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Festival Dance & Performing Arts 

Bringing the Arts to the People and the People to the Arts since 1972

Because we believe in the power of the arts to enrich lives, enliven communities and inspire our youth, Festival Dance & Performing Arts bring the arts to the people and the people to the arts with dynamic performances, exciting dance education, and powerful outreach programs for all ages in communities of all sizes.

Our Core Values: Diversity, Accessibility, Nurturing of local talent, Community service, and artistic Excellence  

Our Staff

Deanna Bren

Executive Director

Deanna has a strong background in both Public Relations and Education. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies from Eastern Washington University. Prior to joining Festival Dance nearly two years ago, she was a founding member and the Director of Cornerstone Educational Cooperative, a large, one-day-a-week, dynamic, alternative learning environment based in Moscow, Idaho. Deanna has been involved in teaching art classes, participating in music and theater productions, and promoting the arts for several years. She has shared her love for the arts with her four children who have all pursued interests in music, theater, and dance. Prior to moving to this area, Deanna worked in promotions for The Spokesman-Review and as the Communications Director for The Salvation Army in Spokane, WA.

Rachel Winchester

Academy Director & Community Engagement

Rachel Winchester is a choreographer, educator, and filmmaker with a passion for innovative storytelling. She has had the privilege to teach hundreds of dancers of all ages, including students at the University of Idaho, the University of Oregon, and Pacific Lutheran University. Rachel's choreography has been recognized and presented through the American College Dance Association and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, the San Diego & Tijuana Mexico International Fringe Festival, Movement Research and Williamsburg Arts Nexus in New York City, and Seattle’s 12 Min Max at Base Experimental Arts. Her films have been featured in 40 North International Film Festival, Idaho Screendance Festival, and ACDA Northwest conferences. Her choreographic research was presented at the 2019 National Dance Education Conference in Miami. Rachel loves working with talented young people. She has been a children’s dance instructor for Festival Dance Academy in Moscow, Idaho and for the American Dance Institute in Seattle, WA. She recently worked as a physical education teacher in Tacoma Public Schools and was a 2022 guest artist for Seattle’s Kaleidoscope youth dance company. Rachel is excited to be back living and working in the Moscow/Pullman area, and to bring her education and experience to the role of Academy Director & Community Engagement for Festival Dance Performing Arts Association.

Colleen L. Bialas

Senior Level Instructor

Colleen is originally from Muskegon, Michigan, and graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy. She attended San Francisco State University (BS) for her undergraduate studies and holds an MFA in Dance from the University of California Irvine. Colleen has performed with Ballet Santa Barbara, State Street Ballet, and the Richmond Ballet. During her professional career, she performed in works by George Balanchine, Brian Carey Chung, Carrie Diamond, Benjamin Harkarvy, Melinda Horwitz,

and Robert Sund among others.

Colleen has considerable experience teaching, choreographing, and restaging works. She attended the University of California Irvine, from 2013-2015, on full scholarship with an MFA Fellowship. There she choreographed two works Three Movements in Blue and (432) Miles Apart for graduate showcases and was the graduate rehearsal assistant in the restaging of Eugene Loring’s Billy the Kid. Her MFA thesis work focused on creating a written history of ballet companies in Los Angeles.

During the 2016-2017 school year she taught at the University of Idaho and as Lead Instructor for Festival Dance and Performing Arts. She presented her work Awe + Wonder at the 2016 University of Idaho Faculty Show, Defining Balance. At Festival Dance and Performing Arts, she was in charge of teaching dance courses at the academy and also served as the ballet mistress for Eugene Ballet’s touring production of The Nutcracker.

She has additionally taught at the Performing Arts Academy of Marin (Mill Valley, CA), Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp (Twin Lake, MI), and Calliope Dance Studio (San Francisco, CA). She is thrilled to be back in Moscow with her daughter!


Saskia Zijlstra



Saskia moved to Pullman in August 2018 with her husband and 2 boys. Saskia began working for Festival Dance in November 2019.

Before moving to Pullman she lived in Augusta GA and worked in a similar job helping to run a tennis 

academy. She and her family moved to Wisconsin, but she still helps remotely. Saskia has a great love for the arts and her family. Saskia enjoys spending time outdoors whether working in her beautiful flower beds or going on adventurous hikes with her boys. She is also a creative person and designs theater costumes and sews in her spare time.

Ashley Beals



Ashley is a Moscow native and a recent graduate from the University of Idaho with a degree in Spanish. She loves the Palouse, but has also had the opportunity to live in Costa Rica to learn Spanish and visit Ethiopia to work with a non-profit. During her free time, she likes to listen to music (KPOP is a new favorite), eat delicious food, and work on crocheting and knitting projects. 

Our Dance Instructors

Taylor Luck

Tap, Ballet 5

Bachelor of Science

in Dance candidate

University of Idaho

Taylor was born in Seattle, WA,  then moved to Spokane, WA, and started dancing at a local studio shortly after. Taylor first started out with tap dance and has followed her passion for it in the 

past 15 years. Through middle school and high school, she danced competitively on her studio team as well as her high school dance team. Taylor is now a third-year student at the University of Idaho dance program planning on graduating with a dance major and business minor. She is so excited to be teaching at Festival Dance this year and can't wait to share her love for tap with her students!

Sophia Raasch

Ballet 1

Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutrition & Pre-Physical Therapy Candidate

Minor in Dance

University of Idaho

Sophia has always had a love for the performing arts. Growing up in 

a musical household, she learned the art of singing, acting, and dancing. She has been dancing for 10 years and intends to keep dancing for as long as she can. Sophia trained at Festival Dance before entering Movement Sciences at the U.I. Sophie is excited to be returning to Festival to teach and share her love for dance and performance with others. She is currently enrolled at the U.I. and working towards a BS in Food & Nutrition as well as completing prerequisites for a Physical Therapy degree. Her goal is to one day have a practice where she can specialize in health and wellness for performing artists.

Julia Jitkov

Ballet 2 & 5

Bachelor of Science

Physics & Mathematics

Washington State University

Julia Jitkov grew up in Pullman WA, where she began dancing at a young age and discovered her passion and love for ballet. 

She trained with Sears Dance Academy and Graham Ballet Theater, and Ballet Arts Academy (BAA) in Spokane WA. Julia was a Senior Company dancer at BAA and has performed several leading roles. She fulfilled an internship and began teaching ballet at Ballet Arts Academy in 2019. Julia danced with The Russian Nutcracker with the Moscow (Russia) Ballet and participated in a Music-fest Northwest ballet competition. She had the honor of performing the Dying Swan variation from Swan Lake during the Spokane Bach Festival with live accompaniment by Grammy Award winner Zuill Bailey. She trained at multiple summer intensives around the US including Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and the Joffrey Ballet School.

She is very excited to join the Festival of Dance and is thrilled to teach again.

Jillian Naylor

Musical Medley Theatre

Pre-Veterinary Science Major

University of Idaho

Jillian is an undergraduate student at the University of Idaho studying Pre-Veterinary Science. She grew up dancing competitively as well as recreationally at a studio in California, and has experience in Contemporary, Hip-hop, Ballet, 

Pointe, Jazz, Musical Theatre, and Acro. In high school, she was a member of her school's varsity dance, sideline cheer, and competitive cheer teams, and spent innumerable hours in her school’s theatre participating in several shows and earning the rank of Honor Thespian. She has been dancing since she was 3 years old and hopes to keep dancing for as long as she can. Jillian is absolutely ecstatic to begin teaching with Festival Dance and can’t wait to work with the next generation of dancers!

Shaleyna Higgins

Creative Dance, Jazz/Hip Hop

Bachelor of Science in Dance

University of Idaho

Shaleyna Higgins is very excited to be teaching for Festival this year! She graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Dance in Fall 2020. She is currently working towards her Master’s of Education while also 

assistant teaching for the Dance Program at the University of Idaho.  She has loved dancing since she was young, but started training at the age of 12. Shaleyna has trained in all styles of dance including ballet, jazz, contemporary, hip-hop, and modern. She has experience teaching all ages and is passionate about teaching others to dance!

Judy Drown

Senior Level Instructor

Conditioning & Adult Ballet

Bachelor of Science in Dance

University of Idaho

Judy Drown (JD) is a long time Moscow community member curious about healthy human movement. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Dance from the University of Idaho, became a licensed massage therapist after studying at the Idaho School of Massage Therapy, and completed her Body Arts Science International (BASI) comprehensive Pilates teacher certificate. For a number of years, she taught for the University of Idaho Dance Program as an Adjunct Instructor, taught for Festival Dance, and run her own massage practice. She has recently returned from Denver, CO, where she honed her ability to bring a diverse and holistic perspective to students. Her goal is to not only emphasize the tasks in class but also to connect how they relate to every day activities and health.

Festival Dance Board of Directors

Sharon Stoll                                    President

Joann Muneta                                Treasurer

Trish Gardner                                  Secretary

Jennifer Beller

Advisors & Honorary Board

David Phelan                   Michelle Hovey

Janis Hall                          Susan & Bill Weed

Dawn Melton                  Molly Pannkuk