Joanne Brown

Joanne started dancing at the age of 4 in San Francisco with Betty Gentry and Ardith Gotthardt. After Betty and Ardith moved to Fremont, Joanne continued her training with Amy Palmer. At the age of 6 she moved to Westlake in Daly City and took lessons at the St. Francis Heights Dance and Music Guild until she graduated from Westmoor High School.  Joanne attended San Francisco State University where she continued to study in jazz, ballet, modern and afro. She received her teaching credential and BA in Liberal Studies in 1975. With a shortage of teaching jobs, she pursued her dance career and taught at the Powell Reilly Dance Studio in San Francisco.

In 1980, after moving to Fremont, she started teaching four ballet classes at the Union City Leisure Services and the rest is history. Thirteen years later in January of 1993,  Joanne Brown Dancers opened its doors and is still going strong.

You will find Joanne using her teaching credential and substitute teaching at Eastin Elementary School in Union City.  She taught the dance program at Pioneer, Kitiyama, and Alvarado Elementary Schools, and currently is also teaching dance at Eastin Elementary School for Kinders, 3rd, 4th and 5th Graders.  She has taught master classes in Lake Tahoe and Portland, Oregon.

In 1998, Joanne re-joined the Union City Leisure Service,  where she coordinates their dance program.  She was responsible for choreographing the number that won the City of Union City their 1999 “All American City Award.”

Aubrey Martinez

Aubrey began dancing for Joanne at the age of 4. She continued with Joanne until the age of 19, when she left and began her college career. During her years of dancing, Joanne recognized Aubrey’s natural ability for choreography at a young age. Joanne nurtured this gift and soon Aubrey was assisting with classes and choreography at the age of 9. When she was 13 years old, she was choreographing 75% of jazz dances that she was in. At the age of 18, Joanne turned over the competition jazz dances to Aubrey. It was during this year that she would choreograph the dance, “Let My People Go”. This dance would win multiple awards including the coveted ’18 & Up Overall Winner’ at the I Love Dance Competition in Sacramento, CA. This would be the first award of this kind for the studio. Aubrey’s choreography has won numerous awards at many different competitions during the years and now she has returned to continue where she left off. Aubrey has taught jazz, lyrical and tap.


Aubrey was born and raised in the bay area, growing up in Union City where she graduated from Logan in 1994. During her high school years she was actively involved in drama, the school musicals that included ‘A Chorus Line’, ‘West Side Story’, ‘Damn Yankees’ and ‘42nd Street’. She also participated in the Dance program at Logan, Club Vogue and Cheerleading for 2 years. She was Captain of her JV squad but decided to quit cheerleading after her Varsity year to pursue a job. After she graduated high school, Aubrey joined the work force full time and eventually decided she wanted more out of life. Aubrey obtained a B.A. degree in Psychology from Sacramento State in May of 2003. She is currently contemplating continuing for her Master's degree. Aubrey enjoys working with people and is happiest when she is fully utilized. Her greatest accomplishment is her daughters, Isabelle and Mariah.

Carol Keyser

Ballet is a lifelong love for veteran teacher Carol Keyser who trained at San Francisco Ballet before moving to New York for High School and Boston for College.

She performed as first soloist in The Vergiu Cornea Dance Company, creating such roles as Solveg in “Pier Gynt,” The Dying Swan in “Carnival of the Animals.” She guest taught at Cornell University, The University of Maryland and opened her first studio “The Ballet Center” in Ithaca, New York.

Moving west, she established the Ballet Arts Guild Studios with twin studios in Sunnyside and Yakimma and created the Yakima Valley Regional Ballet. She worked as Ballet Mistress training local students to perform for the Eugene Ballet’s “Cinderella” and the Portland Ballet Theater’s “Nutcracker.”

After retirement from the Ballet Arts Guild, she helped begin the Yakima Academy of the Arts a free academy in a ghetto area offering art, music and dance classes.

After a move to Maui in 1991, she taught at The Maui Academy of Performing Arts and The Maui Ballet, creating several ballets for both companies.

Moving back to the mainland, she joined Joanne Brown Dancers in the summer of 1998 and is happy doing what she loves best – teaching children the joys of classical ballet.

Onel Higginbotham

Onel has been dancing since the age of 8 years old at Cabello Elementary School in Union City, CA. He joined the Cesar Chavez Middle School Color Guard where he continued dancing all the way through high school at James Logan in Union City, CA and finished at Ohlone College in Fremont, CA.

He performed many productions at Ohlone College (Places, Dancing on the Brink, Elements, Literally Dancing, Then and Now) and also at Las Positas College (Come Dance with Me) and then received his Certificate of Completion in Jazz Dance Teacher/Choreographer. Onel toured China with Footnotes Dance Company in 2007 and danced for local Bay Area dance companies (Bliss Dance Company, iLLusion Dance Company, Footnotes, and Poisoned Cupcakes). He also danced with local Bay Area artist M:G at the Mabuhay Fiesta in 2012.

Onel teaches workshops around Northern and Central California. Onel also teaches color guard around the Bay Area and Central California. He has brought up world finalists and circuit champions; Dublin High School (2004 Scholastic A Class, 4th place at WGI World Championships), In Motion Performance Ensemble (2017 Independent Open Silver Medalist at WGI World Championships, 2016 Independent A Silver Medalist at WGI World Championships, 2014 Independent A Class, 9th place at WGI World Championships) and Cesar Chavez Middle School (2014 1st Place CCGC Circuit Championships). His goal as an instructor is to help cultivate the passion and growth that drives creativity in dance. Also, develop and strengthen the technique of the dancer to their best ability.

Paige Birchett

Paige Birchett started dancing at the age of 9 for the Joanne Brown Dancers. In her senior year, she quit dancing to become a cheerleader for her high school. After graduating, Paige went to Heald College to study medical assisting, where she developed her interest in the way the body works and moves. At 23, Paige started her weight loss journey. Through healthy dieting and a busy exercise training schedule, she was able to achieve her weight loss goals of 80lbs.

Paige currently works in the medical field as a Patient Care Coordinator and continues her fitness training by being a member at a local pilates studio. Paige loves working with the kids at Joanne Brown Dancers, assisting them toward their goals. She takes what she learns in her pilates classes and integrates her medical skills into her own classes to help all ages create healthy and strong bodies.

Stephanie Gonzales

Stephanie Gonzales has been dancing since the age of 5 and continues to train in tap and jazz. She has trained in tap and jazz here at Joanne Brown Dancers for more than 15 years where she also competed on the competition team for many years. Stephanie also danced at Ohlone College for three years until she graduated in 2008 with an A.A in Liberal Studies. Stephanie teaches tap, jazz and hip hop for Joanne Brown Dancers at the studio and at the Union City Leisure Services. Stephanie also works for the City of Union City where she coaches after school sports at Delaine Eastin Elementary School and various summer sports camps. Stephanie is currently a senior at Cal State East Bay where she will graduate with a degree in Liberal Studies and a minor in Human Development in June of 2010. Stephanie continues to dance at Joanne Brown Dancers where she competes with the adult competition team.

Alexis Gaines

Megan Chadha

Megan Chadha started dancing at Joanne Brown Dancers at the age of 12 and competed with the studio till the age of 19, when she then began working for the studio as an assistant/assistant teacher. Megan helps assists with the 2-4 year old, and 5-9 year old classes and occasionally makes props for the studios competition dances. Megan currently studies at Chabot College, working on a degree for business management, and is planning to minor in hospitality once transferred out of community college.


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