Ms. Casandra received formal ballet training since the age of 7 under the instruction of Lareen Fender at The Ballet School in Walnut Creek. She performed annually in the Spring Demonstration as well as the original holiday ballet Once Upon a Christmas from ages 7 through 18, as well as being part of the studio's company The Ballet Joyeaux and gaining experience substitute-teaching in jazz and ballet classes. She performed in various professional and teen theatre productions with featured dancing roles, including Some Like it Hot, Grease, West Side Story, and Annie. Additionally, she participated in Center Rep's professional theatre training program Young Rep, studying under the best instructors in the East Bay.
In her undergraduate studies at UC Santa Cruz, Ms. Casandra majored in literature and double minored in education and theater with an emphasis in dance, at which time she continued studying ballet, as well as modern, jazz, hip-hop and participating in faculty and student choreographed showcases. She also has masters degrees in Education (UCSC) and Communicative Disorders (CSUN), and has worked as a Speech Therapist and Program Specialist in Special Education at San Benito High School for over a decade. Most recently, Ms. Casandra danced at International Academy of Dance in Santa Cruz, where she joined their annual production of The Nutcracker as Spanish, Marzipan and in Waltz of the Flowers (dancing while pregnant with her firstborn, Leila).
Ms. Casandra has been part of the SBDA family since 2016, when her daughter started dancing, and has enjoyed performing in SBDA’s The Nutcracker, as well as helping backstage. Ms. Casandra now has two little ballerinas at SBDA, Leila (age 5) and Maya (age 2 ½). She is so excited to instill her love of dance into her beginning ballerinas and be part of such a family-oriented studio.
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My teaching philosophy comes from a combination of my experience as a dancer growing up, as well as my background in Special Education and experience watching my own children grow and learn. I believe that every child has potential and does best when approached from a place of nurturing. I believe in approaching children from a growth mindset, in which we are curious about what the child is communicating (through their actions or response to instruction), reducing stressors, meeting their needs, and teaching them where there are skills deficits. This approach builds self esteem and confidence in a way that the child feels supported and strengthened through the learning process. I also believe in having high expectations and the power of dance to teach children discipline, patience, resilience, and focus. A big part of early dance is as much about instilling classroom decorum and discipline, as it is about teaching the movement and artistry itself. If a child has a strong foundation in not only technique, but also perseverance, focus, and resilience, they can overcome challenging seasons in their dance journey that will inevitably come up. Many of these lessons I learned in childhood through dance, and they have shaped the person I am today. I look forward to instilling them in my students.
Ms. Casandra comes to SBDA with extensive background in education and performance arts. Her passion for ballet and little ones is contagious, and she is jumping into our studio family, giving wholeheartedly of herself and her talents. We are very excited for Ms. Casandra's involvement in our SBDA family and the greater community of San Benito County.
101 McCray Street, Suite 104 Hollister CA 95023 USA