Brandon Alexander (he/him) teaches Intermediate Ballet on Monday evenings. Born and raised in Houston, TX, Brandon is currently in his second season with Smuin after having danced in Europe. Brandon hopes to infuse your Monday evenings with a mix of elegance, placement, and fun music that gets our bodies moving.

The thing that most inspires you: Authenticity

Best advice a teacher ever gave you: “I have two. Always find a charm in everything that you do. Never forget why you work so hard.”

Favorite type of music: I’ll listen to anything once.

Tessa Barbour (she/her) teaches Intermediate Tap on Tuesday and Thursday! Growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico she joined Smuin Ballet in 2016 and dusted off her tap shoes! Tessa’s classes help you develop a strong understanding of basic tap steps. She challenges the mind muscle connection between the brain and toes, focusing on catchy rhythms that you’re sure to have stuck in your head ( . . . in a good way)! Tess puts together dances in a wide range of styles and uses music that build with each class that you will not want to miss! 

Fave SF Spot: Stern Grove dog park, my dog Donner would agree.

Thing that most inspire me: my fellow artists 

One thing people would be surprised to learn about it: I am an Auntie to 5 of the most wonderful kids that have all been adopted through foster care. 

Mengjun Chen(he/him) teaches Character dance on Thursdays. Hailing from Wenzhou ZheJiang, China. Mengjun has danced for Smuin Ballet for seven seasons. Mengjun’s classes take you on a journey around the world, focusing on traditional folk dance, from passionate Spanish footwork to elegant Hungarian style. Mengjun is spirited, witty and meticulous. You are sure to have a blast! 

Fave SF Spot: Lands End

Best advice a teacher ever gave you: Doing every movement with concentrated attention to detail.

One thing people would be surprised to learn about you : Obsessed with spicy food.

Valerie Harmon (she/her) is from Lompoc, California, and danced with Smuin Ballet for three years before retiring from her performance career and completing her bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from San Francisco State University. Valerie loves blending her education with her love of dance through ballet classes with a strong technical foundation. Her stretch and strength classes combine functional movements with strengthening exercises to promote a greater sense of well-being and body awareness by the end of class!  She believes that dance and movement are for any body, at any age, at any level, and enjoys sharing her love of dance and exercise with her students. In Valerie’s class you are sure to learn, sweat, and move your body!

Fave SF Spot: China Beach

Thing that most inspires me:  Hiking in all of the beautiful places near San Francisco

Best advice a teacher ever gave me:  Sometimes it takes corrections a bit of time to ‘sink in’ – be persistent and enjoy all of the little successes along the way!

Cassidy Isaacson (she/her) is from Redmond WA and joined the Smuin family in 2019. Cassidy teaches Beginner/Intermediate Jazz and Contemporary on Monday nights. Start your Mondays off right with Cassidy’s high energy, fun, and fierce Jazz class. In her class you will work through all the classic Jazz steps one by one in order to learn a full combo over multiple weeks that you can show off as your favorite party trick. 

Cassidy’s contemporary class will help you expand the classical line and push yourself to move out of your comfort zone and through your emotional connection to slower and more controlled movements. If you want to learn how to strut your stuff in your favorite heels (heels optional)  then be on the look out for Cassidy’s Heels workshops! One of the reasons why Cassidy truly loves this art form is because it’s one of the only ways you can safely express any and all emotions without having to put them into words. It’s the perfect outlet to be 100% authenticity with yourself and grow as a person and as an artist.  

Favorite SF spot: Sutro Baths

Thing that most inspires me: My co-workers and their constant dedication and love for this insanely difficult but rewarding art form.  

Best advice I was ever given:  “Never Stop Learning” and “there is always more you can improve on.” 


Tess Lane (she/her) teaches Morning Yoga on Fridays and Saturday morning Beginning Ballet. Tess is originally from Redondo Beach and is in her fourth season dancing for Smuin Ballet. She completed her 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training in summer of 2021 and is currently working on her next level of certification. Both her yoga and ballet classes aim to explore movement with a balanced and anatomical approach, while having fun and working up a sweat! Tess finds both dance and yoga to be satisfying, investigative, and meditative practices, and she strives to create an environment where her students feel the same.

Favorite SF spot: Sutro Heights Park

Best advice a teacher ever gave you: “Even a 1º shift can take you to an entirely different destination.”

Fun fact: Tess is also an avid seamstress! She sews many of her own clothes, including her dance wear!


Bethany Mitchell was raised in Mission Viejo, California, where she studied dance from the age of four at the Ballet Conservatory under the direction of Alan McCarter. She began her professional career in 2004 with Ballet Pacifica in Irvine, and continued on to dance with State Street Ballet in Santa Barbara and City Ballet of San Diego. After moving to San Francisco in 2007, Bethany performed and toured internationally with Liss Fain Dance while teaching children at ODC Dance Commons and Blue Bear School of Music. She was also a guest artist with Tanya Bello Project B, Garrett + Moulton Productions, and ODC Dance. Bethany received her B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in International Business from San Francisco State University.

Bethany moved to New York City in 2012, and danced with Battery Dance, Indelible Dance, The Onomatopoeia Theatre Company, Royal Caribbean Productions, and General Mischief Dance Theatre. She has toured to over forty countries as a professional dancer, and taught masterclasses and creative workshops in over twenty countries as a teaching artist with Battery Dance. Bethany was also a faculty member at the Mark Morris Dance Center and Harlem School of the Arts and received a Fulbright Specialist Award in 2019 to further her work as an international dance educator. She is thrilled to be collaborating with Delfos Danza Contemporanea in Mazatlan, Mexico in 2022.

Marc LaPierre (he/him) teaches Intermediate ballet on Monday. Born and raised in Stratford CT, Marc is beginning his first season with Smuin Ballet. Having trained in both the Balanchine method and classically, Marc’s classes are dynamic. He plays with both the tempo and phrasing of movement. Dance for Marc is all about finding your own artistic expression and joy within the movement. He believes in listening to the music and connecting with yourself and those around you! 

Favorite SF spot: Fort Funston and Mission Dolores park. 

One thing people would be surprised to learn about you: I draw and do oil painting in my spare time! 

Best advice a teacher gave you: “Everyone is unique and on their own journey within dance. Focus on being your personal best and don’t get discouraged.”


Nicole Haskins, originally from Venice Beach, California, is a choreographer, coach, and mentor residing in the Bay Area. Her love of ballet and enthusiasm for choreography emerged during her training at the Westside School of Ballet in Santa Monica under the direction of Yvonne Mounsey and Rosemary Valaire. After a two-decade career as a professional ballet dancer with Sacramento Ballet, Washington Ballet, Amy Seiwert’s Imagery, Kansas City Ballet, and Smuin Contemporary Ballet,

Haskins retired from the stage to pass on her love for ballet and knowledge to the next generation of dancers. After a season as the resident choreographer for Mid-Columbia Ballet, Haskins was recruited to build, develop, and run Ballet Idaho’s Trainee Program as their inaugural Trainee Program Director. Through the program, she was able to help pre-professional dancers successfully transition from student to professional dancers by teaching them the tools and knowledge necessary to thrive within any professional company. She now takes her decades of knowledge and experience to provide dancers the tools, knowledge, and support necessary to thrive at any professional company through Keep Dancers Dancing.

Alongside these accomplishments, Haskins’ also developed a thriving choreographic career, with commissioned performed across the country including Sacramento Ballet, Richmond Ballet, Smuin Contemporary Ballet, Dayton Ballet, and Oregon Ballet Theater. Most recently she co-choreographed Sacramento Ballet’s brand-new production of The Nutcracker in collaboration with Colby Damon and Julia Feldmen, Haskins works have been presented at the Los Angles Dance Invitational, the McCallum Theater’s Dancing Under The Stars Choreographic Competition, and well as numerous Regional Dance America Festivals.

In 2017, she was one of the winners of Oregon Ballet Theatre’s Choreography XX competition, in 2010 she participated in the New York Choreographic Institute affiliated with the New York City Ballet, in 2011 received the Institute’s Fellowship Grant, and in 2017 she received the Institute’s Commission Initiative.

Terez Dean Orr (she/her) teaches Intermediate/Advanced Ballet on Wednesdays. Originating from the Hudson Valley of NY, Terez has danced with Smuin Ballet for fourteen seasons, sharing her passion for dance with the audience and her students. Terez’s classes dive into the elements of neoclassical technique, focusing on dynamic footwork, musicality, and the expansiveness of movement. Approachable, positive, and built to work up a sweat, Terez will help each dancer improve their strength, balance, and grace, all with a smile!

 Favorite San Francisco neighborhood: My vibrant neighborhood of the Castro: on any given day, you may find a cellist on her stoop, an Opera singer practicing in the park, or a colorful costume bestowing a queen. This area represents the artistic and eclectic beauty that makes up our unique city.

Thing that most inspires you: Traveling, discovering new architecture, food, and culture. 

Best advice a teacher ever gave you: “Always feel as if you are draped in the finest of jewels when approaching class or rehearsal. Don’t dance like a frozen fish stick.”

Brennan Wall (she/her) teaches Ballet Fundamentals on Mondays, Beginning/intermediate Jazz on Wednesdays, as well as a bi-weekly Theatrical Jazz class on Thursdays. She is originally from Cape Cod, Massachusetts and is currently dancing her third season with Smuin Ballet. Brennan draws from the wide range of styles she has trained in to offer fun yet structured movement that is sure to get your heart and mind moving. Her classes are designed to be motivating and musical with an obtainable flow that allows the student to progress each week. Brennan loves the balance between artistry and technique that lies within dance and looks forward to bringing an appreciation of such to her students! 

Fave SF Spot: Alamo Square 

Best advice a teacher ever gave me: “If a teacher gives you a correction, it’s because she thinks you’re worth it.” 

Thing that most inspires me: Music! All kinds of music, and especially when it’s live.