Instructors2018-10-23T09:21:00+00:00

Instructors

Raena Rasmussen
Raena RasmussenOwner & Instructor
Email: raena@balleraenadancestudio.com

Raena Rasmussen has had a dream of opening her own dance studio ever since she was a little girl. She has always wanted to inspire and change the world for the better.

Now 18 years later that dream has been accomplished and she just keeps on dreaming and making those dreams happen for herself and for her Students. When people ask her, “why do you work 7 days a week?” she will respond, “ I love to dance.”

Raena Rasmussen has her BFA in Dance from The University of Montana with emphases in teaching, choreography and performance.

She has studied dance in New York, Chicago, LA, Boston and Bali with artists such as Amy Ragsdale, Michelle Antonoli, Mia Michels, Matt Steffanina, Chris Judd, Eric Campros, Tracie Stanfield , Dana Alexa, Cat Cogliandro, Brian Friedman, Mike Peele, Wade Robson, Marlayna Locklear just to name a few .

Raena also has her certifications in the Pilates apparatus, the Reformer and Wunda Chair and she is certified in mat and standing Pilates.

Most recently Raena danced in the shows Blue Heaven and Sacred with the Ballet of the Dolls at the Ritz theater in Minneapolis under the direction of Lisa Conlin.

Raena and Lisa began their own professional dance company in Sioux Falls called LiRa Dance Theater Company in August of 2015 and are thriving in the Midwest having dancers audition and dance with them from all over the United States.

Raena and Erin Arends just recently opened a new boutique in Sioux Falls called Move Boutique that has the latest trends and fashions of Dance and athletic wear from all over the world and loving their new adventure .

There is nothing Raena loves more than inspiring young dancers and one of these adventures sparked Raena to begin taking dancers every year on scholarship to New York City to dance. It’s something she holds dear to her heart to expose dancers to the big apple and show them they are just as talented and ready for the city as anyone else who is dancing.

In 2018 Raena was asked to start traveling and teaching Pilates at different resorts around the world with Fit Bodies Vacations and made her first trip to Panama for 8 days in June of 2018 and Costa Rica in February 2019 to teach Pilates.

Anyone who knows Raena would say if you don’t see her with about three children around her at all times something is wrong . Raena loves children!! She has three beautiful children of her own Bentley Jewel, Paris Banks and Summit Knox and an incredible husband Aaron who has a job where he counts higher than 8.

If Raena is not at Balleraena or Move Boutique she is usually traveling around the country trying to catch one of her past students performing in a show or dancing in college.

Dance and moving have been Raena’s passion since she was 3 but you can also find her hiking a mountain peak somewhere or outside working on her enormous garden with all her rescue animals and giving away baskets of vegetables to anyone who will take them..

Lisa Conlin
Lisa ConlinInstructor
Lisa Conlin trained at Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Hubbard Street Jazz Dance & Gus Girodano in Chicago, IL, Steps, and Broadway Dance Center of NY,NY, and on scholarship at Dupree’s, in Los Angeles, CA. She danced with ND Jazz Dance Co., Continental Ballet Co., and with several independent choreographers. She is currently a principal dancer with Ballet of the Dolls Dance Theater Company in Minneapolis, MN. Favorite Lead Dance roles include: Goldilocks, Sinderella, and Romiette. Favorite Solo roles include: The stepsister in Cinderella, LIZA, Ms. Santa, Rat Princess, The Martini Girl, and Paula in the Prom. Favorite Ensemble pieces: The Willis in Giselle and The Women in Carmen.

Some of Lisa’s favorite projects include: Zhauna Frank’s Dream Channel Episode 1 & 2 performed at the Paul Taylor Studio in NY, NY, “Venus”- A Rock and Roll musical, Ballet of the Dolls Fashion Ball, Macy’s Midwest Big Life Calvin Klein Tour, and playing the featured tap dancer with her tap partner Vance Holmes in the play musical production of Gianni Sent Me. Other tap credits include tapping with Sweet Feet Tap Company and Keane Sense of Rhythm Tap Company

Lisa was also cast in several National and Regional TV Commercials for Big Lots, Ordway Theater, Great Clips, Best Buy, Armed Forces, as well as print, runway, and video productions for Target, Macy’s and other corporate events.

Lisa conceived the Ritz Theater’s RENOVATE-A Choreographer’s Evening seven years ago to give Minnesota choreographers a place to create and show their new works and has been curating it for the last seven years. She has presented four full length shows: Sacred, Blue Heaven, The Secret Annex, and Stripped. Most recently, her fourth full length show “Sacred” was performed in Minneapolis in April 2014 at the Ritz Theater. She was a grant recipient of the American Composers Forum’s Live Music For Dance Minnesota Program.

She has also showcased her work for the Walker Arts Center, Old Arizona Studios, Patrick’s Cabaret, Studio 2A Project, Loring Playhouse, Ritz Theater, Southern Theater, and the MN Fringe Festival. She recently studied with OFF Leash Area in Minneapolis taking a performance artist workshop and studied with Ecclectic Edge Jazz Ensemble and Guest Artists for a week long dance and music study focusing on jazz, hip hop, African, music rhythms, musical theater, and technique.

Lisa directed the Prior Lake Dance School for 12 years as well as directed and choreographed “The Nutcracker” and excerpts from Swan Lake. She has been teaching, choreographing, and directing dance for children and adults in the Midwest for over twenty years at several dance studios, dance workshops & camps, and judging dance competitions at both State & National levels throughout the Midwest. Lisa has been directing and choreographing the Balleraena Winter Show for the past two years:  Snow White and the Seven Dancing Dwarfs and Dancing Through Oz.

Angi Sisson Decurtins
Angi Sisson DecurtinsInstructor
Angi has been dancing for over 25 years and has a true passion for it. She has been teaching at Balleraena Dance Studio since 2007. Dancing is where she turns no matter what adventures life brings! Angi began dancing at a studio in Sioux Falls around the age of 5. She danced and participated in cheerleading all throughout Jr. High and High School, and then continued dancing at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Mn.

After college, she returned to Sioux Falls and auditioned for the Sioux Falls Skyforce professional dance team and danced with them for 3 years. At the Skyforce she made many good friends and contacts and started up competition teams in Harrisburg and Brandon with a friend of hers after she retired from the Skyforce dance team. She worked with these competition teams and dance groups for 5 years and had a wonderful time teaching girls jazz, pom, ballet, and hip hop routines to perform. She loved watching them work hard and bring home trophies! During that time, Angi was asked by several high schools and club organizations to choreograph routines for them and teach dance to their students, which she loved doing. She was asked to teach technique and routines to the dancers at the University of Sioux Falls as well, and enjoyed her time working with them. She also choreographed for Augustana College.

After Angi had her first child Beckam, she came to work at Balleraena Dance Studio so that she could return to her true passion. Angi loves every minute of her time teaching the students at Balleraena and feels blessed to work with young dancers. She also taught at the Sanford Wellness Center, and Excel Pre-school for several years at the same time, and co-taught the Sioux Falls Skyforce Hip Hop Kids Team! Angi has participated in several dance workshops to expand her dance career and training. She has taken classes from Mia Michaels, Eric John Campros, Bobby Newberry, Wade Robson, LaurieAnne Gibson, Mandy Moore, Michael Peele, Shane Sparks, Dana Alexa, Matt Steffanina and many others. She loves learning new choreography and seeing different styles of movement and teaching.

When she is not dancing, Angi loves spending time with her 2 children Beckam and Berkley, her husband Jeremy, and other family and friends. She has a passion for traveling, dogs, and just having fun! She enjoys sharing her love of dance and hopes all the students she teaches will grow into strong confident people who will work hard to achieve their dreams in life, whatever they may be. Her favorite motto and words to live by are; “Never Stop Dancing!”

Amy Hofer
Amy HoferInstructor
Phone: (605) 361-3737

Amy Hofer studied ballet with Martha Peterson, Judith Szakats and Carolyn Westphal in Sioux Falls. She continued her study of ballet at the Boston Ballet School and with Terry and David Shields in Cambridge, MA, where Amy also studied Modern dance with Julie Ince-Thompson and Jazz with Adrienne Hawkins and John DeLuca. Upon returning to South Dakota, Amy attended USD with a Fine Arts/Dance Major. Amy has attended many summer dance intensives as a teacher, primarily the Cecchetti summer schools in Hope, MI, and has had the opportunity there to study with many world-renown ballet instructors over the last several years.

Amy has been active for over 20 years in developing worship dance ministry in the Sioux Falls area. She has also taught for the Northern Plain CCA seminar, as well as in various studios in South Dakota over the past 35 years. Amy is certified in Pilates and is a member of the Cecchetti Council of America, through which she has obtained her teaching certificates through Cecchetti Grade IV. Additionally, Amy has special interest in pointe work and has spent many years developing a pointe curriculum that emphasizes strength and proper technique.

Madeleine Ellis
Madeleine EllisInstructor
Madeleine Ellis is originally from Las Cruces, NM where she trained in ballet, jazz, and tap at Michele’s Dance Academy. In New Mexico, Madeleine danced with the Las Cruces Chamber Ballet company in roles such as Clara in the Nutcracker, the Sugarplum Fairy, and Coppelia. After dancing with the Las Cruces Chamber Ballet, Madeleine attended Gonzaga University and was captain of the university’s hip hop dance team: The Bomb Squad. Upon graduation, Madeleine worked as a character performer at Walt Disney World (Orlando, FL). In addition to dancing with the LiRa Dance Theatre Company since its debut, Madeleine is also the Associate Director of Admission at Augustana University and is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration.
Ryan Patterson
Ryan PattersonInstructor
Ryan has been dancing for 10 years. He comes from a background in musical theatre but trained in jazz l, contemporary and hip hop. Ryan grew up in Miami and has danced for Disney, a Chorus Line and Cats the Musical and for Royal Caribbean. Ryan now has lived in South Dakota for two years and is apart of the amazing Lira dance theatre company and happy to still be doing what he loves
Megan Ekeren
Megan EkerenInstructor
Dancing has always been a part of Megan’s life. She started dancing when she was five years old when her mom put her in tap, jazz and cheer class. In high school, Megan was a Starliner on the Academy of Holy Angles competitive high-kick dance team in Richfield, Minnesota. In college, she was the publicity coordinator and vice president for the SDSU dance club. She taught college students a variety of styles, including salsa, hip hop and jazz and performed in the annual spring showcase for the SDSU Dance Club. Megan enjoys teaching young children how to dance and is currently a co-teacher for the tiptoes and princess court classes at Balleraena.

Megan finds so much joy in teaching children different styles of dance and her heart smiles when she gets opportunities to dance.

Georgia Conlin
Georgia ConlinInstructor
Georgia Conlin has been a member of Balleraena Dance Company for five years. She has trained in ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, modern, lyrical, and musical theatre at Balleraena Dance Studio. She has also trained in Minneapolis, MN at TU Dance Center, Continental Ballet, and The Dance Xchange. Georgia has trained with choreographers Eric Campros, Tracie Stanfield, Dana Alexa, Matt Steffanina, Marlayna Locklear, and the faculty of NUVO and RADIX Dance Conventions. She was recently selected for a dance scholarship with Eric Campros and Tracie Stanfield in June 2017. She was also chosen to attend The Joffrey New York City Summer Intensive in July 2018. She has performed as Clara in the Nutcracker, The Lion in Dancing Thru Oz, and Sleepy Dwarf in Snow White. She also performed in 100 performances in Minneapolis, MN with Stages Theater and Lake Harriet Players Theater Company. In her free time she enjoys babysitting kids of all ages and doing yoga.
Alisha Auen
Alisha AuenInstructor
My name is Alisha Auen and I am a former Balleraena dancer, current South Dakota State Dance Team member, and certified yoga instructor. My body simply loves to move and be active. I fell in love with yoga because it is an active yet restorative practice. Not only does yoga fuel my body, but my mind as well. Yoga allows me to thank my body for all it does, from my crazy dance practice to my cardio and lifting sessions. Please come thank your body with me! I’m sure it deserves it.
Thomas Tu Nguyen
Thomas Tu NguyenInstructor
Thomas Tu Nguyen was born on May 14, 1992 and was raised in Sioux Falls, South Dakota by both parents who immigrated from Vietnam to America. He began his dance journey in 2009 when he was 17 years old, auditioning for the Washington High School dance team. In 2010, Mr. Nguyen competed in his first World competition called, The Dance Worlds, and by 2014 he returned and won the Hip Hop Gold Championship. Coached by Angela Nieman, his team was the first all male dance team to bring home a gold medal and trophy for South Dakota.

Mr. Nguyen attended South Dakota State University and studied a French Language Major & a Dance Minor. In dance, he studied with Melissa Mork-Hauschild who guided him in Classical Jazz, Afro-Caribbean Jazz, Modern (Bartenieff & Laban Contexts) Tap, Ballet, Musical Theater, and Composition & Choreography. Today, Mr. Nguyen is a dancer for Sioux Falls LiRa Dance Theater Company, a Choreographer & Instructor at Expanding Harmony Dance Studio in Brookings, and Contemporary instructor at Balleraena Dance Studio.

Kristen Jost
Kristen JostInstructor
I am a lifelong dancer, trained at the Turning Pointe School for Performing Arts in St. Clair Shores, Michigan. I have received more than 15 years of training in ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and lyrical. I continued dancing in college and was co-director of Frelon Dance Company at Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I have attended and performed in several dance conventions and competitions, in addition to performing at the Detroit Lion’s Thanksgiving half time show. I currently work as a physician in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department at Avera McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls. I believe dance is a great and fun way to build and maintain strength, flexibility, and balance . I encourage anyone — no matter what level of experience — to come out and try a class!
Lisa Varenhorst
Lisa Varenhorst Instructor
Phone: (712) 540-3868
Email: Lisa@balleraenadancestudio.com

Lisa has been dancing in some shape or form since first grade and has a passion for both teaching and dancing. Lisa has been taking classes at Balleraena Dance Studio since November of 2010 and has found her passion for dance fueled further!

Lisa grew up in LeMars, IA and took dance at “The Dance Studio” under Tina McMurray from first grade until her senior year of high school. She took a variety of styles that included: Ballet, Pointe, Tap, Jazz, and Hip Hop. She was on the LeMars High School Dance Team her freshman to senior year and nominated captain of the team her senior year. After high school she attended Morningside College in Sioux City, IA. During her four years there she took dance as many of her electives, and was selected as a member/choreographer of the Morningside Dance Team for all four years. She was nominated as Co-Captain for her sophomore through senior year on the team. Lisa also helped some of the surrounding high schools with judging for team auditions, and with choreography. Lisa graduated from Morningside College with her Bachelors of Science in Nursing, and a coaching endorsement.

After college she moved to Kansas City to work as a nurse in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. While in KC she took advantage of many dance classes in a variety of styles from multiple studios. About two years later Lisa moved to Sioux Falls to work as a nurse at Sanford’s NICU. She then went back to school and attained her Master’s of Science in Nursing with a specialization in education in 2011. She now serves as the Clinical Nurse Educator for the NICU.

Lisa is very excited to teach at Balleraena and believes that dance is a space where hard work, art, individuality, personality, teamwork, laughter, and fun all come together to make for one great combination!

Rebekah Merriman
Rebekah MerrimanInstructor
Rebekah has been dancing for over 20 years. She grew up studying jazz, tap and ballet. Rebekah attended the University of Sioux Falls where she majored in theatre. It was during her time there that her love of musical theatre dance grew. After graduating in 2008, Rebekah began to choreograph shows for the University of Sioux Falls, Olde Towne Dinner Theatre, the Dakota Academy of Performing Arts at the Washington Pavilion and the Sioux Empire Community Theatre. Some of the shows include Little Mermaid Jr., 9 to 5, You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, Cinderella, How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying and West Side Story. Rebekah also worked with Broadway star Ken Ard to choreograph Guys and Dolls in 2011.

Rebekah is passionate about dance and theatre and is excited to have the opportunity to share this passion with the students at Balleraena.

Kelsey Freidel Nelson
Kelsey Freidel NelsonInstructor
Kelsey Freidel Nelson started dancing in high school where she was both cheer and dance captain her junior and senior years. She danced for four years in college at Augustana University and the University of South Dakota. During that time, she choreographed for both teams and attended four national championships. In April 2008, her team took first place at the West Coast Championships in Los Angeles, CA in the college hip hop division, and second place in the Jazz division.

Kelsey’s love of dance transitioned into coaching and teaching. She has aided in coaching and choreography for the USD Dance team, she was the sideline cheer coach at St Thomas More High School, and was the assistant dance coach/choreographer at Vermillion High School. Likewise, she has been a certified SDHSAA Cheer and Dance Official since 2011. She was voted the 2015-2016 NFHS South Dakota Competitive Spirit Squads Official of the Year. In 2015, Kelsey became a dance instructor at Balleranea Dance Studio, and was the the competition team coach from 2014-2017.

Kelsey continues to study dance and has taken classes at Balleraena for four years. She is in her 4th year as a cast member of the LiRa Dance and Theatre Company of Sioux Falls. On top of teaching, judging, and coaching dance – Kelsey is the Director of Alumni Engagement at Dakota State University, and lives in Sioux Falls with her husband Joey Nelson and dog, Libby.

Daintry TenNapel
Daintry TenNapelInstructor

Daintry TenNapel was born and raised in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She began dancing at the age of six at BritZa Studios, and fell in love with movement and the art of expression. Daintry continued to dance on through middle school and high school. She was an assistant to her dance instructor for three years of high school, as well as part of the Sioux Falls Christian Dance Team, and a member of her church’s liturgical dance troup. Daintry attended several dance intensives during her middle school and high school years including Storling Dance Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri and Ad Deum Dance Company in Houston, Texas. Daintry’s love for choreography was first discovered when she began choreographing dances for middle school talent shows, church pieces, and high school dance team pieces.

In 2006, Daintry attended Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi on track to graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance with an emphasis in Choreography. She spent one semester of her junior year studying Limon technique in New York City. Her college years were her years of greatest growth and challenge, as the grueling hours and demanding schedule really challenged her to chase after excellence in this art form she loved.

A year after graduating from Belhaven, Daintry met and married Nate TenNapel and they moved out to Redding, California. After finding out they were expecting, they made their way back to Sioux Falls the following spring, to be near family. In 2013, Daintry took on teaching a few classes at BritZa Studios, as well as choreographing for the Sioux Falls Christian Dance Team. The following year, Daintry directed and produced Freedom: Unveiling the Cries of a Sex Slave, which was a production that incorporated many of the arts including: dance, videography, costume design, graphic design, script writing, and more.

Now expecting her second child, Daintry is anticipating what the future holds. Besides dance, Daintry is passionate about investing in her family; she enjoys decorating, designing, fashion, and travelling.

As a lover of choreography, Daintry enjoys putting movement on trained dancers in collaboration with other art forms. Her desire is to not only to teach upcoming dancers, but also to create productions that confront injustices in our society. She hopes to use her passion to fight injustice to create impacting pieces wherever she goes.

Paige Grace
Paige GraceInstructor
I have been dancing since I was three years old. I started at Linda Feteral
Dance Studio with lyrical, jazz, and tap. I also danced for A.H.H Dance through
the studio as well as competed on my high school hip-hop, jazz, and pom teams.
I danced for the Augustana University dance team for one year.

I am currently a junior at Augustana University; majoring in clinical
psychology. I hope to be a licensed mental health counselor. I have always had
a love for dance and am so thankful for the opportunity to share that love with
others at this studio!

Ashlee Simonson
Ashlee SimonsonInstructor
Ashlee grew up in the suburbs of Denver and started both dance and gymnastics at the age of 3. While captain of her high school dance team, they competed in the 5A Division State Competition – taking home 3rd place. Later that same season, the team placed 2nd in the small pom category at the National Dance Association National Competition in Orlando, FL. She continued her dance career at the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs and was captain her Freshman year. She also spent a year with U. Dance at the University of South Dakota while her husband attended medical school. She has been a part of the LiRa Dance Theatre Company since 2015 and is excited to be able to continue dancing and teaching with Balleraena Dance Studio.
Ashley Flynn
Ashley FlynnInstructor
Ashley started ballet when she was 3 years old and continued dancing through her freshman year of college at the University of Kansas.
She participated in as many classes as she could at Miss Raena’s studio from age 13-18, and was a member of the very first, original Balleraena Dance Company. Ashley also played the Grinch (in Balleraena’s annual Christmas show, not in life).
Never losing her deep passion for dance, Ashley is very excited to be teaching at the same studio that taught her strength, discipline, diligence and that introduced her to lifelong friendships.
Ashley has a daughter, Nina Rose, and husband, Colby. She also is a children’s book author.
Jeff and Glenda Pray
Jeff and Glenda PrayBallroom Dancing Instructors
Email: datenightdance@gmail.com

Jeff and Glenda have been teaching social Ballroom, Latin, Country and Swing dance in the Sioux Falls area for 6 years. They strive to provide a fun, friendly and comfortable environment so teens and adults, of all abilities, can learn to dance for their own enjoyment or that special occasion. Jeff and Glenda learned to dance and were trained to teach at Ballroom At The Bridges in Sioux Falls.