Malashock Dance Instructors


Angel Acuña, Education Outreach Teaching Artist

Angel Acuña began his dance training at the age of eighteen in San Diego City College where he trained with dance educators Terry Wilson, Grace Jun, Debi Toth-Ward and Terri Shipman.  In 2015, Angel was awarded “Most Compelling Performance by a Single Dancer” in result of participating in the winning choreography by Ariana Siegel in San Diego Dance Theater’s Young Choreographers Showcase.  In 2015, Angel also joined San Diego Dance Theater as a company member and teaching artist. While dancing for director Jean Isaacs, Angel also performed with Somebodies Dance Theater, directed by Gina and Kyle Sorenson.  Choreographically, Angel is interested in involving audiences in a more communicative environment when it comes to the process of dance making.  Angel has created his own evening-length work titled MAY BE as well as Dances My Mother Taught Me Vol.2 with dancer Andrew Holmes, a duet that was part of Lux Boreal’s Cuerpos En Transito 2016 in Tijuana, Mexico.  Angel recently returned to San Diego after Studying and training in École de Danse Contemporaine de Montréal directed by Lucie Boissinot in Québec, CanadaIn his experience in Montréal, Angel had the pleasure of performing in original works choreographed by Daryl Tracy and Edgar Zendejas. Angel is currently working in a collaborative process with dance artist and the curator/director of San Diego’s first dance film festival, l-40 North Film Fest., Chelsea Zeffiro.

Erica Buechner

Erica NEWA local to San Diego, Erica Buechner’s professional career began in 1999, as a professional dancer for many established companies in San Diego. She performed as a company dancer with Mojalet Dance Collective for eleven years and with The PGK Project for two years. Buechner has been a guest artist for Eveoke Dance Theatre, Patricia Sandback and Dancers, Malashock Dance, San Diego Dance Theater’s Trolley Dances, Opus Mixtus, and the Joe Alter Dance Group, among other individual choreographers.

Buechner is the co-producer of the youTurn Contemporary Arts Exhibition, an annual arts event created to mobilize artists within the San Diego Community to produce new works more frequently. Her work has been presented by Mojalet Dance Collective, including in Konstanz, Germany in 2012. She was selected to be a part of the La Jolla Music Society’s inaugural CHOREOLab and San Diego Dance Theater’s second annual Young Choreographer’s Prize in 2012. She has also presented her work at many other local events around San Diego, including the Celebrate Dance Festival and San Diego Dances. She continues to produce work, both as an independent artist and under her company name, Sound Dance Company, which was established in 2011.

Buechner received her Master of Fine Arts in Dance from Hollins University/American Dance Festival in 2013. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance in 2006 from San Diego State University and was named the Outstanding Graduate of the Year in Dance. In 2011, she was awarded the Alumni To Watch Award from SDSU’s School of Music and Dance. In January of 2014, Buechner was named by the San Diego Union-Tribune as an “Artist to Watch” in 2014. She is a current committee member of San Diego Dance Connect, a local organization which has the mission to strengthen the dance community by providing opportunities to network, communicate, advocate, and share resources.

Intermediate/Adv. Modern (Adult)

Wednesdays 7:00pm – 8:30pm


Nicole Carriker

Nicole graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance Studies from University of Washington, performing in the undergraduate and graduate student performances, including Limon’s Dances for Isadora by guest artist Jennifer Scanlon. During the last few years in San Diego, she has performed with Lara Segura and [the] movement initiative in the critically acclaimed dance theater production, Victor Charlie. Nicole has taught at various public schools and studios, including Malashock, over the last few years and specializes in teaching contemporary and jazz.


Tiffany Domingo, Education Outreach Teaching Artist

Native to San Diego, Tiffany has 14 years of dance experience and 10 years of teaching experience under her belt. At the age of 13, she began dancing competitive hip-hop at a local dance studio. At the start of her teaching career, she completed three successful years of developing choreography and directing the Steele Canyon High School Dance Team. She had the privilege to work with various studios, schools and teams around southern California – most notably: Academy of Performing Arts San Diego (APA), Culture Shock Dance Center, Prodigy Dance Company, Touch of Class Dance Studio, San Diego Dance Centre, Jibe Studios, Pt. Loma High School, Orange Glenn High School and CSULB’s PAC Modern.

Tiffany has danced with exhibition teams such as Team Nacu Rhythms, Funkanometry SD, PGN Dance Company (where she was privileged to be a part of their creative team), and most recently, Urban FX in 2010. She has trained with many renowned choreographers and has been a featured dancer in projects such as Boogiezone’s production of EVE, House of Mo, The Gift by Angela Molton, The David Ross Project, Projekt AFX New Years at House of Blues San Diego, and most recently, Jonathan Sison’s ThaMost. In Fall 2010, Tiffany debuted her first solo project, BLUSH, an all-female dance collective, and following that, Elevate in 2015. Tiffany lives to share her passion for performance and dance in the hope to inspire other growing dancers.

Sarah Emmons

Sarah started her career teaching and dancing at the Academy of Movement and Performing Arts in Paducah, KY. Sarah continues to return to her alma mater to choreograph competition pieces for the junior and teen companies. Sarah has always loved teaching and inspiring others to dance after studying under and assisting renowned choreographers such as Sonya Tayeh, Brooke Pierotti, and Chris Jacobsen. Sarah is a current faculty member of the Dance Sessions, a summer dance intensive hosted by Sonya Tayeh and Chris Jacobsen.  Sarah spent a year in the Bay Area, working with Maurya Kerr in her experimental study through the ODC Sandbox and as a company member in the Alyssandra Katherine Dance Project. During this time, Sarah was a faculty member for the Van der Zwaan Ballet Academy and was the choreographer for Linda Bulgo’s Musical Theater Productions for children. Prior to moving to California, Sarah graduated Summa Cum Laude from Northern Kentucky University with a BFA with an emphasis in dance. While at the university, Sarah began dancing professionally with Exhale Dance Tribe under the direction of Missy Lay Zimmer and Andrew Hubbard. Sarah was a senior soloist and credited choreographer for the company. Her choreographic debut in Exhale’s 2016 show, Wohali, a cooperative work with New Zealand’s renowned choreographers, Taiaroa Royal and Taane Mete of Okareka Dance Company. Sarah served on faculty at Planet Dance Cincinnati where she was the modern instructor and was co-director of the Mini competitive company. Outside of dance, Sarah is a Pure Barre instructor at East Village Pure Barre and enjoys a good workout, whether it is dance, barre, cycling, or yoga. Sarah has been teaching and choreographing for the past 8 years and is pleased to be joining the Malashock Dance faculty.

Laura Hodge, Education Outreach Teaching Artist

Laura Has been teaching with Malashock Dance on and off for the past 20 years. Executive Artistic Director of San Diego Creative Arts Project, and Co-Artistic Director of Rosarito Dance Theatre SDCAP Baja Laura is a Dance and Theatre Master Educator, Choreographer, Director, and Performing Artist, whose work is respected from Coast to Coast, and Mexico. Prior to RDT and SDCAP Laura was the Owner, Artistic Director of several award-winning companies in Pittsburgh, Pa., where she trained with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Point Park University, studied Theatre at the Pittsburgh Playhouse Conservatory, Carnegie Mellon University, and trained throughout NYC and LA.

Laura has performed in numerous Musical Theatre productions, Dance Theatre companies, Theatrical Touring companies, Touring Companies, Film, Television, both Pittsburgh and San Diego Symphonies, is a Union Member of SAG-Screen Actor’s Guild, and does Voice Over work.

Teaching credits include: San Diego Arts 4 Learning, CEART Playas de Rosarito, Point Park University, University of Pittsburgh, Millenium (L.A.), Malashock Dance, San Diego Junior Theatre, San Diego Civic Youth Ballet, Mary Murphy’s (“So You Think You Can Dance”) Champion Ballroom, and private coaching throughout.

As a Director, Choreographer, and Producer, Laura has choreographed over 25 full-length dance concerts, directed and created original choreography for over 40 Musicals and Ballets, choreographed for a feature Film with star Oscar Isaacs, written plays, and worked on every artistic aspect of performance production.

Courtney Giannone

Courtney Giannone is a professional dancer, choreographer, and movement instructor.  She holds a BFA in dance from Fordham University and The Ailey School and also studied extensively at Joffrey Ballet and Martha Graham.   Courtney has performed with Queen of the Night, Neil Patrick Harris, Company XIV, Quixotic Fusion, Buglisi Dance Theater, Kazuko Hirabayashi, Pascal Rioult, STREB, Diavolo, Martha Graham, and Alvin Ailey.

Courtney’s choreography has been performed at Jacobs Pillow, BEAT BROOKLYN, Galapagos Arts Space, STREB, CSLB, Cornish College, Idyllwild Arts Academy, and the Ailey School.  Her nominations, awards, and affiliations include Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival, The Rolex Mentor-Protege Arts Initiative, Carnegie Hall (classical piano), ABT, Kirov Ballet, Alvin Ailey, Buglisi Dance Theater, Pascal Rioult, Dance Magazine, and Highways Performance Space.  She is also a world champion in Cyr Wheel for team USA.  Courtney teaches GYROKINESIS ®, GYROTONIC ®, Horton Technique, Ballet, Modern, Cyr Wheel and more.

Intermediate Acro/Modern Dance (Adult)

Mondays, 7:00pm – 8:30pm

Adult Contemporary Ballet

Mondays, 10:00am – 11:30am


Becky Hurt, Education Outreach Teaching Artist

Becky Hurt Headshot

Becky (Bex) Hurt started dancing when she was 5 years old. She danced her way through school at San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts and graduated with honors in 1997. She went on to minor in dance at S.D.S.U. while she continued her training and performing with Unity Dance Ensemble from 1997-2004 under the direction of Tessandra Chavez. She has also trained with Culture Shock under the direction of Sherman Shoate (2010) and performed in Afta Shock under the direction of Trina Lyons (2009). She found Eveoke Dance Theatre in 2005 and joined the performing group, became a Master Teaching Artist and a Concert Company member as well as an award-winning Choreographer. She has performed in multiple shows in San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and went on tour in the Dominican Republic.

She had the honor of co-choreographing the hip-hop workshop production Refuge with Myriam Lucas in 2011. And then making it a full production for La Jolla Playhouse called BREAK in 2012 winning the Bravo SD Award. Bex now coaches two competition teams at San Diego Danceworks, teaches movement for the actor at La Jolla Playhouse and teaches outreach at Malashock Dance.

Natalia Hill, Education Outreach Teaching Artist

Natalia Hill graduated from The University of the Arts, Philadelphia with a degree in Modern Dance Education.  She was a company member of Dance Envoy (Florence, Italy), Estensiona Dance Company (NY, NY), Vox Dance Theatre (LA,CA) and The PGK Dance Project(San Diego, CA) working with numerous choreographers/directors from around the world.  She also performed in the 80th Anniversary Tour of the Martha Graham Dance Company, at MGM in Las Vegas with The Pointer Sisters, Temptations, and The Four Tops. As well as regional musicals such as Will Rogers Follies and Peter Pan in PA. Natalia has choreographed across the country for many things, among those are musicals such as Pirates of Penzances and P.T. Barnum, “Dance Your A** Off” promotion in Times Square, NY for Lifetime, and a dance sequence for an independant film in LA, Once Upon a Superhero.


Lizette Ortiz, Education Outreach Teaching Artist

 Lizette Ortiz is a native San Diegan who has been involved with the dance community for over 7 years. Her passion to train and perform started at the Southwestern College Dance Department. She participated in faculty and student choreography, ballet, jazz, hip-hop, latin, and modern for 4 years under the direction of Debbie Toth, Mary Jo Horvath, Dana Maue, Jaami Waali, and Colleen Shipkowski.

Lizette has been highly involved with multiple dance choreographers throughout San Diego and Mexico including Jaami and Angel Waali (Kruciaal Element), Peter Kalivas (PGK Project Apprentice), and Gabriela Equiz (Alma Latina Dance Company). Currently, Lizette travels and competes with Jasso Dance Academy under the direction of Sergio Jasso, participating in annual Salsa and Bachata Congresses across the United States and Mexico. She plans on competing this year, at the 2017 World Salsa Summit.

Molly Puryear

Molly Puryear was instrumental in the founding and development of the Malashock Dance School in 2007, and as Education Director from 2009 – 2014, she was responsible for all aspects of educational programming for the organization. She is thrilled to share her profound knowledge and passion for modern dance with the community.

A modern dancer and instructor with over fifteen years’ experience teaching dance and over 25 years of training in various dance genres, Molly demonstrates uncompromising dedication to both students and the art form of dance. Molly received a BFA in Dance from the University of North Texas in 2003, where she primarily studied under Arleen Sugano, master instructor and co-author of Physics and the Art of Dance; and Robin Lakes. Molly has choreographed and performed for numerous local dance events, including Sound Dance Company under choreographer Erica Buechner and Push Process under choreographer Lavina Rich. Her classes focus on the development and fulfillment dance can bring through the practice of engaging one’s mind, body and spirit while learning technique. The vast vocabulary of modern dance and her eclectic taste in music keep each class fresh and lively, while the fundamentals of the technique are addressed through multiple learning lenses. Emphasis is placed on proper alignment, often illustrated through the use of imagery and exploration of each unique body’s capacity.

Open Level Modern (Adult)

Tuesdays, 7:00pm – 8:30pm


Khamla Somphanh

Khamla dancingKhamla Somphanh has performed and taught professionally throughout the country. She began her training at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and continued at the University of the Arts before moving to NYC to pursue her career. In addition to her classes at Malashock Dance School, Khamla is Artist–In–Resisdence at Canyon Crest Academy and is a freelance choreographer. As an established instructor, Khamla has taught at Mills College, ODC Dance Commons and Shawl-Anderson Modern Dance Center.  She has danced with ODC/ San Francisco Dance Company, Wylliams/Henry Danse Ensemble, Na-Ni Chen Dance Company, Rod Rodgers Dance Company, East/West Repertory Ensemble, New World Dance Company, Soundance Dance Company, as guest artist for Malashock Dance and on Broadway in the “King and I”, choreographed by Lar Lubovitz to name a few.  Khamla received her Horton Pedagogy Certification at the Alvin Ailey School in NYC.

Advanced Modern (Adult)
Tuesdays 10:00am – 11:30am
Thursdays 10:00am – 11:30am
Saturdays 10:00am – 11:30am

 Heather Shershun, Outreach Teaching Artist

Heather Shershun has been an active teaching artist to students of diverse backgrounds in the San Diego and San Francisco Bay Area dance communities since 2005. Teaching Credits to include Malashock Dance (since 2012), Eveoke Dance Theatre (2005-2013), ODC Dance Commons (San Francisco), California Academy of Performing Arts (SF Bay Area), and Outreach Dance classes at over 90 schools, having served over 5,000 students so far.

Heather completed her B.A. in Sociology from UC Berkeley (with international honors) in 2016, as well as an extensive Teacher Training program through Eveoke Dance theatre on the art of teaching dance in 2007. She specializes in teaching underserved “at risk” populations such as juvenile hall, homeless youth, foster youth and victims of domestic violence, and is certified to assist people with disabilities in movement classes.

Heather has developed curriculum and choreography on “positive body image and healthy self-esteem for young women” through dance and founded San Diego’s first Women in Hip Hop Conference (2007). She has trained at Culture Shock Dance Center, the Academy of Performing Arts, and Evoke Dance Theatre in San Diego, with Allan Frias (of So You Think You Can Dance) at Dance Mission in San Francisco, ODC Dance Commons, UC Berkeley, and Yanis Marshall in San Francisco and Vegas in the styles of; Hip Hop, Jazz, Modern, Contemporary, Dancehall, African, Burlesque and Ballet. She has performed professionally in Oregon, Oakland, CA and San Diego in numerous Hip Hop, Dancehall/Island Fusion, and Burlesque show with Dance Northwest, Breakdown Dance Co., Bodywerk Dance, and Eveoke Dance Theatre.

Brittany Taylor

Brittany Taylor graduated from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, WA with a BFA in dance and relocated to San Diego in 2009. Her first appearance with The Malashock Dance Company was in RAW3 (2012) and is excited to be jumping into the 30th anniversary season with the company. She has been very fortunate to perform with Blythe Barton Dance (company member), Joe Alter Dance Group, Compulsion Dance and Theatre, Ion Theatre, [the] movement initiative, Khamla Somphanh, Andrew Holmes, and other independent artists. She was awarded “Most Compelling Performance by a Single Dancer” at the 2014 Young Choreographers Showcase and Prize performing for Jaime Nixon. Brittany and longtime dance partner Desiree Cuizon-Fejeran premiered their work Avenue Lexicon in August 2016 as well as co-produced the mixed media event Doublespeak. Brittany is honored to be a part of Malashock Dance’s faculty teaching advanced modern Wednesday mornings.

Beginner/Intermediate Modern (Adult)

Thursdays 7:00pm – 8:30pm

Advanced Graham-based Modern (Adult)

Wednesdays 10:00am – 11:30am


Rachel Torres

Rachel Torres graduated from UCSD in 2012, receiving a BA in Literature with Honors and a minor in Dance. Since graduating, she has had the pleasure of performing for several local dance artists in events such as The Engagement Ring Series at Malashock Dance, youTurn2015, Sound Dance Company’s “An Unlikely Outfit”, IGNITE, The San Diego Fringe Festival, The Live Arts Festival, and San Diego Dance Theater’s Trolley Dances. In 2014, she performed as a UCSD Alumni guest dancer for Jean Isaacs’ “There the Dance Is.” Recently, Rachel was honored to join Malashock Dance as a guest dancer in “Signatures” and Classics for Kids. She is very excited to be joining the Malashock Dance faculty this year.

Intro/Beginner Modern (Adult)
Saturdays 10:00am – 11:30am