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!

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

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.

Sophia Lucia

Commercial Faculty

  • Turns & Leaps
  • Lyrical / Contemporary
  • Jazz
  • Ballet
  • Pointe
  • Stretch & Conditioning
  • Contemporary Ballet

Dance Prodigy, Guinness World Record Holder, YouTube Sensation, Entrepreneur and Teacher, Sophia Lucia loves to dance and strives each day to be the best she can be by pushing her and her students abilities to the limit.

Sophia started dancing at the young age of 2 years at San Diego Dance Centre in Poway, CA, and is now, flourishing teaching dance all around the world and is one of the most exciting and top talents in the industry. She is trained in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, and Contemporary. Sophia’s focus and determination has led her to excel in many ways as in setting the Official Guinness World Record of 55 Consecutive Pirouettes. She also has had a dancewear line with California Kisses Dance Wear and several National Champion Dance Titles such as The Dance Awards’ Junior Best Dancer. From a young age, she has been featured in numerous television shows such as ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ ‘So You Think You Can Dance,’ Disney’s hit show ‘Shake It Up, ‘Dance Moms,’ ‘X-Factor,’ Nickelodeon’s ‘Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn’ and ‘America’s Got Talent,’ plus several talk shows like ‘The Ellen Show,’ ‘The Ricki Lake Show, to name a few. She made her film debut in 2010 as child star icon, Shirley Temple in the Fox Legacy Movie “The Shirley Temple Story” and her acting debut in Hallmark’s “A Nutcracker Christmas,” where she portrayed a young ballerina working to become a prima ballerina.

Sophia’s ability to not only captivate an audience with her artistry, but inspire others with her teaching style is something that has never been seen before. Her performances have catapulted her to internet stardom and taken her across the world to do what she loves most, dance. Now transforming into an incredible teacher, Sophia has formed a passion for teaching over the last few years and has been all over the country teaching her technique method called RAFT. Sophia strives to be the best role model and teacher she can be for her students, and is a fantastic mentor.

Katey Konderik-Oducayen


Katey has a huge passion for dance and feels very fortunate to be able to share her love for the art form with others, and

hopes that her dancing and teaching will inspire others to pursue their dreams.

Katey was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ where she began her dance training at 2 1/2 years old. She has trained
extensively in Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Tap, Musical Theatre, and Hip-Hop. Amongst other teachers,
Katey has trained with Nadya Zubkov, Olga Tarasova, Slawomir & Irena Wozniak, Julie Grooters, and Lili Griffiths. She
has received many awards in dance including winning first place in the 2011 Arizona Young Artist Competition. At the age
of 17 Katey joined her first professional dance company “Center Dance Ensemble” where she performed featured soloist
and ensemble roles under the direction of Frances Smith Cohen, and worked closely with CDE’s resident choreographer
Diane McNeal Hunt. After moving to San Diego in 2013, Katey began performing at SeaWorld in Madagascar Live:
Operation Vacation. Exploring more of the Musical Theatre side of dancing Katey has performed featured soloist and
ensemble roles in The Welk Resort Theatre production of The King And I, and in San Diego Musical Theatre productions
of Singin’ In The Rain, 42nd Street, The Producers, and White Christmas. She has also choreographed numerous youth musical theater productions including The Little Mermaid, Godspell, and The Addams Family.

Katey has over 10 years of teaching experience, and in addition to being a dance instructor, Katey continues to explore all
dance career opportunities whether it be Theme Parks, Musical Theatre, Concert Dance, Cruise Ships, or Commercial.

Sabrina Biddle


Sabrina is a graduate of The Ohio State University, Colorado University and Emory University.  She also studied and performed with BalletMet in Columbus, Ohio in addition to training at The Ohio State University.  She studied Law with the intentions of making the world a better place. She now teaches Business Law by day and Dance by night. She is affiliated with The Tap Legacy Foundation, Catastrophe, Pulse, BDC , F2F Dance,  and Oui Danse. She created Fresh 2 Flawless, an educational program to promote drive and learning for dancers in the world today. She is also a graduate of the prestigious intern program at Broadway Dance Center in New York City, where she continuously trains. She has studied under great choreographers and dancers such as Wes Veldnik, Sheila Barker, Mia Michaels and Derek Mitchell.  She has performed withWalt Disney in Florida and Disney Cruise Lines and Carnival Cruise Lines. She is a well-known choreographer and resident teacher at a few prestigious studios in sunny San Diego, California and Nevada,  however, she judges and instructs Master classes all over the United States. She was involved with the production of the hit TV show Dance Moms in Seasons 4-7.  Her favorite show performed was Fuerza Bruta in New York City!   Sabrina’s passion is dance, she lives and breathes it!

Victoria Mahdion


As a well-rounded professional dancer, national award-winning choreographer, educator, mentor, and founder of IMC International, Victoria has worked with many elite dance studios in Southern California. She has worked with prestigious high school and adult musical theatre programs, and served as a director of performing arts education in K-12 settings. Victoria has been featured as a national competition judge on the internationally popularized Lifetime Television Network show, Dance Moms. After having trained in 30+ traditional and cultural dance styles, as well as having lived and worked in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, she currently trains competitive as well as pre-professional dancers for professional careers in the industry as a highly desired resident and guest instructor, coach, and, choreographer in Southern California.

– Jazz
– Turns & Leaps
– Lyrical/ Contemporary
– Stretch & Conditioning
– Ballet
– Tap

Hailee Whiddon


Hailee Whiddon grew up in Southern California and trained in both classical and contemporary ballet. She was a top ten semi- finalist in YAGP in 2017 and was awarded a scholarship to attend The University of North Carolina School of the Arts Advanced Summer Ballet Program. She later earned scholarships to attend schools, such as 2018, Alonzo King Lines Advanced Summer Ballet , 2019 Pre-professional program and Lines year round Training Program, 2019 San Diego Ballet Summer Intensive, and 2019 Backhaus Summer.

In 2020 Hailee performed with City Ballet of San Diego as a trainee and attended the apprenticeship program with the Nickerson-Rossi Dance Company.  She then performed in New Jersey and taught a masterclass at Stockton University Dance and has been performing with the company and teaching at the company’s school Palm Springs Dance Academy as well. Hailee Whiddon’s love for dance has stemmed into teaching all age groups. She currently teaches across Southern California. Teaching ages 2 years old through adult – ballet, contemporary, and jazz.

– Ballet
– Contemporary Ballet
– Baby Combo Classes