FACULTY

LAUREN RICHTER

Director of RACD. Lauren began her ballet training in 1996 in Orange County. In 2006, she moved to New York City to continue her training at ABT's Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis School and worked privately with Prima Ballerina Assouluta Eva Evdokimova. During this time, Lauren was awarded a scholarship through Youth American Grand Prix to continue her studies in Monte-Carlo at the Princess Grace Academy of Classical Dance under the direction of Marika Besobrasova. After spending two years there, Lauren received her first professional contract with the Prague State Opera Ballet in the Czech Republic and then went on to dance with the Bucharest National Ballet in Romania.

 

Lauren has competed in several competitions both nationally and internationally including LA Music Center’s Spotlight Awards, Orange County Performing Arts Center’s Stars of Tomorrow, Youth American Grand Prix, and Prague International Ballet Competition. During her professional career, Lauren’s repertoire included roles in such classics as Giselle, La Bayadere, La Corsaire, Don Quixote, Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker, Swan Lake, and George Balanchine’s Serenade.

 

Lauren is certified in levels 1-8 through the Bolshoi Ballet Academy Teacher Training Program. She is also a member of the International Dance Council CID at UNESCO, the official world-wide organization for dance. In addition to ballet, Lauren is a certified Pilates instructor with a dance specialization through BASI Pilates. Lauren has taught in several schools throughout Orange County as well as in some of the orphanages in Romania. Dance is truly her passion and she loves to be able to share that passion with others.

STEPHANIE MEHUYS 

began dancing in Montreal, with her mother, Margaret Mehuys and continued her training on scholarship with Yvonne Mounsey at Westside School of Ballet, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School and the School of American Ballet. She went on to dance professionally with the Hartford Ballet, the Connecticut Ballet and Ballet Ouest de Montréal, and as a guest artist in Costa Rica with the Ballet Classico. She has performed a varied repertoire including principal roles in The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Coppélia, Giselle, Le Corsaire and Gaité Parisienne, and Lambarena. Stephanie ran her own school in Montreal for three years. In 2006, she merged her school with Ballet Ouest de Montréal to help found their dance center. Here she taught elementary through pre-professional levels including ballet technique, pointe, variations and conditioning. She has choreographed for school productions and Ballet Ouest's competition team. As well, Stephanie has enjoyed serving as an ambassador for Lululemon Athletica and training competitive figure skaters, including Québec's junior national champions.

RACHEL SOLTESZ

is a graduate of RACD after studying under Lauren Richter Henry for the past seven years. Rachel has attended numerous summer intensives at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, Marat Daukayev Ballet School, Alonzo King Lines Ballet, and Ellison Ballet in New York City, as well as the Wiener Staatsoper in 
Vienna, Dresden Ballet School, and the International Ballet Masterclasses of Prague where she trained with some of the world’s most renowned ballet instructors. She was offered to attend the year round professional school program at the Taneční Konservatoř Hlavnhío Města Prahy (Prague State Ballet School) but chose to finish her training at RACD. This past September, Rachel spent three weeks in Posadas, Argentina training with the company, Ballet Centro Del Conocimiento, and working alongside Mrs. Lauren to set Richter Academy’s full length rendition of the Nutcracker. Besides dancing, Rachel has a passion for teaching ballet and contemporary dance. She has choreographed contemporary solos for herself and other students to perform at numerous dance at competitions the past three seasons. One of her choreographed solos was performed in the New York City Finals for the Youth American Grand Prix competition this past year. 
Rachel looks forward to joining the RACD faculty and sharing her knowledge with the next generation of young dancers.

LINDA-JOY "LJ" TASHIRO NAFARRETE

a founding member of the OC renowned Backhausdance Company, established in 2003, received a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Theatre and Dance while on scholarship at Chapman University. During her tenure at Chapman, she specialized in Dance performance and received several awards, including, Freshmen of the Year, Outstanding Choreography and Outstanding Performance. Prior to Chapman University, Ms. Tashiro Nafarrete, attended the Orange County High School of Arts and graduated from their Commercial Dance Department. Additionally, she studied at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Center in New York City on scholarship. She has extensive training in Contemporary, Modern, Jazz, Lyrical, Tap, Ballet, Hip Hop and Dunham (Afro-Caribbean) dance techniques and holds a certification in Pilates from Body Arts and Science International. In addition to concert performances, she has danced in a variety of modern media, including music and fitness videos and live television. Ms. LJ has taught in various seminars and master classes and continues to teach and Choreograph through out Southern California. As an award winning choreographer, she has a gift of creating moving pieces that are authentically molded for each dancer and group. Ms. LJ finds great fulfillment in sharing her love of dance with her students. Her classes focus on experimenting with center of gravity, individual expression and creativity. In addition, she stresses the importance of use of space as well as inner awareness and confidence. She is extremely detailed in her approach of guiding her students in attaining proper alignment and technique. Her passionate goal is to uniquely challenge each student so they can achieve far beyond their personal expectations.

KRISTI WALTROUS

since the age of 3 dedicated her young life to competitive gymnastics for 14 years accomplishing state and regional championships as well as competing in the 2005 Junior Olympic National Competition. At an early age, she found her love in teaching and coaching kids and has continued working with children from preschool age to team gymnasts throughout her adult life. 
Kristi’s Freshman year of college was attended at Oregon State university where she was on the OSU cheerleading team. Upon completion of her first year she transferred and graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University with a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology-Exercise Science and an emphasis on childcare education. She began her professional career in a rehabilitation facility who worked with 
mentally and physically disabled civilians and veterans. Her attitude and daily goals were to give hope to the patients and help get their bodies to a healthy state one day at a time. After getting married and being the mom to four amazing children, her passion for coaching and inspiring students was re-kindled. Kristi is thrilled to teach how the art of gymnastics, tumbling, and strength can be carried into the art of dance.

BARBIE MIRANDA

Barbie Miranda is a dedicated mother, wife, teacher, and dancer at heart. In high school, she had the opportunity to perform with the color guard and marching band for three years and then was invited to compete with an independent graduate level for two years. She also instructed elementary, middle school, and high school competitive color guard teams for 6 years. She studied and graduated from Cal State University of San Bernardino with a bachelors in Liberal Studies and a minor in dance. In her last year, she volunteered at the Coyote Conservatory, a non-profit community art program. While pursing her passion in teaching children grades pre-K through 6th grade, Barbie had the opportunity to work at the University of Utah Tanner Dance Program as a dance instructor and outreach specialist. It is there where she discovered how to teach young children to explore dance through the joy of creative movement. 

SHERI GILLER

A native of Southern California, Ms. Giller began her formal ballet
training in the private residence of Marie Hite in La Habra, Ca. where
she studied intensively for 6 years in the Vaganova method. In 1991
she joined Ballet Pacifica in Irvine, Ca. under the directorship of Molly
Lynch and continued to dance and teach for the company until 2003.
Throughout her dancing career she had the privilege of working with
many well -known ballet masters and acclaimed choreographers. Her
performance credits with Ballet Pacifica and as a guest artist span from
the great classical ballets, to Balanchine and Tudor works as well as
many more contemporary and modern works. Many of the roles she
performed throughout her career were choreographed on her and she
was notably recognized for her precise footwork, musicality, and the
strength and fluidity of her movement.
Ms. Giller discovered her gift for teaching at a young age. With a career
that has now spanned over 30 years, she continues to expand her
teaching skills through careful study, continued education, and
drawing from her own dancing experience. Her knowledge and
instruction of classical ballet technique includes the instruction of all
levels and abilities. She has held the positions of Co-Artistic Director
and Ballet Mistress as well as Principal Faculty Member of both Tucson
Regional Ballet in Arizona and Piedmont Ballet Theatre in North
Carolina respectively.
Many of her students have been awarded scholarships to and attended
such summer intensive programs and year round schools as Juilliard,
Harid Conservatory, Ballet West, The Bolshoi Academy, School of
American Ballet, Ballet Austin, Houston Ballet, San Francisco Ballet,
Boston Conservatory, The Ailey School, Ballet Met, The Joffrey Ballet
School, and American Ballet Theatre as well as gone on to achieve
professional dance careers with their adjacent companies.
In 2013 Ms. Giller completed her 200 hour Dayton Method Hot Yoga
Certification and most recently gained her certification in Progressing
Ballet Technique. As a dance educator she is committed to providing
high-caliber ballet training for all students regardless of future career
goals and a motivating environment that promotes dance’s unique
ability to increase each person’s self-assurance, physical awareness,
and the joy of artistic expression through movement.

NATALIE JAMESON

was born and raised in Orange County, CA. She loved competing as a child and attended Orange County High School of the Arts (OCSA) in the Commercial Dance Department where, in 2006, she was recognized as “Outstanding Lyrical Dancer of the Year”. Natalie continued her training, majoring in dance at Orange Coast College and Chapman University. She has been choreographing competition routines at various studios in Orange County since 2007. She is a guest choreographer and a guest judge for local high schools. She won the Choreogrpahy Award in 2017 at Starpower Nationals, in 2018 at Revolution regionals, and 2019 at Spotlight regionals. Currently she teaches at Center Stage Conservatory in Ranch Santa Margarita, A Step Above in Vista, and at Dancing Images in Moreno Valley. Natalie’s latest venture is her pre-professional contemporary dance company started in 2016, called Jameson & Company.

KELLIE RICHTER

Kellie began her formal ballet training with the late Evelyn LeMone founder of LaMone Ballet Center and Pasadena Dance Theater.  At the age of 15 her family moved from the Pasadena area down to Mission Viejo, Ca. where she continued her ballet training with Judith Aaen of The Judith Aaen Academy of Dance. Kellie called upon her ballet training and talent when she entered and won The Miss Saddleback Valley Pageant in 1984 a pre-liminary competition for The Miss America Pageant. She went on to work with then Pageant Director, Ms. Linda Trauffer and Judith Aaen to choreograph for the organization and Mentor young women. Her love for dance and young children fused together when she attended Saddleback College and participated in their Dance and Early Childhood Education certification programs.

Kellie has taught in the primary division for the past two years at Dmitri Kulev Classical Ballet Academy.

To continue her pursuit of education, she traveled last summer to New York to participate in the Bolshoi Ballet Theater's teacher training program where she was awarded a completion certificate for level A & B.  At The Richter Academy of Classical Dance and Pilates, Kellie will teach in the primary division programs. She looks forward to inspiring young students to combine musicality, coordination, and a love for movement and artistic expression.

JENNIE DAYLEY

Jennie Dayley began coaching and teaching dance in her youth.  She initiated her study of dance with clogging, a form of American folk dance. She performed, toured and consistently placed in competitions.  While continuing her study of dance at a collegiate level, Jennie choreographed for, taught for and danced with an International Folk Dance team that performed in the United States, Italy, Sicily, Australia and New Zealand. She completed a degree in dance while continuing her love, of teaching others to dance.  Jennie loves the joyful nature of folk and historical dances and the way theyexpand appreciation for the diversity and history of world cultures.

SHAWN VITALE

may have started dancing later than most 
professionals, but that hasn’t stopped her yet. She credits Jimmie 
DeFore Dance Center for her divine training and diversity. Trained 
extensively in Hip Hop, Jazz, Lyrical, Tap, Ballet, Musical Theater, 
Contemporary, Modern and Latin styles, Shawn has a broad 
knowledge of dance. Shawn is also a certified Gyrotonic® instructor 
and loves working one on one with clients. She teaches at multiple 
dance studios in Orange County and has had the privilege of working 
with several high schools in the area including San Juan Hills, 
Edison, Corona Del Mar and Polytechnic in Long Beach. Every 
summer she is asked to teach at dance camps all over California. 
Teaching at numerous dance studios and high schools, for the past 
14 years, has given her the opportunity to refine her teaching skills. 
Her versatile choreography has won countless awards including best 
choreography, most entertaining and first overall. Shawn 
choreographed a live performance for pop artist Viennie V and a 
music video for Brazilian pop sensation; Liz D. Ms. Vitale has also 
created Flash Mobs for private parties and VANS. Her choreography 
is often featured at, Loose Cannons, a choreographers showcase 
and was recently on “My Dream Quinceañera”. Not only a brilliant 
choreographer, Shawn has lit up the stage with artists such as 
Deborah Cox, Chioke Dmachi, MO’AT and Apoetnomadali, opening 
for Christina Milian and The Dream. She also appeared in the third 
installment of the Harold and Kumar movies. Ms. Vitale is currently 
working on growing her business, AfterHours Dance Studio, in Costa 
Mesa, California. She is eager to share her knowledge with dancers 
young and old to help them improve and excel.

@2018 by Lauren Richter Henry. Photo Credits by Jennie Dayley