Taryn Chavez
Executive Director

Taryn has been active in the dance industry as an instructor, professional dancer and Artistic Director for over ten years. Taryn’s vision for Avanti was to create a studio dedicated to excellence in artistry, technique and professionalism, which is evident in her own training and teaching philosophy. With a forte in Jazz, Tap and Contemporary and strong integrity for precision and style, Taryn has been a sought after guest instructor/choreographer at many dance studios and high schools throughout Orange County. Taryn’s choreography has been featured at the Student Dance Concert at UC Santa Barbara, Youth American Grand Prix Finals in New York, and has been recognized with many top placements at various regional and national competitions. In 2014, Taryn choreographed and managed the nightly Flash Mob for the Orange County Fair.

In Taryn’s earlier years, she trained at the Dance Center in Costa Mesa under owner/instructor Cindy Beckett, where she studied ballet, jazz, lyrical, tap, and gymnastics for fourteen years and participated in many regional and national dance competitions. As a teen, Taryn was a founding member and lead choreographer of the ArreiS Dance Program at Newport Harbor High School. Taryn’s other performances include dancing in Debbie Allen's "Pepito's Story," at the Orange County Performing Arts Center. Taryn studied with Linda Sohl-Ellison at Orange Coast College from 2004-06 where she received a Student Dance Award for her choreography and performance.

Taryn is currently in her fifth season performing as a company member with “Rhapsody in Taps” under the direction of Linda Sohl-Ellison and has also been a featured soloist at the Annual Benefit for Holocaust Survivors in Laguna Woods.

Although Taryn enjoys performing, her true happiness is found in choreographing, teaching and connecting with her students. She loves to highlight the unique skill sets of each dancer she works with, while giving them new, unfamiliar movement to push them out of their comfort zone and reach new levels. Taryn encourages her students to believe in themselves and that anything can be achieved with passion, dedication and hard work. Taryn’s students have gone on to obtain college dance scholarships and win prestigious awards such as the Music Center Spotlight Award and the Young Arts Scholarship.

Hillary Bassoff

Hillary received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and was a performer and specialty choreographer for the UCSB Dance Company touring throughout California and Europe. While in Europe, she was selected as a guest instructor for a master dance class at an arts boarding school in Prague. As a soloist in the company, she was honored as the recipient of the prestigious Alice Condodina Performance Award and was chosen to be a guest artist for Santa Barbara Dance Theater.

While living in Santa Barbara, she discovered her love for aerial dance, performing as an aerialist and dancer in Christina McCarthy's "Repremend Bubbles" and training at the Santa Barbara Centre for Aerial Dance. She then continued her aerial training in New York City at Aerial Arts NYC and Body & Pole before moving back to Orange County to pursue her artistic career.

Starting in 2014, she performed independently for private parties and corporate events, and was invited to be a member of Ruby Karen's Circo Etereo Professional Company specializing in aerial arts, circus acts, and dance choreography. She was involved in choreographing and performing aerial silks, acrobatic, and ground routines for various special events, weddings, birthday parties, and festivals in the Orange County and Los Angeles area. Soon thereafter, she created her own aerial dance company, On Edge Aerial Entertainment, with Laura Olivas, hoping to bring their ideas of molding dance with aerial work to life with innovative concepts that will touch audiences alike. Hillary is beyond excited to be working with Avanti Dance Company to share her passion for aerial dance and hopes her choreography of combining contemporary dance with aerial artistry inspires both dancers and non-dancers alike.

Jordan Barker
Fairytale Ballet and Ballet/Jazz Combo

Jordan, an Orange County native, began dancing at the age of three. She has trained in all styles of dance with an emphasis on commercial dance. Jordan began competing in dance at the age of five and continues to compete as an Avanti Senior Performance Company member.

Jordan has earned many top awards at various regional and national dance competitions in Southern California and Nevada. She was a finalist at the 2015 KAR Nationals earning two top overall placements in the lyrical solo and contemporary duet categories.

Jordan is currently working on furthering her dance education, but her future goals also include pursing a degree in Kinesiology and dancing in a professional contemporary company.

Having both a love for children and dance, Jordan is very excited to be a part of the Avanti faculty where she can inspire and encourage young dancers to reach their goals.

Kaitlin Regan
Ballet, Lyrical, Jazz, Contemporary and Performance Company

Kaitlin discovered her love of dance at the age of three while taking a combo class at Betty Johnson’s School of Dance (now Bender Performing Arts) in Phoenix, AZ. She continued her dance training there, studying ballet with Nancy Schade, jazz and lyrical with Kevin Bender, Meri Bender, Tina Caspary, and Todd Bailey, tap with Suzy Guarino, and hip hop with Ryan Cyphert and Ryan Ingram. She was a member of Dance Motion, her studio’s performance company for 10 years. With the company she had many performance opportunities including an annual ballet production. She performed the featured role of Clara in The Nutcracker and the lead role in an original ballet. During her senior year she was a member of Dance Motion’s Elite competition team for its inaugural season and received awards and recognition at various competitions and conventions. Kaitlin was also a member of the competition cheer team and spiritline at Horizon High School.

Kaitlin moved to Orange, CA to attend Chapman University in 2004. There she studied modern with Jennifer Backhaus, Cyrus Parker-Jeannette and Sean Greene; ballet with Larry Rosenberg, Dale Merrill, and Molly Lynch; and contemporary jazz with Leanne Alduenda and Mike Esperanza. She was honored to perform the lead role in a contemporary ballet piece choreographed by Dale Merrill during her senior year in 2007. She also had the opportunity to perform works by Amy Nakamura, Mike Esperanza, Sean Greene, and Nancy Dickson-Lewis.

Kaitlin began dancing with Backhausdance, a professional contemporary modern company based in Orange County, in 2010 where she is currently in her 6th season with the company. She has had the opportunity to perform with Backhausdance in New York, British Columbia, Seattle and Wyoming, as well in southern California. Kaitlin also is also a member of Jagged, a contemporary pole dance company, since 2010. Jagged appeared on season 6 of America’s Best Dance Crew, and was featured in the documentary “Off The Floor” presented at the Butler Arts Feast in Indiana in 2015.

Kaitlin has been teaching dance in southern California since 2006. She helped develop a dance program for students with special needs that she has taught since June 2010. She is currently a dance teaching artist for the ESCAPE research grant for Segerstrom Center for the Arts; helping English language learners understand science concepts through dance.

Kaitlin is the epitome of a beautiful artist and proficient technician. She adheres to the discipline of teaching excellent form, having a solid foundation but also quality of movement.

Kia Sisowath
Jazz, Musical Theater (Glee Club) and Adult Heels

Kia began his dancing at age 10 in New York at Broadway Dance Center. With Broadway Dance Center, Kia trained exclusively in Ballet for five years and performed in the productions of Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland and The Nutcracker Suite.

At the age of 15, Kia moved to California where he continued his dance education at Defore Dance Center in Costa Mesa and The Edge in Hollywood and expanded his dance repertoire to include the styles of Jazz, Musical Theater, Hip Hop and Contemporary. Kia has worked for Disney, Pasadena Civic Ballet Company, Clear Channel and countless similar performance based industries in Southern California and Las Vegas. From 2001 to 2011, Kia taught Jazz, Hip Hop and Contemporary at The Colony Of Performing Arts.

In 2007, he and his best friend, Aimee Weeks, founded their own female cabaret troupe, The Vixen Show. Most recently, Kia began an all male cabaret troupe, The Foxes Show. Kia is thrilled to begin a new chapter with AVANTI Dance Company. We are so happy to have Kia as part of our dance faculty. Kia is an enthusiastic and inspiring instructor, always encouraging both proper technique and having fun.

Nikki Charest
Technique & Turns, Lyrical

Nikki started dancing at the age of nine. She has trained in all styles of dance, with a concentration in commercial jazz, contemporary, ballet, and hip-hop. Nikki was a member of the Dance Dynamics Competition Team for eight years where she earned many top regional and national placements and overall awards. Nikki was also a member of the El Toro High School Varsity Dance Team for three years.

Nikki currently attends Chapman University where she is working on her bachelor’s degree in both Dance and Business. Nikki’s own choreographic work was featured most recently at the annual Chapman Dance Alliance show in October.

Nikki loves performing and being able to share her creativity and passion for dance through teaching. She hopes to use her education in both Dance and Business to open a studio of her own some day that will inspire the future generation of dancers. As gifted young performer and strong technical dancer we feel Nikki is a real asset to the Avanti Dance Company family. Having been in her students’ shoes only a couple years ago, Nikki is able to really connect with her students, motivating them to aspire to new levels in their training.

Michael Houston

Michael Houston received his first 10 years of training from former principle dancers at the acclaimed Houston Ballet and San Antonio Ballet. Supplemental training over the next 15 years includes workshops, master classes and private coaching from world renowned ballet masters from Royal Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Bolshoi, Kirov, and Joffrey Ballet.

As principle dancer with Ballet Repertory Theatre, Michael’s stage performances include: Grand Pas de Deux’s from Le Corsaire, Don Quixote, Flower Festival, Sleeping Beauty, Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, Black Swan, Grand Pas Classique, Satanella, and Esmeralda. Full length Ballet Lead roles include Coppelia, La Bayadere, Paquita, Les Sylphides, and Nutcracker.

During Mr. Houston’s tenure as Owner/Director/Trainer at Orange County Dance Center from 1994-2012, students received professional contracts to Pacific Northwest Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Ballet West, Nevada Ballet Theatre, Ballet Austin, Ballet Pacifica, American Repertory Ballet, Dayton Ballet, Complexions, and Cirque de Soleil. Michael’s students have received national training scholarships from ABT, Jacqueline Onassis School, Pacific Northwest Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Houston Ballet, The Rock School, SAB, Kirov Academy, Joffrey New York, Boston Ballet and Julliard. His students have received high placing honors in solo, pas de deux and ensemble categories at Youth America Grand Prix over the past decade, including special awards for technical excellence, and pre-professional year-round scholarships. 2015/2016 highlights include: professional contract to Alvin Ailey as a featured dancer on the cover of Dance Magazine, Alberta Ballet (Canada), and Boston Ballet 2. YAGP Senior classical division regional champion, 3rd Place Senior classical division award, both YAGP students receiving invitations to the New York City international finals and two Los Angeles Music Center Spotlight awards semi-finalists in the classical division. Thus far in 2017, Michael’s students have been awarded: a year-round full tuition scholarship to Ballet West, a promotion to Corps de Ballet /artist contract to Boston Ballet, a nomination for the prestigious Princess Grace National scholarship award for classical dance and a record 4 National Titles Won at USA Nationals Competition for San Clemente High School Dance Team as Ballet Trainer.

Mr. Houston’s ballet trained contemporary dancers have contracted and performed with the Julliard Dance Ensemble/European Tour, The Metropolitan Opera New York, Dancing With The Stars, So You Think You Can Dance, Radio City Rockettes and Mia Michaels. Mr. Houston’s original choreography includes writing and directing all phases of an original 3 act Ballet, (under copyright), “Corazones de Espana,” full length Nutcracker, sections of Romeo and Juliet, Alice in Wonderland, and the restaging of many others. Last year Mr. Houston was acknowledged for his ballet training in dance articles in both Pointe and Capezio magazine respectively.

We are truly honored to have Michael Houston joining us at Avanti and sharing his incredible training and expertise as a top professional in the ballet industry with our students.

Shawn Vitale
Adult Hip-Hop

Shawn may have started dancing later than most professionals, but that hasn’t stopped her yet. She credits Jimmie DeFore Dance Center for her divine training and diversity.

Shawn teaches at multiple dance studios in South Orange County and was previously on faculty at Jimmie DeFore Dance Center. Shawn has had the privilege of working with several high schools in the area including Edison, Corona Del Mar and Polytechnic in Long Beach. Shawn choreographed a live performance for pop artist Viennie V as well as a music video for Brazilian pop sensation, Liz D. Shawn has also created Flash Mobs for private parties and VANS.

Not only a brilliant choreographer, Shawn has lit up the stage with artists such as Deborah Cox, Apoetnomadali and MO’AT, just to name a few. Shawn appeared in the third installment of the Harold and Kumar movies.

Shawn is thankful to be able to make a living doing the one thing she loves the most.

Shawn brings such great energy and charisma; we are thrilled to have her as an instructor at Avanti!