Merced Academy of Dance

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The pursuit of excellence…through the joy of dance.

Welcome to Merced Academy of Dance

Classes for boys and girls ages 3-Adult • Beginner to Advanced
and Dance for Parkinsons

Confidence, strength, poise and the joy of dance. Come and experience all that dance has to offer.




All Photography By: Eric Foss

Jane Vann-Bryan- (Director)
Member of The Royal Academy of Dancing, London, England and an affiliate of the American Academy of Ballet. Jane, the founding director of Merced Academy of Dance since its inception in 1986, is also the artistic director of Merced Civic Ballet Company. Jane trained locally with Children’s Dance Theater, San Francisco Ballet School, and Carmel Ballet Academy. Jane also studied at the Royal Academy of Dancing in London, England and Joffrey Ballet School and Harkness House for Ballet Arts in New York City. In 1974 Jane joined the company, Ballet Classique, and in 1976 joined their teaching staff. Jane was thrilled to fulfill her dream of moving home and opened the studio in 1986. Recently Jane completed a workshop with David Leventhal of the Dance for PD Association and is excited about our classes for those in our community with Parkinson ’s disease. Jane is married to local neurologist, Dr. Thomas Bryan and has seven children.

Brianna Macias- (Assistant Director)
Brianna graduated from Grand Canyon University with a degree in Communications and a minor in Dance Education. While there, she was able to collaborate with other students and present work, a dance film, at the American College Dance Association in 2015 at the Baja Conference. She has now been a part of the Merced Academy of Dance family for over 19 years. During her time at Merced Academy of Dance she was a principal member of Merced Civic Ballet and while teaching ballet classes. Brianna also taught dance at the University of the Nations, YWAM Kona, Hawaii. Brianna is driven by her passion to teach and serve others through the arts in any way, shape or form and continually looks for ways on how to effectively communicate real life issues that are going on within our world today. By working with both intercultural communications and dance, Brianna hopes to eventually work with varying 501(c)(3) (nonprofit) organizations to help others work together to reach a common goal.

David Arce-
David is the Artistic Director of the Juline Regional Youth Ballet in Modesto. He teaches the advanced Pre Professional and men’s classes. David is a former dancer with the San Francisco Ballet where he performed for 12 years. David is originally from San Diego and began his dance career with Ballet Yuma, an honor company of Regional Dance America/Pacific.

Alex Perez-
Alex has been studying dance at Merced Academy of Dance for over 25 years. He is a principal member of Merced Civic Ballet where he has performed numerous leading roles including the Rat King, lead Spanish dancer and Rose Cavalier in the “The Nutcracker”, and most recently dancing Pas de Six in Coppelia. Alex has been teaching dance for over 20 years and is thrilled to be joining the staff of Merced Academy of Dance again this year.

Lea Anderson-
Lea is a former principal dancer of Merced Civic Ballet. She has been dancing for 22 years and 18 years with the Merced studio. Within her journey of dance, Lea has attended the Joffrey Ballet School Summer Intensive program in New York City where she expanded her knowledge and passion for dance. Lea graduated from California State University Long Beach with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance. While in college Lea was mentored by Lorin Johnson, a former dancer with American Ballet Theatre and San Francisco Ballet. Since graduating Lea has continued to dance and teach. She has a passion to teach others her love for dance and looks forward to continuing to teach in her home studio to share the knowledge that she has learned. Other than dance, she enjoys being outdoors, volunteering at animal shelters and has her eyes set on gaining new life experiences.

Gabriella Padilla-
Gabriella is a dancer with the Merced Civic Ballet and has danced with Merced Academy of Dance for 13 years. She has attended the American Ballet Theatre Summer Intensive, the Pacific Northwest Ballet Summer Intensive, and has danced throughout California and Oregon with a touring dance company. Gabriella has assisted teaching many levels of ballet in years prior, and cannot wait to impart her knowledge and passion for dance upon future generations of dancers.

Madeleine Schoch-
Madeleine Schoch graduated from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in 2012 with a degree in dance performance and choreography. While there, she performed at the American College Dance Festival Association (2009) and appeared in work by guest choreographer Colleen Thomas (2012) as well as other pieces by UWM faculty, including Janet Lilly and Gerald Casel. In 2013 she was a scholarship student at the American Dance Festival. She has performed and choreographed as a freelance artist around the Milwaukee and Chicago areas, appearing in works by Danceworks Performance Company, Jose Luis, and the Gina Laurenzi Dance Project. She moved to San Diego in 2016 where she performed with Push Process Movement Theory and Blythe Barton Dance and was a finalist in San Diego Dance Theater’s 2018 International Choreographer’s Competition.

Josephine Downs-
Josephine has been a company dancer with the Merced Civic Ballet for 4 years and has studied dance with Merced Academy for 13 years. She has attended Juline School of Dance Summer Conservatory for two years, and was accepted into the American Ballet Theatre Summer Intensive Program. Josephine has served as an assistant teacher for all levels at Merced Academy of Dance for the past four years. She has a passion for teaching children of all ages. After high school, Josephine plans to pursue an educational degree and is excited to begin her teaching career with the young dancers in our program.