JOY DITTBERNER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Joy moved to Laguna Beach in 1999 with her husband Tom and quickly became involved in the community. For eight years she served on the Board of Friendship Shelter, a homeless shelter for adults. She spent a year as a docent at the Marine Mammal Center sharing all she knows about pennipeds with visitors.
Joy functioned as Volunteer Coordinator for the Laguna Dance Festival for four years prior to joining the board. Joy brings more than twenty years of experience in business development, marketing, sales and professional relations working in the pharmaceutical industry to the table. She loves yoga, travel, hiking and scuba diving. She is excited and honored to be involved with the Festival as it continues to bring world class dance to Laguna Beach. She is a graduate of UCSB in Biology and earned an MBA from the University of Utah.
JODIE GATES, FOUNDER & ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Jodie Gates has established a significant career in the dance field. For thirty-five years she has contributed to the profession as a visionary leader, artistic director, educator, curator, stager, choreographer and principal dancer. She is a former principal ballerina with the Joffrey Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Frankfurt Ballet and Complexions Contemporary Ballet.
She is the Founding Director of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance, and Founder and Artistic Director of the Laguna Dance Festival. She is also an artistic collaborator with choreographer William Forsythe, and stages ballets internationally for Forsythe Productions. In June 2021, she was awarded the distinguished Fellowship from The Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU. Her Fellowship acknowledges her most recent work as the lead initiator for the Artistic Directors Coalition for Ballet in America, a group of artistic leaders who are addressing systemic racism and inequities within the culture of ballet. READ MORE.
DEENA HARROS, OPERATIONS MANAGER
Deena Harros joined the LDF team in 2017, bringing a degree in business administration from Cal State Fullerton and a long list of accomplishments working with other local non-profits.
Ms. Harros’s organizational skills, technical savviness, fresh ideas and eagerness to learn have provided essential guidance in stream-lining and updating systems as well are redesigning our website. Her business background and expertise enabled LDF to completely revamp and update its accounting system.
With a background in jewelry design, Ms. Harros adds an artistic flair to all she produces. We are thrilled to have Deena working with the organization to fulfill our ambitious mission.
SIMRIN PLAYER, SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER
Simrin Player received her BFA in dance from the USC Kaufman School of Dance along with a minor in Communications: Culture, Media, and Entertainment from the USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism. With her extensive education in dance and communications, Simrin is applying her multi-discipline knowledge to aid the Laguna Dance Festival. Simrin will focus on the organization’s brand identity to increase the social platform of the Laguna Dance Festival.
Simrin is also pursuing her dance career, appearing in many national commercials.
CARA SCREMENTI, PROGRAM COORDINATOR
Cara Scrementi is an educator, choreographer, arts administrator, and she recently added entrepreneur to the list. She earned her MFA in Dance from the University of California, Irvine. She taught at the Joffrey Academy of Dance for five years where she was the creator and inaugural instructor for the choreography and improvisation classes and the director of the annual student choreography performance. She currently teaches at the Colburn School, Elevation Studios, and Academy of Dance in Santa Ana, and has taught and choreographed at COMMON Conservatory, Interlochen Center for the Arts, among others. She was the Joffrey Ballet’s Academy Partnerships and Production Manager during her tenure there. Cara is also the founder and creator of Propriowear, a made-to-order dance and activewear brand.
KRYSTAL MATSUYAMA, ARTISTIC ASSOCIATE
Krystal Matsuyama-Tsai (she/her) is a movement artist, educator, and researcher born and raised in Southern California. She has danced professionally with Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, BARE Dance Company, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and ENTITY Contemporary Dance. She has had the honor of performing works by choreographers in both commercial and concert dance industries including Bryan Arias, Peter Chu, Daniel Ezralow, Mike Esperanza, Alex Ketley, Jiří Kylián, Mia Michaels, Marissa Osato, and Dwight Rhoden, amongst others. As an educator, she has taught at various dance schools and programs across the Southwest and internationally in Costa Rica and Taiwan. Currently, Krystal is a freelance artist-educator on faculty at Chapman University and is a collaborating artist with Peter Chu’s chuthis. Additionally, she recently co-founded a community-focused dance organization, Hyphen Art House, with her colleague Megan Guise. She proudly holds her BFA and MFA degrees in Dance from the University of California, Irvine, and is thrilled to be a part of the Laguna Dance Festival as an Artistic Associate.