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!


Kristen Chipley

Administrative Director

Kristen is originally from Redding, CA and is a recent Marin County import. She participated in dance and drama throughout high school including performances in several theater productions as well as set building and tech support.

Kristen Chipley lives in Sausalito with her husband, Noah and she  is excited to be joining the Performing Arts Academy of Marin as Studio Administrator.


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

Danny Wallace

Dance Faculty

Coming soon!


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.

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Joanna Dudley

Voice Faculty

Joanna is a highly experienced teacher, leader, singer and choral director with tremendous energy and a passion for working with children.

Joanna received a B.A. Hons from the University of London and a postgraduate degree in Education from the University of Canterbury. She spent 13 years as an elementary school teacher, during which time she led the school’s musical life by conducting choirs, arranging concerts, choreographing productions, and producing musical CDs. Her junior chamber choir won the largest festival choir competition in Southern England four years running with the highest possible grade. Joanna was promoted to the role of Vice Principal of the Junior School and became responsible for the educational progress and well-being of the school’s 400 pupils.

Joanna is not only an exceptional teacher, she is also a talented singer. Joanna trained as a professional singer at Morley College in London, giving recitals and master classes and performing as a soloist for many choirs and orchestras. She moved to the Bay Area in 2014 with her husband and children, and currently sings in a number of local churches and choral societies. For the last four years Joanna has been the Youth Director and chorus teacher for Singers Marin. This season, in addition to her private vocal students, Joanna will be the Upper Division Director of the Marin Girls Chorus and teaching across their complete age range of 5-18-year old’s.

Joanna is a popular teacher with kids and young people of all ages; they enjoy her dynamic, kinesthetic teaching style and her quirky English humor! She incorporates all aspects of vocal training into her lessons in a lively fashion and equips every singer with an outstanding vocal technique and intelligent musicality that spans across all genres of music.

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Liam Robertson

Theater Arts Faculty

Liam Robertson has been living in the Bay Area performing as a musician, actor, artist, and educator for over ten years. Originally from the foothills south of Yosemite, Liam moved to the Bay Area to attend Sonoma State University where he received a degree in Jazz Studies and Composition. After receiving his degree, he began accruing work that lead to performing as an actor and broadening his skillset as an artistic performer. He’s been seen performing and working all over the Bay Area in places such as The Speakeasy, Berkeley Rep, Santa Cruz Shakespeare, B8 Theatre, Ross Valley Players, and Sixth Street Playhouse to name a few as well as playing in various bands and variety acts. He’ll be seen performing with Taylor Mac at The Curran Theatre later this fall as well as playing one of the many characters in the 1920’s immersive theatre experience in San Francisco. Through all of these endeavors, teaching and mentoring has always been a crucial belief in Liam’s artistic path toward being a connected artist, and citizen to the greater community. He’s thrilled to be joining Performing Arts Academy of Marin and helping to inspire, collaborate, and develop great work with these spirited and dedicated students.


Aushi Oskarsdottir

Dance Guest Artist

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.


Thang Dao

Ballet Master Teacher & Guest Artist

Thang currently resides in New York City as a freelance choreographer, teacher, and coach. He holds a MA degree from New York University’s Gallatin School. Dao received his formal dance education from the Juilliard School and The Boston Conservatory, where he received his BFA in 2001. He is a frequent ballet teacher for schools and intensives all over the country and the world. Dao danced for the Stephen Petronio Company and the Metropolitan Opera until 2006, leaving to choreograph for Ballet Austin, Ballet Austin II, Ailey II, Ballet X, Philadanco, the Boston Conservatory along with many universities and performing arts schools nationally and internationally. His works have toured throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia with acclaimed reviews. His ballet Stepping Ground, choreographed for Ballet Austin for the 1st Biannual New American Dance Talent, received the Audience Choice Award all four nights. Dao is the recipient of the 2008 Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship, the 2009 Special Project Grant, and the 2012 Vilcek finalist for Creative Promises in choreography.


Julie Rose Friedrich

Ballet Master Teacher & Guest Artist

Julie grew up in Los Angeles, California where she received her training from Meredith Baylis and the Los Angeles County High School for the Performing Arts. She began her professional career under the direction of Septime Webre at American Repertory Ballet. Following several years dancing with Les Grands Ballets Canadians spent the next four years working in Europe, the first in Switzerland with the Orma Dance Company and following two years Compagnia Zappala Danza, and the dance theatre company MotoMimetico. Upon returning to the United States, Julie was invited to be a founding member of the Bodytraffic dance company. Currently, Julie teaches full time at the Windward School in Culver City, California, under the direction of Alesia Young. She has served as the senior seminar teacher for the dance department at the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts for the past seven years. Previously, she has served on faculty at the Orange County High School for the Arts and as a master class teacher all throughout southern Italy. She has guest taught for the Alvin Ailey Company, Lucinda Childs Company, ATE9, and Bodytraffic.


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.


Jeffrey Hoffman

Ballet Consultant

Jeffrey’s career as an educational administrator spans nearly twenty-five years. He is a recognized leader and innovator in supporting student success. Jeffrey’s extensive experience gained from being a collegiate Assistant Director of Admissions, Program Director, Marketing Director, Dean of Students, and a dance school Executive Director, gives him comprehensive knowledge of studio and school organizational structures and policies, as well as a strong working knowledge of dance culture and practice. With his network acquired through attending and working at six private and public colleges/universities across the country as well as involvement in volunteer professional leadership positions, Jeffrey is uniquely qualified to provide expert advice on developing studio culture, policy, and organizational structures that advance individual mission. Jeffrey received his Bachelors Degree from Eastern Mennonite University in 1991, his Masters in Higher Education Administration from Colorado State University in 1996, and studied Higher Education Leadership at the University of Southern California.

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


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.