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 - 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.
Jennifer Murphy - Director of Hip-Hop Program & Team
Jen was born and raised in San Jose, CA. She began her training and the age of 2 and has never stopped since. Training in all styles of dance...ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical and hip-hop. This is one of the reasons she is so well rounded and has incredible technique skills which can be seen in her Hip-Hop choreography. She has won numerous overalls and special awards throughout her career as a teacher/choreographer. Jen also known at the studio as "Jp" has been apart of Lana's Dance Studio for ten years now. She currently teaches all the Hip-Hop classes out of our Morgan Hill facility and is also the Director of our very successful Hip-Hop Competitive Teams. Jens passion for teaching dance and children is obvious! Her biggest accomplishment to date though is her amazing family, husband Eddie and beautiful son Nathan. We are honored to have Jen be apart of our dance family!!!
Angie Dixon - Head of Tot Program & Office Manager
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 competiting. 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.
Pauline was one of Lana's first students and a member of her first competition team. She began her training with Lana at the age of 10 where she danced and competed all the way through high school. After graduating, she attended United States International University where she majored in Musical Theatre. Pauline was a member of the USA Song girl staff for three years before she launched her very successful career. While in San Diego, she danced for the San Diego Charger Girls for one year before heading east. She then danced for Norwegian Cruise Line based out of Miami, Florida. Pauline returned home to Lana's Dance Studio and American Musical Theatre (then San Jose Civic Light Opera) where she sang and danced in "Chess.” She then relocated to Orlando, Florida where she was a dancer at Pleasure Island in the Walt Disney World Resort. As well as being a performer, she choreographed many parade segments and commercials for both Walt Disney World and Disney Tokyo. She also taught many business and entertainment workshops for Disney and was the sketch model for the ever popular Disney Feature Animation, "Mulan.” She then joined the Stars Over Orlando Sketch Comedy Performance Group were she furthered her acting training. After Florida, she moved to the Big Apple, where she performed as a featured ensemble member at Radio City Music Hall in the Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes. While in New York City, she joined the Actors Circle, under the direction of Russ Weatherford. She also toured nationally with "Jolson-The Musical" choreographed by Tony Award Winner, Joey McKneely, and also "Promises Promises" directed and choreographed by the late Broadway Gypsy, Tony Stevens. Pauline had the opportunity to perform the role of Connie Wong, twice, in "A Chorus Line", directed by original Broadway cast members Mitzi Hamilton (Val) and Troy Garza at the Helen Hayes Theatre in NY and also Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia. She also performed in "Hot Mikado" at the world famous "Ford Theatre" in Washington DC and also in Southern California's, "Musical Theatre West". Pauline has performed countless business industrials for major corporations such as State Farm, Kohl’s Department Store, and Nike, to name a few. She was also a popular judge for Starpower National Talent Competition and a master teacher for their "Power Pak" performance group. She has also choreographed for Dance Masters of America and other national pageants. Pauline has shared her talents as faculty in Santa Clara University's Theatre and Dance Department. She is also the musical theatre choreographer at Bellarmine College Prep. In additional to all of her dance and musical theatre accomplishments, Pauline has also made guest appearances in ABC's "All My Children" and "One Life to Live.” Pauline has come full circle ready to give back the incredible training she has received along her performance journey. She currently teaches the tap and jazz adult program and works closely with Lana's nationally ranked competition team. Pauline is a performance coach where she assists talent to achieve their fullest potential. She and her husband Matthew are the proud parents of two beautiful children, Mia and Max.
Kristi is another great product of Lana’s Dance Studio. She started dancing with Lana at the age of ten and competed on her award winning competition team for six years until she graduated. While attending Live Oak High School, she was on the dance team and was the recipient of their Dance Team Scholarship. After finishing high school, she was a part of the best dance team in the Arena Football League as a SaberKitten for the San Jose SaberCats from 2003 – 2005. She was also an Oakland Raiderette for the 2006 – 2007 season. Miss Kristi teaches tap and jazz in our teen classes.
Jimene began her training in gymnastics at the age of seven years. Her dance training began with Lana at the age of eleven, where she went straight to competing for eight years on the competition team. She was a member of Lana's award winning senior competition team until she graduated from high school. In high school, she was a member of the Live Oak Dance team and performed in many musicals, including "Grease." She then began teaching for Lana and has been ever since. She currently teaches at the Gilroy location and specializes in tot through teenage students. She also is the marketing and sales director for Creative Labels. Jimene and her husband Marc are the proud parents of three daughters - Laila, Haylie and Sierra.
Erin began her training at the early age 3 at Lana's Dance Studio. She danced here for 15 years where she was a part of their award winning competition team for 9 years. During her competitive years she won numerous high point awards, overall high scores, specialty awards and scholarships. Her favorite scholarship awards include Danny Wallace's "Tap the Map Scholarship," being selected to perform with Team Rave San Francisco Dance Company from 2003-2006 and winning 3rd at Nationals in Las Vegas for her tap solo. Erin studied in New York City where she took classes from Broadway stars, Radio City Rockettes and many other amazing teachers at Broadway Dance Center. She was also a part of a studio exchange in Sydney, Australia in 2007. At Santa Clara University she studied English, Political Science and Dance for 3 years and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a BA in English in December 2010. The highlight of her years at Santa Clara was winning a choreography award for a contemporary duet. Erin had TA & subbed classes for many years and we are so proud to have her now apart of our staff here at Lana’s Dance Studio. Erin loves working with the kids and being able to pass on the skills that she has learned in tap and jazz to aspiring young dancers.
Evelyn started dancing at the age of 2 in 1984 with Suzanne Dancers in San Jose. Technically trained in tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical and hip-hop, she began her competitive career at the age 4. In 1994 she was selected to perform for the Hula Bowl in Hawaii. In 1996 she began dancing at Lana's Dance Studio and danced on the competition team until 2002. While she in high school, she was on her school's dance company IndepenDance. Evelyn has taught various song squads throughout San Jose for many years. She has also taught at Dance Theatre International in San Jose. Currently performing all over the bay area at various events, Evelyn is an original member of San Jose’s Soul Con Dance Company (established in 2005). She began teaching Hip-Hop here in February 2011 and we are so lucky to have her on our staff.
Shaina Leibson - Co-Director of Ballet Program
Shaina Pearl Leibson began her training at the Massachusetts Youth Ballet. She then attended the San Francisco Ballet School under the direction of Helgi Tomasson and associate director Gloria Gorvin. After graduating from the San Francisco Ballet School, Shaina performed with the Alberta Ballet in Canada and with Ballet Austin in Texas. In 2003, she accepted a scholarship to attend the London Studio Centre in England, where she performed on tour with Images of Dance. Prior to joining Ballet San Jose, she danced with the Vienna Festival Ballet and both participated and performed in Gotland International Dance Seminar in Sweden. Shaina continues to train with her teacher Christina Bernal, creator of the "Bernal Method." She would like to express her gratitude to her teacher Renato Peroni for all his support and for first introducing her to the "Bernal Method." Shaina just returned from a year of dancing in Germany. We are excited to have her back as the Co-Director of our Ballet program.
Alessandra Yrure - Co-Director of Ballet Program
Alessandra Yrure (Miss Ale) was born and raised in San Jose where she spent nine years extensively training with the official school of Ballet San Jose under the direction of Dennis Nahat and Lise la Cour. During her years there, she studied various dance techniques, specifically ballet, pointe, jazz, modern, caractere, and flamenco. She had the privilege of working directly with Nahat, the artistic director, and performing with the professional company. While in high school, Ale spent her summers studying with other prestigious ballet programs around the country, some of which include American Ballet Theatre, BostonBallet, and Orlando Ballet. Upon graduating from high school, she attended Butler University in Indianapolis, IN and received a BA in Dance Pedagogy, with Honors in 2010. While at Butler, she had the opportunity to spend a month training and performing on a foreign study tour to Warsaw, Poland and St. Petersburg, Russia. All those years of training finally paid off in 2011, when she was hired as a company dancer with Peninsula Ballet Theatre in San Mateo, CA. This is Ale's second year teaching at Lana's Dance Studio. She truly enjoys working with the students and sharing her passion and knowledge of ballet. We are extremely excited to have Ale head up our ballet program as Co-Director with Miss Shaina.
Nicole Yip grew up in Littleton, Colorado where she received the majority of her ballet training. She attended the International Ballet School studying under German Zamuel and Mark Carlsen and continued her training with Irina Brecher. Nicole has taught beginning, intermediate and advanced ballet classes at several ballet schools in the Bay Area. As a professional ballet dancer, she has performed with Ballet San Jose in ballets such as Giselle, Romeo and Juliet, Les Sylphide and the Firebird among other classical and contemporary works. She has also performed as a guest artist with a few ballet schools and companies in the Bay Area.
Rebecca Anne Hart - Resident Choreographer
Rebecca has performed professionally in television and film, appearing in commercials, movies and music videos. She has worked with many renowned teachers and choreographers from across the country. Rebecca recently opened her own studio in Central California, and she continues to choreograph for many other studios throughout the U.S. While dancing competitively for sixteen years, she trained in jazz, lyrical, contemporary, ballet, tap, pointe and hip hop. She has choreographed high point and choreography award winning pieces and has won several titles and high point awards herself. She was recognized as the Senior Inductee to the Hall of Fame, and at age 14, she was honored with Dance Spirit Magazine’s Future Star of the Year award at Showbiz Nationals in Las Vegas, NV. Rebecca was also a Top 35 finalist for the popular dance reality TV show “So You Think You Can Dance.” She was chosen as a member of Dance with the Force, the prestigious scholarship program at the Edge PAC in Los Angeles, CA. She has won national titles sending her to Japan and Italy as a representative of the United States and she was Showstopper’s national spokes kid with Ben Vereen in Myrtle Beach, SC. Rebecca is a Buchanan High School National Honors Society graduate and has attended Fresno State University. Rebecca has a true passion for dance and she is excited to continue to share her knowledge and love of the art.
Antonio Giovanni - Resident Choreographer
Antonio is an established dance teacher and choreographer currently living in New York City. Originally from Kansas City, Missouri he trained under the direction of Nicole & Sharon Romine at DanceWorks Conservatory. The dance world brought Antonio to California where he worked as a competition choreographer and teached for several well known studios. He has won numerous choreography awards including 5 in the last year alone. Antonio had a student featured on SYTYCD who was in the Top 5 dancers in Season 4. His choreography was also featured at the World Dance Championship Series in Dallas, Texas where the girls placed 2nd Overall, (our Lana's dancers) and his NY dancers won the 2011 Victory Cup at Starpower Nationals in Maryland. He regularly teaches master classes in California, Nebraska, Las Vegas, Maryland, Minnesota, Florida and Chicago as well as in NYC. He's studied with Tina D'Amato Sidoni, Dee Caspary, Mia Michaels, Ray Leeper and Ann Reinking. Antonio is in demand as a judge and workshop teacher on the competitive dance circuit. His other passion includes singing! He has already performed in 5 one man cabaret shows in NYC that were all well received.