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.
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!
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!
Rayna Howard, Teaching Artist
Rayna has been dancing since she was young. She is a self taught hip-hop dancer who appreciates and loves learning all styles of dance. Dance for her is a tool she uses to heal and express herself. She has worked in education for over 4 years and taught dance for 2 years.She enjoys teaching youth because they inspire her growth.
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.
Jeremy Maddox, Teaching Artist, Educational Liaison
Jeremy is a passionate advocate for classroom success and personal growth for all students. With a degree in Computer Science from Normandale Community College, he strives to help young people develop a positive sense of self-worth and a vision of what they can achieve for their community. Jeremy enjoys sewing, writing poetry, producing music, and sketching as creative ways to bring peace, understanding, and optimism to the world.
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.
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 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 who has taken her craft locally, nationally and internationally. She has performed and offered instructional dance workshops in the US, 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 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.
Email your resume, cover letter and 2 references (with email addresses and/or phone numbers) as a Word document to: firstname.lastname@example.org.