FOUNDER / DIRECTOR
Colleen (she/her) is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in the state of California (MFC38937). Early in the year 2009, Colleen read an article in People magazine about an amazing program at the Boston Ballet teaching dance to children with Down syndrome, and was immediately inspired to fly to Boston and meet with the director of the program. This is Colleen's 15th year of spearheading this program, combining her love of dance and desire to bring accessible dance to everyone.
PROGRAM COORDINATOR / INSTRUCTOR
Azalia (she/her) is an LA native and a senior at Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences. She has been dancing in various styles since she was 4, most extensively in folklórico and Aztec dance, but also in jazz, Hip Hop, and contemporary. She has always been interested in uplifting those who are underrepresented, and it is no different with Free 2 Be Me Dance. Azalia started out as a volunteer in early 2023, and she quickly fell in love with our program. Hired as Marketing & Communications Coordinator, she is now one of our Program Coordinators and Hip Hop II instructor.
Bri Nixon is originally from Akron, Ohio. She has been dancing since the age of 3 and moved to California at the age of 18 to continue her career as a dancer. She went to California State University of Northridge and graduated with a BS in Kinesiology Exercise Science. Bri has always had a passion for working with kids with special needs and later found out about F2BM. While in college she was able to get F2BM approved as an internship and she started volunteering in 2020. Bri is still continuing her dance career and is signed with Go 2 Talent Agency. She is our Co-Program Coordinator and is looking forward to another amazing season with F2BM in 2024!
Gretchen (she/her) had a dream of becoming a ballerina at a very young age. She’s had extensive training throughout her dance career in ballet, tap, jazz and acrobatics with an emphasis in ballet. Gretchen joined Free 2 Be Me Dance in 2018 to teach Ballet II and fell in love with these dancers. She has always believed that every child should have access to the gift of dance! The joy she feels when she engages with her students is immeasurable. As they learn from her, she learns from them.
LATIN BALLROOM/HIP HOP INSTRUCTOR
Jason DeRoest comes from Pleasant Grove, Utah. He trained at The Dance Club and Center Stage studios in Orem, Utah. His TV credits include Eli Stone, The Starters Wife, and America's Best Dance Crew, as well as commercials for Visa and American Idol. Jason performed in the Broadway Tours of Victor Victoria and Footloose, and the Chicago company of Wicked. Jason currently teaches at Free 2 Be Me Dance as well as Center Stage Dance LA. He is passionate about teaching dance and using it as an opportunity to share what he has learned throughout his career with those who have a desire to take their technique and skill to the next level.
Board of Directors
Colleen Perry started Free 2 Be Me Dance in 2009 as a labor of love inspired by the Boston Ballet's adaptive dance program. As Board President, she combines her passion for dance as a former ballet dancer, previous role in corporate America, current role as a Marriage and Family Therapist, with her affinity for people with Down syndrome. Her role is to ensure the Free 2 Be Me Dance program maintains its exceptionally high standards, and continues to add value and joy to all of the dancers, families, and those who are lucky enough to see them perform!
Jay Barr is a Free 2 Be Me board member and the COO at Savitsky, Satin, Bacon & Bucci, a business management firm in Los Angeles. He has been excited to bring his knowledge of business and finance to Free 2 Be Me in order to help as many dancers as possible be part of this unique and special program.
When he isn’t working or at a Free 2 Be Me board meeting, Jay is on the golf course or spending time traveling to see his 3 grown children, who have all grown up participating in dance, theater, and music.
Melanie Miller has been associated with Free 2 Be Me Dance for 10 years and is happy to celebrate our upcoming anniversary. She finds herself fortunate to serve wonderful dancers, their parents and the F2BMD Board.
Melanie brings 45 years of healthcare experience mainly in the nursing service line. She migrated to supply chain management because she felt that her skill sets would best serve patients and families as an advocate for the best medical supplies at the lowest best cost.
She loves Free 2 Be Me and hopes that the world at large will happily engage and support the well deserving dancers throughout the year.
Bill Stierle has been teaching and training for over 37 years. He has studied human performance and the human condition with extraordinary mentors such as Marshall Rosenberg, Ned Herrmann, Robert Bly, Joseph Campbell and many others. Groups small and large, including Fortune companies, professional associations, government organizations, schools and universities have all benefited from his practical trainings and impactful content.
Harshal Doshi is the father of one of our dancers, Jaya. He serves as the voice of our parents on the board and facilitates communication to the parents. He also heads the Parent Subcommittee which meets once a month to discuss important topics related to the program and as a support group for parents to share information and resources.