MEET OUR DIRECTOR & Lead Teacher-

Carissa Songhorian
Ballet, Pointe, Advanced Contemporary, Conditioning

Carissa Songhorian, a BFA in Dance and Dance Composition graduate from California Institute of the Arts, began her training at Los Angeles Ballet Academy under the direction of Andrea Paris and Conny Mathot. Throughout her years as a dancer, she has performed professionally with Ate9 Dance Company, Los Angeles Contemporary Dance Company (LACDC), Heidi Duckler Dance, String Theory Harp, Sarah Elgart | Arrogant Elbow, Strange & Elegant Dance, Voices Carry, Fabe Dance Company, Iris Company, and Dream Walker, as well as in works by choreographers and artists such as Danielle Agami, Christopher Bordenave, Gustavo Ramirez-Sansano, Troy Powell, Julie Bour, Ryan Mason, Laurence Blake, and Kira Blazek among many others. Carissa has also appeared in several short dance films, commercials and pilots for television, Solange Knowles’s “Metatronia,” and a movie that was produced by James Franco.

As a choreographer, Carissa has created multiple successful works for stage and film, including: Your Kingdom (2019, Iris Company + C3LA's Breath + Body), First Light (2019, Heidi Duckler Dance's Ebb & Flow Festival), Mixed Body (2019, "Best of" New Shoes, Highways Performance Space), Odes 1-2 (2019, Mashup Dance's Balance for Better - International Women's Day Festival, 2018, LAMusArt Winter Festival), Ghosts (2018, Hollywood Fringe Festival - in collaboration), Helmet | Goliath (2018, Highways Performance Space - in collaboration), Premiere (2017, Visual Artists Group), Ours is Malice (2017, Sharon Lund Theater), Habits (2014, Sharon Lund Theater), Dreamscape (2016, Valencia), Beneath the Tissue (2016 film), Dark Places (2016 film), and Ours (2016 film). Carissa has also received honorable mentions for some of her works, including her pre-professional work, Never Mess with Sunday (2013), and some of her work has even been described as “intriguing” (LA Dance Chronicle), and “twisted.” Currently, Carissa continues to create as a solo artist, as well as in collaboration with companies and artists such as Dream Walker, Misaq Eshaghi, Joan Padeo, Manuel Meza, Davy Sumner, and more.

 

Songhorian has rigorously trained in RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) testing since the beginning of her dance career, and has performed pre-professionally with the Mariinsky Ballet, State Street Ballet, and Los Angeles Youth Ballet. This very strict lifestyle greatly influences her classical ballet teachings.

Carissa works as a Dance Specialist for Arts Integration Workshops for Public Schools and Educator Conferences; including conferences for Center Theatre Group's promotion of Matthew Bourne's Cinderella at the Music Center, Community Arts Partnership's workshop for LAUSD, and as a panel member for the LA County Department of Arts and Culture.

Learn more about Ms. Carissa at: carissasonghorian.com.

Meet The Team

Sophia McKnight
Jazz, Contemporary, Musical Theater, Tumbling

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Sophia McKnight trained at Los Angeles Ballet Academy, where she was a company member in the Los Angeles Youth Ballet Theater and Theatrics Dance Company. Sophia started dancing at the age of two and has trained in Ballet, Contemporary, Jazz, Tap, and Musical Theater. She graduated with honors from California State University Northridge with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Dance. At CSUN, Sophia helped choreograph group, duet, and solo pieces for showcase. She is inspired by free-flowing, explorative movement that involves an awareness and deep connection to the body. She is currently working towards her doctorate in Clinical Psychology, and hopes to earn a certificate to administer dance therapy in the future. She strives to share her knowledge and love of dance, encourage personal growth, and promote freedom of expression.

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Catrina Songhorian
Faculty: Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Musical Theater & Accounts Manager

Catrina Songhorian was born and raised in Los Angeles California where she grew up acting, singing and dancing competitively. She is currently a Theatre major at California State University, Northridge. Through California State University, Northridge, Catrina has learned more about movement, costuming, and lighting design. Catrina hopes to be a lifelong learner and encourages the same attitudes from her students. Her goal is to create a cheerful and meaningful experience for parents, students and fellow faculty members.

Michelle Johnson 
Ballet, Musical Theater, & Jazz 

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Michelle Johnson graduated from California State University with a degree in Theatre and a minor in Musical Theatre. Before transferring to CSUN, she studied dance at Pierce College, choreographing frequently for their semester dance show and acting as dance captain in their summer musicals. Michelle was invited by the Pierce College President to perform a solo en pointe for a banquet celebrating a departed administrator. She has also been awarded multiple scholarships for choreography and musical theatre performance. Michelle is an experienced musical choreographer and hopes to bring the love of dance and music to future generations. She believes that passion starts early in life and will grow if it is properly nurtured. She hopes to be that supportive figure in the lives of her students, ensuring their passion has the chance to grow. 

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Bella Aquino
Contemporary & Tumbling

Bella Aquino was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Since the age of 3 she has trained in various dance styles, such as contemporary, jazz, ballet, hip hop, and acrobatics. As well as been involved in competitive dance and gymnastics. More recently she has been involved in professional dance company, Lume Dance Training. In the future she hopes to major in human biology with a minor in dance. Continuing her passion for dance within the wellness industry. Bella is so excited to be part of the DSLA family and share her knowledge of dance with her students. 

Claudia Galindo 
Staff & Accounts Manager 

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Although Claudia Galindo has just started her dance journey with The Dance School LA earlier this year, we are excited about the amount of experience she brings to our administrative team. Claudia has a Bachelors Degree In Psychology with an emphasis on human/child development From Hope International University. She has several years of experience dealing with account management and customer service as well as working with children within the LAUSD and foster care systems.

 

Claudia is also a proud, new Dance Company Mom with The Dance School LA. Her two daughters are some of our newest students who are thriving within our ballet program and elated to be a part of our Dance Company Team. Like her daughters, Claudia is a dedicated DSLA student in our beginner adult ballet program with hopes to achieve her first set of pointe shoes. She is excited to watch the entire Galindo family grow in the discipline of dance within our studio!

Carmella Songhorian
Faculty

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Carmella Songhorian was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She grew up training in all different modes of dance at one of the top dance academies in LA, before attending the University of Arizona to study Psychology and Creative Writing. Carmella now specializes in fitness and nutrition, as well as working in Los Angeles real estate. She keeps her love for dance alive by spending time at the Dance School LA. Carmella has a passion for body positivity and inclusivity, especially in the world of ballet, and hopes to set an example to the students of DSLA.