Lana Wright – Owner & Director

 

It all started back when she was just two years old and went to her very first dance class. She was a natural and quickly became skilled in tap, jazz, ballet, hula and soon after acrobatics. Born in Gilroy and raised in San Martin, Lana was quite active in her community. Besides being talented in dance, she also played fast pitch softball in Jr. High, playing both pitcher and shortstop. She was involved in the 4H Club, where she raised an award winning pig named Rascal and won numerous awards in cooking and sewing. She was a cheerleader at Raymond Gwinn Jr. High, which is named after her grandfather!

At Live Oak High School, Lana was an active member of the gymnastics team and was a cheerleader for three years and a song girl for one year. During her senior year, she was a member of the first and only CCS Championship gymnastics team and was voted “Most Spirited” in her class. Lana performed throughout the community at various events, rest homes and for the troops at Fort Ord. In October 1979, she opened Lana’s Dance in Morgan Hill. A second location in Gilroy was added just a few years later.  Soon after the opening of the studio, Lana married her high school sweetheart, Doug and their family grew to three with her daughter Leila. Her son Joel was born just five years later and their family was complete! Lana formed her very first competition team within a couple of years of opening. Lana quickly became a popular choreographer and set routines for the Sacramento Kings Fast Break Dancers and the San Jose Jammer Girls. She was a judge and choreographer for the Dance Masters of America Competitions/Conventions and I Love Dance.  She also traveled as a guest teacher/choreographer to Australia 1998 with the I Love Dance Sweethearts. In addition, she taught master classes in Florida, Texas and Lake Tahoe.

Her students have gone onto many successful careers on Broadway, music videos, cruise ships, The Radio City Music Hall Rockettes and have danced for teams such as the Sacramento Kings, Golden State Warriors, San Francisco 49ers GoldRush, San Diego Chargers Girls, Oakland Raiderettes, Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and the San Jose SaberKittens. She has received many different choreography awards for her creative and clean tap style. Currently, Lana and her daughter Leila co-direct the tap and jazz competition teams. They just enjoyed another one of their most successful seasons to date! Lana is so excited to be celebrating her 34th year as Owner/Director of the most successful dance studio in the south county.

Leila Wright Bobzien – Co-Director of Competitive Teams

 

Leila began her training the minute she was born, but actually began class at the ripe young age of one. She was competing by the age of six, where she began her award winning career on the Lana Wright Competition Team. To list all her accomplishments would take all day, but lets just name a few of her titles….she was Miss Headliner from 1995 – 1999, Miss Showbiz from 1996 – 1999, Miss StarPower from 1997 – 1999, Miss Elite Dance Rave form 1998 – 1999, Miss KAR in 1999, LA Underground Outstanding Technique and Distinguished Performer Awards and LA Dance Magic Distinguished Performer.

She was an overall high score soloist for over eight years and a member of the overall high scoring competition team for fourteen years.  She was a member of the I Love Dance Sweethearts for eight years and was fortunate enough to travel with them to Japan in 1994 and Australia in 1998. In between her various competitions, she also managed to squeeze in a little modeling and did various billboard modeling from 1990 – 1995 for such companies as Gap & Mervyn’s. Leila was crowned Miss Almaden Valley USA in 1999 and was in the Top 15 in the Miss California USA Pageant. After graduating high school, she became a Radio City Rockette and was a member of the first international tour of the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular Show in Mexico City in 1999. Leila was also the Miss Gilroy Garlic Festival Queen in 2000 where she was able to serve her community and volunteer at the Garlic Festival. She then became a member of the best dance team in the Arena Football League as a SaberKitten for the San Jose SaberCats from 2000 – 2003. She was named SaberKitten Dancer of the Year in 2001 and 2002 and was the SaberKitten of the Year in 2003. Leila was a member of the San Francisco 49ers GoldRush from 2004 – 2006. After the GoldRush, she became a member in 2006 – 2008 of the Ambassador Alumni GoldRush Squad. She has trained with some of the greatest teachers including Mark Meismer, Cindy Ricalde, Keri Quinn, Jackie Sleight, Dave Carter, Mia Michaels and Kristin Needham to name a few.

In 2005, she graduated from San Jose State University with her BS in Business Management and a minor in Speech Communication. She currently heads the competition teams with her mom and is an inspiration to all the up and coming dancers in the studio.

Angie Dixon – Head of Tot Program

 

Angie was born and raised in Sacramento, CA and relocated to Morgan Hill in 2001. She began dancing at the age of three and trained at a Sacramento studio in tap, jazz and ballet for fifteen years. She began competing at the age of ten and won many awards throughout her ten years of competition. She began teaching at the age of sixteen and also traveled to Australia and New Zealand in 1995 on a Goodwill Ambassador tour.

Angie graduated from Sacramento State University in 1999 with her BA in Organizational Communication. She taught in Sacramento and Folsom for eight years before she began teaching for Lana eleven years ago. She specializes in the tot program because they are the same height as she is! Once they pass her up in height, they are shipped to Miss Lana’s classes! Just kidding! She teaches most of the tot program and teaches through pre-teen students.

Damien Martinez – Head of Hip Hop Team

 

Mr. Damien grew up right here in Morgan Hill, Ca and started dancing at the age of 9. His first dance classes were in Tap with Ms. Jp and in Hip-Hop. At the age of 12 he started dancing competitively at Lana’s Dance Studio in all styles and never looked back. He continued his training through his senior year of high school, graduating from Live Oak High with a desire to continue his dance education at the next level. He got accepted into the very competitive University of Arizona BFA Dance Program which speaks highly of his talent. He is currently running the Hip-Hop teams here at our studio and we couldn’t be prouder of what he’s accomplished in his first year in this role. Mr. Damien also teaches all the recreational Hip-Hop classes out of our Morgan Hill location. Thank you for being such a great young role model to our wonderful students but especially to our young men! We are so excited to have him back for a second season and know great things are ahead of him.

Lauren Venosta – Team Teacher & Nutritionist

 

Miss Lauren’s dance career dreams started when she was a little girl, age 3 to be exactly right here at Lana’s Dance Studio.  She joined the competition team at the age of 7 and competed for 11 years with the studio.

Lauren is among the group of 15-year students at this studio which is a very special group of dancers! Through her competitive years, she was able to travel and be apart of various elite groups such as Team Rave San Francisco from 2003-2006, the L.A. Dream Team in the summer of 04 and traveled to Australia in 2007 with our studio for an International Studio Exchange. Her dancing brought her to San Diego State University and their Dance Team from 2008-2010.  This is one of the Elite teams in the Nation and is quite an honor to be a part of. Through her years at SDSU, she goes to choreograph jazz routines for their dance team and also go the opportunity to work with Sonya Tayeh in 09 for their National competition routine. Nationals brought them Top 5 in the Nation standings in 2009 and in 2010 which is an incredible achievement!

She graduated from SDSU in 2013 with a B.S. in Nutrition & Dietetics and just 3 months after graduation, she started her own business called @totalbodynourishment.com. Her focus is working as a Clinical Nutritionist & Personal Chef in the Bay Area with personal clients and businesses events. She came back to her roots in August of 2013 to come and work with the competition teams here at our studio and we are so lucky to have her! From time to time she enjoys going back to her high school alma mater and helping judge for VCHS Vivid Dance Team Auditions. “I’m thankful to be on the staff of Lana’s Dance Studio and I am honored to be working alongside the women that helped shape me into the person I am today. From student to teacher, I have really come full circle. And I love all the kids I get to teach!”

Brooke Nicholson – Head of Ballet Program

 

Brooke Nicholson began her professional career at age 17 with Boston Ballet II. From there spent 5 seasons with San Francisco Ballet and returned to Boston Ballet for another 4 seasons. Upon moving to New York, she performed with New York City Opera, where she met her husband who was singing the title role of Don Giovanni. Ms. Nicholson then danced with Smuin Ballet for 2 seasons, which she danced her retirement performance in Jiri Kilian’s Petite Mort.

In life after her professional career, she owned her own ballet school in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where her students were able to work with current performing professionals in the dance community. They were also able to partner with Opera Coeur d’Alene and were afforded the opportunity to work with a multitude of world-renowned singers. During Mrs. Nicholson’s time in Coeur d’Alene, she worked as Assistant Director on three fully staged Operas as well as costuming, directing, and choreographing performances three times per year for her 80 student school. This also included a full-length Nutcracker Production every December. Ballet Coeur d’Alene was awarded “Outstanding School” at Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP) in Seattle for 2015 and 2016. Brooke was also honored with the “Outstanding Teacher Award” in 2016. Her students placed 1st & 2nd in both Classical and Contemporary categories in the Senior and Junior divisions.

We are so very excited to have Ms. Brooke begin a new ballet program at our studio this season. Her technical teaching ability brings the absolute best training out there to our dancers and we are thrilled. Welcome to the LDS family Brooke!

Pauline Locsin-Kanter – Head of Adult Program

 

Pauline has been a fan of Lana Gwinn Wright since she was about 5 years old, as she would watch after school cheer practices involving her sister, Claire and Miss Lana. At the age of 10, she became a student of Lana’s Dance Studio through her dear friend, Tirina Della Maggiore Barnes, who “signed up” her friend, Pauline.

Since the first dance class with Miss Lana, she has never stopped. After high school, she received a scholarship to study Musical Theatre at USIU in San Diego. From that point on, her dance career took off. Pauline was a San Diego Charger Girl, danced for Norwegian Cruise Lines, Walt Disney World, where she also choreographed commercials and parades and was a Master Trainer for Disney’s Magic Music Days program. She danced on the country music tv show, “Countdown at the Neon Armadillo” with Buena VistaTV and was the reference model for Disney’s Animation, Mulan. Pauline has also taught on convention circuits for Starpower, Dance Masters of America, Dance Teachers United, Dancin’ in Disney Shoes and United Spirit Association.

Continuing her career, she worked in New York City performing in national tours, regional theatre and was blessed to perform on the Great Stage of Radio City Music Hall, starring the Rockettes. She also worked many live business industrials as well as soap operas for ABC-TV.

Coming full circle and so happy to be home after a very fruitful performing and educating career, Pauline is on the faculty at Santa Clara University, where she teaches technique courses in dance as well as choreographs and directs dance concerts and musicals. Pauline is also the choreographer for Bellarmine College Prep and is currently choreographing for San Jose Lyric Theatre in the production of Oklahoma! Inspired by dance, all of her students and the longevity of their dance training, she has become certified in the Gyrotonic Expansion System. Pauline’s true loves are her family, but her first love is Dance and will always be. Thank you, Miss Lana for planting the seed and nurturing my growth.

Evelyn Burch – Teacher in Gilroy

 

Evelyn has over 30 years of technical dance training in Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical, Tap and Hip Hop. She began dancing at the age of 2 at a dance studio in San Jose and began dancing competitively at the age of 4. She was selected and performed at the 1994 Hula Bowl in Hawaii where she performed in the Hula Bowl parade, pre-game show, and halftime show. Evelyn joined Lana’s Dance Studio in 1996 and was a member of the competition team until 2002. Evelyn has attended dance conventions such as LA Dance Magic & Tremaine where she took classes from many different industry professionals. In high school, she was a member of her school’s dance company IndepenDANCE from 1997-2000. After High School, she taught song squads at local high schools in San Jose from 2002-2005.

In 2005 she began teaching at Dance Theatre International in San Jose. She is a former original member of Soul Con Dance Company, a professional Hip Hop Dance team that began in 2005 based out of San Jose. Soul Con Dance company performed all over the bay area from Private Yelp Events, Christmas in the Park, Great America Pride Day, Pride Events, Dance showcases, and Hip Hop competitions/ showcases. Her Hip Hop team was selected to perform and compete at San Francisco Hip Hop DanceFest in 2007 where they competed against some of the best hip hop teams from around the world. She began teaching at our studio in February of 2011 and hasn’t looked back. Currently, he teaches at our Gilroy location where her Hip-Hop & Jazz classes have become quite popular. We truly value having Ms. Evelyn’s talent and there’s nothing better than having one of our own Alumni on our staff!

Cassidy Paskett – Teacher in Morgan Hill

 

Cassidy Paskett is a dancer and choreographer based in the California Bay Area.  Having graduated from Chapman University, Cassidy has gained both her Bachelors of Arts in Dance Performance and her Bachelors of Science in Kinesiology. Starting dance at the young age of three, Cassidy soon discovered her passion for dance performance and creativity through choreography. Cassidy trained in the styles of Jazz, Contemporary, Lyrical, Ballet, and Hip Hop at Coastal Vibe Dance Company, Spector Dance Company, and Lana’s Dance Studio. She has been recognized at both regional and national competitions with choreography awards, performance awards, and was also presented as Dance Spirit Magazines “Future Star”. Cassidy went on to obtain her collegiate education from Chapman University in Orange County. During her time at Chapman, Cassidy trained with professional dancers and choreographers such as Will Johnston, Alicia Guy, Jennifer Backhaus, Nancy Dickson-Lewis and many others. In tandem with her training, Cassidy pursued her passion for choreography in the collegiate setting. During her time at Chapman, she has choreographed “Papaoutai”, a piece premiered in Works in Progress, “Heroes”, a piece shown in Concert InTime, and “Hurt”, a piece presented in Chapman Dance Alliance’s Annual Showcase. Cassidy has also choreographed award-winning competition dances, such as “Piece by Piece” danced by Jane Mannion’s School of Dance and awarded first overall at Spotlight Dance Cup Nationals. Cassidy has taught numerous master classes and workshops at studios such as Triple Threat Performing Arts, Captivating Dance by Nona, Pacific Arts Complex and Lana’s Dance Studio.

Cassidy has attended the Performing Arts Medicine Association Conference in New York City to present Pilates research to her peers and fellow professionals in the arts medicine industry. She has obtained her certification in the Pilates practice in hopes of teaching dancers the importance of injury prevention and dance health. Cassidy continues to use her experience and collegiate education of dance to work professionally in the areas of choreography, teaching, performance, and Pilates training. She is really excited to come back and teach where she began her dance training all those years ago; it truly has come full circle and we are so happy to have her working with our students.

Kara Charli Richey – Teacher in Morgan Hill

 

Kara was born and raised in Brea, California where she grew up and trained at MKR Dance Productions for nine years and then successfully graduated from Dance Precisions in Anaheim Hills, Ca. During Kara’s senior year she competed at The Dance Awards in New York City as a “Dancer of the Year” participant. For many years she assisted her mother, Michelle Richey, traveling the United States while choreographing and teaching. During the last two years of Kara’s training at Dance Precisions, she was also choreographing and teaching for their competition teams. Kara just started her Junior year at San Jose State University where she is in the process of completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Dance. We are thrilled to welcome Kara to the LDS family!

Erin Schulz – Physical Therapist Advisor

 

Dr. Erin Schulz, DPT, California licensed physical therapist, was a member of Lana’s Dance Studio’s award-winning competition team from 1999-2008. After graduating Magna Cum Laude from Santa Clara University, she went on to earn her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of the Pacific in 2016. During her time in physical therapy school, she interned at several prominent clinics and hospitals, including UCSF Medical Center, Golden Bear Physical Therapy and Sports Injury, VA Palo Alto Healthcare System at Menlo Park, Campbell Physical Therapy and Sports Care, and Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital. She was also the commencement speaker of her graduating class and was selected to speak at the annual UC Davis Memorial Service in 2015.

Erin currently practices in Morgan Hill at Fritter, Schulz, and Conlan Physical Therapy, an outpatient orthopedic clinic in association with Fritter, Schulz, and Zollinger Physical and Occupational Therapy in Gilroy and Hollister as well as Saint Louise Regional Hospital. She is also a member of the American Physical Therapy Association and the California Physical Therapy Association. Erin enjoys educating our dancers about biomechanics, injury prevention, strengthening, and postural awareness. Its an absolute honor to have one of our Alumni students of 15 years now come back to help our current dancers train smarter!  What an incredible full circle this is for us.  Let’s welcome Erin to our staff!

Tori Evans – Resident Choreographer

 

Tori Evans comes from Northern California where she trained at Lana’s Dance Studio for 15 years. She received a dance scholarship to the University of Arizona where she obtained her BFA from her professors, Sam Watson, Michael Williams and James Clouser. Not only did she train in Arizona, but she was also apart of LADM Company for two years, where she personally assisted, Dave Carter, along with Jackie Sleight, Christian Vincent, Huggy Ford, Leo Morimune and Dejan Tubic.

After graduating college, Tori toured internationally with Barbie Live! The Musical. She returned from tour and made the big move to Los Angeles where she works currently at Millennium Dance Complex. She has been pursuing her dance and fitness career by working with companies such as Reebok, Lululemon and artists such as Empire of the Sun and the Backstreet Boys. Tori is currently working with Ricky Martin on his tour and at his Las Vegas Residency at the Park Theater.