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     Festival Dance

&  Performing Arts Association

The Faculty

Rachel Dodson, Academy Director, Affiliate Faculty at the University of Idaho, Ballet, Pointe, Contemporary, 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.

Brooke Ciocca, Creative Dance, Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop

Brooke Ciocca has been dancing her whole life. She danced at her mother's locally owned dance studio Uptown Dance Studio in Wendell, Id. She began assisting her mother in teaching classes at the age of 9 years old. Ever since then Brooke knew that becoming a dance teacher is what she wanted to do. She has earned her Associates of Art in Dance from the College of Southern Idaho in May 2018. During her time at CSI, she was a member of the CSI Golden Girls Dance Team and as a company member of the modern dance company, Inspirata Dance Project. Brooke is currently studying at the University of Idaho where she will earn her Bachelor of Science in Dance degree. She has achieved her dance teacher certification through Dance Teacher Web and the University of Las Vegas dance program. She has a passion for dance and teaching dance! 

Aleksandra Day, Ballet, Musical Theatre Jazz

Aleksandra is a choreographer, dancer, and performer based out of Idaho Falls. She has been dancing for over 18 years beginning at Studio One Dance Studio in Idaho Falls, under the instruction of Becky Gili. Through this studio she was able to experience a variety of dance styles, competitions, performances, full length ballets, and an appreciation for art as well as the thrill of performance. Aleksandra is well versed in ballet, modern, tap, jazz, and musical theatre. She has been an invited clinician for the widely known Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival for two years, a performer and choreographer for the American College Dance Association Conference Northwest, and South Regions, and has received her mat teaching certification through BASI Pilates.

Aleksandra will receive her Bachelor of Science in Dance from the University of Idaho in the fall semester of 2019. It was during her education at the university where her understanding of the historical and scientific aspects of dance developed. Through the university, she has been exposed to guest residencies, master classes, and involvement in production such as costume design and lighting. Her passion for performance and movement exploration push the overall dance experience to the next level.

Judy "JD" Drown, Discover Dance Program Outreach Leader, Pilates, Lyrical, 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 EddlestonMotion Fever Performance Troupe Coach, Jazz, Hip-Hop

Taylor began an intensive study of dance at the age of 17, and trained hard before finding the dance program at the University of Idaho where she received a scholarship to attend. Her early interest in dance was primarily in hip-hop vernacular, though as time went on, so grew her love of technique.  Her interest in other styles such as jazz and lyrical grew, and after one term of dancing, she was invited to participate in a late audition for the studio's (Urban Pointe) competition team.  Taylor traveled to Disneyland and performed in two parades, as well as a showcase, for two summers in a row.  A couple of years later, she competed at Hollywood Vibe and JUMP Dance Convention, where she was awarded a high gold for her performance.
Since coming to school at the University of Idaho, she has earned certifications to teach pilates through BASI, and acro through Acro Arts. She has choreographed, and performed, in two "Dancers, Drummers, Dreamers" productions in the spring, as well as two faculty productions in the fall.  Taylor is focused and committed to diversifying her dance skill set to be as versatile of a teacher as possible while in school, and hopes to one day open her own studio.  Taylor currently serves as the Motion Fever Performance Troupe Team Leader, and academy faculty in jazz and hip-hop, with Festival Dance.  

Melissa Godfrey, Creative Dance, 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. 

Melissa graduated from Utah State University, with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater Performance. She has since been involved in many theater opportunities, including Festival Dances summer workshop Imagination Arts for the last two years. She has worked with youth in many platforms, and dance is one of her favorites. She loves the confidence that it can build, and the way it teaches teamwork. Melissa specifically loves teaching the youngest classes, as she believes that it is important for children to feel loved and safe in a creative environment while building basic technique to ensure success in advancing classes. 
She is married with 4 crazy and amazing children and one dog. We love Melissa and you will too! 

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.

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. 

Brianna Wilfert, Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop

22 years of passion for dance is what sets Bri Wilfert above the rest. She has a variety of experience in the field of dance, and experience performing in many different types of shows, from small stage outdoor charity concerts to pre-professional settings. Her time studying dance at the University of Idaho expanded her knowledge as a choreographer. 

She has taught many types of movement classes to students of all ages and levels. This drove her curiosity about movement theory, as well as her desire to study. Wilfert's focus in theory lead her to become a strong advocate for dance, particularly in a learning environment. Because of her profound enthusiasm for this art, she is always a helping hand with any aspect of a show.

Her ultimate goal is successful advocacy for dance in public education. She is interested in using her knowledge of movement theory to confront the issues facing our youth in education. She believes that movement in the classroom will have a direct effect on students’ self-confidence, interpersonal relationships, outlook on society, stress levels, mental health, and even grades. Our knowledge of how students learn has evolved in the last 50 years, yet our education system has not, and s is here to evoke this must needed change.

The Staff

Deanna Bren, Managing Director, Outreach Development and Coordinator

Ms. Bren started her position as Outreach & Development Coordinator at Festival Dance in December 2018. Mrs. Bren holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from Eastern Washington University. She has a strong background in both Public Relations and Education. Prior to joining Festival Dance, she was a founding member and Executive Director of Cornerstone Educational Cooperative, a one-day a week, dynamic learning environment for Homeschool students based in Moscow Idaho.  For years, Ms. Bren has been a home educator of her four children, taught art, civics and speech classes, and volunteered as a promotional coordinator for APOD Theater Productions. Prior to moving to this area, Mrs. Bren worked as a Communications specialist for The Salvation Army and participated in fund-raising endeavors for her local Historical society.

Katherine Craig, Administrative Assistant, Bookkeeper 

Katherine is a senior at the University of Idaho pursuing her Bachelor's in Accounting. In June 2017 she graduated from Centralia College with her Associate's of Technical Arts in Accounting and Tax. She loves individual income tax and hopes to work for a public practice so she can have a diverse career. Even though she is a numbers person, the arts have enriched her life in many ways. She played the clarinet from grades 6-12, which included two performances in Disneyland. She also performed as a tap dancer for three years, and she starred in the all-school plays in high school. Her latest creative outlet has been baking in her spare time. 

The Board of Directors

Molly Pannkuk     Chair
Tanya Volk              Vice Chair    
Sue Schell                Treasurer     
Sue Hinz                   Secretary     
David Phelan
Joann Muneta
Christina Otto
Sharon Stoll, PhD