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.
Grace Jackson, Ballet, Jazz/Hip Hop
Grace started ballet when she was seven years old at Ketchikan Theatre Ballet. She continued to study ballet, as well as starting jazz when she was a freshman in highschool.
In her years at Ketchikan Theatre Ballet, she enjoyed performing up to four times a year. These performances included an annual production of "The Nutcracker", and in her senior year of high school she danced the role of Snow Queen. She took pleasure in being involved at her studio as the lighting designer for their productions, serving as a student board representative for two years, as well as assistant teaching in classes during the year and helping with ballet camps in the summer.
Grace is currently a freshman dance major at the University of Idaho and is loving everything that she's learning. Teaching her own dance classes has always been a dream of hers and she can't wait to get started!
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.
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.
Deanna Bren, 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
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.