Josie Johnson, Director – Ballet
Josie trained at Orange County Ballet Theatre, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and The Hartt School at the University of Hartford, where she received a B.F.A. in Dance Pedagogy. She danced with Dance Connecticut/Hartford Ballet, Connecticut Opera, Roxey Ballet, and ARC Dance Productions. Guest credits include Eliot Feld’s Mr. XYZ with Mikhail Baryshnikov and Kirk Peterson’s The Nutcracker with the American Ballet Theatre Studio Company. Josie has taught and choreographed extensively throughout New Jersey, Connecticut, and Western Washington. She and her husband Ken are Co-Artistic Directors of Ballet Northwest.
She is an American Ballet Theatre certified teacher, successfully completing the ABT Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 5 of the ABT National Training Curriculum in New York. Johansen Olympia Dance Center is proud to include the AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE National Training Curriculum, a breakthrough 8 level program that combines high quality artistic training with the basics of dancer health and child development.
Ken Johnson, Director – Ballet
Ken trained at Johansen School of Ballet, Evergreen City Ballet, and the School of Hartford Ballet. He attended summer programs at American Ballet Theatre, Houston Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet on scholarship. Ken danced with Hartford Ballet, Dance Connecticut, and Connecticut Opera, as well as at the prestigious Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival. Following his retirement from performing, Ken received a B.A. from The Hartt School at the University of Hartford. In addition to teaching dance, Ken has worked extensively in fundraising for American Repertory Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Dance Connecticut, ACT Theatre, and Tacoma Art Museum. Ken and his wife Josie are also Co-Artistic Directors of Ballet Northwest.
He is an American Ballet Theatre certified teacher, successfully completing the ABT Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 5 of the ABT National Training Curriculum in New York. Johansen Olympia Dance Center is proud to include the AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE National Training Curriculum, a breakthrough 8 level program that combines high quality artistic training with the basics of dancer health and child development.
Angela Brandenburg – Flamenco, Parent/Child
Angela began studying ballet at the age of nine with Kay Englert at Washington Contemporary Ballet in Lakewood, Washington. She attended the summer intensive program at New York City Ballet’s School of American Ballet at fourteen. At the age of nineteen, she started to teach ballet technique to students of all ages and levels. She served as ballet mistress and principal dancer at WCB for their 2003-2004 season. She has taught at several schools around the Puget Sound. While dancing in the WCB company, Angela took a master class with Rubina Carmona and fell in love with flamenco. In 2003, she started studying flamenco with Marisela Fleites-Lear. She continued her study of flamenco with many master teachers including Teo Morca, Oscar Nieto, Maria “Chacha” Bermudez, Timo Lozano, Melinda Hedgecorth, Cihtli Ocampo, Mercedes Ruiz and others. She started a monthly Flamenco Night at Pizzeria La Gitana in 2012 which brings flamenco to the Olympia community as well as provides an outlet to flamenco performers from around the Puget Sound. Angela is the mother of two young children. She has also taught preschool and worked as a para educator at the elementary school level. She especially enjoys instructing beginning ballet as well as beginning flamenco, as she believes anyone can learn to dance.
Chris Cushman – Teen/Adult Ballet
Chris received primary dance training in ballet, jazz and ethnic dancing at Moscow Dance Theater in Moscow, Idaho. While in Moscow, Chris performed with Ballet Folk (now known as Ballet Idaho). Chris continued taking ballet and jazz classes as an adult, including open classes at Pacific Northwest Ballet. After moving to Olympia in 1998, Chris began classes at Johansen Olympia Dance Center and has performed with Ballet Northwest, as well as attending numerous master classes taught by professional dancers and instructors.
Jennifer Dobson – Pre-Ballet, Hip-Hop
Jennifer is a life-long Olympia area resident. She trained at Johansen School of Ballet and has danced with Ballet Northwest for many years. In recognition of her service to the company, she recently was honored with the Becky Jo Hellman Award. Jennifer has attended dance teacher workshops at Pacific Northwest Ballet and Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. A mother of two sons, she has also operated her own childcare business, and creates all of Ballet Northwest’s headpieces.
Chrissy Drabek – Jazz, Tap
Chrissy was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and trained in Broadway-style tap, hip-hop, jazz, and ballet. She also choreographed drill team competition routines and was a member of a competitive Houston drill team. A national first runner-up soloist, Chrissy moved to Washington, D.C. where she learned street tap and was a member of the TAPestry performance dance company. Since moving to Olympia, Chrissy has choreographed for the Black Hills Dance Team and has actively been interested in promoting dance in the community by participating in various festivals and events. Her lifelong dream would be to dance around the globe learning all forms of dance from Irish to Tango.
Carolyn Fry – Musical Theatre
Carolyn began her dance training at the Central Wisconsin School of Ballet after seeing a life-changing production of The Nutcracker at the age of three. She went on to earn a BFA in Musical Theatre Performance from the Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre at the University of Oklahoma. Since moving to Olympia, she has choreographed, taught, and performed with many local theater companies including the 5th Avenue Theatre, Harlequin Productions, and Olympia Family Theater. When not onstage, Carolyn stays busy as the Director of Arts Festival for Creative Theater Experience, a Play & Learn Facilitator for the Child Care Action Council, and mother to one very energetic toddler. Other notable experiences include leading a year-long children’s theater tour through rural South Dakota and spending several months in India working with Artists Striving to End Poverty.
Xijun Fu – Ballet
Originally from Qingdao, China, Xijun Fu began his professional ballet dance training at age 12 with the Beijing Dance Academy. He danced as a Soloist with the National Ballet of China, Ballet de Santiago in Chile, and Cincinnati Ballet. He won 3rd prize in China’a first ballet competition, and appeared in the PBS special Dance for Two Countries, filmed in China. After he finished his brilliant dance career, Mr. Fu directed Kentucky Ballet Theatre, Lexington Ballet, Ballet Under the Stars, and Summer Flight Ballet. Mr. Fu and his wife, Fang Li, are the owners of FUZI International.
Billie Jean Pineda – Hip-Hop
Bio to come.
Bud Johansen – Ballet
Bud studied at the Andahazy School of Ballet in Minnesota, and in New York City with Fredric Franklin, Edward Caton, and Yurik Lazowski, among others. He worked with several schools and ballet companies in Minnesota, and was the Chairman of the Ballet Department at College of St. Theresa. Bud served as the Artistic Director of Ballet Northwest for 35 years, co-founded Johansen School of Ballet, and was on the faculty of The Evergreen State College for nearly 30 years. Bud has choreographed a broad range of productions including ballets, jazz, and musicals.
Mary Johansen – Ballet
Mary trained with numerous teachers across the country, and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from the College of St. Theresa with concentrations in Ballet and Music. Mary danced with Minnesota Collegiate Ballet, Southern Minnesota Regional Ballet, and Ballet Northwest. In Minnesota she taught at the Cynthia Hart Hudspith School of Ballet, College of St. Theresa, St. John’s School, and operated her own ballet school. In Washington, she has taught at The Evergreen State College, Centralia College, and Johansen School of Ballet which she co-founded and directed for 35 years.
Erika Meier – Barre Time
Erika is a 200 RYT, registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance; BarreAbove© certified instructor; YOGABODY© certified yoga trapeze instructor; and has completed several continuing educational courses on topics including movement science, yoga deconstructed, strength movements, alignment and anatomy. She loves exploring new ideas about self-care in movement and offers her students experiences to be curious about their own patterns. Her family has been a part of Johansen Olympia Dance Center for six years and taught the Stretch and Strengthen classes for two years.
Emily Nisbet – Pre-Ballet, Parent/Child
Emily trained with Johansen Olympia Dance Center and danced with Ballet Northwest. She graduated from Cornish College of the Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance where she had the opportunity to study with guest faculty David Dorfman, Ralph Lemon, Bebe Miller, Meredith Monk, and Kraig Patterson. Emily worked as an intern for a community dance organization in the U.K. where she taught creative and contemporary dance in schools, community centers, and group homes for at-risk youth and children and adults with developmental disabilities.
Tami Palmer – Tap, Ballet
Tami started tap and jazz dance lessons at the age of 4 and has been dancing ever since. In the late 70’s she moved to Olympia to study dance at The Evergreen State College and danced with Ballet Northwest for 9 years. She has taught at Johansen’s for over 20 years, including beginning ballet and tap.
Rachael Parnell – Contemporary, Ballet
Rachael Parnell trained with Johansen Olympia Dance Center and danced with Ballet Northwest, where she strengthened her dance technique and developed artistry. She graduated from the University of Hartford’s The Hartt School with a BFA in Dance Performance with an emphasis in Ballet Pedagogy. Rachael has worked with renowned teachers and choreographers including Hilda Morales, Nina Watt, Gregory Dolbashian, Take Ueyama, Charlotte Griffin, Donald Byrd, Peggy Lyman, Hellen Pickett, and Stephen Pier.
Barbara Rowe – Downs’ at Dance
Barbara completed her classical ballet training and major examination with the Royal Academy of Dance in South Africa. She joined the Jazzart Contemporary Dance Company in Cape Town, South Africa in 1978 as a dancer and teacher, and has guest taught throughout the world. A teacher and studio owner for over 30 years, Barbara enjoys a wide spectrum of teaching from Musically Me, an interactive infant/toddler class with parents to creative movement, ballet, and jazz. Barbara has also enjoyed the privilege of teaching dance classes to students with special needs for over a decade.