Dance Instructors/Staff

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Kaya Kellen

DIRECTOR OF DANCE

Kayla has been involved in dance nearly her entire life. Born and raised in Sioux City, Iowa, Kayla received her early dance education under the tutelage of Barbara Jean’s Dance Studio. She also traveled and trained at numerous conventions, clinics, and workshops each year, including The Beginnings Workshop in New York.

 

Kayla served as captain of the award-winning Sioux City East High dance team, and won multiple state championships, as well as various, distinguished awards at the regional and state level, as both a team member and a soloist. After high school, she studied in the BFA Musical Theatre program at the University of South Dakota and was a member of the Sioux City Bandits Dance Team.

 

Kayla’s passion for dance has led her to leading roles both performing and choreographing in musical theatre productions, and she was awarded the Iowa Community Theatre Association’s Best Choreography Award for three, consecutive years.

 

In 2010, Kayla opened Rhythm Avenue Dance Academy, where she served as an instructor for all technique and team classes before taking on the role as Director of Dance and transitioning her studio into The Arena Dance Academy. As a choreographer, Kayla has worked with countless dance teams, show choirs, and theaters throughout the Midwest. Kayla has enjoyed previous roles as a judge for numerous dance competitions throughout the Midwest and remains elated to be able to continue to share her passion for dance with her students. 

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GRETCHEN COOPER

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR

Gretchen has been heavily involved in the dance world for many years. She started dancing at an early age at Siouxland Movement Arts and evolved into a competitive dancer. Gretchen was a member of the East High Raiderette Dance Team, where she helped lead her team to multiple championships on the state and regional level.

 

Gretchen continued her dance career into college as a member of the Morningside Dance Team and Sioux City Bandits Dance Team. Her passion for dance lead her into a coaching position at East High School, before moving to Arizona and starting her family. Gretchen’s skills as a former dancer and coach would help with her new role in the dance world- Dance Mom to two competitive dancers.

 

Upon returning to her hometown, Gretchen became an active member of the Siouxland Community. She is the President- Elect of the Junior League of Sioux City, a board member of the We Got Next Foundation, a board member of the Siouxland Civic Dance Association, and as if that weren’t enough, she owns and operates her own law firm.

 

We are very excited to have Gretchen at The Arena Dance Academy.

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JENNA WINKLER

BALLET & TECHNIQUE TRAINER

Ms. Jenna grew up in Nebraska, where she danced at Kitty Lee Dance Studio and Motion 41 (Home of Nebraska Ballet). She danced competitively starting at the age of 6 and continued through high school and college. She also performed in numerous productions with the Nebraska Ballet.

 

Jenna just finished her 3rd year working with Universal Dance Association as a head dance instructor, travelling to various high school and college dance camps throughout the country and working at dance team nationals and worlds hosted at Disney World.

 

Jenna is a recent graduate of Morningside College. In just three years, she earned a BA in Chemistry and a BS in Biology. Jenna was also a member of the Morningside Dance Team during that time.

 

Ms. Jenna credits her dance background for giving her incredible discipline and endurance, and for teaching her to be a team player in all aspects of life.

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MADISON MAHR

COORDINATOR & COACH

Miss Madison has been a dance fanatic for as long as she can remember. She has been taking dance classes for ten years and has excelled as a competitive dancer for seven years, as both a team dancer and soloist.

 

Madison is a recent graduate of East High School, where she was on the Raiderette Dance Team. She was a Division One State Soloist and a Dancer of the Year finalist. Madison worked hard to earn her coaching endorsement from Western Iowa Tech, while still in high school!

 

Madison is currently a freshman at Morningside College, where she is studying Physical Therapy. Her talent and passion for dance earned her a place on the Morningside Dance Team.  She is excited to be starting her sixth year teaching dance and will be working behind the scenes with our competition teams.

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CALI GRACE COOPER

STUDENT TEACHER

Miss Cali Grace began dance classes at the age of 2 at SAS dance studio in Gilbert, Arizona. She was an immediate stand - out and at the age of 4, was selected for the competitive dance team at SAS.  Cali Grace continued her competitive dance career through her move to Sioux City and is happy to be a part of two competitive teams at Arena Dance Academy.

 

Some of Cali Grace’s notable accomplishments include: Rainbow Dancer of the Year - Regionals 2013, West Coast Dance Explosion Elite Dancer 2013, Celebrity Dance Nationals at Sea Star Award Finalist 2015, STARZ Regional Title Winner 2019, Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker- Party Girl, Ballet Sioux Nutcracker- Clara

 

Along with being an outstanding dancer, Cali Grace is an excellent student and leader. She is currently a Peer Helper at East Middle School and has served as a Young Ambassador for the Mayor’s Youth Commission. 2019 marks Miss Cali Grace’s third year as a student teacher and team assistant.

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PAXTON MONKELIEN

ASSISTANT DANCE INSTRUCTOR

Paxton began dancing 8 years ago, studying Ballet, Jazz and Tap. She excelled as a dancer and began competing
7 years ago. Paxton is very excited to be dancing on the Arena Dance Champions Team and competing a solo
this year.Outside of Arena dance, Paxton is a Junior at East High School. She is involved in Dance Team,
Cheerleading, and Student Council. Paxton also works at Drop Zone.

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Paxton loves her job as an assistant in the Wednesday, level 1 classes. She strives to always be a good influence and a positive role model to younger dancers.

Hesse • Carlson

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