Hilary Palanza, founder and artistic director of PALANZA DANCE, was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Hilary graduated cum laude with a BA in dance from Colorado College in 2006, and continued her training with the Bates College Dance Festival and the University of Arizona. Hilary is a certified instructor with the National Dance Institute under direction of Jaques D’Amboise of NYC Ballet. Hilary moved to San Francisco in 2007 and danced professionally for three years with the David Herrera Performance Company and Kim Epifano/ SF Trolley Dances. Hilary created PALANZA Dance in 2009. PALANZA Dance has performed in over 30 venues including the DeYoung Museum, ODC Theater and Dance Mission Theater. Her career as a Company Director, performer and master teacher have afforded incredible dance-making opportunities in NYC, Nritygram Dance in Bangalore, India, Crested Butte and Aspen Colorado, Deer Isle Maine, northern Michigan, Oakland, San Francisco and Seattle.
Louis Acquisto hails from St. Louis, where he began his training at C.O.C.A, He received a BFA in Dance Performance as well as a minor in Religious Studies from Southern Methodist University. In New York City he performed with Amy Marshall Dance Company touring both nationally and Internationally. Louis is a member of AGMA and has performed in operas all over the world, most recently Wexford International Opera Festival, Santa Fe Opera and The Kennedy Center. Louis would like to thank his mother and sister for the unconditional love they have provided him. DeeDee, Eddie and Erin for the support when he needed it most and Mark and Dale for making him the person he is today.
Colin Epstein started dancing thanks to a computer error, starting flying thanks to his neighbors, and never looked back. He is, in no particular order, a dancer, acrobat, circus & gymnastics coach, aerialist, lighting designer, and sometime clown. Colin has danced on the ground and in the air in California, Colorado, Vermont, NYC, and Taiwan; his choreography has been performed at Colorado College, New England Center for Circus Arts, LaMaMa ETC, Taipei Museum of Contemporary Art, and Sun-Shier Dance Theater. Colin currently resides in Berkeley, coaching at Head Over Heels Gymnastics, and devotes his time to accumulating and passing on knowledge. As always, many thanks to Linda Carr & Terry Sendgraff for starting him on his path.
Katharine Gripp was born in Las Vegas, NV, where she began dancing at her mom’s ballet school pretty much as soon as she could walk. When she was twelve, she moved with her family to Fairhope, AL, where she continued pursuing her passion for classical ballet. She later attended Vassar College, where she finally fell in love with modern dance. While living in New York, Katharine was privileged to work with world-renowned dancers and choreographers such as Merrill Ashley, Zvi Gotheiner, Edwaard Liang, and many more. She graduated from Vassar in 2013 with a B.A. in English and a correlate in Medieval and Renaissance history. Since moving to the Bay Area, Katharine has had a wonderful time performing with various dance companies and projects, including On3 Dance Co. in Oakland and Garrett + Moulton Productions’ The Luminous Edge at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
Linda Phung trained at the Houston Ballet Academy and West University Dance Center before heading to the Bay Area for college. She studied Human Biology and Public Policy at Stanford University, where she became very involved in the dance community on campus. Following graduation, she worked on an organic farm and in the health policy field before refocusing on a career in dance. Linda has worked with Adrianna Thompson, Meegan Hertensteiner, Robert Moses, Elizabeth Streb, Diane Frank, Garen Scribner and Quinn Wharton. She is excited to be working with Palanza Dance for this upcoming season!
A Seattle native, Annie Spengler began dancing at a young age and hasn’t stopped twirling since. She has an extensive background in Latin Ballroom Dance, traveling nationally and internationally to attend competitions. In 2013, Annie graduated Summa Cum Laude from Cornish College of the Arts, receiving her BFA in Dance. While at Cornish, she had the pleasure of working with choreographers such as Camille A. Brown, Jason Ohlberg, Cyrus Khambatta and Mary Sheldon Scott. Annie continued to explore dance through festivals and intensives including American Dance Festival, Bates Dance Festival, Doug Varone’s intensive and ODC’s Next Moves. After graduating, she took some time to decide where she wanted to pursue her dance career and in October 2014 moved to the wonderful city of San Francisco.
Nicholas Stettenbenz is a central coast native growing up in Monterey, CA. After earning his BFA from The University of California, Irvine, he moved to New York City. While in New York, Nicholas joined TranscenDanceGroup under the mentorship of Hector Zeraspe and Gabriel Chajnik. In 2012 he joined the Monterey Dance Collective after returning to California. While residing in San Francisco, he has had the pleasure of performing with many companies here in the Bay Area. He has performed works by GeraldCaselDance, Garrett + Moulton productions, LevyDance, Nol Simonse, Caitlin Hafer, Hanna Stangebye, and David Schleiffers. This is his second season with Palanza Dance, which he is incredibly excited about.