Welcome to IAD

Dance for JOY!

Adult & Children’s classes in Classical Ballet, Hip-Hop, Lyrical, Tap,
Modern, Spanish Dance, Broadway Jazz, Zumba & Belly Dance.

Many stage performing opportunities for our dancers, including the annual Nutcracker at Cabrillo’s Crocker Theater and a large scale production in June.

IAD offers a spacious state of the art facility with three beautiful studios with sprung floors and the same Marley dance surface used by the Royal Ballet to reduce injury and fatigue, in addition to comfortable waiting areas for parents and siblings.

IAD provides professional training in a comfortable and encouraging atmosphere for dancers of all ages and abilities. Our teaching philosophy encourages students to develop their style, artistry and individuality, while remaining true to the dance form studied.

All IAD instructors have been chosen for their ability to instill technique and artistry through their passion and dedication to the art of teaching dance. Our expert instructors are knowledgeable about history, theory and technique integral to the dance form they teach and cultivate an understanding beyond dance steps alone.

International Academy of Dance Director and Staff consider physical, mental and emotional wellness to be of utmost importance. We believe everyone can enjoy the benefits of dance classes from the three year old pre-ballet student to the pre-professional dancer or adult student looking for an enjoyable way to exercise. Classes for parents and caregivers are provided during certain children’s classes, so instead of waiting around…you can dance or exercise for YOU!

More than dance…dance is health, balance, poise, grace, joy, energy and synergistic motion. Join the movement to dance with JOY! We look forward to seeing you in the studio and the opportunity to share our love of dance!

Meet Our Instructors

  • Shannon Chipman

    — Director & Instructor at IAD

    Shannon-chipman-IAD-Instrcutor-and-OwnerSince 2003, Miss Chipman has been committed to bringing world class dance instruction and JOY to the International Academy of Dance. She strives to nourish dancers of all ages and abilities in a multitude of styles and provide a safe and healthy environment with the best training possible.

    From the age of three, Shannon’s shoes in the closet were always in first position and ballet has been her life ever since. She began serious ballet studies in Santa Cruz with Diana Rose (IAD instructor) and continued under the tutelage of Jean Dunphy, Vicki Bergland (IAD instructor) & Madame Valentina Belova. She went on to attend the Royal Academy of Ballet in London, the San Francisco Ballet and the Juilliard School. Miss Chipman choreographed and performed from coast to coast before settling back home in Santa Cruz. She always dreamed of having a dance studio and ballet company of her own. She lives that dream every day as Director of International Academy of Dance and the Santa Cruz City Ballet.

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    Walking across the street as a young teen, she was hit by a small truck and that unfortunate day almost derailed her dream of dance forever… Several doctors informed her she would “never dance again.” So began a tough year of physical therapy, tenacity and observing her peers in every ballet class she would have otherwise participated in. She was heartbroken as she missed the audition season for many ballet programs and was unable to dance at all for several months. With the best medical care and miraculous recovery, however, she was allowed to finally return to dance. Through hard work and support from her teachers and family, she was able to audition for Juilliard for the college program in her senior year of high school. Shannon was accepted to Juilliard and moved to NYC at the age of 16. After receiving her BFA in dancel, Miss Chipman went on to Graduate Studies in Dance at Southern Methodist University in Dallas,TX.

    Although IAD started out primarily as a ballet school, a realization from her Juilliard years, that ballet dancers must be able to pick up choreography swiftly and effortlessly in any style, found her reaching out to teachers in many styles and encouraging her students to not be afraid to go to the floor and explore multiple forms of dance. Even though she is trained in many styles of dance, Shannon focuses on teaching Ballet primarily, her first love and has entrusted other styles of dance to the many talented teachers at IAD. Shannon is committed to growing and learning as a teacher herself, as well as developing staff through advanced teacher trainings. She is particularly interested in the latest trends and discoveries in cutting edge physical training for flexibility, strength, mindfulness and overall training to improve ballet technique and passes that knowledge on to her students and staff. Miss Chipman has attended multiple advanced teacher trainings with Finis Jhung, ABT Teacher Training, Progressing Ballet Technique and Lisa Howell’s “Perfect Form”.

    Dancers training with Miss Shannon have been accepted to college dance programs and numerous prestigious ballet programs including: Kirov Academy of Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet School, American Ballet Theater, School of American Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, Oregon Ballet Theater, The Rock, Gelsey Kirkland Academy and Joffrey Ballet.

    Miss Chipman is also a certified Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor, Certified Flight Instructor and Commercial Pilot. Shannon loves to fly on the ground and dance in the air, as well as teach her students to fly through life with grace and strength. Mother of four fantastic boys, Shannon is grateful for all of the wonderful staff, dancers and families she gets to work with every day!

  • Vicki Bergland

    — Ballet Instructor

    Vicki-Bergland-IAD-InstructorVicki Bergland has taught ballet for over 30 years in Santa Cruz County, instilling dancers with a love and respect for ballet. Many of her students have gone on to professional careers in dance. Ms. Bergland currently teaches and coaches dancers at the International Academy of Dance, where she has been an instrumental part of the training curriculum. She also teaches at the University of California, at Santa Cruz. Ms. Bergland was the Associate Director of Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre and has worked with the Moscow Ballet as the Children’s Coordinator for their Nutcracker. She has studied the Vagonova syllabus Levels 1-6 intensively with Karen Morell in San Francisco and Walnut Creek. Additionally, she has taught at Motion Pacific, Hidden Valley Institute of the Arts in Carmel Valley and the Studio School of Classical Ballet. Ms. Bergland has choreographed both repertory and full-length ballets. Vicki is most thankful to work with Shannon Cullem-Chipman and the fantastic staff, students and parents of IAD.

  • Melissa Palumbo

    — Dance Instructor

    Melissa-Palumbo-IAD-InstructorMelissa Palumbo is International Academy of Dance’s go-to teacher for Hip-Hop, Tap and Lyrical. With a rousing teaching style, Melissa engages dancers of all ages. She brings her dynamic style, choreographic edge and passion to every student, every class and every performance! Her experience as a performer, choreographer and instructor is beyond her years.

    Born and raised in New England, Palumbo began her dance career at a young age performing professionally and competitively. A diverse dancer, trained in all forms of dance, including Aerial Dance Arts, Melissa worked with Triiiple Threat Entertainment Agency, where her competitive dance career took her across the U.S. with stints in NYC, Daytona & Disney to name a few. She went on to instruct and choreograph at new Hampshire’s most competitive dance studio, Steppin’ Out Dance Academy. Her visionary choreography won her awards from DTI and Star Systems. Her shining stage presence and flawless technique won her the “Outstanding Performance Award” from Turn It Up Dance Competition & Dance Troupe Challenge.

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    Palumbo performed and collaborated with Amy Marshall Dance Company NYC; Hofstra University, Long Island, NY; Millennium Dance Complex, Los Angeles; Copious Dance Theater, San Francisco and taught at University California Santa
    Cruz (UCSC), Santa Cruz.

    Melissa has choreographed, danced and coached leading roles for five annual productions of “The Nutcracker” at International Academy of Dance, along with the last five annual June Productions. Most recently she was “Alice” in
    “Wonderland.” Her newest venture is acting as Creative Director for the Lyrical/ Contemporary and Hip-Hop Company.

    Whether it’s her knowledge of the art of dance or her passion to help others achieve their greatest potential, Palumbo continues to inspire through her instruction and charisma. Her strength of performance, motivating style and passion, touches students and audiences alike. Melissa enjoys keeping dance fun and attainable for everyone, while challenging her students to be the best dancers that they can be!

  • Michelle Bjorkman

    — Dance Instructor

    Michelle-Bjorkman-IAD-InstructorPassionate for dance and the arts, Michelle has been both dancing and teaching for most of her life. She loves working with children, and holds a B.A. from San Jose State in child development with a minor in dance. Her experience throughout the years includes work in many different disciplines of dance, as well as extensive work in theater performance and production, working both as a choreographer, as well as director, with actors ranging in age from 5 to 75. In addition to dance and theater, she enjoys teaching group fitness classes as a certified Zumba and AFAA instructor. Currently, she teaches weekly classes in jazz, tap, hip-hop, musical theater and Zumba for IAD.

  • Nancy Lingemann

    — Dance Instructor

    Nancy Lingemann is a lifelong dancer whose flamenco and Classical Spanish dance training took her to Madrid, Spain each winter for 18 years to study with the maestros Paco Romero, Ciro and La Tati, among others. She has also studied with maestro Jose Galvan of Sevilla. Nancy was a performer and soloist with Diana Alejandre’s Arte Flamenco de San Jose Company from 1992-2012. She taught Spanish Dance with Ballet San Jose from 1999-2012. She taught for Dennis Nahat at Theater Ventures Int’l in 2013, and continues to teach in Santa Cruz at her home studio in Bonny Doon. Nancy and her husband John have performed Argentine Tango with Tandy Beal for many years and give weekly Wednesday night classes at Calvary Episcopal Church since 2000.

    Students in Nancy Lingemann’s Spanish Dance class will learn some traditional regional dances of southern Spain, including “Sevillanas,” “Fandangos” and some flamenco dances. Nancy presents classical Spanish dance technique, including footwork, arm work, castanets and the use of the fan.

  • Bridget Smith

    — Dance Instructor

    Bridget-Smith-IAD-InstructorBridget Smith (Miss Bee) has been dancing strictly ballet since the age of three years old and has been taking classes at International Academy of Dance for over ten years. She is energetic, enthusiastic and passionate about teaching young children the joy of dance. She includes technique, story, fantasy, wonder, and ballet all wrapped up into entertaining dance classes for all those who love to dance everywhere they go.

  • Diana Rose

    — Ballet Instructor

    Diana-Rose-IAD-InstructorDiana Rose teaches the Beginning Ballet for Adults classes at IAD. She took her first ballet class as an adult and fell in love with the classical dance form She guides her students to discover the benefits of ballet training and the joy of dancing.

    Diana especially loves teaching ballet to those who have little or no dance experience, and to dancers wanting to brush up on their technique. She offers a supportive and fun you-can-do-it atmosphere. Her motto is “it is never too late to begin.” She has taught in Santa Cruz for over 30 years and has introduced ballet to beginners of all ages.

  • Tara Firenze

    — Tap Instructor

    Tara FirenzeTara Firenzi has been tapping for nearly three decades. She has performed in tap shows (improvisational and choreographed) in New York City, Los Angeles, and the Bay Area, and has taught dance all over the county for the past fifteen years. Also trained in jazz, lyrical and ballet, she has choreographed more than a dozen full-length musical productions for several local theater groups. She was the first president of the Harbor High School dance company Escapade, and she is the faculty advisor for the 100+ student dance company at Pacific Collegiate School, where she also teaches dance. When she’s not dancing, she also teaches World History at Cabrillo College, and holds history degrees from UCLA (BA) and Stanford (MA).

  • Janelle Rodriguez

    — Belly Dance Instructor

    janelle-rodriguez-iad-instructorJanelle teaches belly dance at IAD and is a belly dance performer and choreographer who has trained in many styles of dance since childhood, including ballet, jazz, tap, modern dance, gymnastics, hip-hop and Mexican Folklore. When Janelle discovered Middle Eastern Dance, she immediately became enamored by the isolated movements and unique rhythms and thus began her lifelong passion of study and personal growth. Pioneering dancers and teachers Jamila and Suhaila Salimpour have played pivotal roles in Janelle’s journey. She continues to study with Suhaila working toward her level 5 certification. Janelle serves as Artistic Director/Choreographer for Desert Dream Dance Company and performs across the US, inspiring audiences with her musicality and creative expression. Anatomical principles of movement are paramount in each of Janelle’s classes. A prominent and respected instructor throughout the San Francisco Bay area and Central Coast, Janelle enjoys sharing her knowledge and love of Middle Eastern and Arabic dance through teaching and performing.