Sherene Melania

Artistic Director

"Not since Isadora Duncan was born in downtown San Francisco has our city seen a social activist, such as  Sherene Melania, who can also take dance to a whole new level." Marina Times, San Francisco

Sherene Melania is Artistic Director and Principal Choreographer of Presidio Dance Theatre and The School of Presidio Dance  Theatre. Sherene has danced her entire life. She has a Masters of Arts Education degree from Harvard University and a B.A. in Performing Arts and Social Justice from the University of San Francisco. She is passionate about combining a global dance aesthetic with a humanitarian mission. She has led Presidio Dance Theatre as Artistic Director for nearly a decade. Sherene is a member of the San Francisco Arts Providers Alliance, California Arts Advocates, and International Dance Council UNESCO.

An accomplished performing artist, choreographer and dance scholar, Sherene was the first American to attend Russia's prestigious Saint Petersburg State Conservatory Ballet Program, graduating with a certificate for Ballet Direction Specialty and Choreography. She has performed internationally over decades and in 2007 was the youngest commissioner to join the San Francisco Arts Commission, representing dance and artseducation. She continues to serve on the Arts Commission under Mayor Ed Lee.

In June 2014, Sherene's full-length choreographed work – The Little Lantern® – premiered in San Francisco and San Jose. The project exposes rich cultural traditions of the Near and Middle East in a contemporary manner showcasing the power of human unity. It incorporates original choreography, narrative and live music.

Dance Education
Sherene trained at the San Francisco Ballet School and Kirov Academy of Ballet, Washington, D.C. performing principal youth roles with both Companies. At 16, Sherene participated in the Prix de Lausanne international dance competition, one of twelve to represent the USA. She also studied danse de caractere and international folk dance in the style of Igor Moiseyev. Sherene spent two years studying with Gabriella Komleva, as an apprentice with the Mariinsky Theater (Kirov Ballet).

Sherene has set pieces for dance companies at home and in Europe, and presented for the  United Nations, International Red Cross, and PBS. She annually presents Winter and Spring Seasons for Presidio Dance Theatre. San Francisco Weekly named Presidio Dance Theatre,  "San Francisco's Best Dance Company of 2009." Sherene has choreographed performances for Presidio Dance Theatre Company, representing the USA in Saint Petersburg, Russia; Izmir, Turkey; and Budapest, Hungary.

Artist As a Principal Artist of Presidio Dance Theatre and Collage USA, Sherene performs nationally and internationally. Sherene has also performed as a guest artist with ballet companies in Europe, such as Les Ballets Persans, Stockholm and London; Iranian New Year's, New York  City; Magic of Persia, London.

Awards & Honors Sherene's work has been recognized by the press nationally in Dance Magazine, Dance Teacher, and internationally broadcast. In 2008, The School of Presidio Dance Theatre received an award from Nickelodeon Television for "Best Artsy Program" in the SF Bay Area and in 2009, the "Best Dance Classes" in the SF Bay Area Award. Sherene designed and directs DANCE OUT! a free citywide education program offered in public schools, funded by the California Arts Council and National Endowment for the Arts, which was nominated by the Presidio Trust to receive the President's Commission for Arts & Humanities, Coming Up Taller Award. In 2010, Sherene received a "Certificate of Honor" in recognition of outstanding achievement in the arts from Mayor Gavin Newsom. She also received a "Proclamation" from Stanislaus County for her artistic presentation and cultural preservation of the Assyrian culture. In April 2012, Sherene received an award of recognition from the San Francisco Unified School District and Board of Education for Artistic Excellence and providing accessibility to high quality arts education and performance opportunities to students in need.

Judy George Bretschneider

Executive Director

"There's nothing like lifting hearts and spurring imaginations!" J. Bretschneider

Judy Bretschneider has a long history of activism in her community. She continues to raise awareness about arts and cultural education issues, encouraging people to serve and support their artistic communities.

In addition to founding Presidio Performing Arts Center, Presidio Dance Theatre and Presidio Performing Arts Foundation, in 1998 Judy created Dance Out!, which brings dance to underserved youth in San Francisco schools.

Judy received the 2006 Jefferson Award from the American Institute for Public Service, considered the Nobel Prize for Community Service, initiated by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Judy has served on the Board of Directors of the Presidio Performing Arts Foundation since its inception, and directs PPAF's non profit outreach programs: Presidio Dance Theatre; The School  of Presidio Dance Theatre; and DANCE OUT!

Judy is an active participant with national organizations and academic associations which promote the arts. Working with the non-profit sector, and as a community organizer throughout the Bay Area, Northern and Central California and on the East Coast, Judy works to bring multi-cultural arts opportunities to children.

She holds Bachelor and Master of Arts Degrees in Developmental Psychology and studied Piano at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with a Minor Degree in Music.

Today, from Presidio Performing Arts Center's studio in the Presidio, Judy continues to exemplify her organization's soul and social conscience.