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. 

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!

Briley Neugebauer (Instructor) -

Originally from Seattle, grew up studying many styles of dance and was a graduate of the pre-professional program at International Ballet Theatre. Upon high school graduation, she received talent and academic based scholarships to study dance at the University of Arizona. In 2011 she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.F.A. from the School of Dance where she performed roles such as Choleric in Balachine's Four Temperaments, Lead Female Daemon in Carmina Burana and was apart of commissioned works such as Bella Lewitzky's Recuardo, and Martha Graham's Panorama. During the summer of 2011 she joined ART-IF-ACT Dance Project for a five week tour in China performing numerous roles that showcased the history of dance in America. Upon returning to the states, she was accepted as an apprentice at Spectrum Dance Theater_Donald Byrd where she also had the opportunity to perform in the musical Oklahoma! at the 5th Avenue Theater. She then moved to Portland and was a company dancer at Polaris Dance Theatre for two years where she also created original works such as Derailed, Choice, and One of Everything. She afterwards became a Principle Dancer and Rehearsal Director for Moxie Contemporary Ballet. In 2015 Briley was one of the founding members of PDX Contemporary Ballet and serves as their Artistic Director.

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. 

Arly Holzweissig (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 and student. Additionally, Arly has trained at the Independent Dance Project and is a student at Cleveland High School, where she is broadening her horizon with different types of art. She is dedicated 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.  

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.  

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.

Amy Rivera (Guest 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.

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.

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 returned to her beloved Portland to dance again. 

Student Interns

Jasmin Leonard (Intern) - Bio coming soon!













 

Kate Schenk (Intern) - Kate has danced at Pacific Dance Academy since she was four years old. She has done tap, jazz, hula and contemporary dance classes. She is currently taking part in being both an intern and a student. Kate has also danced at Grand Finale Dance Studio, and is a student in the North Clackamas school district. She enjoys drawing and painting, and is very excited to work with students and share what she has learned while doing dance.