The diversified Staff at Sonja’s Studio is made up of highly qualified instructors teaching a variety of dance styles, cheer, tumbling & acro techniques. Our teachers commit to teaching and inspiring proper technique, determination, dedication, self-discipline and a love of the performing arts in each student.
Sonja has been a dancer, teacher, choreographer and arts administrator for over 25 years in Alaska. Graduating from Vincennes University in Community Recreation, Sonja, along with family, built from the ground up the prestigious Babcock Fine Arts Building which houses Sonja's Studio of Dance, Cheer, Tumbling, Acro, Art, Piano and Musical Theater classes. Sonja also founded Giggletime Preschool, A+ Academy and Enliven Adult Dance Company. Sonja's mission is to provide classes in the arts that are fun, supporting and inspiring.
Studio Owner, Director of Alaska Pride Dance Company, Dance & Acro Instructor
Jessica was born and raised in Alaska. She started dancing at the age of 3. Jessica danced and competed all over the country. Following high school she received a full ride to the College of Eastern Utah where she studied dance as part of CEU's Ballet Repertory Ensemble. After graduating with her degree, she then returned home to teach at Sonja’s Studio. She is the founder and director of the award winning Alaska Pride Dance Company and she co-directs the Alaskan Nutcracker each year. Jessica has certified in dance technique and stretching through UDA. She has trained in many genres of dance including but not limited to: Ballet, Jazz, Tap, Clogging, Hip Hop, Modern, Ballroom, Partnering and Lyrical.
Director of Tumbling, Giggletime Preschool Instructor, Acro Instructor.
Lena's love for gymnastics started 40 years ago. She has been coaching for 26 years nationally including in Washington, Wyoming, and Alaska. Lena is a Women's Gymnastics Judge and Stunt Cheer Official. Additionally, Lena has a combination of 14 years experience teaching preschool traditionally and Montessori philosophy. While growing up, Lena was a competitive gymnast for 10 years and enjoyed many dance programs along the way.
Director of Ballet
Mary trained under Steve Primis of Chicago Opera Ballet, Alice Bassler-Sullivan of Ballet West and Minnesota Ballet, Michelangelo Canale of Vaganova Ballet Academy and Royal Winnipeg Ballet, summers with David Howard at Mercyhurst College in Pennsylvania, the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and Fine Arts Festivals. She has performed for Anchorage Opera Association, Academie de Danse, Alaska Dance Theater, Ballet West, Alberta Ballet, Anchorage Classical Ballet, Enliven, and the University of Nevada Division 1 Dance Competition Team. Mary holds a Bachelor's degree in Psychology/Childhood Development and first began teaching 20 years ago.
Director of Contemporary
Jamie was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, and began dancing at the age of 3. In high school, she was a member of the school's drill team and became President of the dance company, and during her senior year was chosen as the “Dance Sterling Scholar”. She pursued and acquired a degree in dance at Utah Valley University and was a member of the University’s Modern Dance Company. Jamie has taught dance at several different studios throughout the 16 years of her teaching career, but is most proud of the last 13 years as a staff member at Sonja’s Studio of Dance.
Studio Owner, Director of Giggletime Preschool, Alaska Pride Cheer & Acro Instructor
Ashley graduated from the College of Eastern Utah where she studied dance as a member of the CEU Ballet Repertory Ensemble and was a member of their cheer squad. She has been coaching cheer at Sonja's since 2007 and was the Palmer High School Football Varsity cheer coach for 7 years before resigning to start a family. She has trained in many genres of dance but cheer & tumbling have become her passion. Ashley was a STUNT Cheer Official for the Anchorage School District in 2017 & 2018 and is certified in First Aid & CPR, Heads up Concussion, Heat Illness Prevention, Anaphylaxis & Epi Pen Auto Injectors, and Creating a Safe Environment. Ashley is safety certified for cheer/dance through the following programs: AACCA, NFHS, & NYCC.
Director of Sonja's Studio Enliven Dance Company
Pam was raised in Fairbanks, studying jazz, ballet and tap. She received her MS in physical therapy from Boston University where she founded FUSION dance company. She is the director of EnLiven, Sonja's adult dance company. EnLiven strives to share their love of dance with our community. EnLiven has been seen at various community performances/fundraisers as well as collaborating with the Glenn Massay Theater to bring you "Chicago" and sharing dance with foster children at their annual summer camp. Their performance video "The Sound of Silence" has been used for educational purposes with MSBSD. Pam loves bringing music to visual life.
Music & Musical Theater Instructor
Amber has been involved in music since she was a very young child. With a background in voice, piano, violin, and flute, she considers herself fairly versatile. She has taught music K-5 in the Valley for over 10 years, taught piano in several states for over 30 years, as well as vocal coaching and private lessons. Her love for music is infectious and has carried on to her 9 children. She looks forward to sharing her love with you and/or your children.
Giggletime Preschool Instructor
Cheryl was born in Fort Knox Kentucky and grew up traveling most of the West Coast. Cheryl has had a passion for working with children since she was young herself. After graduating from high school she worked as a preschool teacher and received her CDA in child education. Later Cheryl went on to earn a bachelors degree in Child Development from Brigham Young University Idaho. After receiving her bachelor's degree she completed an internship with Sonja's Studio's Giggletime Preschool and is continuing to work with the preschool program today.
Leticia Wade is a born and raised Alaskan girl beginning her dance career at a young age on her daddies toes. She grew up studying dance and music, and a varsity cheerleader during high school taking the state title in 02/03. Leticia began with sunshine generation performing with Disney in her elementary years, continuing musical theatre through junior high and high school and went on to compete with Stars Dance Company, Studied dance with UAA, performed and competed with UDC Hardcore into her adult years and then a member of Momentum dance collective. Leticia now dances with Enliven. She has instructed and choreographed for various groups and shows in Alaska and Washington and most recently became the choreographer for the Miss Teen and Miss Alaska United States pageant. She loves all kinds of dance, focusing on Latin, hip hop, jazz and modern.
Dance Instructor & Giggletime Preschool Instructor
Kelsi grew up in her mother's dance studio and has been dancing since she could walk. She has trained professionally in many genres of dance. Kelsi attended Idaho State University on a dance scholarship from 2006-2009 where she was a member of the nationally ranked Bengal Dancers; 2008 USA Jazz and 2007 USA Hip Hop National Champions. Kelsi first started teaching in her mother's studio at the age of 15 and fell in love with sharing her passion with the youth. She has since taught at numerous studios and is so grateful for the opportunity to continue sharing her passion for teaching with the dancers at Sonja's Studio of Dance.
Leticia has always been a fantastic help to the Studio but is now thrilled to be an official part of Sonja's Studio as a new member of our office staff. She has a dance background and was a medical biller before starting her family. She is excited to be back in a world she loves, making magic with her kids and yours. Leticia is also a member of Enliven Dance Company.
A+ Academy Teacher
Lisa taught school for 12 years (8 years in Wyoming and 4 out in Bristol Bay), before taking time off to be a mom. She graduated from Montana State University with a Bachelor's degree in education, and a few years later completed her Master's degree in curriculum and instruction: literacy. She comes from a family of educators. Her dad was her high school English teacher, her mom taught special education and she even married a teacher (her husband teaches at Colony High School)! Teaching is a challenging career but she can't imagine one that is more rewarding or fun!
Dance, Tumbling, Cheer and Giggletime Preschool Instructor
Jessi has been dancing at Sonja's Studio since she was a little girl. She has taken a variety of dance, tumbling and cheer classes. She's known as one of Sonja's best tumblers! She has been a teacher's assistant for multiple staff members for many years now. She is recently graduated from high school and will now be teaching or co-teaching some of our pre-level classes. Her caring and enthusiastic personality make her a great fit for our younger levels.
Joy Russell is new to the front desk but you’ve probably already seen her around the studio cheering on her daughter. She has lived in almost 15 different towns and cities over the course of her life and has broken her own record by now calling the MatSu Valley home for over 5 years. She has a background in accounting office work and recently completed her Bachelors degree in Accounting. Joy is thrilled for the opportunity to support the amazing staff, dancers, and families of Sonja’s Studio of Performing Arts!
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 participated in 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.
Ms. Colene is thrilled to be teaching art for A+ Academy. She has taught for 30 years with the Mat-Su Borough School District from Kindergarten to 8th grade. She taught art at Fronteras the last 5 years, instructed art club for over 15 years and worked on developing the district’s Art Standards. Her undergraduate degree is in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Art. She focused on Art Integration for her Master’s Degree and has always believed that integrating art into the content areas will positively affect students learning. Her art program will align with the National, State and District standards and will offer students a solid foundation in the Elements and Principles of Art as they learn about different mediums, art methods and artist throughout history.