Rachel Saalsaa is a third year Social Science major and Dance minor. She has been dancing since she could move, but officially has trained in ballet, jazz, hip hop, and contemporary for 16 years. She attended Salt Lake Dance Center and also spent a year living and dancing in L.A. with amazing teachers and professionals. This will be her third year with Orchesis and her first time choreographing.
This is Meghan Hudson’s last year at Cal Poly and with Orchesis. She is finishing up her degree in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Administration with a minor in Dance. This is her second year choreographing for Orchesis. She would like to thank her family for supporting her passion for dance and her fiancé for encouraging her through countless hours of rehearsals and many sore days.
McKenna Friend hails from the tiny farm town of Pixley, California but has always loved the “big city” style of dance. She has worked with various artists including the legendary Henry LeTang as well as with the Russian Festival Ballet. She received the majority of her classic training from the Sierra Performing Arts Center and performed for a decade with the Pallas and Company Dancers. This is her third year in Orchesis and her second choreographic experience with the company. McKenna would like to thank her family for all that they've sacrificed in order for her to follow her bliss and sends love to Colorado.
Jessica Thoma is a 5th year Architecture student, striving to keep her passion in dance very much alive. Being both a choreographer and designer helps bring aspects of creativity to her schoolwork and to dancing. She feels these are each similar challenges in their own fun ways. In the past she has choreographed for Orchesis and for her studio where she started dancing 18 years ago. She has enjoyed her last 3 years in Orchesis and looks forward to choreographing and dancing for the company again but focuses on the tasks at hand, including being this year’s Vice President.
Heidi-Marie Vigario began her dance training in Elk Grove, CA. She started with ballet and grew to enjoy other styles as well. Upon graduation from high school, she moved to San Luis Obispo to attend Cal Poly. Heidi continued her dance training at Cal Poly taking modern, jazz, and advanced ballet classes. This is Heidi's third year in the company and second time choreographing for an Orchesis concert. She graduated in June with her Bachelor of Science in Liberal Studies and received a Multi-Subject Teaching Crendential in December. One day, Heidi wishes to combine her love of dance with teaching, and bring dance and creative movement into public schools.
Crystal Valdez is a 5th year Orchesis dance company member and is very thankful for all the once in a life time opportunities that Orchesis has offered. She has choreographed for 4 years on the company, exploring her interests in ethnic and modern dance forms and styles. She graduated from Cal Poly in Fall 2009 with her degree in biochemistry and currently waiting responses from graduate schools in hopes of one day becoming a chemistry professor.
Kathleen Helm, a fourth year Recreation Administration major and Dance minor, has been dancing since the age of three. She credits her training and experience to Momentum Dance Center, located in Yorba Linda, California, and Lois Ellyn Ballet School, in Fullerton, California. Some highlights of her dance career include teaching ballet and jazz at Momentum Dance Center, performing as a member of the Nouveau Chamber Ballet, being captain of the El Dorado High School dance team, and competing throughout Southern California. Kathleen has choreographed various pieces at Cal Poly, including “In the Kingdom of Enticement” and “REM Cycle”. She is currently the president of the Orchesis Dance Company and had the honor of directing “Multiple Exposures”, the 2008 Cal Poly Spring Dance Concert
Alexandra Thomsen-Wolfe is living the dream life here in San Luis Obispo with her husband, Brandon, and dogs, Maggie Mae and Sam. She couldn't ask for anything more!
Rebecca Jensen is a fourth year business student with a concentration in marketing management. After returning home from a year abroad in London, England, she is happy to be back with her Orchesis family. Rebecca grew up in Carmel, California and began dancing 9 years ago at the Carmel Ballet Academy. Raised a competition dancer, she was required to explore various dance styles at an early age, including jazz, ballet, hip-hop, tap, commercial and modern. She is most fond of the contemporary jazz style. Although Rebecca has choreography experience, this will be her first time choreographing for Orchesis Dance Company. While this is her last year at Cal Poly, she is sure that this will not be her last year dancing.
Darren Bridges first started dancing 5 years ago for his High School Dance Company where he learned his basics of dance and explored many various dance styles. He later joined Broadway Academy Dance Company and NCDC Contemporary/Modern Dance Company. Always striving for new experiences, he auditioned for and was accepted to the Alvin Ailey School of Dance Summer Intensive and also had the opportunity to dance with the Limon Modern Dance Company at the Mondavi Center. Hoping to always do better and take his training to the next level, he has now dedicated 2 years of his college career to Orchesis Dance Company and hopes to learn many new things in the years to come. He hopes to inspire others to dance because there is no other feeling like it.