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Nicole Lechner - Owner/Director | dance@nsdcmn.com

Nicole is an accomplished dancer in all fields of dance.  She began dancing at 5 years old in Minnetonka, MN.  Nicole continued her training through college and experienced many classes at conventions with industry professionals.  She began teaching at 13 years old and signed with KMA agency her senior year of high school as well as being invited to study with Myron Johnson and his dance company, Ballet of the Dolls.  She also taught with Grant Whitaker, associated with Ballet of the Dolls, teaching international conventions and master classes through the Twin Cities.  Nicole is best known for her unique and exciting choreography.  Her students have earned many successes including, numerous title awards and scholarships at competition and conventions.  As a teacher, Nicole combines technical expertise with artistry, using a precise method of training based on the Russian method.  Nicole has taught at numerous distinguished dance studios around the Twin Cities area.  In 2014 Nicole Lechner, Owner and Creative Director, dared to make her dreams come true by opening her own studio.  Nicole's passion for dance, teaching and mentoring children and young adults has laid the foundation for her successes in the dance industry. 

HER THEORY

As a teacher I feel my job is to inspire, to give dancers the tools they need to be successful at whatever level of dance they want to achieve, to push dancers to their limits with discipline.  I believe no matter what age or level a dancer is, they are there to grow and have fun.  Whether it's a dancer aspiring to be a professional or a dancer who comes once a week, each one has his or her own personal goals and ambitions.  We, as teachers, are here to take the time to teach and share our knowledge to young dancers on their way up. 

 

 

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Jessica Alstad | Ballet Director | dance@nsdcmn.com

Jessica Alstad is excited to begin her 2nd year at Northstar Dance our primary ballet/pointe instructor. She began her training at Southwest School of Dance, Marshall, MN. During her high school career, she competed at the regional and national level for Dance Olympus and Statewide Dance Competitions in ballet, jazz, tap, musical theatre, lyrical, and modern dance. She received several elite titles in solos, duets and small groups at Dance Olympus Nationals. Highlight performances included coveted roles as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Clara in the school's annual Nutcracker production, which she performed alongside professional company members of Minnesota Dance Theatre, Duluth. While on a Dance Management scholarship to Oklahoma City University, she completed a two-year tenure and performed with the OCU Spirit Dance Company and Liturgical Dance Company, under the artistic direction of Jo Rowan. Coursework for her dance minor was completed at Minnesota State University, Mankato where she performed with MSU's Theatre and Dance Department in their bi-annual student showcase. Currently, Jessica continues her dance education at Zenon Dance Company, as well as performs, choreographs, and teaches at Fine Arts School of Ballet, Mankato. Her choreography has been performed at the historic Fitzgerald Theatre in St. Paul and displayed in productions of the Nutcracker, Miracle on 34th Street The Ballet and multiple community-based stage shows. Jessica believes ballet is the root of all dance genres and strives to instill in her students the importance of controlled technique, strong dance vocabulary, and appreciation for classical artistry.

 

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Megan Marcy | Lyrical, Contemporary, Modern, &  Ballet

Ms. Megan, native of Anoka, MN started dancing at a young age at Stage Door for Performing arts in Coon Rapids, MN. She joined their completion lines in 2006 until she left in 2011. Ms. Megan also attended Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artist focusing in Modern dance and Musical Theatre. At SPCPA she has the opportunity to work with many working artist in both theatre and dance, including TU Dance Company. In 2012 she moved to Mankato, MN to peruse her undergraduate degree in k-12 Dance and Secondary Social Studies Education. In her time at MNSU- Mankato she has traveled all over the Midwest attending the American College Dance Association conference every year, taking classes and workshops from dancers and choreographers from across the country. As well she has had the opportunity working with Zenon Dance Company, Stewart Pimsler Dance Theatre, Shapiro and Smith Dance Company. This summer she will be traveling to Luca, Italy to participate in Dance Italia summer intensive. Ms. Megan looks forward to working with all of the amazing and talented students at Northstar Dance Company.

 

 

 

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Alexis Heruth | Jazz, Lyrical, Hip Hop, Contemporary, & Modern. 

Graduated from Mankato State University with the honorable distinction of cum laude. In the spring of 2014, She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance. While at MSU Alexis traveled to St. Olaf College, University of Wisconsin, Madison and Milwaukee, and hosted the American College Dance Festival, where she was the assistant to the director. She performed in several Gala concerts, including Daniel Stark's Crash, which was selected for the Kennedy Center. During her time at school she had a opportunity to dance in works by Zenon Dance Company, Stuart Pimsler, Alan Sener, Mary Davies Stark, Jeffrey Petterson, Penelope Freech, Gabriel Anderson, Lynn Andrews, Dr. Julie Kerr-Berry, and Daniel Stark. At Mankato, she was the student choreographer for two main stage shows, the musical, Spring Awakening, where she received recognition from the Kennedy Center and Carmina Burana, the first collaboration between the theatre and dance department along with the music program. Alexis hopes to continue her journey creating other choreographic material. She received the Bunny Just Musical Theatre scholarship two years in a row, along with several outstanding performance awards. Alexis currently dances with Alternative Motion Project.

 

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Rick Ausland | Tap

Rick Ausland is a graduate of Larkin Dance Studio in Maplewood, Minnesota and holds a diploma from the Perpich Center for Arts Education (Media Arts Major). He has performed in over 30 of the 50 states and internationally. Rick has had the pleasure of choreographing and teaching dance throughout Minnesota (Lundstrum Center for Performing Arts, Larkin Dance Studio, Main Street School for Performing Arts, Perpich Center for Arts Education, and the St. Paul Conservatory) and abroad (Austria, Ecuador, Finland, Malta, and Russia). Rick is also the co-founder of Minneapolis-based dance and music company Buckets and Tap Shoes (MN Fringe favorite 2004, 2005, 2007, 2011, 2013, 2014; Minneapolis City Pages “Best Dance Performance 2005”). He was also nominated for a 2013 SAGE Award for “Outstanding Performer.”Rick and his brother, Andy Ausland, were most recently featured tap dancing on Garrison Keilor’s second to last broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion at the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul.  See videos at www.bucketsandtapshoes.com

 

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Nicole McGuigan | Jazz

Nicole is a recent graduate from Gustavus Adolphus College earning a Bachelor’s degree in psychological science and dance with honors. She has danced for over 15 years, taking many dance intensives and classes from well-known professionals and guest artists in the field, as well as local Minnesota choreographers and teachers. She has been teaching for the past 5 years around the Twin Cities, working with all ages and abilities of dancers. Most recently she worked for the Joffrey Ballet School as a dance chaperone. In New York, she took classes with the Joffrey as well as Broadway Dance Center, learning from choreographers Sonya Tayeh, Mia Michaels and more. Nicole is very excited to share her passion of dance with her students at Northstar. 

 

 

 

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Katherine Griffs | Leaps & Turns, Flexibility & Stretching

Katherine began dancing at the age of three when her mother noticed her inability to sit still during violin lessons. She started dancing recreationally and later moved on to compete at both regional and national levels in the styles of tap, jazz, ballet, and lyrical for 15 years.  Katherine’s passion for dance was further nurtured at St. Olaf College where she pursued a dance major, graduating magna cum laude with departmental distinction in dance.  Katherine has had the privilege to work with countless talented artists and companies including Mandy Moore, Greg Russell, Alex Little, and Off-Leash Area.  She continues to follow her love of movement as an instructor of dance and as a performer with Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater, a touring dance company based in Minneapolis.  Katherine strives to empower her students, finding no greater joy than seeing dancers learn and grow in the safe space they create together.

 

 

Abby Okoneski | Leaps & Turns, Flexibility & Stretching

Originally from Eagan, MN, Abby Okoneski started dance at a young age at Monique School of Dance in Apple Valley, MN. She was part of their Elite Company and had the opportunity to work with many choreographers from all over, including L.A. and New York. During her early years of dance, Abby also had the opportunity to perform in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2011, as well as at First Avenue in Minneapolis. In 2014 Abby moved to Mankato to per-sue her undergraduate degree in Athletic Training and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance at Minnesota State University, Mankato.  As she finishes her last year, she has been very grateful for all the teachers and professors she has worked with so far. Abby was able to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. with a piece called, Television; and Now Our National Anthem choreographed by Daniel Stark, a professor at MNSU-Mankato.  Dance has taught Abby many things, but most importantly it has made her the person she is today.

 

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Julianne Mundale | Tap & Musical Theater

Julianne is a professional dancer, singer actress, choreographer, instructor and a member of the professional Actors Equity Association. Julianne has been in over 50 productions collectively, locally and nationally. Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, The Ordway Center, Disney Productions, The Flying Foot Forum, The Guthrie, Children’s Theatre Company, Troupe America, Buffalo Gal Production and numerous Corporate Entertainment Industrial companies.   She has instructed and choreographed for many dance studios throughout the metro for both competitive and recreational dancers for 20 years.

Her dance training began at age 4 and by age 9 she knew that she wanted to become a professional dancer. She began performing professionally right after graduating high school. She has training in both Russian and American classical ballet, both rhythm and musical theatre tap, contemporary & musical theatre jazz. Her training spans from Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York City & Chicago.  In addition to performing and instructing at dance studios, she has been choreographing musical theatre productions for high schools, regional and community theatres (in her spare time!)

 

 

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Noah Brewington | Tap

Noah Brewington is from Eagan, Minnesota. He is a tap dancer, hip hop dancer, house dancer and teacher.  He is a member of Keane Sense of Rhythm where he teaches and performs. He also, works with their outreach program teaching youth of all ages.  Noah loves sharing his passion for dance with all his students.  This is his second year as a member of the Kaleena Miller Dance company.  For two years, Noah has taught tap and hip hop at various dance studios around the Twin Cities.  He participated in Chicago's Human Rhythm project and completed Nicholas Young's Institute for the Rhythmic arts.  He has been chosen for Elite tap feet for the last two years at theTwin Cities fest. 

His performances include

Rhythmically Speaking, Kaleena Miller dance, Here Now, Kaleena Miller Dance SHIFT and Chicago Human Rhythms JUBA! The Twin Cities tap festival.  Inspiration comes from everyone he has worked with along with Jimmy Slyde, Sam Weber, Nicholas Young, Nico Rubio and the many master teachers he has had the opportunity to learn from.

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Abby Pleiss | Creative Movement, Recreational Tap & Jazz

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul”.  Abby is as passionate about performing dance, as she is teaching dance.  She has spent all of her life involved in dance. From putting on imaginative dance concerts for her dolls, studying at private and public dance studios, a member of her high school dance team, as well as choreographer and captain, a dance teacher for children ages 4 to 11 for summer recreational programs and most recently (March 2017), a historical dancing tour of Paris, France. This May (2018), she will graduate with an undergraduate degree in Dance Education from Minnesota State University, Mankato. A highlight of her senior year of college was to have her student work chosen to perform for the Faculty Spring Dance Concert.  While in college, Abby has had the opportunity to train and perform in works choreographed by Dr. Julie Kerr-Berry, Daniel Stark, and Giselle Mejia.  Abby is excited to share the language of dance and her passion with her students and watch her students grow.