Leadership and Administration
SSPA Founder & Instructor | Director of Music | 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.”
Gary D. Ferguson
Executive Artistic Director | Director of Dance | Choreographer | Director
Gary D. Ferguson’s passion for dance, music, theatre, and movement began as a student on scholarship with the Alvin Ailey and Gus Giordano Dance Companies and evolved to a full time career rooted in musical theater and dance. In addition to years of Broadway, National and International tours, multiple Radio City Rockettes Companies, Vegas residencies, theme parks and cruise ships, Gary has many theatrical credits throughout the Bay Area where he has directed all aspects of musical theater productions and educational programming. Gary joins SSPA after a successful tenure as Associate Artistic Director for Los Altos Stage Company and Education Director for Los Altos Youth Theater. He is an active member of NDEO (National Dance Educators Organization), Actors Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild, and AGVA (Association Guild of Variety Artists). Gary holds a M.B.A. in International Business and a Bachelor’s degree in Arts Management with an emphasis in Dance Management. Gary is extremely excited to be joining the SSPA family as Artistic Director and Director of Dance. He will helm all mainstage musicals beginning with Mamma Mia. He will also be bringing his musical theater expertise to the Spindrift Dance Company. Gary is also excited to share a few new classes with the SSPA family. A few of the classes to be on the look out for include a Rockette Boot Camp, Turns and Leaps Class, Adult Tap, Adult Musical Theater Jazz and Dance Team/ Pom audition clinics.
Keira has been with Spindrift since 1999, as a parent volunteer and as staff for the past 20 years. Both her children attended SSPA classes and summer camps and she takes great delight in seeing how the arts shape young humans and is well acquainted with the gifts the arts bring to children and the lasting effects into adulthood. She moved with her family from SF to Pacifica in 1996 and folded into the Cabrillo community, then transitioned into Spindrift. She loves how Spindrift gathers all the children from Pacifica and forms community that way. Through classes and performing and camps, seeing the bonds children form with each other is something special and is of great value. She is extremely proud of the quality of teaching artists Spindrift has maintained over the years. These artists demonstrate daily, our Mission Statement: to train and inspire children and she is in constant awe of their abilities as teachers and artists. Next on her list of admiration are all the terrific parents and grandparents and children that are part of the Spindrift family. It remains a privilege and an honor to live and work in such a special community.
Gary Craig Schoenfeld Jr.
Director of Theatre & Principal 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 and directs Play Production classes. 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.
Music Instructor | Beginning Piano, All levels of Voice (Virtual Only)
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.
Voice Instructor | All levels (Virtual & Vaccinated In-Person)
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.
Dance Instructor | Hip Hop | Jazz | Preschool Movement & Dance
Audrey is extremely excited to join the Spindrift team. It is especially meaningful to her since she grew up in Pacifica, and teaching here will allow her to give back to her community. From a young age, she has always loved singing and performing. Audrey holds an Associate’s degree in both Theatre Arts and Arts and Humanities, and she is currently studying Musical Theatre at San Francisco State University. Audrey loves working with kids and has years of experience working in summer camps, after school programs, and various classes. With Spindrift presenting her with a wonderful community-based teaching opportunity, Audrey is grateful and excited to share her love for the performing arts with the children of the Spindrift community!
Kaori Nakano DeNoia
Piano Instructor | Beg & Int Piano (Virtual/In-Person)
Kaori Nakano DeNoia 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 music to K-8th grades in San Francisco and San Mateo Counties and teaches private piano and voice students at Spindrift School of Performing Arts in Pacifica
Guitar, Bass, Ukulele, Banjo, and Piano Instructor | All levels (Virtual/In-Person)
Luke has played guitar for 20 years and has been teaching music for 10 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.
Voice Instructor | All Levels | Piano Instructor Beg/Int (Vaccinated students only)
Musical Theatre | Theatre Instructor
Luke Elmer is a countertenor and pianist from Flower Mound, Texas. He graduated from Brigham Young University with his Bachelor’s degree in 2019 and from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with his Master’s in 2022, both in Vocal Performance. In May of 2022, he made his professional operatic debut with Long Beach Opera in the title role of their production of Handel’s Giustino. He believes in cultivating a complete artist. Students will learn fundamentals and develop technical skills while being encouraged to truthfully express themselves through their performance.
Guitar Instructor | All Levels In-Person (Vaccinated students only)
Distinguished as a performer and teacher Larry Ferrara has the distinction of being the first guitarist to receive a master’s degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. His teachers have included Julian Bream in master classes, and George Sakellariou in studio lessons. A committed educator himself, Mr. Ferrara has taught for many years at the collegiate level at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and full time at City College of San Francisco. In addition to currently teaching at the Spindrift School of Performing Arts, Mr. Ferrara also teaches in the Pre-College, and Continuing Education divisions at the San Francisco Conservatory, and also teaches guitar and guitar ensemble at San Francisco State University.
As a performer Mr. Ferrara has played major recitals in San Francisco, Toronto, Barcelona, Los Angeles and at the Carnegie Recital Hall in New York. He has served on the Music Advisory Panel to the National Endowment of the Arts and is the author and performer of a best selling sequence of music books titled, The Student Repertoire Series for Guitar Vol. 1 and 2 , with accompanying CD’s, published by Guitar Solo of San Francisco. Mr. Ferrara has a solo CD of American Guitar Works on the VGo label and a CD on the GSP label of the Pacific Guitar Ensemble where he plays along with David Tanenbaum and Peppino D’Agostino. In addition, Mr. Ferrara won the top humanities prize in the California Virtual Campus (CVC) competition for, “Best Online Teaching Website,” based on his course in music appreciation.
Music Instructor | Violin | Viola | Voice all levels
Oakland native Adam Green, comes to us having graduated from the University of the Pacific Conservatory of Music in Stockton CA with dual degrees in Viola and Voice. Adam currently serves as the Director of Music at Skyline High School of Oakland. In addition to a robust teaching schedule, Adam also maintains an active and eclectic performing schedule with many ministries, ensembles, recording and musical projects throughout the Bay Area, Sacramento, and Central Valley Regions.
Hyun Suk (Suki) Jang
Music Instructor | Beginning Piano | All levels of Voice (In-Person, students must be vaccinated)
Hyun Suk, “Suki” is a native of Seoul, Korea, performs and educates widely as a soloist, chorister, voice/ piano teacher and conductor. She has studied voice with many teachers and coaches in Korea, Germany, Italy and the United States. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in voice performance from SeJong University in Seoul, Korea, as well as a Master’s degree and Performance Certificate in voice performance both from DePaul University in Chicago. She taught voice at the University of Chicago and at New Trier High School and piano and theory at the Soar program (Statewide Opportunities for Art and recreation through DePaul University Community Music in Chicago). She was also a member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus and a Rockefeller Chapel Vocal Artist in Residence. She was also the conductor and artistic director of Little OL Korea Children’s Choir, an ambassador of Korean culture to America society through music and dances. She has performed numerous opera roles and oratorio works as a soprano soloist. She also performed the roles of Wardrobe M’tree, Confidante and understudy of Carlotta Giudicelli of The Phantom of the Opera in Seoul, Korea. She is the winner of various competitions, and she has appeared as a winner of the Chinese Fine Arts Society Competition at the Chicago Cultural Center. Currently, she sings with SF Symphony Chorus and has been a conductor of Children’s and Youth Choirs and soprano soloist at Episcopal Church of St. Matthew in San Mateo for 7 years. Besides music, she lives in Pacifica and enjoys running all around Pacifica. She participated in various races including a virtual 100 mile race which she ran 100 miles around the bay from Pacifica-Purisima Creek Trails-Bay trails-SF-Pacifica and featured in the Pacifica Tribune. She is also a coach of The Live the Dash Run Club.
She is deeply delighted to share her varied professional experiences, musicality and her optimistic personality with the talented youth generation at Spindrift School.
Dance Instructor | Bollywood/Bhangra
Dancing makes me the ‘happiest’ and gives me the adrenalin to learn, perform and grow everyday. Dancing is the greatest connect one can have with the self and my dream of connecting people through dance and finding dance as the ultimate medium of expression is slowly coming to fruition. My motivation to learn dance started at the age of three. My mother’s need to instill a sense of hobby in me led me to embrace dancing as a creative form to express my emotions. My varied cultural background has changed my perspective and my teaching expertise imbibes this diversity making it a fascinating learning experience for my students.
I have been teaching Bollywood dance in the Bay Area for both adults and kids for more than 6 years and to me dance is a way of celebration, frolic and happiness!
I like to be a Fellow dancer to my students and not just an instructor and love seeing people Love dance.
Leigh Ann Koelsch LRAD
Dance Instructor | Choreographer
Leigh Ann graduated from The College of The Royal Academy of Dance in London in 1993 with
a classical ballet teaching degree. She has prepared students of all ages for RAD ballet
examinations, performances and competitions. Leigh Ann has choreographed and co-directed
many productions over the years including Nutcracker, original story ballets and mixed
repertoire recitals. She has also worked with both Coastal Repertory Theater and Half Moon
Bay High School on musicals such as Pajama Game, Crazy for You, Once Upon a Mattress and
Guys and Dolls
“My teaching philosophy is that every student deserves safe and correct ballet instruction that
also taps into the joy of dance. Kindness and respect are an huge part of my teaching. I enjoy
spending time with young people and watching them grow through their experiences in the
studio, no matter what their goals are in dance. Imagination is a key element at every level.”
Leigh Ann is a Coastside native and mother of two sons. She is looking forward to joining the
staff of SSPA after many year of enjoying the performances of her nieces Serena and Sophia
Cello Instructor | All levels | Piano | Beginning through Int/Adv. (In-person Cello, vaccinated students only- piano is virtual)
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.
Tracy E. Reeves-Fletcher
Dance Instructor | Choreographer
Tracy is an East Coast native, who moved to the Bay area 12 years ago from Chicago. She has
been teaching dance for over 20years, in both small dance studios, and college campuses.
Born in Chicago, but raised on the East Coast, like most little girls she started dancing at the
age of 6. Then as a teenager attended The Governor’s School for the Arts, a performing Arts
high school program, in the Tidewater area of Virginia. She graduated with a focus in Modern
Dance performance. She then attended Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond VA,
graduating with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts, with a focus in Modern Dance performance and
Choreography. After pursuing some professional development, she then attended the
University of North Carolina at Greensboro, in Greensboro North Carolina. She attended UNCG
as a Patricia Roberts Harris teaching Fellow for all three years of the program obtaining a
Master’s of Fine Arts also in Dance performance and Choreography. Throughout her education
she has been teaching a myriad of dance forms from Creative movement to Contact
Improvisation. Her dance forms include ballet, tap (Broadway & rhythm), jazz, Hip Hop,
modern, contemporary, lyrical, ballroom and African. Her specialties include Advanced Rhythm
Tap and Contemporary. Tracy has a passion for dance movement and is looking forward to
watching your children express themselves through dance.
Piano Instructor | Beginning through Int/Adv. (In-person)
Paige is a pianist and mathematician from North Dakota with a Master’s degree in mathematics and many years of piano training. She has already fallen in love with Pacifica where she lives with her husband and dog. Ms. Relling has been playing piano since the age of eight under the guidance of Nicole Antonenko, where she studied a variety of piano styles including all the musical time periods. While studying mathematics in college at the University of North Dakota, Ms. Relling joined the school’s women’s choir and the Sweet Adelines’s choir where she performed Music of the Night from The Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Georgiana by Dario Marianelli, written for the movie Pride and Prejudice based on the book of the same name.
Theatre | Musical Theatre | Dance Instructor
Bree is excited to start as a new dance and theatre instructor at Spindrift. She is a recent college graduate with a degree in theatre, dance and education. Bree has been involved in the performing arts since she was 7 and has grown up taking classes along the coast with both Spindrift and Coastal Repertory Theater. Bree is excited to be back with Spindrift and is looking forward to a great year!
Theatre Instructor | Director
Eric is excited to join the team at Spindrift! Originally from Ontario, Canada, he recently moved to the Bay from New York City. He’s performed at regional theaters around the country including Bard SummerScape, the Fulton Theatre, the Winnipesaukee Playhouse, and 34 West Theater Company, and has performed in workshops and concerts of over twenty new musicals and plays. He holds a BA in Theatre and Music from Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania and a Voice Teacher Certification from New York Vocal Coaching, and is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association. As a teacher his focus is on unlocking technique, storytelling and joy.
“The theatre is an empty box, and it is our task to fill it with fury and ecstasy, and with revolution.” Slings & Arrows