Who We Are

We prioritize passion over perfection, community over competition. Our philosophy is simple: Dance for a Difference. Instead of chasing trophies, our dancers channel their love of movement into meaningful projects that benefit our community. Through charity fundraisers, benefit performances, and collaborations with local organizations, they learn the power of empathy, collaboration, and making a positive impact.

Our Core Pillars

Dedicated Staff

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Pretenders staff is made up of individuals who have extensive dance training themselves, have many years of teaching experience within a studio setting and who’s vision aligns with that of The Pretenders Studio.

Equity and Inclusion

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Everyone is welcome at The Pretenders, regardless of skill level, background, or body type. We celebrate diversity and create a safe space for self-expression.

Studio Family

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More than just classmates, our dancers become a family, fostering lifelong friendships and supporting each other on and off the stage.

Our Philosophy: Empowering Youth Through Dance and Community

At The Pretenders Studio, we believe dance is so much more than just physical movement. It's a powerful form of self-expression, a pathway to building confidence, and a means to create meaningful connections within our community. Our philosophy is rooted in using the art of dance as a vehicle for positive change.

Values That Guide Our Approach

Community Over Competition

While many dance studios prioritize competition and trophies, we take a different approach. At Pretenders, we foster a nurturing environment centered around collaboration, teamwork, and support. Our dancers cheer each other on, form lasting friendships, and learn that true achievement comes from within.

Progress Over Perfection

We celebrate progress and growth at every stage of a dancer's journey. Our talented instructors understand that each individual progresses at their own pace, and they encourage students to embrace their unique strengths and challenges. Perfection is an unrealistic goal; resilience and perseverance are what matter most.

Self-Love and Body Positivity

The Pretenders is a judgment-free zone where dancers of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds feel safe to express themselves. We cultivate a culture of self-love and body positivity, empowering our students to appreciate their bodies as powerful instruments of art and self-expression.

Giving Back Through Dance

One of our core beliefs is that artists have the power to create positive change in their communities. We use dance as a language to express support, advocacy, and philanthropy. Our dancers engage in various service projects and fundraising initiatives, learning the invaluable lessons of empathy, compassion, and the joy of giving back.

A Supportive Dance Family

At The Pretenders, we are more than just a dance studio; we are a tight-knit family. Our dancers, instructors, and parents work together to maintain a safe, inclusive space where lifelong friendships blossom. We prioritize open communication, respect, and a shared commitment to personal and collective growth.

Nurturing Well-Rounded Individuals While we pride ourselves on exceptional dance training, our ultimate goal is to nurture well-rounded individuals who are confident, resilient, and socially conscious. Through dance, we instill values such as discipline, teamwork, and a strong work ethic – skills that will serve our students well in all aspects of their lives.

About Us

At The Pretenders Dance Studio, we believe dance is more than just steps on a floor. It's a language, a community, and a powerful tool for personal growth and positive change.

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How We Started

Founded in 2007 by Lisa Gumenick, a lifelong dancer and educator, The Pretenders started as a small dream in a cozy Santa Monica building. Over the years, it has blossomed into a vibrant hub for young dancers aged 1.5 to 18, offering a diverse range of classes from jazz and tap to hip hop and musical theater.

Meet the Teachers

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Lisa Gumenick Founder
Lisa Gumenick, founder of The Pretenders Studio in Santa Monica, is an experienced dance and theater teacher with a background in performing arts education from UCSB and abroad. Her teaching emphasizes creativity, health, and community. The Pretenders Studio, founded in 2007, is a nurturing space for artistic and personal growth, integrating community service in its programs to highlight the healing power of dance.

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Meg Aldridge

Meg Aldridge is a dancer and actress originally from Raleigh, North Carolina. She went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Musical Theatre from the University of Michigan, performing in many shows such as Caroline or Change, Chicago, Crazy for You, and others. She briefly lived in New York City working in theatre before relocating to Los Angeles to continue pursuing acting. While continue to dance herself she also has been an avid dance and theatre teacher and is very passionate about arts education and the positive impact it has on individual students and community growth. Meg has worked with organizations such as MPOW, DMF Youth, and the YMCA to expose kids to the performing arts.

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Amy Gumenick
Amy, part of The Pretenders Studio since 2007, grew up in L.A.'s dance and theater scene. She earned a BFA in theater from UCSB, and has since worked in film, TV, and theater. Passionate about teaching and the arts' healing power, she founded YES Theater Ensemble, co-founded The Pretenders Junior Theater Company, and is involved in Theatricians Theater Group and The Art of Elysium. Amy also coaches acting and audition techniques.

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Skye Wight
Skye is a proud alumna of The Pretenders Studio. She recently graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in English and a minor in History. While at UCLA, she was able to further explore her passion for dance through her role as a dancer and choreographer for Synthesis Dance Theater, a contemporary dance team. She has enjoyed getting to learn more about the explorative elements of contemporary dance and is very happy to return to The Pretenders Studio community! For Skye, dance has always provided a wonderful opportunity for connection and self-expression, which she hopes to continue to encourage in younger dancers.

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Amanda Meehan
Amanda, a former competitive gymnast, turned to yoga at 17 after gymnastics injuries. Her teaching style is playful, compassionate, and tailored to individual needs, focusing on eliminating competition and negativity. She aims to make yoga a joyful and empowering experience, helping students leave class with enhanced self-awareness, focus, and strength. Amanda's classes cater to all levels, ensuring a thorough workout that leaves participants feeling energized and centered.

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Lily Sheahan

Bio coming soon!

Become a Teacher at The Pretenders Studio

Join a passionate team dedicated to nurturing talent and empowering our community through dance. If you're driven by creativity, community, and the transformative power of the arts, we'd love to hear from you. Whether you're experienced in jazz, tap, hip-hop, musical theater, or another discipline, your unique skills can contribute to our diverse and welcoming environment. Embrace the opportunity to inspire, guide, and be part of a family that believes in making a difference one dance step at a time. Apply now and help shape the next generation of artists and changemakers.