$15 intro class
Associate Artistic Director
A dancer, actor, educator and filmmaker. Jekyns began his studies in Drama and Dance at Bellas Artes in his native Colombia. Later, he graduated in Dance at the Instituto Colombiano de Ballet, and subsequently joined the Ballet de Cali. Also, he has danced with Ballet Arizona, Ohio Ballet, Chautauqua Ballet, North Carolina Dance Theatre, MFDP/SF, Histrion Theatre of Art, Ballet San Jose Silicon Valley, American Conservatory Theatre, Oakland Ballet, Diablo Ballet, San Francisco Opera, Los Angeles Opera, among other appearances as guest artist.
His principal dance repertoire includes Balanchine’s Apollo and Serenade, Romeo and Juliet, Giselle, Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Esplanade, Carmen. In theatre, The Man of the Suitcase, The Tosca Project and No Exit, as well as appearances in films like Love Hurts, Blue Jasmine and HBO's Perry Mason. In opera, in addition to the principal roles in Marta Domingo’s La Traviata, Cavalleria Rusticana/Pagliacci and Zambello's Aida at San Francisco Opera, he has performed in Barber of Seville, Cyrano de Bergerac, Turandot, Nixon in China, Madame Butterfly, Moby Dick, Show Boat, Sweeney Todd, among others. At the Los Angeles Opera in Simon Boccanegra, Barber of Seville and Carmen.
Along with extensive national and international touring and guesting, Jekyns has appeared in international dance festivals in Thailand, Cuba and Colombia, as well as in the International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi.
He graduated with honors both with a B.A in Performing Arts from the LEAP Program at St. Mary’s College as well as with a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Performance in Film, Theatre and Television from California State University. He is also a proud member of the SAG-AFTRA and AGMA performers' unions. In addition to receiving the Colombian State Department Honor in Excellence, other careers highlights include being a recipient of the Sono Osato award scholarship from The Actor's Fund, a Hollywood Foreign Press Association Fellowship, a Dance Pedagogy Certificate from The National Ballet of Cuba, and a featured article in Pointe Magazine.
Lastly, Jekyns enjoys being invited to teach at several dance schools nationwide, and has been faculty California State University, Orange Coast Community College and California School of the Arts.
Associate artistic director
Laura has been a professional in the ballet industry for over 15 years. A California native, she began her training in Santa Barbara at GVSB. When her family moved to the Inland Empire Laura began studying at Inland Pacific Ballet. Along with the faculty at IPB, she was privileged to work with well-known choreographers and teachers such as, Stanley Holden, Janek Schergan, Glenn Edgerton, Lawrence Blake, Arturo Fernandez, Charlotte Richards, and Maria Vegh. Laura spent her summers at intensive training programs under a scholarship program at San Francisco Conservatory of Dance. She performed classic contemporary works by Jiri Kylian as well as world premieres created by Robert Moses. She studied the summer of 2006 at Maple Conservatory with former ABT soloist Charles Maple, at the helm. Beginning at a young age, Laura performed such works as Serenade, Theme and Variations, Stars and Stripes, The Nutcracker, Coppelia, Giselle, Swan Lake, as well as many new works designed and created specifically for Inland Pacific Ballet. These included, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella and Dracula.
After 5 years spent with Inland Pacific Ballet, Laura decided to embark on the next chapter of her career as a freelance artist. Much of her dancing has been on stage in live works such as Loving the Silent Tears, The Glory of Christmas, The Glory of Easter, Sleeping Beauty, Raymonda, Phantom, Pizzicati, Dance in the USA, Appalachian Spring, Romeo and Juliet to name a few. She has been featured in music videos with artists such as Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off, Daft Punk’s Lose Yourself to Dance and the hit TV series Lucifer. In 2014 Laura joined the San Francisco Opera as a corps member of the opera’s resident dance company. For 4 years she worked with great choreographers such as Lynne Page in Les Troyens, Colm Seary in Des Meistersinger and again as a principal in Andrea Chenier. She was honored to be chosen to be part of the world premiere of Girls of the Golden West, directed by Peter Sellars and composed by John Adams. In the Fall of 2018 Laura joined the LA Opera in their production of Hansel and Gretel, performing alongside Grammy award winner Susan Graham.
In addition to her extensive stage time and dance career, Laura began to teach at the age of 19, finding a new passion in the coaching and mentoring of young dancers. In 2014 she met former Maggie Black trained dancer Mario Nugara. At this point in her career, she felt the need of a new perspective to help her retain strength for a long career with fewer injuries. It was also her desire to grow as a teacher and mentor. Along with this technique and teaching method Laura developed her own successful syllabus for her students and SoCal Arts.
Many of her current students have been accepted and offered scholarships to some of the most acclaimed schools in the country such as, The Rock School of Dance, American Ballet Theater and the School of American Ballet. For the past 3 years, Laura has coached her students to participate in Youth American Grand Prix. In YAGP’s 2019 competition, Laura’s student Katie O’Gara was awarded top 24 in the Southern California Senior division and invited to perform Spotlight Awards in Los Angeles.
As a young dance student, Laura took Pilates classes on a regular basis, and it became an integral part of the strength training necessary for a career in dance. In the Fall of 2019 Laura was awarded the Career Transitions for Dancers grant, upon being awarded the grant she was trained in the full Pilates Mat program from some of the most accomplished Basi faculty in the US. She is eager to incorporate this incredible cross training into her pre professional program, and to bring Pilates mat to the Monrovia Community.
Along with her husband, Laura is delighted to bring her talents to Monrovia and share her love of dance, art, and the mentorship of aspiring young students.
Damara is a Los Angeles native who began her studies at Rozann-Zimmerman Ballet Center under the direction of Patrick Franz, former Premier Danseur of the Paris Opera Ballet, and later graduated from Idyllwild Arts Academy under the direction of Jean-Marie Martz. She spent her summers training in programs at Pacific Northwest Ballet, Boston Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre.
Damara started her professional career with Media City Ballet in Burbank, California as a soloist dancer. She then took her career to Denver, Colorado to dance with the Colorado Ballet and Ballet Ariel. After returning to Los Angeles to be closer to her family, she returned to Burbank to dance with Pacific Ballet Dance Theatre, dancing soloist and principal roles, as well as enjoying opportunities with Pasadena Dance Theatre and Contempo Arts Productions. She has also been contracted as a principal guest artist out of state for Birmingham Ballet for their production of Swan Lake and Evansville Ballet Theatre.
While continuing to pursue her dance career, she completed her studies for her Bachelor of Arts in Performing Arts through Saint Mary’s College of California and graduated Summa Cum Laude in May of 2019. Some of her notable roles to date have been the title role in Cinderella, Clara and the Sugarplum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Ivy Smith in On the Town, Micaéla in Natasha Middleton’s Carmen, Odette and Odile in Swan Lake, and her dream role of Juliet in Contempo Arts Productions’ Romeo and Juliet.
Bianca Scaglione is a Los Angeles native who began her ballet training at the age of two years old. Bianca has studied at various prestigious ballet schools such as American Ballet Theater under the direction of Ethan Brown, Rosanna Seravalli, and Harriet Clark, Classical Ballet of Western New York under the direction of William Gentes and Susannah Dwyer, and Los Angeles Ballet Academy under the direction of Roxana Olesijuk.
Bianca is a classically trained and versatile dancer, proficient in all styles ranging from pointe, ballet, hip hop, tap, jazz, and contemporary. In 2019, Bianca received her BFA in Dance Theater from AMDA College and Conservatory of the Performing Arts and graduated with honors. In addition to being a professional dancer and teacher, Bianca is also a trained singer and actress. Bianca's song "It's A Beautiful Day" was featured in the Hallmark movie The Sweeter Side of Life when she was just 15 years old. Bianca is the current voice-over artist for popular restaurant chain Mendocino Farms. Recently, Bianca performed with Matthew Morrison from GLEE at his Disney Dreamin' premiere in Beverly Hills.
Bianca is thrilled to be part of the SoCal Arts team and have the privilege to share her knowledge and love of dance with young, passionate artists.
Meagan VAn Deren
Meagan Van Deren began her training at the National Ballet Academy of Denver. She continued her training at Pacific Northwest Ballet School, and the Vassiliev Academy of Classical Ballet in Manhattan, NY.
In 2009, she was awarded fourth place at the Denver Ballet Guild. Meagan has performed classical variations such as Lilac Fairy, Sugar Plum Fairy, Paquita Principal Variation and Raymonda Principal Variation. Her repertoire also includes Grand Pas De Quatre, Paquita Corps, and Sleeping Beauty Corps.
Meagan began teaching ballet at the age of sixteen at her home studio in Parker, Colorado. Since then she has taught at The Studio in Fort Collins, CO and Media Dance Center in Burbank, CA.She is passionate about sharing her love for ballet through teaching.
HannahLeah began her serious dance training at Inland Pacific Ballet with Victoria Koenig at age eleven. Throughout her years at Inland Pacific Ballet, she performed with the company in numerous productions including The Nutcracker, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid, and Dracula. Upon graduation from high school, HannahLeah attended BalletMet Columbus's Pre-Professional Program. She then joined the Fort Wayne Ballet in Indiana. During her time with the company, she performed featured roles in The Nutcracker, Carmina Burana, Cinderella, The Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, Don Quixote, Jose Limon's Mazurkas, and Gerald Arpino's Birthday Variations and Confetti. HannahLeah is honored to join Inland Pacific Ballet this season.
AJ Abrams was born in Long Beach, CA. Growing up, he trained with Anthony and Terri Sellars of Orange County Dance Center and Keith and Linda Clifton of Clifton Dance Project. Other training included schools all over the US such as Pacific Northwest Ballet, The Rock school of Pennsylvania Ballet and School of American Ballet. Mr. Abrams started his professional dance career under the direction of Stephen Mills at Ballet Austin. During his time in Austin he was given the opportunity to dance principal roles such as Albrecht in Giselle, Sugar Plum Cavalier in the Nutcracker and a featured role in Balanchine’s Who Care’s. After leaving Ballet Austin, AJ started his freelance career in Los Angeles. He has worked with Luminario Ballet, Barak Ballet, Festival Ballet Theatre and Ballet Red. He has also been featured in music videos with Coldplay and Florence and the machine. Most recently, he danced and traveled the world aboard a cruise ship with Royal Caribbean Cruises. Now, back in Los Angeles, Mr. Abrams has been asked to join the new emerging company Freaks with Lines as a dancer and rehearsal director.
Melissa Sandvig was born and raised in Orange County California. She began her ballet training at Long Beach Ballet at the age of 5 and began dancing professionally at age 15. Melissa was also a young actress and starred in commercials and afterschool specials, but soon chose to put that on the backburner to fully commit to her future as a ballerina. While still in high school, she won 2nd place in the prestigious Music Center Spotlight Awards and toured internationally with the Los Angeles Classical Ballet to Taiwan and China. After graduating she was recruited to join The Milwaukee Ballet where she danced soloist roles with them for 6 seasons. Melissa then returned home to Los Angeles to become a freelance artist and a certified Pilates instructor. Her interest in Pilates came after suffering a fracture in her lower back which caused her to retrain her body and posture to protect her back from future injuries. She enjoys teaching younger dancers how not only to be healthy but to work their bodies correctly to prevent injuries. She was recently certified in Progressive Ballet Technique as well. Melissa continues to perform with companies such as Helios Dance Theater, Sacramento Ballet, Los Angeles Contemporary Ballet, Luminario Ballet, Motion Tribe, Body Traffic, Strange and Elegant Dancers, String Theory, The Los Angeles Opera, and many more. She is most well known for her performance on Season 5 of "So You Think You Can Dance" as the "Naughty Ballerina". Melissa was the first classically trained ballerina and the oldest contestant at age 29. She broke stereotypes about age and ballet and made it all the way to the top 6. Now she continues to perform, teach master classes, independently as well as with Velocity Dance Convention, Dance Excellence, VIP, Distiction Dance, and West Coast Elite. Most recently you can spot her as one of the ballerinas in Taylor Swift’s new music video “Shake it off” choreographed by Tyce Diorio, as well as on Nappytabs “Harlem Hopscotch” Video. She has been a guest dancer on the hit show "Glee", “Bunheads”, “Vegas”, “Dancing With The Stars”, “America’s Got Talent”, “Mobbed”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Hart of Dixie”, “The Young and the Restless”, “Lucifer”, a Microsoft Tablet commercial and continues to perform her piece about breast cancer "This Woman's Work" with Ade Obayomi for fundraisers and events everywhere. She has also performed in motion capture work for many of the “Shrek” movie dance scenes “Puss in Boots” and “Madagascar 3”, and has worked with Cirque Du Soleil and Disney to create a new show. She can also be found on the Youtube channel, Buzzfeed, DS2DIO and the webshows EHOW and HealthyPowerTV. She was chosen to perform as the principal ballerina in the Hit Off Broadway Musical “Silence” opening in Los Angeles. Melissa married Erik Sandvig in '05, a childhood friend that she grew up with at her local church. Erik has been such a blessing and so supportive and is known by many as the "sign guy" in the audience of "So You Think You Can Dance". They welcomed their son the summer of 2013 and she continued to dance and perform up until she was 7 months pregnant with Helios Dance Theater and also on an Episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Now that she is a mother of 2 young boys, she continues to perform but is focusing on her teaching and choreography. Melissa’s contemporary ballet choreography for groups and solos continues to be competed in NYC for Finals of Youth America Grand Prix, and competitions around the US.
Francesca Lee is a Southern California based dancer, educator, coach, and athlete. As an honored University of California, Irvine Dance M.F.A alum, Francesca enjoys her career as a sought out professional in the arts. She is a member of Mike Esperanza’s Bare Dance Company and has performed with other Southern California companies and choreographers such as Fuse Dance Company, Leann Alduenda, and Christine Baltes. Francesca is Pilates certified with Dance Specialization from Body Arts and Science International under the direction of Karen Clippinger, and has been teaching at Core Reform Pilates in Newport Beach since 2011. She is also certified in Progressing Ballet Technique where she enjoys discovering how to improve dance technique through proper strength training. Francesca has taught many masterclasses and choreographed in various disciplines of dance around Southern California, and has been on faculty at Jimmie Defore Dance Center and Maple Conservatory. Her teaching has taken her to Alaska as well as to the American College Dance Association Conference (ACDA). Her choreography has been selected for multiple dance festivals such as the Orange County Dance Festival, Jimmie Defore’s Pulse, Fuse Dance Company’s Synthesis, and ACDA. Her choreographic works also have been showcased in Italy. Currently, Francesca is the Head Coach for Diamond Bar High School’s Dance Company, Adjunct Professor at Mt. San Antonio College and Cypress College.
Naomi Jost is a Los Angeles native who began her ballet training at the age of three years old. Naomi is classically trained in ballet and various styles of modern dance. She is proficient in all styles of dance ranging from ballet, modern, contemporary, jazz and hip hop. Naomi is currently earning her degree in Dance and a minor in Kinesiology from California State University Fullerton with the hopes of continuing to merge her passions of dance and wellness throughout her career. Naomi is thrilled to be working at SoCal Arts with her mentors Laura and Jekyns and getting to teach the next generation of dancers.
$15 intro class