Teaching Instructors

YWCA Instructors

YWCA Berkeley/Oakland is known for its varied international offerings, intimate classes, and experienced teaching staff. Our instructors bring years of experience as performers, choreographers, and teachers.

Claire Marchiano

Claire  is a National Certified Career Counselor and Workforce Development Professional. Her association with the Berkeley-Oakland YWCA began in 1997 when she became the program director for the Turning Point Career Center at the Y. From 1997-2001 she coordinated that program, developed and facilitated a variety of workshops and provided individual career counseling. In 2001 she accepted a full-time position with Contra Costa County as the Career Center Coordinator of Eastbay Works Concord, a full-service career center open to all. Claire devoted her energies to developing programs, services and workshops to help career explorers and job seekers move forward. She was also a mentor to her peers as a GCDF (Global Career Development Facilitator) trainer and master trainer. Upon her retirement in 2015 Claire returned to the YWCA on a part-time basis. Here she has re-created the career resource library and offers a variety of Career Development Workshops 2 mornings a week.

Jonas Aquino

Jonas has been teaching tango for the past few years, primarily in the East Bay but periodically in San Francisco as well. His strengths in teaching are in introducing the dance to new beginners, working on fundamentals and skills needed to enjoy the dance socially. As an active tango dancer in the San Francisco local tango scene, he has been nicknamed “Mr. Wonderful” by his friends and students, and called an “ambassador” of tango by some. Encouraged to teach by other local tango teachers, he was awarded a scholarship by a tango community nonprofit to encourage him to continue to work on his teaching and has been invited to teach regular group classes locally. He has studied tango in it’s diverse flavors from teachers in the US and in Argentina, competed in the world tango competition in Buenos Aires in 2013, travels multiple times throughout the year to tango festivals and events throughout the country, Argentina, and even Asia, and is an active volunteer, organizer and DJ in the SF Bay Area tango community.

Sara Ayala

Sara was born in Los Angeles, California. Her study of Hispanic dance began there with classes In Mexican Folkloric, Spanish Classical, and Spanish regional dance. Her first Flamenco teachers included Ester Moreno, Inesita, and later Roberto Amaral. After moving to the Bay Area she became a featured soloist with Los Flamencos de la Bodega at the Old Spaghetti Factory, Cruz Luna’s Ole Ole Flamenco Dance Company, Rosa Montoya’s Bailes Flamencos, The Flamenco Society of San Jose and Theatre Flamenco of San Francisco. In Spain and in the U.S. she has studied with some of the great masters of Flamenco dance including Ciro, Manolo Marin, Angelita Vargas, Jose Galvan, and Concha Vargas. She was a cofounder of Flamenco Vivo which performs throughout Northern California. Sara teaches Children, university students and adults in locations throughout the East Bay.

Ruth Caspary

Ruth has been dancing since she was 5 years old and grew up in Hollywood with a natural dance ability and lots of opportunities to learn from the entertainment industry’s best. Having directed adance business for 6 years and now independently, Ruth draws from 17 years experience as a dance instructor to teach Salsa to the Bay Area and beyond. Ruth teaches Ballroom and Latin dances and has performed throughout the Bay area and internationally as well. Students will benefit from her proven teaching methods and will be challenged by her emphasis on good technique. Ruth’s passion for dance is evident in how much she enjoys interaction with her students andseeing them progress in their dance skills. http://www.latinconnectiondance.com/ 

Sarah Bush

Sarah Bush creates her inimitable style of movement by combining her training in ballet, modern, hip hop, jazz, Afro-Caribbean, and contact improvisation. She has performed in the Bay Area since 1997, and since 2007 she has been the Artistic Director of Sarah Bush Dance Project (SBDP). SBDP’s repertory includes Homeward (2017), This Land (2016), and Rocked By Women (2011, 2014). Sarah has presented work at Women on the Way Dance Festival, West Wave Dance Festival, PUSHfest, Dance In Revolting Times, SF Movement Arts Festival, Summer Performance Festival, National Women’s Music Festival in Wisconsin, Olivia Travel’s Festival At Sea in the Caribbean, Dance Brigade’s SummerFeast in Dos Rios, Europride in Stockholm, Global Women’s Rights Forum, and SF International Arts Festival. Her work has received awards from Curve Magazine and BayAreaDanceWatch. Sarah is a member of Dance Brigade, has choreographed for Mona Khan Company, Oakland’s AXIS Dance Company and Destiny Arts Center, and been a guest performer with Bill T. Jones. Sarah is currently the Berkeley Art Center’s 2018 Dancer In Residence. She regularly is a guest artist in schools and offers private lessons and group classes in throughout the Bay Area.

Marianne Constable

Marianne is a Guild-certified Feldenkrais Method ® practitioner. She is a professor at Cal, especially interested in how one learns to learn.

Jenny DeRuntz

Jenny has been teaching jazz and hip hop dance classes at the YWCA since 2003.  Her training is varied and includes traditional studio classes in ballet, jazz, contemporary, hip hop, and yoga. Jenny previously danced as a back up dancer for singers, was a seasonal dancer at Paramount’s Great America, coached the dance/cheer team at Columbia University, was a company member for 5 years with Saki Suto’s Scratch 4 Bloomin’ and humbly maintains dancing in classes at various San Francisco dance studios.  Jenny is also a staff member here at the YWCA and loves staying connected with the community on important social justice issues.

Nicole Maria Hoffschneider

Nicole Maria is a bellydance teacher, choreographer, soloist and performer based out of Oakland, California. She has been studying, teaching, and performing contemporary and traditional forms of Middle Eastern dance since 2009. She performs and teaches regularly throughout the San Francisco Bay Area.

Nicole received her B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and Archaeology with a minor in World Music from San Francisco State University. She has always been interested in the intersection of culture and dance and the study of dance in its sociocultural context. As a performer, she is interested in portraying both contemporary and traditional forms of Middle Eastern dance as well as dances from Turkey and the Balkans.

Natalie Nayun

Natalie Natalie’s passion for Middle Eastern and Central Asian dance styles began in 2002 and has only gotten stronger as she continues to learn the many styles that make up this vast region of the world. She is lucky enough to have studied dance in her travels to Tajikistan, Turkey and Oman. She is the director of Adara Dance Company and formerly directed the UC Berkeley Central Asian and Middle Eastern Dance Company, Sorayya. Learn more on her website: www.nayundance.com

Marie Newsom

Marie started ballet at the age of 4, receiving training from the Contra Costa Ballet and San Francisco Ballet School. She continued dancing while studying at UC Berkeley and Columbia University in New York, and enjoyed diving into to other techniques, especially jazz and lindy hop. When she isn’t dancing, practicing yoga, or paddleboarding, Marie spends her time caring for local families as a nurse practitioner. The focus of her ballet class is on improving body awareness, musicality, strength, and enjoying the freedom of movement. Marie is enthusiastic about ballet as a dynamic form of exercise and encourages all levels to join!

Berklee Sati

Berklee Sati has been dancing ever since she walked past a ballet class at age 3 and declared “I want to do that!” She’s trained in, taught and choreographed ballet, jazz, lyrical, modern, contemporary, cheerleading, salsa, bachata, and cha cha cha. She’s performed at the Luther Burbank Center for the Performing Arts in Santa Rosa, the USA Nationals Spirit Competition in Las Vegas, the Puerto Rico Salsa Congress, and many venues in between. She graduated with a BA in Development Studies from UC Berkeley and worked for an environmental and social justice nonprofit in Berkeley for many years before becoming a mom. She’s excited to be teaching at the YWCA because it combines her support of women’s empowerment with her love of expression through movement. She lives in Oakland with her husband, son, stepson, and two cats. When she’s not dancing you’ll find her reading, knitting or gardening.