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Festival Dance & Performing Arts 

Bringing the Arts to the People and the People to the Arts since 1972

Because we believe in the power of the arts to enrich lives, enliven communities and inspire our youth, Festival Dance & Performing Arts bring the arts to the people and the people to the arts with dynamic performances, exciting dance education, and powerful outreach programs for all ages in communities of all sizes.

Our Core Values: Diversity, Accessibility, Nurturing of local talent, Community service, and artistic Excellence  

Our Staff

Deanna Bren

Executive Director

Deanna has a strong background in both Public Relations and Education. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies from Eastern Washington University. Prior to joining Festival Dance nearly two years ago, she was a founding member and the Director of Cornerstone Educational Cooperative, a large, one-day a week, dynamic, alternative learning environment based in Moscow, Idaho. Deanna has been involved in teaching art classes, participating in music and theater productions, and promoting the arts for several years. She has shared her love for the arts with her four children who have all pursued interests in music, theater, and dance. Prior to moving to this area, Deanna worked in promotions for The Spokesman-Review and as the Communications Director for The Salvation Army in Spokane, WA.

Colleen L. Bialas

Dance Director

Colleen is originally from Muskegon, Michigan and graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy. She attended San Francisco State University (BS) for her undergraduate studies and holds an MFA in Dance from the University of California Irvine. Colleen has performed with Ballet Santa Barbara, State Street Ballet, and the Richmond Ballet. During her professional career, she performed in works by George Balanchine, Brian Carey Chung, Carrie Diamond, Benjamin Harkarvy, Melinda Horwitz,

and Robert Sund among others.

Colleen has considerable experience teaching, choreographing, and restaging works. She attended the University of California Irvine, from 2013-2015, on full scholarship with a MFA Fellowship. There she choreographed two works Three Movements in Blue and (432) Miles Apart for graduate showcases and was the graduate rehearsal assistant in the restaging of Eugene Loring’s Billy the Kid. Her MFA thesis work focused on creating a written history of ballet companies in Los Angeles.

During the 2016-2017 school year she taught at the University of Idaho and as Lead Instructor for Festival Dance and Performing Arts. She presented her work Awe + Wonder at the 2016 University of Idaho Faculty Show, Defining Balance. At Festival Dance and Performing Arts she was in charge of teaching dance courses at the academy and also served as the ballet mistress for Eugene Ballet’s touring production of The Nutcracker.

She has additionally taught at the Performing Arts Academy of Marin (Mill Valley, CA), Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp (Twin Lake, MI) and Calliope Dance Studio (San Francisco, CA). She is thrilled to be back in Moscow with her daughter!


Saskia Zijlstra



Saskia moved to Pullman in August 2018 with her husband and 2 boys. Saskia began working for Festival Dance in November 2019.

Before moving to Pullman she lived in Augusta GA and worked in a similar job helping to run a tennis 

academy. She and her family moved to Wisconsin, but she still helps remotely. Saskia has a great love for the arts and her family. Saskia enjoys spending time outdoors whether working in her beautiful flower beds or going on adventurous hikes with her boys. She is also a creative person and designs theater costumes and sews in her spare time.

Nolan Payne

Administrative Assistant Outreach & Development Coordinator

The Outreach & Development Coordinator works with area schools, principals, and teachers to arrange outreach 

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Our Dance Instructors

Taylor Luck

Tap, Ballet 5

Bachelor of Science

in Dance candidate

University of Idaho

Taylor was born in Seattle, WA then moved to Spokane, WA and started dancing at a local studio shortly after. Taylor first started out with tap dance and has followed her passion for it in the 

past 15 years. Through middle school and high school, she danced competitively on her studio team as well as her high school dance team. Taylor is now a third-year student at the University of Idaho dance program planning on graduating with a dance major and business minor. She is so excited to be teaching at Festival this year and can't wait to share her love for tap with her students!

Sophia Raasch

Ballet 1

Bachelor of Science in Food and Nutrition & Pre-Physical Therapy Candidate

Minor in Dance

University of Idaho

Sophia has always had a love for the performing arts. Growing up in 

a musical household, she learned the art of singing, acting, and dancing. She has been dancing for 10 years and intends to keep dancing for as long as she can. Sophia trained at Festival Dance before entering Movement Sciences at the U.I. Sophie is excited to be returning to Festival to teach and share her love for dance and performance with others. She is currently enrolled at the U.I. and working towards a BS in Food & Nutrition as well as completing prerequisites for a Physical Therapy degree. Her goal is to one day have a practice where she can specialize in health and wellness for performing artists.

Mandy Scheffler

Jazz/Hip-hop & Motion Fever Performance Troupe

Mandy Scheffler has loved dance her entire life, and she has not known life without the sport after receiving her first leotard on her fifth birthday. She started teaching during High School at the Granite 

Falls School of Dance and found a love for sharing movement with others. During these years, she also participated in many meaningful conventions and competitions across the region. After graduation, her love of dance led her to the University of Idaho where she is currently a junior pursuing degrees in Dance and Marketing Analytics. She enjoys performing in and choreographing for various University productions and is currently the Vice President of the Terpsichore Student Dance Organization at the school. Mandy is excited to teach and learn from students at Festival Dance Academy!

Julia Jitkov

Ballet 2 & 5

Bachelor of Science

Physics & Mathematics

Washington State University

Julia Jitkov grew up in Pullman WA, where she began dancing at a young age and discovered her passion and love for ballet. 

She trained with Sears Dance Academy and Graham Ballet Theater, and Ballet Arts Academy (BAA) in Spokane WA. Julia was a Senior Company dancer at BAA and has performed several leading roles. She fulfilled an internship and began teaching ballet at Ballet Arts Academy in 2019. Julia danced with The Russian Nutcracker with the Moscow (Russia) Ballet and participated in a Music-fest Northwest ballet competition. She had the honor of performing the Dying Swan variation from Swan Lake during the Spokane Bach Festival with live accompaniment by Grammy Award winner Zuill Bailey. She trained at multiple summer intensives around the US including Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and the Joffrey Ballet School.

She is very excited to join the Festival of Dance and is thrilled to teach again.

Judy Drown


Bachelor of Science in Dance

University of Idaho

Judy Drown (JD) is a long time Moscow community member curious about healthy human movement.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Dance from the University of Idaho, became a licensed massage therapist after studying at the Idaho School of Massage Therapy, and completed her Body Arts Science International (BASI) comprehensive Pilates teacher certificate. For a number of years, she taught for the University of Idaho Dance Program as an Adjunct Instructor, taught for Festival Dance, and run her own massage practice. She has recently returned from Denver, CO, where she honed her ability to bring a diverse and holistic perspective to students. Her goal is to not only emphasize the tasks in class but also to connect how they relate to every day activities and health.

Nolan Payne

Social Dance/Ballroom

Hip Hop

Bachelor of Science in IDS - Dance Pedagogy and Business Management


Nolan was born in Oklahoma City  

to professional Ballroom dancers, but didn't find his love for dance until Fall 2016 when he signed up for a Social Dance class at BYU-Idaho. After receiving encouragement from his teacher, he decided to continue taking dance classes. He went on to teach Social Dance on campus for 9 semesters as well as World/Folkloric Dance, specializing in Polynesian styles. He joined the Collegiate Dance Company after a year of dancing, the Dance Alliance Tour Team after that, directed and choreographed for the Ballroom Formation Team, and managed and instructed the Social Dance Nights on campus for 3 years while also participating in the local hip hop crew for Lost Tribe. Nolan is excited for this new adventure with Festival Dance and to have an opportunity to teach the very thing that started him on his journey.

Abigail Raasch

Ballet 6, Pointe, Musical Medley Theatre, Dance Conditioning, Troy

Bachelor of Fine Arts in Modern Dance

University of Utah

Abigail Rebekah is a recent graduate of the Class of 2021. 

She graduated from the University of Utah School of Dance with the recognition of an Undergraduate Research Scholar for her thesis, Movement for Actors: Practice, Collaboration, and Performance. Abigail works in a realm of physical and dance theater, creating movement-based story-telling using concepts of athleticism and text. Her most recent creative work has included: directing/choreographing a newly devised work, Grey Area in collaboration with the University of Utah Undergraduate Research Program, serving as the Movement Director for a new play, Ronald & Edith, created by colleague Connor Johnson, and working as Assistant Director/Choreographer for Newsies with Troy Community Theatre. Her most recent performances have been Nancy Love in the new work Wear Her Sting with the University of Utah Theatre Department, a swing and permanent understudy in Newsies with Troy Community Theatre, and a company dancer with the University of Utah School of Dance Performing Dance Company. Abigail has had the opportunity to collaborate with choreographers and directors such as Eric Handman, Daniel Clifton, Melanie George, Rick Kimball, Keira Stogin and Alan Stogin. She comes from training focussed in classical and contemporary ballet, neo-classical jazz, and modern dance, all accumulating to specialties in theater performance. These skills have helped her establish various positions within new collaborative processes in conjunction with Troy Community Theater, Festival Dance & Performing Arts Academy, The Elgin Opera House, Open Door Productions, University of Utah Undergraduate Research Program, and the University of Utah School of Dance.

Shaleyna Higgins

Creative Dance, Jazz/Hip Hop

Bachelor of Science in Dance

University of Idaho

Shaleyna Higgins is very excited to be teaching for Festival this year! She graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Dance in Fall 2020. She is currently working towards her Master’s of Education while also 

assistant teaching for the Dance Program at the University of Idaho.  She has loved dancing since she was young, but started training at the age of 12. Shaleyna has trained in all styles of dance including ballet, jazz, contemporary, hip-hop, and modern. She has experience teaching all ages and is passionate about teaching others to dance!

Rosalyn Gardner

Creative Dance, Intro to Ballet

Rosalyn began dancing at Festival Dance summer workshop around the age of 4 and then started annual dance classes when she was 7. Rosalyn first started with ballet but over her eight years at the Academy, she has acquired a passion for many styles, including ballet, lyrical, contemporary, jazz hip-hop, and musical theatre. 

She has participated in the Nutcracker with Eugene ballet in partnership with Festival Dance, for 2 years and performed with Regional Theatre of the Palouse in their production of Matilda. Rosalyn has had the privilege of attending many wonderful dance and musical theatre productions put on by professional companies, including Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble. Perhaps most inspiring was getting to meet and speak with Cleo herself, further enhancing her passion for dance. Rosalyn aspires to bring fun-filled dancing and music into the studio and hopes to keep dance in her life through high school and college. She is thrilled to be teaching at Festival Dance and can’t wait to get to know everyone even better!

Festival Dance Board of Directors

Sharon Stoll                                    President

Carolyn Hicklin                               Vice President

Joann Muneta                                Treasurer

Trish Gardner                                  Secretary

Jennifer Beller

Advisors & Honorary Board

David Phelan                   Michelle Hovey

Janis Hall                          Susan & Bill Weed

Dawn Melton                  Molly Pannkuk

Academy Staff photos credit of Jonathan S. Billings,

Archer Photography