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.


                  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.

Marianne Bassing

Marianne Bassing grew up in Marin County California, training at Marin Dance Theatre. While training, Marianne received full scholarship, and the 2nd Level award at NFAA. Marianne continued her training at the Joffrey Trainee program in Chicago.

Marianne began her professional career as an apprentice with the Dresden Semper Opera, performing works by director, Aaron S. Watkins, and works by George Balanchine. She then moved to the Estonian National Ballet as a Corps De Ballet dancer under the directorship of Thomas Edur, where she performed works by Tiit Härm, Ronald Hynd, Gyula Harangozó, Kenneth MacMillan, John Cranko, Ben Stevenson, as well as Thomas Edur. Marianne was given the opportunity to perform soloist roles in Thomas Edur and Jvgeni Neff's La Bayadere, Wayne Mcgregor's Symbiont(s), and Robert Binet's Voces Intimae. Marianne joined Oakland Ballet for their run of Nutcracker last season, and will be joining them for their year round season starting in October 2019.

Vicki-Marie Bassing
Pre School Outreach Coordinator/Instructor

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.

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 Adams, 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.

Maggie Calegeri

From the age of 3, Maggie had a love for dance and movement, and after moving from Southern California to the South Bay Area, started intensive ballet classes at San Jose Dance Theater and ultimately decided to go to an independent study High School Program and spent her days in a Pre-Professional training program. At the age of 16 she began teaching in the pre-ballet division and found that she had a true gift and passion in this role. She went on to become Director of Dance Theater 7 for several years, teaching all ages 3 to 17. It was at this time that DT7 merged with Roco Dance and Maggie moved on to become Master Teacher Trainer for The Dailey Method barre franchise for 10 years as well as receiving her certification in kids yoga.

After launching her own online fitness platform in January 2019, she is excited to come back to the ballet studio and introduce ballet to her now 5 year old daughter.

Charlotte Carmichael

Charlotte Carmichael was born in Longmont, Colorado. She has had the opportunity to work with Maurya Kerr's tinypistol, Los Angeles-based collective No)one. Art House, Garrett + Moulton Productions, and PUSH Dance Company.

In 2018, she graduated summa cum laude from the Alonzo King LINES Ballet BFA Program at Dominican University of California. While at LINES, Charlotte had the opportunity to work with Alonzo King, Maurya Kerr, Christian Burns, David Harvey, and Katie Scherman, among others.

She has also trained with Vim Vigor, New Dialect, and Sidra Bell Dance New York. In 2017, Charlotte worked as Maurya Kerr's choreographic assistant. She was recently awarded the opportunity to create work in residency at ODC through their Pilot Program.

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.

Shevon Gee

Shevon Gee brings thirty-five plus years of teaching experience to our studio. She is a native of Louisiana, where she began her training at a young age and then studied dance and business at LSU. Shevon had a strong desire to teach and be a business owner and therefore opened her first dance studio in her hometown of Crowley, Louisiana. She moved to Texas in 1993 and proceeded to open another studio at that time. Over the years, Shevon has taught and shared her love of dance with thousands of students. She is dance certified through Dance Educators of America.

She is also a certified Pilates Instructor, certified Total Barre Instructor, certified Health Coach, Business Owner, and Social Dance Instructor.

Over the years, Shevon has written for Dance Life Magazine and was guest performer and speaker for Dance Life Teacher Conference. She has been a consultant to dance studios concerning curriculum and business practices. Being a Health Coach, Shevon has also shared good nutrition with her students and has conducted several "Nutrition for Dancers" Clinics. Shevon is excited to bring all of her passions of Pilates, Dance, and Nutrition to Marin Dance Theatre.

Valerie Harmon

Valerie is from Lompoc, California, where she trained primarily at Lompoc School of dance. She began her professional career with State Street Ballet. She later joined Milwaukee Ballet in 2008, after completing The Milwaukee Ballet II Program. There she performed Odette in Michael Pink's Swan Lake, Marie in The Nutcracker, Wendy in Peter Pan, Mina in Dracula, and Prayer in Coppélia.

She has also enjoyed dancing in original works by Cameron McMillan, Mark Godden, Timothy O'Donnell, Mauro de Candia, Darrell Grand Moultrie and Petr Zahradnícek. She danced for Smuin Contemporary Ballet from 2106 - 2019, where she danced in works by Amy Seiwert, Val Caniparoli, Helen Pickett, Garret Ammon, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, and Trey McIntyre.

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.

Lisa Le Lievre

Lisa completed her classical ballet training at the Eduard Borovansky Memorial Ballet Academy (EBMBA) in Sydney Australia. She performed as a freelance dancer in Australia, and for choreographic art residencies in Italy and Spain. Since moving to the USA in 2007 she began to explore dance theatre and performed with Bodigram Dance Theater Company in San Francisco.

Since completing teacher training with EBMBA in 1992, she has taught classical ballet to children and adults, most recently teaching for four years at Menlo Park Academy of Dance. She is influenced greatly by Augusta Moore, whom she considers a mentor.

In 2005 she received a Graduate Certificate in the Pilates Method from the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia. She has furthered her Pilates training by working extensively with Tom McCook, a master level teacher in the Pilates Method. In 2014 she completed Franklin Method Level 1 Teacher Training and has incorporated this method into her classes.

She also works as an independent film maker, in the dance and documentary genres.

Lisa is excited to bring all her passions to the Pilates studio at Marin Dance Theatre.

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.

Mairi Nicol

Mairi Nicol is a native to Marin County and began her training with Marin Dance in 1998 at the age of four. She has grown up through the school and performed multiple roles in both Spring and Summerfest, as well as "Sophie". She has danced with the Joffrey Ballet Chicago as a trainee and has continued to pursue her dancer career since.

She has also graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelors of Science in Health and is a certified Healthy Lifestyle Coach. She now returns to MDT as their stage manager and a teacher, eager to share her knowledge and experience.

Darby Perrin Darby Perrin was born in Napa, California and has lived there all her life. She has been dancing since she was 5-years-old. She began her training at Marin Dance Theatre in 2011. Since then, has performed many roles in Sophie and the Enchanted Toyshop, Springfest, and Summerfest. Darby has been accepted into various summer intensive programs including the American Ballet Theatre, Houston Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Pacific Northwest Ballet, as well as Ballet West. She participated in the Youth American Grand Prix in 2017 and 2018 where she placed in the top 12 of the senior contemporary division.

Throughout her years of training, Darby has been a demonstrator for younger levels of students, and assisted in Intro ballet classes with Michelle Parodi, Julia Adams and Shevon Gee. She recently graduated from Vintage High School in Napa, and currently attends Napa Valley College. Darby has a passion for the art form and enjoys sharing her love of dance with her students.
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 200 hour 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.
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.
Amanda Wells

Amanda Wells began her formal dance training at the San Francisco Ballet School and continued with Boston Ballet and Richmond Ballet Company. In 2001 she relocated to New York City to attend New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Immediately upon graduation, Amanda was selected to join the Stephen Petronio Company, a contemporary touring company based in New York. For a decade she had the pleasure of creating and performing new works, as well as touring and teaching master classes across the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Australia. During her time in New York, Amanda became a certified yoga instructor through OM Yoga Center and was a member of the Third Klein Technique™ Teacher Certification Program.

In the summer of 2011, she was selected by Benjamin Millepied (former NYC Ballet principal, choreographer of Black Swan, and former director of the Paris Opera Ballet) to become a founding member of LA Dance Project, prompting a move back west. While with the company, Amanda performed in some of the most beautiful proscenium theaters in the world, including Châtelet in Paris and Sadler Wells in London. Amanda also performed with the company as a guest on FOX TV's So You Think You Can Dance, created a short film with Academy Award winner Alejandro Inarritu (Birdman, 21 Grams) and performed site-specific work at The Museum of Contemporary Art. She was on faculty at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA) and esteemed California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Amanda has also been on faculty at The New England Academy of Dance and Marin Ballet teaching ballet and contemporary technique. She is thrilled to have joined the MDT family!

Erin Yarbrough Erin Yarbrough-Powell was born and raised in Fresno, CA, where she received her dance training under Diane K. Mosier. She then went on to study at the Interlochen Arts Academy. After graduating high school, Ms. Yarbrough-Powell danced with the Oakland Ballet for five years, during which time she was awarded the Isadora Duncan Dance Award for her portrayal of Giselle. In 2003 she joined the Smuin Ballet, where she has enjoyed performing leading roles in the works of Amy Seiwert, Helen Pickett, Val Caniparoli, Trey McIntyre, Jiri Kylian, and of course Michael Smuin, among many others.

Most recently she was named the Bay Area's Best Dance Soloist of 2018-19 by the San Francisco Classical Voice. In addition to performing professionally, Ms. Yarbrough-Powell has been teaching dance for over 20 years.