Our Staff

Our teachers come from diverse backgrounds and bring a variety of complementary 
 skills to the table for our students' benefit. They are the heart and soul of this studio 
and we are bessed to have them.

Nicola Hanson

NH
Nicola Hanson, Artistic Director - RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) Registered Teacher, Ballet, Pointe, Dance Team, Jazz, PBT (Progressing Ballet Technique) Certified Teacher

Nicola is a certified and registered teacher with the RAD (Royal Academy of Dance), she also holds a teaching certificate with PBT (Progressing Ballet Technique). Nicola moved to Idaho from England in 2011 after an 18-year career working and performing as a professional dancer. Nicola trained at the prestigious Urdang Academy of Ballet and Performing Arts in Covent Garden, London, England. While there she also took her teaching examination with the Royal Academy of Dancing and obtained her teaching certificate with merit. Since leaving college she has performed professionally on four continents from London's West End to Japan, Hong Kong and most recently on Carnival Cruise Lines where she was both Lead Dancer and Dance Captain, performing with and managing a cast of 18 dancers and singers. Nicola is the owner of Northern Dance Academy and its principal ballet teacher. She is also active locally having choreographed CYT North Idaho's production of Walt Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" and "Tarzan" in addition to other local area productions.

Sara Agueros

SA
Hip-Hop, Lyrical
For Sara every moment she gets to dance is a moment she can share a piece of her heart with you. She began formal training at the age of three and hasn’t looked back. In 1997 Sara created Hot August Nights and followed up with Hot August Nights Returns in 1998, both of which she produced, choreographed and co-starred in. Since then she has been involved in Isabelle’s Dance Time Company Theatre in Spokane and has benefited from years of professional instruction in Hip Hop, Jazz/Lyrical Jazz, Modern/Contemporary, Funk, Celtic Soft Shoe and Ballet. She has taught workshops throughout the Northwest and has participated in benefit auctions including that of the Boys and Girls Club. Since 2001, Sara has been teaching for our studio in Hayden, ID where she primarily teaches Hip Hop and Lyrical/Contemporary Jazz and Classic Jazz.

Lisa Bennett

LB
Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical, Audition Choreography
Lisa Bennett is an experienced dancer who loves to perform and has a passion for teaching dance. She started taking dance classes at the age of four at a studio in Northern California and continued learning, performing, and competing with her home studio till her senior year of high school. Once she entered college, she quickly knew that she wanted to continue following her dreams to be a professional dancer and went on to get her B.S. in Dance at the University of Idaho. While at U of I, she was given the opportunity to choreograph and perform in pre-professional shows put on by the dance program. She was also hand-selected by faculty to represent the University of Idaho, presenting an original piece at the American College of Dance Association Conference in 2017. Her dance, "The Waiting Room" was acknowledged by one of the conference’s adjudicators as "a noteworthy and beautiful piece of art." After graduating college, Lisa went on to be a professional cheerleader for the Seattle Seahawks for two seasons. She performed not only at the team's home games, but also at different events around the Seattle area. In her off time, Lisa taught dance to children of all ages at the Ballard Academy of Music and Dance. She also continued to learn from other professional dancers through classes at Velocity Dance Center. Lisa continued to pursue professional dancing and was cast as a backup dancer for Ciara's "Level Up" music video and also joined the New Kids On the Block 2019 tour as a dancer for their shows in Tacoma, WA. Lisa has now settled in Coeur d'Alene with her family and is a Pure Barre Instructor. She continues to follow her passion for dance and is very excited to pass that along to the students of Northern Dance Academy.

Koreen Boydstun

KB
Combination Ballet/Tap, Ballet, Lyrical, Jazz
Koreen is a native Idahoan who is eager to share her knowledge with others. She trained and performed with Ballet Idaho, andexplored other forms of dance with Pat Harris School of Dance. She earned dual undergraduate degrees in Exercise Science and Dance Choreography and Performance from Idaho State University. She went on earn a Master of Athletic Training degree from the University of Idaho, where she completed clinical rotations working with dancers in the Washington, D.C. and New York City areas. She is also a certified Personal Trainer and Mind-Body Specialist through the American Council on Exercise. She is passionate about building better, stronger, smarter dancers!

Paisley DuPuis

PD
Tap, Combination Tap/Ballet Classes
Paisley DuPuis began dancing at age four and started teaching dance at age 16. She has been a part of Northern Dance Academy since 2012, taking classes in ballet, jazz, tap and lyrical. She also teaches and choreographs for CYT North Idaho, most recently choreographing their show, "Hercules: a Hero’s Tale". Paisley is currently a full time student at North Idaho College, pursuing her Associates of Arts degree in music. She plans to transfer to a university next year in order to complete Bachelor's degree.

Miriam Haliday

MH
Ballet
Miri grew up in England where she studied The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) under Nicky Wright from age six. She has passed all her RAD ballet exams from primary to Intermediate. She is proud of gaining nearly perfect scores and passing with distinction multiple times. She is passionate about teaching children excellent technique and creating a solid foundation before mastering more complicated moves. She loves the Royal Academy of Dance Syllabus because it gives children goals and sets a very high standard. She feels that succeeding in an internationally recognized program gives kids a huge confidence boost and provides them with a knowledge and skill base that will serve them well wherever dance may take them. Miri is a proud Mama of a little boy and lives with her husband in Spokane where she is also a full-time Doula and Mom advocate. When she is not dancing, she loves to hike and snowboard. She is also First Aid, CPR and AED certified.

Shawna Huff

SH
Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical, Hip Hop, Progressions
Shawna Huff began dancing at the age of 3 at Starstruck Academy of Dance in Englewood, Colorado. She started doing competitions at the age of 6. Along the way, Shawna danced in many charity shows working with professional athletes. She continually expanded her dance education by traveling to Los Angeles every year for training and auditions with choreographers such as Mandy Moore, Mia Michaels, Greg Russell and many more as well as traveling to many other cities across the country for conventions and competitions. She appeared in multiple Denver Bronco commercials and danced at the Pro Bowl half time show in Hawaii. She was also a dancer for the Denver Daredevils. Shawna has choreographed for multiple studios as well as high school dance teams around many states. Now settled in North Idaho with her husband, Brian and her son Drayson, she continues to find her passion for dance and is so grateful for the opportunity to share her knowledge.

Kiara Klinkefus

KK
Tap, Hip-Hop
Kiara Klinkefus (Tap and Hip Hop) began dancing at the age of 3 at Susie’s Tap and Jazz. She has been dancing non stop, and at the age of 10 she added musical theatre performances to her repertoire. From Willy Wonka, where she played an Oompa Loompa, to playing the title role in Annie, to her recent performance as Judy in A Chorus Line, she has been honing her skills on he stage and in the studio. Kiara was a member of the competitive dance team at NDA for 4 years, winning multiple awards at area competitions. Her time at Northern Dance Academy also included learning tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, lyrical and hip hop. Other notable theatre has been in productions of Little Shop of Horrors, Catch Me If You Can, and Sweet Charity. In 2017, Kiara began teaching Tap and hip hop to the students of Northern Dance Academy. Kiara would like to thank her parents for all they do for her, and Clayton for his constant support.

Joseph Lyons-Wolf

JL
Advanced Tap
Joseph Lyons-Wolf has been dancing for the last 18 years and working as a choreographer and teacher for 10. Born and raised in Spokane, WA he performed with many local production companies including Spokane Civic Theater, CYT Spokane, Spokane Children's Theater, and Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre. Joseph attended Oklahoma City University for undergraduate studies where he received his BM in Musical Theatre in 2016. Through OCU, he had the opportunity to take workshops with Broadway casting directors, dance captains, and associate choreographers. He then relocated to New York City where he received a Certificate of Excellence from Broadway Dance Center with a specialization in tap. In spring of 2019 he graduated with a MA in Educational Theatre from New York University where he focused his studies in directing, pedagogy, curriculum design, applied theatre, and theatre for young audiences. He has spent the last two years as a teaching artist for Disney Theatrical Group. At DTG he taught professional dance workshops using the choreography from the Disney on Broadway Shows: "Aladdin," "Frozen," and "The Lion King." Selected choreography credits include: Coeur d'Alene Summer Theatre, Aspire Community Theatre, New York University, Oklahoma City University, Lake Cities Ballet Theatre, Laura Little Productions, and CYT Spokane. https://www.josephlyonswolf.com

Gina Miller-Martinez

GM
Contemporary/Modern, Irish
Gina studied from a young age at Liverpool Theatre School where she worked professionally as a young actress in theatre and television. After training in drama, dance and music and following the rigorous exam syllabus of the RAD and ISTD, she furthered her training at London School of Contemporary Dance where she spent 3 years training in the art of movement, dance, choreography and teaching. After graduating with a BA degree, she performed with the school’s junior company which lead her to become a resident artist / teacher/ choreographer for other professional theatre companies. She was commissioned by the Arts Council of Great Britain to help write the dance curriculum for the British school system. After her performing years, Gina dedicated her life to working with youth and adults producing, directing and choreographing plays and musicals. She has been instrumental in starting drama programs in many schools in Southern California and periodically went back to the UK to help with various arts projects. Along with her directing skills, Gina has worked with athletes, world class Irish dancers and young adults with learning differences and challenges.

Heaven Schwilke

HS
Ballet, Pointe
Heaven Schwilke started dancing at the age of 6, in the greater Wenatchee Valley. Diving right in, she filled her schedule with various dance genres such as ballet, tap, jazz, and hip hop. At 14, she began dancing at The Next Step Dance Studio and became their protégé at 16 years old. The following year she was conducting her own combo and beginning level classes. As time went on Heaven was titled Senior Choreographer as well as Head of the Ballet Department. Heaven has just over 7 years of experience choreographing at a competitive level (for different ages and group sizes) and 2 years’ experience as head of the ballet department. She spent numerous years studying beneath Francois Serre y Berga, professional ballet and contemporary instructor for International Ballet Academy, in Bellevue WA. Throughout the years, Heaven has attended many dance conventions such as the Pulse, Showstopper, Hollywood Vibe, Nuvo, as well as ballet summer intensives at International Ballet Academy and Pacific Northwest Ballet. In the fall of 2019, Heaven and her husband Shane packed up their two daughters (while pregnant with #3) and made the move east to Spokane, WA. Since then, Heaven has been blessed to be a full-time stay at home mom with her three spunky and active daughters. With a sharp eye for technique, she prides herself on encouraging and training her dancers to be the best that they can be. Heaven is ecstatic to have the opportunity to once again instruct and guide dancers throughout their journey with Northern Dance Academy.

Cassie Lynn Selle

CS
Combination Ballet/Tap
Cassie began dancing when she was 3 years old at Dance Maker’s Northwest, in Bonney lake, WA. After dancing and competing in both jazz and contemporary for 12 years, adding cheerleading and playing for Washington Premiere’s soccer team, she decided to join her high school’s dance team. Her high school dance and drill team placed 2nd at Nationals with two separate routines and won several state titles with pieces in which Cassie had assisted with choreography. After high school, she moved to Spokane and worked as a dance teacher for summer school programs, such as Girl Scouts of America, student-led classes at Gonzaga University and in various other volunteer opportunities. She graduated from Gonzaga University with BA degrees in both History and Dance, one of the first two dance majors in Gonzaga’s history. Freshman year, Cassie worked with Gonzaga to create an outreach program for dance at Garry Middle School where she taught an after- school program for two years! When she moved to Spokane, Cassie taught at Ikonic Dance Academy for one year, and then Dance Arts Academy for three years. Recently, she studied dance composition and instruction in Auckland, New Zealand for seven months where she learned dance styles from all over the world. After returning from New Zealand, she performed in Florence, Italy for one month with a touring dance program. Cassie was the Shadle Park High School Dance Team Coach for the 2019-2020 school year and now looks forward to finishing her Masters in Elementary Education! Her life goal is to make people smile and to get another dog to keep her new puppy, Hazelnut Wiggle Butt, and her cat, Noodles, company!

Emily Simpson

ES
Combination Ballet/Tap, Ballet, Lyrical, Jazz, Dance Team
Emily Simpson is currently a Psychology student at Eastern Washington University. She was born and raised in Spokane, Washington with a short time living in Rathdrum, Idaho. She has been dancing her whole life and has been training at Dance Arts Academy for the past 5 years. One of her biggest passions is drum corps and she is currently finishing her fourth year marching, and second year marching with The Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps. Emily has a strong passion for art and teaching also a huge heart for animals! When she is not at home hanging out with her four cats, Merlin, Toothless, Elliot, and Minho, she can be found practicing dance or colorguard at the gym or spending time with her four siblings. Emily graduated from Mt. Spokane High School where she spent two years on the dance team and three years in colorguard. She is incredibly excited to get the opportunity to teach at Northern Dance Academy!

Brittany Taylor

BT
Ballet, Acro, Modern, Pilates
Brittany Taylor graduated from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, WA with a BFA in dance with a focus on teaching and relocated to San Diego in 2009. As a professional dancer, she premiered the evening length work "Walking Through Ghosts" with Joe Alter Dance Group (2010). She joined Blythe Barton Dance in 2011 and The Malashock Dance Company in 2012 and continued to work and perform with these companies until her return to North Idaho in 2020. She has been very fortunate to perform with Compulsion Dance and Theatre, Ion Theatre, [the] movement initiative, Khamla Somphanh, Andrew Holmes, and other independent San Diego artists. She was awarded “Most Compelling Performance by a Single Dancer” at the 2014 Young Choreographers Showcase and Prize performing for Jaime Nixon. Brittany and long time dance partner Desiree Cuizon-Fejeran premiered their work Avenue Lexicon in August 2016 and also co-produced the mixed media event Doublespeak prior to establishing the BAD Dance Collective in which they performed and produced Til Death at the 2018 San Diego International Fringe Festival. Brittany's choreography has been seen at the Spotlight 360 festival, Fresh Dances, Diversionary Theatre, Malashock Dance's student showcase and on the students of The Lynch Dance Institute in San Diego. Brittany teaches various dance styles, levels and ages but has a special love for teaching modern for teens and adults. She is also a Second Generation Pilates Teacher and Lolita San Miguel Pilates Master™ and International Educator. It is her passion to instill the love of dance in her students of all ages and to harness the power of movement, well-being and accomplishment that Pilates and dance bring to all.

Tracy Tortora

TT
Ballet, Pointe, Lyrical, Jazz, Acro, PBT
(Progressing Ballet Technique) Certified Teacher
Tracy began her dance career at 3 years old. While studying under Nolan Dingman (a student of Balanchine’s) and under Becky Columbus of the Columbus Dance Studio, she won numerous trophies and awards in ballet, jazz and tap. At age 18 she was hired to dance for Tokyo Disneyland in Japan performing in shows as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Upon returning home, Tracy was offered the role of Dance Captain and Swing for the Disney World Corporation. She was featured in numerous filmings, trained in adagio and harness work for the Animal Kingdom’s Lion King Show and worked with celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Betty White, Regis Philbin, Sandi Patty, Bryan White, and astronaut Buzz Aldrin. While living in New York she assisted the Disney Casting Director in recruiting and was offered the role of the White Cat, Victoria, in the Broadway show, “Cats” by Andrew Lloyd Weber. Tracy has also trained in stunt work with her husband, professional stunt coordinator Chris Tortora. Recently, she choreographed several numbers for the Festival of Trees Gala in Coeur d’ALene and she assists with the casting and training of talent for Silverwood.

Holly Vesterby

HV
Ballet
Holly Vesterby started dancing when she was 7 years old. She began her training under the acclaimed choreographers Eric and Diane Gaumond Hyrst of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and New York City Ballet, Michael Falotico of Joffrey Ballet, and Erika DeLap of the Paris Opera Ballet. She performed as a guest dancer for the Eugene City Ballet and Chehalis Ballet. At the age of 17 she was invited to study at Pacific Northwest Ballet, but made the difficult decision to follow another passion and become a Physical Therapist. During her college years, she continued to fuel her love of dance at Washington State University as a member of the dance team where she performed and choreographed. After receiving her Masters of Physical Therapy at Western University of Health Sciences, she then auditioned and joined Dance Theatre Northwest to became a soloist. She is excited to be teaching a new class for boys’ ballet.

Trigger Weddle

TW
Jazz
Trigger Weddle began dancing at the age of 5. She continued her training until she got side-tracked into the world of theatre. While studying and performing in theatres from Arkansas to New York City, she continued to find a home in a dance studio. In New York, Trigger studied under Lee Theodore of American Dance Machine as well as Luigi Faccuito of Luigi's Jazz Centre. She received her acting training at Circle In The Square in NYC, and also holds an MA in Drama from the University of Arkansas. She has choreographed and directed many theatre productions, and is an adjunct member of the Theatre faculty at NIC. When time permits, Trigger performs locally in productions such as Lend Me a Tenor at the Modern Theatre, Third at North Idaho College, and Bye Bye Birdie at CCT-North Idaho.

Ali Day

AD
Tap, Hip Hop
Ali Day has been dancing for 27 years. She grew up dancing at a studio in North Spokane and was a part of the competitive teams by 6th grade. She was Captain of the Mead High School Dance Team and her senior year won first place in the tap division at Nationals in Las Vegas. Ali coached the Mead High School color guard for two years and winter guard for one. She also worked at a local dance studio in Spokane for 5 years teaching tap, jazz, and hip hop as well as choreographing tap for the competitive teams. She has now been a licensed massage therapist for 8 years and has remained actively involved in dance primarily through serving as choreographer for local theaters including The Modern Theater, Spokane Civic Theater, and CYT. Ali’s passion is teaching and helping kids to be the best performers they can be.

Erin Duncan

ED
Beginning, Intermediate & Adult Ballet
Erin Duncan has been a proud member of the dance community since 1990. Ms. Duncan trained with the Ballet School of Coeur d'Alene under the direction of Ceci Klein for over ten years. During that time she worked as an instructor and choreographer. Over the years she has participated in professional development workshops through Pacific Northwest Ballet as well as summer intensive programs with Contra Costa Ballet. Ms. Duncan has continued her love for the arts and currently teaches dance conditioning classes for PEAK Health and Wellness. In 2003 she earned an AAA in Commercial Photography from the Art Institute of Seattle and is completing her BA in Secondary Art Education through Eastern Washington University. Presently she is employed by the Coeur d'Alene School District. Ms. Duncan is thrilled to be a part of Northern Dance Academy and the supportive dance community of North Idaho.

Ashley Gunn

AG
Ballet, Jazz, Musical Theatre
Ashley’s early classical ballet training was with Neil and Camielle Hess at the Lone Star Ballet Academy in Amarillo, TX and Ceci Klein at The Ballet School of Coeur d'Alene, ID. Ashley attended Pacific Northwest Ballet's Summer Intensive in Seattle on full scholarships from 1997-2001 and was groomed to join the Corps d'Ballet in PNB's company under Artistic Directors Francia Russell and Kent Stole and School Director Denise Bolstad. She also attended the Ballet Intensive from Moscow at Northern Illinois University under Demitri Roundnev on full scholarship in 2001 where she was awarded Elite Dancer with an article about her in Pointe Magazine 2001. At age 16, she received her first professional ballet experience when she rehearsed and toured Swan Lake with Ballet Idaho. Despite her shift into Musical Theatre at age 18, she has continued to grow as a teacher of not only ballet, but tap, and musical theatre jazz as well. Ashley holds her MFA in Musical Theatre from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Choreography credits include: The All Night Strut, The Boyfriend, You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, Lil Abner, Oklahoma!, High School Musical 2, Happy Days, White Christmas, The Little Mermaid, Bring it On, Oliver!, Buddy-The Buddy Holly Story, & The Music Man. Ashley has coached multiple finalists in Idaho's District and State Drama Competitions, finalists in the Vienna International Ballet Experience - VIBE, and has been a Community Judge at the NCFC Debate competitions. She is currently open to teach private lessons in Coeur d’Alene at Northern Dance Academy as well.

Mikaela Martinez

MM
Ballet, Contemporary, Combination Ballet/Tap Classes
Mikaela Martinez grew up dancing in North Idaho at Expressions School of Performing Arts where she trained in Ballet, Pointe, Lyrical, Jazz, and Hip Hop and was a member of their competitive dance team. She also taught classes in all styles and for all ages there and choreographed for their dance team. Mikaela attended Western Washington University where she received her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts Degree in Dance Performance and Choreography. While at Western, Mikaela started a contemporary dance company, The Storytellers, which allowed her to grow professionally as a choreographer. She is currently a kindergarten teacher at Northwest Expedition Academy and is excited to be sharing her love of dance and choreography again at Northern Dance Academy!

Amy Reneau

AR
Tap, Ballet, Combination Ballet/Tap
Amy Reneau has been dancing for over 25 years. She studied various genres of dance including Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Spanish Folkdance, and Square Dancing, among others. At the age of twelve she was asked to be a student teacher at Mauldin’s Dance Studios: Dance with Shari in southern Idaho. This is when Amy discovered her love for children and talent for teaching. Since 2003 Amy has taught many dance classes and cheerleading clinics for Post Falls Parks and Recreation. Most of her time is spent with her husband of 15 years and caring for her five amazing children. She does manage to be actively engaged in the community teaching choreography to Atlas Elementary Special Chorus and CYT students. Amy believes dancing teaches some of life’s most beautiful lessons.

Rayna Wells

RW
Ballet, Pointe, Combination Ballet/Tap
Rayna Wells has been dancing for 20 years and teaching for 16. She began her study of Classical Ballet under the instruction of Ceci Klein and then continued with Nicola Hanson after Ceci’s retirement. Rayna has a passion for children; she recently received her RN and has become a Nurse in Pediatrics in Spokane. Rayna loves teaching and being able to share her love of dance with new, young, inspiring dancers.

Isabel daSilva

ID
Front Desk
As a recently retired tax preparer, Isabel daSilva is very happy to be contributing to Northern Dance Academy as Front Desk Manager. With a great commitment to the values of discipline, grace and flexibility that expressive movement through dance brings to an individual's life, Isabel looks forward to being part of the thriving and vibrant community here. Also a certified Yin Yoga instructor and professionally trained Himalayan Singing Bowl specialist, Isabel provides and supports healthful healing practices throughout the Spokane, Coeur d'Alene and Sandpoint areas.

Jim Hanson

JH
Jim is Nicola's other (definitely not better) half. He has been fortunate to spend most of his life immersed in music. Originally from Montana, Jim served 3 years as an Army trumpeter before obtaining his Music Education degree from the University of Montana. In 1989 he spent three months in Vienna singing in UM's Chamber Chorale under Don Carey. After attending grad school at the University of North Texas he traveled and performed extensively as Musical Director with Carnival Cruise Lines, where he met his wife, Nicola. Since moving to North Idaho in 2011 he has been active writing, arranging, producing, performing and teaching music. He has written and produced well over a thousand musical arrangements for both live performance and recording. His most recent achievement, and the one of which he is the very most proud, is becoming a father to a wonderful little girl named Charlotte and dad-to-be of TBA. Jim helps out at the desk sometimes and is grateful to be associated with such a wonderful group of people.
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Address

147 E Aqua Circle #3
Dalton Gardens, ID 83815

Hours

Mon - Thur: 4PM-8PM
Fri - Sun: CLOSED
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