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.
Drew Anderson, Teaching Artist
Drew is a photographer and artist who studied at the Savannah College of Art & Design and the Columbia College of Art & Design. Music is one of his many passions and he has an extensive history of musical theater. Drew enjoys bringing out the best in people as a certified strengths coach and leadership vision consultant. He is a passionate learner and finds great joy in working with children. Drew believes one of his greatest assets is his ability to "speak kid," which has contributed to his success as a counselor to physically and mentally handicapped children. He loves using his "language" skills at Heart of Dance!
Shannon Butler, Teaching Artist
Shannon grew up dancing. Having learned from family, she understands the importance of positive role models and a welcoming learning environment. Since 1997 she has worked with audiences of all ages and abilities. Sought for her knowledge of 20th century dances, she has taught, competed, judged and performed at some of the top national and overseas swing events. She believes in the health and emotional benefits of social dancing, striving to inspire creativity, foster respect and build communication skills while bringing people together through dance.
Melody Cordes-Eklund, Teaching Artist
Melody has been dancing since the age of five. After discovering ballroom dance in college, Melody has been training to instruct social dance at DanceLife Ballroom in Edina. She has worked as an English Professor in Quito, Ecuador and as a preschool teacher in Minneapolis. Melody's background in early childhood education and her creative background in local community art and theatre performance give her a natural connection with children in an empowering way to build confidence and self-esteem. She has studied in Barcelona, Spain for two years through the Margolis Method for Actor Training. Melody's years abroad have enabled her to speak Spanish fluently!
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.
Leslie Koepke, Teaching Artist, Educational Liaison
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!
Andrea Kuzel, Teaching Artist, Educational Liaison
Andrea has been ballroom dancing and competing on a national level for over 15 years. After taking her first ballroom dance lesson, she went on to compete, and after winning several national competitions, Andrea turned professional. She trained, taught and became one of the top teachers in the Wisconsin Fred Astaire Region. She opened the Superior Ballroom Dance Studio (Duluth) in 2012 and is most proud of being known as the loudest and most fun studio at all the competitions her studio attends. She truly believes that ballroom dance has the power to improve everyone's lives and loves watching it happen.
Esther Ouray, Teaching Artist
Esther has been creating, performing, celebrating, and teaching the performing arts for 40 years. As dancer, puppeteer, actress, director, and choreographer, she has engaged with communities locally, regionally, and internationally. She is a Core Associate Artist with In the Heart of the Beast Theater and production manager of Zamya Theater Project. Esther has cavorted with numerous other performance companies in the Minneapolis area. She has taught in a myriad of schools, arts programs and communities. She has been the recipient of grants from the MN State Arts Board, Jerome Foundation, Rimon, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, Puffin Foundation, and Arts on Chicago.
Anastasiya Ploshchynska, Teaching Artist
Anastasiya is a professional ballroom dancer with over 18 years of training. She holds a Masters Degree from Khmelnitskiy National University. Her bubbly personality, along with her fluency in the Ukranian and Russian languages, make it easy for her to connect with a diverse group of people. Anastasiya loves how the Dancing Classrooms program builds on the social and emotional components inherent in partner dance and is excited to use this methodology to build her students' confidence!
Mariana Rocio Petersen, Teaching Artist
Born and raised Argentina, Mariana relocated to Minneapolis after living in Los Angeles and Buenos Aires. She completed her studies as a musician (piano and voice) at the Conservatory of Music of Buenos Aires and dance (jazz and ballet) at the Instituto Universitario Nacional del Arte . She has taught piano, English, Spanish and theater to children and adults. She was a bilingual musical theater performer in the children’s theater company “The Performers” and traveled around Latin America in recent years. Mariana loves teaching and is thrilled to bring her knowledge and enthusiasm to the Heart of Dance team!
Kami Sim, Teaching Artist
Kami is a performance and teaching artist. She has worked on several projects in Minnesota since receiving her BFA in performance from North Dakota State University in 2016. Kami is excited to bring dance to students who may otherwise not have the opportunity to learn ballroom dance.
Jessica Thienes, 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 completed her certification with Dancing Classrooms in New York City in 2016. She believes that the influence of art and dance can change the world.
Andrea Weaver, Teaching Artist
Andrea earned a BA in Communications from Minnesota State University and is excited to use her background in theater and public speaking in her classroom. She has taught an after school Spanish class to elementary students and has worked as a summer camp counselor. She loves the creativity and imagination that children possess and wants to help them develop an appreciation for the performing arts.
Shannon Young, Teaching Artist
Shannon is an experienced classroom teacher and dancer. She discovered ballroom dance at St. Olaf College where she joined swing and ballroom dance clubs and the salsa performance group. Shannon has competed in dance but prefers the social connections and learning found in local dance communities. She speaks Mandarin Chinese fluently, is fiercely curious, loves learning, and enjoys self-expression through music, rhythm, and movement. Delighted in joining the Heart of Dance team, Shannon anticipates great connections with this year’s group of young dancers!
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 trainingprior to working in a classroom. Training consists of one week 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. Visit our Careers Page for dates and time of upcoming auditions and training dates.
Email your resume, cover letter and 2 references (with email addresses and/or phone numbers) as a Word document to: firstname.lastname@example.org.