Director / Instructor / Choreographer – Ms. Rachel Tan is a certified teacher of the Royal Academy of Dance (London) and qualified to enter pupils for Royal Academy Grades and Major examinations.
She taught, choreographed and performed in the Pacific Northwest area and Asia before coming to the Bay Area.
Rachel is a graduate of University of Washington with a major in Communications and a minor in Dance and Education. She was trained in the Royal Academy of Dance and Imperial Society techniques.
She is a member of Dance Masters of America. Rachel is artistic in choreography and teaches beautifully disciplined ballet. More information about Rachel Tan can be found in these articles: “Gift from a Dancer” – Tri-City Voice, “Happy Feet” – East Bay Express.
RAD Director for Rachel’s Ballet – Ms. Leigh Ann Koelsch is a graduate and licentiate of the College of the Royal Academy of Dance, London. She was the only graduate in her year to be awarded Honors for teaching both Graded and Vocational students. She has been teaching students guided by the RAD Syllabus and preparing students for examinations since 1993. Ms. Koelsch has trained six students for the Solo Seal Award, the highest level of the Royal Academy of Dance which less than 1% of students worldwide reach.
Competition coaching experience includes preparing students for the Youth America Grand Prix, the RAD Dance Challenge and the Adeline Genee International Ballet Competition. Mrs. Koelsch has accompanied students to Sydney, Hong Kong and Toronto to participate in the Genee- which is open only to RAD trained students who achieve their Advanced 2 with Distinction or Solo Seal.
In addition to teaching and coaching, Mrs. Koelsch has choreographed for various Nutcracker productions, original story ballets, mixed bills and musical theater. She has been teaching at Rachel’s Ballet since 2007 where she enjoys being a part of such a varied and talented staff of teachers. She is known for her creative and caring approach to teaching. “Every flower in the garden blooms in her own way and in her own time”.
Instructor – Anna Gemma was born and raised in Russia. Annastarted dancing classical ballet at the age of 3. Through the years she performed with several dance ensembles and traveled throughout the former Soviet Union. In her teenage years she competed at the highly regarded Artek school in ballroom dance and was awarded 1st place. Anna received a bachelor’s degree from Art and Culture University in Ussuriisk, Russia. Anna continued her education and received a Master’s Degree in History of Costume, Dance Choreography and Culture at the Government University of Art and Culture in Khabarovsk, Russia. During her college years she taught children classical ballet at local schools and choreographed for local theaters. In 1999 Anna was selected to go on tour to perform character dance and classical ballet costume shows in Beijing, China. Anna continued her ballet education in St. Petersburg, Russia where she was trained in the Vaganovas Method, Ballanchine Method and Progressive Ballet Technique. Following her formal training Anna traveled with several dance companies around the world performing. In 2001, Anna had immigrated to United States and co-taught Eastern European Character Dance at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Anna also taught classical ballet and contemporary dance at various dance studios and companies. Anna danced with the Opera Colorado, Flamenco Theater Dance Company and Postoley Folk Dance ensemble. In 2007, Anna moved to San Francisco to dance with the Russian Ballet Company, Ballet Russ. She had also performed with the Academy of Flamenco based at Lines Ballet in San Francisco. After many happy years in her dance career with endless injuries and joint pain, the most important change happened in Anna’s life. She became a mother. This change in direction lead Anna to create her favorite techniques from ballet, fitness, and Pilates. The idea was to create a method easy on joints while still targeting major muscle group. ChoreoBarre®Fitness was created in 2014 by Anna. Anna’s method was supported by Stanford Valley Care Health Care where she was a wellness instructor and educator. Her method is approved by AFAA and NASM and Anna certifies other instructors nationwide in ChoreBarre. Every summer Granada High School Dance Team takes classes with Anna.
Instructor -Ms. Ariel Webb has been dancing for the past 22 years. She is a powerhouse on the stage who commands the attention of the audience. She is trained in Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Hip Hop, and Lyrical: She is also pursuing a career of Dance at San Francisco State University. Ms. Ariel creates a welcoming environment in the dance studio and brings her passion, encouragement, and technique to build confident and competent performers.
Instructor – Registered Teacher of the Royal Academy of Dance
Ms. Bambi was trained in London, England in the styles of the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) and the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing (ISTD). She is a graduate of the Stella Mann College where she was awarded her Associate membership of the ISTD Ballet Branch and National Dance Branch, and qualified as a Registered Teacher of the RAD. She holds a Bachelorof Arts in Dance and a Minor Degree in Nutrition and Food Science from San Jose State University. From San Francisco State University she was awarded a provisional Secondary Teaching Credential in Physical Education and Dance. Currently she serves on the Board of Trustees for sjDANCEco, the only professional modern dance company in San Jose. Most recently she completed her certification in Progressing Ballet Technique and is very excited about incorporating these valuable exercises into our curriculum. Ms. Bambi writes, “Teaching at Rachel’s Ballet has been the highlight of my career. The long term working relationships I have with the other RAD teachers has been a guiding factor in my professional development. In addition, we have so many dedicated and caring teachers from diverse backgrounds here at Rachel’s Ballet, it is a pleasure to work with all of them to nurture and train future dance professionals.”
Instructor – Philip was born in Westow, England and began his study of Classical Ballet with his mother at the age of five. At the age of eleven, Philip was accepted into the Bush-Davies School, where he trained until the establishment’s closure in 1989. After further training at The Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg he joined The Legat School before accepting a full scholarship to study at The Harid Conservatory in Florida. In 1991, Philip returned to England and was offered a place at The Royal Ballet School in London. He became the School’s Head Student in 1994 and graduated with the School’s Teachers’ Training Course Diploma in 1995.
Although initially employed as Company Ballet Master and Soloist Dancer with the Columbia City Ballet, Philip has dedicated much of his career to the education and training of students. He became the Artistic Director of the South Carolina Dance Theatre in 1996 before joining the Calvert-Brodie School as Director in 1998. In 2002, Philip was appointed to the position of Assistant Professor in the College of Theatre and Dance at the University of Florida, where he taught Classical Ballet and lectured in Dance History.
Philip was appointed to the Board of Vocational Examiners of the Royal Academy of Dance in 2005; a position that ultimately took him to five of the world’s six continents. In 2008, he returned to live in England where he joined the faculty of Elmhurst School for Dance in Birmingham. Philip was subsequently elected to the Board of Trustees of the Royal Academy of Dance and has continued to work as a Freelance Teacher, mentoring students and teachers in both the private and vocational educational sectors.
After returning to the United States in 2014, Philip served as Ballet Director at Carmel Academy of Performing Arts before establishing The Pegler Conservatory in Pacific Grove. In 2021, after 30 years of teaching, Philip announced his retirement from Classical Ballet.
Philip has enjoyed a lifelong love of Motorsports. In 2006, he established Philip Pegler Racing which raced Sprint Karts for over a decade in both the United States and Europe. The team won 4 consecutive driver’s championships from 2014-2017 as well as winning the prestigious Syd White Endurance Race in 2015.
DIRECTOR’S ASSISTANT– Growing up at Rachel’s Ballet and dancing through my most memorable years here, the staff and community have taught me discipline, teamwork, respect, and passion that I have carried in school and into my professional career. After my dancing education, I have come back to Rachel’s Ballet as the assistant to Director Rachel Tan. My responsibilities include administration, enrollment, and tuition collections. My goal is to ensure students and parents of the Rachel’s Ballet community are well informed of updates within the school.
Instructor – Born and raised in the Bay Area, Ms. Samantha Lin received her training at Rachel’s Ballet, completing the Royal Academy of Dance grade and vocational exams up to the Advanced II level. She received her BFA in Dance Performance, BFA in Dance Choreography, and BA in Education from the University of California, Irvine in 2019. While at UC Irvine, she had the honor of working closely with Loretta Livingston and the late Donald McKayle as a member of his Etude Ensemble, receiving the Donald McKayle scholarship in 2018 and the ASTAIREAWARDS scholarship and award in 2019.
Upon graduation, she attended Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company’s MASA Program in Israel for five months training, creating, and performing. She has had the honor of performing a solo in the ACDA gala awards/highlights at The Kennedy Center in Washington DC and at Jacob’s Pillow in Massachusetts. Additionally, she has furthered her training at various intensives with Alonzo King LINES Ballet, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, Vertigo Dance Company, and Backhausdance.
She is a movement artist interested in human relations and fascinated with dance as a storytelling tool. Samantha strongly believes in the ability dance has in bringing people and communities together to create a common ground. She is currently pursuing her RAD Certification and is excited to continue growing as a dance artist, choreographer, and teacher.
Instructor – Miranda Tan began her dance training at the age of 4 and studied ballet and modern at San Francisco Ballet as well as Rachel’s Ballet. She has placed top 12 in the Youth American Grand Prix Regionals for ballet, and has taken all her Royal Academy of Dance (R.A.D) Exams. In addition to ballet, Miranda has experience performing in the styles of Modern, Contemporary, Jazz, Hip Hop, Latin Ballroom, and Musical Theatre. She has a passion for helping students express themselves through different forms of dance, as well as creating a positive learning environment to help them realize and reach their full potential.
Miranda is also passionate about helping her students become expressive and dynamic dancers. She uses her training as a graduate of the Royal School of Music program to help her students analyze and interpret the music they dance to. Miranda also enjoys creating and arranging music.
Instructor – Ms. Vivian Aragon is a freelance professional dancer as well as an accomplished teacher and choreographer. She holds a BFA in Dance and a BA in Art History from Purchase College, State University of New York. She also trained at Rotterdam Dance Academy in the Netherlands and received her early training following the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus at Susan Hayward School of Dancing in Montara, CA. She completed all of the RAD examinations attaining the status of Associate of the Royal Academy of Dance and was invited to compete as a semi-finalist in the Genee International Ballet Competition in Sydney, Australia.
She has worked with many Bay Area companies and choreographers, including Peninsula Ballet Theatre, Black Diamond Ballet Theatre, MenLowe Ballet, Napa Valley Ballet, Katie Faulkner/Little Seismic Dance Company, Milissa Payne Project, Yayoi Kambara, and as a guest artist with ODC/Dance. She currently performs with Alyce Finwall Dance Theater, Samantha Giron Dance Project, Anna and the Annadroids, and Oakland Ballet Company.
Instructor – Ms. Isabelle Sjahsam studied the rigorous Royal Academy of Dance system with Connie Vaughan, and at thirteen, moved to England to continue her training and complete her major examinations in London. While in the United Kingdom, she competed in the All England Dance Competition, reaching the Quarter Finals with her ballet solo. At the age of eighteen, she completed her Advanced examination, receiving her certification to teach the Royal Academy of Dance. She has an International Baccalaureate from the American Community School in Cobham, England. She also graduated from Mills College with a degree in Dance. Since then Isabelle has taught dance to all ages, performed, and shown her work at a range of venues. At the present time, she dances with DanceElixir and appears as a dancer in her own company, ArtFace. Teaching dance is Isabelle’s passion; she has taught ballet, modern, creative movement, and stretch and strength conditioning classes.
Instructor – Ms. Barbara has had extensive training in ballet, modern dance and floor barre. She received her classical ballet training from Maria Vegh, formerly with Harkness Foundation, New York City and with Alexi Ramov, formerly with Lehigh Valley Ballet Guild (now, the Pennsylvania Youth Ballet). She studied Floor-Barre™ with Zena Rommett in New York City. Ms. Barbara earned her MA in Dance from Mills College in Oakland, where her focus and research was on movement development and dance education. While there she studied modern dance with Mary Cochran, Molissa Fenley, and Anne Westwick. Ms. Barbara’s focus as a dance teacher is to help each dancer develop healthy movement capability based on their individual strengths and to help each dancer expand their dance capabilities.
Instructor – Ms. Connie Zaug earned her BA in dance from the University of Washington, and her MA in counseling from the University of New Mexico. She has 25 years teaching experience teaching dance, gymnastics and fitness. Connie was a competitive gymnast from the ages of eleven to seventeen, while also studying ballet and mime. Connie’s comprehensive study of dance began in college, where she developed a keen interest in the anatomy and kinesiology of movement.
She was fortunate to have studied ballet under director Hannah C. Wiley, renowned teacher and researcher on the anatomical/biomechanical efficiency of ballet. During and beyond her university training, Connie studied with the prominent modern dancers Peggy Hackney and Bill Evans, who emphasize the use of Laban Movement Analysis and techniques that promote a dancer’s longevity. Her master’s degree in counseling assists her understanding of the mind-body connection in movement and dance. Over the past 20 years, she has taught and performed ballet, jazz, modern dance and mime, and has created original choreog.
Instructor – Ms. Danielle de Ojeda has been teaching passionately in the Bay Area for 13 years. She began choreographing in 2007 and has continued to create works for 11 years. Danielle received a B.A. in Dance from San Jose State University in 2014, with an emphasis in Jazz dance. In her time at SJSU, Danielle danced with the school’s modern dance company, UDT, for 2 years, and went on to perform in two ACDF Galas with the company. Since then, she has also been certified in acro under the Acrobatic Arts program. Danielle has been choreographing solos, duets, trios, small groups, and large group dances in a variety of styles. She focuses on contemporary, jazz, and acro, but also is experienced in teaching hip hop, ballet, lyrical, and tap. She has trained and choreographed soloists for both artistic programs as well as competition programs–such as DMC, NUVO, JUMP, SJSU Dance Theater, etc. She is the Co-Director of a Competition Performance Team, the Dynamics Performance Team, and trains students there as well.
Drama Instructor – Mr. Howard Burnham holds an honors degree in History from the University of Durham, England. He was a co-founder of England’s 1812 Theatre Company and of the Ryedale Arts Festival. Since moving to the States, he has been for the past several years a Literary Artist in Residence for the Richland County Public Library (US Library of the Year, 2001).
Much of his drama work is historical characterization for the National Park Service. Howard filmed the role of Lord Cornwallis for the BBC-PBS series Rebels and Redcoats. He has nearly forty years experience of drama coaching young people. Howard has also portrayed Godfather Drosselmeyer and E.T.A. Hoffman in our 2010-2013 ballet productions of The Nutcracker. You can visit him at www.howardburnham.com [Howard and Sandra Burnham moved permanently to California in July 2013.]
Instructor – Ms. Karen Millar has taught ballet in Europe and the United States over the last 30 years. During her tenure in the Bay Area, she has placed students with San Francisco Ballet and with the Boston Ballet. She is a graduate and Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Dance in London. She holds her Advanced Executant with both the Royal Academy of Dance and the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. While at the Royal Academy she studied ballet, character dance, Spanish dance, historical dance, English folk dance, national dance choreography, jazz and contemporary dance with a special emphasis on dance pedagogy. Karen settled in the South Bay where she owned and operated Ballet Capriole for 10 years before becoming Director of Ballet at East West Music and Dance.
Instructor – Ms. Katie Eck began her classical ballet training with the Royal Academy of Dance (R.A.D). She has taken all her R.A.D exams and on completion of her Advance 2 exam, she scored high enough to take Solo Seal. Katie went on to having a professional ballet career that spanned over ten years. She danced with companies such as Malibu Civic Ballet, Judith Fugate’s Ballet N.Y., L.A. Ballet and State Street Ballet.
A few of Katie’s most memorable classical performances include Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, Serenade, and Giselle. In addition to classical ballets, Katie has also been able to perform in many contemporary productions such as Rush Hour choreographed by Robert Battle, Beauty and the Beast choreographed by Robert Sunds, Carmen choreographed by William Soleau and Shed your Skin choreographed by Margaret Sappington. Throughout her dance career,
Katie has continued to develop her teaching skills. In 2001, she enrolled in the R.A.D’s two-year teacher training course and in 2003 she obtained her R.A.D teacher certification. Katie has taught at many different schools throughout California including: Ballet Studio by the Sea and Performing Arts Academy, Dance for Kids, Agoura Dance and Performing Arts Academy, British Arts Academy, Gustafson Dance, Northwest Ballet and Kingsburg Ballet. In addition to being, a professional dancer and R.A.D certified trained teacher, Katie strives to be a well-rounded teacher who creates a nurturing environment for children to grow and develop their talents and abilities to the fullest potential.
Instructor – Liliana took her first dancing steps at the age of 4 with Stella Carrillo, the very first classic ballerina in her native Colombia who was alumni of the renowned Russian ballet dancer Kiril Pikieris. She received formal ballet education at the Gloria Lozano Academy and the Priscilla Welton Ballet Company. Her professional preparation consolidated in Cuba with the Camagüey Ballet under the direction of Fernando Alonso and Regina Balaguer. Over time her dancing career expanded to include Latin Dance, and soon thereafter, teaching and staging her own contemporary dance productions. Liliana developed the artistic curriculum for the Montessori British School in Bogota, Colombia, where she established, taught & led the artistic department for 7 years.
In 2008, Liliana was motivated to establish her own dance school, Performance Dance Studio in Bogota. Liliana believes that dancing breeds discipline, perseverance and tolerance. Team-work is heightened to new levels as is self-esteem. Taking this as the basis for her vision, she created a program to form well rounded artists where the student maximizes his/her time learning and developing broader and incremental skills.
She believes these broader skills allow the student to eventually take part of the scenic art world, mixing a wide range of genres, dance styles, acting and voice management. This broad preparation is what affords the students the opportunity to take part of any artistic company while at the same time developing into an integral human being. Her studio brought hundreds of children, teenagers and adults to the magical world of the arts, dancing and acting from 2008 till closing in winter of 2016 when she relocated to South Florida.
Liliana authored, choreograph & staged full length productions such as Steps, El Juguetero, Treasures of the Ocean, Frank y la Jugueteria Magica & Around the World, among others. After the untimely end of her dancing career due to knee injuries, Liliana took special interest in researching how to prevent injury in dancers, dedicating over 15 years and passionate effort in research and putting into practice several techniques to ensure dancers will extend their career by avoiding ‘preventable’ injury. In 2016, Liliana became certified and licensed in the renowned International program PBT, Progressing Ballet Technique, which is the ultimate collection of exercises that develop muscle memory, enhance dancer technique and extends longevity in dance. Liliana contributed to the Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami School as Ballet Mistress including the International Ballet Festival of Miami before relocating to the Bay Area, California, in July of 2018 where she is contributing as a PBT instructor and ballet mistress in bay area schools such as Nor Cal Dance Arts, Xtreme Force Dance Company, San Jose Dance Theater among others where she also coaches dancers for YAGP competitions. Her lifelong dream is currently under construction with the establishment of KUVANA, an innovative concept in ballet education and performance arts.
Award Winning Royal Academy of Dance