OUR COACHES AND STAFF
Present Head Coach
Coach Pre Team
in Dance and Ballet
Drama and Presentation
Team Supervisor and Coach
Future Stars Level 1 & 2 and Xcel Level 2/3/4/5
Classical Ballet, Modern Dance, Performing Art: Development levels and Professional Division
Coach Arzu Karaali is the present head coach, the founder and program director of La Luna Rhythmic Gymnastics Academy. With over 20 years' experience in the sport, she was able to establish her own training technique in the Seattle area. Many gymnasts she has trained have become State and Regional Champions and National Qualifiers with most finishing in the top 10 at the Junior Olympics. She has been selected "Coach of the Year and Best Choreographer" numerous times between the years 2005-2022 by the USAG Rhythmic Region 2, including Level 9 gymnasts in Region 2.
She worked with the former USA Rhythmic Gymnastics National Team Coach Marina Davidovich and was able to train Olympian Qualifiers for the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. Coach Arzu was a former National Brevet judge by FIG and she is a USAG safety certified professional.
Coach Arzu holds a bachelor's degree in Physical Education and Sports and a degree in Classical Ballet from MEB Neriman Balle Okulu in Turkey. Born in Bulgaria, she began her rhythmic and ballet training at the age of 7. She became the only solo gymnast and the youngest performer with the local circus and traveled around the country. She was selected to train at the Bulgarian National Gymnastics Center. As a performer, she was a principal artist/dancer at the Mersin University D.K. Turkey and at the East Athens Educational Dance Center in GA, USA.
Some of her achievements are:
- Published writer of the book "Rhythmic Gymnastics" in 1993
- "First Rhythmic Coach" introducing the Rhythmic program in Bursa, Turkey with Bulgarian World Champion Maria Gigova
- Chosen the "Best Sport Team" in her city Bursa, Turkey in 1993
- Ballet Program Designer- Turkish National Team, 1993-1994
- Trained her gymnasts National Team Qualifier in 1995
- Trained children with intellectual disabilities that participated at the 1990 Special Olympics in Canada
Coach Arzu feels lucky because she is able to follow her dream by helping children reach beyond what they think is possible. Her fulfillment and victory lie in believing in each child.
"I'm very happy we have established a powerful program that serves our community with grace and beauty! Truly proud that so many of my gymnasts are coaching with me at the Academy. Some of them are in college, some of them are married and some are working. I have to say that they all have grown to be wonderful and remarkable young women, living with a purpose, working toward a goal. Rhythmic gymnastics has taught them discipline, elegance, and strength."- Arzu Karaali
Shawnene has been with the La Luna RGA since 2012, helping gymnasts with presentation and drama. In 2016, she received the “Coach of the Year” award from the USAG Rhythmics Region 2. She is currently the artistic and creative design consultant for the annual La Luna Kiss performance. Shawnene is a USAG safety certified professional.
She obtained her strong background in music and drama from being part of numerous community theater musical productions. Her most memorable production was “The Baker’s Wife” at the Everett Performing Arts Center. Shawnene thrives in creating things- from stage props and paintings to crafts and costumes. Through all her experience, she is able to help build the gymnasts’ confidence and artistry. Prior to joining La Luna RGA, Shawnene spent over 20 years working as a corporate technical project manager. She has lived in Washington state since 1994 and is married with 3 beautiful children, all heavily involved in sports.
“I love the stage, performance, and everything that goes with it. I contribute to the girls by teaching them how to deal with all that nervous energy and showing them ways to make it work for them with confidence.” - Shawnene Hersey
Coach Glika has been with La Luna RGA since 2013, initially as one of Coach Arzu's and Coach Lyudmila's competitive gymnasts while also continuing with 6 years of ballet training and competed in 2018 Youth America Grand Prix Ballet Competition. She started coaching at the academy in 2019, training gymnasts in all levels for competitions, specifically levels 4 and 5. Glika is passionate about teaching young gymnasts in rhythmic gymnastics and preparing them for their long journey to success. She is a USAG safety certified professional.
She started her rhythmic gymnastics training at 7 years of age. She has been Region 2 champion five consecutive times (2015-2019), and USAG athlete of the year in 2016. Glika has qualified for the Junior Olympic team two years in a row and competed at the 2018 USA Gymnastics Championships in North Carolina. Before retiring as a Level 8 gymnast to focus on academics, she competed in the 2019 USA Junior Olympics at Lake Placid and achieved first place in every event and the all around.
Glika is currently a hardworking high school student in the rigorous Royal Cambridge Program at Juanita High School, class of 2022. She has earned a 4.0 GPA and continues strong. Her future plans are to attend university and find herself a career in medicine that matches her diligent energy.
Coach Emma started her rhythmic gymnastic training with coach Arzu in 2015 at La Luna Rhythmic Gymnastic Academy. In 2019 she was able to make L7 Junior Olympic Region II Team by ranking in the top 3 at the Region II Championships and participated at the National Championship. She ended her career as a gymnast in L9 and started coaching at La Luna. She is very happy coaching all levels from L2 to L9.
Leila Magnolia Smith
Coach Leila is our Pre-Team Coach, and in-house circus performer! Her main skill set lies in apparatus manipulation. She has been coaching for 5 years in both disciplines, has brought her own flair combining the two styles in one in various hoop workshops, and classes from coast to coast. Leila studied at international yoga, and circus artist residencies. There she contributed to a non-profit campaign that brought social circus to Nicaragua, and Indonesia. Coach Leila brings a ‘high-vibe’ energy to everything she does, including coaching people of all ages and backgrounds.
"I love seeing my students, big or small, succeed through working hard, and having fun! "~Coach Leila
Coach Jane stared taking ballet from the age of 4. Later on, she also tried out some other types of dances while continuing taking ballet. She learn one year of Jazz and was able to go pointe in ballet.
Jane started to help with coaching at La Luna Rhythmic Gymnastic Academy in the summer of 2022. She is very happy for being able to teach little children about ballet and dance and spending time in the gym.
Coach Yeva's gymnastics journey began at the tender age of three. By the age of 12, she had already earned the prestigious title of Candidate Master of Sports of Ukraine, having won more than 50 competitions throughout her career. Remarkably, at the age of just 14, Yeva started coaching young aspiring gymnasts in her home country of Ukraine. During the conflict, Yeva lived in Romania for a year, where she also trained children in the sport. Today, she is proud to be a part of La Luna RGA, where she continues to pursue her passion for coaching and training gymnasts of all ages.
Anna is Choreography Coach, Theater Choreographer &Director for 20 years.
She came to the dance studio at 5. Over the years, Anna's dream to dance evolved into a goal to be come a director of choreography. Anna graduated from the Moscow college of arts and then Moscow university of culture and arts, Choreography department.
Anna worked with children, youth & adults teaching classic dance, folk & theater dance, modern choreography. Her main direction was work at a drama theater. Anna conducted dance classes for actors, contemporary, partnering, contact improvisation. Was the director of choreography for many theater plays, working closely with the director on plays' composition and style. Anna organized a plastic drama fest PRO position in 2020 and was the director of choreography in Ronia, the Robber's Daughter” play by Theater33, Bellevue, WA.