Owner/ Artistic Director
Soo started her formal training at the renowned private institute, SUNHWA Art School in Korea, which is known for accepting high achieving students that pass a rigorous entrance exam. Soo was taught and trained intensively on the principles of the Russian Vaganova methodology. As a young dancer, Soo was selected by the Universal Ballet Company for role of ‘Clara’ in The Nutcracker and traveled with the company to perform around Korea. In 1994, Soo came to the U.S. and had the privilege of being trained by Yelena Vinogradova, the Artistic Director at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington D.C., where she continued her training. Soo studied at KNUA, Korea National University of Art, where she majored in dance choreography. She trained in ballet, modern, contemporary, and Korean dance. She expanded her ballet career as one of the KNUA ballet members and performed with them.
SDCA has presented full length productions of The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Giselle, Coppelia, and Don Quixote. In just a few short years, SDCA has earned a strong reputation in the Bay Area and is proud to have placed many of its students into the renowned Kirov Academy, Stanford University, and NYU: Tisch School of the Arts.
Miss Rebecca Rhodes was born in Libertyville, Illinois, and trained at Dance Academy of Libertyville and Milwaukee Ballet School. She completed her training at the San Francisco Ballet School. She was named apprentice in 2008 and promoted to the San Francisco Ballet Company corps de ballet in 2009. She has performed a wide variety of works during her time with the company and originated many roles. After giving birth to her daughter, Rhodes decided to leave the ballet company and turned to teaching in San Francisco Ballet School. Rhodes now resides in the Bay Area with her husband and two young children.
Elena’s love for dancing started at age of 9 when she started studying ballet, character dance and jazz. By the age of 18 she graduated from one of the most prestigious dance academies in the world (Moscow Bolshoi Ballet Academy). After her graduation she moved to USA with her family and continued her career as a world class adagio performer, where her professional edge required her to master several disciplines simultaneously: dance, acrobatics and the art of illusion. She appeared on television shows, competitions and performed in more than 40 countries.
Elena is very excited to share her knowledge and love for the art of dancing with next generation of dancers. Elena and her husband Pasha are professional entertainers called Pasha and Aliona. Their greatest achievement, AGT(America Got Talent) had broadcasted nation-wide of their amazing choreography.
David Fonnegra was born in Venezuela where he began his ballet studies at Ballet Teresa Carreno.
At the age of 14, he became a principal dancer with Ballet Nacional de Caracas and performed the leads in all the great romantic ballets including Raymonda, George Sans, Swan Lake, Giselle, Romeo & Juliet and Don Quixote. While on tour in 1995, Mr. Fonnegrajoined the Miami City Ballet with its legendary founding director, Edward Villella. During his seven years at Miami City Ballet, he danced many principal roles in their Balanchine repertoire in addition to the classics. In 2002, Mr. Fonnegra came to California dancing with State Street Ballet and Channel Island Ballet as a guest artist. In 2004 he joined Diablo Ballet, where he continues to perform and choreograph on the company. As a dancer 2004, he joined Diablo Ballet, where he continues to perform and choreograph on the company. As a dancer with Diablo Ballet, Mr. Fonnegra has been featured in The Legend of Taj Mahal, Petrushka, Who Cares?, Stars and Stripes, Once upon a Ballroom, and Jazz Fever to name a few. He continues to be a sought-after guest artist in the United States, Europe, and South America:as a performer, teacher, and choreographer. He has taught extensively in the Bay Area for almost a decade for such organizations as Lines Ballet, Contra Costa Ballet, Benicia Ballet, Ayak o Ballet School, Livermore Ballet school, Western Ballet, Diablo Ballet, and Peninsula Ballet Theatre as well as for New World School of the Arts (Miami), Ballet National De Caracas, and Houston Ballet.
Instructor / Competition Team Supervisor
Mimi’s love of dance started at the young age of 5. She since has 15 years studio trained in the disciplines of Jazz, Tap, Modern, Lyrical, Ballet, Acro, and Hip Hop built her foundation in dance at Joanne Brown Dance Studio and Yoko’s Dance Academy. Mimi began competing at the age of ten has won numerous National Dance awards, invitations to Scholarship Workshop: Alvin Alley and Joffrey Ballet and invited to several Dance Competition as being assistant choreography as a young age. As an adult, Mimi continued dancing in college with Dance Department at Ohlone College during that time she was traveling to Los Angeles and had trained in Intensive Dance Program: AMADA for three years while in college . After graduated from Ohlone College with Associate Degree in Marketing and Dance. Also graduated California State University, East Bay, with Major Early Childhood Development Minor in Dance. Teaching and working in the child care industry (Teacher, Coordinator, and Preschool Director) for 10 years between with teaching dance classes at dance studio in the south bay and east bay starting 2008 as a side passions. Her professional credits includes Los Angeles Clippers (2008), Semi pro Dance Team Bomshells Girls and Liberty Belles, Half time Dance Team with Santa Cruz Warriors, and Mission in the Mix w in South Bay area for 7 years.. Has experience and taught and created Preschools Dance Program almost 10 years around the Bay Area, and young adults for 8 years. Mimi is currently coaching Los Gatos Dance Team and also freelancing with other pre-professional dance teams in the Bay Area.
In May of 2014 Vanessa received her Bachelor’s in Dance from Sonoma State University where she was able to delve into her passion for movement. Taking her first class at the age of 2, she has not been able to stop dancing since. In her professional career she has taken on the role of teacher, choreographer, and dancer. She has trained dancers all over the bay area guiding them through their journey of dancing for fun and making it a professional career. She has trained her students to also become teachers and choreographers. Her credits include Petaluma School of Ballet also working with their pre-professional company North Coast Ballet California. There she had the pleasure of working with many talented students and especially focusing on graduating seniors auditioning for college programs or training them to become teachers. She created contemporary work for North Coast Ballet California and was given the honor of training them in specialty styles including tap, jazz, contemporary, and modern. Vanessa currently dances for a professional contemporary company called Jumping at the Sun based in San Ramon, Ca. She also teaches at Triple Threat Performing Arts and now Soo Dance Academy while also teaching workshops in the bay area when invited to. In her free time, she continues her training as a dancer and teacher because she believes you should never stop being a student. Dance is constantly evolving and as an educator it is her responsibility to her students to evolve as well.
Tara has been dancing for over 20 years and is trained in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Hip-Hop, Ballroom and Acrobatics. She continued her training in college and graduated, receiving a B.F.A in Dance Performance and Choreography at the University of Southern Mississippi and credential with Master in Fine Arts at Saint Mary’s College in California. While at Southern Miss, she performed in The Repertory Dance Company and choreographed multiple pieces for the company. Tara has participated in the American College Dance Festival Association during her undergrad and was a volunteer for Mississippi Festival of the Arts. After graduating from college, Tara moved to Fort Walton Beach, Florida where she continued to train in Theatre Arts. While in Florida, she received training from dancers such as Tony Dovolani and also performed in shows with Sharna Burgess, Lacey Schwimmer, Mark Ballas and Maksim Chermerkovskiy, all former champions on ABC’S hit reality competition show, Dancing with the Stars. Tara has competed professionally all over America as a Professional Theatre Arts Show Dancer.
Tara is an active member as one of the choreographers for Soo Dance Academy’s Competition Team. She trains and choreographs solos and group routines for competitions in the Bay Area. She believes that her passion for dance is what makes her teaching techniques and choreography strong and successful.
La Tonya Watts
La Tonya has worked with several famous directors and choreographers to pursue her passion. She has directed and choreographed many theatrical performances for some of the Bay Area’s popular theatrical companies. Her work includes: Taming of the Shrew; Romeo & Juliet; The Wiz; Grease; Pippin; Oedipus; Cinderella; Macbeth; Dream Girls; Blackballin; Once on This Island, Chicago (2011 SFBATCC and Shellie Awards nominee for Best Choreographer); West Side Story; Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; Hairspray; Life Could be a Dream; 9 to 5; Rent; Hedwig and the Angry Inch; The Robber Bridegroom; Night of January 16th; A Trip Down Broadway (2016 Shellie Award winner for Best Choreographer); Aladdin; A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum; Arsenic and Old Lace; Urinetown, the Musical; Rumors; You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown; Moon Over Buffalo (2018 Shellie Award winner for Best Director); The 1940s Radio Hour; Lend Me a Tenor; Once Upon a Mattress; The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee; Zombie Prom; The Savannah Sipping Society, School House Rock, jr., Young Frankenstein, Freaky Friday and A Raisin in the Sun.
Instructor / Studio Coodinator
Sophie Kim was one of the first students at Soo Dance Academy, where she discovered her love for ballet. Sophie began her professional training at age fourteen with the Kirov Academy of Ballet’s summer program in Washington, D.C. and after receiving an invitation with a scholarship, she attended the school for two years. Ms. Kim continued her dance training with the illustrious Calvin Thomas, before moving to New York to learn from world renowned dancers and teachers, such as Cheryl Yeager, Elizabeth Walker, Joseph Malbrough, Olga Dvorovenko, Stacey Calvert, Wendy Whelan, Francis Patrelle, Tara Mora, and many more, at Ballet Academy East. There, she was introduced to Balanchine and the true scope of the ballet world, and is honored to have danced in Walpurgisnacht, Scherzo A La Ruse, Valse Fantasie, Alan Hineline’s Concerto in D, and her peers’ choreographed work during the school’s annual choreography workshop. She performed in Francis Patrelle’s Nutcracker as a Doll, Flower, Ice Skater, and Chinese dancer. In her last year at the school, Sophie worked closely with Maina Gielgud and Cheryl Yeager to prepare for her roles as the Canary Fairy and Princess Florine in BAE’s production of the Sleeping Beauty. The 2020-2021 season was Ms. Kim’s first year at Diablo Ballet, and she could not be more thrilled to be able to share the art of ballet with such amazing dancers. She is excited to continue her journey as a professional artist next season, and very passionate about teaching the new generation of dancers at Soo Dance Academy.
Originally from Danville, Carly Buchta began dancing at the age of two. She trained and competed for Yoko’s, Contra Costa Ballet, and Dance Fusion. In high school she choreographed extensively for the dance program and was given the Sarah Edgren Memorial scholarship for most inspirational senior dancer. Carly has been a professional dancer for 13 years. She was an NBA dancer for 6 years and traveled the world performing for the troops in Iraq and Kuwait. She also appeared as a guest judge on China’s reality show “NBA Dance Passion”, which broadcasted live to millions of homes. While dancing for the NBA she was selected as the cover model for two inaugural dance team calendars. She is currently performing all over the United States with Hip Entertainment and Ronnie Reddick’s La Femme Panache. Although she loves performing, she enjoys teaching most of all. Carly has been a dance instructor at Soo Dance Academy for 6 years. She is trained in Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Lyrical, Modern, Contemporary, Hip-hop, Musical Theatre, Pilates, Yoga, and Fitness. She loves to choreograph and is passionate about inspiring, encouraging, and building confidence in all of her students.
Caralin’s extensive professional background dancing for the esteemed Boston Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet has translated to the technique she instills in all of her students.
Caralin’s powerful choreography across the styles of ballet and contemporary is an invaluable asset to SDCA. We’re so excited to see her work shine in our Spring Showcase and winter Nutcracker performance! Her dedication to the art of dance is matched by her fierce dedication to her students. We’re beyond thrilled to see our students and studio continue to grow under Caralin’s direction. Join us as we celebrate with Caralin on this new venture!
Caralin joined Pennsylvania Ballet as an Apprentice in 2007 and was promoted to the corps de ballet in 2009. There she danced featured roles in William Forsythe’s Artifact Suite (Other Person) and In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated, George Balanchine’s Rubies (Tall Girl), A Midsummer Night’s Dream(Hippolyta), Serenade (Dark Angel) and The Four Temperaments(Second Theme). She created roles in the world premieres of Pulcinella by Jorma Elo, Matthew Neenan’s At Various Points, and Carmina Burana. Curcio also appeared in the Academy Award-winning film Black Swan.
In 2014, Caralin joined the Boston Ballet Company under the direction of Mikko Nissinen. Curcio’s repertoire with Boston Ballet includes Mikko Nissinen’s Swan Lake (Big Swans) and The Nutcracker (Arabian); George Balanchine’s Episodes (Five Pieces) and Theme and Variations (Demi Soloist); and Jerome Robbins’ The Concert (Wife). A major career highlight was dancing the role of Mudwoman, the principal part in William Forsythe’s, “Artifact” for its North American debut.
Dong Hoon Lee
Mr. Lee has a PhD. in dance from SEJONG University and is an award winning performer. He has been working at the National Ballet Company in Korea for over 10 years as a principal male dancer and is currently working at the Diablo Ballet Company.
Mr. Lee also appeared in the Award winning Russia Benois de la Danse of 2012, Moscow International Ballet Competition of 2009, Moscow International Ballet Competition of 2008, and Dong-A Ballet Competition Gold Award of 2007.
We are so excited to have such an experienced performer teaching at Soo Dance Academy. Mr. Lee now resides in the Bay Area with his wife and one young children.
Soo Dance Trainee
Barrett Smith (Student Since 2015~ )
McKenna Kelly (Student Since 2016~ )