The lovely Kate Ahumada and Tanya Tolmasoff, co-directors of UPSide Dance Company, have danced internationally in professional performance groups throughout California, Colorado, New York City, London, and St. Petersburg, Russia. Bringing their beaming optimism back to their roots in Sonoma County, the dynamic duo wishes to share their love and knowledge of dance movement, health, and wellness to their hometown and Northern California.
Tanya Tolmasoff (Artistic Director):
Tanya has worked professionally as a dancer, performer, designer, and arts/cultural manager both Nationally and Internationally for the past 18 years. Tanya is also an instructor at Santa Rosa Junior College Dance Department and ArtQuest Dance program at SRHS. Most recently she is a company member and choreographed for Interweave DAnce Theatre in Boulder,Colorado and been a selected choreographer in the 2019 American College Dance Association in 2019 for her piece ‘Wigs and Tarts’ with the SRJC Dance Department (and Cassandra Hillman). She holds a MA with Distinction in Arts Administration and Cultural Policy from Goldsmith University of London, and a BA in Theatre, Dance, and Costume Design from Cal Poly University, SLO. While in London (2011-2012) she worked in the Creative Development Department for Sadler’s Wells London’s Dance House working for renown choreographers Mathew Bourne, Akram Khan, Sidhi Larbi, Wayne McGregor, Russel Maliphant, and artists from Pina Bausch, and helped coordinate ‘BIG Street Dance 2012‘ where over 1,000 performers danced on the steps of London’s National Gallery and Trafalgar Square. Prior to her Masters she was the Marketing and Event Coordinator for JUMPBRUSH Dance Convergence in San Luis Obispo, CA featuring a creative collaboration of 5 local dance companies and San Francisco’s Oberlin Dance Company (ODC). On Stage and on tour, Tanya has been a featured dancer, performer, and soloist for Variable Velocity Performance Group (California), Deyo Dances (California and St. Petersburg, Russia), Civic Ballet (California), AMP:Dance (NYC), RE:DS Dance Company (London, UK), and a Viennese Circus Act (Yes, you read that right, she was a clown!). As well as a performer, she has also designed Theater costumes for off-Broadway productions in NYC, Dance Costumes for Variable Velocity, and directed a Californian Fashion Company called Melanie Renee Design. Her background, talent, and passions combine to form UPSide Dance Company with Kate Ahumada Vazzoler… and what a pair! What an exciting culmination and collaboration to bring more modern dance to the gem of Northern California.
Kate Ahumada Vazzoler (UPside Co-Founder):
Kate is a life-long mover. Drawn to dance at a young age, this kinetic language continues to speak her truth. Her technical foundation is in classical ballet, which she began in her hometown of Healdsburg, at Healdsburg Ballet. She has performed many classical roles at the Luther Burbank Center (now the Wells Fargo Arts Center), and the Marin Civic Center with Marin Ballet and Marin Dance Theatre. In college, she discovered the grounded freedom of modern dance. Kate received her BFA in Dance from UCSB in 2005. There, she studied with brilliant teacher/choreographers: Nancy Colahan, Christopher Pilafian, Tonia Shimin and Stephanie Nugent; and performed their works on tour with the UCSB Dance Company. Kate was honored with the Alice Condodina Performance Award upon graduation. She lived in NYC the next fall, studying with inspirations Milton Myers, Peff Modelsky, and Jessica Hendricks. When the west coast drew her back home, she taught dance and became a pilates teacher before moving to San Francisco. While in the beautiful Bay Area, Kate performed with Garrett and Moulton Productions, VISPO Dance, and Prana Bachata. During the summers since 2002, Kate is a member of the modern-jazz company, Interweave Dance Theatre in Boulder, Colorado. Now living in the place of her roots, Kate is happy to have trusted the tiny dancer always alive in her, and continues to reach for the best version of herself. She and Tanya cofounded UPside Dance in 2012 where they created over 8 full shows together and over 45 pieces. She teaches Pilates during the day, and has dance parties in the evening with her 4 year old sunshine son, Ennio, and her awesome husband Kolin.
Jordan Hayes (UPside Instructor and Choreographer) is a studio artist, dancer, and photographer from Sonoma County. In dance she is a student, performer, choreographer, and an educator. She has a great respect for the instructors and choreographers she has studied and/or performed under. A few among the many highlights include LeeWei Chao, Britt Juleen, Susan Matthies, Watta Ribas, and Erik Wagner. Jordan is an original UPside member since 2013, performed two seasons with the Dance Wright Project of SF, and premiered her solo art installation/performance work (The Valley Box Project) at the Marin Museum of Art in May of 2017. Was also an UPside Collaborator in ‘Chrysalis’ 2015 and Choreographer/Designer in ‘all.things.PAPER’ 2016, and an UPside Dancer since 2013.
A lifelong skateboarder, Jordan decided on a whim to try a ballet class, and fell instantly in love with the art and sport of dance. Since that first toe dip in the pond of dance, she has pursued her new found passion at every turn as a student, performer and dance educator. Jordan has a great respect for the instructors and choreographers she has worked with including: Watta Ribas, Beth McEnery, Alonzo King, Kahz Zmuda, Britt Juleen, LeeWei Chao, Erik Wagner, Christine Cali, Tamara Grose, Susan Matthies, Lara Branen, Mary DiLillo, Nancy Gallenson, Ana Bribiescas, and Jamie Wright of the The Dance Wright Project, of which she performed as company member for 2 seasons. Jordan is propelled by her ongoing dance exploration and education. (UPside Dancer since 2013 and Collaborator in ‘Chrysalis’ 2015 and Choreographer/Designer ‘all.things.PAPER’ 2016, Photographer in ‘Family Album’ 2019, ‘Zipper’ 2019)
Erin Meyers (UPside Company Manager) is a local Healdsburg Acupuncturist, mother of 2 amazing kids (Rowen, 8 and Iona, 6), and wife of Arnot-Roberts winemaker Duncan. She loves to train in all types of movement from african and modern dance both in Colorado and Sonoma County, riding bikes, and going on school field trips! Erin is an original UPside Dance member since 2012.
UPside Company Dancers
All UPside Dancers are diverse, bright, adventurous, generous, and bring something new to the dance floor. UPSide revels and reveres the diverse backgrounds, styles, and ideas of their dancers and creates movement inspired by and for the company.
Janelle LaCumsky is a preschool teacher working in the lab school at Santa Rosa Junior College. From early childhood, Janelle was passionate about dance and performed in choir and musical theater. After receiving the California State Arts Scholar award & attending Cal Arts summer program, Janelle continued her training in Modern, Ballet, and Theatre throughout California with Jude Clark Warnisher & Bree Valle (Cuesta College San luis Obispo), Jacqueline Burgess (Laney College), Tamara Grose (CCD), Victor Temple (New World Ballet), Bernadette Alverio (Movement Lab), Jordan Hayes (For By With). Janelle is honored to have found a home as an original UPside Dance Company member since 2012.
Allison Low is a Sonoma County native who discovered her passion for movement at an early age. She enjoys studying all forms of dance and has trained, collaborated and performed in California and Oregon. Throughout her youth she trained locally with Ballet California, then continued dancing through college and after in Eugene and Portland Oregon. After completing her doctorate in physical therapy at UCSF she returned to Sonoma County where she’s performed with CCD, the SRJC dance program and now UPside Dance. She’s the proud wife of David, winemaker/co-owner of AntHill Farms and a new mother… Allison’s new tiny UPsider, Natalie, performed on stage in Allison’s belly in 2016!
Laura Leipzig began her dance training as a child studying ballet at The Dancers Studio with Virginia Niekrasz-Laurent in Eureka, CA, eventually dancing as a member of the schools company as a teenager. Laura attended Sonoma State University graduating in 2009 with a BA in Studio Art with a focus on Fine Art Photography, and a Minor in Dance. She later earned a certificate in Non-Profit Management from San Francisco State University. It was at SSU, taking classes from Nancy Lyons and Kristen Daily among others, that she became interested in modern/contempory dance. Shortly after college Laura met long time Sonoma County ballet teacher Mary DiLillo, whom she has assisted and taught for, both at SRJC and the Susan Lopez School of Ballet. Laura was recently hired as the Education and Volunteer Coordinator for the Museum of Sonoma County, and continues her position as Gallery Manager for the Arts Guild Of Sonoma. She also has her own very small custom framing business, and can be found hosting at the Wild Goat Bistro in Petaluma. Laura has performed with UPside Dance Company since 2016.
Jessica Martin is a multi-media artist based in Healdsburg. Her passion for dance began early, learning ballet from Balanchine muse, Gloria Mohr. At 14, Jessica began flamenco with Yaelisa (Caminos Flamencos), then studied Limon and Graham technique with Steve Rooks in New York. Martin received an MA at California College the Arts and a BA in Anthropology from Vassar College. Jessica has been dancing and collaborating with UPside since 2012 when they first brought their wonderful work to Sonoma County. She is also multi-media artist who’s work explores the relationship between revelatory experience and the mundane everyday. Her work includes paintings of the homes of famous explorers, stop-animation films based on mountain expeditions, an anonymous collection of people’s risks and dreams, and a sculpture series of limited edition 3D prints of people’s cherished personal belongings. Her work has been shown at Headlands Center for the Arts, Southern Exposure, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, Traywick Contemporary, Pro Arts, The Lab, the diRosa Preserve, and New Langton Arts. (UPside Dancer since 2012 & Collaborator: (un)tied 2013, Strum 2014, all.things.PAPER 2016, Wildlands REsidency 2016, ‘Anatomy of Happiness’ 2017)
Ellen Setchko Palmerlee has been twirling around her living room to music for as long as she can remember. Though she didn’t get serious about dance until high school, movement was always a part of her life. She began with tap and ballroom, then fell in love with modern and jazz as a student of Susan Matthies, who continues to be an inspiring influence. In May of 2016 she graduated from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts with a BA in Neuroscience and a minor in Dance. She spent one semester on exchange at Mills College in Oakland studying dance and exploring the Bay Area dance scene. Now back in Sonoma County, Ellen has her own business as a Professional Organizer, helping people downsize and declutter to create spaces that inspire and uplift. Dancing with UPside since 2017 has been a dream come true for her!
Gianna Davy (Soloist, Guest choreographer) fell in love with dance at age 8 and has never stopped. Her passion took her through a 16 year professional career dancing at many companies including Smuin Ballet, Oakland Ballet, Robert Moses’ KIN, State Street Ballet and Company C Contemporary Ballet. Gianna received a BA in Performing Arts in 2009. Today Gianna spends her days adventuring with her two sweet sons (Bensi age 3 and Oberon age 7 months), teaching dance to kids and adults, making jewelry for her small business, or gardening any patch of earth she can find. Gianna has been an UPside Company Soloist since 2014.
Karin Tredrea has lived in Healdsburg for the past 20 years, raising her daughter and nurturing her massage practice. Dance has been a source of joy since the age of 5, whether through ballet, swing, performance teams or simply letting loose in her living room. Dancing with UPside is her first experience with modern and has been keeping her on her toes (and on the ground) since 2014.
Jackie Schloemp has always had a passion for movement, growing up as a competitive gymnast and eventually finding dance at the end of high school. She began training in modern, contemporary, and jazz here in Santa Rosa at the Dance Center and continued exploring her love of these genres once she went to college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. There, she combined her passion for movement with her interest in science by majoring in Kinesiology and minoring in Dance. She was a member of the Cal Poly Orchesis Dance Company for four years, through which she expanded her education as an athlete, artist, and student in the world of dance. Currently, she is back home before heading off to Physical Therapy school in Denver this fall. Eventually, she hopes to use her physical therapy education to work with dancers and their specific health care needs. Jackie is beyond grateful to have been welcomed into the UPside dance family and is humbled to be performing alongside such positive, creative, and compassionate women. This is Jackie’s first performance with UPside Dance Co.
Nika Kozlov has been frolicking through the dance world since the age of 5 when she began her training at Healdsburg Ballet with Teresa Lubarsky. She continued this rigorous training with Ms. Lubarsky for 10 years, while also engaging in ballet competitions that nourished her competitive spirit. As the teenage years crept in so did Nika’s yearning for a diverse palette of movement, and there began her discovery into contemporary and modern world attending classes at Bernadette Alverio’s studio, diving head first into the competition world. Nika has danced with Velocity Dance Company, Touring Dance Company of SRJC, and now is beyond elated to have been invited to work with UpSide Dance Company for their 2018-2019 season.
Lexi Jackson fell in love with the structure and grace of ballet at the age of seven. Growing up in Santa Rosa, CA she trained in classical ballet with Shelley Scott for nine years before auditioning for and joining her first modern dance company, DC Gravity. Contemporary dance opened an amazing realm of movement possibilities for Lexi. She has explored every avenue of motion from salsa to West African, swing dance to blues fusion. She is continuously searching for new ways to groove. This is Lexi’s first time performing with the amazing Upside Dance Company.
Originally from Boston, Nina Saraceno began her early training at the Ana Roje School of Ballet also dancing as a 4th generation Isadora Duncan dancer. She holds bachelors degrees in Dance and Psychology from Skidmore College and has danced professionally with the Boston Dance Company, Anna Myer and Dancers, Ariel Rivka Dance and Palanza Dance. She has also participated in projects with Garrett & Moulton Productions, Project Tremolo, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Interweave Dance Theater and Rarefied Bear among others. Nina lives in San Francisco and works as a pre/elementary school movement and mindfulness teacher.
KT (Katherine Tesch) originally hails from Wisconsin where she studied ballet as a child, and as an adult, graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a BFA in Dance. She traveled to, and lived in many corners of the world including Turkey, Australia and Japan. After settling in the Bay Area in 2006, KT flourished as a fire performer and invested in passing the art of dance on to children and adults as a teacher. Currently, she is further her education investment at the SRJC, studying Kinesiology and child development. UPside is a serendipitous and welcomed delight to work and continue to perform. KT’s has danced with UPside since 2015.
Melissa Emilie Paris, originally from Southern California, has trained and performed all over the country in various styles of dance with multiple dance companies and theatre houses. Her first professional job was at the age of sixteen as a Flying Angel at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California where she stayed for an additional three years as a company dance member. She fell in love with musical theatre and was in numerous shows throughout Southern California, leading her to New York. Melissa realized that her love for dance and passion for performing needed a stronger financial backbone and pursue her inner nerd. She has her Bachelor of Science in Wine and Viticulture from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. Melissa was folded into UPside and the Healdsburg Community immediately after arriving as a laboratory technician at Mauritson Wines. Shortly after the debut of ‘all. things. PAPER’, her next adventure begins in Marlborough, New Zealand where she will be working her second international harvest. Melissa has danced with UPside since 2015.
Tanushka — I love the line in your bio “(Yes, you read that right, she was a clown!).” There’s no WAS about it; you ARE a clown! (…and the prettiest one ever)