Faculty Pictures and Bios


Margaret Swarthout
Artistic Director

Margaret Swarthout, born in Sydney, Australia, was admitted at a young age to the Royal Ballet Company in London, England, where she danced for nine years. As a soloist, she worked closely with many of the 20th century’s greatest choreographers, including Sir Frederick Ashton, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, George Balanchine, John Cranko, Dame Ninette de Valois and Madame Nijinska, and danced with such notables as Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn. Mrs. Swarthout’s teaching career began in 1966 when she joined the faculty of the Harkness House for Ballet in New York City, at the time, one of the world’s most respected dance training facilities. After moving to the Bay Area, she became affiliated with the Marin Ballet in 1975, first as a Master Teacher and Coach, and then as Artistic Director. Mrs. Swarthout has served as personal coach to dancers at the international ballet competitions in Jackson, Mississippi, and her record of placing dancers in the profession is exceptional. Over sixty graduates from her training program can be found in the ranks of ballet and dance companies throughout the United States.

In 1996, Mrs. Swarthout, along with her team of teachers, was invited to become the founding faculty of Marin Dance Theatre. Since MDT opened its doors in 1996, each year one of our senior dancers has been the recipient of the prestigious award given by the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. Sixteen MDT graduates have joined professional dance companies, including San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Louisville Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Fort Worth/Dallas Ballet, Ballet San Jose, Ballet Florida, Richmond Ballet and Cincinnati Ballet.

Lynn Cox
School Director

Lynn Cox studied under such noted teachers as Erik Bruhn, Francoise Martinet, Alfonso Cata and Robert Barnett.  She was recognized by the National Federation of Music Clubs and received the first place honor in their ballet division.  Ms. Cox went on to dance professionally with the Atlanta Ballet for several years, performing such classics as Serenade, Sleeping Beauty, Carmina Burana, Raymonda, Allegro Brilliante and The Nutcracker.  She previously held the position of Ballet Mistress for two regional companies and was the Pre-Professional Division Head for the Marin Ballet. She is currently the resident choreographer and Associate Division Young Dancer Division Head at Marin Dance Theatre.  Ms. Cox is a vital part of MDT’s training program. She is skilled as a teacher on all levels: she now oversees and trains the faculty, with Mrs. Bassing, creating an atmosphere for all the dancers that is both developmental and consistent. She  has received numerous awards for her outstanding choreography.

Vicki-Marie Bassing
Introduction to Dance and Young Dancer
Division Director

Vicki-Marie Bassing grew up in San Francisco studying with Harold Christensen, Bill Christensen, Roberta Meyer, Richard Gibson, Robert Del Oro,  and Alan Howard.  She was also trained in the Cecchetti and RAD techniques.  As a child she performed with The Bolshoi, Kirov, New York City Ballet, San Francisco Ballet and San Francisco Opera Ballet Companies.  Vicki was Northern California Gymnastic Champion while in Middle School.  She also skated with Holiday on Ice and coached the skaters in ballet while on tour.   

She has been teaching and choreographing for young dancers in the Bay Area for over twenty years, as well as choreographing for youth and adult musicals.  She has coached and choreographed for dancers competing in the Miccabi Games, with the dancers receiving Gold and Silver medals. 

Ms. Bassing has worked closely with Lynn Cox, developing a strong program for Marin Dance Theatre’s Young Dancer Division, giving the students  the technique and foundation necessary to begin the more advanced training in the Senior Levels.

She delights in bringing the technique of ballet to students of all ages and abilities in a way that allows them to experience the joy and magic of the art of ballet.

Nancy Gallenson
Adult Division Director

Nancy Gallenson was trained in Marin County by Leona Norman and danced professionally with Ballet West under the direction of William Christensen. For over 25 years she has taught a successful adult ballet program at leading dance facilities in the county including 10 years at her own school. Her uniquely designed ballet training program for adults and teens provides the student a learning atmosphere that is supportive, demanding, and fun. In the words of one of her longtime students: "Nancy awakens the passion of dance in me and continues to nurture my love for ballet through her enthusiasm for teaching.  In my constant pursuit for balance, she gives me the confidence to let go of the barre."


                  Faculty and Staff

Erica Allen

Erica Allen began studying ballet at the age of eight in Tempe, Arizona. She moved to Marin County to study with Margaret Swarthout. She has worked with Melinda Darlington-Bach, Lynn Cox, Val Caniparoli, Benjamin Harkarvy, David Palmer and Lawrence Pech. Erica is now a proud faculty member of Marin Dance Theatre.

Jo Ellen Arntz

Jo Ellen Arntz received her earliest dance training in Des Moines, Iowa. She received a BFA in dance from Creighton University before moving to San Francisco. A member of SFB from 1981-1991, she performed in over 100 ballets including pieces by Balanchine, Robbins, Christensen, Smuin, De Mille, Ashton, Tomasson, Tudor, Caniparoli, Kudelka, Bintley and Forsythe. She joined Marin Ballet faculty in 1991 under the direction of Margaret Swarthout and Lynn Cox, then followed them to Marin Dance Theater in 1996.

Joining Smuin Ballet in 1996, first as Wardrobe Supervisor and shortly thereafter as Company Manager, Ms. Arntz loves being a part of a team that shares the joy and passion of dance and continually creates new art.

Joanna Berman

Joanna Berman was born and raised in San Rafael, California, where she received her dance training under Maria Vegh and Margaret Swarthout at the Marin Ballet. In 1984, after one year at the San Francisco Ballet School, she joined the company, and was promoted to soloist in 1987.

In 1988, Ms. Berman became a principal dancer and was one of the most celebrated members of the San Francisco Ballet, until her retirement in 2002. During her tenure, she danced the lead role in full-length ballets such as "Giselle", "Swan Lake", "Sleeping Beauty" and "Romeo and Juliet", in addition to numerous contemporary and classical works.

Joanna had works created for her by choreographers including Mark Morris, Christopher Wheeldon, Helgi Tomasson, William Forsythe, David Bintley, Julia Adam, Yuri Possokhov, Val Caniparoli, and many others.

She is the recipient of two "Isadora Duncan Awards" (1994 and 2000). In addition to her extensive performance credits, Ms. Berman is in demand as a teacher, and has served as a guest teacher and regisseur for San Francisco Ballet, Australian Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theater, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Ballet British Columbia, Les Grands Ballet Canadiens, Houston Ballet and Atlanta Ballet.

Dani Breimayer

Dancing from the age of 3, along with training in gymnastics through her teen years, Dani Breimayer continued exploring her passion for movement at Sonoma State University, receiving a BA in Theatre with a Dance Emphasis in 1984.

Ms. Breimayer was first introduced to Pilates at St. Francis Memorial Hospital’s Center for Sports Medicine following a severe knee injury in 1999. Inspired by her experience, she wenton to receive her Pilates certification with Nora St. John through Turning Point Studios in WalnutCreek, CA, and began teaching Pilates in 2002.

Dani regularly looks to broaden her understanding of movement through personal research and continuing education courses, seeking out opportunities to study with master teachers. She has trained in Gyrotonic as well as Franklin Method, is trained in scoliosis-based Pilates, and holds a certification in Movement Medicine, a rehabilitation training program.

Ms. Breimayer has taught at several studios across the North Bay, as well as managing a private practice. She joined Marin Dance Theatre’s faculty in 2009. In 2011, together with Vicki Bassing, she developed the Pilates Infusion Program at MDT. Dani is inspired by her students on a daily basis, and is honored to be a part of the MDT family.

Julia Ganina

Julia Ganina studied music for 9 years and graduated from The Music Conservatory in Corky, Russia. After her graduation she started a career as a music teacher, and taught music for 10-12 years. She eventually moved to Moscow, Russia and worked as an accompanist for the Moscow Ballet for 6 years. Later, she immigrated to the United States in 1997, locating herself in San Francisco and worked as a pianist for City Ballet School and later on with various local ballet schools in the Bay Area. She has worked as an accompanist for Smuin Ballet, Lines Ballet, San Francisco Ballet School and Marin Dance Theatre.

Brigid Hoag

Brigid Hoag began her career in her native New Orleans and went on to dance with both ballet and modern dance companies in the United States and Canada. While living in New York, she danced with Peridance Ensemble and taught at the Peridance Center. In the Bay Area, she performed with the San Francisco Opera Ballet and with a variety of independent choreographers. Ms. Hoag’s teaching and dancing have taken her to such places as the Juilliard School, Israel and Korea and she now enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience with all her students from pre-ballet to pre-professional at Marin Dance Theatre.

Anna Krumpos

Anna began her training at Metropolitan Ballet of Tacoma under the artistic direction of Damaris Caughlan. She received her BFA in Dance from Dominican University of California/Alonzo King LINES BFA Program in 2016 where she performed works by Tanya Bello, Arturo Fernandez, Maurya Kerr, Sidra Bell and Gregory Dawson. She currently teaches in the Bay Area and recently performed in “Speak, Angels” choreographed by Garrett Moulton Productions.

Pamela Martin

Pamela Martin holds a Master of Music Degree in orchestral conducting from the University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Music Degree in Piano Performance from the Peabody Conservatory of Music. Pamela was the Assistant Conductor for the Cleveland San Jose Ballet now Ballet San Jose for four years. Pam has conducted for Oakland Ballet, and is presently the assistant conductor of the Vallejo Symphony and is a regular guest conductor with the Master Sinfonia Chamber Orchestra.

Pam has extensive experience as a dance pianist having played for San Francisco Ballet, Ballet Austin, Marin Ballet and for Marin Dance Theatre since the beginning.

Alyssa Mitchel

Alyssa Mitchel is from San Francisco, California and began her dance training in tap, jazz and hip-hop while also competing in rhythmic gymnastics. She received her ballet and contemporary training at MDT, where she also had the unique opportunity of being a student choreographer. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies/Teacher Preparation with a minor in mathematics from the Dominican University of California, graduating Summa Cum Laude with Honors in May 2015.

She is currently an apprentice with Peter+Co. Professional experience also includes Garrett+Moulton Productions, Labayen Dance, SOULSKIN Dance and Polaris Dance Theatre. She's also a passionate choreographer and teacher and has presented her work at the Center Stage Theater in Santa Barbara, the Southwest Mississippi Community College, ODC, Safehouse Arts, Spreckles Performing Arts Center, the Cowell Theater, SpectorDance and the San Mateo Performing Arts Center (YAGP). As a choreographer, Alyssa collaborates with her younger sister, Olivia Mitchel who is a classical pianist and composer. Alyssa teaches all levels of contemporary dance, ballet and core strength at dance schools throughout the Bay Area. In addition to her love for dance, she is also a devoted math tutor for students ranging from elementary school to college.

Michelle Parodi

Michelle Parodi is a dancer and actor who has been performing and teaching for more than twelve years. A member of SAG-AFTRA, she has performed in film, theater, television commercials, and print ads. Michelle currently teaches dance throughout San Francisco, and has been on the faculty of Marin Dance Theatre since 2008. She also works extensively with MDT’s Outreach program “Let’s All Dance!” bringing dance and music to hundreds of students each year who might not otherwise have this opportunity. Michelle's teaching style is driven by her goal to help students find a joyful, confident presence for authentic self-expression.

Dawn Perrin Dawn Perrin was born in Madrid, Spain and was raised in Lee, Massachusetts where she began studying ballet at the age of 7. She received her early training at The Cantarella School of Dance. Training some summers at Pennsylvania Ballet School, School of American Ballet, and The Joffrey Ballet School on scholarship. Ms. Perrin’s professional career began with American Ballet Theatre II. She then went on to dance with The Joffrey Ballet and The Houston Ballet. She enjoyed traveling the world and dancing many leading roles throughout her career. Some highlights include being chosen to dance the role of Juliet in John Cranko’s Romeo and Juliet her first year in the company. She was also selected by James Kudelka to create the lead role in the Heart of the Matter and danced the role of the Sugarplum Fairy in the World Premiere of The Joffrey’s Nutcracker. Ms Perrin has been teaching in the Bay Area since 1995 and enjoys sharing her experience and love of the art form with students of all ages.
Alison Rasmussen Alison Rasmussen began dancing at the age of 2 in Billings, Montana. She studied at the Billings School of Classical Ballet with Betty Loos, of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and performed in the Nutcracker with Eugene Ballet on tour. At age 10, she moved with her family to the Bay Area. There she trained at the San Francisco Ballet School and later moved to Marin Ballet, training with Margaret Swarthout and Lynn Cox. She continued her studies at UCBerkeley, assisting as a TA for the beginning ballet classes. Ms. Rasmussen was a two time recipient of the Marin Music Chest Scholarship for Ballet in 1993 and 1994.

Ms. Rasmussen is also a 200hr certified yoga instructor with Yoga Alliance and a certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She is now thrilled to be a part of the Marin Dance Theatre team and loves teaching movement to students of all ages.
Annalise Thompson Annalise received her classical ballet training from MDT, and is excited and thankful for the opportunity to be back to teach! In 2012, she earned a BFA in Dance from Juilliard, and has participated in summer programs with Lines Ballet, American Ballet Theatre and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. After graduating, she felt fortunate to reconnect with MDT while free lancing in the Bay Area. She has danced professionally with Western Ballet, Pacific Coast Repertory Theater, Man Dance Company, Presidio Dance Theatre and is currently in her third season with Bay Pointe Ballet in South San Francisco.
Pierre Vilanoba Born in Lille, France, Pierre trained at the Conservatoire de Lille and The Paris Opéra Ballet School, beginning at age seven. After dancing with Paris Opéra Ballet for eight years, rising to the rank of Sujet, he joined San Francisco Ballet as a soloist in 1998 and was quickly promoted to principal dancer in 1999. His lead roles in Paris and San Francisco include the Prince in John Neumeier’s The Little Mermaid and Aminta in his Sylvia, Onegin in John Cranko’s Onegin, Othello in Lar Lubovitch’s Othello, Orion in Mark Morris’ Sylvia, Benvolio in Rudolf Nureyev’s Romeo & Juliet, Abderam and Jean de Brienne in his Raymonda, and Rothbart in his Swan Lake, Albrecht in Helgi Tomasson’s Giselle, Romeo in his Romeo & Juliet, Prince Desiré in his The Sleeping Beauty, Prince Siegfried and von Rothbart in his Swan Lake, Espada in his Don Quixote, and the Nutcracker Prince and Snow King in his Nutcracker. While in Paris and San Francisco he participated in the creation of principal roles in works by Neumeier, James Kudelka, Jorma Elo, Alexei Ratmansky, Christopher Wheeldon, Val Caniparoli, Tomasson, Yuri Possokhov, Matjash Mrozewski, and others.

Vilanoba’s broad repertory includes ballet’s by Rudolf Nureyev, Roland Petit, Maurice Béjart, George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Marius Petipa, Serge Lifar, Vaslav Nijinsky, Leonide Massine, Serge Diaghilev, Victor Gsovsky, Nacho Duato, William Forsythe, Hans van Manen, Angelin Preljocaj, Sir Kenneth MacMillan, Sir Frederick Ashton, David Bintley, Harald Lander, Anthony Tudor, Jacques Garnier, Lila York, Caroline Carlson, and Mats Ek. He has performed at galas around the world and in several ballet films with the Paris Opéra Ballet, including Nureyev’s Romeo and Juliet. In December 2008, Vilanoba was featured as the Snow King in the PBS Great Performances broadcast of Tomasson’s Nutcracker.

In 1999 Pierre worked with famed fashioned photographer Herb Ritts on a collection produced for the French Vogue's millennium issue. His images have appeared in several books of Herb Ritts' photography as well as the traveling exhibition, HERB RITTS L.A. STYLE, curated in 2012 by The Getty Museum in Los Angeles. Since 2012, Pierre has been teaching and coaching in the San Francisco Bay Area and abroad.