Graduates2018-04-10T09:42:00+00:00

Graduates

Morgan Cogley
Morgan Cogley
I have grown up dancing at Balleraena my entire life. In addition to taking classes since I was 4, I have also been a member of Balleraena Dance Company for 4 years. Through company, I have gotten to travel to different cities to take classes and compete, as well as perform at various events. Raena also took me to dance in New York City, which will forever be one of my favorite memories. By dancing at Balleraena, I have gotten to experience so much outside of the studio and prepare for future experiences in the dance world.

The other girls and teachers at the studio are like my second family and I am so thankful for them. My teachers have not only taught me technique, but have encouraged my personal growth as an artist. Balleraena has allowed me to discover and grow my passion for dance. I will be attending the University of Minnesota Twin Cities to double major in Dance and Biology. Thank you to all my amazing teachers and friends at Balleraena that have encouraged me and believed in me.

Sophia Louwagie
Sophia Louwagie
I am Sophia Louwagie. I started dancing at Balleraena during my junior year of high
school. In the short time I had been with Balleraena, I was given so many opportunities. I was exposed to many artists throughout the country through receiving a scholarship to dance in New York at Broadway Dance Center and Perri Dance Center, intensives, master classes, and LiRa, the professional dance company.

Balleraena has taught me not only different techniques, but also how important it is to have artistry in your dancing. I am attending the University of Minnesota to pursue a BFA in dance and a business minor. In the future, I plan to own a dance studio and continue to dance. I can’t thank Raena and Lisa enough for everything they have done for me and for continuing to inspire me.

Danielle Luettel
Danielle Luettel
My family loves to tell the story of how they potty trained me by bribing me with dance classes. Luckily, my parents chose to enroll me at Balleraena Dance Studio when I was three years old. I’ve been dancing at Balleraena ever since and it has become a second home to me. Through this studio I have had incredible opportunities to dance with many well known choreographers as well as the opportunity to travel to New York City with Raena and her family to dance. At the Studio I have been able to participate in winter shows and company and have truly grown as a dancer through it all. I appreciate all that this studio and these teachers have done for me. Due to their guidance and teaching I will be continuing my dance education next year at the University of Iowa. I plan to study dance and biology. I could not have done it with out the family I found at Balleraena.

Kassandra Kolbeck
Kassandra Kolbeck
The long lasting joke that Raena is my second mom has quickly become a reality. I have never met a more kind, loving, passionate, and strong human being. Raena and the rest of the instructors at balleraena along with the loving support I feel from my fellow classmates is what got me to where I am today. The support and loving atmosphere that surrounds this studio is impeccable, and I will truly miss every single thing about it. I have been a part of Balleraena since I was four years old, and a part of the Balleraena Dance Company for five years. I have grown so much as not only a dancer but a person from the company and classes at Balleraena. I have always looked up to the company dancers and was grateful to be able to be given the opportunity to become a role model for others. Through Balleraena and the company I was given a scholarship for two consecutive years from the Nuvo Dance Convention, and had to opportunity to study dance in LA for two weeks in the summer of 2015. Raena was also the first person to expose me to a big city by taking me to New York on scholarship. I have loved the opportunity to study under other choreographers around the nation, something I realize not all young dancers get to experience. Raena blesses us by bringing in other dancers and opportunities to grow in our artistry as well as how to reach our ultimate goals. Due to my love and passion for dance I have decided to continue my education at the University of North Carolina Greensboro, and double major in dance and kinesiology. Thank you to everyone that has been so supportive of me and helped me along this journey, I am forever grateful to have people like you in my life. I hope to become a professional dancer after my graduation at UNCG and hopefully inspire other young artist like my instructors have done for me.
Madison Elliott
Madison Elliott
am a Junior in high school at UNCSA (University of North Carolina School of the Arts). This is my first year attending this amazing school. I have a passion for contemporary dance so I decided to audition for their contemporary program. I am learning Cunningham and Lemoyne technique. I dance about 6 hours a day in very intense dance classes. UNCSA is well known for creating successful working dancers. So far, I have been casted in two UNCSA productions. I was in a piece for Fall Dance and I was in another for Emerging Choreographers. Before I attended UNCSA I was in a professional show called Freedom; Unveiling the cries of a sex slave. I also attended many different dance intensives all over the country, which include Joffrey Ballet, Complexions, Boston Ballet, and Synthesis Dance Project. I hope to attend a conservatory college and keep dancing. I would love to be a professional dancer and perform for as my years as my body will allow. Once I am done performing I would like to choreograph and hopefully start my own company.
I couldn’t not of done all of this with out the help of Raena and her amazing faculty at Balleraena Dance Studio. I have danced at this studio ever since I was a little girl. I am a former company member and student. I have such great memories at Balleraena and I am so very thankful that I was able to grow up in such a loving and supportive environment. Raena helped me turn my passion for dance into a profession and I will be forever grateful. I am totally open to answering any question if you might have any. You can just ask Raena for my contact information. ​​
Angelina Gibson
Angelina Gibson
Balleraena Dance Studio provided me with a comprehensive education
in the art of dance through qualified instructors, an abundance of creative
opportunities, and exacting classes. The information I gleaned during my
attendance has proved crucial to the quality and artistry of my
performance and choreographic endeavors .
Aside from augmenting my abilities as a performer, Balleraena presented
a new course of study to me: choreography. Prior to my attendance at Miss
Raena’s studio, the notion of creating movement for fellow dancers had
occurred to me in brief–but through exposure to choreographers from
dance utopias such as New York City and California, I realized that I could
utilize my own ideas. Opportunities were available for me to experiment
and showcase my choreographic work at this facility. I was taken seriously
as a budding artist and in turn, has given me faith in my creative prowess.
The perspective of the studio is instrumental to artisans of dance.
Due to the support and knowledge of my instructors, I received a
choreography award at a dance competition–something that is incredibly
precious to me. For a student to be awarded for a piece of their own
creation at such an event is a rarity, and I have no one but my studio to
thank.
Emily Magnuson
Emily Magnuson
I started dancing at Balleraena when I was in fourth grade. After I graduated and continued on to dance in college, I truly realized how blessed I was to grow up in a such an amazing studio. Not only was I one of the only students at college who had previously studied modern, I was a well rounded performer. Balleraena had built an atmosphere for me in which I felt at home which enabled me to grow. All the teachers I encountered there inspired me and continue to be my inspiration. With so much thanks to Balleraena, I am now a senior BFA Dance Candidate at Minnesota State University, Mankato. I have been blessed to work/study with amazing choreographers and dance companies such as Shapiro and Smith Dance Company, TU dance Company, Zenon Dance Company, Daniel Stark, Julie Kerr-Berry, and Penelope Freeh. I have performed at the American College Dance Festival Association the past 2 years and have had the privilege to dance at the Cowles Center in Minneapolis, performing choreography by Sophia Pimsler. I owe much of my success to Raena and all the other wonderful people at Balleraena Dance Studio for always believing in me and inspiring me everyday.
Leila Awadallah
Leila Awadallah
I am currently in my junior year and loving the dance scene in Minneapolis, MN. I am pursuing a B.F.A. in Dance and a minor in Asian Languages and Literature. So far, within the Minneapolis dance community, I have had wonderful opportunities to perform with a range of incredible local artists including shows by Balleraena’s Lisa Conlin, Karla Grotting and Flying Foot Forum dance company, and HIJACK. Also I am in my second year as a company member with Ananya Dance Theatre. My role as a company member includes intense training, performing, and touring with the company in ADT’s aesthetic, Yorchha. Yorchha is a Contemporary Indian dance style developed by Ananya Chatterjea. This company consists of diverse women of color fiercely tackling difficult topics of social justice issues from around the world through dance and artistic expression. I have also worked with international artists Maurya Kerr, Nora Chipaumerie, Scott Rink, and Donald Byrd. My upcoming projects include performing with the Martha Graham Dance Company this April 2015, touring and creating new work with ADT, beginning a project with Minneapolis artist Morgan Thorson, and continuing to choreograph my own work.

I often think back to my memories at Balleraena and deeply cherish my time there! In such an important growing period of the beginnings of my life as a dancer, I could not have asked for a better experience! I would not be the dancer, nor person I am today without Balleraena… especially the Raena part. This second home taught me to have fearless determination, drive, and attack to fight for my dreams and I have everlasting love for all the amazing people I was lucky to meet through Balleraena Dance Studio. I welcome any young dancers to contact me – just ask Raena how!

Noelle Awadallah
Noelle Awadallah
I’m Noelle Awadallah, a dance major and a freshman at Columbia College in Chicago. I constantly feel like I’m growing in school and I’m excited for what’s to come. My main goal in my dance career is to perform. I want to use my art to inform others in the world.

Balleraena has taught me to be diverse in my dance training. I love how Balleraena focuses on the passion of just being able to move in a space freely rather than constant worry about looking perfect. I feel as though that Balleraena really allowed me to be creative and use my artistry more than any other place I’ve danced at. This studio has been my rock and I owe everything to it and to the teachers; it’s why I am where I am today.

Alayna Dutcher
Alayna Dutcher
Balleranea exposed me to a professional dance atmosphere and the ability to creatively explore a beautiful art form as well as myself as an individual. Balleraena has been my second home since fourth grade. I was a part of BDC for four years, christmas shows and the privilege of training under some really talented dancers. The wonderful opportunities and experiences at Ballerina has also taken me out of the studio and shown me another side of the dance world. In January of 2014, I had the privilege of being part of Freedom, a professional show with seven woman who stand against sex trafficking in South Dakota. More recently, I am a freshman at Goucher College in Baltimore, MD and I am pursuing a dance major as well as a degree in biology. I tried out for the Hip Hop team at Goucher and was added as one of the new members. Shortly after I was also asked to be co-captain this year and have thoroughly enjoyed working and dancing with such a wonderful group of people. Besides dancing, Balleraena gave me the opportunity to assist in teaching adolescent classes which has tremendously helped my dance. During the summers I attended many workshops in New York, Baltimore, Minneapolis and Sioux Falls. The instructors at Ballerina share a personal connection and a genuine happiness for every bit of improvement. The wonderful instructors that I have met has allowed me to travel to new cities to dance. I am very excited to see where the next few years takes my dancing and love for creativity.
Abigail Johnson
Abigail Johnson
Once I started classes at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities as a dance major, I appreciated my experience at Balleraena (2001-2013) with improvisation and being exposed to multiple sources of movement. It was this openness, willingness to try, and flexibility that afforded me the chance to lunge into the unknown with projects and trust those using me to create. Raena’s work ethic and rehearsal style shows what dedication driven by passion looks like.

I graduated in 2017 with a BFA in dance. In the four years prior I trained with incredible movers and performed work by acclaimed artists such as Martha Graham, Michel Kouakou, Joanie Smith, Angharad Davies, Justin Jones, and Gerald Casel. In 2016 I performed a piece by Leila Awadallah at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC as part of ACDA.

My choreographic work has been shown at Silverwood Park, Future Interstates, Glam Doll Donuts, UMN Rec Center Pool, and Rhythmically Speaking.

I’m currently working on project based work with my collaborator, Annika Hansen, and teaching Pilates reformer classes in Minneapolis, MN. Goals and dreams include teaching composition and dance theory classes at a university level, traveling to dance, and researching my own movement vocabulary.

Reagan O'Connor
Reagan O'Connor
I started dancing with Raena at three years old. Apparently, I had too much energy for my parents to keep up with! I danced with Balleraena for 15 years, where I was provided with countless opportunities, and blessed to grow up in an amazing environment with inspiring people. I was very fortunate to dance at a studio where Raena encouraged artistic expression, and provided us with multiple experiences to grow as dancers, and be the best that we could be. Raena, and the rest of the Balleraena staff, taught me how to appreciate dance, and how to have a strong work ethic. As of now, after taking a year off from dance (I couldn’t stay away!), I transferred to Minnesota State University Mankato, in pursuit of a dance degree. I’m so honored and blessed to be in a program with amazing professors and dancers. I am apart of another community and family that supports everyone’s dreams, and celebrates everyone’s accomplishments. I cannot wait to continue my journey at MSU. I am extremely grateful to everyone at Balleraena. Who gave not only me, but countless others, opportunities to instill and grow in their dance careers. Balleraena provided me a wonderful, safe, amazing, inspiring dance environment to grow in dance. I owe much of my success to Balleraena. Without Raena, and the rest of the staff, I wouldn’t be the dancer I am today without them. Thank you for inspiring me, believing in me, and supporting me everyday with my endeavors.
Chloe Michels
Chloe Michels
Chloe Grace Michels is currently pursuing her BFA in Dance with a concentration in Dancemaking from Columbia College Chicago. She has performed in multiple student and faculty works at the Dance Center of Columbia College, and has also debuted her own Choreographic Project on the Dance Center stage in the fall of 2013. In addition to taking classes and rehearsals, Chloe Grace is busy conducting research and preparing for her culminating dance project which will consist of self producing a 30 minute choreographic Senior Concert in the spring of 2015 and organizing/planning this summer’s dance program at Balleraena. Although she is currently studying, training and performing in Chicago, Chloe Grace cherishes her past experience(s) at Balleraena Dance Studio and attributes her achievements to those who supported her at the studio, in particular Miss Raena. Balleraena provided an environment where she was able to explore the “limitless boundaries” of dance, strengthen her technique, develop an awareness of the body and discover her voice as an artist/mover. Raena’s enthusiastic and supportive spirit coupled with her keen ability to push her students into a realm of endless possibilities was and continues to serve as an inspirational blessing in Chloe Grace’s life. She is grateful for the friendship that has transpired over 14 years of dancing together and looks forward to future collaborations!
Hannah Nichols
Hannah Nichols
I began dancing at the age of three at Expanding Harmony Dance Studio in Brookings, South Dakota. Dancing was always fun for me, but I didn’t really fall head over heels for it until middle school. The summer before my freshman year of high school I decided that I needed to gain more technique and take more classes, but I was already enrolled in every class they offered at EHDS, so I went online and googled “dance studios in Sioux Falls”. Balleraena was one of the ones that immediately caught my eye, so I e-mailed Raena and enrolled for the upcoming fall.

Coming to Balleraena was one of the nest decisions I’ve ever made. Through this studio, I’ve been able to get better technique, study with many amazing artists from all over the country, establish tons of connections throughout the dance world, travel with Balleraena Dance Company to different events, and most importantly, gain another family.

Besides Expanding Harmony and Balleraena, I’ve studied dance at The Academy of Dance Arts in Rapid City, South Dakota, with Rire Woodbury Dance Company in Salt Lake City, Utah, and am now pursuing a degree in dance at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. I’ve choreographed six complete pieces of work thus far, and hope to continue to grow as a choreographer and eventually dance a choreograph for a company somewhere.

Ashton Nelson
Ashton Nelson
I began dancing with Raena at the age of two. Balleraena Dance Studio has given me all the skills I need to continue growing in the art of dance. Everything I have been taught or have learned inspires me every time I walk into the Balleraena studios. At Balleraena, I was privileged to study many different dance forms including modern, ballet, lyrical, jazz, hip hop, etc. I have also learned about what happens “behind the curtains” from watching Raena. Currently, I am studying dance at Minnesota State University, Mankato; I owe that success to Raena and other Balleraena Dance Studio instructors for making me the dancer I am today. I consider Balleraena home and I am so lucky to have the instructors I had for pushing me and giving me inspiration inside and out of class.
McKenzie Kock
McKenzie Kock
I have been dancing with Raena since I was three years old. My first year of dance was also Raena’s first year of owning her own studio. It’s crazy to think I have been with Balleraena through three different studio locations, 15 recitals, three company shows and one trip to New York. Raena has taught me so much about not only becoming the best dancer I can be, but also becoming the best person I can be. Everything I have learned from being a part of Balleraena, I will be carrying with me as I continue to the next journey of my life. I will be attending Minnesota State University, Mankato in the Fall where I will be studying Pre-Physical Therapy as well as dance. My dream is to never stop dancing! I would love to one day not only teach dance, but help with the recovery of athletes. I will never be able to repay Raena and the entire family at Balleraena for everything they have taught me.

Alisha Auen
Alisha Auen
Raena has been inspiring me to dance since the age of three. She has given me many opportunities that I will forever be grateful for including helping me get accepted into the Joffrey Ballet summer intensive and Synthesis Dance Project. I hold all my memories at Balleraena close to my heart. From being Clara in the Nutcracker, countless trips to the cities for dance conventions, and all the lifelong friends I have met there.

Now, as a sophomore in college at South Dakota State University I am still dancing as a member on the SDSU dance team. I am an Elementary Education member and hope one day to teach dance classes as well. I am also finishing up my yoga teacher training, as that is a big passion of mine. Balleraena will always be home to me and I encourage all of you to enjoy your time there.

Sara Jane Teal
Sara Jane Teal

If I have learned one thing from Raena, it is the ability to create regardless of the opinions of others.

Raena has been my teacher before there even was a Balleraena and before she sculpted her studio into the chaotic and beautiful place that it is today. I know I would not have wanted to dance at any other studio in Sioux Falls, because at Balleraena I was not only disciplined and taught technique, but I was also able to experiment in any type of movement open to me. Through the influence of the many teachers and choreographers I am excited to carry my career as a dancer to Arizona State University. Although I am not quite sure what I want to do yet, whether it is to remain a performer, I hope to take dance, and other studies of history, journalism and whatever else is thrown my way, to many different places of the world and share my love for it with others. As of right now I am going with the flow and letting any type of current take me to places I may never have even thought of. Once there, I hope to share my knowledge of dance and anything else and to constantly learn through the work of others.