Our Staff

Joanna Santor

Joanna Santor

Joanna Santor established Dance Creations in 1995 after successfully teaching and running ballet programs for various dance studios throughout the Southland since 1987. A native of the Philippines, dance has been a part of Joanna's life since the age of 3. She began her studies in the Philippines and continued in the United States with various professional dancers and teachers in the Los Angeles Area. Joanna holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from California State University, Northridge in Liberal Studies, where her classes included children's creative movement, children's literature, children's art and recreation. She is also a certified teacher with Dance Masters of America, Inc. Joanna is a proud mother of three and has lived in the Simi Valley community since 1980.

Teaching has always been the most rewarding aspect of Joanna's dance career and Dance Creations was established to allow her to pass on her love of the art to aspiring dancers of the community. Since it's beginning, the students of Dance Creations have participated in annual recital and community organized parades, have been guest artists at various college concerts and benefits and have won numerous top awards at national dance competitions.

Chris McCarty

Chris McCarty

Chris McCarty loves to teach young children to dance and experience freedom and joy in movement. Since her earliest days, she has studied dance and music and has been actively involved in musical productions throughout her entire career. On any given day, you can find her tapping her feet to the classic tunes of yesteryear or playing cello for local ensembles and venues. She is a credentialed teacher and serves on the board of the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Foundation. The studio is her greatest source of inspiration; she loves her partnership with Joanna, applauds the artistry and teamwork of creative teachers, admires the hardworking students and loyal dance families, and treasures the friendships that flourish at Dance Creations.

Jennifer Anderson

Jennifer started dancing at the age of 3 and has danced competitively for 12 years. She is an alumna of Dance Creations and is currently attending California Lutheran University. She plans to double major in physics and mathematics and minor in applied scientific computing and dance. Jennifer is also a member of the California Lutheran Dance Team. She is excited to share her love of dance and see her students grow.

Kristin Benjamin

Kristin Benjamin has more than 30 years teaching experience throughout the Los Angeles area and as director of the Lawrence School of Ballet, Lawrence, KS. Her students have gone on to dance on Broadway and with ballet and modern dance companies across the United States. Kristin taught and produced Dance in Flight at Pepperdine University, Malibu, and taught ballet, modern dance and dance compostion at the University of Kansas. Kristin is founder and former artistic director of the Kaw Valley Dance Theater, Lawrence, KS, where she choreographed and produced The Nutcracker with orchestra and actors. She produced two major concerts each season, collaborating with musicians, composers and visual artists. Her company received numerous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. Kristin's work has been showcased for such diverse programs as the American Music Symposium, MTV, Musing in Museums, Nebraska Educational TV and liturgical dance. She is the first American invited to the British Arts Festival in London to present her choreography, set on advanced students from Simi Valley's Dance Unlimited. She has conducted dance workshops for school children, coached athletes, body builders, singers and actors. She has also worked with students with physical disabilities, blind dancers and deaf dancers.

Kristin trained with Tomi Wortham (NYCB), Elizabeth Sherbon (Martha Graham Co.), Tatiania Dokoudovska (Ballet Russe) and the renowned teacher Finis Jhung. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Kansas. She earned her Pilates instructor certification through master teachers Diane Severino and Carol Monaco who trained and worked with Ron Fletcher, a protégé of Joseph Pilates.

Favorite roles Kristin has danced include Sugarplum Fairy, Bluebird pas de deux, Phaedre, Leyenda, Aria from Holberg Suite and Don Quixiote pas de deux. As a dancer in New York City, she performed in Song of Norway, with the Light Opera of Manhattan and two modern dance companies, Jacob's Ladder and Edith Stephen Dance.

Guynemer Caceres

Guynemer has been with Dance Creations for over 5 years, and has been the Choreographer and Creative Director for their award winning Hip Hop Teams for over 4 years. He has taken Top Choreography honors at various competitions including Czar, That's Dancin', Showstoppers, and Encore Dance Competition. He took Top Honors at International Dance Challenge winning their Senior Large Group title, Top Platinum Choreography award and the prestigious Ultimate Dance Challenge Champions in 2005 for their number "Outbreak". Other accolades include the Top Teacher award at Star Systems in 2005 and the Most Entertaining Dance at Spotlight Dance Cup in 2005 & 2006. Most recently Guynemer won the Judges Award at Thunderstruck Dance Competition and took Top Overall Gold/Platinum awards at Czar
His goal is to always make the audience enjoy what they are watching on stage.

Guynemer also holds a Bachelors Degree in Adolescent Psychology and is signed with one of LA's top dance agencies.
"If my work doesn't make you laugh, cheer, or groove... I'll give you your money back!"

Patrick Frantz

Patrick Frantz was born and raised in Paris, France. He began his training at the Paris Opera Ballet School while simultaneously pursuing serious musical studies. At the age of 22 he became Premier Danseur with the Paris Opera Ballet, then shortly after, Pedagogue and Choreographer with the company — all the while continuing his second vocation as a concert pianist.

Later, Mr. Frantz moved to the United States where he became Principal Dancer and Resident Choreographer with the Pennsylvania Ballet and continued his career as choreographer and teacher. In 1975 he was named Artistic Director of Ballet Tucson and founded its company-affiliated school. Three years later, he was named Artistic Director of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre where he also founded the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School.

Mr. Frantz’s critically acclaimed ballets have been performed internationally by companies including the Pennsylvania Ballet, the San Diego Ballet, Ballet Tucson, and the Ballet de l’Opéra national du Rhin. He has worked with the greatest names of the dance world including George Balanchine, Mikhael Baryshnikov, Maurice Behart, Yvette Chauvire, Kenneth MacMillan and Jerome Robbins.

Mr. Frantz is Artistic Director and Choreographer of La Danserie, a contemporary ballet company in Los Angeles and a faculty member of Idyllwild Arts Academy as well as his own La Danserie Conservatory. He also is a guest teacher at: the Colburn School’s Trudl Zipper Dance Institute, Ecole Supérieure De Ballet Contemporain, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, Point Park University in Pittsburgh, Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, and the University of Utah. Mr. Frantz also guest teaches regularly in Montpellier, France, and has been invited to teach and choreograph for the Paris Conservatoire and the Dansheus in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Michelle Galanti

Michelle has taught ballet for Dance Creations since 1995, helping students grow as dancers and self-confident individuals. Clasically trained in ballet since the age of five, Michelle has received scholarships from ABT, SAB and San Francisco Ballet Company. She also holds a Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology and manages the Cardiac Fitness Center, Echocardiography and Electrocardiography departments at Glendale Memorial Hospital. Fusing together her extensive background in classical dance training and exercise physiology, Michelle delights in teaching the art of dance while educating students on the importance of proper technique for injury prevention. Michelle's energetic and passionate classes illustrate her personal philosophy; "Dance is not something you do when you are young, but something you will enjoy for the rest of your life."

Katt Griffith

Katt was born and raised in Simi Valley. At the age of 3, she started dancing in ballet and tap with Patsy Swayze. Then she discovered Irish Dancing and fell in love! She competed in Irish Dance for 14 years and has accomplished high titles and a tour in South America with the company Celtic Fusion under the direction of Liam Harney. At the age of 8 she started back up with ballet, tap, and jazz under the teaching of Marla Bingham. From there she has been with the Joffrey Ballet School in New York and has studied under famous choreographers such as Mandy Moore, Nichelle Bane, Mia Michaels, Denise Leitner, and many more at The Edge Performing Arts Center. She started teaching at the age of 15 and hasn't looked back since! She loves teaching and showing the love of dance to all her students!!

Sam Herrero-Bonesteel

Sam began dancing at the age of 6 and has been trained in the art of ballet, lyrical, tap and jazz. She has competed and received Platinum Awards in numerous dance competitions in Southern California, such as DMA, Czar Productions, LADF, and Showstoppers. The biggest highlight of Sam's dancing career was being named Miss Dance of Southern California in 2001. The Miss Dance of Southern California title led her to the DMA National Competition in New York City, where she was able to learn various techniques and styles from many of the top choreographers throughout the country. An alumni of Dance Creations, she has been able to assist many dance instructors throughout the Southland at The EDGE, Tremaine's, and the Millennium Dance Complex. A recent graduate of California State University, Northridge with a degree in Marketing, Sam is very excited to share her dance training in ballet, jazz, and lyrical classes this upcoming fall.

Alex Porter

Alex Porter, Miss Dance of Southern California in 2004, began her training at Dance Creations and continues to train at professional studios such as Edge Performing Arts and Millennium. Her enthusiasm for Hip-Hop and her ability to share her passion grows stronger year by year.

Zach Saunders

Zach Saunders is a dancer originally from Columbus, OH and currently resides in Los Angeles, CA. Since moving to LA, he has been in numerous films and television shows like Warner Bros. feature film Project X, Ray Romano's television series Men of a Certain Age, Always Sunny In Philadelphia, and most recently working with Joseph Gordon Levitt and Tony Danza for an up and coming show. He has also performed on stages around the world. Dancing with China's top 5 artists on Hunan TV's New Years Countdown Concert 2012, and a world promo tour, dancing for up-and-coming artist Adam Tyler where he performed in countries such as Sweden, Japan, England, Spain, and America. Zach has taught at various studios in cities such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Long Beach, San Francisco, Detroit, Cleveland, Cincinnati, London, Bejing, and Tokyo. Not only is Zach's choreography creative and innovative, but also as a teacher he approaches every class with a kind heart and a constructive eye.

Leah Sumner

Leah Rae Sumner began dancing as soon as she could push herself up to stand. She now holds a B.A. in dance from UC Santa Barbara and has extensive training in modern, ballet, jazz, tap, choreography, improv, and swing.

Leah has been teaching dance since 2006, ranging from little ones in their first dance class to ballet classes at the senior center. She was awarded the Arnhold Scholarship from UCSB to attend the 92nd Street Y Dance Education Laboratory Summer Intensive in New York City. This program helped Leah reinforce a strong foundation and passion for teaching dance.

Leah was a member of the UCSB Senior Dance Company and toured with them in Italy, New York City, and throughout the southern California area.

Her earlier studies at Moorpark College earned her the Merit Award for Swing Dance, Best Overall Dancer Award, and the Jennifer Prouty Memorial Scholarship. She also competed with the Moorpark College Swing Dance Team at the U.S. Open Swing Dance Championships and at the National Jitterbug Championships.

Recently, Leah was a dancer in Mickey's Soundsational Parade at Disneyland, and can now be found performing with Megill and Company (MeCo), in the Ventura County Area.

Marielle Alonzo Thomas

Marielle is an experienced passionate dance-artist, started training at the young age of 3 under Liza O. Mata of St. Anne's Ballet in the Philippines, who is now the dance director of Coastal Dance Centre in South Carolina. Marielle took lessons in Jazz, Hawaiian Hula, Classical Ballet and Modern, where she received remarks of Highly Commended and Distinction from the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD London). She entered the University of the Philippines in 2000 as a Dance major under the supervision of Basilio Esteban ViIlaruz for further hone her skills and became more graceful dancer formidable not only in Classical Ballet but in Modern, Lyrical/ Contemporary, and styles such as Pangalay, Classical Indian Bharatanatyan, Flamenco and some Folk and Ethnic Dance during her study. She had performed and taught all over the Philippines and Asia. She also performed at the Tari Dance Festival in Malaysia. Upon graduating from UP, Marielle became a company member of the Philippine Ballet Theatre trained by Anatoly Panasyukov (Ballet Master) where she had the opportunity to dance lead roles in Classical and Modern Ballet. After a few years, she joined Airdance Company where she became more versatile, expressive dance artist as a performer, teacher and choreographer in Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, Lyrical, Aerial dance and Hip hop. She became part of the West Side Story 2008 in Manila and made local music videos and TV commercials in The Philippines. She also became part of the Royal Caribbean International Production as a dancer since 2009 and got the opportunity to travel and perform around the world. She's been teaching and substituting for more than 15 years and now she’s in California teaching around Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley since she moved in year 2012.

Miss Charlene has been told that her love of dance started in the womb, but her official training started at the age of 4. She has since then had the pleasure of teaching, mentoring, and training students since 1999. Her love of teaching led her to complete her BA in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Teaching and Learning and Child Development. Over the past 14 years she has seen many successful routines take the stage but as of yet her greatest accomplishment is her 11 month old daughter Charlie. She is very grateful to have the opportunity to share her love and passion for dance with the students at Dance Creations.

Danny Valle

Danny Valle is currently the co-choreographer on VH1’s hit show Hit the Floor. He recently choreographed a string of commercials for Experian and StubHub and assisted choreographed on a PDS tribute to Paula Abdul.

He has assisted Michael Rooney on numerous projects including feature films The Muppets and The Jungle Book. Other credits include: Super Fun Night Promo, The X Factor UK with Taylor Swift, PDS Tribute to Julie Andrews, So You Think You Can Dance, HitRecord with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and commercials for Sprint, Chipotle, Kenzo, Samsung, Transunion, Geico, Tropicana, Evian, Old Navy, Bailey’s, Target, Toyota, Carvana, and Smithfield Ham.

As a dancer Danny has had the opportunity to do a little bit of everything. Some of his credits include upcoming feature film La La Land, Dancing with the Stars, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, and the national Broadway tour Cathy Rigby is Peter Pan. He has also had the opportunity to dance in some of the most iconic music videos of the past couple of decades including Bjork’s It’s Oh so Quiet as well as Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get you Out of My Head. Other artists he’s worked with include the Black Eyed Peas, Fiona Apple, All-American Rejects, and Greenday.

Amy Van Cott

Amy has been dancing for about 20 years in one form or another. She grew up in the Midwest and began her teaching career there at the tender age of 13. She has taught dance for around 14 years, specializing in Baby Ballet, Pre-Ballet, and Creative Dance classes. She thoroughly enjoys watching their growth into young dancers and young adults.

Crystal Zibalese

Crystal Zibalese is a cum laude BFA Dance graduate from Chapman University, specializing in dance teaching methods, choreography, and kinesiology. She joins the Dance Creations team with years of professional experience as a choreographer and performer with Backhausdance, a modern dance company. Trained in all styles of dance, Crystal has worked with student and school groups since 2001. She is the recipient of many dance scholarships and thoroughly enjoys sharing her expertise with the aspiring dancers in the studio.

David Zibalese

David began his dance training taking ballet with Miss Joanna and followed her to her garage studio when she was toying with the idea of starting her own studio. Since then it has been quite a ride. Through his childhood and teenage years, while getting acquainted with many forms of dance, David spent 10+ years of training in several forms of Martial Arts (Tang Soo Do, Judo, Tae Kwan Do and Kenpo). He attained his Black Belt in Tang Soo Do.

After his competition years in dance, he went on to Moorpark College where he received an AA degree in Liberal Arts. During that time he worked and performed with La Danserie under the direction of Lisa Lock and Patrick Franz. Upon the completion of his degree, David had received several awards for choreography, improvisation, and was titled "Most Inspirational" his graduating year.

While he was studying dance and performance in school, he was also apprenticing and performing with Diavolo Dance Theater. At 19, he was the first person who had gone through this "hands on" training process with them, being the youngest person to have joined the company. Before his official induction, he had performed in several hundred children's shows, 2 of Diavolo's Unplugged shows, and a 7 week tour in Tokyo Japan. While dancing with the company, David also had numerous teaching opportunities. Not only did he teach dozens of intensives, master classes, corporate workshops, auditions and residency classes, he was creative director of Diavolo's 2007 winter intensive and assistant to Artistic Director Jacques Heim for numerous intensives and workshops. David performed, taught and created with the company for 6 full national/international touring seasons, leaving with a total of 8 years with Diavolo intense training.

David has now shifted his focus towards his new love and passion, teaching. He is involved in numerous dance education programs in the Los Angeles area where he teaches modern, acrobatics, improvisation, partnering, jazz, and hip hop. He was recently invited to perform as a guest artist in Catch Me Bird's 4th inception "Silk" and David continues to jump at the chance to take on performance opportunities whenever possible.