Joy MacKinnon, Owner/Director

Hello and Welcome!

I am Joy MacKinnon, Owner/Director of the MacKinnon Dance Academy, Oxnard, California.  I was born into a family of dancers, dance teachers, and performers.  I don’t remember learning to dance – especially Tap or Scottish Highland Dancing.  My cousins and I began to perform at 4 years of age and it wasn’t until I went to Kindergarten that I discovered the fact that all kids did not know how to do “time-steps” or the Highland Fling.

I have never stopped learning about dance and have studied jazz with Luigi in New York, Gus Giordano of Chicago, tap with whomever I could steal from, modern dance, ballet, character, and musical comedy from teachers all over the country.

I have been, or am currently a member of:  the National Association of Dance and Affiliated Artists, the American Guild of Variety Artists, the British Associations of Teacher’s of Dance, the Professional Dancers Society, and the International Tap Association.  Although I have performed in hundreds of cabaret venues, clubs, television, and community theaters – teaching is my focus and my first love.

I have learned more about dance, love, expression, and commitment from my precious students over the years, than I ever learned in any dance class in my entire career.  I began teaching at age 14, and produced my first ‘show’ at age 16 with three hundred people attending.  Although I have had other jobs throughout the years, I have always been called back to teaching.

I am primarily a choreographer who teaches.  I believe in dance and that the creative processes involved in dance should not be restricted to dancers or to those with pre-determined physical characteristics.  There is a great therapeutic value to be gained through being comfortable in your body and moving fearlessly through space.  Dance can provide all who partake, a new and exciting dimension through movement, music, and challenge.  My belief is that every child should have some sort of dance training.  Dance elevates the soul, addresses the spirit, and enchants the human experience.

Welcome to MacKinnon Dance Academy!
Joy MacKinnon


Instructors & Dance Educators


Susie Eskridge

Susan “Susie” Eskridge teaches Tap, Ballet, and Scottish Highland Dance in addition to being Joy MacKinnon’s Assistant.  She grew up at MacKinnon Dance Academy and has been a member of the Pure Joy Moving Company, the Pumping Metal Tappers, and the Scottish Highland Concert Dancers.  She has also studied with Stanley Holden and Mara Lysova, as well as dozens of instructors in professional workshops and dance conventions.  She is currently the CoDirector of MacKinnon’s Scottish Highland Dance Program (and is accredited to teach Scottish Highland Dance by the Scottish Dance Teachers of America) and Assistant to Joy MacKinnon for the Pure Joy Moving Company. 


Ottis Gillespie

Ottis has trained in Salsa Dance with:  Jay Byam and Molly Anderson, Juan Purazaca, Eddie Espinoza, Kirsten Miller, Isabelle Pompillo, Laura Canellias, Liz Lira, Salomon and Sandra Rivera, Joby Brava, Teresa Zamorano, Jaime and Gail Arias, Walters Emmanuel Jones, Mike and Tina del Campo, Conrad Diaz, and Louvie Hernandez.  He has been teaching Salsa Dance for singles and couples at MacKinnon Dance Academy in Oxnard, California for over nine years and is certified to teach Salsa dancing through Josie Neglia Dance Academy.


Vanessa Gonzales

Vanessa has studied Ballet, Tap, Jazz, and Scottish Highland dancing for over 25 years.  She is an alumnus of both the Pumping Metal Tappers and the Pure Joy Moving Company.  She has also been a Scottish Highland competitor, winning over 6 Aggregate Trophies and dozens of medals.  Vanessa teaches Levels 1, 2, and 3 Jazz Dance.


Lisa Laubacher

Lisa began her Ballet training in Medellin, Columbia and continued at the Toledo Ballet School and National Ballet School of Mexico City.  She danced with the Pacific Northwest Ballet Company, Santa Barbara Ballet, State Street Ballet, and with the Plexus Dance Theatre.  She has accumulated over 30 years of teaching and performing experience.  Lisa has been with MacKinnon Dance Academy for over 27 years.


Jeff Molony

Jeff Molony leads Mornings and Ballet Workouts.  He is a veteran of several local ballet companies and dance organizations and has earned multiple academic degrees in both mathematics and sciences throughout his career.  In addition to leading Mornings and Ballet Workouts at MacKinnon Dance Academy, Jeff teaches Astronomy and Math at ULV and CLU (Cal Lutheran University).


Karen Narula

Karen Narula is a dedicated performer who has toured with modern troupes based out of Los Angeles, California.  Companies Karen has been a member of include:  Los Angeles Modern Dance & Ballet, Los Angeles Choreographers & Dancers, and Brockus Project Dance Company.  As an alumni of MacKinnon Dance Academy and the Pure Joy Moving Company, Karen is excited to take her passion for the performing arts and share it with the students of MacKinnon Dance Academy.


Josie 'Kealoha' Ramirez

Aloha – la Orana – Haere Mai – Talofa – Mabuhay … Auntie Josie “Keoloha” is the mother of 3 boys and 1 girl, grandmother of 5 and an Auntie to many.  She has been performing Polynesian dances for over 30 years.  She gives credit for her knowledge of the Polynesian dances to the many Aunties and Kumus who have shared their knowledge with her.  Now she shares what she has learned with those who want to learn the traditional dances of the islands.  Please visit for information.  Polynesian Classes are held at MacKinnon Dance Academy on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6:00-7:00 pm.


Anna Reed Sanchez

Anna grew up at MacKinnon Dance Academy, and has also attended countless workshops with prestigious instructors from the larger dance community – most notably any and all tap she could find, including workshops from the late Fayard Nicholas and Jimmy Slyde.  She is the primary choreographer and director of the Pumping Metal Tappers. In addition to working at MacKinnon Dance Academy, she is a first grade teacher in the Hueneme School District and recently received her Master's Degree for teaching reading. Anna has three young children of her own, a girl and two boys, and enjoys sharing her love of dance with them.


Ashley Skillman

Ashley is Susie's first daughter. She started dancing at MacKinnon's at the age of 2. She took classes in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, and Scottish Highland. By the age of 7, she was aiding in younger classes. By the time she was in high school, she was dancing every day and teaching one class a week. Ashley is an alumni of our PJMC and FLORA as well as a former group called the MacDancers.

Ashley started competing in Scottish Highland at the age of 5 and continued competing until she was about 15 years old. While she competed she won dozens of medals and trophies. After a 10 year hiatus, she started competing again.

Ashley is currently a member of the Pumping Metal Tappers and the Alumni performance group. She also teachers our 3-4 year old classes as well as our ballet/tap/jazz combination classes.

Ashley has continued her education after high school. She has obtained her AA in Social and Behavioral Sciences at Ventura College. She is now at California State University, Channel Islands where she is finishing her Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Studies. She aspires to become an elementary school teacher. She eventually wishes to obtain a Master's Degree and a Doctorate to become an academic administrator.


Sarah Trotter

Sarah has trained in Ballet, Tap, Jazz, and Scottish Highland.  She is an alumnus of the Pure Joy Moving Company and FLORA and was also a Scottish Highland competitor winning dozens of trophies and medals.  She is currently a member of our alumni class and the Pumping Metal Tappers. Sarah is teaching ages five through seven in Combination Ballet/Tap Classes, ages three through four Combination Ballet/Tap Classes, and ages five to seven Jazz. Her daughter Jaiden has been dancing since 2013. Sarah is also the 3rd our of four generations in her family to dance at MacKinnnon's.


Gina Smith

I met Joy in 1975 at the age of 9. Joy moved in across the street from the home I grew up in on Nectarine Street in Oxnard. In discovering that Joy was a dancer, I was incredibly interested as the love of dance definitely ran in my family. I was Joy’s first Oxnard, California student when she began her school on the patio, then moved to the kitchen and to the garage which had magically become MacKinnon Dance Academy. I was also the receptionist, janitor and began teaching acrobatics, ballet, jazz and tap at the age of 12. Not to mention Joy’s “side-kick” in which we had major fun no matter where we were. Don’t forget that Joy taught Disco in those early years which was so much fun and a huge rage at that time. I loved and still love Disco! I was also part of the original Pure Joy Moving Company and currently perform with the Pumping Metal tappers. 

I learned a great deal from my years of dance classes and teaching at MacKinnon’s; for example: How to love life, how to be the best I could be and how to work hard and help others.

I am currently working as an Environmental Program Support Specialist at Point Mugu and have been there for 34 years. But I am ALSO a Teacher of Tap at MacKinnon Dance Academy, and hope I always will be.

I have returned to dance for several Alumni/Reunion performances; 10 Year, 25 Silver, 40th, and 41st and plan to continue dancing as I’ve realized that the dance experience is a part of my life I cannot exclude. It’s in my soul.

I have three fine boys who make my life complete and now have one of them taking tap classes with me at MacKinnon’s. He loves it.


Katelyn Brenner


Katelyn has studied at MacKinnon’s since she was four years old. She has been a member of the Pure Joy Moving Company, and the Pumping Metal Tappers – both are workshops for exceptional dancers who want to expand their study beyond the regular dance class training.

She began her teaching career at MacKinnon’s while still in high school in 2010. After high school she attended college at California State University, Northridge, where she completed her BA in Kinesiology-Dance in 2016. She was also a member of the Dance Team at CSUN.  She is employed at Briotix Health as an Ergonomic Coordinator. 

Katelyn is currently on staff as an instructor in our ballet Level  III, and is often called upon to substitute for tap and Jazz classes at all level, and is also dancing with our Alumni Group and the Pumping Metal Tappers.



Monica Hill

Mónica Hill started at Mackinnon Dance Academy at age 8.  She trained in Tap, Jazz and Ballet and is a member of the Pumping Metal Tappers.  In addition, Monica has attended hip hop and Jazz funk workshops and trains in Rueda Salsa dance, which has helped expanded her dance vocabulary.  Monica is the instructor for the Mackinnon’s dance fitness cardio class “Macsercise”, which embodies multiple dance forums such as jazz, various Latin Styles and hip/hop, while incorporating standard workout elements.  The class does not critique dance skills but aims to have fun using the art of dance to support a healthier lifestyle.  Mónica also provides dance choreography instruction for special occasions such as sweet 16’s, quinceañeras, debuts etc..  Outside of dance, she is a Quality Professional in Biotechnology, enjoys being a mom of 2 and a grandmother of identical twin girls.


Chris Hume

Chris Hume brings a unique and healing style of yoga. A joyful journey that is both challenging and comforting. All are welcome, from beginners to dancers to yogis to children to parents. 

Director, Documentarian, Editor, Animator, Agitator Chris is an award winning movie trailer editor as well as an accomplished documentary filmmaker and animator. His documentaries include “This is Cuba”, “Beneath Los Angeles, “Red State Road Trip” and “Straight Forward”. His animated work includes his online series “Attention Deficit Disorder Man" as well as "Umbilical Bob" “The Long Red Light”, “A Weinstein Fairytale” and “Oscar Saves Hollywood”.


Elizabeth Skillman



Banghra Dance Instructor

Wendy Castellanas

Flamenco Dance Instructor