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Ahjalia Hall

Director/Co-Owner

Ahjalia Hall is originally from San Jose, California and has been training in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical Contemporary and Hip Hop since age 2. As the daughter of a professional dancer, choreographer and studio owner, her passion for dance began at birth. When dancers grow up in a dance studio environment they are exposed to ALL of the different aspects of dance and dance education and choreography and teaching has always been in the forefront for Ahjalia. 

 

Cousin to Alex Haley, author of the award winning book Roots and The Autobiography of Malcolm X, history, family and dedication to the arts has always been a priority. At age 16, she moved to Los Angeles to attend UCLA and pursue dance, choreography and dance instruction. At UCLA she was a member of the nationally ranked UCLA All-Star dance team and a regular in the World Arts and Cultures Program, where she studied all different styles of dance, from around the world. Ahjalia graduated from UCLA at the age of 20 with a degree in Sociology and a concentration in Education, which she uses daily in her work teaching developing and professional dancers.

 

Ahjalia’s versatility is endless as she has taught at over 100 different schools and studios throughout the United States. She worked for the United Spirit Association for 19 years where she traveled the country teaching Jazz, Hip Hop, Contemporary & Lyrical Master classes as well as University Dance Camps to thousands of Junior High, High School, College and Dance Studio students. With USA she was the Head Instructor for the Elite Dance Camps for local, national and international dance teams, a Master Teacher and a member of the Program Development Team.  Ahjalia currently works actively judging regional, national and international dance competitions in Japan, Australia, Mexico, Costa Rica & Columbia. She is also a regular judge at the USASF Dance Worlds in Orlando Florida and the ICU Dance Championships (the current international governing body of dance). She has worked with and choreographed for nationally ranked dance teams throughout the United States, including UCLA’s dance & spirit team and Boise State Universities Mane Line Dancers. Ahjalia has participated as a dancer and instructor for the Los Angeles Avengers, Los Angeles Clippers Spirit and the San Francisco 49ers halftime shows and was also an instructor for the NFL Pro Bowl Half-Time Show with live performers “Lifehouse”.

 

Ahjalia is currently the co-owner of Thrive Dance Center a premier performing arts facility in Southern California where she trains over 500 dancers annually. Some of her dancers have most recently been seen performing in A Chorus Line at the Hollywood Bowl, in the Dorito’s Super Bowl Commercial with Lionel Richie and Chance the Rapper, in Sam Smith’s music video “How Do You Feel” and with Justin Bieber in Los Angeles on the Purpose Tour.

While performing will always be a hobby, it is definitely not in the forefront. Ahjalia’s true passion is teaching and watching her students learn and grown. With her contagious energetic personality and non stop attack on choreography her students are always pushed to grow their confidence and her classes are always unforgettable. 

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Jennifer Maples

Director/Co-Owner

Jennifer Maples works as a choreographer, teacher, composer, vocalist, dancer, and actress. She has studied dance on scholarship in both New York (Steps, Broadway Dance Center) and Los Angeles (EDGE, Tremaine).  Jennifer is a master teacher nationally and her choreography has been recognized by numerous national dance competitions, (LADF, West Coast Dance Explosion, Tremaine, JUMP, MOVE) She has received rave reviews in the LA Weekly and BackstageWest/Dramalogue locally and was awarded the LA WEEKLY Theatre Award for BEST CHOREOGRAPHER 2008 for her work on the World Premier of Frank Zappa’s JOE’S GARAGE.  

 

She toured with the Broadway National company of CATS and has starred in many regional musical theatre productions including:  Evita, Cabaret, Three Penny Opera, Tintypes and Anything Goes.  She was the Performing Arts Director for the Children’s Museum of Los Angeles, and is the writer, creator and consultant to several county agencies on multi media educational assembly programs currently touring LA County schools. She was a session singer for Lakeshore Records.  You can hear on several movie soundtracks and commercials.  She was the lead singer in her own L. A. based rock band, Ma’s Furnace and she produced, directed and starred in her own rock opera, I Hate TV which played to sold out houses in Hollywood.  Her choreography can also be seen on several up and coming gymnasts throughout the Southern California area.  

 

Jennifer loves teaching and sharing her passion for dance and performing with all of her students. Thrive Dance Center is a dream come true for her and she is grateful for her dancer life! 

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Angela Nelinger

Studio Manager

Angela Nelinger was born and raised in Thousand Oaks and has been training in Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical, Hip Hop, Musical Theater and Tap since the young age of 9. Throughout high school, Angela participated in the Thousand Oaks High School dance program, performing in their various concerts, all while continuing her studio training full time and working at the front desk. Mentored by Ahjalia Hall, Angela learned the ins and outs of what it takes to run a studio, which awakened her interest in the management side of the business.

 

During college, Angela worked part time as the Manager at a local day care center, as well as worked part time at the front desk at Thrive Dance Center. She studied Child Development and Psychology where she later realized her heart and passion was with the studio. Angela graduated from Moorpark College with her Associates Degree in Social Behavioral Science. Still working full time at Thrive Dance Center, she worked her way to becoming the Studio Manager.

 

Working along side 2 inspirational woman, Ahjalia Hall and Jennifer Maples, Angela’s passion for dance and desire to have a positive impact on students has brought her to where she calls “home”. You’ll catch Angela in dance classes every once in a while but you will always see her smiling and friendly face at the front desk fielding any questions or concerns you may have. Her attention to detail, customer service and love for the students make her one of the most recognizable and comforting faces at Thrive. 

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Alexa Diaz

Faculty

Alexa began dancing at the age of 10 near her home in Southern California. Although she started recreationally, she soon realized she couldn’t get enough of it. She was hooked. Through competitions and conventions, she won multiple awards and worked with numerous choreographers including: Tiffany Burton, Cheryl Baxter, Mallauri Esquibel, Tina Diamato, Mark Meismer, and Shane Sparks. She was apart of Shane Sparks’ Hip hop crew, “Floor Rockers” and performed at many events under his direction. She danced in movies including “Sunday School Musical” and “School Gyrls”. She has also performed in many charity functions such as Kids for Kids, Day of the Child and Dizzyfeet. She is presently a member of Joelle Martinec’s SoleVita Dance Company, performing in various venues, from the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles to Costa Rica. Alexa can also be seen in a featured role as the Magic Carpet in Disney’s Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular. 


Currently, Alexa is pursuing her B.A. in Child Development at CSUN in addition to performing, teaching dance and choreographing for children of all ages. She loves being able to share her passion with others and looks forward to teaching the hungry dancers of Thrive Dance Center.

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Pavel Tabutov

Faculty 

Pavel Tabutov fell in love with ballet upon his first demi plié and began training at the  Academy of Ballet and Arts in Chicago. Later, he received extensive Jazz and Contemporary training at Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Center and Visceral Dance Center.  He went on to perform with Chicago Dance Crash utilizing his acrobatic experience he gained as an ALL STAR cheerleader with ICE Athletics.  

 

As a choreographer, Pavel was awarded Best Choreography Award from Hall of Fame for several of his works. Later, he began to work with U.S.A. Olympic Rhythmic Gymnastics National team teaching them different styles of dance to advance their choreography and movement skills. 

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Jessica Hiestand 

Faculty 

Jessica Hiestand was born in Northwest Indiana where she grew up in a family that surrounded her with art education. At thirteen she decided to pour all of her energy into dance. Jessica studied hip hop, jazz, ballet, and contemporary throughout the Chicagoland area until the age of 18 when she received a scholarship to participate in EDGE Performing Arts Center's Professional Program in Los Angeles, California. After a year at EDGE PAC, Jessica signed with the esteemed Bloc talent agency in 2014,  and she has been working as a dancer, choreographer and teacher booking with the Bloc Agency ever since. 

Hiestand has performed on shows and in music videos for artists such as Lorde, Billie Eilish, and Charlie Puth. She has also performed in various television shows and commercials including FOX’s Empire, Google, and Adidas to name a few. Throughout her time as a dancer, Jessica has been building her knowledge so that she can share with dancers in classes of her own.  

She has gone on to teach at EDGE Performing Arts Center as well as various pre-professional dance studios throughout the country. She is also currently studying Psychology at UCLA with the goal of being able to better help young performers with their mental health.  

Jessica hopes to expand her own dance career while inspiring and teaching the next generation of dancers to do the same. 

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Savannah Hooks

Faculty

Savannah Hooks has been dancing since the age of 3 and is classically trained in the Cecchetti Ballet System. She loves all styles of dance and continues to train in many styles including lyrical, contemporary, jazz, ballet, modern, and hip hop. For the past five years, she has been a dancer in the company Unity Dance Ensemble, founded by Tessandra Chavez, a choreographer on So You Think You Can Dance and on the PULSE faculty. She has also been a member of the newly established hip-hop crew, High Profile, which resides in Las Vegas.

 

She is currently a student at CSUN majoring in math for Secondary Education and can proudly admit she went to Calculus Camp in high school. She is also a certified Pure Barre Instructor and has been a dance instructor for the United Spirit Association for the past 3 years. She has assisted and/or trained under many great dance artists such as Tessandra Chavez, Liz Imperio, KJ Gonzales, Jaffar Smith, Khasan Brailsford, Joe Loera, Dee Caspary, Keone Madrid, and many more. She can be seen as a dancer in Josh Strickland’s music video for his single “Report to the Floor” which debuted on the TV show Holly’s World. More recently she has been an assistant for a variety of choreographers on Abbey Lee’s Ultimate Dance Competition. Taking it back to high school, Savannah was captain of her dance team for 2 years and took 2nd place at the U.S.A. solos champion Finals. She loves teaching and inspiring others through dance and plans on doing just that for the rest of her life. 

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Nikki Bulman

Faculty 

Nikki Bulman is a dancer, photographer and choreographer. She started dancing at the age of eight years old and immediately fell in love. She is trained in all types of styles such as Contemporary, Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop and Modern. She has won several scholarships at Tremaine, Co Dance, NYCDA, NUVO and Hollywood Connection. Her scholarships have allowed her to study at the Broadway Dance Center in New York and the Millennium Dance Studio in LA. She has assisted numerous dance conventions including Hollywood Dance Connection where she is also the photographer.

 

Although Nikki loves to dance, her true passion is in choreography and teaching.

She has been teaching for 12 years and has choreographed and taught in Washington State, Utah and California.

She specializes in teaching Hip Hop, Contemporary and Jazz but loves

to teach Tap, Lyrical, Modern, Ballet as well. Her choreography has been recognized all over the country and has received many “Highest Overall” and “Judges Choice” awards at various competitions.

 

Nikki is so excited to start teaching for Thrive Dance Center. She loves getting to know her students on a personal level and help them grow as dancers. She inspires her students with her impeccable technique and energy!

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Alyssa Clark

Faculty

Alyssa Belden has been a lover of dance since the young age of 3 when she took her first ballet class. At age 7, she began taking jazz, hip hop, and tap and realized that dance would be a huge part of her for the rest of her life. She continued dancing and competing in all styles of dance, winning many awards at regional dance competitions. At age 18, Alyssa decided to focus on teaching. She began teaching jazz, ballet, tap, lyrical, and hip-hop and continues to teach all levels and all ages throughout Ventura County. Alyssa has won many awards for her choreography in lyrical, jazz, and hip-hop. She also shares her love of teaching at several studios throughout Los Angeles and Ventura County. Alyssa studied at Moorpark College where she received her AA in dance. She was chosen to present 6 of her own pieces for their Faculty Dance Concerts and continues to guest choreograph and perform in their concerts. Alyssa was also chosen as a finalist for the Richard Carpenter Scholarship Competition 2 years in a row where she won $1500 for her choreography and performance. 


Alyssa continues her dance education as much as she can and continues to learn and work with dance industries hottest choreographers. Alyssa also studies with Ben Allen, Mark Meismer, Joaquin Escamilla, and many other teachers in order to keep growing as a dance educator. She has also assisted Master Classes with Joaquin Escamilla. Alyssa continues to guest perform in various shows such as "POP! A Michael Jackson Tribute", "Miss Ventura County Pageant" as the opening number and guest performance two years in a row, and many others! She is thrilled at any chance she has to perform or present her choreography on stage. Alyssa is thrilled to be a member of the Thrive team and share her passion for dance with her students.

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Holly Barile

Faculty

Holly Barile began her dance training at the age of 3 at Dancenter North in Libertyville IL and continued her training at the Dance Academy of Libertyville. Her training is well rounded having trained in Ballet, Pointe, Tap, Jazz, and Modern and also studied for three years on scholarship at the Milwaukee Ballet Pre-Professional Summer Program. She spent 7 years performing with the Terpsichore Dance Ensemble in various choreographic works and full-length ballets. At the age of 11 she received a scholarship to the Chicago Human Rhythm Project and performed with the Especially Tap Company. Upon graduation Holly continued her training at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts and Lou Conte Dance Studio in Chicago, IL. She also began performing as a guest artist throughout the Chicagoland area. Upon moving to Los Angeles she has danced with California Contemporary Ballet and is a member of Hart Pulse Dance Company.


Holly’s love of teaching began as a teen when she started as a teacher assistant and substitute. She began teaching full time and found a passion for sharing her knowledge and the joy of dance to her students. Before moving to Los Angeles she received the honor of being voted as one of Chicago’s top dance teachers. Her goal is to give the students of Thrive the kind of wonderful training and love for performing that she received as a young dancer.

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Caitlin Heflin

Faculty

Caitlin is a native of Nashville, Tennessee, where she grew up studying under Tina Trinkler. She attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas where she had the opportunity to perform works by Joost Vrouenraets and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, as well as performing works by Martha Graham in conjunction with the Graham Company. Studying at the Nutmeg Conservatory and San Francisco Conservatory of Dance in the summers to round out her dance education, she is a versatile dancer with a strong background in Ballet, Modern, Jazz, and Tap. She graduated magna cum laude with a BFA in Dance Performance and a BA in Economics, and moved to Chicago, Illinois to pursue her professional career with Thodos Dance Chicago. Since relocating to Los Angeles, she has worked with Cherice and Charissa Barton, Christian Denice, Vincent Paterson, Chard Gonzalez Dance Theatre, Louise Reichlin & Dancers, Jana Taylor + Dancers, and is a company member with Seda Aybay’s Kybele Dance Theater.

 

Though she taught throughout college on the side, it was in Chicago that she truly she embarked on her teaching career with Dance Academy of Libertyville, and at various other studios all over the Chicagoland area. She has continued her teaching career here in California, where she hopes to share her overwhelming love for dance technique and artistry with her students here at Thrive. 

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Sami Simon

Faculty

Sami Simon, a native of Southern California, has been training in various styles of dance since she was five years old. She began her training in her hometown of Thousand Oaks, California, where she was trained in jazz, ballet, modern, hip-hop, lyrical/contemporary, tap, and more. As a competitive dancer, she showcased many different styles and earned top rankings for her solo routines. In addition, she earned several competition and convention scholarships that lead to opportunities assisting many talented choreographers. Her love for dance lead her to attended California State University, Long Beach Department of Dance where she graduated and obtained her BFA in dance. Focusing heavily on different modern techniques, Sami has had the privilege to study under the guidance of many talented artists as well as perform for notable choreographers such as Laurel Jenkins and Norbert De La Cruz III. She has also had the privilege of performing throughout Los Angeles for the Los Angeles Avengers, Los Angeles Clippers and NCAA halftime shows.

 

Since graduating from CSULB, Sami has become an instructor for the USA (United Spirit Association) teaching thousands of dancers on University campuses throughout the United States. In addition she furthered her training by taking part in the BASI Pilates certification program. Sami is excited to be teaching at her home studio, Thrive, and looks forward to inspire her students through movement and dance.

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Shana Williamns

Faculty 

No stranger to performing or teaching, Shana is proud to be a part of Thrive Dance Center. Shana is glad to be working with children again since she has been working in the field of children's theatre since she was a child herself. She performed with the Children's Museum of Los Angeles in their Reader's Theatre Ensemble as well as taught in their Reading Edge program.  Through this program Shana traveled to schools all over Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley to help children learn and appreciate the joys that creating, writing, and performing can bring. She believes that entertainment is a valuable tool to help anyone learn what they need to accomplish their goals.

 

Shana is currently working  in the field of comedy writing and performing with two sketch companies, TMI at Second City Hollywood, and Strait Jacket Society. She is currently working on short films, her one woman show, a series of webisodes, and was recently seen as on the big screen in the film Amelia’s 25th as Pinky.  She is excited to share her passion with Thrive Community.

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Randy

Faculty

Randy is an actor and teacher and has been an instructor at Thrive since 2014. He’s a graduate of USC’s Thornton School of Music, and has maintained a private voice studio in Los Angeles since 1996. His clients have appeared on and off Broadway, in national tours, regional theaters, opera houses as well as as on and off camera singers.

 

He has served as an accompanist and choral director for many churches and schools and has been a staff accompanist at Schurr High School in Montebello since 1998.


As an actor, Randy last appeared in the critically acclaimed and award-winning production of NEXT TO NORMAL at East West Players, and along with his castmates, received an Ovation Award nomination for Best Ensemble. Other favorite theater credits include: THE CHRISTIANS (Center Theater Group/Mark Taper Forum), PACIFIC OVERTURES (East West Players), STEEL ([INSIDE] the Ford), and VISIONS (Los Angeles Theater Center). TV: The Office and Jimmy Kimmel Live. As a voiceover artist, he has voiced spots for Toyota, McDonalds, AT&T and Nintendo, and is one of the voice options for WAZE.

 

Randy is a proud member of SAG-AFTRA, Actors’ Equity Association  (AEA) and the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS).

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Ricky Medina

Faculty

While he started as a multi-sport athlete, Ricky Medina began dancing in his junior year high of high school. By his senior year, he ran his own co-ed hip-hop dance team, choreographed for competitions, and also taught as a dance instructor. After he graduated high school, he was accepted as a Dance major at UCLA. 

At UCLA, Ricky was a part of a premier UCLA Hip-hop dance team ACA Hip-hop, where he performed and competed for a variety of events including UCLA’s Spring Sing show. He also performed with Versa-style: Next Generation, a Hip-hop dance company composed of young adults in Los Angeles. Near the end of his time at UCLA he worked for the Los Angeles Clippers as a dancer, entertainer, and trampoline acro-dunker. With the Clippers he had the pleasure of performing for numerous celebrity guest artists such as Kid Ink, Silento, Montell Jordan, Rae Srummed, DJ Quick, Warren G, and Sugarhill Gang.

Ricky graduated from UCLA with a BA in dance and a minor in Visual and Performing Arts Education. Ricky is currently in pursuit of getting his teaching credentials to teach dance at the high-school level. As a Thrive alumni himself, Ricky is truly passionate about teaching the youth about the history and culture of Hip-hop, and he is overwhelmingly excited to share his knowledge with students here.

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Madeleine Fluxman

Faculty

Madeleine (Maddi) Fluxman has had a passion for dance and performance and has been training in Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Hip Hop, Lyrical, Contemporary, Modern and Musical Theatre for over 15 years. Maddi is currently finishing her bachelor’s degree in Psychology at California State University, Northridge, as well as working towards receiving her PsyD.  At CSUN, Maddi is a leading member of the University’s dance team as well as an active board member. She began training under Ahjalia Hall and Jennifer Maples over 10 years ago, and has trained at Thrive Dance Center since it’s inception in 2010. She was also a competitive group dancer and award winning soloists for many years.

 

Maddi found her love for choreographing and teaching at a young age when she began choreographing for her middle school’s dance team. As a professional dancer, Maddi has continued to grow her love for teaching and choreography and has taught at multiple schools throughout Los Angeles staging choreography for young dancers, teens and adults alike. Maddi also has an extensive musical theater background having trained for over 15 years in the Musical Theater genre and recently was the head choreographer for a production of “High School Musical”.

 

Maddi is thrilled to be teaching at Thrive Dance Center and can’t wait to share the gift of dance in the same place that it was given to her. 

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Lyndon Apostol

Faculty

Lyndon moved to the United States from the Philippines at 10 years old. He debuted in Les Miserables (Legles)/High Street Arts Center, and Cabaret (Hans)/Camarillo Skyway Playhouse; was featured in West Side Story (Chino/ensemble)/Conejo Players Theatre/5-Star Theatricals, A Funny Thing... Forum (Miles), Mary Poppins (Neleus), and Mama Mia (Pepper)/High Street Arts Center; starred in the  Samahang Pilipino and Korean Cultural Nights at UCLA ‘s Royce Hall 2017 and 2018; and, guest-starred in The Nutcracker (Rat King) and Camelot Ballet (Countryman)/Pacific Festival Ballet. As an advocate for raising cultural diversity and awareness in the entertainment world, he is honored to have been part of the Los Angeles Off-Broadway production Comfort Women: A New Musical (Minsik Lee). In the future, he hopes to bring life to the untold triumphs and tragedies that are culturally and historically rooted in the Asian-American experience. In the present, his main mission is to guide and encourage students of all ages to further their study and passion for the art of motion.

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Summer Perrin

Staff

Summer Perrin was born and raised in Newbury Park, California and began dancing at the age of 11.  She was introduced to Hip Hop, Jazz, Ballet, Contemporary and Modern and fell in love with dance and the hard work that goes into it.  She participated in the Dance Program at her high school where she was a member of the Hip Hop Dance Team, She also discovered her love for choreography while creating pieces for their seasonal dance concerts. She started training at Thrive Dance Center in 2012, and during high school years she competed with Thrive’s Senior Hip Hop Company, which won various titles and awards at several Southern California dance competitions. 

 

She is currently attending California State University, Channel Islands and is studying to get her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Business.  Summer has a strong passion for dance and continues to train in all styles. She also takes great responsibility in working for Thrive Dance Center, prides herself on customer service and truly loves working at the front desk and being a part of the behind the scenes operations of running the studio.

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Shannon Martinous

Faculty

Shannon hails from the small town of Joplin, Missouri!  Moving to LA was never a part of the original plan but once she got here, she discovered the weather, the people, and her amazing husband-who she married twice! (Long story)


Shannon has a Bachelors in Voice Performance and a Theatre Minor from MSSU and a Masters Degree in Musical Theatre from the Boston Conservatory. She has been a part of several recordings and stagings of new musical works in and around the Los Angeles area. Recent projects include original musical Thanksgiving in Ithica performed in the Hollywood Fringe Festival, Songs for a New World as Woman #2, the short film The Vigil, and the web series Reverse Polarity.


Along with acting, Shannon teaches musical theatre classes as well as private voice and piano lessons to students of all ages.


She is a dog lover (specifically, her Golden Retriever pup, Indy!), looking up AirBnB’s around the world, and watching any and all British period dramas.

Thrive Dance Center * 3623 Old Conejo Road Suite 100 * Newbury Park * CA 91320 * (805) 375-9988