Our Staff

Rachel Horner

Owner/Director

Bachelor of Arts in Dance from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Company Member Eclectic Edge Ensemble

Rachel received her Bachelor's of Arts in Dance from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in 2015. She currently dances professionally for a local jazz dance company, Eclectic Edge Ensemble as well as freelance performing in the Twin Cities with various choreographers most recently: Jolene Konkel, Karla Grotting, and Jeffrey Peterson. She has been teaching dance for the last 10 years to all ages and stages as well as choreographed 10 musicals in the last 4 years. In the past, she has performed at the collegiate level and with Imagine Ballet Company in California, internationally in France, Senegal and China, and has recently started producing her own evening length dance shows. She grew up dancing at the studio in Waconia and has taught there for the past 5 years. She is thrilled to step into a director role to continue the vision of both Sue and Carla. In her free time, she's always practicing her French, drinking coffee and laughing as much as possible! 

Sue Gunness
ABT (American Ballet Theater) certified ballet teacher

Faculty Ballet Specialist at Gustavus Adolphus College

Sue Gunness is finishing her 18th year as the ballet specialist at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter Mn.  Sue has taught University level dance for well over 20 years.  Growing up in the Twin Cities, Sue received much of her earlier training on scholarship with Jo Savino. “The ballet classroom is where the world and any sense of time disappears.” Sue invites classes that are open to questions and much different from the old school intimidating dictatorships. Gunness holds American Ballet Theatre Teacher certification, and was tested by ABT’s curriculum author Raymond Lukken. Locally, Sue was the  ballet mistress for the Continental Ballet, and taught Advanced Ballet at the Minnesota Dance Theatre for the late Loyce Houlton.  Always a student, Sue enjoys travel to prominent Ballet Schools to study different pedagogy ideas and syllabi. These schools include the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, The National Ballet of Canada, American Ballet Theatre, and most recently The Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.

“I am grateful  to have had wonderful mentors/teachers in my life. Elaine Werner Hutchison (former teacher with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and Roni Mahler ( former ABT soloist and IBT’s Teacher’s teacher) have greatly influenced my classroom style. I also have a very keen belief that very fine dark chocolate can improve dancer’s feet!……AND….like the shingles virus….. great ballet technique lives inside everyone! Let’s meet at the Barre….!”

More Staff Images

Coming Soon!

Leslie Erickson

Founding member Continental Ballet

Dance Educator for 25 years

Leslie was a founding member of the Continental Ballet in 1989 and danced as a corps member and demi-soloist for five years before moving to Nacodoches TX. In Texas, Leslie danced and taught for the Maryse Gobel Academy and was a founding member of a modern dance company called “Real Women Dancing.” She has been a guest artist with Stephen F Austin University and has sat on the board of auditioning students in their dance program. Returning to Minnesota in 1999, Leslie has joined the PAC faculty where she continues to teach all levels of ballet. She has developed a curriculum for young dancers focusing not only on movement, but the love of dance itself  Ms. Erickson has taught for Gustavus Adolphus College, MSU Mankato, and several local schools. She regularly attends continuing education classes, learning new strategies for building a positive and comfortable learning environment in the dance studio. Recently she completed Lisa Howell’s Perfect Form Physiotherapy Teacher & Health Professional Intensive Workshop-Level One.

Jodi Henriksen

Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education and Dance from University of Minnesota, Duluth

Jodi received her Elementary Education and Dance degrees from the University of Minnesota, Duluth. She treasures her time with the Doris Ressl Modern Dance Company and with the adaptive dance program at the Minnesota Ballet. Jodi has been teaching tap, jazz, modern and creative movement at PAC for 16 years. She is passionate about the theater arts and arts education. She teaches the visual arts and creativity classes and choreographs for a local Christian theater company. Jodi spends most of her time teaching her own five children at home, but loves hanging out with lots of short people.

Melissa Brown Guenther 

Bachelor of Arts in Dance from CSU, Long Beach

Melissa has her BA in dance from CSU, Long Beach. This will be Melissa’s 16th year teaching, and ninth year with PAC. In addition to teaching, Melissa choreographs and produces her own work. She has shown her work at the Walker Arts Choreographers Evening, the Fringe Festival, Bryant Lake Bowl and Patrick’s Cabaret. She has had the privledge of working with many wonderful choreographers. Recently, Melissa has started a dance company with Sharon Picasso called Spandrel. Melissa loves her classes in Waconia and finds them very inspirational.

Carla Bode

Degree in Dance Education (K-12) and Communication Arts & Literature Education (5-12)

Master’s Certificate in Holistic Health Studies from St. Catherine’s University

Carla is proud to have been teaching for the Waconia Performing Arts Center for the past 10 years. Previously, she has served as dance adjunct faculty for MN State University-Mankato, and was a dance specialist for Buffalo Arts Magnet High School and the Anoka Middle School for the Arts. She has her degrees in Dance Education (K-12) and Communication Arts & Literature Education (5-12). Carla has her Master’s Certificate in Holistic Health Studies from St. Catherine’s University. She is also a certified yoga teacher, 200 RYT. Carla has enjoyed teaching movement for a variety of non-profits and private schools, like the Mankato Ballet Company and the Govenaires Drum & Bugle Corps. In her spare time she dances with Rural Route Dance Ensemble, enjoys drinking coffee, and spending time with her wonderful family.

Shelby Hagelstein

Principle Dancer Continental Ballet

Bio coming soon!

Maddie Bakken

Degree in Dance from Gustavus Adolphus College

Bio coming soon!

Copyright 2018 Waconia Center for Dance Arts

Connect with us:

(952) 442-6328 

waconiacenterfordancearts@gmail.com