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     Festival Dance

&  Performing Arts Association

Our Staff

Deanna Bren, Executive Director

Ms. Bren began as Outreach & Development Coordinator and Grant Writer in December 2018 and was promoted to Executive Director in June 2019. Mrs. Bren holds a Bachelor of Science 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 Director of Cornerstone Educational Cooperative, a large, one-day a week, dynamic learning environment for Homeschool students based in Moscow Idaho. For a number of 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. She has shared her love for the arts with her children who have participated extensively in theatre and dance. Prior to moving to this area, Ms. Bren worked as Communications Director for The Salvation Army in Spokane, WA and coordinated fund-raising endeavors for her local Historical society. 

Saskia Zijlstra, Administrative Assistant, Bookkeeper 

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

Before moving to Pullman she lived in Augusta GA and worked there in a similar job for a tennis academy. 
Besides working in the office Saskia loves to be outdoors and work in her yard or go hiking. She is also a creative person and designs theater costumes and sews in her spare time. 

Our Faculty

Julia Ames, Ballet 3/4

Julia Ames studied ballet and jazz at Festival Dance of Moscow, Idaho on and off for several years under various instructors. She trained in the US, Canada  and The Bahamas under several significant teachers including, Dariuz Hochman (teacher at NY City Center Studios and Broadway Dance Center in New York), Francoise Martinet (former principle with Joffrey Ballet), Stellio Calligias (former principle with Les Grands Ballets Canadiens de Montréal), Kevin Pugh (former soloist with the National Ballet of Canada), Hubert Farrington (former principle with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet and director at Nassau Civic Ballet School) and Robert Bain director of Dance Bahamas School. In Ottawa Canada, she studied, performed and toured regions of Canada for nearly five years under the direction of Michelle Lynn Danesh (former soloist with Chicago City Ballet) with the Ballet Shayda Company.

Connie Benson, Ballet 6, Pointe

Connie’s dance training began at the age of 11 at the YWCA in Salem, Ore.  She earned a B.S degree in Elementary Education at the University of Idaho in 1970.   She trained at Ballet Folk of Idaho with Jay Petrick for a year and continued her training in Boise, Idaho at Ballet Arts Academy under the direction of Sarah Arnold, soloist with a professional company and the host of the Accidental Artist -a learning tool for ballet teachers.  She began teaching in 1986 and established her own studio -Ballet Basics in Payette, Idaho in 1987 and was the director there thru 1999. Following a move to Moscow, she taught for Festival Dance from 2002-2011. She also taught at Spectrum Dance in Moscow 2008-2013. She has continued to give private lessons and to dance with Spirit Dancers, a liturgical dance group.



Brooke Ciocca, Creative Dance, Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop
Bachelor of Science in Dance candidate, University of Idaho
Associate of Arts in Dance, College of Southern Idaho
Certificates in: YogaRenew Teacher Certified,  BASI "Pilates" candidate

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! 

Judy "JD" Drown, Discover Dance Program Outreach, Pilates, Lyrical, Hip-Hop/Breaking

Bachelor of Science in Dance, University of Idaho

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 Team Leader, Jazz, Hip-Hop

Bachelor of Science in Dance candidate, University of Idaho
Certificate in: BASI "Pilates" Teacher Certified

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

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance, Utah State University

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! 

Micaela Petrini, Ballet, Jazz, Hip-Hop

Master of Science candidate, University of Idaho

Micaela has danced her whole life, whether that be in a little bumblebee costume as a child, at the USA Dance Nationals as a teen, or in her living room. Micaela trained in ballet and jazz before joining a nationally recognized competitive dance team in high school--ranking in the categories of kick, drill, lyrical and hip-hop. 

For the past 6 years, Micaela has worked with children of all ages in the field of experiential education, empowering youth to be creative and curious, and caring holistically about the learning experience for the children she has worked with. 

She is currently a Master of Science Student in the College of Natural Resources, studying the ways people interpret changes to the landscape of the Frank Church Wilderness. Micaela has embraced movement throughout her many and varied pursuits, such as rock climbing and hiking, and loves dance for the ways it allows her to openly and purely express her most inner self. She is overjoyed to be a member of the Festival Dance family!

Rachael Spear, Ballet, Pointe

Bachelor of Arts in Human Development, Washington State University

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
Bachelor of Science in Dance, University of Idaho
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 Board of Directors

Molly Pannkuk      Chair    
Joann Muneta       Vice Chair
Sue Schell               Treasurer         
Christina Otto