Erica Beuster - Youth Program Director
Bio coming soon!
Jennifer Small - Argentine Tango, Stage Tango Instructor
Jennifer was born and raised in vibrant and exciting New York City. Living in Staten Island she had the opportunity to train in various dance schools throughout the 5 boroughs. Beginning at the age of 7 she began formal pre-pointe ballet training at the Wendy Barker School of Dance followed by pointe and character dance training beginning at the age of 11. Throughout her pre-teen and teen years she performed with the Wendy Barker School of Dance at community and New York City events. She was invited to and participated in special pre-high school dance training in ballet and pointe at the La Guardia School of the Performing Arts (the school the movie "Fame" was based on). She chose a more academic route and in high school, while still passionate about dance, chose to focus her attentions on classical clarinet and piano, performing with the NYC All-City Symphonic Band and Orchestra earning several scholarships for her musicianship.
In 1998 she started her undergraduate studies at Rutgers -The State University of New Jersey double majoring in Meteorology and Environmental Science. She continued to take ballet and music classes at Rutgers and at various local studios. At Rutgers, in 1999, she found her talent for Ballroom Dance through the Rutgers Ballroom Dance Club and Dancesport Team. She quickly rose through the ranks in the university organization and began teaching classes for the club, performing at bi-annual events, competing and successfully winning various events in Latin, Standard, Smooth and Latin at local and national ballroom competitions. She is primarily an American Smooth (silver level) and International Standard (silver level) dancer, though is competent in silver and bronze level Rhythm and Latin, Salsa, and Hustle.
Upon graduating college she moved to the west coast to Santa Cruz, CA to pursue a PhD in Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of California - Santa Cruz. Unlike Rutgers there was no ballroom dance program at the university and subsequently founded the UC Santa Cruz Ballroom Dance Club and Team in 2005. Through the UCSC Ballroom organization she taught weekly beginning and intermediate classes in the American and International styles, ran a successful social dance club for students and coached the competitive dance team. In 2006 she began taking Argentine Tango lessons in Santa Cruz from local teachers Nancy and John Lingemann, quickly falling in love with the intricate and passionate dance. In 2007, she co-founded Tangroupe, the Argentine Tango Society at UC Santa Cruz with her dance partner Brett Griswold.
Tangroupe grew from a small group of only 4 performers to larger than 150 students encompassing a social dance club, performance troupe and competitive formation dance team. Together, she and Brett have performed at numerous local (CA) and national events, produced and directed 4 major shows/events and have won numerous prizes for their choreography for solos and formation dance. Upon completion of her PhD Jennifer moved south to Los Angeles to begin a job working for NASA at the Jet Propulsion Lab and the California Institute of Technology and to start up a new performance troupe and Argentine Tango classes in Southern California. In 2010, along with her partner Brett Griswold, she competed at the US Tango Championships in NYC earning 2nd place in the Stage Tango Category and competed in Buenos Aires at the World Tango Championships for Stage and Salon Tango. In 2011 Brett and Jennifer placed 4th at the Tango Championships in NYC and became the Argentine Tango instructors for DanceSportCA, the premier social dance studio in southern California.
Brett Griswold - Argentine Tango, Stage Tango Instructor
Brett was born and raised in Orange County, CA close to the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. Living in Orange County he had the opportunity to train in various prestigious dance schools including Orange County School of Dance in Westminster. Beginning at the age of 7 he began formal jazz and modern dance training. At Oxford Academy, a nationally ranked Charter High School he became active in both sports and music.
Throughout his pre-teen and teen years he performed with the Oxford Academy Show Choir, touring many cities in the continental US and Hawaii. With formal vocal and dance training he was a lead and main performer throughout his stay at Oxford Academy.
In 2005 he started his undergraduate studies at the University of California - Santa Cruz majoring in Biology and Health Sciences Science. After arriving at the university he continued to be active in the arts participating in the University Latin Dance Troupe Sabrosaura focusing on Salsa and Salsa formation dance (Rueda) until finding Tango. While at UCSC, Brett also trained with nationally recognized choreographer and modern dancer Tandy Biel further improving his flexibility and honing his choreography skills while developing a deep appreciation for cultural dances including Flamenco and Tahitian dance.
In 2006 he began taking Argentine Tango lessons in Santa Cruz from local teachers Nancy and John Lingemann, quickly falling in love with the intricate and passionate dance. In 2007, he co-founded Tangroupe, the Argentine Tango Society at UC Santa Cruz with his dance partner Jennifer Small. Tangroupe grew from a small group of only 4 performers to larger than 150 students encompassing a social dance club, performance troupe and competitive formation dance team. Together, Brett and Jennifer have performed at numerous local (CA) and national events, produced and directed 4 major shows/events and have won numerous prizes for their choreography for solos and formation dance.
Upon completion of his Bachelors degree he moved south to Los Angeles working as a Certified Personal Trainer, taking coursework towards a Physicians Assistant Degree (MA) and to start up a new performance troupe and Argentine Tango classes in Southern California. In 2010, along with his partner Jennifer Small, he competed at the US Tango Championships in NYC earning 2nd place in the Stage Tango Category and competed in Buenos Aires at the World Tango Championships for Stage and Salon Tango. In 2011 Brett and Jennifer placed 4th at the Tango Championships in NYC and became the Argentine Tango instructors for DanceSportCA, the premier social dance studio in southern California.
Cynthia Howell – Jazz & Salsa Instructor
Cynthia began her training in dance at the young age of 3 in Minnesota. Her training was primarily with Larkin Dance Studio and included intensive classes in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Modern, Musical Theatre, and Hip hop. She has also trained across the country with various conventions and master classes. Since moving to California in 2000, she has continued to perform and choreograph in all styles of dance. Her choreography has been set on RhetOracle Dance Company, MMSDance Competition lines, and the Wilson High School Advanced Dance Program. She also continued her performance career with RhetOracle Dance Company under the direction of Nate Hodges from 2007-2009 and previously as a member of BARE Dance Company under the direction of Mike Esperanza from 2004-2006.
Class description: Jazz – Since it’s conception in the late 1800’s, Jazz dancing has developed to include several new styles, which include aspects of ballet and modern dance. As in most forms of dance, technique is the foundation for all modern jazz dance movement. In particular, jazz dancers benefit from knowledge of ballet technique and, consequently, jazz dance curriculum will commonly include elements of ballet training.
Earl DeVera- Bachata Instructor
Earl De Vera grew up as an athlete rather than a dancer. That all changed when a mentor advised him, "All men should learn to partner dance." He followed that advice and started learning Salsa from Espie Hernandez in 2007. Intrigued by Bachata, he decided to also learn the sensual dance from Espie. Earl then discovered Bernard Martinez and his dance school, DanceSport California and continued his dance training with them. In 2009, Earl was invited to join Bernard's semi-professional dance team, Mambo Caliente. Having developed a passion for Bachata, Earl was driven to create the community known as SoCal Bachata. After working behind the scenes to grow the local Bachata scene, he decided to make a more direct impact by teaching Bachata in 2011. He is still a current member of Mambo Caliente and continues his dance training under the direction of Bernard.
Alejandra Montano - Salsa & Cha-Cha-Cha Instructor
Alejandra has 14 years of training at Ballet Nacional de El Salvador in Salvadorian Folk-dance. She began her training at DanceSport California in 2007 as a scholarship student achieving her professional status as instructor and performer in the Latin Social Dances in 2009. Alejandra has performed in various events in Europe and the US and currently a staff instructor at DanceSport CA and Salsa Mambo Festival held in Palm Springs, CA. Alejandra has been featured on television shows like Telemundo, Univision, Telefutura and Abriendo Puertas.
Salsa – A style of Latin dance originated in Cuba made into a popular social dance throughout the world today. This dance is rhythmic and percussion allows for intricate musicality and partner dancing. This class will focus on footwork and partner patterns leading to performance choreography.
Samantha Buckwalter - West Coast Swing Instructor
Samantha Buckwalter began dancing at the age of 10 under the guidance of her mother Kelly Buckwalter Casanova. Her competitive dance career began in 2001. Since then, she has earned her points up from the Junior, Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced Division to her current position competing in the AllStar/Champion Divisions around the world. Samantha was fortunate to study under the SwingDaddy himself, Mario Robau Jr., where she assisted him in workshops and intensives both in the US and abroad. During 2009-2010 Samantha moved to London and taught weekly classes, workshops, and events all over the UK in an effort to help the Swing community grow. Since 2008, Samantha has been traveling all over the world competing, coaching, and teaching West Coast Swing. Some of the many countries she has visited include: England, Scotland, Austria, Russia, Spain, Italy, and Australia.
Competitive credentials include:
2010 Swing Dance Hall of Fame Nominee
2010 America’s Classic Slow Whip Champion
2009 America's Classic Top Teacher
2009 1st woman to make finals as a leader in the Champions Division of a NASDE event
2007 Grand Nationals' Champion
2007 Capital Swing Strictly Champion
2006 First NASDE Jack & Jill Champion
2004 Capital Swing Young Adult Champion
2 Time California State Dance Champion
4 Time All Star Jack and Jill Champion
1st ever US Open Junior Strictly Champion
Jack & Annie Scholarship Recipient
Bernard & Sonyo Martinez
Bernard Martinez is a choreographer, coach, performer and instructor of salsa/mambo, cha-cha and theater arts. With over 20 yrs. of teaching experience, Bernard's teaching style is technical and flavorful - filled with creativity and musicality. Sonyo, trained in various of classical dances as well as music adds her own style and musicality to their partnership. Sonyo also adds her expertise of over 25 yrs. in business management experiences from Wall Street into their dance partnership. Together this power couple with their diversified dance training travel all over the world teaching their fundamental techniques and smooth style in men & ladies styling, partnering and shines.
Known throughout the world for their fluid and elegant partnering style, Bernard and Sonyo are also known as the “teacher of teachers”. Their combined background in theater arts, jazz, ballet, folk-dance and martial arts add to the rhythmic flavor of salsa/mambo that can be artistically expressed in formal to club-social style of dancing.
Julie Simon - Afro-Samba Instructor
Julie Simon has been a professional dancer for over 18 years, performing styles ranging from Brazilian, Caribbean and Latin dances, to African dance styles. Julie has performed internationally in 11 different countries.
A native of California, she was based in San Francisco for 7 years where she toured and performed all over the Bay Area as well as touring internationally. Then it was off to Paris, France, where she danced for 7 years touring all over Europe as well as the Caribbean and Africa. She also danced at several dinner shows and various cabarets on the world renowned Champs-Elysses. She was a featured salsa dancer in a Yuri Buenaventura music video. She also danced for several European television programs, a movie, she was featured on the cover of Nova Magazine (an entertainment and arts magazine in France) and did countless gala events.
On her off time, she taught dance and dance fitness to teens and young adults for two years in Paris as well as choreographed their annual performances. Back in California, Julie has been teaching and performing for over six years throughout LA, Orange County and the Inland Empire.
Performing Team (Mambo Caliente)
Mambo Caliente is our Semi-Pro team. The team as of today consits of 4 couples. They have performed at wedding receptions corporate events both domestically and abroad. Their latest performance was at the Irish Salsa Congress in Ireland.
The teams dance repretoir includes salsa, mambo, cha cha cha, bachata and more.
- Alejandra Montano (one of our instructors)
- Lou Louistro (one of our instructors)
- Jenny Suarez
- David Soliven
- Mario Molina
- Sherryl Anderson
- Betty Chu
- Earl De Vera