Ashley Burkland received her early training with the Kehl School of Dance, under Susan Marsden, Shannon Gallagher, and Jo Ann Janus. She was a member of the youth ballet company Wisconsin Dance Ensemble, under the direction of Jo Jean Retrum. With this company, Ashley danced roles in The Nutcracker, Coppélia, La Fille Mal Gardée, and Peter Rabbit Ballet. She also worked with choreographers Frank Chavez, Julie Janus, Tyler Walters, and Greg Begley. Ashley received a scholarship to study dance at the University of Arizona, training with Susan Quinn, Michael Williams, Sam Watson, Jory Hancock, Melissa Lowe, and James Clouser. While there, she performed in numerous Dance Department Showcases and ballets including Paquita, Gershwin Medley, and Carmina Burana. She also danced with the U of A Pomline. Ashley completed her degree at the University of Minnesota, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Dance in 2004.
Ashley has danced professionally with Kanopy Dance Company, Jazzworks Dance Company, Madison Contemporary Vision Dance Company, Continental Ballet Company, and Cities Classical Dance Ensemble. In her professional career she has had the honor of working with choreographers such as Randy Duncan, Sherry Zunker, Ron Tice, Lisa Thurell, and Robert Cleary.
While Ashley loves to perform, her true passion for dance is teaching. She has over 20 years of teaching experience at various studios in Arizona, Illinois, Wisconsin, and the Twin Cities area. It is a dream come true for her to own a dance studio and she feels blessed for the success of Ashley Ballet Arts Academy. In ABAA’s eleven years of business, Ashley has enjoyed watching the studio grow and the students thrive, and inspiring a love for the ART and JOY of dance in the Twin Cities community. Ashley now lives in the Mankato area, with her husband Carl and their three children, Charlie, Oliver, and Eden.
Pat grew up in Madelia, Minnesota and graduated from Southwest State University with a degree in Speech Communications: Radio and Television. She worked as a reported and weekend anchor at a CBS affiliate news station in southern Minnesota
After leaving the television industry, Pat spent 20 years in the pharmaceutical industry as a specialty sales representative for Parke-Davis and GlaxoSmithKiline. During this time, Pat also sat on the board for the Epilepsy Student Program with the Minnesota Epilepsy Foundation and was a School Board Member for Our Lady of Grace School in Edina.
Pat is married to Marc and they have three children: Caitlin, Brooke, and Tommy.
After she left the pharmaceutical industry, she stayed home with her kids for a few years coordinating and volunteering for their activities. She started her own business repurposing, repainting and selling vintage furniture. When Brooke graduated from Ashley Ballet Arts Academy, Pat took on the role of administrator for the studio. She is looking forward to being back at the studio and assisting dancers and their families.
Jayson Douglas is from Paterson, NJ where he began his training at Dance World Academy. He went on to further his training in NYC, NY at Steps on Broadway, Broadway Dance Center, The Ailey School, and at Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA.
Jayson has danced for several renowned ballet companies including Company C Contemporary Ballet, named top 25 companies by Dance Magazine, where he was featured in Twyla Tharp’s “Surfer in the Styx.” He has resided as the resident choreographer for Mid-State Ballet and is a master teacher around the world. In April 2014 he toured Paris, France as a principal dancer with Sarah Berges Dance. Jayson relocated to Minnesota to dance with James Sewell Ballet where he had the privilege to tour to Cannes, France to perform in the Cannes International Dance Festival. Jayson currently resides in the Twin Cities, where he is vibrantly active in the dance community as a performing artist, instructor, and choreographer.
Originally from Alabama, Lee Borowski (stage name Garland) began his training at Mobile Ballet, and went on to study with the Studio Company of Ballet Chicago, A&A Ballet, and at summer intensive programs including Pacific Northwest Ballet, School of American Ballet, and Ballet Austin. Lee danced professionally as a soloist with Huntsville Ballet, where he performed in ballets including Romeo and Juliet, The Phantom of the Ballet, Amore, and The Letter. Lee graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA degree in theater technology and design from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Garland dances with Twin Cities Ballet, and he is excited for new opportunities in the Twin Cities.
Renee is a professional dancer, choreographer, and dance educator based in St. Paul and originally from Lincoln, Nebraska. Renee received a B.A. in Dance with Honors from Gustavus Adolphus College in 2012. Renee has performed with Collide Theatrical Dance Company since 2013 and has worked for professional theaters such as The Guthrie (Music Man), The Ordway (In The Heights, A Chorus Line), Chanhassen Dinner Theatres (Beauty And The Beast, Camelot, Grease, Newsies, Holiday Inn, Mamma Mia!) and The Old Log Theater (The Wedding Singer). Renee has presented choreography with nationally touring illusionist Jared Sherlock, Young Artists Initiative, Zenon Dance Zone, Gustavus Adolphus College, Patrick's Cabaret, and at numerous high schools and middle schools in the Twin Cities area. Renee is a teaching artist with the Cowles Center and has taught at Ashley Ballet Arts Academy since 2016. Renee absolutely loves being a part of this nurturing and professional ABAA family!
Eden Heille started dancing at the age of eight at Reign Dance Theater but spent the past seven years at Ashley Ballet Arts Academy. Her favorite style of dance will always be ballet, but she has trained in modern, contemporary, and jazz as well. Eden has spent various summers at the schools of: Boston Ballet, Ballet West, San Francisco Ballet, and Tulsa Ballet where she trained under the direction of Peter Stark, Larissa Ponomarenko, Patrick Armand, Christopher Hird, and Sofiane Sylve. She has had the opportunity to perform roles in ballets such as: Nutcracker, La Fille Mal Gardee, Le Corsaire, Dracula, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Little Humpbacked Horse, Sylvia, Cinderella, Paquita, and Raymonda. Along with those ballets, Eden has also performed as a student with several other companies including performances at the Cowles Center and Minnesota Fringe Festival. During the 2019-2020 season, Eden danced and trained with Tulsa Ballet as a member of their Trainee program and performed alongside the company in Giselle, Peter and the Wolf, and Dorothy and the Prince of Oz. Eden first taught at Ashley Ballet Arts Academy in 2018 and is excited to be back sharing the love of dance with the future generation.
Michelle Ludwig graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of St. Thomas with B.A.s in K-12 Education and Spanish, as well as a dance minor from Macalester College. She began her training under the direction of Juli Mickelson and the Dance Endeavors team, studying a variety of styles including jazz, tap, hip hop, modern/contemporary, and classical ballet. Other training includes summer intensives with Joffrey New York, Magnus Midwest Ballet, and Milwaukee Ballet. Michelle began her professional dance career in Minnesota with St. Paul Ballet and Twin Cities Ballet of Minnesota where she had the opportunity to perform many soloist and principal roles including: Clara (Clara's Dream), The Can Can Doll (Enchanted Toyshop), 1st Shade Variation (La Bayadere), Beauty in Twin Cities Ballet's original production of Beauty and the Beast, and many more. Michelle has also danced in Denver with Colorado Ballet's Studio Company and learned a variety of repertoire such as: Christopher Wheeldon's A Midsummer's Night Dream, Michael Pink's Dracula, and George Balanchine's Concerto Barocco. This season Michelle will be returning to Twin Cities Ballet of Minnesota under the direction of Rick and Denise Vogt. Michelle has over 10 years of teaching experience for all ages and enjoys bringing her experience and love of dance to ABAA.
Jarod Boltjes is a Minnesota native from Adrian, MN. He obtained his BA Degree in Dance Performance and Art from Saint Mary’s University of Winona, Minnesota. His formal dance training began at the age of 18 in college where he had the opportunity to train and perform internationally with Rose Bruford College in the U.K. and The Gaiety School of Acting in Ireland. During his training he attended The American Dance Festival summer program where he worked with artists Gerri Houlihan, Richard Chen-See, Sara Procopio, and “Lil C’” from So You Think You Can Dance. Upon arrival to the Twin Cities, Jarod has performed with several local companies: Contempo Physical Dance, Twin Cities Ballet, and St. Paul Ballet, and is a current company member with James Sewell Ballet and Collide Theatrical. Outside of dance, you can find him teaching classes as a certified barre and yoga instructor, cross training circus performers at Circus Juventas, and embracing the Minnesota seasons being outside with his two dogs Thomas and Luna.
Michaela Borowski moved to the Twin Cities area with her husband, Lee, in 2021. She started her training in East Texas where she primarily trained at Tyler Junior College Academy of Dance. While in Texas, she had the privilege of performing principal roles in ballets such as Coppélia, La Bayadère, The Nutcracker, and Swan Lake. She also gained her first few years of experience as a ballet teacher before graduating in 2015. She then moved to Georgia, to further her training as a conservatory dancer for two years at Atlanta Ballet under the school’s Dean, Sharon Story. Michaela gained further training as a teacher’s assistant and substitute instructor. As well as dancing a company role in John McFall’s Nutcracker, she also had the opportunity during her time there to perform in shows like McFall’s Sleeping Beauty, Bruce Well’s Snow White, Southeastern Regional Ballet Association Gala, and Atlanta Ballet’s 20th Anniversary Gala. After her time in Atlanta, she received a company contract to dance professionally for Huntsville Ballet company in Northern Alabama. As well as teaching a wide range of levels and styles of dance in the academy, Michaela had the privilege of choreographing pieces for both the school and company. While an artist with Huntsville Ballet, she danced soloist and principal roles in new and classic ballets including Nutcracker, The Letter, Romeo and Juliet, Phantom of the Ballet, and Cinderella. Just before moving to the Twin Cities, Michaela danced professionally with both Virginia Ballet Theater and Todd Rosenlieb Dance for two seasons performing ballet, modern, and contemporary. In past summers, Michaela has had the opportunity to train with several schools such as Juilliard, ABT, Ballet West, Atlanta Ballet, Orlando Ballet, and Ballet Austin. Michaela is excited to be on faculty with Ashley Ballet Arts Academy again this school year.
Elayna Leonard started dancing at the age of three. She trained at Fergus Falls School of Dance all the way through high school taking ballet, pointe, tap, jazz and modern classes before attending St. Olaf College. At St. Olaf she earned her B.A. with majors in dance and a course of studies through St. Olaf’s College of Integrated Studies called Body/Mind: Wholeness Through Movement. She also earned a concentration in Women’s Studies. In college she was a member of CompanyDance, performing works by professors, guest artists, and students. Her choreography was also shown throughout her time at school.
Since graduating, Elayna has been teaching dance in the Twin Cities. She also received her instructor’s certificate for Mat Pilates through Balanced Body, and enjoys digging deeper into the cross training Pilates brings to dancers. Elayna is also a certified RPM Dance (Revolutionary Principles of Movement) teacher, using the certificate to help grow her teaching repertoire.
Elayna has always wanted to use her love of dance to help others live fuller lives. Teaching dance is the perfect way to do that. Elayna focuses on correct alignment and technique in her classes, as well as building confidence and community with her dancers.