Folkloric Groups, ANGF). In 2013, she choreographed the holiday show Disney ¡Viva Navidad!, which premiered in Disney’s California Adventure. She continues to remount the production every holiday season. Her contributions to the Mexican folk dance community are invaluable. Her dedication to ensuring the historical and cultural accuracy of the regions she presents is crucial to the success of the groups under her direction.

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Michel Gervais

Michel Gervais

Instructor

Teaches: Classical Ballet I/II/III

michel.gervais@ocsarts.net

Michel Gervais, a native of Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, started dancing at the age of 11. He studied with the Ida Sauvé Dance Studios, Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal and the National Ballet School of Canada. Mr. Gervais has worked extensively as a performer, assistant and ballet master for choreographers David Allan and Juan Antonio. Mr. Gervais has danced for such companies as; Feld Ballet/NY, Les Ballets
Jazz de Montréal, Theatre Ballet of Canada, National Dance Theatre of Bermuda, Ontario Ballet Theatre, Sacramento Ballet, Ballet Pacifica and California Riverside Ballet. His teaching credentials include: American Ballet Theatre, London Rambert Dance Co., Hong Kong Ballet, Canadian Dance Teachers Association, Ballet Pacifica, University of California’s Irvine and Riverside campuses, York University, the California State Summer School for the Arts, DeFore Dance Center, Maple Conservatory and the National Dance Theatre of Bermuda. His choreography has been performed by: University of California, Irvine, American Ballet Theater (summer intensives), Festival Ballet Theatre, California Riverside Ballet, BRAVA, Jimmie DeFore Dance Center, California State Summer School for the Arts, Irvine Valley College and Excalibur.

Mercedes Ibarra

Mercedes Ibarra

Instructor

Teaches: Flamenco

mercedes.ibarra@ocsarts.net

Mercedes Ibarra discovered flamenco in college at the University of California, Los Angeles. She had studied other forms of dance throughout her childhood and was looking for any dance class to squeeze into her college schedule. She fell in love with flamenco immediately, and her teacher, Liliana de Leon-Torsiello, described her as a natural, asking her to join her company, DeLiRitmo, within a year. After college, she became a member of the Gabriela Garza Flamenco Dance Company, performing at several venues in Los Angeles and Orange County, California.

In 2005, Ms. Ibarra and her husband moved to Spain, where she studied at the world-renowned Centro de Arte Flamenco y Danza Española, Amor de Dios in Madrid. While she was there, she studied with flamenco masters, such as: La Truco, David Paniagua, Inmaculada Ortega, Marta Jimenez, and Manuel Reyes Maya, the latter being her primary influence during that time. While in Madrid, Ms. Ibarra also performed at the tablao, El Juglar, in the historic Flamenco district of Lavapiés.

In addition to her solo work, Ms. Ibarra has collaborated with many other artists. She performed as a featured dancer in the Briseyda Zarate Flamenco Dance Company. She collaborated with Collage Dance Theatre’s 25th anniversary performance, Governing Bodies at Los Angeles City Hall in 2010, under the artistic direction of Heidi Duckler. She joined Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre for a reprise of Governing Bodies at Ventura City Hall in 2015. She regularly works in partnership with Karina Velasco and her company, Cuatro Caminos Flamenco, as well with Claudia de la Cruz and her company. She continues to perform with Linda Andrade, and she is a featured dancer in her company Sakai Flamenco, which works in collaboration with the Los Angeles Music Center to bring Flamenco performances to Los Angeles area schools. Because of her various projects and collaborations, Ms. Ibarra was nominated for and accepted into the International Dance Council at UNESCO in 2014.

Audience members and peers have described her as possessing deep musicality, elegant arms, and detailed hand technique, aire, and an infectious joy for dancing. Mrs. Ibarra is often introduced as a dancer that embodies the true intensity of Flamenco, primarily due to her expressiveness and powerful stage presence. She has been teaching at local dance studios since returning from Spain and is regularly invited to local schools as a master teacher and guest performer. Mrs. Ibarra can be seen performing regularly at various venues on the local Los Angeles and Southern California Flamenco circuits.

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Heather Luis-Martinez

Heather Luis-Martinez

Instructor

Teaches: History of Mexican Dance

H.Luis-Martinez@ocsarts.net

Heather Luis-Martinez holds two bachelor’s degrees from the University of California, Santa Cruz in environmental studies and Latin American / Latino Studies, where she focused on agroecology and Mexican history and integrated both majors through the study of indigenous agroecological practices. She went on to earn her master’s degree and credential in educational counseling.

Teresita Montoya

Teresita Montoya

Instructor

Teaches: Ballet Folklórico Technique and Repertory Junior Conservatory

Teresita Montoya is an alumni of the dance academy at Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts in downtown Los Angeles. She is trained in a variety of different dance styles (folklórico, ballet, jazz, modern, contemporary, hip-hop, lyrical,) and has been a member of various professional dance companies in Los Angeles. Her professional career includes performances at popular venues like the Hollywood Bowl, Ford Amphitheatre, Microsoft Theatre LA Live, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Carpenter Performing Arts Center (CSULB), Jackson Hall (UC Davis), performing with latin artists Linda Ronstadt, Paquita la del Barrio, Beatriz Adriana, B.A. Solis, and more. She founded and directs professional dance company, Grupo Folklórico Revolución who performs weekly at the historical La Fonda restaurant in Los Angeles with grammy award winning Mariachi Los Camperos.

 

Lilia Muñiz

Lilia Muñiz

Instructor

Teaches: Ballet Folklórico Repertory

lilia.muniz@ocsarts.net

Lilia Muñiz was introduced to dance at a very young age and quickly realized it was her passion. Ms. Muñiz has studied various forms of dance including ballet, tap, jazz, and folklórico, which is what she enjoys the most. In 2007, she opened her own dance studio and became the director of USA Dance Studio. For over 10 years, Ms. Muñiz has been a member of Grandeza Mexican Folk Ballet Company under the direction of Jose Vences, and continues to enhance her folklórico knowledge by attending conferences and seminars. Some of her performance venues include the Ford Amphitheatre, Hollywood Bowl, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Segerstrom Center for the Arts, and The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. She truly enjoys teaching the beautiful and colorful dances of Mexico and hopes to pass on that knowledge for many years.

Cristen Skoglund

Cristen Skoglund

Instructor

cristen.skoglund@ocarts.net

Cristen Skoglund grew up in Orange County, CA dancing at The Dance Spot. She attended The Orange County School of the Arts as a Commercial dancer and had the opportunity to train under a variety of professional dancers and master choreographers as well as continuing her dance education at Studio C with the Caspary family.  While working towards her degree in psychology at the University of San Diego she founded, directed and choreographed for IMPACT Dance Company.

Ms. Skoglund grew up competing on a national level and had many performance opportunities including the 1993 Super Bowl Halftime Show with Michael Jackson as well as assisting in the 1998 Super Bowl Halftime Show with Queen Latifah and Boyz II Men.  More recently, she was a member of The Super Bowl Pep Squad in Arizona.   She attended the world renowned Body Arts and Science Teacher Training Certification Program in Newport Beach, CA where she received her pilates certification. Ms. Skoglund has returned to OCSA, teaching jazz during the academic day as well teaching ballet for the Ballet Folklórico Conservatory.  She also teaches and choreographs on a competitive level at The Dance Spot where her love of dance began.

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Cameron Shim

Cameron Shim

Instructor

Teaches: Choreography Composition and Contemporary Dance

cameron.shim@ocsarts.net

coming soon 

Amanda Kay White

Amanda Kay White

Instructor

Teaches: Modern

amanda.white@ocsarts.net

Amanda Kay White is an alumna of Chapman University with a bachelor’s degree in dance performance and communications with an emphasis in advertising. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in choreography at Jacksonville University. She is a founding member of Orange County’s critically acclaimed dance company, Backhausdance.

Ms. White’s works have been presented at American Celebration, American College Dance Festival, Chapman University faculty concerts, Chapman Touring Company, The Core Collective, Epilepsy Network Benefit Concert, MixMatch Dance Festival, and Pasadena Dance Festival. She is currently on faculty at Chapman University and the South Coast Conservatory. Along with teaching at the South Coast Conservatory, she is the executive advisor to their national award winning dance team and managing director of the Jazz Department. In 2009, she founded Compass Dance Company, a pre-professional contemporary dance company for emerging artists ages 14 and older.

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Advisory Board

Olga Nájera-Ramírez, Ph.D.

Olga Nájera-Ramírez, Ph.D.

Professor of Anthropology

University of California, Santa Cruz

Dr. Olga Nájera-Ramírez, professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, received her bachelor’s degree at University of California, Santa Cruz and her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Texas, Austin. As an anthropologist specializing in folklore, she concentrates on documenting and critically examining expressive culture forms, such as festivals, dance, rodeo, and music as practiced by Mexicans living in the United States and Mexico. In particular, she examines the ways in which expressive forms are invested with meaning, transmitted, experienced, and otherwise employed by members and non-members of a community.

Author of La Fiesta de los Tastoanes: Critical Perspectives in a Mexican Festival Performance, she also produced the award-winning video, La Charreada: Rodeo a la Mexicana, and Danza Folklórica Escénica: El Sello Artístico de Rafael Zamarripa, a bilingual documentary that traces the transnational development of Mexican folklórico dance through the experiences and artistic productions of the internationally acclaimed choreographer Rafael Zamarripa. She is co-editor of several anthologies, including Chicana Traditions: Continuity and Change, Chicana Feminisms: A Critical Reader, and Dancing Across Borders: Danzas y Bailes Mexicanos.  

“The impressive folklorico dance program at the Orange County School of the Arts has set a national standard for others to emulate.”

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José Tena

José Tena

Founder

Ballet Folklórico Tierra del Encanto

Internationally acclaimed Folklórico dancer and instructor José Tena has been dancing for more than forty years, setting thousands of other dancers in motion over 30 years with his dance troupe, Ballet Folklórico Tierra del Encanto. He has been the recipient of several coveted honors and supporting grants for his outstanding contribution to the arts.

José Tena has traveled from coast-to-coast hosting and teaching Folklórico workshops. He served on the board of directors. as well as a conference director multiple times for the Asociación Nacional de Grupos Folklóricos, and until recently, he served as their national advisor. He teaches folklórico at New Mexico State University, where he also directs the Folklórico group. Maestro José Tena is the recipient of the Danzantes Unidos Lifetime Achievement Award, awarded 2014.

“The Orange County School of the Arts’ Ballet Folklórico program is a leader in the standard for students to become dancers, choreographers, directors, and educators in the field of Mexican Folk Dance.”

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