Teachers


Diane C Ratley

owner/director

Ballet, Tap, Tots, Musical Theatre, Performing Arts, Competition Teams

Biography

Diane Ratley was born in England and began dancing at the age of three. She was trained by the Royal Academy of Ballet, The British Ballet Organization and the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing.  Beginning at age five through to age twelve, she passed all her ballet examinations and grades with honors.  Ms. Ratley then studied with the great ESPINOSA, founder of the British Ballet Organization and one of the founding members of the Royal Academy. Studying tap with Espinosa, she went on to become a stage performer at an early age, as well as working on TV specials and film.  She was presented by the Duke of Edinburgh with a gold medal for her dancing achievements through his “National Award Scheme”, and was the holder of the “Aggregate Stage Dancing Cup” for five consecutive years. In addition, she held the winning title of the “All England Stage Competition” at age sixteen.  Her love of dance continued and she starred in and choreographed many musicals including “Oklahoma,” “Finian’s Rainbow,” “My Fair Lady,” “Carousel,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Paint Your Wagon,” and “West Side Story.” She became an Associate of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing and has now been teaching for over fifty years, as well as being a national adjudicator invited to judge competitions in many cities in the USA.   After moving to the United States, she trained with Joe Tremaine,  ballet masters David Howard and Finis Jhung and tap masters Roland Dupree and Tony Coppola.

Ms. Ratley’s goal as owner and director of The Dance Center is to impart as much knowledge as possible to her students, giving them the opportunity to train or become professional dancers.  She desires to help her students build their self-esteem with dance classes; discover the importance of proper dance etiquette; and have fun in a safe environment while learning to express themselves through dance and movement.  The lifelong gifts that dance training offers is one of the most beautiful gifts a parent can give their child. Ms. Ratley wishes that all children who join The Dance Center will one day look back with the same cherished memories of going to dance classes with their parents, as she did!

Keshia Fields

Tap

Keshia Fields has been dancing with The Dance Center for over 22 years as a student and a teacher. She is an extremely accomplished tap dancer and has been teaching tap to our students for about 10 years bringing them from beginners to advanced tappers.  Ms. Fields has trained under Diane Ratley and Tap Masters Laurie Johnson and Angela Carter. Her tap dance choreography has received the Highest Judges Awards at local dance competitions including Tremaine Dance Convention Competition, BravO! and Headliners. She was always a popular dance student with her class members and teachers alike and she has a special gift for understanding children. Ms. Fields graduated from CSULB with a BA in Psychology in 2009, and obtained her MA in Education in June, 2012.

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Michelle Brandin

Jazz, Lyrical, Performing Arts

Michelle Brandin started dancing at The Dance Center at age three and has returned to teach a new generation of dancers.  For the past five years she has taught at various dance studios in the South Bay, and has realized that teaching sparks her passion as much as dancing.  She is trained in jazz/lyrical, ballet, hip hop, and modern.  She was an apprentice with Tremaine Dance Conventions in 2006 and often attends classes at The Edge Performing Arts Center in Hollywood.  Ms. Brandin has been performing in Los Angeles since high school in a variety of shows including Dream Halloween (Children Affected by AIDS), Best of Broadway (Dancin’Dan Productions), multiple Bridal Fashion Shows (Tri-Brown Productions), and dance concerts at California State University, Long Beach.  She graduated from CSULB in December 2012 with her BA in Dance and plans to use her degree to further her career in performing arts and dance education.

Emilie Solandt

Contemporary, Musical Theater, Competition

Emilie Solandt started dancing at The Dance Center when she was 2 years old and that is when her passion for dance began. After dancing for sixteen years, Emilie went to Hartwick College. There she studied Elementary and Special Education and graduated in June, 2013. In college, Emilie was a part of Hartwick’s Dance Team where she was a captain for three years. Emilie has a passion for working with children and enriching their lives. Emilie continues to be a part of the Dance Center family, and teaches contemporary dance and musical theater. In addition to teaching at the Dance Center, Emilie is a Special Education Para Educator at Anza Elementary School. 

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Kevin Le

Jazz, Hip-Hop, Competition

Kevin Le is a Los Angeles native and graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in World Arts and Cultures/Dance. He began his dance training at the age of twelve under Jessie Riley’s WESTSIDE Dance Project where he had the opportunity to work with renowned dancers and choreographers including Jessie Riley, Will Johnston, Peter Chu, and Sonya Tayeh. During his undergraduate studies at UCLA, Kevin had the privilege of performing and touring throughout the U.S. with choreographers David Roussève and Kevin Williamson. Kevin has been teaching master classes and choreographing at various locations for more than six years. He teaches hip-hop, jazz, and contemporary ballet and is thrilled to be a member of The Dance Center faculty. 

Nicole Creamans 

Ballet

Nicole Creamans started dancing at the Dance Center at the age of 12. A dedicated student, Miss Cremeans became an assistant teacher to Diane Ratley at age 15 working with the youngest students in the school. In high school, she was a member of the school’s nationally ranked dance team. She is currently a student at California State University, Fullerton, studying Kinesiology. Nicole teaches our beginning dancers as they take their first steps in the dance world. Her passion for dance, patience, and kindness bring joy to her classes and the children every day. 


 Guest Teachers

Kathy Magee Thorne

Lyrical, Jazz, Competition Teams

Kathy Magee Thorne started dancing at an early age receiving numerous awards and titles in the competition circuit, including Miss Dance USA and Dancer of the Year.  By age 15 she was awarded a scholarship at Broadway Dance Studio in NYC, assisting master teacher Frank Hachett on tour, and then started teaching on her own.  Mrs. Thorne has been a choreographer and dance teacher for the past 21 years from coast to coast, at The Dance Center, and various Dance conventions.   In addition to teaching, Mrs. Thorne’s professional career consisted of performing in numerous videos, TV shows, and commercials.  She could be seen in shows such as American Superstar, Las Vegas Legends in Concert, Frightfest, NJ, and numerous shows in Los Angeles. Some of these were “Cirque de Main,” “Tap on Broadway,” “Stomp Review,” and “La Nuit Parisienne” which she choreographed.  Kathy also performed for the NBA All-star Games, The Cut, MTV, Olympic Games, Extreme Games, and multiple music videos. She graduated from the Integrative School of Nutrition in New York City as a Holistic Nutritionist. She owns Revamp Wellness, a nutrition and fitness company  and Unity Barre and Wellness studio in Rancho Cucamonga.

Kevin Williamson

Jazz, Contemporary, Modern, Hip Hop

 Kevin Williamson graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in World Arts & Cultures in 2004. He has studied and performed with progressive ensembles TanzAtelierWien in Vienna, Austra and David Gordon’s Pick Up Performance Co. in New York City. Last year he performed in the world premiere of Julie Taymor’s “Grendel” for the L.A. Opera, choreographed by Angelin Preljocaj and was a guest artist for cirque-vaudeville ensemble Lucent Dossier at the Lightening in a Bottle Festival in Santa Barbara, CA. Other credits include performances for the AIDS Benefit Food for Thought  at Danspace, Gypsy Folk Ensemble, Highways Festival of Student Work, ABS-CBN Television at the Rose Bowl. Commercial projects include TV/Video words directed by Fatima Robinson, John Landis, and Michael Rooney for MTV, PBS, and NBC. Currently he is a member of Maria Gillespie’s Oni Dance and Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Co. His goal is to continue his research in real-time composition and the fragility of structured improvisation in performance. Kevin teaches with artistic director of LACDC Kate Hutter in L.A.

 

Laurie Johnson

Master Tap Teacher

Laurie began dancing as a child at her mother’s studio in New York, the Adele Johnson School of Performing Arts. She received a B.A. from George Washington University and an M.B.A. from University of Texas, Austin. Laurie’s previous career included stints on Capitol Hill and working as an executive at various Fortune 500 companies. 

Laurie gave up her corporate career, because she wanted to tap dance. Since se quit her six-figure corporate job, she has tap danced on National Television several times – first, with the late, great Gregory Hines, on his NBC sitcom, then as a featured guest on the John Walsh Show, Good Morning Texas, and CNN’s Real Life. 

Laurie has since turned her creativity and passion into an exciting career. Today, she is a tap dancer, motivational speaker, life coach and author. A gifted speaker, Laurie inspires and challenges audiences to live up to their greatness. This is a lesson Laurie learned from her own life experiences and one she is helping others apply to their own lives. Her entertaining and innovative speeches are heralded as groundbreaking. Audiences are enchanted with her dancing and inspired by her powerful message. “Laurie’s Passion Principles“, her website, lauriejohnson.com and her book Rich by Choice Poor by Habit are the tools Laurie uses to guide people to pursue their passions, take intelligent risks, and live out their dreams.

Her book, Rich by Choice, Poor by Habit, is a concise and easy-to-understand guide to some of the most powerful, life-enriching tools and principles. Her message, Live for Today, Choose for Tomorrow, inspires individuals to shake off mediocrity and “TAP IN” to their full potential in order to achieve complete personal and financial freedom. 

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Jeff Amsden

Master Ballet Teacher

Jeff Amsden is an internationally recognized teacher, choreographer, and dancer. He has performed with and choreographed for many of the most recognizable entertainers on stage and in film. He has worked with Bette Midler, Brandi, Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Radio City Music Hall Rockettes. He is the creator, director, and choreographer of “A Few Good Men Dancin” on Broadway and has received outstanding reviews from the New York Times. Jeff has choreographed for operas, musicals, plays, television shows, commercials, and movies. Jeff is a master teacher for the Tremaine Dance Conventions and he happens to love our studio! We are very fortunate when he can find time in his packed schedule to come teach our students. His experience and expertise is something he willing shares with our students and we love it when he comes to share his joy of dancing with us.