SSPA Founder & Instructor | Private Instruction in Advanced Piano & Voice
Alex along with his late wife Martha, co-founded the Spindrift School of Performing Arts back in 1994. Alex’s training and experience include a B.A. degree in Piano Performance and a M.A. in Musicology from the University of California. His education includes many years of study with European master teacher, Dusi Mura. Alex is committed to sharing his experience and knowledge with young people. He is also active as a pianist and music director throughout the Bay Area and is currently the Associate Music Director at First Presbyterian Church of Burlingame. He also leads a jazz quartet called Nucleus.
“The arts are a metaphor for life, and as such, play a vital role in a young person’s balanced and well-rounded development. They can do the same for adults, regardless of their age! Music, especially, touches the emotions in a way that few other mediums can. Studying and playing music can be an avenue for all manner of growth, healing, breakthrough, and success. My goal is for my students to express themselves in a way that draws forth who they really are.”
Amy comes to Spindrift from TheatreWorks Silicon Valley where she oversaw the education and outreach programs there. She has a diverse background in theatre and arts education from being a professional musical theatre performer to founding a family theatre company in San Francisco to running an arts education advocacy group for San Mateo County. She has developed theatre and arts education curriculum for kindergartners through 12th Grade and specializes in directing new theatre, both musical and dramatic. She studied Shakespeare at the Royal Academy of Dramatic and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Acting from the University of California, Davis. Amy is a proud Pacifica resident and an active member of the Pacifica School District community with two children attending Sunset Ridge Elementary where she serves as President of the Parent Teacher Organization.
Osvaldo de Leon
Director of Spindrift Performance Choir & Music Instructor | Intermediate/Adv. Piano, and all levels of voice
A native of Mexico, Osvaldo earned his BA in Piano Performance at Escuela Superior de Música y Danza de Monterrey in México and was the recipient of the Mexican National Fund for Culture and Arts grant to complete his MA in Piano Performance and Chamber Music at San Francisco State University. Osvaldo has performed with the Russian Chamber Orchestra in Marin California, the SFSU Orchestra, and the Orquesta Juvenil de Nuevo Leon. He conducted the production of The Marriage of Figaro with Berkeley Chamber Opera. He has also studied composition under the guidance of Jorge Torres and Georgina Derbez.
Director of Dance & Master Teaching Artist | All levels of Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Tap & beg. Hip Hop
Erica earned her BA in Dance from San Francisco State University. While attending SFSU Erica was a member and Student Director of University Dance Theatre, and upon graduation was awarded the Dance Service Award for her contributions to the School of Theater and Dance. Erica has had the pleasure to train under Joe Goode, Kate Weare, Ray Tadio, and Cathleen McCarthy, as well as many other Bay Area dance influencers. She has performed works by ODC/Dance’s Brenda Way, Kate Weare, Kamala Devam, PUSH Dance Company’s Raissa Simpson, and Ayana Yonesaka. Erica has been a company member with requisitedance since 2016 (dir. Jenna Monroe & Michaela Shoberg), with whom she has performed throughout the Bay Area and Pacific Northwest.
Gary Craig Schoenfeld Jr.
Director of Theatre & Master Teaching Artist | All levels of Acting, Improv, and Musical Theatre
Gary joins the Spindrift Team with a long list of performance & directorial credits Gary has been a teacher with SSPA since early 2016 and teaches all levels of Musical Theatre, directs Play Production classes and teaches in-school drama at Cabrillo. He is also part of an outreach team dedicating to bringing quality theatre opportunities to schools all around the Bay Area. He has always hoped he would have a job like this. He is ready and eager to help inspire the next generation of great artists.
Director of Programs & Master Teaching Artist | All levels of Acting
Matthew Keuter is a playwright, director and teacher. He worked extensively with The Active Theater Company in NYC, directing their inaugural production in 2009 and premiering his play Bridgeboy in 2011. He recently worker with Virginia Repertory Theater on his new play River Ditty, which premiered in April of 2018. In 2013 he was an Artist in Residence at Arizona State University, where he taught master classes on acting and solo performance, and created the multi-media, noir musical, The Tenement, which was invited to the Kennedy Center American Theater College Festival. His plays have been produced in AZ, CA, CO, and NYC.
Guest Instructor | All levels of Acting, Technical Theatre
Lennon started her theatre training at Southern Utah University, home of the renown Utah Shakespearian Theatre. She finished her BA in Theatre at Cal State Long Beach. During her college years she performed roles in many plays and musicals, directed students projects, and collaborated on new plays. She received a teaching credential for secondary education and was a middle and high school drama teacher for nearly a decade. She has directed many plays and musicals at Bay Area theatres, such as Palo Alto Players, Dragon Productions, Theatre Period!, Coastal Rep, and Pacifica Spindrift Players. Some of her favorite projects include Beehive, Sylvia, Aftermath, Moonlight & Magnolias, Private Eyes, Becky’s New Car, and Pippin, to name just a few. Lennon makes regular trips to Broadway, regional theatres, and the London West End whenever possible.
Walter is a performer, educator, and composer. He holds a Bachelor of Music with an emphasis in music education and piano performance from San Francisco State University, where he also received his teaching credential. Walter teaches K-12 in the San Francisco Unified School District, as well as private piano and theory/
musicianship skills. He accompanies singers and ensembles regularly throughout the bay area. His compositions have been featured by ensembles in the bay area and beyond.
Dance Instructor | All levels Ballet, Pointe, Modern, and Jazz dance
Brianna began teaching at SSPA in the Fall of 2006. She has a BA in Dance from CSULB, is a member of RequisiteDance and has studied under dance greats Joe Goode, Bliss Kohlmeyer, Douglas Neilsen, Keith Johnson, Lauren Johnson, Alaine Haubert, Allison Deane and Barbara Crockett.
Master Teaching Artist| Beginning Musical Theatre, Acting, and Jazz, Beginning Ballet, Tap and Hip-Hop
Lizzie Chapman found her passion for dance 15 years ago when she took a dance class at a summer camp. Since then, she has danced non-stop and dabbled in just about any dance style imaginable. Lizzie received her BA in Interdisciplinary Dance Studies with double-emphases in Dance Education and Choreography from Humboldt State University. Her senior Interdisciplinary Project, titled “A Story of a Girl”, was chosen to be performed at both the Transformational Justice Festival and at the American College Dance Festival. Before coming to SSPA , Lizzie taught Ballroom, Latin, and Swing as a certified instructor at Arthur Murray Dance Center in Millbrae.
Voice Instructor | All levels
Elana is a professional singer, teacher, music director and choral conductor currently residing in San Francisco, Ca. Ms. Cowen has a Post-Graduate Certificate and Master’s of Music in Vocal Performance from San Francisco Conservatory of Music as well as a Bachelor’s of Music from Chapman University with a minor in Germanic Studies. Ms. Cowen teaches voice and has musically directed all over the Bay Area, with companies including Starbound Theatre and Missouri Street Theatre to name a few. Currently, Ms. Cowen is conducting with the San Francisco Youth Chorus as well as being a soloist at the Episcopal Church of St. Matthew’s in San Mateo. Ms. Cowen is also an active performer, performing with companies all over the Bay Area including Pocket Opera, Lamplighters Music Theatre, West Bay Opera and recently debuting at Phénix Opera.
Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, Banjo, and Piano Instructor | All levels
Luke has played guitar for 20 years and has been teaching music for 6 years. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from UC Berkeley and a Master’s degree in Philosophy from San Francisco State University. He has studied music theory extensively, both within the university and independently. The primary styles of music that he focuses on are gypsy jazz, early blues, classical, rock, and Irish music. Luke has also spent years playing slide guitar and working with a variety of open tunings. He teaches both acoustic and electric guitar. In addition to guitar, Luke also plays and teaches Ukulele, Banjo, and Piano. Luke lives in San Francisco and presently plays in several groups around the Bay Area. He also composes music and has worked with local filmmakers to produce original scores for a variety of projects.
Dance instructor | All levels of ballet, jazz, modern, and beginning hip hop
Rachel Epling completed her BFA in Dance and BA in Biological Anthropology at UC Santa Barbara in 2017— discovering an enriching, complimentary interplay between the two. While attending UCSB, she had the opportunity to perform works by Anna Halprin, Yvonne Rainer, José Limón, Andrea Miller, Jacqulyn Buglisi, Lilian Manansala, and Gianna Burright, as well as dance faculty choreographers Nancy Colahan and Valerie Huston. Rachel has performed in England, Greece, Cyprus, Italy and NYC as a part of the UCSB Dance Company. In addition, presented her own work as a part of Junior’s Concert 2016 “Dictionary of Obscured Realities” and Spring Concert 2017 “FREE|FALL”.
Guest Instructor | All levels of Ballet, Jazz, Modern, Tap, and beg. Hip-Hop
Sarah Escobedo is a dancer, choreographer, and teacher. She received her BA in Dance from San Francisco State University and is currently working towards an MFA in Dance at Mills College. During her time at SFSU, she was a member of the University Dance Theatre, from 2013-2015 and worked extensively with ODC/Dance’s Brenda Way performing in her repertory works. She currently dances with Mills College’s Repertory Company working with faculty Molissa Fenley and Kara Davis. Sarah has presented her own work at New Moves Dance Showcase since 2014. Sarah has taught for SFUSD and the Sunset Neighborhood Beacon Center, bringing dance to after school programs.
Dance Instructor | All levels of ballet, jazz, and hip hop, with a focus in contemporary jazz
Kelsey is a professional contemporary dance artist based in the bay area, and holds a BFA in Dance performance from UC Irvine. She has performed works by Twyla Tharp, Brenda Way, Autumn Eckman, Saleemah E. Knight, and many others. Kelsey specializes in contemporary jazz, and is currently a company member of ka·nei·see | collective and Multiplex Dance. She educates students in somatic and kinesiological awareness, while teaching proper technique and encouraging the students to be creative and inspired by movement.
Violin Instructor | All Levels
Chikin has been playing violin for over 20 years and is currently pursuing her B.A. in violin performance at San Francisco State University. She is studying chamber music with the Alexander string quartet as well as violin with Fred Lifsitz. She has performed with the SFSU orchestra, the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony and several bands in the Bay Area. Chikin has worked with young children in numerous capacities for many years beginning at a young age. She is patient and excited about making music fun!
Dance Instructor | Hip-Hop, Ballet, Modern, Jazz
Along with Erica Lopez and Rachel Epling, Dominique spent over a decade training with Spindrift. Her love is Modern but she teaches a LOT of Hip-Hop and loves her students from the tiny ballerinas to the teen Hip-Hoppers. She loves being able to teach in her home town and feels very blessed to do what she loves and pass on her passion to the youth of Pacifica.
Piano Instructor | All levels
Tatyana Loskutova was born into a family of professional musicians. At the age of 16, she was the winner of the region festival program “New Names”. In 1994, she graduated with honors from Rachmaninov College of Music and went to obtain her degree from St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music.Ms. Loskutova is an active chamber musician in music recitals in the USA, Russia and Holland. She is a member of the Music Teacher Association of California and teaches chamber ensembles in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Ms. Loskutova also studied Arts Management at the St. Petersburg State Theatre Academy. Over a period of many years, she served as an arts administrator at the Vaganova Ballet Academy, Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg State Conservatory, and State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg where she initiated and managed several cultural projects.
Cello Instructor | All levels | Piano | Beginning through Int/Adv.
Ami is a prominent member of the Bay Area music scene, playing with numerous ensembles and bands including The Holloway String Quartet, Mission Baroque, All My Pretty Ones, as well as playing in numerous orchestras and pit orchestras. She studied chamber music under coaches including the Alexander String Quartet, Martina Trumpp, and Yuval Yaron; cello under Carol Rice, Geoffrey Rutkowski, Mario De Secondi, and Sandy Wilson; and played in master classes taught by such artists as the Juilliard String Quartet, Toby Appel, and David Requiro. She studied cello at the Ruth Asawa SOTA, UC Santa Barbara, San Francisco State University for a MA in Music, and at the Musikhochschule Trossingen in Germany.
Voice Instructor | All levels
Alexandra divides her time between opera, choral, and voice and piano instruction. In addition to extensive opera performance in the Bay Area, she has soloed with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus, where she is an AGMA member, and is a member of San Francisco’s newest all-professional chamber choir, Cappella SF. Alexandra is an active recitalist and is dedicated to broadcasting the music of women composers and the Spanish speaking community. Alexandra completed her Bachelor of Music at the University of Miami, and her Masters of Music at San Francisco State University. She has the joy of studying privately with the world-renowned mezzo, Susanne Mentzer, and coaching with William Vendice. Alexandra teaches voice privately and is a lecturer at San Francisco State University. She has two opera loving, very supportive cats.
Kaori Nakano DeNoia
Music Instructor | Beg & Int Piano, All levels of Voice
Kaori graduated from Japan’s prestigious music school, Kyoto Horikawa Music High School, where she studied vocal performance. She earned her BA from Kobe College and graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with an MA in vocal performance, having studied with Herman Leroux and received a first place prize in the American Art Song Competition. She received preschool and teaching credentials from San Francisco State University, studied pipe organ with Wyatt Insko, and has Kodály training from Holy Names University. Kaori is passionate about teaching and has served as a choir director, pianist and organist for many organizations. These include the San Francisco Girls Chorus (20 years), A.P. Giannini Middle School choir, Christ United Presbyterian Church, and her very own children’s choir Kirakiraboshi Children’s Choir in Japantown. She currently teaches over 1,000 K-5th grade students in the Millbrae School District. When she is not teaching, Kaori enjoys spending time with her family and practicing karate. She is very excited to be a part of the Ragazzi family and to continue sharing the love of teaching music to talented young musicians.
Music Instructor | Beginning Piano, All levels of Voice
Soprano, Sarah Benzinger holds a CA Secondary credential to teach Music and Mathematics and loves joining her students on their unique journeys of musical discovery on the piano and in voice. She currently co-teaches classroom music at Casa di Mir Montessori school in Campbell and has maintained a full studio in voice and piano at Santa Teresa Academy of Music and Dance for the past three years. She has taught and performed in the US and abroad, working with students through Opera Tijuana in Mexico, Opera Nova in Costa Rica, and with students at Lake County high school in Leadville Colorado. Previously she sang with the Oregon Bach Collegium, Lyric Opera of San Jose, Cascadia Concert Opera, Humboldt Light Opera, Portland Summer Opera Workshop, Vivace Vancouver, Chamber Music Silicon Valley, Redwood Symphony and at the Astoria Music Festival.