Meet Our Faculty at California DanceArts
The Instructors at California DanceArts are Dance Education Specialists, with each having established a successful professional career and many being awarded degrees in dance by Colleges and Universities and with many years of teaching experience. By encouraging our staff to read, attend workshops, continue their own dance education, collaborate and communicate with other specialists, our Academy constantly strives to develop the most current and effective training methods for use in our classrooms.
We are constantly sharpening our instructional skills so that students can benefit from the large arsenal of knowledge and techniques designed to work with dance students of all ages. We also offer instructional training programs to our advanced students who wish to gain valuable experience as student intern teachers while assisting our instructors in a variety of our programs in our classrooms.
Artistic Director, Choreographer, Dance Educator, Founder
(Classical & Contemporary Ballet, Modern Dance & Motion Alignment Therapy)
Aerin Holt is the Founder and Artistic Director of California DanceArts. Since 1987, her passion for dance has been marked by the development of her school’s progressive programs that proudly features the advancement of her students, many of whom have gone onto professional careers. Ms. Holt is the visionary choreographer and the Artistic Director of California Contemporary Ballet, one of Southern California’s burgeoning dance companies that features Holt’s unique choreographic blend of classical, contemporary and modern ballet. She leads her Company with the creation of several innovative, original works and full-length original ballets presented each season.
Aerin has been fortunate to study and perform with a variety of companies and has worked with choreographers from the Martha Graham Dance Company, Joffrey Ballet, Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company, Utah Repertory Company and Momentum Dance Company, to name a few. She has been seen in broadcasts for commercial and educational television, and is an award-winning choreographer of theatrical events, stage productions, competitions and ballets.
Aerin Holt is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.
Levels 3 and 4
As a dancer, Nichelle was a member & soloist with the Civic Ballet of San Luis Obispo by the age of 14. In 1990 she left San Luis Obispo to become a line captain & featured dancer on Princess Cruise Line. Since moving to Los Angeles Nichelle studied under, and became an assistant to Doug Caldwell. “The Godfather of Lyrical” she assisted Doug in class and choreography for over 15 years. Nichelle co-choreographed the Trading Spaces commercial staring Paige Davis. Friends, Clueless, Austin Powers 2, Totally Blonde, Divine Design, and Her Last Chance MOW. She has appeared in commercials for Mervyns, McDonalds, Bacardi, and NBC. Nichelle has worked with the likes of Marguerite Derricks, Mia Michaels, & Vincent Paterson.
As the founder and artistic director of the LA based Reflections Dance Company, Nichelle has been bringing inspiration to the stage through all genres of dance. In 2012, Nichelle was brought on as resident choreographer for Astra Dance Theater where she helped bring unique dance shows to the stage.
(Classical Ballet for Children's Division)
Alexis Ash has been a dedicated and loyal student of California Dance Arts for the past 12 years. As a valued member of the California Contemporary Ballet Company, she has performed in numerous Company productions. In 2017 she performed the starring role, as Gerda, in the Company’s signature ballet, The Snow Queen. She has also gained experience as a valued show Dance Captain assisting in the teaching of the show’s choreography. For the last several years, Alexis has dedicated herself to teacher training under the direct supervision of Ms. Holt and achieved Apprentice status and then Teacher for the Children's Division (Pre-Ballet through Primary C). Just recently, Alexis returned from New York City where she successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive and is now a Certified Teacher for Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.
Alexis is also a very talented Aerialist, Gymnast and Modern Dancer. She is currently completing a degree at the Woodbury University’s School of Business. A favorite teacher at California DanceArts, she is a gifted, encouraging instructor that connects with young children.
LYDIA MARIE MCDONALD
Levels 1 thru 3, contemporary dance and modern
Lydia Marie McDonald is originally from Longwood Florida and spent most of her childhood in Arlington Texas. She began her dance training at the age of 12 and has been heavily involved in dance ever since. She has trained in styles such as ballet, modern, jazz, contemporary, African, hip hop, tap, musical theatre, improvisation, and more. Lydia received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance with an emphasis in performance from the University of North Texas in August 2018 and spent two seasons dancing as a company member of imPULSE Dance Project during her college training. Additionally, she has performed and trained with a variety of company’s such as Zion Dance Project, Noble Motion, Doug Varone and Dancers, Arcos Dance, and more. Immediately after graduating college, she became a company member of Ad Deum Dance Company’s 2nd company for 2 seasons. Lydia is currently living in Los Angeles where she is a company member of Benita Bike’s Dance Art and Geometry 2. Lydia intends to continue to pursue a professional dance career for many years to come through her passions for performance, teaching, and choreography.
Pre-Ballet, Primary Ballet, Adult Core Ballet
From an early age, Anna received a rigorous classical ballet training, under the careful eye of Russian teachers specializing in Vaganova method in her native Poland. She is a recipient of the dance scholarship at the Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where she studied modern dance technique under the artists from Martha Graham Dance Theater. Later, she explored the art of acting and singing on the famous stage of Musical Theater in Gdynia Poland.
Scouted by the Polish avant-garde Teatr Ekspresji choreographer Wojciech Misiuro, Anna signed 5-year contract to work as a principal dancer. With the theatre, she had a pleasure to dance on many renown stages of Poland and Europe: such as Juliusz Słowacki Theatre in Krakow and Théâtre Municipal de Lausanne.
While invited to tour Europe with Wroclaw Opera, Anna danced as a soloist in the “Der Zigeunerbaron” operetta by Johann Straus II. Moving to California, Anna discovered Argentine tango and began an intensive study with notable tango maestros in Buenos Aires. Since than Anna won a US Tango Championship. Adding to the artistic medley, Anna is also a celebrity fashion stylist.
Fusing the unique elements of her artistic and professional experience; dance, theater and acting Anna helps individuals to realize their highest artistic potential through finding one’s unique style.
Anna’s view on dance: “It takes an athlete to dance, but an artist to be a dancer.”
Pre-Ballet and Primary Levels
Sarai has received dance training from Artistic Director Aerin Holt at California DanceArts since 2014. She is now part of a rigorous pre-professional training program, with classes in ballet, contemporary, modern, and aerial silks. As a member of the California Contemporary Youth Ballet, she has also performed in several shows, including as principal dancer in The Snow Queen and in Tales of Winter, a collaboration with the New West Symphony. Sarai has also attended multiple summer dance intensives at Northwest Dance Project where she trained with award winning company members and guest artists in ballet, contemporary, improvisation, choreography, and repertoire.
Sarai is a senior at deToledo High School where she particularly enjoys being a part of the Medical Science Academy, which exposes students to the different medical fields and provides internship opportunities in labs and hospitals. She is also co-president of the club Girls Learn International, which advocates for gender equality in education.