Meet The Team
Owner & Instructor
Jessica Nelson (she/her)
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 15 years experience in studio management and is the is the co-owner of Pacific Dance Academy.
Owner & Instructor
Amber Black (she/her)
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.
Susanne Leolani Fuller (she/her)
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 and will be returning. Susanne is thrilled to be teaching Hula for all ages at Pacific Dance Academy.
Sarah Walsh (she/her)
Sarah started dancing at the age of four, and continued her classical ballet training in Salem Oregon. She has trained with Oregon Ballet Theater and the Mercyhurst University Dance Department. Sarah is currently an Instructor and Studio Manager at Steps PDX, and is excited to join the Pacific Dance Academy team as a ballet and jazz instructor.
Annabelle Stern (she/they)
Annabelle 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.
Cas Majewski (she/they)
Cas grew up as a groove-inclined kiddo in Pittsburgh. Their roots as an instrumental musician made tap a long time favorite. She attended undergraduate school at Northwestern University for journalism and global health. While there, they found much unlearning and healing in their work with Billy Siegenfeld of Jump Rhythm, Jenai Cutcher, Tonik Tap, and Sterling Harris. In Portland, while pursuing grad school and a career in public health, education, and equity, they have continued choreographing, teaching, and dancing tap—most recently co-founding Congruency Dance Collective with their sibling, Tess. Cas continues dreaming and scheming towards a future of collaboration, education, and growth.
Marina Lavelle (she/her)
Marina has been dancing since 2006, and working as a dance instructor and choreographer with Pacific Dance Academy for over a decade. She has explored dance styles including ballet, modern, contemporary, jazz, tap, hip-hop, belly-dance, aerial dance, and flow arts. Currently, she choreographs and performs as an independent artist, and as an aerialist with Chrysalis Circus Collective. In addition to teaching, she is studying to be a naturopathic doctor at NUNM, graduating in 2023. She believes that dance is a healing arts practice, through movement, mindfulness, emotional release and storytelling.
Brandee Tarilton (she/her)
Brandee is a graduate of Reynolds High School where she was senior captain of the dance/drill team. She went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Dance from Western Oregon University in 2012. After graduating she studied at several Portland area dance studios in Modern, Contemporary, and Ballet before finding a passion for aerial arts. She trained in aerial silks and Lyra with Chrysalis Aerial Academy before becoming one of their instructors. She followed the owner of Chrysalis Aerial to a new studio and currently teaches silks and lyra classes at JaJa PDX.
Devin Coffman (she/her)
Devin 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, and spending time with family.
Arly Holzweissig (they/them)
Arly has danced with Pacific Dance Academy since they was four years old. They have participated in jazz, tap, ballet, ballroom, modern, and hip hop classes in addition to training at the Independent Dance Project. Currently, Arly is a student at Western Washington's Honors College studying human services, with a minor in dance! Arly is dedicated to dance because they find it as a way to truly express themself. Arly is very excited to be teaching kids and to be sharing what they have learned over the years, along with adding their own style and passion to the process.
Flynn Arnold (she/her)
Bio coming soon!
Amy Rivera (she/her)
Amy 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 and residential real estate broker. Amy is excited to be back teaching at Pacific Dance Academy.
Kate Schenk (she/her)
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.
Phoebe Roth (she/her)
Bio coming soon!