Diane C. Ratley
Owner / Director
Diane Ratley was born in England and began dancing at the age of three. She was trained by the Royal Academy of Ballet, The British Ballet Organization and the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. Beginning at age five through to age twelve, she passed all her ballet examinations and grades with honors. Ms. Ratley then studied with the great ESPINOSA, founder of the British Ballet Organization and one of the founding members of the Royal Academy. Studying tap with Espinosa, she went on to become a stage performer at an early age, as well as working on TV specials and film. She was presented by the Duke of Edinburgh with a gold medal for her dancing achievements through his “National Award Scheme”, and was the holder of the “Aggregate Stage Dancing Cup” for five consecutive years. In addition, she held the winning title of the “All England Stage Competition” at age sixteen. Her love of dance continued and she starred in and choreographed many musicals including “Oklahoma,” “Finian’s Rainbow,” “My Fair Lady,” “Carousel,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Paint Your Wagon,” and “West Side Story.” She became an Associate of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing and has now been teaching for over fifty years, as well as being a national adjudicator invited to judge competitions in many cities in the USA. After moving to the United States, she trained with Joe Tremaine, ballet masters David Howard and Finis Jhung and tap masters Roland Dupree and Tony Coppola.
Ms. Ratley’s goal as owner and director of The Dance Center is to impart as much knowledge as possible to her students, giving them the opportunity to train or become professional dancers. She desires to help her students build their self-esteem with dance classes; discover the importance of proper dance etiquette; and have fun in a safe environment while learning to express themselves through dance and movement. The lifelong gifts that dance training offers is one of the most beautiful gifts a parent can give their child. Ms. Ratley wishes that all children who join The Dance Center will one day look back with the same cherished memories of going to dance classes with their parents, as she did!
Jazz / Lyrical
Michelle Brandin started dancing at The Dance Centerat age three and has returned to teach a new generation of dancers. For the past five years she has taught at various dance studios in the South Bay, and has realized that teaching sparks her passion as much as dancing. She is trained in jazz/lyrical, ballet, hip hop, and modern. She was an apprentice with Tremaine Dance Conventions in 2006 and often attends classes at The Edge Performing Arts Center in Hollywood. Ms. Brandin has been performing in Los Angeles since high school in a variety of shows including Dream Halloween (Children Affected by AIDS), Best of Broadway (Dancin’ Dan Productions), multiple Bridal Fashion Shows (Tri-Brown Productions), and dance concerts at California State University, Long Beach. She graduated from CSULB in December 2012 with her BA in Dance and plans to use her degree to further her career in performing arts and dance education.
Keshia Fields has been dancing with The Dance Centerfor over 22 years as a student and a teacher. She is an extremely accomplished tap dancer and has been teaching tap to our students for about 10 years bringing them from beginners to advanced tappers. Ms. Fields has trained under Diane Ratley and Tap Masters Laurie Johnson and Angela Carter. Her tap dance choreography has received the Highest Judges Awards at local dance competitions including Tremaine Dance Convention Competition, BravO! and Headliners. She was always a popular dance student with her class members and teachers alike and she has a special gift for understanding children. Ms. Fields graduated from CSULB with a BA in Psychology in 2009, and obtained her MA in Education in June, 2012.
Musical Theater, Combo Classes, Lyrical
Emilie Solandt started dancing at The Dance Center when she was 2 years old and that’s when her passion for dance started. After dancing at The Dance Center for sixteen years, Emilie went to Hartwick College. There she studied Elementary and Special Education and graduated in June, 2013. In college, Emilie was a part of Hartwicks’ Dance Team where she was a captain for three years. Emilie has a passion for working with children and enriching their lives. Twenty-one years later, Emilie continues to be a part of The Dance Center family and teaches at The Dance Center. In addition to teaching at The Dance Center, Emilie is a Special Education Para Educator at Anza Elementary School.
Helena took her first ballet class at the age of 3 and knew from that moment that she loved it. She danced/trained at Lauridsen Ballet Centre in Old Torrance until the age of 15. From there, she was invited to attend Boston Ballet School’s training program. She danced with Boston Ballet School for 2 years before becoming a trainee and then joining Boston Ballet 2. The next year she danced as a corps member for an additional year. Helena has also attended summer programs /danced with Houston Ballet, School of American Ballet, and Royal Danish Ballet on scholarships. She is now back in her hometown attending school to become a teacher and has been teaching ballet locally for a few years. She gets so much joy out of being able to spread her knowledge and love for ballet with others, it is the most rewarding feeling ever.
Kevin Le is a Los Angeles native and has graduated from UCLA with a B.A in World Arts and Cultures/Dance. He began his dance training at the age of twelve under Jessie Riley’s WESTSIDE Dance Project where had the opportunity to work with renowned dancers and choreographers including Jessie Riley, Will Johnston, Peter Chu, and Sonya Tayeh. During his undergraduate studies at UCLA, Kevin had the privilege of performing and touring throughout the U.S. with choreographers David Roussève and Kevin Williamson. Kevin has been teaching master classes and choreographing at various locations for more than six years. He teaches hip-hop, jazz, and contemporary ballet and is thrilled to be a member of The Dance Center faculty.
Kaitlin Bates is a native of Southern California who first began her training at The Dance Center.
She discovered her love of dance at the age of 2, and then continued dancing with us for 16 years in ballet, tap, lyrical, contemporary, jazz and hip hop, and performed with The Dance Center Competition Team. Throughout her time there, Kaitlin has had the privilege of training with tap master Laurie Johnson and ballet master Jeff Amsden. At Palos Verdes Peninsula High School, Kaitlin was a member and Captain of the Award-Winning Varsity Dance Competition Team. During her time on the team she was selected to be an All-Star Dancer/Performer at the West Coast Elite Nationals, and has had the opportunity to work with choreographers such as Jimmy Stuart, Rochelle Mapes, Jia Huang and Tiffani King. Kaitlin has attended summer programs with the Joffrey Ballet along with The Syncopated Ladies led by Chloe & Maud Arnold, Sarah Reich & Melinda Sullivan. She is currently continuing her dance training at California State University, Long Beach where she is studying to obtain a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and has performed in several CSULB Dance Department shows, including choreography by Andrew Vaca. Kaitlin is honored to be teaching jazz, contemporary and hip hop classes at The Dance Center, and enjoys educating her students on positivity, self-confidence and passion towards dancing.