Get to know your teachers!

Here’s what they have to say about important matters such as their personal training, their best piece of advice to new dancers, and their favorite ice cream flavors. Be sure to check out our guest coaches as well!

Zachary Morris

Zachary Morris

Studio Director / Dance Instructor

Zachary Morris is the primary male West Coast Swing instructor at Mark Ballas Dance Pleasanton, and he is also the Studio Director!

More biography coming soon!

Here’s what our students have to say about Zach!

Danielle Sigura

Danielle Sigura

Dance Instructor

Danielle is the main female salsa & bachata instructor at Mark Ballas Dance, and she has been dancing for over 3 years. 

Danielle always knew that she loved dance, but until she was a young adult she felt too shy to take to the dance floor. When she entered college, she decided to take a beginning ballroom course, and fell in love with it from the very first class. She’s been completely hooked ever since.

Her favorite genres are Salsa & Bachata, but she has recently been enjoying West Coast Swing. Her goals include competing at the World Latin Dance Cup (WLDC), and competing in ballroom in the Open division.

Danielle performed with the Son Montuno salsa team directed by world champion Isidro Corona in San Jose, before starting her training with John Narvaez, a world champion and director of Salsamania. She hopes to compete with Salsamania in the near future. She has placed within the top spots in several ballroom competitions, including 1st in salsa, 1st in merengue, and 2nd place in bachata.

When asked what her favorite thing about dancing and teaching was, she said:

My favorite thing about dancing is that anyone can dance, and anyone who knows how to dance can go to any part of the world and dance with people of different cultures. Even if there is a spoken language barrier, we have the universal physical language of dance, and it is beautiful to communicate with. I love how dance is an incredibly fun sport, a form of exercise, a healthy tool for stress relief, and a great way to make friends. I love helping people learn, and the look of happiness on a student’s face when they understand something and have fun is extremely rewarding for me.

When she isn’t dancing, Danielle can be found playing with her pet rats Peaches & Cream, watching The Office, taking road trips with friends, knitting, baking, and getting herself ready for more dancing. Her favorite icecream flavor is anything with chocolate.

Her favorite piece of advice to new dancers is to do what you love, because life is too short to not do what you love. She also advises that you not take yourself too seriously. 😉

Here’s what our students have to say about Danielle!

Rachel Moran

Rachel Moran

Office Manager / Dance Instructor

Rachel is one of the primary West Coast Swing instructors at Mark Ballas Dance, and she has been dancing for 4 years.

As a young girl, Rachel really enjoyed watching old films, and she drew her initial inspiration from Ginger Rogers and the tap dancing Shirley Temple. She finally had the chance to experience partner dancing during her final year of college. She fell in love with it and decided to make her childhood dream into a reality through her career. She greatly enjoys this opportunity to train, compete, and share her joy of dancing through teaching others.

Although West Coast Swing is her favorite genre of dance (to teach, as well as to enjoy dancing), she also regards Nightclub 2-Step, Foxtrot, Bachata, Rumba, and Single-Time Swing as having a special place in her heart.

Her role model is her first dance teacher Zach, who opened the world of dance to her, and she is forever grateful to have the opportunity to train with him. Along with Zach, Rachel has trained with the following coaches: Michael Kielbasa, Joshua Sturgeon, Manny Viarrial, Yvonne Wayne, and Kurt Senser.

When asked her favorite thing about dancing and teaching, Rachel responded:

Dancing is a very focused based activity. It forces you to stop thinking about your day to day stresses and do something different outside of your normal routine. It creates an opportunity for someone to constantly learn a new skill and have an amazing amount of fun during the process. The result of sharing this process with others is a fulfilling experience.

 

As I watch new students take their first baby dance steps I get so excited about the journey they’re about to take. As they continue to learn and grow they also become excited as they are able to utilize the skills they learn. Watching students break into smiles of joy at being able to improve their skills or finally be able to dance with someone they love is the best part of being a teacher.

 

When she isn’t dancing, Rachel is seeking new ways to learn! She enjoys exploring languages, art, and history. She also enjoys baking, and a good BBC drama.

Rachel’s best piece of advice to new dancers is that if a person’s desire is truly to learn, then anyone can be a dancer. Make sure that you are patient with yourself when you first start dancing, because every new skill has a process to learn it, and dancing is no different. The road to improvement does not have a definitive end, so try your best and enjoy the process!

Here’s what our students have to say about Rachel!

Miguel Portales

Miguel Portales

Dance Instructor

Being able to transmit the love for dancing to another person is a priceless reward. -Miguel Portales

Miguel is the main male salsa instructor at Mark Ballas Dance, and he has been dancing for over 4 years. Miguel is also the newest addition to the Mark Ballas Dance staff!

What began as an avenue for stress relief became a lifelong passion for Miguel. When he isn’t salsa dancing, Miguel can be found selling real estate throughout the East Bay.

Miguel describes his greatest accomplishments in dance as whenever a student crosses the threshold from simply dancing basic patterns, to mixing and matching patterns of their own. He says that the look of joy on their faces is simply priceless.

Miguel has trained with Bachata celebrities Ataca & Alemana on their competition team, “Island Touch”, based in the SF bay area. He draws inspiration from Derek Hough and Julianne Hough‎.

When asked his favorite thing about teaching & dancing, Miguel responded:

[My] favorite thing about dancing can’t really be described with words. It’s how my body feels when the drums start playing and my feet uncontrollably want to follow the bits of music. Favorite thing about teaching, it is always the moment when the students realize they can dance un-scripted/un-choreographed patterns on their own.

Miguel’s favorite flavor of Ice Cream is Rocky Road, his favorite show is Game of Thrones, and if he isn’t dancing, he is probably hiking or playing soccer.

Miguel’s best piece of advice for new dancers is to never give up, even when things get tough.

Here’s what our students have to say about Miguel!

Christopher Li

Christopher Li

Dance Instructor

Christopher Li is the primary male Ballroom instructor at Mark Ballas Dance, Pleasanton!

More biography coming soon!

Here’s what our students have to say about Chris!