Rachel Dodson, Academy Director, Affiliate Faculty at the University of Idaho, Ballet, Modern
Rachel has been studying dance since 1984 throughout California, Colorado, and Israel. She attended the University of California Irvine, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance with an emphasis in Choreography in 2007. At the University of Colorado, Boulder, she continued to deepen her knowledge base and hone her personal artistry and pedagogical approach, and received a Master of Fine Arts in Dance, emphasis in Somatic Movement "The Alexander Technique", in 2017. During this time she also functioned as ballet and modern graduate part-time faculty, while completing certificates in "Women and Gender Studies", "College Teaching", and "Diversity and Inclusion in the Classroom". In 2014, Rachel was selected as one of a handful of instructors in the United States to be certified by Safety in Dance International in "Health and Safety in Dance Practices".
Between degrees, Dodson spent several years as a resident of Israel, immersed in the culture and dance community. She taught classical ballet at several private establishments in, and around, Tel Aviv, while also participating in contemporary dance classes taught by Ohad Naharin and Bat Sheva dancers. This introduction to the language of Gaga was paramount in her artistic development and pedagogical interest in somatic movement. It has since become a dominant influence in her creative research and choreographic craft.
Rachel has been teaching since 1999, as well as performed as a soloist, duet, and corps dancer as both a permanent and guest artist for over 20 years. Her choreography has been commissioned and featured nationally and internationally, featured in Kyriat Ono and Herzliya Pituach, Israel, Boulder, Longmont, Louisville, Paonia, and Lafayette, Colorado, and Templeton, Arroyo Grande, Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo, Irvine, and Santa Cruz, California. She currently serves as the Academy Director at Festival Dance, and affiliate faculty at the University of Idaho.
Judy "JD" Drown, Discover Dance Program Outreach Leader, Pilates, Jazz, Hip-Hop
JD is a Moscow, Idaho, native who began dancing at Festival Dance and Performing Arts Academy when she was young. She was first captivated by Celtic dance, and as she grew, she expanded her dance knowledge to Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop, and Ballet. Her passion for artistic movement deepened as she graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Dance from the University of Idaho Dance Program, where she was exposed to Modern, African, and Belly dance genres. Since graduating, JD has studied with Movement Theater Studio, Idaho School of Massage Therapy, and Body Arts and Science International (BASI) Pilates to further investigate her curiosity about human movement potential.
She currently performs, collaborates, and trains with the University of
Idaho’s World Beat Ensemble, Mystic Rhythms Tribal Belly Dance Troupe, and various local groups seeking to incorporate dance. In addition, Drown is an Adjunct Instructor for the University of Idaho Dance Program and as an Academy and Discover Dance Outreach Instructor for Festival Dance and Performing Arts Academy. Pedagogically, she prioritizes instructing through healthy practice while utilizing her diverse background to help bring movement and self-expression to her students as they grown their personal passion for dance in her classes.
Taylor Eddleston, Motion Fever Performance Troupe Dance Team Leader, Jazz, Hip-Hop
Melissa Godfrey, Creative Dance, Pre-Ballet
Melissa began her dancing and performance journey with Festival Dance 30 years ago! She is thrilled to be teaching again this year with the studio that encouraged her long ago. She has a love of dance and performance and a passion for nurturing that love in youth.
Lindsay Johnson, Ballet
Lindsay began her training in ballet and gymnastics at the age of four. She loved both disciplines, but continued to pursue competitive gymnastics until the age of fourteen. Before retiring from gymnastics, she won First in State at the Idaho State Gymnastics Competition. She then began training in her true passion, dance. Retired Broadway dancer, and former director of Lewiston Civic Theatre, Fred Scheibe saw her potential and offered private classes to her, as well as casting her in the theater’s productions. She learned ballet, Graham, jazz, and character theatrics. While performing with the Theatre, she was accepted into Festival Dance and Performing Arts Junior Company.
Lindsay has been invited to perform for many local gala performances in support of the arts, and has attended summer intensives with various companies. After many wonderful years with Festival, she joined Ballet of Coeur d’ Alene, under the direction of Ceci Klein. After Ceci Klein retired, Lindsay returned to Festival as a teacher. She wanted to develop teaching experience in a studio with which she is familiar and to share the classical knowledge that she had received from the Academy.
Lindsay now works as a freelance ballet dancer and has performed Miami City Ballet repertoire, danced with Joffrey company members, and she is a guest artist with Vytal Movement Dance Company in Spokane. When she is not guesting, she keeps in shape by attending University of Idaho classes and teaching ballet to the lovely students of Festival Dance. Next year she will be a member of Ballet Fantastique.
Claire Raynard, Ballet, Jazz, Hip-Hop
Rachael Spear, Ballet
Rachael trained at Bremerton Dance Center for 17 years, spending summers studying at the American Ballet Theater and other ballet schools throughout the country. She has been teaching dance for seven years at Bremerton Dance Center, Graham Ballet Theater, and now--Festival Dance Academy.
As a dancer, Rachael participated in Regional Dance America-Pacific for five years, and has taken classes from Michael Vernon (Indiana University) and Deborah Hadley (Pacific Northwest Ballet). While Rachael mainly teaches ballet, she also has a passion for other forms of dance like contemporary and jazz. Rachael is very excited to be joining the Festival family for her first year of teaching while she completes her undergraduate studies at Washington State University in Human Development and Political Science.
Aimee completed a Masters in Music Pedagogy in 2009, after which she joined the Boston non-profit arts organization--Hyde Square Task Force (HSTF). Here she managed all components of the Hyde Square Task Force Music programs, creating the Musicians in Community (MIC) Leadership program, as well developing curriculum and strategic benchmarks for the new program. In addition, she worked to increase the capacity and outreach of the HSTF Music Clubhouse Program, bringing free music lessons and learning opportunities to hundreds of participants in Jamaica Plain (Boston) area.
In 2014 , Aimee became the Lifestyle and Leisure Specialist at Bishop Place Senior Living in Pullman, Wa., where she executed social, cultural, health, spiritual and artistic programming for seniors. She currently serves as the Executive Director of Festival Dance and Performance Arts, aiming to increase the impact of the Festival Dance Outreach Program and provide access to high quality performances to our communities through the Great Performance Series.