Jessica Nelson (Owner) -
better known as Jessie, is a graduate of Milwaukie High School where she received All State Honors in dance. She went on to earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Dance from Western Oregon University in 2005. Since, she has danced with the modern dance company Kinetic Images in Lake Oswego and an all female dance team collective, Remix. Jessie has over 13 year experience in studio management and is the is the co-owner of Pacific Dance Academy.
Amber Black (Owner) -
was raised in Portland and has taught dance in the Portland area since 1999. She is proud to now co-own the studio with Jessie Nelson. In addition to studying dance, Amber received a Master’s in Occupational Therapy from Pacific University in 2008 and works for Kaiser Permanente. Amber enjoyed the opportunity to train and perform in major cities throughout the west coast with groups such as Rumba Y Cache Latin dance company and Remix all female dance collective. Additionally, she danced in the Eric Zimmer Dance Workout video and has been a guest dancer with Pacific University Dance Ensemble. Amber works hard to integrate mind body awareness into her teaching style.
Annabelle Stern (Instructor) -
Annabelle Stern is a senior dance major at Reed College. She has trained in ballet, modern, contemporary, jazz, Balinese dance, and tap. She has had experience assistant teaching at her alma mater, Dance Theater West, located in Phoenix, Arizona. At Reed, she focuses on exploring how dance creates and is created by the world around us, including phenomena like political protests, religion, music, and visual art. With this comes the ever present questions in a dancer’s life: Why dance? How can movement help us understand the world and ourselves? How can dance communicate expression and emotion, and even effect change? She believes dance can help us practice bodily awareness, confidence, creativity, and vulnerability, tools that are not only important in the dance studio, but in everyday life.
Susanne Leolani Fuller (Instructor) -
started her dance training in childhood with Polynesian dance: Hula, Tahitian, and Maori. Her hula genealogy starts first through her mother, who trained with, and had her uniki, from Uncle George Holoka’i and Uncle Joseph Kamohai Kahaulelio, whom Susanne trained with. She performed professionally in her mother’s Polynesian Dance company for 13+ years in addition to ballet, tap, and jazz. Susanne began acting and received her B.A. in Theater with honors from Notre Dame de Namur University in San Francisco, apprenticed at Williamstown Theater Festival, and trained at the Eugene O’Neill National Theater Institute. After college, she attended the American Conservatory Theater’s Summer Congress and Advanced Training Program. Her professional acting took her throughout the USA, Cayman Islands, and eventually to the UK, where she toured in England and Ireland with the New Vic Theatre Company of London. Susanne also had the opportunity to be the choreographer for Lord Richard Attenborough’s film "Chaplin" starring Robert Downey Jr. Upon moving to L.A., she worked in Business and Legal Affairs at 20th Century Fox Television and Revolutions Studios. In 2011, Susanne moved to Portland, OR and reconnected with her childhood joy and bliss: Polynesian dance. In 2015, she founded The School of Polynesian Dance. The school’s performance group has won competitions at the 4 Days of Aloha Festival in the Hapa Haole Hula Competition. She has been a Dance Artist at Grace Arts Summer Camp in 2018, 2019, and will be returning in 2020. Susanne is thrilled to be teaching Hula for all ages at Pacific Dance Academy.
Marina Lavelle (Instructor) -
began her dance career as a student at this very studio, Pacific Dance Academy. She served as an intern for two years, before becoming a choreographer and instructor in 2011. She has explored styles including ballet, modern, hip-hop, jazz, tap, belly-dance and aerial arts, and currently performs with Chrysalis Aerial Academy in Gresham. In addition to teaching, she is studying to be a Naturopathic Doctor at NUNM, and is passionate about the integration of movement, breath, and mind-body practices within healing arts.
Amy Rivera (Instructor) -
grew up dancing at and eventually teaching at Pacific Dance Academy under former owners. She went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Dance and Minor in Business at the University of Oregon. Amy was on the competitive dance team at the University of Oregon for three years, captain of the team for two of those years and competed at the Dance Team Collegiate Nationals in Daytona Beach Florida. Amy has been a company member of Pure Dance Company and has taught dance and preschool. Amy is currently a Stay at Home Mom of three great kids, Mya, Mila, and Dominic and is excited to be back teaching at Pacific Dance Academy.
grew up dancing at Pacific Dance Studio where she was able to explore her passion for dance. Eventually she went on to study Business at Oregon State University and graduated to become a Merchandise Planner. As she settled into her career, she wanted to explore her passions once again and found herself back at Pacific Dance at the adult tap class! She quickly remembered why she always loved tapping the most of all her classes growing up. She’s excited to introduce others to the joy of tap dance through the adult class! When not working or dancing she loves working in her garden, cuddling with her dog, wedding planning and spending time with family.
Arly Holzweissig (Guest Instructor) -
has danced with Pacific Dance Academy since she was four years old. She has participated in jazz, tap, ballet, ballroom, modern, and hip hop classes. Additionally, Arly has trained at the Independent Dance Project. Currently, Arly is a student at Western Washington's Honors College studying human services, with a minor in dance! She is dedicated to dance because she finds it as a way to truly express herself. Arly is very excited to be teaching kids and to be sharing what she has learned over the years, along with adding her own style and passion to the process.
Susan Galbraith (Guest Instructor) -
has studied, danced, and taught tap over time and distance. From the DC area to Africa, she has been part of the world of rhythm. Susan grew up on New York and has always loved percussion, but it wasn't until her 20's that she moved the Maryland and found tap dancing. In 2011, Susan had the opportunity to travel to a school in Accra, Ghana with 20 pairs of tap shoes to teach tap to children. This experience gave Susan a new percussive art to master; African drumming. Through workshops, festivals, and travel, Susan has had the opportunity to study tap dance and African drumming with the Masters. Susan is a former member of the East Coast based Abasi's More Than Drum Percussion Ensemble and has extensive experience teaching tap for college students and in a home school talent program. In 2020, Susan moved to Portland with her husband to be with her son, daughter in-law, and grandchild.
Grace Armstrong (Guest Instructor) -
is from Shoreline, Washington and began dancing at the age of four. She trained with Olympic Ballet School through high school and attended summer intensives with Pacific Northwest Ballet, Canada’s National Ballet School, Boston Ballet School, San Francisco Ballet School, Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School, and Colorado Ballet School. In 2014 and 2015 she competed in the Youth America Grand Prix and was awarded Top 12 in the semi-finals. Recently she graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Science in Ballet with an Outside Field in Arts Management. While at IU, Grace was an instructor with Indiana University’s Pre-College Ballet Program from 2017-2020. Professionally, she dances with Oregon Ballet Theatre 2 and teaches at studios throughout Portland.