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 (Guest 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 (Guest 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.