Frances Emberley
Assistant Creative Director, Teaching Artist, Educational Liaison

Frances is a dancer and teacher with extensive knowledge of American vernacular jazz and swing dance movements.  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.

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.

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Drew Anderson, Teaching Artist, Educational Liaison

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!,

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Julia Bassett, Teaching Artist

Julia is a Twin Cities-based dancer, choreographer, and interdisciplinary performer. As a graduate of St. Olaf College with her bachelor’s in dance and English, Julia loves using dance to foster meaningful connections with others. Curious, compassionate, and often goofy, she strives to meet others where they are. Having seen the positive impact of dance in her life and in the lives of kids she’s worked with, Julia is continually thankful for the way dance can challenge how we think about ourselves and the world around us.

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Shannon Butler, Teaching Artist

Shannon is fluent in French and 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.

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Danielle Kiminski, Teaching Artist

Danielle is an actor, writer and creator in the Twin Cities, and she recently returned from Scotland where she completed her Master's in acting from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Danielle Is also a Crisis Intervention Actor and she is super excited to have found Dancing Classrooms as it combines her love of dance with her love of teaching empathy, rapport building, and understanding different perspectives. When she has down time, she can usually be found snuggling her dog, Ender.  

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Jessica Restivo, Teaching Artist, Educational Liaison

Jessica began her passion and her career as a certified ballroom dance instructor over 10 years ago after a long stint in the radio industry as a news reporter and commercial producer.  As a dance teacher, she has taken students to several national competitions and choreographed hundreds of routines for various occasions.  She continues to see how ballroom dancing can change people’s lives for the better and believes the Dancing Classrooms program is a fantastic way to show young people how to treat others with the respect and compassion that is often missing from our daily lives.

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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!

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Erin Ross, Teaching Artist

Erin is a dancer and teacher.  She grew up in a family of accomplished musicians and started her dance training at a young age in the Minnesota Dance Theater ballet school.  She apprenticed with the company through high school, and went on to professionally dance in contemporary ballet companies in San Francisco, Denver, and Miami.  Since returning to the Twin Cities, Erin has begun teaching dance and loves helping people of all ages experience the joy of dance.


Jessica Thienes, Teaching Artist, Educational Liaison

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.


Sara Truesdale, Teaching Artist, Educational Liaison

Sara has worked as a teaching artist, director, and actor. She’s performed with Children's Theatre Company, Jungle Theater, and Stages Theatre Company, among others. Sara is Artistic Director of Breaking Barriers with Toolbox Theatre. Her administrative experience includes work with Public Radio International and the Urban Teacher Program at Metropolitan State University, as well as work in the private sector. She graduated from St. Olaf College, magna cum laude and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, with a major in Theater and Communication.

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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.  


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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!



Want to be a Teaching Artist? Join our Team!

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 prior 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 (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) 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 times of upcoming auditions and training dates.

Email your resume, cover letter and two references (with email addresses and/or phone numbers) as a Word document to: