Gustafson Dance, 2285 Las Positas Road, Santa Barbara, California 93105
(805) 563-DANC (3262) ext. 1

Back to School!

New teachers, Observation Week and Awards

Back to School Newsletter

Scenes from the Summer Program

What a great summer program this year!  Here are just a few of the highlights which included our first musical theater summer session.

Two Profant Foundation Awards Given to Our Dancers!

sarah-blocksierra-heller-profileSarah Block and Sierra Heller were both recognized by the Profant Foundation for their achievements in dance.

Sarah was given the Herb and Mareva Barthels Award for Honorable Mention in the dance category.Sierra’s Adaptive Dance Class and given The Pauline Award for Community Service for 2016.

The John E. Profant Foundation for the Arts’ mission is to preserve Santa Barbara’s cultural heritage and to assist artists of all ages in the community, through scholarships, exhibits & performances.


Introducing New Teachers

isabelclarkIsabel Clark
Isabel Clark is a senior in the Dos Pueblos High School Engineering Academy. She has been dancing since the age of three, and has studied ballet, jazz, flamenco, and character at Gustafson Dance and FlamenColores in Santa Barbara. In addition, Isabel studied at DanceForce in Kingston, England, UK. Isabel has attended summer intensives at the State Street Ballet, Long Beach Ballet Theater, the Joffrey Academy, Los Angeles and Chicago; as well as, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. She was been a class assistant for five years and has been an instructor since summer 2016.



thomasfantThomas Fant
Thomas began his study of classical and contemporary dance at the Governor’s School for the Arts under the direction of Deborah Thorpe, with Todd Rosenlieb, Lorraine Graves, Kathy Brenner-Lasakow, and Joni Petre-Scholz. In addition to State Street Ballet, Thomas has danced professionally with Eisenhower Dance, Todd Rosenlieb Dance, and Virginia Ballet Theatre.




aftongustafsonAfton Gustafson

Afton has been dancing since she was very young and has been in SSBYD for six years. She has performed in various ballets but her favorite is The Nutcracker. In addition to being a dancer, Afton trains as a figure skater and loves the relationship that figure skating has with ballet. Afton has enjoyed sharing her love of dance with her students. She found teaching in the Lion King Dance Camp this past summer especially fun and rewarding.




sierrahellerSierra Heller
Sierra Heller was born and raised in Durango, Colorado. Since fourth grade, she was on a competitive ballet team through her home studio. In addition to competing and performing, she taught numerous ballet classes during high school. Sierra spent her senior year studying with the Pre-Professional program of the Colorado Ballet Academy under the direction of Valerie Madonia, while maintaining academic excellence. Before entering the Professional Track Program at State Street Ballet, Sierra attended numerous summer intensives with Telluride Dance Academy, Brigham Young University’s Ballet Division, the Jillana School, American Ballet Theatre, Colorado Ballet, Ballet Met, and most recently Orlando Ballet. She has also trained with Ballet Arizona, Boulder Ballet, and Ballet West.

Sierra is excited to return as an instructor at Gustafson Dance and as a Professional Track Trainee with State Street Ballet.


shelbyjoyceShelby Joyce
Shelby earned a BFA from The University of the Arts (UARTS) Philadelphia, PA. in Modern Dance Performance with an emphasis in Dance Composition. Upon Graduation she was recognized and awarded by the faculty. Shelby has performed on the east coast with numerous companies and choreographers, more notably including Todd Rosenlieb Dance based in Norfolk, VA and physical theater/acrobatic company Brian Sanders’ JUNK based in Philadelphia, PA. In 2014 Shelby relocated to sunny Santa Barbara and has been working as a free-lance dance artist with Nebula Dance Lab, Weslie Ching Dance and is honored to be invited to perform with Santa Barbara Dance Theater. Shelby has also created multiple dance works both on the east and west coast and is also a visual artist and Pilates instructor.


emmanelsonEmma Nelson
From Santa Barbara, California, Emma received her training from Gustafson Dance and State Street Ballet. She was a member of State Street Ballet Young Dancers for 6 years and was the prototype for the State Street Ballet Professional Track program. She has taught at Gustafson Dance for the past year and a half, and assisted in classes for 5 years prior to that. Emma has attended Pacific Northwest Ballet, The Rock School for Dance Education, Ballet West Academy, and State Street Ballet summer intensives on scholarship, as well as training at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington DC and San Francisco Ballet summer intensives. She competed in the finals of Youth America Grand Prix in New York and placed third in the YAGP San Fransisco regionals. Emma has performed in State Street Ballet’s productions of The Nutcracker, Alice in Wonderland, Beauty and the Beast, and Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and will be joining as an apprentice for the 2016-2017 season.


Gustafson Dance Calendar: Annual Calendar | Fall Class Schedule

Classes Start September 12th and Observation Week
Please refer to our email last week but we wanted to highlight a few things. The first week of class is also Observation Week for Parents. The teachers will be laying down ground rules and expectations before the dancing begins.  If you plan to observe classes this week, here are a few guidelines:

  • Support the Teacher and the Students by keeping your conversations to a minimum.
  • Let the teacher guide the class unless he/she asks you for assistance with your child.
  • Silence your cell phone and if you need to take a call, please kindly step outside.
  • No Food or drink other than water are allowed in the dance rooms.
  • Photos are welcome but please do not use flash and be discreet, as to not interrupt the class. Although we appreciate the plugs on social media sites, please use discretion in posting photos or videos.
  • If you bring siblings into the classroom with you, we ask that you kindly exit if he/she becomes disruptive.
  • No Pets in the studio building.


Rummage Sale
If you have any gently used dance clothing or shoes, we are taking donations for our Rummage Sale, which will take place this Saturday, September 17th from 9:30-12:30. Even if you don’t donate, stop by and see if we have something you may need!

SSBYD Photo Shoot Fundraiser with Stephanie Baker
Be on the lookout for signups for the SSBYD photo shoot fund rasier with professional photographer Stephanie Baker.  Times will be available for November 5th and 6th and the photos will be taken at the Mission.  $60 fee is also a donation.