To provide a safe and creative environment for our students where they can grow in their technique and achieve greater levels of self confidence. It is our intention to operate in an ecologically friendly manner while cultivating the spirit and developing the self-awareness and creative expression of our students.
Catherine “CeCe” Yazadchiev – Owner of Starlight Dance Academy, LLC, Cece was born and raised in the Ojai Valley. At the age of 19, Cece won a years scholarship a to the acclaimed Tremaine Dance Center in North Hollywood. After studying for 2 years with top professional instructors, Cece began her professional career . Her resume highlights cruise ships, back -up dancer for top recording artists, WWF, and On Broadway performances in New York. Cece has been teaching dance in the Ojai Valley for the since 1999 and is excited to share her love of dance with the Community of Ojai. CeCe is also Zumba® certified.
Susan Manchak (Ballet)- Susan Manchak was born in Madrid, Spain. She lived for six years in Singapore and Malaysia studying under the Royal Academy of Dancing. Following her studies under Rosella Hightower in Cannes, France and Richard Collins in London, England, she performed with the Frankfurt Ballet, Washington Ballet, and as a principal with the Colorado Ballet and with the Kansas City Ballet. She performed in a wide range of styles, including the classics, (Odette in Swan Lake, Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker); Balanchine (The Sleepwalker, Serenade, The Four Temperaments, The Siren in The Prodigal Son; Bolender (The Stillpoint), Tudor (Lilac Garden), and Ailey (The River).
Locally, she has choreographed several works for the Santa Barbara Chamber Ballet and Class Act Dance in Paso Robles, including The Nutcracker for Class Act Dance. Her work has been shown at the Regional Dance Festival, Santa Barbara Dance Alliance and the Fountain Theater in Hollywood, California. She has given workshops and master classes throughout the country and is presently teaching ballet in several studios in Santa Barbara and Santa Ynez as well as coaching privately.
Brittney Nevison (Contemporary, Choreography, Hip Hop 1/2, Jazz Funk, and TLC):Brittney was introduced to dance at first by her mother who noticed her love for movement when she would dance across the stage during her Jazzercise classes. Following in her mother’s footsteps, Brittney found a passion in dance and a love for leading others that lead her to pursue her dream of being a choreographer. Accepted into Broadway Dance Center’s Internship Program, Brittney moved to New York City where she trained intensely and showcased her talents at numerous venues including BET’s The Monique show, Glamour Magazine, and Madonna’s Material Girl Launch.
She then returned to California to further her education in choreography and dance instruction through CSUCI. Most recently she choreographed, directed,
and edited an original dance film “Untied”, that placed second in CSUCI Film and Animation Festival.
Brittney is excited to complete her degree and utilize the tools she has gained throughout her career to teach and inspire dancers of all ages.
Marni King (Tap): Marni started her career as a young dancer; winning scholarships towards her training at studios such as Ballet Arts, Professional Dance Society, Stanley Holdens, Debbie Reynolds and Ka-Ron Brown Dancers. Her many credits as a dancer include Debbie Reynold’s celebrity beneifts, Stevie Wonder’s Black Arts Festival at the rose bowl , 14th Annual NAACP Image Awards, a Richard Pryor movie premiere “ A Tribute to Foster Johnson” hosted by the Nicholas Brothers, “PDS Tribute to Johnny Carson”, an episode of “Different Strokes” and “NBC Affiliates Award Show”. She performed as a member of the Ka-Ron Brown Dancers, Dottie Star Tap Dancers, and Dansemble under the direction of Sylvia Lewis. She choreographed several ballet pieces 2 years in a row for Pam Ross’s Nutcracker. She also choreographed tap pieces for Academy of Dance’s tap team for 7 years winning top awards in small group competitions and was invited to nationals several times. She also won the highest regional award in a division for a ballet duet with Academy of dance. In recent years she has acted as a judge and assistant choreographer for the “Festival of Talent “ competition directed by Brian Macdonald. Marni has been a Dance Teacher in the Ventura County area since 1999 and has taught all levels of Ballet, Tap, Jazz as well as beg to int Acro.
Sarah Wallin (Lyrical): Sarah Wallin hails from Nashville,TN where she grew up studying and competing in all forms of dance. She moved to Los Angeles, CA after receiving a scholarship to the Edge Performing Arts Center. Thereafter she began dancing on television in commercials such as Target, and Old Navy. She has danced live on The Ellen DeGeneres show, Jimmy Kimmel live, Chelsea Lately Show, American Music Awards, and the Latin Billboards. Sarah has danced with artists such as Taylor Swift, Blood Orange, and Latin pop artist, Chayanne who she danced on two world tours with. She also had the opportunity to dance with the Los Angeles Opera in “La Rondine”.
Sarah became interested in choreography after being asked to assist choreographers Nancy O’Meara and Tyce Diorio on several projects for artists Taylor Swift, Miranda Cosgrove, and Carly Rae Jepsen.
Sarah has gone on to choreograph her own projects for Blood Orange’s music video “You’re Not Good Enough” directed by, Gia Coppola and for his live shows at the Ace Hotel Theatre in Los Angeles and the FYF fest. She also choreographed promo videos for Chelsea Handler’s book tour that was aired on E Network.
Kelli Foreman (Guest Instructor) – Kelli Foreman is a dancing yogini who made her way into the Los Angeles area two years ago. After becoming a certified yoga instructor through Three Sisters Yoga while living in New York City, Kelli and her hip-hop dancing Fiance made the trek across country to test out the dance industry on the West Side of things. The weather was enough of an excuse to stay in California and continue teaching dance, yoga, and meditation at studios in the area. Kelli mainly focused on dancing in commercials, television shows, and movies over the past couple years, and is switching her energy towards deepening her healing practices by making the move to Ojai.
Kelli is currently finishing her 500 Yoga Certification with Ganga White and Tracy Rich at White Lotus Yoga. She completed her 900 Hour Massage Therapy Certification through the National Holistic Institute and is employed at The Oaks at Ojai Spa. Kelli studies Tibetan Buddhism at the Mahasukha Center in Los Angeles and finds the most joy in studying scripture, meditating upon the advices, and applying the ancient methods to her current lifestyle. She founded a youth group known as the Peace In Peace Out Movement, and plans to start up an Ojai crew when the opportunity arises.
Tinelle Matlock (Special Guest Instructor) – Tinelle Matlock is a compassionate humanitarian and avid learner who is eager about sharing her perspective and experiences through dance. She began her professional dance training at Broadway Dance Center in New York City while attending The School for Film and Television in 2004. Shortly after falling completely in love with dance, Tinelle began pursuing dance professionally. Tinelle has had many opportunities as a professional dancer over a short period of time, including being featured in a 4-page layout in Dance Magazine, dancing in various commercials, live stage performances, and being featured in a Japanese film “The Manhattan Diaries.” She has worked and trained with prominent LA and New York choreographers for today’s leading music artists such as: Phlex (Britney Spears “If You Seek Amy”), Tricia Miranda (Kimberly Cole/ Beyonce), Luam (Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Kelly Rowland), Sheila Barker, Chio, Derrell Bullock (Beyonce, Madonna), Lindsey B and Craig(Avril Lavigne, Macy’s Passport), the legendary Teresa Espinosa(Janet Jackson, Britney Spears, Pink) and Rich and Tone Talauega( Michael Jackson The Immortal World Tour, Save the Last Dance). Tinelle has taught at many well known dance studios in New York and Los Angeles including IDA Hollywood, L.Y.T.E. Dance Studio, Fifth Row Performing Arts, and Sky High Dance. She has also had the opportunity to teach Master Classes in Texas, New Jersey, New York, and Japan.
Tinelle has a deep passion for learning about dance, dancers, and the body. She understands that dance is more than technical movement to music – it’s a way of living, sharing, and expressing. In her class, you will be challenged with new ways of learning dance; with an open mind and heart students will gain new knowledge and perspective on how to share their gift of movement through contemporary and hip hop fusion. Since dance is multidimensional, students in Tinelle’s class will have the opportunity to explore movement without boundaries through improvisation, rhythmic drills, across the floor warm-ups, breathing and centering exercises, as well as how dance assists with everyday life through the genre of contemporary or hip hop. Tinelle’s class is a safe and open place to learn, explore, and grow not only as a dancer, but also as an individual. As Tinelle continues to grow by pushing herself to learn, grow, and acquire new vocabulary, she is excited to share her passion and help develop her students.
Tinelle feels one can never know too much about the body and was inspired to become a massage therapist in 2012. Tinelle wanted to use massage therapy as a way to help educate the dance community and gain a better understanding of the body. However, Tinelle fell in love with massage therapy as a student at the National Holistic Institute in Studio City, CA. She gained 900 hours of education in addition to performing 200 + hours of bodywork hands on training. As a dancer, Tinelle understands how everyday stress and a demanding lifestyle can create pain and discomfort in the body. She has a great love for movement and helping others find optimal functionality and healing through the arts.
Tinelle currently serves as the Performance Troupe Manager for the non-profit organization Everybody Dance Now! Santa Barbara Chapter and a dance instructor at Starlight Dance Academy in Ojai.
She is currently a full-time student at Santa Barbara City College and hopes to soon transfer to University of California Santa Barbara to complete her degree en route to becoming a Dance Therapist.