World class faculty, experience in training leading dancers. 

San Jose Dance Theatre’s educational vision is guided by the Artistic Director who takes into consideration current market trends and developments in dance training. The primary educational goal of the organization is to support the development of classical and contemporary dancers that meets the needs of the industry.   To achieve this the Artistic Director skillfully designs a strong educational program supporting all ages and dance forms.

Artistic Director - Mark Foehringer

Hailed by San Francisco dance critics as “unfailingly musical”, “imaginative and inventive”, Mark
Foehringer steps into the position of Artistic Director of San Jose Dance Theatre. He has been part of the dance industry for over four decades. He is a director, choreographer, master teacher, producer, and mentor. Foehringer was born in Minnesota and grew up in Brazil, South America. He received his conservatory dance education at Centro de Dança e Artes Integradas in São Paulo, Brazil. He is a founding member of Cisne Negro Dance Company in São Paulo and toured with them throughout South America and Europe for ten years.

Upon returning to the US, he was appointed to the artistic directorship of Western Ballet in Mountain View, California, a position he held for ten years. While there, he choreographed, staged, and directed 37 productions which included three act ballets as well as mixed bills. He developed the Western Ballet training programs into world class dance education. In 1996 he founded Mark Foehringer Dance Project|SF (MFDP|SF), a contemporary dance organization based in San Francisco committed to creative practices which generate opportunity, inclusion, and collaboration in dance. The company represented the United States on five US Public Diplomacy tours through the US State Department and performed by invitation in New York at the Joyce Theater and Lincoln Center. Foehringer was awarded two Fulbright Fellowships and a Specialist Grant through the Council for International Exchange of Scholars. Internationally, he worked at Rambert School for Contemporary Dance in London and throughout Brazil. He was an artist in residence at National Ballet of Peru in 2007 and toured throughout Peru lecturing, teaching, and creating dance works for a variety of populations. In 2013 he founded Conservatory for Contemporary Dance Arts (CCDA), a multidisciplinary dance program which prepared serious young dancers for university level dance studies and a career in dance. Foehringer serves as stage director and choreographer for bay area opera companies, amongst them Festival Opera in Walnut Creek, California and Opera San Jose. After eight years as a professor of dance at San José State University, Foehringer is thrilled to take the helm at San Jose Dance Theatre.

Mariana Zschoerper - Ballet Mistress

Mariana trained at The Bolshoi Theater School from 2000-2007 and performed soloist roles in Brazil, Italy, Germany, France, and Russia. She was chosen to do an internship with The Bolshoi Ballet in Russia and received private coaching by Vladimir Vassiliev and Ekaterina Maximova. Mariana performed Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker, while completing her internship with The Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow.

Mariana graduated from The Bolshoi Theater School as the Valedictorian of her class, and received a Certificate of Vaganova Method for Teaching. In 2007, Mariana joined the professional Bolshoi Ballet company in Brazil, performed as a soloist. In 2010, Mariana joined Company Ballet in Sao Paolo as a Principal Dancer and competed nationally, receiving many awards for her work in Brazil. She was a Finalist at the Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition NYC Senior Division 2015-2016. She won First Place and Honorius at the Bravo Ballet Competition in 2010.

In 2011, Mariana joined the Baltimore Ballet as a Principal Dancer and also coached the advanced dancers in the school. In 2013, she received a merit scholarship to The Boston Conservatory, and in 2017, graduated with her B.F.A. as the Valedictorian.

Mariana Joined SJDT in 2019 as Ballet Mistress.​

Kim Gardner - Ballet, Conditioning, Pilates, Lecture Demonstrations on Dance Conditioning & Injury Prevention.

Kim has a long history with San Jose Dance Theatre having studied with founding directors Paul E. Curtis and Shawn Stuart from age 6 and then grew through the ranks to perform Sugar Plum Fairy at age 17. She then went on to perform many of the classics with Milwaukee Ballet, 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 principle guest artist for several seasons. She is best remembered as the Sugar Plum Fairy in the annual Nutcracker and as 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.

Certified in Pilates in 1996, Kim has since combined her skills and experience as 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. She also gives presentations on the application of Pilates-based exercise for injury rehabilitation and performance enhancement to physical therapists, athletic trainers, physicians, chiropractors and dance instructors. In 2001, O’Connor Hospital awarded her the Certificate of Excellence. In 2011, Kim opened her own studio, ALIGN Pilates and Dance Conditioning, where she serves dancers and non-dancers alike. Kim is the proud mother of twin daughters and happy to rejoin SJDT’s faculty.

Irina Tomushev - Youth Ballet Teacher

Originally from Ukraine, Miss Irina studied ballet in her native city of Lvov at Lvov Opera ballet school. After moving to the Bay Area she continued studying under Christine Morgan at L’Ecole de Dance and Florian Saqellari at Ballet Expression performing solo pieces in company productions. Miss Irina also studied under Luana Hidalgo at San Jose Ballet school.

In 2009, she joined Cassand Ballet and studied under Maître Rodolphe Cassand, for whom she performed solo pieces in his original works for several years and assisted Mr. Cassand with rehearsals. Miss Irina loves teaching and choreographing for children, developing their understanding of music and movement.


Sian Ferguson - Modern, Tumbling Tots, Ballet Basics

Dance Teacher, Notator and Ballet Director from Ealing, London, and trained at the Laban Centre. Following an M.A. in Dance Research and Reconstruction at the City College of New York and a Professional Notator Certification from the Dance Notation Bureau in New York, Sian served as Paul Taylor’s Notator for several years. She has notated and directed at venues such as the Juilliard School, the Dance Theatre of Harlem, and Hofstra University.

With the eye of a dancer and choreographer, Sian enjoys staging notated works as if they were being freshly created today. Her teaching credits include instructing in the Dance Department at SUNY Purchase and City College of New York, and she has been a guest artist at Stanford University. Sian danced with SenseDance in NYC before moving to Dublin, Ireland where she spent several years teaching dance and raising her family. Sian currently resides in San Jose, CA and is happy to share her wealth of knowledge with San Jose Dance Theatre.

Grace Lu - Chinese Tumbling & Stretching

Grace Lu trained in Chinese Classical Dance at the FeiTian Academy of Art. She performed as a Principal Chinese dancer in various world-class theaters around the world. Miss Lu has been teaching Chinese classical dance and tumbling in the San Francisco Bay Area. Many of her students have won 1st and 2nd place awards in competitions, due to Miss Lu’s unique teaching methods and experience.


Charles Solomon - Jazz

Anthony Charles T. Solomon started dancing at the age of 4 at his local studio in San Jose. In 1998 Charles got the opportunity from his teacher and mentor, Joy Sinnott, to become an assistant teacher, and in 2001 became a full-fledged teacher of his studio. In 2007 he tested and became a member of Dance Masters of California chapter 13 and Dance Masters of America. Since then he has held the offices of Second Vice President, First Vice President, President and past President of DMC chapter 13. He has also been The DMC ch.13 delegate at the Dance Masters of America National convention.

Charles’ performance credits include San Jose City Hall, Disneyland and countries around the world including Mexico, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Czechoslovakia and Italy. He has also been a featured dancer with the San Jose Symphony Orchestra and the East West Shriner Game Half Time Show. Charles’ choreographic credits include, Lincoln HS Dance Dept., St. Francis High School Musicals, Piedmont Hills High School Musicals, Willow Glen High School Dance Team and the CSUMB Dance Team. He has also done choreography for many quinceaneras, cotillions and flashmobs, including those of PHHS Faculty and students, Saratoga Chamber of Commerce Classic Cool Car Show and the American Cancer Society. Charles has also choreographed many award winning routines on the Regional and National level and has also received the Grant Gray award two times for best new choreography at De Anza College. He is proficient in teaching many levels in the subjects of Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary and Hip Hop and is also the Creative Director of the Dynamics Performance Team. Recently Charles and the Team celebrated their 15th season. In honor of this, they received a special commendation from U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein for their ongoing dedication to celebrating the performing arts. Charles hopes to instill the love and Joy of Dance to whoever he might be teaching. And also to help his dancers realize, that through hard work, the final performance can be so rewarding and can even change your life!

Guests and Former Faculty

Linda Hurkmans

Former Artistic Director, teacher and choreographer for SJDT

Tiit Helimets

Principal Dancer, San Francisco Ballet

Sasha De Sola

Principal Dancer, San Francisco Ballet

Karen Gabay

Former Principal Dancer with Ballet San Jose, current SFB faculty 

Jake Casey

Performer, Cincinnati Ballet, Faculty member of The Rock Studio

David Fonnegra

Former Principal Dancer with Ballet Nacional de Caracas, Miami City Ballet

Kathryn Petak

Former Principal Dancer with State Street Ballet

Kelly Boal

Former Soloist, New York City Ballet and Current Faculty, Pacific Northwest Ballet

Michael Howerton

SJDT alumnus, President of SJDT and “Drosselmeyer” in The Nutcracker.  Formerly with Margaret Wingrove Dance Company & MFDP|SF.

Kristin Kusanovich

President of the California Dance Educator’s Association (CDEA)

Laura Rafey

Former member of the Fairfax Ballet Company and former teacher at SJDT

Ehud Krauss (Late Beloved)

Founder and Artistic Director, Zohar School of Dance and Company

Peter Hershey

Company C Contemporary Dance Co. & Menlowe Ballet. 

Lydia Martinez-Campos, M.F.A.

Director of the Silver Creek High School Dance Program and a SJDT alumna

Havilah Blum

Formerly of Texas Ballet Theatre