Maggie Darago


Maggie began dancing at the age of four and has since trained in ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop, lyrical, contemporary, modern, pointe, and jazz funk styles. She spent 8 years of her dance training participating on competition teams and has always been a stand out with a large personality and a great stage presence. Maggie is also a gifted vocalist and is a true stand out in musical theater. Maggie graduated from Westlake High School in 2012 and was accepted to UCLA’s prestigious Ray Bolger Musical Theater Program. Maggie has signed with Go 2 Talent Agency in Los Angeles and she hopes to become not only a professional dancer, but a professional singer and actress as well.

Stephanie Brodie

Edge Scholarship / Loyola Marymount University

Stephanie Brodie trained as a dancer for most of her life training in Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop, Contemporary Lyrical, and most recently Modern. Stephanie was a competitive dancer for the majority of her dance years and was one of the company members during Thrive Dance Center’s premier year. During her senior year of high school, she auditioned for dance programs across the country at various universities. In May of 2012, she graduated from Oak Park High School and was accepted into the dance program at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California. In her freshman year of college she performed in three of the four showcases held by the LMU dance program. During the showcases she learned and experienced the duties and responsibilities of being a crew member, an understudy, a cast member, and a principle dancer. In July 2013 she auditioned for the Edge Performing Arts Center’s world renowned Scholarship program and was accepted as a Edge Scholarship Dancer for the 2013-14 season. While she hopes to one day return to Loyola to complete her dance major and add a major in Communication Studies, she was very excited to participate in the Edge Scholarship Program in hopes of become a commercial dancer in the dance industry. Upon completing the edge scholarship program, she signed with Go 2 Talent Agency in Los Angeles. She appeared on the TV show Steady Mobbin airing on the Dance Network and was offered a contract for 3 episodes!  She most recently earned a 7 month dance contract with Norwegian Cruise Line to begin October 2015! She will be aboard the Norwegian Spirit until May 7th! 

Sami Simon

Cal State Long Beach

Sami Simon is eighteen years old and has been dancing since the young age of five. As a Thrive student she danced 6 days a week excelling in every style from Ballet and Jazz to Modern, Tap and Hip Hop. Sami was a competitive dancer for her entire dance career competing in all styles of dance and earning top rankings for her solo routines throughout her competitive years. She earned several Scholarships while attending conventions such as Tremaine, West Coast Dance Explosion and Hollywood Connection. Throughout her training Sami has been known for her consistency, power, strength and overall well roundedness. Sami attended Westlake High School and in 2013 was accepted into the prestigious dance program at California State University Long Beach where she was accepted into the BFA dance program. She has been a part of two faculty shows and continues to broaden her experiences as she fulfills her dreams. In the future Sami would like to pursue a career in the dance industry and hopes to one day work as a dance instructor as well as in the commercial dance industry.

Michaella Yarnell

Loyola Marymount University

Michaella Yarnell took her first dance class just before she turned two, and although she does not remember it, that class was the start of what would be a life full of spontaneity, creativity, and discipline as a dancer. She has developed skills in all dance styles by taking classes, as well as through competitions, conventions and companies.  While her dance career has rewarded her in many ways, in her eyes serving as an assistant teacher to younger dancers has been her greatest honor. Michaella spent her high school years dancing away, while excelling in school as the president of a charity based club, student council member, and as a planner and presenter of the all-school services. As an actress, Michaella has been a member of SAG-AFTRA since the young age of six. In 2013 she graduated High School and Thrive Dance Center and was accepted to Loyola Marymount University in the School of Communication and Fine Arts. She can’t wait to one day perform for all of the current and future Thrivers, as well as share the stage with them once again! 

Ricky Medina


Ricky Medina started dance in 2011 completely by accident. Ricky played football and volleyball in high school, but one day was asked by a friend on his school's dance team if he wanted to be her partner for a performance at the school rally. From that experience, Ricky absolutely fell in love with dance. Ricky then enrolled in Newbury Park High Schools International Baccalaureate World Dance Studies class, directed by Ms. Cameo Carolan and joined his school's All-Male Dance Team. Also, Ricky founded the Co-ed Sigma Dance Crew in Newbury Park, choreographing their competition routines and handling their costuming and funding. Ricky was extremely happy to be a part of dance and knew it was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. However, the summer before Ricky's senior year was where his future really started to take off.

      Ricky attended a United Spirit Association Elite Dance Camp, where he was awarded with an All-American dance award. Ricky had never been exposed to any style other than hip-hop before, and even that skill hadn't yet been honed. At that camp, Ricky met Thrive owner Ahjalia Hall, and she noticed his raw talent and love for performing and invited him to come dance at Thrive Dance Center. Ricky danced at Thrive for only his senior year and in that one year, he was exposed to Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Hip, Contemporary Lyrical, Tumbling, Break Dancing and Hop Hop. He started to feel comfortable in all styles of dance and grew to love it so much that he decided to make it his major in college. After 1 year of dance Ricky applied and was accepted into UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures/Dance program and will begin his Freshman year at UCLA in the Fall of 2013. He was also accepted into The Academy of Villains dance crew. 

Ricky is forever grateful that Thrive gave him the necessary experience to prepare for his future. He loves the entire Thrive Dance Center family with his whole heart, and has Thrive to thank for his accomplishments and future in dance.

Sarah Shattuck

UC Berkeley

Sarah has been dancing since the age of three and has trained in most styles of dance including: jazz, lyrical, tap, contemporary, ballet, pointe, hip-hop, musical theatre, and modern. She spent seven of these hard working years competitively dancing, while still remaining acutely focused on academics. In 2014, Sarah graduated Summa Cum Laude with Highest Honors from Oak Park High School and was accepted to UC Berkeley where she will be studying Integrative Biology on the pre-med track. Even though her goal is to graduate from Medical School and become a surgeon, dance will always be an important part of her life. She continues to “Thrive on” every day at Berkeley in dance groups.  Sarah was among a few select applicants to join Danceworx, where she will perform six times a year and hopes to one day be able to choreograph dances for the showcases.

Nathan Moreno

Cal State University Long Beach

Nathan began dancing at the age of fourteen and has been trained in Modern, Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop, Tap, Contemporary, Lyrical, and Musical Theater. Nathan found his passion for dance while on his high school dance team. He was on Newbury Park High School’s All Male Dance Team his freshmen year. Soon after he found his love for dance Nathan enrolled at Thrive Dance Center to further hone his dance technique. Once at Thrive Dance Center he started dancing 15 hours a week. While he was training at Thrive he was also training at his high school in their International Baccalaureate world dance studies class, where he learned several different ethnic styles of dance along with the culture of those people. During Nathan’s high school career he realized that he wanted to pursue dance as a career and go to school to further his dance education and training. He applied to many different schools as a dance major, and ultimately choose Californian State University, Long Beach. He is currently perusing a BFA Dance degree at CSULB, in the prestigious dance program. In the future he hopes to be part of a traveling Contemporary Ballet Company and a studio teacher.

Savannah Payton

Moorpark College

Born and raised in Moorpark, California. Savannah has been dancing since the age of 2.  She knew dance was for her when at the age of three she did not want to leave the stage after her very first stage performance was over.  Throughout her dance education she has studied ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, modern, hip hop & musical theater.  Savannah began competitive dance at the age of 9 and continued through the age of 17. During these years she attended many conventions where she took class from top choreographers.  She was often recognized for her strong technique and captivating stage presence. Savannah was part of the Moorpark High School Dance Team for three years. She made Varsity her Sophomore year.  Savannah was responsible for choreographing pieces for the dance team throughout her years on the team.  

Since graduating from high school Savannah continues to create and teach and she very much enjoys choreographing.  

Savannah is now attending Moorpark College where she participates in dance in addition to her general education studies.  She continues to take class periodically at her home studio in addition to training at The Edge Dance Center in Hollywood.  Savannah hopes to continue to develop her dance and choreography skills.  Her dream is to one day open a dance studio of her own so that she can forever hold onto her passion as a dancer and a choreographer.

Makayla London

Moorpark College

Makayla London began dancing when she was 3 years old. Due to a family move changes in schools, and her passion for soccer, Makayla put dance on hold for a big period of her life. It wasn't until 5th grade she decided to take her first hip hop class. She was very nervous, and felt like she was behind because of the large break she had taken from dance! She juggled soccer, and occasional dance classes from this time on until her sophomore year of high school when she wanted to dance solely, and put down the soccer ball. She attended Moorpark High School, and was referenced by a good friend to join Thrive! After Makayla's first couple classes at Thrive, she knew she had found something special. A dance studio that was well-rounded, beneficial, disciplined, and welcomed everyone with open arms. Makayla excelled, and felt the most comfortable in Hip Hop, yet Ahja and Jen (Thrive Owners) saw she was capable of more than just hip hop dancing. 


Her Junior and Senior year, Makayla enrolled in contemporary, ballet, jazz, and multiple hip hop classes. Not to mention she joined the award winning Thrive Dance Center Senior Hip Hop competition team. Her senior year, she won many scholarships from Hollywood Connection, and attended their Nationals in Burbank. She auditioned for Lisa Estrada choreographer for the Laker Girls, and auditioned for Holland America Entertainment as a Cruise Ship dancer. In addition Makayla gained the opportunity to be a back up dancer for Brooklyn Jai.


Now, Makayla attends Moorpark College and is majoring in Communications. However she still enjoys dancing, choreographing and teaching. She is eternally grateful to Thrive, their program, and faculty for helping push her farther than she ever knew was tangible. She will always be of a generous hand to Thrive and their aspiring dancers.

Darcy Bate

UC Santa Cruz

Darcy Bate has been dancing for about four years, starting at age 15 in her high school’s physical education dance class. She took this class two years in a row simply to get exercise, not at all expecting that she would love dance as much as she does now. In her sophomore year of high school, she began training in Ballet and Jazz at Thrive in hopes of refining her basic skills. Within the past 3 years of training at Thrive, she broadened her horizons and took additional classes in Hip-Hop, Contemporary/Lyrical, Modern, Voice, Acting, and Musical Theatre. She was also intensely involved in dance at school in her junior and senior years. Attending World Dance Studies International Baccalaureate every other day, she gained insight on global perspectives of dance. Assisting the physical education dance class every day, she walked in the shoes of a dance teacher by warming the class up, giving constructive criticism and praise, and choreographing a piece for "X", the 2014 Spring Dance Concert. In 2014, Darcy graduated from Newbury Park High School and was accepted into the University of California, Santa Cruz. Although Darcy ultimately strives to get her degree in Psychology, go to medical school, and excel in the field of Neuroscience, she hopes to continue dance recreationally by either joining a dance-related club at school or possibly auditioning for the UCSC Dance Team.


Darcy would like to thank the owners and faculty of Thrive for warmly welcoming her to life at the studio. Thrive Dance Center has truly been a second home and family to her and she will never forget the positive experiences that came from training at Thrive.

Justin Epstein


Justin Epstein has trained at Thrive Dance Center since it was first founded but has been training with Ahjalia Hall, Jennifer Maples, Peety Escovedo, and Alexa Diaz for over 10 years in ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, musical theatre, lyrical, contemporary, voice, acting, improv, and partnering.  Justin was a part of the Thrive Dance Company for 9 years and participated in many award-winning solos, duets, and group numbers. These were great performance opportunities for Justin and he is very thankful for all of the amazing training he received from every Thrive faculty member. 


Justin has performed for the Los Angeles Avengers, Los Angeles Clippers, and Pac-12 Championship Halftime Shows, was a principle dancer in the Conejo Valley Civic Ballet Company’s 2014 performance of The Nutcracker, and was a soloist in Brooklyn Jai’s music video “Breathe”. Justin was the head choreographer for his high school dance program where he choreographed numerous solos, duets, and group pieces for various shows and performances. 


Justin is currently a staff member for USA (United Spirit Association) and is so excited to be able to choreograph and teach students around the country this summer and in summers to come.

Justin was also accepted into the prestigious inaugural class of the brand new Glorya Kaufman School of Dance at USC where he will be training with dance greats including Desmond Richardson and William Forsythe towards a BFA in Dance. In the future, Justin wants to dance professionally, choreograph shows, and teach dance around the world.

Gabby Thuillier

Gonzaga University

Gabby began dancing at the age of nine and has technical training in the following disciplines: ballet, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, and hip-hop. She also spent six years dancing competitively. In addition to being on the competition team, she was a Thrive Assistant and assisted beginning ballet classes her last two years at the studio to further her dance education. She graduated from Westlake High School in 2015 and will be attending Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington, in the fall. 


At Gonzaga Gabby will be majoring in business with a concentration in entrepreneurship, while also continuing her dance education by minoring in dance. Gabby auditioned for Gonzaga’s dance team and made it. As a member of the team she will be performing at both men’s and women’s basketball games as well as other campus events. She is so happy to continue dancing while in college. 


Thanks to her overwhelmingly positive experience at Thrive, she hopes to make dance an ongoing part of her life.

Mark Daftari


Mark Daftari is 19 years old and has been dancing for two years at Thrive Dance Center starting at age 17. He started gaining interest in dance after watching school rallies and football games, watching all the dancers strut he said he wanted to do exactly what they were doing. So that promoted the world of dance and introduced him to Thrive. Right away he starting taking class his junior year in high school with ballet, jazz, hip hop, tap, as well as musical theatre. At least 3-6 hours a day of training. On top of that he joined Thrive's platinum award winning senior Hip Hop company. 


At the conventions Mark earned many scholarships including Creating Opportunities and the Millennium Dance Complex unlimited class scholarship. In the beginning dance was just a hobby, but quickly Mark realized that he could make a career in dance a reality.


Entering senior year for Mark, college applications were on the way, and the dance auditions started to become endless. He wants to pursue a career in dance both professionally and as a teacher/choreographer. Choosing the right college would be difficult for him, but then one letter came in the mail. Mark's top choice, the University of Southern California (USC) Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. This school accepted only 30 students nationally out of an overwhelming amount of applicants. Not to mention Mark (as well as Thrive alum Justin Epstein) are some of the few students to be a part of the first class in this dance program. 


At USC Mark is taking more than 8+ hours of dance class a day and he is working with some of the best in the industry including William Forsythe, Despond Richardson and Alonzo King. Mark has made some major accomplishments in life and he claims that "none of this would be possible if it weren't for Thrive, I love you guys, you will always be my second family and home." 


After his four years in this vigorous program, he hopes to become a well-known choreographer for dance conventions, studios etc., all across the nation, but on top of that audition for many movies, TV shows (So You Think You Can Dance), companies, Broadway productions and much more.

Dominique Dollenmayer

University of San Francisco

Dominique is attending the University of San Francisco and has auditioned and made San Francisco’s premiere Hip Hop Performance team, VarCity SF. VarCity SF’s mission statement says “We aim to provide dancers a safe and comfortable haven to practice this ever-growing way of life as well as a home where dancers can share their styles, help one another, and freely exchange their ideas and thoughts in hopes of strengthening bonds, promoting growth, and establishing a new sense of family. We will use the rich and vibrant culture of San Francisco to propel our team towards positive growth and great heights, as well as drawing inspiration from the ever-growing culture of the Bay Area.”


Dominique is ecstatic to become a part of such an amazing program where she can simultaneously share my passion with others, but also cultivate it in a challenging and encouraging environment. My team community and environment is extremely positive and it brings me so much joy to take part in something that reminds me of my second home, Thrive Dance Center. “I have been longing to find another place in which I can obtain the same amazing relationships and I am honored to be a part of this team.” Dominique is looking forward to participating in all of the dance opportunities USF has to offer. She hopes to audition for the schools Contemporary Dance Team and is considering pursuing a minor in Dance.

Polly Jacobs

New York University


Kyra Page


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