Heather C. McEwen
Heather began her dance training in Anchorage at the age of five, with the late Steve Primis. During this time she attended Interlochen National Music Camp as a scholarship student and later graduated from the Academy in 1989. She earned her BFA in Dance from the renowned Purchase College, State University of New York. After graduation, she joined the Alaska Dance Theatre staff and Company for a year before returning to New York to pursue her dance career. As a principal dancer with Connecticut Ballet for ten years, she had the opportunity to travel and perform a wide variety of repertoire by international choreographers. She also spent many years as a principal dancer with Anglo-American Ballet in New York City as well as Ballet New York. Her numerous lead roles included Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Alice in Wonderland, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella and the Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker. Heather danced with many other companies including Rebecca Kelly Ballet, Eglevsky Ballet, Staten Island Ballet, Granite State Ballet and Zig-Zag Ballet. She has had the good fortune to receive guidance from many great masters in dance such as David Howard, Paul Taylor, Gelsey Kirkland and Cynthia Gregory, as well as classes with world-renowned Mikhail Baryshnikov.
Heather has enjoyed the opportunity to share her wisdom and passion for dance with others. She has devoted much of her career to teaching and has choreographed over a hundred works spanning three decades. Heather started teaching thirty years ago in Eagle River and has since been on the faculty in several prominent New York studios. In 2008 she returned to Alaska with her husband and two boys. She has been on the faculty of The School of Alaska Dance Theatre, has been a member of the company, and has choreographed for their Student Showcase. She is happy to be back in her hometown of Eagle River and thrilled to be able to teach and inspire dancers of all ages for years to come.
Abby (Keller) Paulson, Instructor
Abby began her dance education in Anchorage with Karen Grotts at the age of three. She later trained with Alice Bassler Sullivan and Courtland Weaver at Alaska Dance Theatre (ADT), where she was a member of the student company for three years. During this time she performed work by K. T. Nelson, Courtland Weaver, Alice Bassler Sullivan, and numerous other choreographers. She continued her training at the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival as well as Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet Summer Program.
After high school graduation, Abby continued her dance training at New Mexico State University where she earned a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Dance. Her training includes diverse styles of dance that vary from Flamenco to Ballet in various levels. During her four years at New Mexico State University, she studied abroad in Spain for a month-long intensive in 2014, and competed nationally at the American College Dance Association. Abby also performed professionally with Literacy Through Movement (LTM) for four seasons while in Las Cruces.
Abby has several years experience in instruction as a Teacher’s Candidate with ADT, Tap Dance Instructor with Las Cruces School of Dance and Music, and Movement Instructor for LTM. Abby enjoys the opportunity to teach dance to various levels and ages of students. She looks forward to sharing her passion for dance with future generations of Alaskan dancers.
Briana Sullivan, Guest and Substitute Instructor
Briana began her ballet training at the age of three at Alaska Dance Theatre, where she trained under the directorship of Alice Bassler Sullivan and other faculty. Briana continued intensive training in Anchorage, Fairbanks, Washington, participated in dance workshops, and studied with many visiting artists. She furthered her passion for dance graduating Magna Cum Laude from Merychurst College, earning a B.A. in Dance Performance along with a B.A. in Criminal Justice. As a Dean’s List Scholar, a member of National Honor Societies Alpha Phi Sigma and Nu Delta Alpha, she maintained her dual focus and demanding rehearsal schedule. With the Mercyhurst dancers she appeared in performances of Serenade, Coppelia, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Swan Lake Act II, Crouching Tutu Hidden Drag Queen, Gift of Balance, Suburban Suite, and Giselle Must Die. She annually attended the American College Dance Festival Northeast, representing the Mercyhurst Dancers. Briana has worked with guest artists and instructors Tauna Hunter, Christine Hay, Judith Fugate, Troy Powell, Sharon Randolph, Madame Nathalie Grassovska, Elizabeth Nesi, Laura Alonzo, Jeffery Hughes, Mark Santillano, Laura Moore, Cornelius Carter, Gesel Mason, and Peter Christie, and numerous guest artists.
Briana continued her training, taking classes from Salt Lake City to New York. She performed for Royal Caribbean, International as a dancer in the Revue Cast aboard the Monarch of the Seas, and The Grandeur of the Seas, and as a Guest Alumni for Alaska Dance Theatre while in Alaska. Her teaching experience began in high school when she was invited to teach for her peers, and continued by teaching fellow cast-members on Royal Caribbean. She was also asked to teach various classes at Alaska Dance Theatre, Eagle River Ballet, Alice Bassler Sullivan DanceArts Alaska, Telluride Palm Dance, and Stretch and Tone at The Alaska Club. Briana currently practices Forrest and Ashtanga yoga, mat Pilates, and is an avid outdoors enthusiast–making it her priority to train outside daily. She enjoys teaching all ages and looks forward to working with the Eagle River community.
Andrea Nelson, Guest and Substitute Instructor
Andrea began her training at Clytie Adams School of Ballet from age 3 – 11, while performing children’s roles in The Nutcracker, Anna Karenina, Arcadia, and Midsummer Nights Dream with Ballet West and the University of Utah. At age 12 she studied on full scholarship at The School of American Ballet. She continued as a scholarship student at the School of Ballet West and later at the Ballet West Conservatory training with Sharee Lane, Bene Arnold, Atilla Ficzere, and the late Willam F. Christensen. She toured as Clara in Ballet West’s Nutcracker around the country and to Anchorage for two years. At age 14, she was accepted into the University of Utah’s Ballet Department concurrent program with a departmental scholarship, performing with Utah Ballet, and was also invited to join Ballet West as one of its members. During her four years at Ballet West she worked with choreographers such as Ben Stevensen, James Canfield, Micheal Smuin, Val Caniparoli, Andre Prokovsky, and Paul Taylor. She performed leading roles in Romeo and Juliet, Swan Lake, Lady of the Camelias, Cinderella, and Company B. In 1995 she joined The Aalto Ballett Theatre in Essen, Germany under the directorship of Martin Puttke. There she performed works by Birgit Scherzer, Daniela Kurz, John Cranko, Ramon Oller, Nacho Duato, Maryse Delente, and Maurice Bejart. She performed principal roles in Sonate a Trois, El Canto de Despida, Sols a Soles, and Jardi Tancat.
Andrea returned to Utah and began teaching at Clytie Adams School of Ballet and continuing her studies at the University of Utah. During this time she attended workshops with Olaf Hoefer of the Stadt Opera School in Berlin, as well as David Howard. While teaching she also staged and rehearsed Clytie Adams’ Nutcracker for four years and was a guest artist as the Sugar Plum Fairy, additionally hosting summer workshops for students.
In 2001 Andrea graduated with a BFA with the University of Utah in Ballet with a Teaching Emphasis. While moving around the country as a military spouse, she has taught with Clopper’s Mill Dance School in Germantown, Maryland, and the Ballet Arts School in San Antonio, Texas. She has enjoyed teaching students of all ages and levels and seeing their growth. Two years ago she was lucky enough to move to Alaska with her husband and five children. As a family they are thoroughly enjoying the outdoors and wonderful people here.