Our Team

dance instructors in livermore

Our Team of Dance Instructors

Sunshine's Dance & Cheer Studio has recruited some of the Bay Area's most accomplished and talented dance instructors, each of whom brings their own personal approach to the dance floor. See below who they are:

Samantha Gaskin


Originally from Houston, Texas Samantha Gaskin has a joy and passion for all forms of dance. This love for dance has blossomed through her study, choreography, and performance of dance for more than 26 years. She has studied ballet, tap, jazz, and hip hop styles of dance all over the Bay Area. Samantha has been dancing since the age of 5 years old and hasn’t stopped since. During high school Samantha studied dance on a recreational level and had the opportunity to perform as a member of the Willowridge dance team in Missouri City, Texas.


While in college Samantha was a member of the cheerleading team and performed in shows collaborating jazz, hip-hop and contemporary for local R&B and hip hop artist. Samantha performed for many years on the competition team at Dance 10 Performing Arts Studio in Alameda, California under the direction of Pam Drake.

In 1999, Samantha made the prestigious Oakland Raiderette Cheerleading team where she performed for 3 seasons under the direction of Karen Kovac. In, her second season as a Raiderette Samantha was selected to perform on a special caberet variety show team for the Raiderettes where she performed at special corporate and charity events. In her final season cheering for the Oakland Raiders, Samantha was selected to represent the team in Bosnia and Kosovo to entertain for the troops overseas.

From 2008-2010 Samantha served as head coach for the San Ramon Valley High School Freshmen cheerleading team. As coach she led her team to first place in several local competitions.

Samantha has 10 years of experience teaching dance and cheerleading to young children at different bay area elementary schools, high schools, recreation centers and dance studios giving her a wide spectrum of experience. Samantha’s passion for dance and her love of children is evident in her teaching style. She both inspires and nurtures all of her students. Samantha’s goal is to provide a fun, exciting, and inspiring atmosphere for her students. She aspires to share her love for dance and allow all of her students to acquire the same love.

Rebekah McKenzie

Substitute Instructor

Rebekah began her dance training at Stage One Dance at the age of 4 with ballet/tap. She fell in love quickly with jazz after watching her older sisters in class. At the age of 7 she began competition dance. Since then she has grown with her training in pointe, modern, contemporary, hip hop, and lyrical dance for 16 years. She has earned top awards for solo and group dances at Bay Area competitions. Becka's love for children and passion for dance came together in 2009 when she began teaching for her home studio. She loves inspiring and pushing her students to grow with every class. She is happy to bring her training and experience to Sunshine Dance and Cheer."Dance is the hidden language of the soul." - Martha Graham.

Taylor Braaten

Tap Instructor


Taylor started dancing at Jamie's Dance Studio at 3 years old and continued her training at Jazz N' Taps for 9 years and competed for 7. In the summer 2014, Taylor and her duo partner were invited to compete their jazz duo "Queen Bee" at Showstoppers Nationals in Anaheim, California where they placed 2nd overall. Taylor was a member of the Amador Valley High School dance team. She graduated from Amador June of 2015. Taylor is currently a Clinical Psychology major at Ohlone Community College in Fremont and plans to transfer to the University of Oklahoma. Taylor has experience in Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop, Ballet, and Lyrical. "When I practice until I get it right, I am an athlete. When I perform it and reveal my soul, I am a dancer."

Illora Shields

Tap , Tutu's & Tap Shoes Instructor


Starting dance at age two, Illora began performing at S. S. Dance Express, now known as Triple Threat Performing Arts. Throughout her life she has been trained in jazz, tap, lyrical, contemporary, hip-hop, ballet, pointe, and musical theater. Illora was part of her high school dance team at Granada High. There she was given the title of choreographer and assistant captain. Illora also auditioned for an All-American spot at a UDA dance camp. She was one of the few dancers who were chosen to perform in London. Illora performed in the London 2013-2014 New Year's Day parade. Illora is now attending Las Positas College. Here she is part of her schools dance program. She choreographs dances for students and herself to perform at the end of the semester showcases. Illora is also currently a NFL cheerleader with the Oakland Raiderettes. She can not wait to share her performance skills and technique with Sunshine Dance and Cheer.