Ah-Lan:  Director, Chinese Dance Instructor

The program was started by Ah-Lan, a dancer and choreographer with more than 25 years’ experience in Chinese folk dancing. Trained in traditional Chinese dance and ballet in Hangzhou, China, Ah-Lan performed in various cities across China in the 1980’s. She came to California in the 90’s and has been teaching Chinese dance classes for East Bay residents ever since.

Ah Lan Chu Yao

Amanda Whitehead:  Ballet & Modern Dance Instructor

Amanda Whitehead trained primarily in ballet at The Washington School of Ballet in Washington, DC.  She danced professionally with The Washington Ballet from 1994-1996, before leaving to pursue her bachelor’s degree in Spanish with a minor in dance at Princeton University.  She choreographed for the drama program at The Pennington School in Pennington, New Jersey, for nine years.  She has been a dedicated teacher of ballet and modern dance for all ages since moving to the Bay Area in 2006, and she became a Music Together teacher in 2011.  She currently performs with ahdanco (Abigail Hosein Dance Company), FACT/SF, and Nina Haft & Company, and has also performed with Tammy Cheney and Mo Miner.  She teaches teaches ballet and modern dance at Shawl Anderson dance school.

Amanda Whitehead photo

Photo Credit: Stephen Weiss

Francisco Avellan:  Ballet Instructor

Originally from Nicaragua, Francisco Avellan has studied classical ballet extensively with teachers such as Alexi Zubiria and Maria Vegh. He is known for his warm and compassionate teaching style with students from absolute beginners to advanced levels.  He has danced professionally since 1985 with many Bay Area companies including Marin Ballet.  Francisco is Pilates certified and also has a great deal of experience teaching ballet for rhythmic gymnastics.  He teaches ballet at Western Ballet.


Ikolo Griffin:  Ballet Instructor

Ikolo Griffin was born and raised in San Francisco. From the age of eight, Ikolo trained at the San Francisco Ballet School, taught by renowned master teachers from around the world. He has danced professionally for over twenty years with San Francisco Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Joffrey Ballet, Smuin Ballet, and the San Francisco Opera, among others.
Ikolo’s intensive training provided a strong classical basis for his performing career and continues to inform his teaching methods. He teaches all over the Bay Area and throughout the country to students of all ages and levels. His philosophy emphasizes a positive, healthy artistic environment and a fresh approach to classicism. Ikolo’s unique teaching style and talents as a dancer led him to create Just Turns, a curriculum specially designed to target and improve turning technique.
ikolo picture

Julia Richardson

Julia teaches a blend of yoga, martial arts and creative movement to children and adults of all ages, including those with mental and physical disabilities.
Her yoga classes for children expand and hone their awareness of their bodies and develp their skills in concentration, balance, and serenity.  She feels it important to build a joyful, fun and confident educational environment. She is amazed by the great capacity, intelligence, creative energy, spontaneity, and honesty children display and is always learning from their fresh exuberant engagement of life.
She received her BFA from California Institute of the Arts and is a Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher.

Julia Richardson

Kari Gim:  Ballet

Kari Gim began her ballet training at seven years of age at the Oakland Ballet Academy under the direction of Ronn Guidi. Throughout her training, she performed with the Oakland Ballet Company in performances such as “The Nutcracker” and “Hansel and Gretel.” Kari has taught for Ronn Guidi’s Oakland Ballet Academy and Peggy Peabody’s Ballet Petit and is excited to guest teach for Ah-Lan Dance Studio.

Kari Gim Headshot

Madeline Harmon:  Yoga Instructor

Madeline Harmon received her registered Yoga certification from Laughing Lotus Yoga School in San Francisco, and she also has a Teen Yoga Teacher Certification from Karma Kids Yoga, San Francisco. She presently teaches classes at Square One Yoga Collective in Emeryville and at Namaste Here in San Francisco.

Madeline is also very passionate about working with teens, and is currently teaching at Berkeley High School in the Dance Department, and has also taught yoga to young people at James Madison Middle School in Oakland and at Berkeley Youth Alternatives.  Her vision is to bring yoga and its multitude of health benefits into schools as a regular part of the curriculum.

Madeline’s goal as a teacher is to help students unlock the doors that will create a true sense of joy and uncover their inherent strengths. She aims to teach in a balanced way, combining the physical challenge of the asanas with teachings on yoga philosophy and modern science.

Instructor Photo: Madeleine

Mahealani Uchiyama:  Hawaiian & Tahitian Dance Instructor

Mahealani Uchiyama is a dancer, musician, composer and teacher. An advocate for cultural understanding, she is the founder and Artistic Director of the Center for International Dance (MUCID), and is Kumu Hula (hula teacher) of Halau KaUaTuahine. She is widely recognized for the authenticity and quality of her work.

Mahealani holds a BA in Dance Ethnology and an MA in Pacific Island Studies, both from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, and was trained in traditional hula and Tahitian ori in Hawai’i and Tahiti. Her Kumu was Joseph Kamoha’i Kaha’ulelio.

Mahealani’s passion for, and mastery of Hawaiian and Tahitian performing arts has led to numerous performance tours to Tahiti, French Polynesia, Aotearoa (New Zealand) and the islands of Hawai’i. She has taught workshops and led seminars throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada. She has also traveled to Fiji, Rarotonga, Thailand, Senegal, Zimbabwe and India.

Mahealani approaches dance as a manifestation of the human spirit, encouraging her students to explore and celebrate their cultural differences and common humanity. She has been a teacher and performer of Polynesian dance for 29 years, and has also produced numerous recordings of traditional Hawaiian and Tahitian music. Her CD, “A Walk by the Sea”, is a compilation of the sounds of her cultural and spiritual heritage and has been awarded the Hawai’i Music Award for Best World Music Album of 2007. Her CD, “Ndoro dze Madzinza” features the mbira, the spiritual music of the Shona people of Zimbabwe. She will soon release a new collection of Mbira music, “The Sky That Covers Us All”.
C_EDF08_Uchiyama_079 photo

Raphaele Daubois:  Hula-Hoop Instructor

Raphaele Daubois learned hula hoop at the age of 13 from Fanny Kerwich at Lone Star Circus in Dallas Texas. After many years of training, she became a professional hula hoop dancer.  She has performed in France with Le Grand Cirque Royal and in Mexico with Alegria Brothers Circus.  She is currently a member of San Francisco Circus Center.

Sara Ayala:  Flamenco Dance Instructor

Sarita Ayala was born in Los Angeles, California.  Her study of Hispanic dance began there with classes In Mexican Folkloric, Spanish Classical, and Spanish regional dance.  Her first Flamenco teachers included Ester Moreno, Inesita, and later Roberto Amaral.  After moving to the Bay Area she became a featured soloist with Los Flamencos de la Bodega at the Old Spaghetti Factory.  Cruz Luna’s Ole Ole Flamenco Dance Company, Rosa Montoya’s Bailes Flamencos, The Flamenco Society of San Jose and Theatre Flamenco of San Francisco.  In Spain and in the U.S. she has studied with some of the great masters of Flamenco dance including Ciro, Manolo Marin, Angelita Vargas, Jose Galvan, and Concha Vargas. She is cofounder of Flamenco Vivo which performs throughout Northern California.  Sarita teaches Children, university students and adults in locations throughout the East Bay.


Sun Wei:  Singing Teacher

Sun Wei was born with a beautiful voice.  After years of training, she became a professional singer at the age of 16.  Sun Wei performed professionally in China for about 30 years before coming to the United States.  Sun Wei achieved fame and acclaim in China, and her career culminated in her being granted “First Rank Singer” in China by the national arts and culture authorities.

Today, Sun Wei runs a Chinese-language afternoon school program teaching Chinese in Albany.  She enjoys teaching Chinese to children, and her next dream is to found a youth choir group.

Sun Wei pict

Yan Yuan:  Zumba Instructor

Yan Yuan first started Zumba last year and immediately fell in love because “Zumba is the perfect combination of dance, fitness, and fun. It won’t even feel like you are working out”. Yan always loved dance, but had an academic focus as a child. She entered Beijing University at age 16 and received a Masters of Public Health (MPH) from UC Berkeley. Yan is a certified Zumba instructor and brings many years of dance experience to her Zumba instruction.



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