Francine Garton

TDA Principal

• Ballet Academy Director
• RAD Director
• Ballet
• Pre pointe
• Pointe
• Variations
• Jazz
• Tap
• Baby Classes
• and much more!

Francine Garton was born in Liverpool , England. Dancing was her passion and at 14 years of age she won a scholarship to the prestigious Boarding School: Legat School of Classical Ballet in London. At age 16 she successfully auditioned for the Northern Ballet School in Manchester and spent 3 years at College completing her training as a dancer and gaining her teaching certificates.⠀

After dancing professionally for many years, she realized her true gift was teaching and making a positive difference in the life of her students. ⠀

After immigrating to the USA , Francine opened the Royal Dance Academy ( RDA) in Carmel Valley, San Diego in 2001. It was an instant success with hundreds of students and endless wait lists. During the first 10 years, Francine expanded 3 times in the Piazza Carmel Shopping Centre in order to accommodate all her students and to offer more classes and opportunities . RDA became a home away from home for many children.⠀

In 2014 , Francine had such a large studio with many children on an intensive track so she reached the point where she had to expand again. She had a vision to open a true Performing Arts Academy and ROYAL ACADEMY OF PERFORMING ARTS (RAPA) a 15,000 sq ft state of the art facility became a reality. It was truly amazing, offering all styles of dance including: Acting Classes, Voice lessons, Pilates, Yoga and so many more opportunities for aspiring artists. ⠀

Francine spent time traveling, teaching and coaching in the USA, UK and Europe and exploring the many possibilities and opportunities out there for the next generation.⠀

Francine’s mission is to make sure that every child reaches their full potential whether they dance once a week or they are pursuing a professional career. She strives to make every child feel special and to make her studio more than just dance. It’s a home away from home and she believes the joys and disciplines of dance remain within a child’s heart forever!⠀

Igor Yorlov

Ballet Academy Faculty

  • Ballet
  • Pointe
  • Variations
  • Character
  • Pas de Deux
  • YAGP
  • Nutcracker

⁣Igor and I have worked together for many years and I am thrilled to welcome him back to our dance family where once again we will work side by side to train, educate and inspire our ballet dancers taking them to a whole new level and providing them with exclusive opportunities!!

Igor, originally from Sochi, Russia, studied at the Moscow Academic Choreographic School at the Bolshoi Theater of Russia under the guidance of Professor Petr Antonovich Pestov from 1971 to 1979. In 1981 he entered the Bolshoi Theater and worked with the great ballet masters: Galina Ulanova, Yuri Grigorovich, Asaf Meserer, Maya Plisetskaya, Mikhail Lavrovsky, Yuri Vladimirov, and Natalia Bessmertnova.

Over 18 years of work as a soloist of the Bolshoi Ballet, Igor has performed countless leading roles in the ballets Le Corsaire, Giselle, Romeo and Juliet in more than 50 countries. After completing his creative career as a soloist with the Bolshoi Ballet Company in 2002, he began teaching and was a private tutor for many professional ballet companies, including the Moscow Ballet and the Moscow Imperial Ballet. Participated in the creation and production of the ballets Don Quixote, The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty, Paquita. “,” Swan Lake “and many individual concert numbers. Igor prepares young dancers for ballet competitions, performances and the professional ballet stage.

Igor has worked alongside Francine Garton for many years and is looking forward to continuing their journey together at The Dance Academy Del Mar where once again they will set the highest standards and train and inspire dancers taking them to a whole new level!

Gigi Batsakis

Ballet Academy Faculty

  • Ballet
  • Pointe
  • Variations
  • Character
  • Pas de Deux
  • YAGP
  • Nutcracker RAD Ballet
  • Baby classes

⁣Gigi Batsakis is a graduate of Canada’s National Ballet School’s prestigious a Teacher Training Program in Toronto, Canada. In addition to her Diploma from that program, she holds the internationally recognized Registered Teaching Status from the Royal Academy of Dance, along with many other advanced ballet, dance and teaching related certifications.

Gigi is originally from Virginia, near Washington, DC and began dancing at a young age. She began her dance training in the Vaganova style, and later joined a multi-discipline dance company and trained in many dance types including jazz, tap, hip-hop, ballet and modern. Later, Gigi was selected to join Encore’s Theatrical Arts Project (ETAP), a dance company that specializes in musical theatre. As a member of ETAP, Gigi performed in dozens of productions near her home town near Washington, DC and as part of ETAP’s international tours and expositions in Europe, and South Africa.

Gigi’s love for ballet, children and teaching led her to pursue a career as a dance instructor. She began teaching ballet at a local studio in Virginia in the fall of 2015 while attending high school, and has continued to teach as a primary instructor and as part of her training program while attending Canada’s National Ballet School for the past three years. Gigi is thrilled to be joining the TDA team and is looking forward to working with all of the amazing dancers.

Geoff Gonzalez

Ballet Academy Faculty

Contemporary Ballet

Geoff Gonzalez, from Tempe, Arizona, received his training at the Tempe Dance Academy and the School of Ballet Arizona before entering the University of Arizona as a dance major. While at the University of Arizona, Mr. Gonzalez performed in numerous works, including works by George Balanchine, Paul Taylor, and Ben Stevenson. ⠀

In 2007, Mr. Gonzalez made it to the top 25 male finalists for “So You Think You Can Dance” television show. During his tenure with City Ballet of San Diego from 2008 through 2014, Mr. Gonzalez performed lead roles in the company’s productions of Don Quixote, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Diana and Acteon Pas de Deux, Ramona, The Seasons, Carmen, The Firebird, Romeo and Juliet, Giselle, Carmina Burana and George Balanchine’s Serenade, The Four Temperaments, Emeralds, Who Cares? and Agon. ⠀

During City Ballet’s off seasons, Geoff could be seen performing with Rasta Thomas’ “Bad Boys of Dance”. Mr. Gonzalez’s choreography has been featured in City Ballet of San Diego productions for the past six seasons. Mr. Gonzalez was selected as one of six choreographers to be a part of the prestigious New York Choreographic Institute, supported by New York City Ballet, and his work was shown in New York City in March 2016. ⠀

Geoff returned to City Ballet of San Diego in 2016 serving both as Resident Choreographer and as a dancer. He has performed the lead role in Jerome Robbins’ Afternoon of a Faun, Mark Schneider’s Esmeralda and the Hunchback, Don Jose in Carmen, Ivan in The Firebird and the company premiere of Peter Martins’ Hallelujah Junction and the work ASH. He is married to City Ballet Principal Dancer Ariana Gonzalez. Geoff is thrilled to be joining The Dance Academy Faculty and share his passion for dance with our students!

Tony Elliot

Commercial Faculty

  • Jazz
  • Lyrical
  • Contemporary
  • Musical Theater
  • Tap 

⁣Tony Elliott is originally from Michigan where he grew up dancing competitively as well as dancing for Creative Arts Repertoire Ensemble “CARE” which brought the art of ballet to inner city schools and performed leads in productions such as “Romeo and Juliet”, “Giselle”, and “A Midsummer Nights Dream” before moving to Los Angeles in 2004 to pursue a career in dance.

Tony was a recipient of the prestigious Edge Performing Arts Center Pro-Dance Scholarship where he studied intensively with top teachers in the industry.

As a professional dancer Tony has performed in various Disney stage shows including “Big Band Beat” at Tokyo Disney, “Snow White an Enchanted Musical” at the Fantasyland Theater in Disneyland, “Celebrate the Season” in front of Cinderella’s Castle at Walt Disney World, and Disney’s “Lighten Up” at the El Capitan Theater in Hollywood. Tony’s favorite and most notable credits would be dancing with Miley Cyrus for Disney/ABC Christmas and dancing on the “Britney/Brittany” episode of Glee with Lea Michele and Britney Spears.

Tony has been featured in many commercials, recently in Sparkling Ice’s #BeNotBland national campaign. Most recently you can see Tony dancing in “Visualizing a Villain” featuring the famous painter David Garibaldi in the bonus features of Disney’s The Lion King on DVD, in Tokyo, Japan in Broadway Christmas Wonderland, or currently on stage at Disney’s California Adventure in Frozen: Live at the Hyperion.

Tony can be found teaching Musical Theater and Jazz classes on faculty of Celebrity Dance Conventions, and in addition to that he tours with Celebrity Competitions as their Director of Judges. In his spare time Tony enjoys traveling the country bringing dance workshops and choreography to studios all over. For years, Tony has provided studios with award winning choreography and a passion for dance unlike any other. As a dancer and choreographer, Tony is signed with Go 2 Talent Agency and now teaches jazz at Edge Performing Arts Center!

Jacobie Bluhm

Hip Hop Faculty

⁣JACOBIE BLUHM is a professional choreographer, artist, coach, director, and competitor in the hip-hop world. He is an alumni of SGBM, SuperGalacticBeatManipulators, founded by Kevin Brewer of the JabbaWockeez in 2005. In Jacobie’s first season, he placed choreography on one of the team’s biggest experiences throughout the season, Fam Royale. This consisted of SGBM, Boogie Monstarz, Press P.L.A.Y. , and the Jabba Trybe, all located in Sacramento. Jacobie also trains with a dance family known as ‘The Pack’t’, under the direction of Kevin and Dea Nguyen, and Joshua Bluhm. The mission is to spread love, and positivity through Hip-Hop.

Jacobie is a traveling choreographer, and coach. He works with multiple schools and is the executive director of Project Minor and Project Unofficial, a competitive junior Hip-Hop team. This team brings dancers together regardless of the studio or school the dancers train at, and showcases/competes at some of the top tier competitions in southern California. Project Minor was established in 2017, and is currently headed into its 4th Generation of dancers. Jacobie has choreographed for multiple Hip-Hop teams, videos/commercials, and has had students perform and compete on the TV show World of Dance. He specializes working with students that are preparing for the industry business. (KIDZ BOP, Disney, Nickelodeon, Looney Tunes, etc.)

His positivity and drive are what make him the person that people love to be around.

Jacobie is so thrilled to extend his craft to the dancers of The Dance Academy Del Mar, and to be building the hip-hop program! @just_jacobie


Tap Faculty

⁣KJ started his dance training at the age of 7 and trained at some of the best studios in San Diego. Receiving most of his dance training under San Diego Dance Center, KJ became an assistant to Sharon Keller at 15 where he discovered his passion for teaching.

At 18 he began assisting Michelle Miner across the country choreographing award winning routines at some of the nations top studios.

Currently teaching at studios across San Diego, KJ is also assisting Michelle In her new Jr. Hoofers Club to continue sharing his passion for dance and keeping tap alive!

KJ is looking forward to creating the tap program at The Dance Academy Del Mar and taking his tappers to a whole new level!

Marisa Walther


Marisa began dancing at the age of 4 yrs in Temecula, California. It was a small studio that  offered Rhythm and Tap along with the Cecchetti Ballet Method. Relocating to Encinitas in 2000, she enrolled at Royal Dance Academy and began studying the R.A.D. ballet program under Francine Garton. Marisa enjoys many styles of dance including jazz, contemporary, lyrical, tap, and hip hop, with her main focus of study being ballet.

Throughout the years of dancing at Francine’s studio, she has been able to achieve many distinction medals by performance examinations through the Royal Academy of Dance organization. As well as perform in many recitals, productions, and competitions. Marisa’s dance studies have taken her to Georgetown, Virginia; Atlanta, Georgia and many other locations along the Southern Coast of California including Long Beach and Los Angeles.

With the guidance of Francine as her primary instructor and mentor, Marisa has thrived within the dance community. Besides teaching dance classes, you will also find her at the front desk as she enjoys meeting new faces and greeting the parents and students of the studio. She believes in maintaining a positive and nurturing environment for each dancer who enters the studio as this was a great attribute that Francine created and instilled in her studio while Marisa was growing up.

Marisa is happily married and with six years of previous office administration experience and background with dance, she works as the Studio Manager of The Dance Academy Del Mar. She is so thankful to have the opportunity to work alongside Francine and the amazing TDA staff. She is excited to be a part of the vision for the studio and loves watching it grow with new talent!

Francis Florendo

Hip Hop Faculty

Francis Florendo found his love for hip hop in 2010 and has been on various teams including iLL Habits & 220. He is now currently co-directing 220, and is also the head coach for the Torrey Pines Dance Team. His overall passion from dance derives from the hard work his students and teammates put in at rehearsals and the growth they achieve in that journey. With love, balance, and growth in mind, Francis stays motivated to push the boundaries of the individuals he works with, while keeping a fun environment.