Our Faculty

Elaine McCarthy, Owner-Director

Elaine is the Founder/Owner of Elaine’s Dance Studio (EDS). She is a native born & raised Santa Cruzan and opened EDS in 1985 and has been teaching Dance for over 30 years. Elaine is trained in all Dance disciplines including Jazz, Tap, Ballet and Acrobatics, but her heart and specialty is with children. She is Acrobatic Arts Certified & has danced & toured professionally in Montreal, Las Vegas, Japan, Spain, and Paris and has deep roots in the SC Community. She created EDS to be a nurturing Dance environment that serves to motivate and inspire students, as well as being a comfortable safe haven. Elaine takes immense personal pride in guiding a young person’s passion and creativity and seeing them reach their full potential.

Julia McCarthy, Artistic Director

As the daughter of Elaine McCarthy, Julia began her dance training at a very early age. She has danced and competed with Elaine’s Studio in all styles of dance – tap, jazz, ballet, contemporary, and acrobatics. She began teaching her own recreational classes at the age of 16. Julia attended Aptos High School where she excelled in both academics and Track & Field. Her main event in Track & Field was High Jump, where she qualified for the State track meet 3 years in a row. She attended UC San Diego and received her B.S. in Economics Management Science with minor in Dance. Julia competed on the UCSD Track team for 3 years and was a part of several UCSD Dance Department performances as well. While at UCSD, Julia was a member and choreographer for the student run Dance Company, Finesse Dance Company, and performed throughout her college years.

After living and working in San Diego for 6 years, she accepted a full time position as the Artistic Director for Elaine’s Dance Studio. She has passion for Dance and loves teaching children. This is her 4th season working for her Mom (& boss).

Jessica Vargas, Competition Director

Jessica has been dancing competitively since the age of 5, winning numerous awards , titles and scholarships. At the age of 10 she won the title of “Dancer of the Year” in the Las Vegas nationals and was sent to Australia to compete in the Aussie World National Championships. The following year, Jessica appeared on the TV show “America’s Most Talented Kids”, and after high school was hired by award winning choreographer Tessandra Chavez, to be a part of her own company “Unity Dance Ensemble”. Jessica performed for several years with the Disney Corporation and Stiletto Entertainment as a dancer for Holland America Cruise Line. Recently, she began teaching and choreographing for local competition dance teams, winning “Best Choreography” and overall high point awards in numerous dance competitions and conventions. Jessica loves sharing her passion for dance through teaching, and looks forward to sharing her extensive experience!

Myra Ritchey, Ballet Director

Myra is a born and raised Santa Cruzan & has been dancing with Elaine since she was 6 years of age. She predominantly trained with Elaine, but also studied at The Studio School of Classical Ballet. Myra has performed and trained at other studios in the surrounding Bay Area, L.A, and New York. She was a member of the acclaimed, pre-professional company “Teen Dance Company of the Bay Area”.  She furthered her dance education at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles where she was a Dance major. After many years of hard work and training, Myra was hired as a dancer with Carnival Cruise Lines and traveled throughout the Southern Hemisphere. She has danced professionally & has choreographed shows in Cabo San Lucas & Marriot‘s Great America.

Myra returned to Santa Cruz in 2008 and has been teaching on and off at Elaine’s Dance Studio since. Teaching Dance at Elaine’s has become her passion. Besides studying dance, Myra trained as competitive gymnast and was involved in volleyball, swimming, diving, surfing, and golf. She still participates in many of these sports today. As a Dancer she has competed and won many awards including 1st place at a National competition. Besides her love of teaching, Myra enjoys traveling and exploring / visiting other countries and cultures. She is a multi-versatile dance teacher and is competent in all styles of dance including Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Acro and Hip-Hop from young kids to adults. Myra is currently the Director of the Ballet Program at Elaine’s Dance Studio.

Celebrating 35 years in Santa Cruz!