Janet M. Johnson fell in love with dance at the age of three when her parents enrolled her in class at Evelyn Knight’s School of Dance in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. All things ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and later high school dance team, filled her life. Janet received her B.F.A. degree in dance performance, emphasis ballet, from the College of St. Teresa in Winona, Minnesota. After a variety of teaching experiences in the region, Janet established Allegro School of Dance in Rochester, Minnesota, in 1989. As Allegro grew, Janet acquired the Rochester Ballet School in 1999, merging the two organizations. Building the 9,600 square foot studio on Superior Drive NW in 2003 offered the Rochester community four state of the art dance studios along with music instruction. A lifelong learner, Janet promotes continuing education, not only for herself, but also for students, faculty and Allegro’s leadership team. Allegro's solid foundation is further enhanced by affiliations with a variety of organizations and people including Beverly Spell, creator of the Leap ‘N Learn whole child approach to young dancers; Lisa Howell, creator of Perfect Form physiotherapy and author of the Ballet Blog; and Youth Protection Advocates in Dance (YPAD). Janet is among the fifteen founding members of the More Than Just Great Dancing (MTJGD) organization. In 2018 Janet was the recipient of the Positive Action Award presented by Misty Lown, founder of MTJGD and owner of Misty’s Dance Unlimited in Onalaska, Wisconsin. Janet is pleased to uphold Allegro within the nationwide network of 300 like-minded dance studios. Dedicated to providing a classical yet progressive music and dance education, Allegro is in its 31st year of business. Solid curriculum balanced with creative opportunity, positive role models in faculty and staff, connection with families, and building community both within and beyond the studio are the driving influences for Janet and her leadership of Allegro.
Danielle Anderson began dancing at age three and quickly discovered that classical ballet was her passion! Growing up in Rochester provided Danielle with opportunities to study ballet and to perform. Some of her favorite roles were Sugar Plum Fairy in Allegro’s Nutcracker and Belle in Children’s Dance Theatre’s Beauty and the Beast. Danielle also spent summers at ballet intensive programs such as Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and Sarasota Ballet School in Florida. Danielle attended college at University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology. She also recently earned a master’s degree in business administration from Augsburg College. In addition to teaching ballet at Allegro, Danielle works for Mayo Medical Laboratories. In her free time, Danielle enjoys spending time with her husband and two kids, renovating her house, reading, and dancing (of course!).
Tom Burson has a bachelor of music degree in piano pedagogy and a bachelor of music education degree from Bradley University. He earned a master of music degree in piano performance from the University of Illinois. He has taught music, including band instruments and ensembles, in many public and private schools. Tom has played piano as a soloist and in many jazz, classical and pop groups. Tom is currently organist and praise band director at Evangel United Methodist Church. At Allegro, in addition to piano and band instrument instruction, Tom also plays accompaniment for the advanced ballet classes and has played for many dance performances.
Jennifer Campbell is the mother of three children, a daughter and twin boys, as well as an assistant principal at an elementary school in Rochester. Jennifer was a dance minor in college and worked in a dance studio all through high school and college. She loves education and dancing, which makes Allegro a perfect fit. You are never too old to do what you love!
Kathy Chase began her dance training at the age of six as a tap student and baton twirler. She continued with dance and theatre through high school where she performed with a national touring company for three years. Kathy graduated from the College of St. Teresa in 1987 with a B.A. in dance and a minor in psychology. She continued her dance training, began teaching with Continental Studio, and danced professionally with the Continental Ballet Company from 1987-1992. She has been an artist in residence in the Red Wing and Rochester Public schools. In addition to award winning dance choreography for competitions and other dance venues, she has choreographed more than twenty theatrical shows in the Rochester area over the years. Most recently, she was choreographer for the musical productions Addams Family, Once Upon A Mattress Jr. and Legally Blonde Jr. Kathy is certified in the Leap ‘N Learn curriculum, and is a certified YPAD teacher. Kathy has been a devoted dance educator and faculty member at Allegro School of Dance and Music and the former Rochester Ballet School for more than twenty-seven years. This season, Kathy will be teaching ballet, tap, jazz and adult classes, along with her involvement in our Allegro Dance Performance Company.
Taryn Cherrier is in her fourth year of teaching at Allegro. She grew up dancing and always wanted to teach dance. After earning her degrees in business and biblical studies/theology at Crossroads College, she learned of Allegro through a college classmate. Upon meeting with Miss Janet and touring the studio, she knew this would be a wonderful fit for her! Taryn's favorite part of Allegro, aside from the joy of getting to know the students and dancing every day, is that the whole community feels like a great big family. She loves spotting other members of the Allegro family (teachers, parents and students) in venues outside of the studio and is excited to say hello! Taryn lives in Rochester with her husband and two cats. In her spare time she likes to read and be outside (even when it's cold). She is very involved in programming with our younger children, particularly with summer camps and our "Imagine That!" series. This year she will be teaching creative movement, tap and ballet.
Katie Cookis entering her 15th season with Allegro, where she previously created Allegro's original holiday production of Believe! The Polar Express. Katie has directed, choreographed, performed and instructed for numerous organizations in Rochester over the past decade, including Rochester Civic Theatre, Honors Choirs, Children's Dance Theatre, Rochester Symphony Orchestra and Chorale, RCTC and Lourdes High School. She holds her dance degree from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, and additionally danced in Australia (Sydney Dance Company), New York (Mark Morris Dance Group), Chicago (CNADM) and Minneapolis (Zenon and the Ray Terrill Dance Group). Two of Katie's performance highlights include performing with Tonic Sol Fa and dancing on the Oprah Winfrey Show season 24 premiere (working with Michael Gracey, director of The Greatest Showman). Although she loves sharing her passion for dance with her students and the community, her greatest love is her family. This season Katie is directing our production of R.E.D.
Caroline Crutcher started dancing at age four and it was love at first step. She came to Allegro in 2009 and has been involved in Allegro's pre-professional program, holiday productions, Performance Company, Rochester Ensemble of Dance, and student assistant program throughout the years. Caroline had the opportunity to spend two summers with the Blue Lake International Ballet Ensemble performing throughout Europe. She enjoyed living with host families and meeting new people, where sometimes the only way to communicate was purely through dancing and movement itself. Caroline danced in Children's Dance Theatre productions for the past six years and was their student intern for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. She was also involved in two Rochester Civic Theatre productions last year. Caroline had an internship with Allegro during the 2018-19 season and is certified in our Leap 'N Learn curriculum. She will be teaching little ones and children acro, tap, jazz, and ballet this season and is excited to share her joy and passion for dance throughout the studio!
Ashley Giberson has a diverse performance background and a passion for arts education. While living in Illinois she performed and worked behind-the-scenes for over forty theatrical productions. Ashley earned a B.S. in music education from Elmhurst College. She went on to become a high school choir and musical director for nine years, during which she earned her M.A. in music education from the University of Illinois and was awarded the Champaign Illinois Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. Ashley previously worked as a preschool music specialty educator and has a special interest in working with persons with exceptionalities. When she’s not working with students or on productions Ashley enjoys embroidery, taking in local art and food, and spending time with family. Currently, Ashley is a music instructor to students on our online learning platform.
Allison Kocak took her first ballet class at age five, but truly invested in the art at age eleven. For the following six years she studied classical ballet, musical theater, modern, lyrical, classic jazz, pointe, and hip hop at a private dance school. Allie graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a degree in elementary education and a minor in dance education. While at UWRF, she danced with the campus company, River Falls Dance Theatre. Studying under director Karla Zhe, Allie danced abroad in Japan and with various Twin Cities choreographers. Through UWRF DT, she attended four years of the American College Dance Association Conference. She previously taught movement at the FAIR public arts school in downtown Minneapolis and the Roseville School of Dance. This is Allie's fifth year at Allegro where she will be teaching move with me, creative movement, tap, ballet, hip hop, modern, and acro.
Austin Meinholz studied dance and arts management at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point. Austin was active in the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point cheer and stunt team, and has taught gymnastics, tumbling, trampoline, and acrobatics. In addition to his studio and college experience, he spent four years teaching at Innovative Dance Studio in Burlington, Wisconsin. An externship at Wisconsin Conservatory of Music adds to his art and dance background. Austin is an adjunct member of the Allegro faculty.
Jesse Schmitz-Boyd is a Twin Cities based dance artist and educator. Teaching throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin since 2003, his artistic philosophy is grounded in the belief that dance is a catalyst for growth and understanding. Jesse’s classes are high energy and rewarding while maintaining an emphasis on technique, physical awareness, performance quality, and a masterful mind. Jesse spent five years as a company member with Alternative Motion Project. Locally he has performed with Off-Leash Area. Jesse is also the founder and Artistic Director of Rogue & Rabble Dance. The Minnesota Fringe Festival, Rochester Ensemble of Dance (R.E.D.), Zenon Dance Zone, The Ritz Theatre and Movement Arts Day (Eau Claire, Wisconsin) have presented Jesse’s choreography, which fuses dance, imagery and theatre. Currently Jesse teaches at studios throughout Minnesota, including Zenon Dance School, TU Dance Center, Children's Theatre Company, and Ballare Teatro. He holds a B.A. in dance from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a minor in anthropology. At UWSP, Jesse danced featured roles in Susan Marshall & Company's Other Stories and Billy Sigenfeld's God of Dirt. After graduation he had the joy of touring with Chicago based RE|Dance Group and performing The Lonely Visitors at the inaugural Chicago Fringe Festival. In his free time, Jesse enjoys science fiction television, gummy worms and pinball. This year Jesse is working with Allegro’s Performance Company in addition to teaching jazz and lyrical/modern.
Laura Watkins grew up in West Des Moines, Iowa. She trained at School of Classical Ballet and Dance and performed with Ballet Des Moines before spending her final year of high school at Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Natick, Massachusetts. Laura earned her B.F.A. in ballet at the University of Utah. Laura has danced principal and soloist roles including both Swanhilda and the Dawn variation in Coppelia, Ma Cong’s Passion, There, Summer Fairy in Cinderella, and featured roles in La Bayadere and Swan Lake. She has performed abroad in Seoul, South Korea, and Zaragoza, Spain. Laura spent the 2015/2016 season with Ballet Nebraska. She then returned to the University of Utah to complete a M.S. degree in parks, recreation, and tourism. While completing her degree she performed with Municipal Ballet Company and Mountain West Ballet. Laura is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum. This is Laura's third year at Allegro where she will be teaching ballet and leading Allegro's Performance Company.
Allegro's Business Manager
Stephanie Nash earned her B.S. in accounting from Winona State University. Stephanie has been with Allegro for more than seven years and is currently our Business Manager, although she fills many other roles as well. Outside of Allegro, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, either at sporting events or on the golf course. Stephanie enjoys working with all the families at Allegro.