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 & Xiaomin Jiang

Jonas and Xiaomin met on the social dance floor of the SF Bay Area. Dancing since 2007, Jonas teaches, DJ’s and organizes tango events regularly. He has been teaching tango at the YWCA since 2011. Xiaomin started tango in 2013, training to compete in the Argentine Tango USA Championship and was a semi-finalist in the Enscenario Tango category as a first-time contestant in 2014. She has been teaching and performing since 2016. Jonas and Xiaomin have been teaching together since 2017. Visit their website, or follow their Facebook or Instagram for the latest updates.

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.

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.

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/ 

Marianne Constable

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

Diana Helmuth

Diana is a San Francisco based dancer who has been performing at weddings, festivals, restaurants and fundraisers for over a decade. From modern American fusion styles to classical Egyptian raqs sharqi, she has studied under greats such as Natalie Nayun, Sherry Brier, Elizabeth Strong and Suhaila Salimpour. Complimented by a year of cultural study in Egypt, as well as ballet, hip-hop and Central Asian dance training, Diana enjoys sharing the art of belly dance as a tool for cultural study, self-expression, and physical self-awareness.