Our teachers come from diverse backgrounds and bring a variety of complementary skills to the table for our students' benefit. They are the heart and soul of this studio and we are blessed to have them.
Nicola Hanson, Artistic Director - RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) Registered Teacher, Ballet, Pointe, Dance Team, Jazz, PBT (Progressing Ballet Technique) Certified Teacher
Nicola trained at the prestigious Urdang Academy of Ballet and Performing Arts in Covent Garden, London, England. While there she also took her teaching examination with the Royal Academy of Dance and obtained her teaching certificate with merit. Since leaving college she has performed professionally on four continents from London's West End to Japan, Hong Kong and most recently on Carnival Cruise Lines where she was both Lead Dancer and Dance Captain, performing with and managing a cast of 18 dancers and singers. Nicola has been the owner of Northern Dance Academy and its principal ballet teacher since 2012. She is also active locally having choreographed CYT North Idaho's production of Walt Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" and "Tarzan" in addition to other local area productions. She is a registered RAD teacher (the only one in the state of Idaho) and certified in PBT (Progressing Ballet Technique).
Sara Agueros - Hip-Hop, Lyrical
For Sara every moment she gets to dance is a moment she can share a piece of her heart with you. She began formal training at the age of three and hasn’t looked back. In 1997 Sara created Hot August Nights and followed up with Hot August Nights Returns in 1998, both of which she produced, choreographed and co-starred in. Since then she has been involved in Isabelle’s Dance Time Company Theatre in Spokane and has benefited from years of professional instruction in Hip Hop, Jazz/Lyrical Jazz, Modern/Contemporary, Funk, Celtic Soft Shoe and Ballet. She has taught workshops throughout the Northwest and has participated in benefit auctions including that of the Boys and Girls Club. Since 2001, Sara has been teaching for our studio in Hayden, ID where she primarily teaches Hip Hop and Lyrical/Contemporary Jazz and Classic Jazz.
Isabel daSilva - Front Desk
As a recently retired tax preparer, Isabel daSilva is very happy to be contributing to Northern Dance Academy as Front Desk Manager. With a great commitment to the values of discipline, grace and flexibility that expressive movement through dance brings to an individual's life, Isabel looks forward to being part of the thriving and vibrant community here. Also a certified Yin Yoga instructor and professionally trained Himalayan Singing Bowl specialist, Isabel provides and supports healthful healing practices throughout the Spokane, Coeur d'Alene and Sandpoint areas.
Paisley DuPuis - Combination Tap/Ballet Classes
Paisley DuPuis began dancing at age four and started teaching dance at age 16. She has been a part of Northern Dance Academy since 2012, taking classes in ballet, jazz, tap and lyrical. She also teaches and choreographs for CYT North Idaho, most recently choreographing their show, "Hercules: a Hero’s Tale". She has also choreographed "Singing In The Rain" for CCT in addition to choreographing and co-directing "Godspell". Paisley is currently a full time student at North Idaho College, pursuing her Associates of Arts degree in music. She plans to transfer to a university next year in order to complete Bachelor's degree.
Ashley Gunn - Ballet/Jazz/Musical Theatre
Ashley’s early classical ballet training was with Neil and Camielle Hess at the Lone Star Ballet Academy in Amarillo, TX and Ceci Klein at The Ballet School of Coeur d'Alene, ID. Ashley attended Pacific Northwest Ballet's Summer Intensive in Seattle on full scholarships from 1997-2001 and was groomed to join the Corps d'Ballet in PNB's company under Artistic Directors Francia Russell and Kent Stole and School Director Denise Bolstad. She also attended the Ballet Intensive from Moscow at Northern Illinois University under Demitri Roundnev on full scholarship in 2001 where she was awarded Elite Dancer with an article about her in Pointe Magazine 2001. At age 16, she received her first professional ballet experience when she rehearsed and toured Swan Lake with Ballet Idaho. Despite her shift into Musical Theatre at age 18, she has continued to grow as a teacher of not only ballet, but tap, and musical theatre jazz as well. Ashley holds her MFA in Musical Theatre from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Choreography credits include: The All Night Strut, The Boyfriend, You're a Good Man Charlie Brown, Lil Abner, Oklahoma!, High School Musical 2, Happy Days, White Christmas, The Little Mermaid, Bring it On, Oliver!, Buddy-The Buddy Holly Story, & The Music Man. Ashley has coached multiple finalists in Idaho's District and State Drama Competitions, finalists in the Vienna International Ballet Experience - VIBE, and has been a Community Judge at the NCFC Debate competitions. She is currently open to teach private lessons in Coeur d’Alene at Northern Dance Academy as well.
Miriam Halliday - Ballet
Miri grew up in England where she studied The Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) under Nicky Wright from age six. She has passed all her RAD ballet exams from primary to Intermediate. She is proud of gaining nearly perfect scores and passing with distinction multiple times. She is passionate about teaching children excellent technique and creating a solid foundation before mastering more complicated moves. She loves the Royal Academy of Dance Syllabus because it gives children goals and sets a very high standard. She feels that succeeding in an internationally recognized program gives kids a huge confidence boost and provides them with a knowledge and skill base that will serve them well wherever dance may take them. Miri is a proud Mama of a little boy and lives with her husband in Spokane where she is also a full-time Doula and Mom advocate. When she is not dancing, she loves to hike and snowboard. She is also First Aid, CPR and AED certified.
Shawna Huff - Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical, Hip Hop, Progressions
Shawna Huff began dancing at the age of 3 at Starstruck Academy of Dance in Englewood, Colorado. She started doing competitions at the age of 6. Along the way, Shawna danced in many charity shows working with professional athletes. She continually expanded her dance education by traveling to Los Angeles each year for training and auditions with choreographers such as Mandy Moore, Mia Michaels, Greg Russell among many others. She has traveled to numerous cities across the country for dance conventions and competitions. She has appeared in several Denver Broncos commercials and danced at the Pro Bowl half time show in Hawaii. Additionally, she was a dancer for the Denver Daredevils. Shawna has choreographed for many studios and high school dance teams in several states. Now settled in North Idaho with her husband Brian, and her son Drayson, she continues to find her passion for dance and is grateful for the opportunity to share her knowledge with the students of Northern Dance Academy.
Kiara Klinkefus - Hip Hop & Tap
Kiara Klinkefus (Tap and Hip Hop) began dancing at the age of 3 at Susie’s Tap and Jazz. She has been dancing non stop, and at the age of 10 she added musical theatre performances to her repertoire. From “Willy Wonka”, where she played an Oompa Loompa, to playing the title role in “Annie”, to her recent performance as Judy in “A Chorus Line”, she has been honing her skills on the stage and in the studio. Kiara was a member of the competitive dance team at Northern Dance Academy for 4 years, winning multiple awards at area competitions. In her time at NDA she also studied tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, lyrical and hip hop. Other notable theatre experience has been in productions of “Little Shop of Horrors”, “Catch Me If You Can”, and “Sweet Charity”. In 2017, Kiara began teaching Tap and hip hop to the students of Northern Dance Academy and took over the tap program entirely in 2018. She would like to thank her parents for all they do for her.
Mikaela Martinez - Ballet, Contemporary, Combination Ballet/Tap Classes
Mikaela Martinez grew up dancing in North Idaho at Expressions School of Performing Arts where she trained in Ballet, Pointe, Lyrical, Jazz, and Hip Hop and was a member of their competitive dance team. She also taught classes in all styles and for all ages there and choreographed for their dance team. Mikaela attended Western Washington University where she received her Bachelor’s of Fine Arts Degree in Dance Performance and Choreography. While at Western, Mikaela started a contemporary dance company, The Storytellers, which allowed her to grow professionally as a choreographer. She is currently a kindergarten teacher at Northwest Expedition Academy and is excited to be sharing her love of dance and choreography again at Northern Dance Academy!
Emily Simpson - Combination Ballet/Tap, Ballet, Lyrical, Jazz, Dance Team
Emily Simpson is currently a Psychology student at Eastern Washington University. She was born and raised in Spokane, Washington with a short time living in Rathdrum, Idaho. She has been dancing her whole life and has been training at Dance Arts Academy for the past 5 years. One of her biggest passions is drum corps and she is currently finishing her fourth year marching, and second year marching with The Phantom Regiment Drum and Bugle Corps. Emily has a strong passion for art and teaching also a huge heart for animals! When she is not at home hanging out with her four cats, Merlin, Toothless, Elliot, and Minho, she can be found practicing dance or colorguard at the gym or spending time with her four siblings. Emily graduated from Mt. Spokane High School where she spent two years on the dance team and three years in colorguard. She is incredibly excited to get the opportunity to teach at Northern Dance Academy!
Tracy Tortora - Ballet, Pointe, Lyrical, Jazz, Acro, PBT (Progressing Ballet Technique) Certified Teacher
Tracy began her dance career at 3 years old. While studying under Nolan Dingman (a student of Balanchine’s) and under Becky Columbus of the Columbus Dance Studio, she won numerous trophies and awards in ballet, jazz and tap. At age 18 she was hired to dance for Tokyo Disneyland in Japan performing in shows as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty. Upon returning home, Tracy was offered the role of Dance Captain and Swing for the Disney World Corporation. She was featured in numerous filmings, trained in adagio and harness work for the Animal Kingdom’s Lion King Show and worked with celebrities such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Betty White, Regis Philbin, Sandi Patty, Bryan White, and astronaut Buzz Aldrin. While living in New York she assisted the Disney Casting Director in recruiting and was offered the role of the White Cat, Victoria, in the Broadway show, “Cats” by Andrew Lloyd Weber. Tracy has also trained in stunt work with her husband, professional stunt coordinator Chris Tortora. Recently, she choreographed several numbers for the Festival of Trees Gala in Coeur d’ALene and she assists with the casting and training of talent for Silverwood.
Holly Vesterby - Ballet
Holly Vesterby started dancing when she was 7 years old. She began her training under the acclaimed choreographers Eric and Diane Gaumond Hyrst of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet and New York City Ballet, Michael Falotico of Joffrey Ballet, and Erika DeLap of the Paris Opera Ballet. She performed as a guest dancer for the Eugene City Ballet and Chehalis Ballet. At the age of 17 she was invited to study at Pacific Northwest Ballet, but made the difficult decision to follow another passion and become a Physical Therapist. During her college years, she continued to fuel her love of dance at Washington State University as a member of the dance team where she performed and choreographed. After receiving her Masters of Physical Therapy at Western University of Health Sciences, she then auditioned and joined Dance Theatre Northwest to became a soloist. She is excited to be teaching a new class for boys’ ballet.
Trigger Weddle - Jazz, Dance Team
Trigger Weddle began dancing at the age of 5. She continued her training until she got side-tracked into the world of theatre. While studying and performing in theatres from Arkansas to New York City, she continued to find a home in a dance studio. In New York, Trigger studied under Lee Theodore of American Dance Machine as well as Luigi Faccuito of Luigi's Jazz Centre. She received her acting training at Circle In The Square in NYC, and also holds an MA in Drama from the University of Arkansas. She has choreographed and directed many theatre productions, and is an adjunct member of the Theatre faculty at NIC. When time permits, Trigger performs locally in productions such as Lend Me a Tenor at the Modern Theatre, Third at North Idaho College, and Bye Bye Birdie at CCT-North Idaho.
Jim is Nicola's other (definitely not better) half. He has been fortunate to spend most of his life immersed in music. Originally from Montana, Jim served as an Army trumpeter before obtaining his Music Education degree from the University of Montana. In 1989 he spent three months in Vienna singing in UM's Chamber Chorale under Don Carey. After attending grad school at the University of North Texas he traveled and performed extensively as Musical Director with Carnival Cruise Lines, where he met his wife, Nicola. Since moving to North Idaho in 2011 he has been active writing, arranging, producing, performing and teaching music. He helps out at the desk and is happy to be associated with such a wonderful group of people.
Adjunct and Former Teachers
Ali Day - Tap
Ali Waid has been dancing for 27 years. She grew up dancing at a studio in North Spokane and was a part of the competitive teams by 6th grade. She was Captain of the Mead High School Dance Team and her senior year won first place in the tap division at Nationals in Las Vegas. Ali coached the Mead High School color guard for two years and winter guard for one. She also worked at a local dance studio in Spokane for 5 years teaching tap, jazz, and hip hop as well as choreographing tap for the competitive teams. She has now been a licensed massage therapist for 8 years and has remained actively involved in dance primarily through serving as choreographer for local theaters including The Modern Theater, Spokane Civic Theater, and CYT. Ali’s passion is teaching and helping kids to be the best performers they can be.
Erin Duncan - Beginning, Intermediate & Adult Ballet
Erin Duncan has been a proud member of the dance community since 1990. Ms. Duncan trained with the Ballet School of Coeur d'Alene under the direction of Ceci Klein for over ten years. During that time she worked as an instructor and choreographer. Over the years she has participated in professional development workshops through Pacific Northwest Ballet as well as summer intensive programs with Contra Costa Ballet. Ms. Duncan has continued her love for the arts and currently teaches dance conditioning classes for PEAK Health and Wellness. In 2003 she earned an AAA in Commercial Photography from the Art Institute of Seattle and is completing her BA in Secondary Art Education through Eastern Washington University. Presently she is employed by the Coeur d'Alene School District. Ms. Duncan is thrilled to be a part of Northern Dance Academy and the supportive dance community of North Idaho.
Amy Reneau - Tap, Ballet, Combination Ballet/Tap
Amy Reneau has been dancing for over 25 years. She studied various genres of dance including Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Spanish Folkdance, and Square Dancing, among others. At the age of twelve she was asked to be a student teacher at Mauldin’s Dance Studios: Dance with Shari in southern Idaho. This is when Amy discovered her love for children and talent for teaching. Since 2003 Amy has taught many dance classes and cheerleading clinics for Post Falls Parks and Recreation. Most of her time is spent with her husband of 15 years and caring for her five amazing children. She does manage to be actively engaged in the community teaching choreography to Atlas Elementary Special Chorus and CYT students. Amy believes dancing teaches some of life’s most beautiful lessons.
Rayna Wells - Ballet, Pointe, Combination Ballet/Tap
Rayna Solberg has been dancing for 18 years and teaching for 14. She began her study of Classical Ballet under the instruction of Ceci Klein and then continued with Nicola Hanson after Ceci’s retirement. Rayna has a passion for children; she recently received her RN and has become a Nurse in Pediatrics in Spokane. Rayna loves teaching and being able to share her love of dance with new, young, inspiring dancers.