I am Lisa Gumenick

Lisa Gumenick is the proud founder/director of The Pretenders Studio in Santa Monica California. She has choreographed and taught dance and theater classes for 22 years throughout Southern California. Lisa has been onstage herself since the young age of 4 and loves to create and communicate through movement, music and pretend. Prior to opening The Pretenders Studio, Lisa spent many years in training studying dance and theater extensively. She performed and danced competitively throughout California for 9 years and then continued her formal education at the University of California at Santa Barbara where she graduated with honors. Additionally, she formally studied dance and the performing arts at Brandeis University, University College in The Netherlands and participated in extensive theatre arts programs abroad. In addition to her formal dance education Lisa holds a B.A. degree from UCSB in Sociology with an emphasis in Education and Family. Lisa is also certified as an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach.

Lisa’s approach to teaching is centered in her belief that creativity, expressive art and community connection all stem from and concrete health and wellness of mind, body and spirit. A holistic teaching style and grounded studio home environment is a safe place to grow, learn, experiment, build confidence, strength, empathy and community. Lisa believes that as dancers, our body is our vehicle, our technique is our tool box, our team is our extended family community, our studio is our home and ultimately, dance is our expression.

A dance studio with purpose, heart and soul is how we strive to show up in the world. This goal is ever evolving and deepening and we are eternally grateful for those on this dance journey with us.

Lisa has extensive experience teaching in studios, in primary and secondary education, and in the University setting. Over the years, Lisa taught Musical Theatre at Marquez Elementary School, in the STAR Enrichment Program, and choreographed shows for Marquez Elementary School, Paul Revere Middle School, Theatre Palisades Kids, and the UCSB Drama/Dance Department. In 2004, Lisa founded and directed a summer theatre program: The Pretenders Theater Company (for ages 15-25), and in 2006, she inaugurated, The Junior Pretenders Theater Company (for ages 9-14). She has produced and directed several full length shows for both children and adults and has choreographed for theater companies, dance companies and the commercial/TV world. Her choreography has been featured in commercials, television shows and in an Emmy award winning television segment. In 2007 it was time to bring it all under one roof. At that point Lisa proudly founded The Pretenders Studio, here in Santa Monica.

Lisa is delighted to be able to provide Santa Monica and the greater west side of Los Angeles with quality performing arts training all while creating a healthy and thriving community! A studio that focuses on the foundations of creativity and movement, that builds character, trust, skill, grace, strength, community, self-esteem and fun is the goal here. A parent of a dancer at The Pretenders Studio described the vibe at Pretenders as being, “an organic, home grown dance studio” and it is this grounded, wholesome, genuine energy that makes Pretenders the place Lisa envisioned it to be. Lisa believes that it is the foundational dance technique wrapped in the creativity, community and the love of the arts that inspires people of all ages to grow and learn with us at Pretenders.

At Pretenders, dancers strive to be better performers and more complete versions of themselves. Lisa believes education and life in general is about process, not perfection. She feels that with good training, a healthy learning environment, practice and dedication we can grow together and achieve great things...that process is perfection. “A dance studio with purpose, heart and soul is how we strive to show up in the world. This goal is ever evolving and deepening and we are eternally grateful for those on this dance journey with us.”

All of the performances produced/sponsored by The Pretenders Studio have a community service/outreach and fundraising component as Lisa believes in the enormous healing power of dance and the performing arts both for the giver and the receiver. It is with great pleasure that Lisa welcomes you to The Pretenders Studio, a proud member of The National Dance Education Organization, chapter sponsor of The National Honors Society for Dance Arts, and community partner to our home city of Santa Monica, CA.


Summer Session Enrollment Now Open!