About PAAM


Annie Leese Thistle

Owner & Artistic Director

Annie established PAAM in the summer of 2009, facilitating its growth with the help of dedicated faculty and staff from humble beginnings in a church hall to a thriving community with state-of-the-art facilities and premier training in the performing arts. She is proud to continue to bring her expertise and passion for theater and dance to the students of Marin and the greater Bay Area.

The surrounding community is of great importance to Annie, partnering with local schools and organizations to bring dance, theater and entertainment to children and adults throughout Marin. She has contributed to programs at Edna Maguire, Tam Valley Elementary, Strawberry Point, Old Firehouse Preschool, Marin Day Schools, Marin Primary, St. Patricks, St. Marks, St. Hilary, Mill Valley Library Fund and Marin Charitable Organizations. She is a proud supporter of Kiddo! and Spark, among other school arts providers and nonprofits.

Annie donned her first tutu at the age of 3. Her first love was dance, yet she found true passion in musical theater, combining her love of singing and acting with her inherent love of dance. Performing arts has been the ultimate outlet for creative expression, release and exercise throughout her entire life. Annie graduated summa cum laude from Boston College and is a proud graduate of San Domenico Middle School and Saint Ignatius College Preparatory.

Annie has trained at the University of Louisville Dance Academy, Louisville Ballet, Marin Dance Theater, Marin Theater Company, Scott Pearson (Voice, NYC), Jeannette Neill Dance Studio and Steps on Broadway. Her professional career includes work with Boston dance companies, regional theater productions (most notably onstage with Tony Award winner Donna McKechnie), and representation with STARS San Francisco. Her teaching career has included faculty positions at Walnut Hill School and Performing Arts Connection as well as a multitude of freelance positions in the dance and drama departments at schools such as Newton North High School and Middlesex Community College.

Annie resides in Mill Valley with her husband DJ, daughter Kenadie and son Maguire. She is thankful for her incredibly supportive family and loves bringing both kids to the studio. PAAM is her main passion and home away from home. It is a dream come true to have so many young artists also consider PAAM their second home.


Katlin Vagelatos

Associate Director

Katlin is a Bay Area native and descendant of a long family history of actors, performers and musicians.  She spent her childhood deeply involved in performing arts, beginning ballet as a toddler with Miss Tilly at the Rayna Allen School of Dancing and continuing on to dance and musical theater with Marilyn Izdebski Productions.  Katlin received her BA in Music from Sonoma State University, where her studies focused on recording production and vocal performance.  Throughout college she performed as a member of several choral groups including the Sonoma State Chamber Choir and the MiraCosta Jazz Ensemble.

Before joining PAAM, Katlin spent time in the San Diego radio industry, where her voice could often be heard on popular stations such as Rock 105.3 and 91X. She then moved on to music booking at The Rosebud Agency in San Francisco, representing Grammy winning artists such as Mavis Staples and JJ Cale. Coming to PAAM in June 2012 as Annie’s assistant and studio receptionist, Katlin is delighted to continue her career supporting the arts!


Alicia Cardoza

Dance Faculty

Alicia, originally from Danville, California, began studying dance at the age of four at The Ballet School in Walnut Creek, where she studied classical ballet under the direction of Lareen Fender for the next 14 years. Throughout high school, she was heavily involved in her school’s competitive dance and cheer programs, where she performed in Disneyland, took classes from many famous teachers in the LA area, and won the Student Director’s Award for her choreography senior year.

In 2004 she went on to Arizona State University, where she studied various forms of contemporary ballet and modern dance. She graduated Magna Cum Laude and earned her BFA in Dance Choreography in 2008. By her junior year, she began teaching ballet and jazz at a local dance studio, and has since then taught all ages and levels, and is a certified teacher in the Arizona public and charter School systems. In 2011, she was recruited to be a founding member and principal dancer of Phoenix’s contemporary jazz company, MarioCo Dance, which she performed and choreographed with over the next two years.

Now entering her ninth year of teaching, she has choreographed numerous award-winning pieces for prestigious national dance competitions, been a master teacher at several Phoenix Valley dance conventions, been a guest choreographer for numerous high school dance and pom teams, and some of her first students have gone on to dance in college and win numerous coveted dance scholarships. Most recently she choreographed the lighthearted musical Cinderella’s Glass Slipper for the Peoria Theatre Works YouthWorks Academy, which was awarded high critical praise. After 10 years of dancing in the desert, Alicia is ready to come back to the Bay Area and continue her career as a teacher and choreographer.


Sara Rosenbloom

Dance & Theater Arts Faculty

Sara Rosenbloom fell in love with dance at 3 years old. Living in Los Angeles she had incredible opportunities to study under the best in the business. She studied at the Performing Arts Center, Millenium, and The Edge. By age 10 she was dancing 23 hours a week, studying Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop, and Contemporary. She studied voice under Lis Lewis, Monte Ralstin(Old Deuteronomy, Cats), Marsha Bagwell(Big Momma, Chicago). She moved on to get her BFA in Musical Theater from the University of Arizona in 2007. She has performed for theater companies in Arizona and California and still does. Her other passion in life is teaching children. Having the opportunity to convey the passion and dedication she has through dance to the next generation is a dream come true. She taught her first hip hop class in 2000, and directed her first musical in 2004. She ran her own private dance company in Los Angeles for 3 years before she moved up to the bay area and discovered PAAM. Sara is very excited to be a part of a studio that cares as much about the students themselves as well as their training. Whether they will turn this love of dance into a career, or use these tools to learn a hard work ethic and dedication, she is happy to share in this part of their lives.


KT Tesch

Dance & Theater Arts Faculty

Growing up in the Midwest KT studied ballet from age seven and spent hours in her high school theater performing in plays and musicals. While attending college she spent two semesters living in Brisbane, Australia studying contemporary dance and picked up the art of fire performance! In 2003 she graduated with Honors from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, earning a BFA in dance, focus in Modern. While there, she also studied contact improvisation, African dance, choreography, yoga, and Pilates. Since graduating she has performed with the Catey Ott Collective out of NYC, interned for San Francisco’s Project Bandaloop, and traveled to Hawaii, Japan, greater California, and competed in NYC America’s Got Talent with The Fire Pixies, to bring a little fire and excitement into everybody’s life. KT has been teaching dance and Acro to children for over fifteen years with increasing enthusiasm for future generations of dancers and performers!


Sarah Wickham Jones

Dance Faculty

Sarah grew up in the Bay Area, started dancing at age 2. She was accepted into the Cal Arts dance program in Southern Calif.  Where she studied under many acclaimed teachers including Debbie Allen and Mia Michaels. She has been involved in multiple dance companies including Body Language, Culture Shock Oakland, and Soul Force San Francisco.

She completed her 200 hour yoga training with YogaWorks in 2012 in addition to another 200 hour yoga alliance certification in Ashtanga yoga at Its Yoga San Francisco in 2007. Sarah started teaching kids in 2002, spending several years as a dance teacher & choreographer with the Mount Tamalpais School Theatre Department. She currently teaches hip hop and jazz/hip hop at PAAM as well as the extension hip hop program offered through MV Parks & Recreation. Sarah is a well-loved teacher at PAAM.

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Colleen Bialas

Dance Faculty

Colleen Bialas is originally from Muskegon, Michigan and graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy. She attended San Francisco State University (BS) for her undergraduate studies and holds an MFA in Dance from the University of California, Irvine. Her MFA thesis focused on creating a written history of ballet companies in Los Angeles. Through her research she interviewed and compiled information from directors, teachers, dancers, and writers who have influenced the Los Angeles ballet community. Colleen has performed with Ballet Santa Barbara, State Street Ballet, and as a trainee with the Richmond Ballet. During her professional career, she performed in works by George Balanchine, Brian Carey Chung, Benjamin Harkarvy, and Robert Sund among others. Colleen has considerable experience teaching, choreographing, and restaging works. She was recently a member of the dance faculty at the University of Idaho and additionally, taught at Festival Dance and Performing Arts, a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing dance education to Northern Idaho through performances, outreach, and classes. She is so excited to be back teaching at PAAM!


Claire Calalo Berry

Dance Faculty

Claire Calalo Berry is originally from Fremont, California, and was drawn to dance by way of her love for musical theater. She began formal training in the modern dance program at Moreau Catholic High School under the direction of Angela Demmel. She then studied dance and biology at Santa Clara University and went on to earn an MFA in Dance from the University of California at Irvine. There, she studied with dance legend Donald McKayle as well as Loretta Livingston, Jodie Gates, and other esteemed faculty. She was invited to perform and direct in Lisa Naugle’s DTM2 Performance Ensemble, which traveled to Spain and specialized in improvisation for performance and collaboration with composers and live musicians.


In 2010, Claire founded for change dance collective, which explores deeply collaborative practices in the creation of professional concert dance performance. Formerly an Adjunct Lecturer in modern dance and choreography at Santa Clara University from 2013-2018, Claire has also taught dance in private studios, high schools, and community settings, in addition to leading movement and choreography workshops in Belize, Nicaragua, and Spain. Her professional performance credits include works by Tandy Beal, Angela Demmel, Sue Li Jue, Nina Haft, Nhan Ho, Kristin Damrow, and Lauren Baines, among others. As a dance maker, teacher, and dance advocate, Claire’s greatest joy comes from witnessing the small discoveries we make when we move. She believes that in these expressive moments, we find our purpose, joy, and identity, and ultimately come to understand more about ourselves and our ability to impact our communities.

Website: www.forchangedance.org


Danny Wallace

Dance Faculty

Danny Wallace is happy to be returning to Sonoma County after his tap dance career has taken him all over the world!  At age 18, Danny worked with the Las Vegas company of Tap Dogs and also performed in cities throughout the country as well as Germany, Paris, and Asia. He was featured in the film America’s Sweethearts with Julia Roberts & Katherine Zeta Jones, numerous industrials for such companies Coca Cola, Audi, and Compaq, as well as in an opening act for LeAnne Rimes. Danny has choreographed shows for companies such as Little Tykes, Footlocker, and Discover Card, as well as an equity production of Funny Girl in NC.

Danny co-wrote/choreographed directed an original dance musical entitled, At the Diner, featured at the International Dance Festival in NYC. He has been on faculty at both Steps on Broadway and Broadway Dance Center (NYC) and has been teaching tap all over the world for the past 20 years!


Kristen Efstathiu

Theater Arts Faculty

Kristen graduated from San Diego State University with a B.A. in Theatre Arts and a B.S. in Business Administration.  She also attended the Young Conservatory of A.C.T. in San Francisco.  At the age of 8 she was cast in The Sound of Music as Brigitta and has been hooked on performing ever since!  Throughout her school years she was either entertaining audiences in district-wide musicals or school plays.  Before joining PAAM Kristen started the Performing Arts Program at her children’s elementary school and was Lead Director for five years.  Kristen is committed to instilling in her students confidence and an appreciation of their own unique creative abilities so they can shine on stage.


Zachary Isen

Theater Arts Faculty

A Marin native, Zachary has been a passionate performer his whole life, performing throughout the Bay Area, most notably with The Mountain Play and Marin Musical Theatre Company. Working as a choreographer and director for multiple venues, he is a member of the advisory board for MMTC and co-creator of the Mountain Play’s Arts Education Outreach Program. He currently holds a BFA in Drama, minoring in Applied Theatre, from NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and is working on his Master’s in Theatre Arts at San Francisco State University. Zachary has taught in underserved schools, helping to bring the arts to those who need them most. When he is not at PAAM, he can be found teaching at The Urban School of San Francisco. Zachary strives to bring theatre to youth in order to encourage and develop self expression, self acceptance, creativity, passion, and life skills through the arts.


Aushi Oskarsdottir

Dance Faculty

Originally from Reykjavik, Iceland, and a graduate of UC Berkeley, Aushi Oskarsdottir started her professional dance career at the age of 15 with video, television and commercial work.  She trained formally at Alvin Ailey American Dance Center and Broadway Dance Center in New York City, as well as with Savage Jazz in Oakland, CA.  In addition to being the Dance Program Director at SOCAPA (School of Creative and Performing Arts) and the Assistant Director of Dance Fusion Company, Aushihas had the privilege of working all throughout the U.S. and abroad.  Her recent work includes creating an ensemble piece for Mark Foehringer’s CCDA, teaching master classes in Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico and Iceland, choreographing for the premiere or Pixar’s Toy Story 3, and performing in Alaska for John Hancock.  She is one of the founding faculty members of Jazz Dance Fest in Costa Rica, where she has taught alongside some of the dance world’s biggest names.  Aushihas also performed and traveled extensively with Ronnie Reddick’s La Femme Panache, and has worked with Santana, Deborah Cox, MC Hammer, Macy’s, Bebe, Bloomingdale’s, Apple, Oracle, E*Trade, Microsoft, and Bill Graham Presents, among others.  Additionally, she has worked as a stylist for Nautica Jeans, Cosmopolitan and NY Fashion Week, a producer for Q-Tip’s interview show Artist to Artist, and a writer for Vivian Lives.  Aushi edits all of her own dance videos for the SOCAPA YouTube channel, and is getting certified in Pilates Mat and Reformer.


Ricky Maalouf

Hip Hop Guest Artist in Residence & Choreographer

Ricky Maalouf  started dancing at age 19 for ASU Hip Hop Coalition and later became their choreographer and director. He has danced with recording artist Jasmine Hormez, who opened for Omarion, and danced for the professional dance company Automatic Response who were featured on Americas Best Dance Crew, opening for Fergie and My Chemical Romance, also working with Dillards, LRG, Kiss FM amongst others.  In addition he spent two years on the WNBA Phoenix Mercury Hip Hop Squad, working with the Phoenix Suns as well as other performance groups around the valley.  He has since developed a true passion for teaching and believes in a high-energy class in which the students work hard while enjoying the process.  Several of his students have danced with artists such as Justin Bieber, Missy Elliot and more, while they have been showcased on So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing with the Stars, Ellen, Dance Moms, Disney’s Shake It Up and Americas Got Talent.  He has worked with members of ABDC’s season 7 champions Elektrolytes and also worked with several organizations such as Museffect and Acting For Dancers. Ricky’s choreography has been showcased and seen at  LA Choreographers Carnival, President Obama’s Arizona State Commencement, MTV Sweet Sixteen, in numerous independent music videos, Jr Miss Az pageant, UDA, Phoenix Suns and Phoenix Mercury, and has won many awards at a national level. He looks forward to jumping around in class while learning a few things along the way.

Logan Reginato

Logan Reginato

Dance Guest Artist & Choreographer

Logan Reginato has had over 22 years of dancing experience in all styles such as contemporary, jazz, tap, ballet, hip hop, and tumbling. She was a member of the Arizona State Dance Team where they placed 5th at UDA College Nationals in 2009 for the first time. Her biggest accomplishment yet is becoming a Radio City Rockette in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular!

Logan is an Arizona State University Alumni with a Bachelors of Science in Biological Sciences with an emphasis in Biology. She was honored to be a part of the Arizona State Dance team all four years of college, and also being the choreographer leader for two years. In her earlier competitive years, Logan has won many awards such as Top First at Tremain Dance in 2004, New York Dance Alliance “Outstanding Dancer” in 2006-2007, Top First Place at West Coast Regional’s in 2007, JUMP V.I.P scholarships through the years of 2002-2007, and many scholarships in conventions like West Coast Dance Alliance, New York Dance Alliance, LA Dance Magic, Showstoppers, Star Power, NUVO, and JUMP.

Recently Logan has also been recognized for her dancing ability in college through honors as well. She has been featured in Sports Illustrated twice, and once as their Cheerleader of the Week in 2009. She was also in the running for Fox Sports Cheerleader of the Year in 2010. Logan has been featured on the cover of many magazines through Arizona State such as Saturday NightMagazine and the Light Rail where she also received MVP dancer at Arizona State in 2009 and 2011. After college, Logan taught/choreographed for multiple successful studios around the Arizona valley.

Becoming a Rockette in 2014 was her most grateful experience yet. Living in New York City, and performing in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular was the highlight of her career so far. Dancing 8-12 hours a day, up to 4 shows per day has taught Logan discipline, mental strength, and how to be a true professional dancer. Logan continues to share her knowledge about dance to those around her and enjoys every minute of it.


Francisco Gella

Ballet Master Teacher & Guest Artist

Francisco’s success as an innovative choreographer, master teacher and influential educator is attributed to his philosophy of bridging the commercial and concert (ballet & modern) aspects of the dance world, a notable career as a professional dancer, and training as a competitive gymnast. His artistic work has gained notoriety by prestigious professional and educational organizations all over the globe. Francisco’s extensive experience teaching in a wide-variety of studio and school settings all over the country, gives him intimate inside knowledge on how to teach ballet in a way that is specifically appropriate for any given studio’s mission, while remaining committed to foundational principles of teaching and learning ballet. His approach to curriculum design and teaching methods incorporates his understanding of anatomy, developmental psychology, gymnastics training, coaching, and traditional methods of ballet pedagogy. Francisco received his Bachelor of Arts in Dance from the University of Washington in 1996 and has danced full-time or as a guest for nearly fifteen companies during his fifteen-year career.

For more information, go to www.linkedin.com/in/franciscogella.


Matt Silverman

Theater Arts Guest Artist

Matt is the son of an Australian actress and a New York comedian. He is a graduate of Northwestern’s Theater program and has worked in California as an actor, musician, director and producer for the last two decades. He has directed for the Marin Theater Company as well as the Vector Theater Company and he is currently the Theater Director/Producer at Marin Country Day School in Corte Madera. He also works as a documentary filmmaker and is the bandleader of the award winning group, About Face. Matt looks forward to bringing his unique talents to PAAM.


Rachel Little

Dance Faculty


Jon Gallo

Music Director

Jon is a Ventura County pianist currently based in the SF Bay Area. Trained classically from a young age, he has since explored Jazz, Blues, and Broadway. A proficient improviser and sight-reader, he plays at every chance he gets. He spends his spare time working as an IT Analyst, and thanks his Mom & Dad for his abilities behind the piano – his dream job. Jon has been the MD on many children’s and professional productions and is happy to continue his work with PAAM.


Lisa Shields

Dance Faculty

Lisa Moore Shields has been dancing since she could walk. She trained at Pasadena Dance Theater, Tremain, and the Edge in Los Angeles. Her BFA in dance is from UC Santa Barbara as well as a masters in Performance. Her professional performing career has spanned film, television, concert, circus, and site specific works. Additionally, she holds certifications in Pilates, GYROTONIC, GYROKINESIS, NASM, and Hatha yoga. Her goal is to have fun while working safely and learning music theory and human anatomy.

Kaitlyn Judd

Kaitlyn Judd

Dance Junior Faculty

Dancing since she was 2 years old, Kaitlyn has fallen in love with the art of ballet, lyrical, contemporary, jazz, hip hop and other unique styles. She was active in musical theatre at Sunset Theater company and trained at the School of Dance and Music located in Los Angeles. She has been a member of Performing Arts Academy of Marin since she moved from Los Angeles at age 11. Kaitlyn has been an intern at both Tumble Spot and PAAM  and has recently taken the role as a teacher. Kaitlyn loves working with children and sharing her love of dance and acro with all students around her. Her favorite thing about interning and teaching is being a role model to young performers and having them strive to always do their best. 

Kaitlyn believes that working hard, having a positive attitude and caring for each other will take you far in life. She is looking forward to what the future holds for her both academically and in dance. Kaitlyn is incredibly grateful for all of the opportunities she has been given on this journey and is excited for what comes next in her dance career.


Caroline Lomba

Theater Arts Faculty

A native of both Marin and Sonoma Counties, Caroline began acting at the age of 13, taking parts in many school and community theater productions. In college she discovered her love of ballet and modern dance. She has directed and choreographed over 30 popular musical theater camps and after school productions in the north bay, and is excited to bring her enthusiasm for theater to PAAM. Caroline also teaches performing arts at Alchemia, a non-profit arts organization for special needs adults. She is also a graphic/web designer and illustrator.