Meet Our Teachers

 
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Patricia (Pat) Alesso

Phil and Patricia (Pat) Alesso co-owned Alesso’s Dance Spectrum, Inc. for 35 years on Grand Ave, in St. Paul.  Founded by Phil,  in 1982, Pat joined the business in 1986, initiating a successful pre-school/youth dance program, in addition to Phil’s teen and adult classes and performances. Over the years, many hundreds of children and adults attended dance classes, master classes and participated in highly regarded yearly school performances. Thanks to a fine, loyal staff of talented teachers, many dancers went on to college dance programs and professional dance opportunities and careers.  In 2013, “All That Dance” Youth Performance Company was formed to provide highly dedicated and trained young dancers with opportunities to perform in a variety of entertainment venues. 

Pat began dance classes at age 3 ½ yrs. and also became proficient in apparel arts, costuming, theatrical make-up; she studied early childhood dance education with the artistic pioneers in children’s dance and has specialized in creating children’s/youth performance productions.

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Phil Alesso

Phil began dancing (tap) at age 12, teaching at age 18, and studied with the finest tap and jazz teachers in New York and Los Angeles.  He performed with St. Paul Civic Opera productions, Chanhassen Dinner Theater, with numerous touring companies  (Las Vegas) and has multiple choreography credits.

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DeeAnn Englund (Student Placement and Company Manager)

DeeAnn began her dance studies with the internationally recognized SKIP Entertainment Company from Guam, directed by Teri Knapp. Since 1999, she has taught many disciplines and ages at Dance Spectrum (now Spectrum Dance Co).

DeeAnn believes it is “a joy and privilege to teach and work with the hundreds of students and teaching artists that come through those studio doors!” 2019 marks her 20th year of teaching Spectrum families.

 
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Tara Willits

Tara is a child psychology major who has been dancing for as long as she can remember. She is thrilled to be able to combine her passions of working with youth and dancing! Tara has trained in a wide variety of dance styles since childhood, her favorite being jazz funk. She is also an avid yogi, fitness instructor, preschool teacher, kids Martial Arts teacher, Minnesota Timberwolves hype squad member and dog mama. She is SO looking forward to getting to know all of the dancers and families at Spectrum Dance!

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Jad Goodwiler

Bio coming soon!

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Kirby Hagen

Kirby Graduated from Augsburg College with a degree in Education and has pursued dancing on her own since the age of fourteen. Kirby has been teaching dance professionally for over ten years in the Twin Cities and is very passionate about raising the self esteem of students through dance. 

 
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Shawn Vue

Shawn Vue is a dance choreographer who specializes in Urban Dance as well as having a background in Breakdance and Hip Hop. He is 1 of 4 founders/co-directors of Elite Family, an urban dance competition team, and the director of Gentlemen and Gentlebaes, an all male/all female urban dance team. Shawn was also part of the 2017-2018 612 Crew MN Timberwolves NBA dance team. Some notable mentions are 1st and 4th place at Hot Indian Dance off at Mall of America 2019, Best Theme Award Upper Division at World of Dance Chicago 2018, 3rd place at Masterpiece Dance Competition, featured on World of Dance Tour 2017, and 2nd place State Fair Amateur Talent Competition 2016.

He is currently a full time father of one child, doing dance full time and venturing into the world of videography. His motto in life is to “do better” and embodies that in his lifestyle, leadership, work, and dancing. Shawn is one of the few people in the world to be able to give you a 3 thumbs up for a job well done.

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Jennifer Jenkins

Jennifer is a trained professional dancer with her BA in Dance from Point Park College in Pittsburgh.  She brings energy and exuberance both to the stage and the studio-classroom as she invests all of herself in her work.  She has danced lead roles as well as performed in solo works both at Point Park College. She also performed in the Midwest during which time she had an apprenticeship with Zenon Dance Company of Minneapolis.  In 2003 she was hired as Director of Dance at the Lake Placid Olympic Training Center to oversee, teach and give private dance lessons to aspiring Olympic skaters.  From 2005-2008 she taught guest master classes in New Jersey, New York and throughout the Midwest.  

Jennifer is also certified as a Master Yoga Instructor/Trainer and a LifePower E-RYT 500 Instructor.  Her teaching style centers on presenting strong technique coupled with encouragement and a passion for dance.  She hopes to instill a passion for dance and purpose for being here on earth.

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Benjamin Johnson

Bio coming soon!

 
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Julia Larson

Julia Larson grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she fell in love with performing at a very young age. She started performing in musical theatre productions at 5 years old, and started her formal dance training soon after. She studied with Youth Dance Ensemble under Dixie Rairamo in Burnsville, MN in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, modern, and musical theatre. She consistently performed in their Repertoire program, and worked with many notable choreographers including Michael Matthew-Ferrell, Kirsten Liams, and Kelli Foster-Warder. Julia also continued to foster her love of musical theatre while performing and choreographing for various VISTA Productions under the direction of Wendy Short-Hays in Mendota Heights, Minnesota.

Julia attended Oklahoma City University's Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Entertainment, and attained a Bachelor of Science in American Dance Pedagogy in May 2018. During her college career, she trained in ballet, tap, jazz and musical theatre, and also studied anatomy and physiology, ballet, tap, and jazz pedagogy, various choreography courses, and taught in the university's Community Dance Center.

Julia has worked in the education departments of The Cowles Center and Hennepin Theatre Trust in Minneapolis Minnesota, as well as multiple dance studios across the Midwest. As an arts manager, Julia has held many leadership roles in the areas of choreography, costuming, fly work, and house management. Currently, Julia is living in the Twin Cities area as a dance instructor and choreographer.

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Lynn Lorimor (Ballet Coordinator)

My formal dance training began at the Classical Ballet Academy of Minnesota under the direction of Jo Savino where I studied and performed professionally with the St. Paul City Ballet Company for a ten years.  Performances included classical works such as Copelia, Carmen, Firebird, Giselle, Pas de Quatre, Nutcracker, and various choreographed pieces, including soloist and pas de deux roles and performances accompanied by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.  As a teen, I studied under scholarship in the summers at the San Francisco Ballet School under the direction of Richard Camek.  I am honored to have performed a soloist role in Los Seises spiritual ballet under the direction of Marius Andahazy.

After my early professional ballet career, I have enjoyed a life-long journey as a student of dance with my roots in classical ballet.  My additional dance studies have included lyrical with Zenon Dance School, contemporary ballet and performances with Myron Johnson’s Ballet of the Dolls, and Vaganova classical ballet technique and performances with St. Anthony Performing Arts.  My flamenco studies included travel to Madrid to experience this art form.  I had the pleasure of performing in numerous ballet, lyrical, and character pieces with Dance Spectrum under the direction of Phil and Pat Alesso.

I have taught classical ballet classes for over 15 years to adults and children. My teaching is based on my many years of experience, wisdom, discipline, passion, and love of the traditions of classical ballet.  My choreography has included numerous ballet pieces for beginning through advanced students with music ranging from classical to jazz to rock.

I teaching several levels of ballet technique and pointe class at Spectrum Dance and have developed their ballet curriculum.  I have experience in providing student readiness assessment for pointe and teach pre-pointe strengthening through advanced pointe.  I graduated from the University of Minnesota with degrees in Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and work as a product development engineer and inventor.

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Julia Winter

Julia Winter is excited to share her love of dance with her returning and new pre-school and youth students. Julia has taught and assisted classes under the direction of Pat Alesso here at Spectrum Dance.  Julia began dancing at Spectrum Dance when she was almost 3 years old. She enjoys taking Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Hip Hop, and Contemporary classes.

Julia has been a part of Spectrum Dance’s Youth Performance Company “All That Dance” since 2013. She loves to perform at community events and her favorite is performing at The Children’s Hospital. She enjoys building relationships with other dancers in Company and hopes to be a positive influence on some of the younger dancers.

Julia is currently in her Junior year at the Academy of Holy Angels. This will be her 3rd year as part of the AHA Starliners Fall Dance Performance Team. She is excited to start looking at colleges and plans to pursue her passion for children and dance while there. Julia would like to major in Early Childhood Education with a minor in Dance Education.

She is looking forward to a wonderful and fun year of dancing!

“A dance teacher helps their students find the song in their heart, the beat in their feet, and a passion for life.”

 
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Andrea Nelson

Bio coming soon!

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Rosa Prigan

Rosa Prigan is a native of Columbus, Ohio and began her training at BalletMet Columbus. At BalletMet, she studied under Susan Dromisky and Dmitri Suslov. Rosa is a graduate of Butler University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance. She has trained at various summer programs including Ballet Chicago, Cincinnati Ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet Academy Summer Intensive in New York City, and the American Ballet Theatre. Her performance experience has been varied, dancing a number of roles in both classical and contemporary ballets such as The NutcrackerGiselleSwan LakeSleeping BeautyBella LunaCarmen in the 1920's and George Balanchine’s The Four Temperaments. She had the opportunity to perform works abroad in Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. Rosa was a dancer in StreamLines, a project as part of a grant from the National Science Foundation to address environmental issues with Indianapolis waterways. She has choreographed for fellow dancers at the undergraduate level, and was awarded a Collaborative Grant from the Jordan College of the Arts. She was the second recipient of the Director’s Award for Choreographic Excellence from Butler University in 2017, and a recipient of the Margaret S. Rosenblith Scholarship in 2016. Currently, she dances with Ballet Co.Laboratory in the Twin Cities under the direction of Zoé Emilie Henrot.

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Ali Higginbotham

Ali Higginbotham, a proud Minnesota native, has a degree in Dance from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities. She can’t remember a time in life when she didn’t love to move! In 2014, she graduated from the Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists. She has performed professionally with ARENA Dances, MNperform Dance, Altered Odyssey at the Phoenix Theater, Agape Dance Collective and Rhythmically Speaking. Ali is passionate about choreography and her works have been performed around the twin cities. She spearheaded a Christian dance troupe, named Agape Dance Collective and premiered their first show in 2016. She has taught for Barbilee Dance Studio, Transcendance, and Prairie School of Dance previous to her role at Spectrum.

 
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Ashley Thao

Ashley YangTao began her training at the age of four at Larkin dance Studio where she competitively competed in ballet, pointe, tap, hip hop, musical theater etc. and held multiple titles. From ages 10-14 she lived in Los Angeles and pursued her acting and dance career training in the industry learning from teachers off of SYTYCD and global artists. She then moved back to MN and continued her training at Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists, a charter high school in downtown St.Paul, where she had the opportunity to dance with teachers such as; Maggie Bergeron, Herb Johnson, Abdo Sayegh and Toni and Uri from TU Dance Center and many local twin cities artists. There she focused on training in modern, tap, classical ballet, contemporary Indian, African, social dance and the roots of hip hop and other urban styles (breaking, house, whacking, rap etc.) Currently she is involved with an all female hip hop collective called S.H.E.(She who Holds Everything), they travel, compete, battle and host productions annually focusing on empowering women dancers in the community.

Ashley is also involved with the Minnesota Timberwolves kids performance squad the pups. Not only, she just finished her third year at The University of Minnesota creating her own degree in asian language and literature, digital media and communications.

Shelley Westgor

I have been teaching dance for over 20 years to kids of all ages:  2 years old through seniors in high school. I have taught studio classes as well competition performing classes. I also teach adult Tap and Jazz classes here at Spectrum Dance. This is my 5th year here and I love my job!

I have the privilege of teaching for a non profit organization called Breanna’s Gift as well.  It is an arts program that brings dance, art, and music to kids with Cancer and other life threatening illnesses.I teach every Thursday at the Ronald McDonald House and a couple of times a month at Mpls. Children’s Hospital.

 I didn’t grow up dancing but all my kids did!  I am blessed to do something I love and be able to bring the joy of dance into others lives.

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Maren Lundgren

Maren is a professional dancer based out of the Twin Cities. She is currently a part of the all-female hip hop collective S.H.E. (She Who Holds Everything), and is a 2nd year member of the MN Timberwolves 612 Crew. She has collaborated with other local crews in the community for performances and productions such as World of Dance Live, Choreographers' Evening at the Walker, Abandoned Outlines Pt. 2, and Mixtape Pt. 3. Maren teaches adult/youth hip hop classes and frequently travels to battle, train, and further her knowledge of hip hop dance history.