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. 

Stéphano Candreva (he/him) teaches Beginner Ballet and Intermediate Ballet. Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro Brazil, Stéphano joined Smuin Ballet in the 21/22 season. Stéphano’s classes are high energy and fun to take. He explains the motion of the movements and helps you to dance without the stress of the hard technique. Stéphano has over 10 years of experience teaching classical ballet to adults. Stéphano is passionate about dancing and he believes that everyone can benefit from a ballet class at any point in their lives. 

Favorite SF spot: Alamo Square

Thing that inspires me: Life!

One thing that people would be surprised to learn about you: I have 3 dogs.

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.

Erica Felsch (she/her) teaches Beginner Ballet on Fridays. A fifth generation San Franciscan, Erica danced for Smuin Ballet for seven years before transitioning into guesting, teaching, and choreographing. Erica’s classes explore a range of technique, endurance, and classical artistry. Enthusiastic, encouraging and driven to help you grow, Erica’s teaching style includes a mixture of her own training background of Cecchetti, Vagonova, Balanchine, and French. Erica believes dance is not only a way to build a strong connection between the body and mind, but also an outlet of expression of the heart and soul. 

Fave SF Spot: The Maritime Museum Beach 

Things that most inspires me: Life, family, creation, artistry. 

One thing people would be surprised to learn about me: I am the granddaughter of two San Francisco Ballet principal dancers. 

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.” 

 

WESTON KRUKOW, a Californian native and University of Arizona School of Dance alumni is thrilled to be returning home to Smuin Ballet. With Ben Needham-Wood and the Comcast Sportsnet team, he became an Emmy award-winning choreographer, creating and producing BaseBallet. He has performed with Amy Seiwert’s Imagery, Helen Pickett’s Les Troyens for Lyric Opera, and toured as swing and dance captain with Christopher Wheeldon’s An American In Paris. A 2017 cast member of The “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” watch for Weston next year in HBO’s “Gilded Age,” “WestWorld,” Ben Stiller’s “Severance,” and Amazon’s new series “Harlem.” @westonkrukow

Christopher Lam was born in Brisbane, Australia and studied with Betsy Sawyers before joining the Australian Ballet School. A recipient of the prestigious Graeme Murphy Scholarship Christopher graduated from his studies passing the Royal Academy of Dancing’s Advanced examination with Honours. Performing with The Australian Ballet he covered a vast classical repertoire and worked with illustrious master teachers and choreographers including Eugene Polyakov, Natalia Makarova, Gelsey Kirkland, Johnny Eliasen, Olga Evreinoff and Sonia Arova. Christopher has danced for the Ballet du Grand Theatre de Geneve, Gothenburg Ballet, Croatian National Ballet and Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montreal expanding his repertoire to include ballets by Jiri Kylian, Ohad Naharin, William Forsythe, Nacho Duato and Jean-Christophe Maillot. Since retiring from the stage he has taught dance and staged works in Australia, Europe and the United States of America. A resident of the Bay Area since 2016 he has taught in youth and adult divisions as well as the professional companies of Smuin Ballet, Oakland Ballet, ODC, BayPointe Ballet, Dance Theater of San Francisco, Diablo Ballet, Jessica Lange Dance and Alonzo King Lines Ballet.

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!

 

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.”

 

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.”

Lauren Pschirrer (she/her) teaches Intermediate Pointe on Tuesdays and Pilates on Saturdays. Originally from Naperville, Illinois, Lauren has danced with Smuin Ballet for six seasons. Lauren’s classes focus on body awareness, strengthening muscles, and correct alignment from the ground up. Approachable, encouraging and built to help you feel muscles that you might not have felt in a while! Lauren’s teaching style is a back to basics approach but with a more muscular/anatomical understanding and intentional progression into each class. Lauren sees dance as a way of self expression and a way for us to utilize our bodies to the fullest.

Favorite San Francisco neighborhood: Currently my favorite neighborhood is Russian Hill. I just moved to this neighborhood and it feels like you could be in Montreal.

The thing that most inspires me: is seeing other forms of art. I recently saw Hamilton and I was so moved by the performance. I thought dancing was hard, but having to sing on top of dancing — that is a whole different thing!

One thing people would be surprised to learn about you: I have a strong love for gemology. I love learning about the science of how beautiful jewels are made and designing the best way to show the beauty of the stone. 

 

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.