• Ballet Academy Director
• RAD Director
• Pre pointe
• 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!⠀
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!
Ballet Academy Faculty
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 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, 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!
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.
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.
Victoria is a national award-winning dancer and choreographer. She has studied more than 30 styles of dance and is a graduate of the University of California, San Diego. With an extensive background in training competitive and pre-professional dancers, she has helped many of her students pursue professional careers in the arts. Victoria was featured as a judge for multiple seasons of Dance Moms, and tours with the national dance competition Showstopper as a judge and announcer. She is the host of the Vibrant Raw Living podcast and founder of IMC International which provides mental health and personal development products and services to dancers and athletes.
Wadeaa grew up in the Bay Area and began dancing at the age of four. She trained alongside multiple leading companies in the South Bay during her dance career, including Morgan Hill Ballet Company and South Valley Ballet Company, where she later became Artistic Director in 2017. Her repertoire includes principal roles in Swan Lake, Paquita, La Fille Mal Gardee, the Nutcracker, and more.
As Artistic Director, Wadeaa has directed productions including Swan Lake, the Nutcracker, La Fille Mal Gardee, Paquita, Firebird, Alice Through the Looking Glass, and more. She has created ballet, conditioning, and yoga curriculum specifically geared towards anatomical education, improvement of muscle functions, injury prevention, and mindfulness while dancing. Wadeaa moved to San Diego in 2019, where she has since expanded her love of ballet to a new area and received her PBT Certification. She believes you will learn the most from the teachers that truly love what they are teaching. Wadeaa strives to express her passion for ballet through her teaching in hopes of seeing that same excitement ignite in her students.
Kaylar Preite is a San Diego native who has been dancing for over 20 years. She has trained in various styles and has taught at many different studios throughout her career. Her credits include Future Shock San Diego director, 220, Storymovers, BB360 instructor, Beyond Babel, Through the Roots, and AURORA. Kaylar is passionate about using the power of movement and dance education to challenge and/or change perspectives, provide opportunities for minds alike, and speak on behalf of those who cannot.
Ethan Bloem, is a multi-talented dancer with a choreography and freestyle focus. He has performed on national television with NBC’s World of Dance and danced in live shows and music videos with numerous artists. Ethan is a creative director, choreographer, and industry dancer who has been working to better himself and his craft since the age of ten. He began training locally in San Diego and grew quickly by jumping at all learning opportunities, that same work ethic he has in his personal dance is strongly reflected in his love for teaching. Ethan still has strong connections to his first dance teachers as well as his current mentors, he hopes to transfer the impact his teachers/mentors had on him to his students!
Caitlyn Silvas began dancing at the age of 2 and grew up training all genres of dance including ballet, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, tap, and hip-hop. When she turned 9 years old she realized her true love classical ballet and began to focus on training intensely for a professional career. Caitlyn’s year round training was provided by some of the leading ballet schools in Southern California that helped her cultivate her technique and artistry at a high caliber. Along with serious instruction during the year her training was supplemented by summer intensives with world renowned companies such as American Ballet Theater, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Ballet West, and Pittsburgh Ballet Theater. Caitlyn began her career dancing with professional ballet companies at the age of 17 in San Diego and Santa Barbara where she performed a variety of classical and contemporary ballets. Since she has been 16 years old Caitlyn has taught ballet, jazz, tap, contemporary, pointe, stretch, and conditioning to all levels of dancers and guiding them to be the best dancers they can possibly be. Teaching the next generation of dancers is something she is extremely passionate about and is so happy to help students grow in their technique, artistry, and love for dance!
Jenna Z Alvarez
Jenna Z Alvarez is an actress, dancer, and content creator known for her work as ‘Liberty’ in the Emmy nominated Disney Channel Original Movie SHOOK, ‘Havana’ in Showtime’s Kidding with Jim Carrey, and a Mouseketeer in Disney’s 2017 revival of the Mickey Mouse Club, known as Club Mickey Mouse. She started dancing at six years old in ballet, and eventually grew to love all genres including jazz, contemporary/lyrical, hip hop, and tap. She trained with the Bolshoi Ballet Academy for two summers in Connecticut at nine and ten years old. Has gone on to win regional and national titles within the competition/convention world. And began pursuing dance as a career at eleven years old, which led her to opportunities such as dancing backup in Sia’s “The Greatest” Music Video, and Daddy Yankee’s “Que Tire Pa Lante” Music Video/on stage performance for the Latin AMA’s.
Maddy Corn has trained is multiple styles of dance since she was 12 years old at Temecula Valley Dance Academy and Oceanside Dance Academy, as a competition dancer from 2013-2020. Maddy is technically trained in Jazz, Hip hop, Contemporary, Ballet, Musical Theater/Heels, Lyrical, Turns/Leaps/Tricks, and Acro/Tumbling. Maddy has instructed previously at local studio’s. Maddy graduated from Temecula Valley High School in 2020, were she was on dance team for all 4 years of high school. Currently Maddy attends San Diego State University, getting her degree in Kinesiology with an emphasis in Fitness Specialist. Maddy is so thrilled to be sharing her passion for dance and her style of teaching, while continuing the high caliber methods of the Dance Academy of Del Mar. Maddy is passionate about the health and well being of her students and is always ready to support them in any way she can! Maddy’s strong drive, stage presence and powerful emotion, and great technique have lead her to win special awards and championship wins.
Administration | Ballet Academy Faculty
Ms Clara is a San Diego born and raised performing arts lover and producer. Beginning at the age of two, Ms Clara started her dance training in North County SD, and continued her training to a pre-professional level in Ballet/Pointe, Tap, Lyrical and Modern, Jazz, and Musical Theater. She has training in Vaganova, French, and Balanchine ballet methods, Progressing Ballet Technique education, and intensives and classes through ABT and San Diego City Ballet. She expanded her theatrical training in her teen years going on to be a lead dancer and assistant-choreographer for shows such as Chicago and Mama Mia, many of which received numerous awards, including Best Musical, from the Broadway San Diego Awards. Ms Clara has a passion for technical leadership in performing arts, and has recently had the pleasure of joining Golden State Ballet Company as Resident Production Manager. She has also held the title of Stage Manager for many companies in SD county including San Diego Repertory Theater and La Jolla Music Society. Ms Clara has a wide range of education through all areas of performing arts, and is incredibly grateful she gets to share her passion while teaching her many talented students.