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.

Alyssa Gatan
Jazz Funk, Hip Hop, Faculty

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Alyssa Gatan was born and raised in San Diego, California. She fell in love with dance at a young age and trained in a variety of styles including, Hip Hop, Jazz Funk, Ballet, Tap, Contemporary, Jazz, Musical Theatre, and Swing. She graduated from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo with her B.S. in Marine Science and minor in Dance. During her time at Cal Poly, she was able to direct, choreograph, and perform in the Dance and Theatre Department's Spring Dance Concert, and the Pilipino Club's Pilipinx Cultural Night. After graduating, she decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue her dream of being a professional dancer in the commercial industry. Alyssa is so excited to join The Dance School LA family, share her love for dance, and play a role in each dancer's journey. 

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. 

Shalynne Armstrong
Substitute Teacher

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Shalynne Armstrong trained in Los Angeles at Retter's Academy of Dance as a Rhythm Machine Company and Dancer's Bridge Member. She is a Summa Cum Laude graduate from Pace University in New York City with a BFA in Dance and Minor in Arts and Entertainment Management. Shalynne has expanded her craft with acting and modeling. She believes that being an artist allows her to share her emotions for the purpose of creating the human necessity of positive connections. Shalynne hopes to contribute her passions for dance, acting, and modeling to all art forms, mediums, and stories. Her goals are to also pass down her knowledge of dance, and to give her students feelings of joy, accomplishment, and growth. Shalynne has a patient teaching style and focuses on teaching dance in a way that is healthy for the physical body for a non-injury journey of learning and practicing the dance craft, as well as giving and guiding the freedom of expression. Her diverse background of being a student, performer, and teacher has provided her with a variety of expertise. She has worked in live stage performances, site specific work, devised theater, short films, television, immersive events, and in print ads and artworks. Some of her performance credits include Nickelodeon’s The Thundermans, music videos Shawn Amos "Ain't Gonna Name Names", Rich Brian "100 Degrees", and Pavel Kazarian "Pandora" which appeared at Rio WebFest and Divulge Dancers' Film Festival, Crown City Theater Company's "Nosferatu", a Tik Tok Social Media Ad, and many other projects. Shalynne looks forward to teaching and sharing the art of dance with you!