Meet our Teaching Artists!
Heather Johnson, Lead Teaching Artist
Heather is a skilled dance instructor and choreographer who has extensive experience working with youth of varying ages and abilities. Heather completed her teaching artist residency training at the Dancing Classrooms headquarters in New York City. She has also been trained at the National Dance Institute (NDI) with a focus on specialized teaching techniques of middle school students and holds a dance teacher certification in all styles of couples ballroom dance from Fred Astaire Studios.
Bruce Abas, Teaching Artist
Bruce has been a dance educator for 15 years as co founder and manager of Four Seasons Dance, a popular downtown social dance studio. He is also a professional actor who has appeared on numerous stages around the Twin Cities. As a father of two, he has been a featured dance instructor for the Minneapolis public schools, and has lent his acting skills to several youth-based performance companies, including Steppingstone, Harmony Theatre Co. and Sidekick Theatre. Bruce is excited to combine his love of performing and his dance and educating skills to inspire the fifth graders in the Dancing Classrooms program.
Frances Emberley, Teaching Artist
Frances is a dancer and teacher with extensive knowledge of American vernacular jazz and swing dance movements. Since she began swing dancing in 2000, she has performed, choreographed, and competed with TC Swing’s Rhythm & Swing, the St. Paul Swingcapators, and the Ultimate Lindy Hop Showdown. Frances has also choreographed for other professional and amateur dancers, including St. Olaf’s Theater Department, Cinema Ballroom, Beyond Ballroom Dance Company, and numerous wedding couples. She believes that anyone can learn to dance and loves teaching beginners.
Michael Engel, Teaching Artist
Michael Engel is a professional dancer and dance educator. He has been performing, choreographing, and teaching dance to adults and children in Minnesota and throughout the United States since 1976. He has been an elementary school classroom teacher and an artist-in-residence in multiple school districts. Michael has developed K-12 dance programs and trained teachers in how to integrate movement into the classroom. Of all the dance styles he has performed and taught, ballroom is Michael's favorite!
Janay Henry, Teaching Artist
Janay D. Henry is a member of The Urban Spectrum Theatre Company and the KS Styling team. She is a former member of Zenon Dance Center's Zone performance program and has a variety of other dance and arts experience. She is studying communications, dance, and visual art at the Minnesota State University, Mankato and has made a commitment to continue exploring the arts; working closely with acting, dance, and wardrobe. At Heart of Dance, Janay enjoys learning other dance styles and assisting with the creative, social, and emotional development in the lives of children in her community.
Leslie Koepke, Teaching Artist
Leslie enjoyed teaching Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Stout for many years, along with teaching cardio, yoga and other exercise classes in her free time. She took tap and ballet as a child, has been a social dancer in the Twin Cities, and takes ballet classes at St. Paul Ballet. She has participated in Salsa and West Coast Swing dance competitions, and enjoys all styles of dance. After volunteering at Heart of Dance as a Classroom Assistant, she wanted to be a Teaching Artist. Leslie credits her parents for instilling in her the power of the arts to transform and inspire lives!
Jessica Smith, Teaching Artist
Jessica is a professional actor and dance choreographer. She has been working in the Twin Cities on various theatrical productions since receiving her MFA degree from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2013. She recently completed her certification with Dancing Classrooms in New York City. She believes that the influence of art and dance can change the world.
Edna Stevens, Teaching Artist
Edna is a choreographer, performance, and teaching artist. She has performed and offered instructional dance presentations and performances in Korea, Japan, Nigeria and Senegal. Edna’s unique style blends both her African roots and American flavor. Edna is the founder and Artistic Director of Universal Dance Destiny (UDD), a pioneer non-profit dance company. Edna’s goal is to continue connecting people of all communities through the history, meaning and movement of dance. She believes that creativity is limitless and is excited to share her joyful energy while teaching for Heart of Dance!
Would you like to become a Teaching Artist?
Dancing Classrooms Teaching Artists are: actors, dancers, and individuals who can move with rhythm; people with excellent interpersonal skills who love kids, are able to work in a team and work in a classroom; people with a generous spirit, sense of humor, sense of language and rhythm, and willingness to travel within the seven-county Twin Cities metro area. Teaching Artists will be required to undergo a background check upon employment. Ballroom dance experience is not necessary.
Applicant must be available to attend training in New York City prior to working in a classroom. Training consists of 4 1/2 days of 8-hour-a-day training. Travel, hotel, meals and a small per diem will be provided, but an hourly wage is not. Training commitment is non-negotiable. Please do not apply if you cannot attend the training.
Applicants must commit to a ten-week residency of 2-5 days per week, in up to three different schools during school hours (8am – 4pm) for at least two sequential semesters.
We encourage Applicants of color or multilingual speakers to apply, as we serve a highly diverse student population.
Applications are welcome at any time for future training sessions.
Email your resume, cover letter and 2 references (with email addresses and/or phone numbers) as a Word document to: firstname.lastname@example.org.