Fran Spector Atkins is the Artistic Director and Founder of SpectorDance, located in Marina, CA. SpectorDance's mission is to provide excellence in dance training and performance, accomplished by offering a wide variety of activities that connect diverse artists and audiences, bridge disciplines through collaboration, and celebrate the power of art to inform and inspire. SpectorDance’s vision is to create socially relevant art, expand community, ignite creativity, and fuel the human spirit. To carry out its mission, SpectorDance has a School, Company, SpectorDance On-Site, the Choreographers Showcase, and the Sadie Rose Residency Program. The company's repertoire focuses on contemporary dance that integrates music, spoken word and visual technology, and focuses on socially relevant topics.
Collaboration with outstanding non-arts organizations is key to every Company project. Examples include Common Ground, a collaboration with the United Farm Workers, about California agriculture; East West, a collaboration with Rancho Cielo about gang violence; Ocean our first collaboration with Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) about the state of the world ocean based on filmed interviews with renown ocean scientists, and Ocean Trilogy, a continued dance-science partnership between SpectorDance and MBARI, highlighting hopeful possibilities for ocean health from cutting-edge ocean science research.. The company was selected by The Arts Council for Monterey County as the Outstanding Arts Organization in Monterey County in January 2007 and was a national finalist for the Ovations TV award for Excellence in the Performing Arts.
Spector Atkin’s professional credits include a B. S. in Occupational Therapy from Boston University, an M.F.A. from Mills College in Dance and Choreography, and Certification in Laban Movement Analysis from the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies in NYC. Spector Atkins is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum.
Spector Atkins began her professional career in New York City, where she performed with the Incredible Journey Dance Company and the Mariko Sanjo Dance Company. Since 1977, she has been an independent teacher and choreographer and directed studios in NYC, Cleveland, and Monterey. She has been invited to teach, choreograph, and perform throughout the United States and abroad. Some of her outstanding experiences include guest teaching and presenting her choreography at Oberlin College, Brown University, at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, and in Denmark, Egypt, England, Israel, the Island of Guam, Taiwan, and Italy. In Fall 2018, SpectorDance Company will perform at the New Victory Theater in Santa Barbara, and In Spring 2019, at Stanford University in Palo Alto and at Sunset Center in Carmel.
Amy Byington began her dance training (ballet, jazz, modern, character and tap) at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas. She has performed with the Clear Lake Metropolitan Ballet and Galveston Ballet, dancing various roles in The Nutcracker, Coppelia, Cinderella, The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake (Act II), Giselle and Don Quixote. Amy has studied under Leo Ahonen, Soli Arvola, Keith Cross, Luis Fuente, Myrta George, Lynette Mason, Richard Munro, and Beverly Williams; and has worked with choreographers Amalie Hunter and Olga Kostritsky. In 1994, Amy received a scholarship to study at the Joffery Ballet School and Broadway Dance Center in New York. Amy came to SpectorDance in 2006 to share her love of dance by teaching ballet classes to all ages. In 2009, she accepted the role of Assistant School Director, 2015 Director of the Youth Company, and in 2017 School Director. Amy holds a B.S in Marine Science from Texas A&M University and a M.S in Marine Science from San Jose State University. She is a senior analyst and research technician at the Marine Pollution Studies Laboratory at Moss Landing Maine Laboratories.
Jahnna Biddle is a choreographer, director and performer. Jahnna brings imagination and creativity when it comes to choreography, dancing, and teaching. She has been honored with many awards not only for dance and choreography, but educationally as well. Her training is extensive and her mentors are incredible and have been a great influence on her career. Her varied performances and projects include House of Blues Move to Groove Ball, Key Club Choreographers Carnival, Mandalone Projects, Greek Theatre Youth Celebration, cast member of Sister Ella with Director Larry Heart & music master Michael Jackson, Fame LA TV Series, HBO’s The Tracey Ullman Show – Tracy Take On & State of the Union productions, and other various music videos and TV/film projects. Now living in Marina California she is proud to be part of a new community. She currently directs the dance program at Robert Louis Steven School in Carmel, California. While changing the direction of dance at RLS, she hopes to reach out locally to help guide a new generation of young artists.
Melissa Karasek has been a dancer and performer since the age of two. Growing up, she trained in various styles at Studio 10 Dance in San Jose and at Carmel Academy of Performing. In high school, she danced with the award winning Pacific Grove High School dance team and then continued coaching the team for four more years after graduating in 2009. While coaching for PGHS, Melissa taught ages 3 to adult in a variety of styles at Rockstar Dance Studio, Monterey Youth Center, and Robert Down Elementary. She, also, danced with the Infamous Night Rockers dance crew at CSUMB for their final season and was a part of Choreology dance crew from Salinas for two years whom she performed with at World of Dance twice. In 2013, Melissa moved to Los Angeles to gain experience and knowledge within the commercial dance industry. While in L.A., Melissa performed with companies including LA Unbound, Amaterasu Dance Company, and Fiasco Dance Crew and was hired for several independent paying jobs. She, also, spent time working with Leslie’s Scott’s E.D.I.F.Y. Movement dance non-profit, assisted with Leslie’s classes at EDGE Performing Arts Complex and Millennium Dance Complex and taught hip hop and jazz funk fro Amaterasu Dance Company. In 2014, Melissa began leading Walk and Roll Foundation’s wheelchair dance team with Chelsie Hill and still travels to L.A. to choreograph for them and is a a member of their Board of Directors. Recently, Melissa has moved back to Monterey peninisula to finish a business admin degree at CSUMB and is excited to begin teaching at SpectorDance. Her favorite styles to teach includes jazz, ballet, and modern, and her favorite styles to train in and perform is hip hop and jazz funk.
Rachel Crawford took her first ballet class after watching a performance of The Nutcracker. Twenty years later, Rachel’s passion continues to grow every day as she trains the next generation of dancers. Rachel grew up in Kansas City, MO, dancing and performing with the Heart of America Youth Ballet and Kansas City Ballet. Rachel attended the Conservatory of Music and Dance at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) and received her BFA degree in ballet and modern dance. During this time, Rachel had the privilege of training under many world renowned professors, teachers, choreographers, and repetiteurs. Rachel has performed in ballets such as Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz, and six Nutcrackers as well as many original choreographic works set at UMKC. Rachel began teaching dance 10 years ago while living in Kansas City. Since college, Rachel has had the opportunity to perform, teach, and train in other cities such as San Diego, Honolulu, and now, Monterey. Rachel is excited to join the SpectorDance family.
Dawn Trego received her training at the Yoga Center of Carmel. She has been teaching locally for 17 years and can adapt her classes for all levels (loves beginners). Dawn has a certificate in yoga training, licensed massage therapist, and has studied kinesiology.
Jacqueline Thompson grew up in Marina and has been a licensed zumba instructor for 2 years. She is licensed for Zumba Fitness, Zumba Gold, Zumba Kids, Zumba Kids Jr and Zumba Step, also completing Zumba Pro Skills and other professional development courses for licensed zumba instructors. Jackie has a strong passion for Zumba, nutrition, health & wellness. She has worked in the nutrition field for nearly 25 years, beginning as a nutrition educator in 1989, a registered dietitian in 2001 and a certified diabetes educator in 2005. She holds a B.S. in Nutrition and M.S degree in Nutritional Science and has a medical exercise specialist certification and an AFAA group fitness instructor certification. Jackie takes a holistic/integrative approach, emphasizing optimal health and chronic disease prevention. In addition to teaching 4 zumba classes per week, she has worked at a diabetes education center for 11 years and has maintained a part-time private practice since 2003. Two years ago Jackie began advanced study in functional medicine and functional/integrative nutrition and is currently completing advanced practice courses offered through the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) required for the Board Certification in Functional Medicine.
Utaco Ishigaki has been performing tap dance since 2002. She studied tap under Kazunori Kumagai, a prominent tap dancer in Japan and a recent winner of Bessie Award. As a member of Kumagai’s company, she has also taught tap dance for several years in Tokyo to students ranging from 5 year old to 80 year old. Since her move to America, she enjoys performing sessions with local musicians.
Tessa Dastrup began her ballet training with Raymond Van Mason at The School of Imagine Ballet Theatre located in Ogden, Utah. Later, she went on to study with Cristobal Marquez at The Ballet Conservatory of Salt Lake City as a scholarship student in their pre-professional training program. Tessa received a ballet scholarship to Utah Valley University in 2010 and was selected as a freshman to join UVU’s Repertory Ballet Ensemble where she performed featured roles in an array of classical and contemporary works. While traveling with the company to Regional Dance America, Tessa was offered scholarships to Jacqueline’s School of Ballet Summer Intensive and Ririe-Woodbury’s “Move-It” Summer Intensive, which she attended in summer of 2013. In April 2015 Tessa graduated with honors and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in ballet. Upon graduation, Tessa accepted a contract with Utah Metropolitan Ballet (formerly known as Utah Regional Ballet) and danced under the direction of Jacqueline Colledge until April 2018. Since relocating to the Monterey Peninsula with her husband, Tessa has been dancing with SpectorDance Company and was delighted to be featured in the premiere of Fran Spector Atkin’s work For My Mother, which debuted at SpectorDance’s annual Choreographers Showcase in July 2018. Throughout her years of dance training, Tessa has also found her love for sharing the beautiful art form through teaching. She is an experienced teacher with a variety of ages and levels. Tessa looks forward to continue sharing her passion for dance through training, performing, and teaching here at SpectorDance.
Mackenzie King grew up in Carmel, California where she started dancing at the age of three under the direction of Carol Richmond. She continued her professional training at Walnut Hill School for the Arts under the direction of Michael Owen the Conservatory of Dance at SUNY Purchase, graduating Magna Cum Laude in 2015 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance. Mackenzie has studied and performed works from San Francisco Ballet, Smuin Ballet, Boston Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, the Martha Graham Dance Company, Doug Varone and Dancers, and many others. Mackenzie has performed throughout the United States and internationally. After dancing professionally in New York, Mackenzie moved to Chicago where she founded Moonwater Dance Project and serves as Artistic Director. The aesthetic of Moonwater Dance Project is similar to water and has a captivating duality, soft yet strong, nurturing and destructive; a force to be reckoned with, unpredictable and utterly calming.
Photo by Micheal Higgins
Norma Ann Taitano Phillips is from the island of Guam. At the age of 3, she began dancing ballet at the BodyArts School of Dance, and later began to train in jazz and tap. She moved to Los Angeles to attend University of Southern California, where she joined several contemporary, hip hop, and salsa dance teams. At a performance, she was discovered by Vincent Paterson, who suggested she pursue a career in the industry. Since then, she has worked for music artist Lindsey Stirling, award shows such as Latin American Music Awards, films, and Las Vegas events. She has also worked for Ken Dance Company and Sean Greene's Shieldwall Dance Company. She continues to study modern dance under Sean Greene, with her dance partner Junji Dezaki.
Photo by Micheal Higgins
Junji Dezaki is from Wakayama, Japan where he trained in karate and shaolin-kenpo. As a teenager he won the all Japan karate contest, and in his early 20s began dancing hip-hop. In order to pursue his passion for hip hop, he decided to move to the United States where he became the first Japanese male dancer in the Monsters of Hip Hop show. In his mid 20s, he discovered the art of ballet and began his training. He has since worked for several ballet and contemporary dance companies such as Kin Dance Company, Kybele, No)one. Art House, City Ballet of Los Angeles, and Ken Dance Company. He has also worked for LA Opera, LA Philharmonic, fashion brands such as KENZO, and the pop artist P!nk. In 2018, he began his modern dance training under Sean Greene with his dance partner, Norma Phillips.
3343 Paul Davis Drive Marina, CA 93933
SpectorDance is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization EIN# 93-1203319