Steppin’ Out Dance Studio began in 1995, evolving out of the historic Betty May Dance Studios which served the children of the Mission District since the 1930’s. Together Angela Rose and Avilee Goodwin continued the Betty May tradition while expanding her vision. New dance styles such as hip hop, creative movement, and contemporary have been added to the repertoire.
Through our history, Steppin’ Out has striven to offer the young people of the neighborhood a place to learn dance technique, improve grace, poise, self-esteem, and gain performance experience in a nurturing atmosphere. We give children and young adults an outlet to express themselves freely through dance.
Angela Rose Dorantes is the current owner of Steppin’ Out Dance Studio and continues to expand the vision of her mentor, Betty May.
Angela Rose Dorantes
Beginning at the age of four, ANGELA ROSE DORANTES studied tap, ballet, and tumbling at Betty May Studio with teachers Eileen Baldwin, Avilee Goodwin, June Sturn and Betty May herself. Over the course of the next 15 years, Angela spent more time in the studio than at home, studying her craft and working as demonstrator, assistant teacher, and eventually head instructor.
Angela also trained with Jacques d’Amboise and Emily Keeler with the Event of the Year’s 1986 Jump Team at the San Francisco Opera House and under Elvia Marta at San Francisco School of the Arts, where she was honored with the S.O.T.A. Dance Achievement Award in 1993. Since 1994 Angela has worked as the dance director for Kid Stock Inc., a musical theater program for children, and in 2001 trained the Pop Warner Brown Bombers dance team taking 3rd place in the 2001 National Dance competition. She has also performed with a number of Bay Area dance troupes.
Angela completed Foundation training with Shana Meyerson in Spring 2013 and is certified through mini yogis to teach yoga to children ages 3-11. Angela founded Steppin’ Out Dance with Avilee Goodwin in 1995, and became the studio’s sole director in 2010. She is thrilled to continue passing on the gift of dance as well as serve the community that has given so much to her over the years.
SONJA DALE is a Bay Area native, trained by Sally Streets at Berkeley Ballet Theater, who teaches at ballet schools including the Orinda Academy of Ballet and The Professional Ballet School as well as Steppin' Out Dance Studio. Sonja studied at UCLA and the Boston Conservatory and then began her dance career in San Francisco. She has performed with ODC/Dance, Garrett-Moulton Productions, FACT/SF and The Mark Foehringer Dance Project. She has taught for Shawl-Anderson Modern Dance Center, Menlo Park Academy of Dance, and Mark Foehringer’s Conservatory for Contemporary Dance Arts. Sonja moved to New York City in 2010, where she performed with SYREN Modern Dance and taught contemporary dance for Notes in Motion Outreach Dance Theater. She then moved to Boston, where she taught at The Community Dance Academy at The Walnut Hill School for the Arts. Sonja returned to the Bay last summer and is currently teaching ballet and dancing for Liss Fain Dance and the Mark Foehringer Dance Project.
DORA DONOVAN has dreamed of becoming a performer since she was a little girl. She started dancing, singing and acting at Kid Stock Inc., where she also found her passion for teaching dance. Growing up, she took classes at Steppin Out from the ages of five to fifteen, where her love of dance grew. Dora also did musical theater at Riordon High School during her high school years, where she was involved in all the musicals, including Anything Goes, West Side Story and Jesus Christ Superstar. Dora was lucky enough to be "dance captain" for two out of the four shows. Her favorite show was Anything Goes because she got to strengthen her tap skills and had fun at the same time. Besides musical theater, Dora was also involved in the Dance Ensemble at Mercy High School where she took tap, jazz, ballet and hip hop. Dora may be a familiar face to returning students at Steppin' Out as she has been running the front desk and subbing classes for the past two years. She has now been given a wonderful opportunity to teach her own classes and couldn't be more excited to give back to the community.
ZOË SWENSON-GRAHAM returned to the states in 2015 after living in London for nearly seven years, where she worked as a dancer, choreographer, and teacher. Most recently, she performed as Velma in West Side Story with the Mountain Play, and choreographed the fights for the production. She appeared in the world premiere of Arches, Balance and Light at Ross Valley Players and Peter Pan with the Mountain Play. Before leaving London, she performed in the leading role in the English Premiere of Neil LaBute’s Autobahn at The Kings Head Theatre, London. Other London credits include: Our Town (Emily). The Trojan Women (Helen), The Toll (Edinburgh Festival), and Twelfth Night (Viola). Zoe received an Off-West End Best Actress nomination for At the Broken Places, a new American play that premiered in London in 2011. Zoe graduated from the University of Southern California and has served as a dance and stage combat choreographer and teacher around the UK, including at the Royal Opera House, Soho Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Southwark Playhouse and the British American Drama Academy. London dance choreography credits include: The Producers, A Chorus Line and Company. Zoe recently finished filming the horror film Lasso, which will be released in 2016.
Olivia Lei Byers-Straus
After spending a year watching and dancing from the sidelines while her big sister took classes, OLIVIA LEI BYERS-STRAUS officially began dancing at Steppin' Out when she was three years old, studying ballet with Avilee Goodman and tap with Angela Dorantes. She is currently a member of the Special Needs Company at Steppin' Out, taking classes twice a week and performing at the annual showcase.
While attending Ruth Asawa School of the Arts High School, Olivia studied dance with Elvia Marta and performed in the musicals Wedding Singer and Seussical. When she was a freshman she performed in Carnival at Riordan High School. For many summers she performed with KidStock, a musical theater camp. When she got too old to be a camper, she worked as an assistant to Angela, choreographing and teaching dances to the younger children.
After graduating from SOTA, Olivia moved to Los Angeles to participate in Pathway at UCLA, a 2-year post-secondary program, from which she earned her certificate in June 2015. Now she's happy to be back in San Francisco, living in an apartment in Laurel Heights and teaching Steppin' Out's creative movement class for children with disabilities, which allows her to share her love for dance with her young students.
NICOLE HELFER is a Bay Area native and began her artistry in dance and theatre at a young age. A graduate of San Francisco State University, her training includes various dance techniques such as Modern, Ballet, Dunham Technique, Tap, and Hip Hop, as well as extensive voice and theatre studies. In addition to performing regularly in regional musical theatre productions, she has taught dance and theatre classes for Kid Stock, Inc., Dance Mission Theatre, Marilyn Izdebski Studios and Spindrift School of Performing Arts.
Currently, Nicole is happily teaching a variety of dance classes at Steppin’ Out Studios as well as at the Ballet School in Walnut Creek. Choreography Credits include Pacific Coast Repertory Theatre Company’s RENT; Willows Theatre Company: 8 Track: The Sounds of the 70s, Six Women With Brain Death, and You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, for which she was nominated for a Shellie Award. She has also choreographed Click Clack Moo and the very successful Pinkalicious for Bay Area Children’s Theater. Her next project is choreographing for Contra Costa Musical Theater’s upcoming production of Tarzan in October 2013.
AVILEE GOODWIN has studied dance since she began ballet training as a young child; she turned to modern dance and world/ethnic dance during her college years at SFSU.
She has taught dance in various forms since 1983, including teaching for Betty May for ten years and then co-founding Steppin’Out with Angela, as well as directing the dance program at East Oakland School of the Arts high school.