Meet the faculty!

All of our faculty members have danced and continue to dance professionally.


Karyn Connell, Ballet
La SylphideKaryn Lee Connell, a Chicago native, has been a principal dancer with Cincinnati, Cleveland, Diablo, and Dallas Ballets. She trained with Lisa Boehm in Elgin, Illinois, at the Ruth Page Foundation with Larry Long and in New York with Robert Joffery. Karyn is a graduate of The Academy for the Arts in Chicago. She has moved audiences with her dancing, performing leading roles in such ballets as, SWAN LAKE, ROMEO and JULIET, SLEEPING BEAUTY, RUBIES, THEME and VARIATIONS, CARMINA BURANA, SERANADE, AGON, THERE is a TIME, as well as various others. She was the first ever to dance the role of “Wendy” in Peter Asnastos’ ballet PETER PAN. As a guest artist, Karyn performed internationally with Scotland’s Edinburgh Festival, Spoleto Festival USA, and in Flemming Flindt’s 50th Anniversary Gala for the Queen of Denmark. She is also in demand as a guest teacher around the country. During Karyn’s career as a ballerina, she discovered Pilates and the advantages Pilates had on her body and her life. Karyn chose to become a certified instructor and received her certification from Turning Point Studio in 2001. Karyn retired from the stage in 2003 and immediately joined the faculty at Santa Clara University as the sole lecturer of ballet and Pilates. She teaches all levels of ballet as well as Pilates mat classes and private sessions on the Pilates apparati. She choreographs for the university’s yearly dance concert. Karyn has been involved with South Valley Dance Arts for the past year and has choreographed for NUTCRACKER. Karyn is looking forward to enlightening new students in how to teach in the Pilates tradition. Karyn loves to read and travel in her free time.


Erena Ishii, Ballet and Folk
Erena-scaleErena Ishii enrolled herself in aerobics and modern ballet at the young age of 2. Her parents finally enrolled her in Classical Ballet thanks to her modern ballet teacher’s strong recommendation at the age of 8. She began training in one of the best schools in Tokyo, Japan, Asami Maki Ballet School. At the same time, she trained at Mika Ballet Studio where she received free private classes from the school director. During this time, she represented the school in several “All Japan” competitions. She moved to Venezuela at the age of 12 and continued her training with Nina Novak, One of the original Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo members. After moving to the United States, Miss Ishii received her Balanchine training at San Francisco Ballet School. She also received Bournonville technique training under Lise La Cour, school director  at San Jose Ballet School. She has been dancing under the Artistic director of Ballet San Jose, Dennis Nahat. For the past three years, Miss Ishii has further developed her endowment by training her vocal abilities and has become the main character in the musical Abba, taking the lead singer position. Other accomplishments are: 1st place in classical and character in Grand Prix of Italy, receiving a recognition from the city of San Jose in 2005. And 1st place in character dance at the Hungarian National Ballet in 2009.Miss Ishii always dreamed of being a ballet teacher and started assisting on her free time for younger levels since 2002 at San Jose Ballet School. She started teaching for Ballet San Jose School from 2004 until 2011.  She has assisted the school director Lisa La Cour to put on the school productions for the year of 2006 & 2007. She has also set the Mice for The Nutcracker that performed with the Ballet San Jose Company. She has taught in Japan as well as other studios in the Bay Area.


Andrey Shevchuk, Ukrainian Folk
Andrey-scaleAndrey Shevchuk, who started with ballroom dance at the age 5, encouraged by his Godmother for two years. He then continued his national Ukrainian Folklore for 10 years. He studied traditional Folklore as well as, “Domra” a Ukrainian instrument that looks like a small guitar. He received his diploma from Folk Dance Ensemble of Barvinak at the age of 18. He decided to serve his country by going in to the military and he became a sergeant. He returned to dance after two years of service and became a professional dancer. He worked in China as well as in Turkey where he became in charge of the ballet department. Mr. Shevchuk has spent the last three years working in Germany doing different styles of dance.Although Mr. Shevchuk has experience teaching choreography to professional dancers, it is his first time teaching to children. He will start teaching strong folklore techniques as well as advanced tricks done by professionals. He will bring the Ukrainian tradition to the bay area, and educate the students with respect and benevolence.