Senior Division Faculty

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.

Erica Allen


Erica Allen began studying ballet at the age if 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.

Erin Derstine

Erin Derstine received her dance training at the School of the Salt Creek Ballet in Westmont, IL. She attended the University of Chicago (UC) on full-tuition academic scholarship and upon graduation was initiated into the academic honor society, Phi Beta Kappa. While in school, she danced for several smaller companies and eventually joined Hubbard Street 2 in 1999. After two years she was promoted to the main company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, where she danced for another five years until moving to the bay area last August. With HSDC, Erin performed the works of numerous national and international choreographers including Ohad Naharin, Nacho Duato, Jiri Kylian, William Forsythe, Trey McIntyre, Marguerite Donlon, Daniel Ezralow, Lar Lubovitch, Christopher Bruce, Susan Marshall, David Parson and Alex Ketley, among others. Her exposure to such a diverse repertoire of movement and ideas has greatly informed her work as a dance instructor and choreographer. She started teaching in 1998, and has been on faculty at the Lou Conte Dance Studio (home of HSDC) and at other Chicagoland schools. Most recently Erin was on faculty at ODC in their youth contemporary program and was a guest artist with the company for their spring season at YBCA. This fall, she will be choreographing a piece for their youth group, the ODC Dance Jams.

Dawn Perrin Dawn Perrin was born in Madrid, Spain and was raised in Lee, Massachusetts where she bean 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.