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THE
SPARK OF CREATION STUDIO
STAFF

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MARILOU UBALDO LAFON

Artistic Director

Marilou has over 25 years of performing arts experience, both on-stage and behind the scenes. She began studying Polynesian dance, ballet and tap at the young age of 4 with the Nelani Rogers Polynesian Dance Troupe and Centerstage dance studio. She has also studied dance with Schumacher’s School of Dance, Spirit of Polynesia, and at the Westlake School for the Performing Arts, where she also received training in ballet, character, jazz, tap and musical theater. She has studied voice for over 10 years with Richard Nichol, Lita Liebeck, and Mila Edwards. Marilou has also attended numerous Hawaiian and Tahitian workshops, including Ke ‘Aha Hula’O Halauaola in Maui and Oahu, HI and No Te Here O Tahiti, in Mexico City, Mexico, where she has worked with many well known hula and Tahitian instructors and choreographers.

Marilou holds a BA degree from University of California at Davis where she received her degree in Education and Childhood Development, while continuing her dance training. Marilou was also a member of the Davis Musical Theater Company where she performed the role of the “Narrator” in Joseph and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and “Crystal” in Little Shop of Horrors. Some of her favorite theater credits also include: Miss Saigon with American Musical Theatre, West Side Story, A Chorus Line, Once Upon a Mattress, Evita, and Jesus Christ Superstar.

Although she has a passion for Musical Theater, she shares this same love for Polynesian Dance. Marilou was the Musical Theatre and Polynesian Program Director at the Westlake School for the Performing Arts, where she trained students ranging from ages 4 to Adult. She was also the co-founder/director of “Urban Paradise”, a successful fundraising showcase benefiting the students of the hula and hip-hop programs.  She is the founder and director of Spark of Creation Studio’s Polynesian Dance Troupe “Te Pura O Te Rahura’a”, founded in 2006, teaching, training and competing with students in hula and Tahitian dance.   She has also taught Musical Theater programs at various elementary schools throughout Bay Area and at The Ballet Studio in San Francisco.  Marilou currently trains soloists for numerous Tahitian competitions such as San Jose Tahiti Fete, Kiki Raina Tahiti Fete, Manahere Ori Tahiti, Taura Nui Las Vegas, Hura Tahtit and  Heiva i Reno, where they have received Overall, 1st, 2nd and 3rd place awards. Her choreography also took 1st place at the 2005 San Jose Tahiti Fete in the Tamari’i Ote’a Division and in 2009 at the Hura Tahiti Tahitian dance competition in Fullerton CA.  One of her biggest accomplishments as director of Te Pura O Te Rahura’a was being awarded Overall Hura Ava Tau (amateur) Group in 2008 and Overall Hura Tau (professional) Group in 2010 (O'Ta aki E), 2012 (Te Tapa) & 2015 (O'Moemoe) at the San Jose Tahiti Fete, the largest Tahitian dance competition held outside of Tahiti.

Marilou is dedicated to the self-esteem and character building of children through the performing arts. Her diverse performing arts background has an influence on her innovative choreography and personal style of teaching. She believes that education, for students and teachers alike, should be a continuous journey in order to further expand their knowledge and appreciation for the performing arts.

Email Marilou at m.lafon@socstudio.com

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KELLI O'NEILL

Program Manager

Kelli (they/them) has trained since the age of three in ballet, tap, jazz, contemporary, hip hop, musical theatre, hula, and Tahitian. Kelli has also been a teacher and teacher’s aide in the tap, jazz, ballet, and musical theatre departments at Spark of Creation Studio since its inception. In the past few years, Kelli has assisted in the formation of SOC's competition dance program and is the instructor for the theater jazz classes. They are also the main choreographer of SOC Studio's Main Stage musicals and competition Musical Theater teams. Kelli has had the great pleasure of choreographing Showcase pieces featured at the Junior Theater Festival. Their musical choreography credits include The Little Mermaid JR, Seussical JR, Mary Poppins JR, and Shrek JR and directed and choreographed Singin' In The Rain JR at SOC Studio. As the Program Manager at Spark of Creation Studio, Kelli is happy to answer any questions you may have regarding our programs, events, shows and more!

Email Kelli at k.oneill@socstudio.com

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MEGAN CHIU

Studio Manager

Megan is currently in her fourth year at San Francisco State University getting her B.A. in Communication with a double minor in Marketing and Theatre. She has been dancing since she was 5, starting at Westlake School of Performing Arts and then becoming a member of Spark of Creation Studio for the next 15 years while also being a member of the studio's Polynesian dance troupe, Te Pura O Te Rahura'a. Throughout her time here, she has participated in the studio's stage productions, been able to be a part of the Musical Theatre Competition Team, competing at MTCA and multiple JTFs, continued to dance Hula and Tahitian, and also has been able to be a dancer in the competition/exhibition teams for Hura Tahiti, Merrie Monarch, Tahiti, SF's Ethnic Dance Festival and multiple Tahiti Fetes, all under the direction of Ms. Marilou. Outside of the studio, Megan has studied fine art and continues painting and drawing in her spare time along with crafting. Her love of the Arts started at a young age and has continued to grow as she gets older. She hopes that all new families and students that come to Spark of Creation Studio each year are able to be inspired and foster their love of dancing and for the Arts like she has here as well.

Email Ms. Megan at m.chiu@socstudio.com

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SHANNA PINEDA

Instructor - Polynesian Dance

Shanna Pineda, has been a performer since the age of 5 and has trained in different dance styles such as hip-hop, jazz, tap, and ballet. Having trained in other dance styles, Polynesian dancing has always been her first love. Shanna was one of Marilou Ubaldo Lafons first hula students at Westlake School for the Performing Arts (WSPA) and continued to dance and compete with WSPA’s award-winning Polynesian Company class for 10 years. After 10 years, Shanna left WSPA and trained and competed with Manuia Polynesian Revue for one year and learned many different styles in Polynesian dancing. With over 10 years of Polynesian dancing, Shanna left Manuia and decided to join the Spark of Creation family and through the years has developed a love for teaching. While choreographing and teaching Polynesian dance to her students, she is also a student and dancer for Spark of Creation’s Polynesian dance troupe, Te Pura O Te Rahura’a, who recently competed in Tahiti Fete of San Jose 2008 and won numerous awards including Overall Hura Ava Tau group. Shanna has totaled over 16 years of experience in Polynesian dance and has won 1st place solo awards in the Kiki Raina Merced 2008 and Manahere 2009 competition, 2nd place at the Heiva i Reno 2008 and Hura Tahiti 2009 competition, 3rd place at the Kiki Raina Merced 2009 competition, and was also named “Best Dancer” at a Tahitian dance workshop with Hirohiti Tematahotoa in 2008.

In addition to Polynesian dancing, she also excels in hip hop. She has performed and competed for over 5 years with Gen 2, a tight-knit hip hop dance group lead by director and choreographer, Shaun Evaristo. Gen 2 has performed all over the Bay Area participating in shows like SF Hip Hop Dancefest, festivals like Pistahan and Fiesta Filipina, parades, concerts, and high schools. Gen 2 has also won 1st place at 2003’s Battlefest 2.0 in San Jose, Gift to Gig in Vallejo, and Bustagroove in San Diego. Aside from Gen 2, Shanna has also trained and competed with The Company, a hip hop group based at WSPA, who also have won many hip hop competitions.

Her acquired ability to perform various dance styles enabled Shanna to land a role as Yvette/ensemble in her first musical debut in Broadway by the Bay’s Miss Saigon in 2006, which is an experience that has inspired her to audition and perform in more musicals in the future. Shanna is also a graduate of San Francisco State University with a BA in Asian American Studies.

Currently, Shanna teaches all levels of Polynesian Dance at Spark of Creation Studio, including leading our Tahitian Soloist teams.   Shanna encourages students to grow as dancers and to perform to the best of their abilities.

Email Shanna at s.pineda@socstudio.com

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JESSICA ACOSTA

Instructor - Polynesian Dance

Jessica first began dancing hula at the tender age of 3 years old with a stirring performance of Pearly Shells and Tiny Bubbles at her annual pre-school show.  After a very long hiatus from dance, she recaptured her love for hula by joining the Polynesian dance program at the Westlake School for the Performing Arts (WSPA) in 1998. Within two years she was invited to join the faculty teaching hula and Tahitian dance technique and routines. Jessica was a founding member of the Company Performance Hula and Tahitian class at WSPA and of Te Pura O Te Rahura’a under the tutelage of Marilou Lafon.  She continues to compete in various Hula and Tahitian competitions and has been a finalist at Kiki Raina at Merced, Tahiti Fete of San Jose and has won second place at Heiva I Reno.  She also placed third in the Ms. Sophisticated Hula category at the Hapa Haole Hula and Music Festival at Las Vegas.

Jessica has a wide array of fitness experience, engaging in different forms of exercise for nearly 15 years.  She is a certified Zumba instructor and co-creator of the Tahitian cardio class. She has trained at full contact kickboxing since 1997 with former multi-federation champion, Mark Tabuso, and is an avid practitioner of Yoga and Pilates.

Jessica is a big fan of ninjas and samurai, the Jason Bourne franchise, Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors and all things Star Trek. When she is not dancing, teaching or working out, she helps to keep Capitalism and the free market alive by working for an investment firm in San Francisco.  She hopes to one day step away from the confines of her desk and make dance, martial arts and Yoga her way of life.  Jessica promotes a love for dance and fitness as a means of attaining physical and mental well being.

Email Ms. Jessica at j.acosta@socstudio.com

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RAYNA LEW

Instructor - Polynesian Dance

Ms. Rayna (she/her) began dancing Polynesian dance under the direction of Ms. Marilou in 2003. She quickly fell in love with all things hula and 'Ori Tahiti and began competing in 'ori solo competitions in 2004. She spent many years developing her solo technique and style, placing in multiple competitions like Manahere I 'Ori Tahiti, Heiva I San Diego, Heiva Ma'ohi, Merced and Ori Tahiti Nui (Tahiti).
She has had the honor of been a part of all of Te Pura's award-winning Tahiti Fete production pieces as well as their award winning pieces at Hura Tahiti, Heiva I Reno, Heiva I Montreal, 'Ori Tahiti Nui (mehura), Hura Tapairu Manihini. She is also grateful to have had the opportunity to participate in Te Pura's exhibition at Merrie Monarch, SF's Ethnic Dance Festival and countless community events to spread mana and aloha to all!
She has been teaching since 2005 and joined Te Pura when it opened in 2006. While with Te Pura, she has been fortunate to have had opportunities to workshop under many masters as well like Moena Maiotui Teniaro, LaniGirl Kaleiki-Ahlo, Tiana Liufau, Keali'i Reichel and MANY more to learn different styles and further her knowledge. She also trained at the Tahiti’s Conservatoire Artistique/Te Fare ‘Upa Rau’s international workshops, co-garnering the best dancer award of her cohort alongside Ms. Shanna!
Ms. Rayna is passionate about perpetuating the cultures of Hawaii and Tahiti and hopes to inspire a lifelong love of dance, respect for culture and dedicated work ethic in her students. She loves seeing the growth of her students year after year and cherishes the unique role of being able to teach dancers and then dance alongside them. In addition to Polynesian dance, she has also danced hip hop competitively in college and has dabbled in jazz, modern and ballet as well though she considers herself retired from those genres! You can find her teaching preschool or hanging out in Disneyland when she's not at the studio!

Email Ms. Rayna at r.lew@socstudio.com

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AMY CHIU

Instructor - Polynesian Dance

Amy began dancing when she was 4 years old taking ballet/tap at Westlake School of Performing Arts.  While at WSPA, Amy took her first class with Ms. Marilou in musical theater and at the age of 6, joined her Hula/Tahitian class. She has been with Spark of Creation since 2006 and continued to be one of Ms. Marilou’s Hula/Tahitian students for the past 18 years.  Amy is currently a member of SOC’s Advanced Hula/Tahitian Company where she continues to enrich, strengthen, and express her love for Polynesian dance. She has been a member of the Te Pura O Te Rahura’a competition/exhibition teams for Tahiti Fete, Hura Tahiti, Merrie Monarch, and Tahiti. While her passion is Polynesian dancing, she has also studied fine art for 12 years at ArtWorks, Tahitian drumming with Randy Lafon, as well as participated behind and on the stage in various SOC musical theater productions (Alice in Wonderland Jr., Mulan Jr., and Once on this Island Jr.) under the direction of Ms. Marilou. Amy earned her Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Dominican University of CA and currently works as a registered nurse in San Francisco. This is Amy’s sixth year as a Hula/Tahitian instructor. She enjoys sharing her ardor for dance, creating new choreography, and passing on dances she learned to her students. Amy loves being able to work with children and perpetuate the art of Hula/Tahitian dance.

Email Ms. Amy at a.chiu@socstudio.com

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VINCENT HWANG

Director - Genesis Hip Hop

Vincent Hwang is an Asian American dancer living in the Bay Area, California. He has been dancing for over 15 years, specializing in Hip Hop movement, such as turfing, breaking, and waving. He has been a part of many teams including Academy of Villains, Full Potential Dance Company, and is currently a director of Tribe Dance Crew to put on theatrical productions, such as Stuck Sanders’ Hip Hop Nutcracker. He regularly participates in freestyle battles such as Turf Inc, and his youth team Poise’N Brigade got 1st place at World of Dance Bay Area 2019. He’s been a part of shows such as Fray, Sleep Watchers, and Hip Hop Halloween. He teaches countless kids and adults at multiple premiere studios across the bay with the passion to inspire and connect people through movement.

Email Mr. Vincent at v.hwang@socstudio.com

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CHIA SANTIAGO

Director - LilGz Hip Hop Team, Hip Hop Instructor

Chia’s dance journey started at 5 years old & later in her dance career, she joined the SOC community at the age of 12. She was raised in our Hip Hop department & now is currently co-director for Genesis & Lil G’z. Chia has worked hard to help us teach Hip Hop choreography to our community, while making it a fun experience! Prior to teaching at the studio, she has 5+ years of experiences as a paraprofessional in local elementary schools & high schools, assisting in Special Education programs. Chia wishes to always create a positive experience for every kid who tries Hip Hop dance because hers is so special to her! 

Email Ms. Chia at c.santiago@socstudio.com

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GENNA REYES

Instructor - Hip Hop

Ms. Genna is a hip hop dance instructor who started teaching in 2008 and has been with Spark of Creation studio since 2013. She started dancing at the age of 7, training with Hula/Tahitian groups: Nemenzo and Te Mau Tamari’i A Tiare. Ms. Genna also trained in ballroom and joined her high school’s dance ensemble. It wasn’t until freshman year of high school where she fell in love with hip hop. She started taking recreational hip hop classes and danced with competition group Xplicit, under the instruction of Clint Calimlim at WSPA. Since then, Ms. Genna has always loved going out to community dance events and competitions in hopes to one day teach and inspire students like herself.

Ms. Genna later danced with For The Cause dance crew. They performed around the Bay Area and entered local competitions such as Last Crew Standing and Hip Hop 4 Hope, where they won first place. They had the opportunity to open up for Ludacris at SpringFest.

She had the wonderful opportunity to direct Genesis at SOC for sometime. One memorable event was performing at the 49ers half time show with Snoop Dogg. Ms. Genna is focusing on hip hop recreational classes to continue to train, inspire and share her passion of dance with her students. 

During the week, Ms. Genna is working in the medical field.  When she is not teaching and dancing, Ms. Genna is baking cookies or spending time with her family and kids.

Email Ms. Genna at g.reyes@socstudio.com

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HAUNAH KING-LEE

Instructor - Hip Hop

Haunah King-Lee has been a dancer and musician since the age of three. She loves teaching and inspiring dancers, both seasoned and new. As one of the original Genesis members, she knows what it's like to perform at the highest level and aspires to get all her dancers to that level. She welcomes you to the studio and to her classes. 

Email Ms. Haunah at h.king@socstudio.com

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FIONA O'NEILL

Instructor - Musical Theater & Jazz

Fiona O'Neill has been teaching musical theater, tap, jazz, and ballet at Spark of Creation Studio since 2016. She began training at three years old in ballet, tap, jazz, musical theater, hip hop, hula, and Tahitian. Fiona has studied voice with Marilou Lafon, Ray Galela, and Jude Navari and has received training in acting with Marilou Lafon, Thomas Crockett, Lee Ann Payne, Gary Ferguson, and Kevin Simmers. She worked for two years as a theater tech at Skyline College learning lighting design, sound operating, rigging, stage managing, and set design under Joshua Harris. After countless years of performing, Fiona has found her true passion in musical theater. She has performed in numerous SOC Studio musical productions, Skyline College musicals and plays, and musical productions at Hillbarn Theater. Favorite productions include In the Heights, West Side Story, Chicago, and Anything Goes. Fiona wishes to share her passion for dance, promote creativity, and instill in her students the same ambition to learn and grow as a performer as her mentors have done for her.

Email Ms. Fiona at f.oneill@socstudio.com

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AMY BELTRAMI

Instructor - Tap

A Bay Area Native, Amy grew up in a Dancing Family. She started her training at a young age at her Mother’s studio where she studied Ballet, Tap and Jazz. She trained under various teachers there until her late teens. As an adult Amy decided to focus on her true loves, Tap and Jazz. She studied Jazz and Tap at the Dancers Synectics studio in San Francisco under Ann Barret and the late Ann Marie Garvin. A believer in continued education Amy continues to take classes and workshops as often as possible.

Amy’s Teaching Career  started when, as a teen, she created and ran a dance program at the Preschool  where she worked as an Aide. After high school,  she opened and ran her own small studio, focusing on tap and jazz. In 1992, Amy began teaching at the Westlake School for the Performing Arts where she quickly became the Director of the Tap Program. She continued teaching there until 2020. In her years of teaching Competitive Tap Amy’s students have won many High Score, Overall and Special Awards. 

Amy believes that, as a teacher it is her obligation to make sure that each and every student is given the guidance  and direction that best fit their need. She believes that  through dancing, students gain self discipline, self confidence, a hard work ethic, the ability to work well with others  and understand  the importance of teamwork. She believes dance should be a positive, uplifting experience for every student no matter age shape or size.

Email Ms. Amy at a.beltrami@socstudio.com

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MCKENNA SEEGMILLER

Instructor - Musical Theater

McKenna Seegmiller has been performing with Spark of Creation (SOC) Studio since the age of three. She began with Hula and Tahitian, and took interest in musical theatre at the age of five. She now performs with both the Advanced Hula/Tahitian Jr. Company team and the Musical Theatre Competition Team at the studio, and has been sharing her love of dance by aiding musical theatre and Hula/Tahitian classes since she was twelve. McKenna has competed under SOC in jazz, musical theatre and Tahitian. Competitions she has participated in include Hura Tahiti, San Jose Tahiti Fete and Manahere I Ori Tahiti, as well as Musical Theatre Competitions of America and StarQuest. She has also performed in numerous SOC productions, such as the annual Polynesian Showcases and winter recitals, along with the studio’s musical theatre productions, her most recent performances as Dragon in Shrek JR and as the Fairy Godmother in “Getting to Know Rodger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella.” She has worked backstage on various musical theatre productions as well as choreographing for the musical theatre summer camps. McKenna hopes to share her love and passion for the arts with her students in the same way her teachers have, and continue to do.

Email Ms. McKenna at m.seegmiller@socstudio.com

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ABBY AYONG

Instructor - Polynesian Dance

Abby has been dancing under the direction of Marilou Lafon since 2006. She has participated in numerous competitions and events such as the Tahiti Fete of San Jose, Kiki Raina, Manahere I Ori Tahiti, Merrie Monarch Festival and Hura Tapairu 2018 . Abby has had the opportunity to travel to Tahiti in 2016 and 2018 with a select group of dancers to embark on a cultural exchange to learn more about the Tahitian culture and grow as a dancer. Abby used to work as a behavioral therapist with autistic children using positive reinforcement in order to teach academic and life skills. Abby has obtained her associate degrees in Communication, Social Science, and Pre-Nursing at College of San Mateo. Graduated from California State University East Bay with Bachelor's degree in Health Science emphasis in Community Health and currently works at UCSF. Abby loves working with kids and watching them grow into wonderful individuals.

Email Ms. Abby at a.ayong@socstudio.com

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HANNAH COLLINS

Instructor - Ballet & Tap

Miss Hannah has been with SOC for one year now and she loves to dance and teach our youngest performers.  Dance has been in her life since she was five years old. Hannah have experience in ballet, tap, traditional Irish dance, modern, jazz, musical theater, and a little bit of ballroom dance as well. She is currently pursuing a BA in Dance and Liberal Studies at San Francisco State University.  Dance is a big part of her life and she is so happy that she gets to share that love with you all.  She hopes to see you on the dance floor!

Email Ms. Hannah at h.collins@socstudio.com

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JOVENELLE SEEGMILLER

Instructor's Assistant

Jovenelle Seegmiller (Joey) has been dancing with Spark of Creation studio for the past 11 years, starting with hula/Tahitian when she was three years old. It wasn’t long before she jumped into hip hop, quickly moving into the competition teams, from Jr. Genesis to Genesis. This is her first year aiding Hip Hop Kidz. Joey is also a part of the Musical Theater Competition team and hula/Tahitian’s Junior Company, participating in Tahiti Fete and other competitions throughout California and Nevada as both a team member and a competition soloist. She has also participated in the Junior Theater Festival and local dance competitions for both hip hop and musical theater. Joey sees SOC as her second home and is excited to share this experience with the students she is aiding.

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KYLIE PENAS

Instructor's Assistant

Kylie has been at Spark of Creation Studio since she was seven years old and is currently a first year student at College of San Mateo. Throughout her time at SOC, she has worked her way up from Jr. Genesis to Sr. Genesis. This is her second year aiding Hip Hop Kidz and hopes to help students find their passion for dance.

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MADISON SCHOENING

Instructor's Assistant

Madison has been performing with Spark Of Creation’s Musical Theater competition team for all 4 years of high school, and is happy to be hitting the one year mark with the studio as the Music Director for the competition team and musical productions. Madison is going into her Sophomore year at Skyline College as a Music Performance major, and thoroughly enjoys coming into the studio to work on music with her students on amazing shows and projects! 

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REINA CAOILI

Instructor's Assistant

Reina has been dancing at SOC since they were in kindergarten, starting with the winter musical. Soon finding Tap, Hip Hop, and Musical Theatre. Now in high school, they continue to dance with Competition Musical Theatre, Jazz, and the winter and spring musicals. They participate in the Junior Theatre Festival and other competitions in musical theatre and jazz. This is their 2nd full year being a teacher assistant for Tiny Tap. They are very excited for this next year and hopes to share their love for dance with others.

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NIA CAMACHO

Student Experience Team & Instructor's Assistant

Nia Camacho, a senior at Mills High School, has loved dancing since she was a little kid. She's been doing Hula and Tahitian dance with SOC since she was five and started competing at ten. Now she's part of the Jr. Company and has danced as both a Tamari'i and Vahine in past Tahiti Fete competitions. Besides dancing, she enjoys being part of SOC's friendly community, helping students grow into great dancers. Nia is excited to keep being a part of this journey and watch these talented students do amazing things in the future.

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LEAH CHINEN

Student Experience Team & Instructor's Assistant

Leah has been dancing with SOC Studio for the past 11 years. She is now a senior at Design Tech High School and is starting her first year on the Studio Experience Team as well as her second year aiding. Leah is also a part of Jr. Company and the Sr. Solo competition team. She has competed in multiple Tahitian solo competitions and received multiple first place awards, overall vahine, and grand champion. Dance is such a large part of her life and she would love to share it with everyone at the studio!

Email Leah at l.chinen@socstudio.com

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ERIN QUAN

Instructor's Assistant

Erin has been dancing at Spark of Creation Studio since she was three. She began taking Hula and Tahitian classes and started competing at age nine. She has competed in many competitions such as Te Mana Ori, Manahere I Ori Tahiti, Heiva I Reno, Kiki Raina, Tahiti Fete, Hura Tahiti, and more. At age 11, she participated in the Pilot production, Finding Nemo Jr. She is part of the Jr. Company and Sr. Solo Competition team. Ever since she started dancing here, she has grown and learned so much from her teachers. In her second year as a Teacher's Assistant, she hopes to continue to have the same impact on her students as her teachers had on her by sharing her love for Polynesian dance with them.

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ARIANNA CHANG

Instructor's Assistant

Arianna Chang is a Junior at Lowell High School. She's been dancing since the age of 3, first training in Hula and Tahitian. Soon after, she discovered her passion for hip hop while watching others dance. She joined the Lil G'z team while continuing her Hula and Tahitian training and is now a member of Te Pura's Jr. Company and Genesis Sr 2. She also plays soccer, and has been on her schools varsity team since freshman year. Arianna is super appreciative of the family and friends that she has made while being at SOC, and just wants to share that love and the experiences with the students she is aiding. 

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