8050 SE 13th AVE, STE 101  |  Portland, OR 97202  |  503.786.7197

Instructors

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 & an all female Latin dance team, Remix. Jessie has over 13 year experience in studio management and is the is the co-owner of Pacific Dance Academy. 

Amber Black (Owner) -  has taught at Pacific Dance Academy since 1999 and is proud to now co-own the studio with Jessie Nelson. In addition to 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, an 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. 

Caty Raupp (Instructor) - is a Dancer, Yogi, and Gymnast. Originally hailing from the Midwest, she holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Michigan. Upon graduation, she relocated to Portland, Oregon where she performed with modern dance companies the Holding Project and Push/Fold for several years. Caty then dropped everything and flew to India, to complete her 200 hour Yoga Certificate with the Rishikesh Yoga Teacher Training Center in the foothills of the Himalayan mountains. After, she moved to Bend, Oregon to teach Yoga and Gymnastics for a year, alongside much hiking, camping and hot springs. Caty is just returning to her beloved Portland this Fall, to dance again and start her 4th year teaching at Pacific Dance Academy. 

Faith Morrison (Instructor) - was born in the tundra of Alaska, and raised in the Rocky Mountains of Montana. She holds a MFA in Dance from the University of Oregon, and a BA in Dance from the University of Montana. Faith is the Artistic Director of Dance at Willamette University, and has taught on faculty as an Adjunct Professor of Dance at the University of Montana. She has held positions as a Guest Artist and Instructor at Oberlin College, University of Idaho, and Pacific Lutheran University. Professionally, she has performed in the Pacific Northwest with Headwaters Dance Company, Bare Bait Dance Company, Polaris Dance Theatre, and Katie Scherman + Artists. Regionally she has taught as a Graduate Teaching Fellow at the University of Oregon, and as a Dance Instructor at studios across Portland. Faith is thrilled to return as a teacher at Pacific Dance Academy!

Katherine Torgerson (Instructor) -  is a veteran instructor and former student with Pacific Dance Academy. She has been part of both Pacific’s Performance troupe and CAD company.  She has since continued her training with Zumba 1 certification, and is passionate about in Latin inspired, hip hop fusion. Katherine is excited to back in the studio after the birth of her first son last year!

Arly Holzweissig (Intern/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. She currently plays the role of teacher, intern, and student at PDA and trains additionally at the Independent Dance Project. Arly is a student at Cleveland High School, where she is broadening her horizon with different types of art as well. She has dedicated the past eleven years to dance because she finds it 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.  

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. 

Preeya Kannan (Guest Instructor) - a Portland local, began her passion for dance by studying classical ballet in a variety of local studios. Afforded the opportunity to study and teach dance in India, Thailand and Malaysia she began to expand her movement styles to include bharatanatyam, flamenco, salsa, swing, hip hop, jazz, contemporary and aerial. Continuing her training at University of Utah’s Modern Dance Department, Preeya was awarded the Phyllis A. Haskell scholarship for dance, voted class president and selected for the Performing Dance Company. She began her professional career as a company member with Polaris Dance Theatre before accepting her current position as a company member and choreographer for Horizon3 Dance. Preeya is eager to share her experiences and this art form with the students at Pacific Dance Academy.

Lauren Yamaguchi (Guest Instructor) - has been dancing for 19 years. She grew up at a studio in Salem where she learned ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, hip-hop, and many other styles. After graduating high school, Lauren trained in LA for 4 months and was offered a contract to perform on cruise ships. Lauren decided to return to Salem and taught hip-hop, contemporary, and conditioning classes for three years. Now in Portland, Lauren is a third year veteran on the Portland Winterhawks Rosebud dance team. She is also in a local dance company called Mix’d. While dancing, Lauren is also studying to become a high school PE teacher through Portland State.

Sadie Bernard (Intern) - has been dancing at Pacific Dance Academy (PDA) since 2011. She has studied hip hop, jazz, and tap. Her early passion was hip hop, but Sadie decided to try jazz to broaden her skills. She was thrilled to get an invitation to join Jazz Troupe in 2017 after studying jazz for only six months. In addition to interning, Sadie is taking classes as both PDA (Jazz Company) and Independent Dance Project (Hip Hop). She is currently in middle school and plans to be on the dance team once she is in high school. She is thankful to be an intern at PDA because it has been a long-time dream of hers, and she wants to share the joy of dance with others. She also hopes to be a school teacher one day, and interning gives her an opportunity to gain real-world teaching experience.

Lola Diaz (Intern) - has been dancing since she was 4 and with Pacific Dance Academy since she was 8 years old. She has taken ballet, jazz, and hip hop and looks forward to trying new styles of dance! She plays soccer with Milwaukie Soccer Club and enjoys staying busy with her love of dance and soccer. She finds that dance helps her with her soccer skills and footwork. She is a student at Rowe middle school and is looking forward to what adventures middle school will hold. Lola loves to dance because when she is dancing she feels relaxed and gets lost in the music. She hopes to continue dancing and become a dance teacher one day!

Sofia Burgher (Intern) - has danced with Pacific Dance Academy since she was six years old. She has studied ballet, tap, and jazz and has also danced with Independent Dance Project. She is a student at La Salle High School and participates in dance team there. Other than dance, some of Sofia's hobbies include calligraphy, reading, playing the piano and ukulele, and singing. She is excited to explore new styles of dance and to share her experience with others while helping them express themselves. 

Olivia Galbraith (Intern) - has been dancing with Pacific Dance Academy since 2015. Now a junior at La Salle High School, she is a captain on her school’s dance team and continues to dance as a member of Jazz Troupe at PDA. Her love of dance started with hip-hop, then grew with the additions of jazz, lyrical, and modern. In the future, she hopes to broaden her skills with new styles and dance experiences. She is excited to continue dancing as a student at Pacific Dance Academy and be able to share her passion with others as an intern! 

Naomi Swan (Intern) - Bio coming soon!