San Jose Dance Theatre Staff


Academy Director

Originally from Minnesota, Brooke Wertwijn trained at Ashley Ballet Arts Academy directed by Ashley Burkland. She graduated from the University of Utah School of Dance with a B.F.A. in Ballet, Ballet Studio Teaching Certificate, and Business Minor. Brooke danced with SALT Contemporary Dance’s Pre-Professional Training Company directed by Courtney Mazeika. While a Trainee at Ballet Idaho, she performed in works by Peter Anastos, George Balanchine, FLOCK, Nicole Haskins, Anne Mueller, Bruce Wells, and Quinn Wharton. Brooke received additional training at summer intensives with Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Boston Ballet, Ballet West, and the Dutch National Ballet. She has performed internationally in the Czech Republic (Character Dance Ensemble), South Korea (University of Utah), and Italy (Orsolina28 – Nunes/FLOCK).

Her choreography has been presented at the Minnesota Fringe Festival, Cathedral Dance Festival, American College Dance Association’s Northwest Conference, SHAPE Choreography Festival, and the University of Utah Ballet Showcase. She was a 2020 Women’s Artistic Leadership Initiative Fellow. Brooke is an ABT® Certified Teacher in Pre-Primary through Level 3. She has taught at Ashley Ballet Arts Academy (Minnesota), University of Utah Ballet Summer Intensive, Dance Arts Academy (Idaho), and Palo Alto Dance Connection (California). She has performed with San José Dance Theatre since 2022 and is excited to be stepping into the role of Academy Director.


Faculty: Ballet, Conditioning

Astrid Arvelo formally began her ballet studies at the Terpsicore Comprehensive Dance School, at the age of 13 with teacher Humberto Rodriguez. At the age of 15, she joined the stable dance corps at the Nuevo Mundo ballet in Caracas, under the artistic direction of the teacher, director and prima ballerina from Venezuela Zhandra Rodriguez, who was a principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre and Hamburg Ballet.

Finishing part of her training at the Ballet Nuevo Mundo, she joined the renowned company in Venezuela, the Teresa Carreño Ballet. In 2018 she competed at the Miami International Ballet Competition USA where she won the Silver Medal in the fourth division category.

In 2021 she moved to the United States to continue her career as a dancer and sharing her experience as a ballet teacher. She danced in different companies in Miami such as Dimensions Dance Theater (Entrenar) of Miami and Cuban Classical Ballet of Miami as Soloist and Corps of Ballet under the artistic direction Heriberto Jimenez. She currently lives in California dancing as a guest artist with companies in the area. Astrid has worked at Western Ballet as a teacher and guest dancer. She has experience teaching in pre-ballet, youth and adult programs. 


Faculty: Modern, Ballet

Siân Ferguson is a dance teacher, notator and director with many years experience in the US and Europe at venues including the Juilliard School, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, Stanford University and the Oakland Ballet Company. She is currently on the faculty at Cabrillo College. Sian is a professional dance notator and is certified in  Labanotation. Most notably, she was the Company Dance Notator for Paul Taylor Dance Company. When not dancing, Siân has spent time doing conservation work in Mexico, and traveling to Hungary and Korea. Her interests include writing bad poetry, mini golf and making banana costumes. She loves San Jose Dance Theatre. The students are fantastic and give her hope for the future!


Faculty: Ballet, Pre-Pointe, Pointe, Conditioning

Kim Gardner is a former ballerina and longtime ballet and Pilates instructor with over 35 years as a movement educator. She is currently on staff at San Jose Dance Theatre where she teaches ballet, Pointe, Pilates/dance conditioning and injury prevention. Kim particularly enjoys helping young dancers prepare for the unique demands of pointe work and is known for her clarity and ability to impart an experiential knowledge of the anatomy and aesthetics of ballet technique to her students.

Kim began her training at San Jose Dance Theatre under the tutelage of founding directors Paul E. Curtis and Shawn Stuart and trained on scholarship at San Francisco and Pennsylvania Ballet. At age 18 she began her professional career, first with Milwaukee Ballet where she performed many of the classics, then contemporary ballet with Margaret Wingrove Dancers and Alonzo King’s LINES, and toured the United States in Oakland Ballet’s eclectic and Diaghilev era repertory. Kim returned to SJDT to teach and coach young dancers and appeared as principal guest artist for several seasons as Sugar Plum Fairy in their Nutcracker and Beauty in Beauty and the Beast for which she received critical acclaim. All together Kim’s performing career spanned 17 years to which she credits her Pilates training.

She was first introduced to therapeutic Pilates in 1988 while rehabilitating a hip injury at Dance Medicine St. Francis Memorial Hospital in SF and went on to pursue her certification in Pilates in 1996. Kim has since combined her skills and experience as a dancer, teacher and Pilates instructor to educate and assist dancers of all ages in injury prevention, conditioning and rehabilitation. For 10 years Kim ran the Dance Medicine program at O’Connor Hospital’s Center for Sports Medicine where she developed individualized exercise programs to serve the needs of a varied patient population. She has given numerous presentations on the application of Pilates-based exercise for dance-specific rehabilitation and performance enhancement to physical therapists, athletic trainers and dance instructors. In 2011 Kim opened her own studio Align Pilates and Dance Conditioning in San Jose where she enjoys working with clients of all ages and backgrounds and provides low-cost Dance Medicine Clinics for the local professional dance community.


Faculty: Ballet, Jazz

Elise Holmes began her training at Pasadena Dance Theatre under Cynthia Young and Laurence Blake. In 2015, she was the recipient of the Pasadena Arts Council Young Artist Award for Dance. She spent summers studying at Ballet Arizona and on scholarship at Boca Ballet Theatre where she performed in Dan Guin’s Coppélia.

She went on to the University of California, Irvine (UCI) where she received her B.F.A in Dance Performance with a minor in Biological Sciences. During her time at Irvine, she was the recipient of the William J. Gillespie Scholarship and performed featured roles in excerpts from La Bayadère, Le Corsaire, and La Sylphide. She also traveled to Shanghai, China as part of UCI’s East Meets West Dance Festival.

Holmes returned to Pasadena Dance Theatre for two seasons as a soloist appearing in their fall gala and their Nutcracker production. In 2020, Elise joined San José Dance Theatre and performed roles such as the Coulante Fairy in Sleeping Beauty. She performed as The Sugar Plum Fairy in SJDT’s 58th production of The Nutcracker.


Faculty: Ballet, Pointe

Nicole moved to the Bay area in April 2022 and since then has enjoyed performing professionally with Western Ballet, San Jose Dance Theatre, Oceanica Ballet and New Ballet. Growing up in Singapore, she trained in Chinese Dance, and went on to complete vocational levels of the RAD and CSTD under Mr. Donato C. Ferrer and Mr. Antony Tay. She joined Singapore Ballet’s pre-professional scholarship program under Mr. Janek Schergen before joining Tampa Ballet Theatre and The Georgia Ballet where she had the opportunity to perform a variety of classical and contemporary works including Paquita, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Carmen, and Giselle.


Faculty: Ballet, Pointe

Erin McMahon is originally from Houston, Texas where she trained under Caryn Stoll, Kathleen Waltz, Miroslav “Misha” Bart, and Milena Leben before attending City Ballet of Houston. After graduating high school, Erin attended The University of Utah where she received her BFA in Ballet, BS in Economics and a minor in Modern Dance. She danced with Central West Ballet, performing soloist and principal roles, then moved to Virginia to dance with Roanoke Ballet Theatre performing roles such as Spring Fairy from Sleeping Beauty, Helena from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and the Evil Queen in Rolando Sarabia’s Snow White. Erin joined San José Dance Theatre in 2022 and has been featured as Snow Queen and Arabian Princess in The Nutcracker.

rebecca nugent photo


Faculty: Ballet, Conditioning

Rebecca Nugent, an Ethiopian native, moved to Sacramento where she enrolled in dance classes at a local studio where she trained in Tap, Jazz, HIp-Hop, Contemporary, and Modern. Ultimately she fell in love with ballet. At the age of 16 Rebecca moved to Humboldt County where she trained and performed at a local ballet school. Rebecca Recieved her AA in Kinesiology, with a focus on Physical Therapy, minor in Dance. Rebecca Moved to San Jose in 2019 to dance professionally. Throughout her dancing career, she has performed the role of Sugar Plum Fairy, Snow Queen, and Clara in the Nutcracker as well as soloist and corps de ballet roles in Sleeping beauty, Cinderella, Paquita, La Sylphide, Swan Lake, and Stars and Stripes. Rebecca holds a certification in American Ballet Theater National Training Curriculum as well as certification in The GYROTONIC Method.


Faculty: Ballet, Pointe

Anton Pankevich is a current Professor at Stanford University. He received his ballet training at the Vaganova Ballet Academy in Russia and later on went to study at School of American Ballet and San Francisco Ballet School. Has worked as a ballet master and a guest teacher with: English National Ballet, National Ballet of Canada, Wiesbaden Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet and Leipzig Ballet.


Faculty: Ballet, Pointe, Conditioning

Kathryn has danced professionally with Smuin Ballets/SF, State Street Ballet, San Francisco Opera Ballet, Santa Barbara Opera and San Jose Dance Theater. She has performed all over the United States, China, Taiwan, and the Caribbean. She has also performed in theater including, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Titania) and musicals including Chicago (PAP), CATS (Sierra Rep) and West Side Story (Cabrillo, AMT) among others. She holds certifications and currently teaches Pilates and Yoga. She has a B.A. from UC Santa Cruz in Performance, Play, and Design and is currently working on her M.A. at UCSC.


Faculty: Jazz

Monica Rivera moved to the United States from Honduras when she was 6 years old. She fell in love with dance when she attended public schools in rural North Carolina. When she was in high school, her dance class was her favorite place. She studied jazz, modern, and ballet. She decided to study Dance Education at Meredith College, where she was a member of the modern dance company, Meredith Dance Theater. She choreographed many works, interned at the American Dance Festival, and received the dance department award upon graduating. Her goal was to recreate her own version of the program that impacted her so positively. 

Monica started working with San Francisco Unified School District in 2018, as the dance teacher at James Lick Middle School. In April 2021, with the help of her administrators, colleagues, students, and parents, Monica started the dance program at A. P. Giannini Middle School. Working from the ground up, she’s worked with hundreds of amazing students, developed a robust curriculum, and collaborated with district officials to upgrade the dance infrastructure in her classroom. Her goals are to always make sure her students are challenged, push their creative limits, and find happiness in her class. In May 2024, she was the recipient of the SFUSD Arts Ambassador award, an achievement awarded to educators who have made an impact within the arts. She is honored to be able to do this everyday.


Faculty: Ballet

Hollie Rudolph began her training at Laguna Dance Theatre under the direction of Sherry Gilbert. Later, she continued her formal training at the New American Youth Ballet and Conservatory. Hollie then pursued higher education at Butler University where she received her BFA in Dance Performance. In 2020, she moved to the Bay Area and has since danced professionally with several companies in the area including San Jose Dance Theatre, Opera San Jose, Peninsula Ballet and Oceanica Ballet. Along with dancing Hollie also teaches ballet to a number of students throughout the Bay and especially enjoys teaching adult students. This will be Hollie’s fourth year with SJDT.


Faculty: Jazz

James Santiago has a BA in Dance as well as an AA in Theatre Arts. James has been performing since he was in middle school musical theater which led him to branch out to dance. He has trained in jazz, modern, contemporary, ballet, tap and hip hop.  James is extensively trained in modern techniques, such as Horton, Limon, and gaga. James has also trained with Joffrey Ballet and Cirque du Soleil. He now performs professionally around the Bay Area performing in musicals, opera, and guesting in different Ballet companies. James is also certified in flexibility coaching, breath work, soft tissue, deep tissue, and bodywork.


Faculty: Ballet, Jazz

Sydney Strong received her formal ballet training at Tarrant County College in Hurst, Texas under the direction of Dr. Kihyoung Choi. There she danced with Dr.Choi’s semi-professional company, Movers Unlimited Dance Company.

Sydney apprenticed for Dallas Neoclassical Ballet (now American Neoclassical Ballet) for one season before deciding to further her dance education at The Joffrey Ballet School in New York City, where she graduated in 2020.

Post graduation, Sydney joined San Jose Dance Theatre as a Trainee, during which time she had the opportunity to choreograph two short ballets as well as dance in soloist roles in their production of “The Nutcracker”.


Faculty: Ballet, Pas de Deux, Variations

David Fonnegra, a seasoned principal dancer, has graced stages at Miami City Ballet, Channel Island Ballet, State Street Ballet, BNC, and Ballet Nacional de Caracas. With guest performances across Europe and the Americas, his repertoire shines with choreography by Balanchine, Vicente Nebrada, Petipa, Paul Taylor, and Gamonet. David, holding a Bachelor of Arts from St. Mary’s College, has been shaping young talents since 2017, preparing dancers for YAGP and teaching at SJDT with unwavering dedication.


Faculty: Hip Hop

Bio coming soon!