Owner & Artistic Director
Modern / Contemporary
Susan Sorensen holds a BS in Education, specializing in Physical Education and Dance, from Texas Tech University. She studied at Southern Methodist University, Texas Tech University, Brookhaven College, Moonslice Dancer Theatre, Buster Cooper School of Dance, and Houston Ballet. Mrs. Sorensen taught P.E. and Dance for the Dallas Independent School District for 7 years. She also worked as an independent artist, performing with Contemporary Dance/Ft Worth, Brookhaven Dancer’s Theatre, Donna Marie-Moham Dancers, Diana Taylor Dancers, Lubbock Civic Ballet and e. donnette durham & dancers.
She teaches Jazz, Modern and Hip Hop at CGDA and also works as a freelance choreographer for local theatre groups. Choreography credits include, Carousel, How to Succeed in Business, 100 Degrees in the Shade, On the Verge, Private Eyes, Zombie Prom, West Side Story, Beauty and the Beast, Guys and Dolls, Avalon, Legally Blond, Chicago, Mama Mia and Grease.
Upper Level Ballet D and Elite
Pointe D and Elite
Melissa Vovou, born and raised in Hood River, began dancing at the age of 4 (under the tutelage of Bev Bridgewater, Margaret Dallman, Theresa Mason, and Charlotte Arnold,) and continued training in Portland (with Robert Guilliam, Jacques Kunzman, Nina Raimondo, and Pat Hon, among others.) A scholarship to Marin Ballet brought her to the Bay Area (where she trained with Frank Bays, Cynthia Pepper, Summer Ratigan, Maria Vegh, and Lorien Fenton,) and performed with regional ballet, contemporary, and hip hop companies including Redwood Empire Ballet, Newstyle Motherlode and Marin Future Shock. Later, she joined Carnival Cruise Lines as a showgirl, performing in their variety and magic shows for 7 years, and developed an Adage act with her dance partner, bringing that act to the Nutcracker in Hood River in 2007.
Melissa has been teaching dance since she was 14 years old, and is a fully certified Pilates instructor since 2008. She has been a guest teacher for CGDA over the years and was on the ballet faculty 2011-2012. She loves to inspire her dancers and clients to find joy and freedom in movement. “Dance from your heart”.
Ballet K-2 & 5 – 6
Pointe B & C
Theresa Mason started dancing at the age of eight. She began her ballet training with Leigh Salsibury in Concord, Ca, continued with the Showalter School of Dance in Walnut Creek Ca, and from there went into San Francisco and trained with Alan Howard and the Pacific Ballet Co. Moving to Northern Ca in 1976 she attended Lassen College and obtained her A.A. degree as well as a Vocational Teaching Degree in Dance. While there she danced with Tanya Braunstein and the Lassen College Moving Co. She later taught ballet for three years at Lassen College in the P.E. Dept, during which time she also ran her own ballet school for children. In 1989 she moved to Hood River and began teaching at the Bridgewater Dance Theatre, then joined the Workout Dance and Fitness Center. Then in 1999 joined the Columbia Gorge Dance Academy faculty.
Contemporary / Lyrical
Portland native Heather Wright began dancing at the age of 14 with the Milwaukie High School Dance Team and was introduced to a variety of genres: ballet, jazz, modern and hip-hop. As a senior, Heather was named team captain and selected for the OSAA All-State Dance Team. Her love of dance grew from there and earned her a scholarship with the Boise State Mane Line Dancers where they competed and won three USA National Championship titles.
Since then Heather has taught dance all over the West Coast as an UDA instructor and also spent two seasons performing with the Idaho Stampede Dancers. Most recently, Heather lived in New York City and studied contemporary, lyrical, broadway, jazz-funk, street-jazz and hip-hop at Broadway Dance Center while also working in TV production. Heather currently teaches Jazz at Columbia Gorge Dance Academy and continues to take classes at Vega Dance Lab.
Upper Ballet A, B & C
Giselle Kennedy Lord
Growing up in Los Angeles, Giselle spent a great majority of her time training and competing with a youth dance company in ballet, jazz, and lyrical. After moving to San Francisco for university, Giselle and expanded her world of movement and dance training to include Contemporary, Hip-Hop, Ballet, Jazz, and West African dance at the University of San Francisco, ODC, Dance Mission Theatre, and Presidio Dance Theatre. She performed with the University of San Francisco while studying there and performed across the US with the Senior Company of Presidio Dance Theatre for three years. Giselle has lived in Oregon for over a decade and danced with Trip the Dark dance company in Portland. Giselle is inspired by 90s Hip Hop, the sound of the ocean, foreign films, fresh produce, fluffy snow, delightful people, and global escapades. Giselle has been choreographing and teaching at CGDA (and loving every part of it) since 2014.
Ballet 3 & 4
Ansley grew up in Hood River and began dancing at the age of three. She trained at Columbia Gorget Dance Academy taking ballet, jazz, and modern. Dancing as a company member helped stretch her in non-ballet forms of dance which she grew to love more with every new piece of choreography she performed.
My dance career began at age three under the extraordinary tutelage of Vaudevillian soloist and NYC Rockette, Eleanor Borg; one of my favorite mentors and, proudly, her protégé.
I broadened my Tap dance education as a pre-teen with Vaudevillian song and dance men; Emery Clay and Richard Billings, as well as began training in Ballet, Jazz and Modern Dance. I was hired as a faculty member at the Hood River School of Music in 1964 and have continued teaching all my adult life. This dance year, 2023-2024, I will celebrate my 60th year as a dance educator and performer. After high school I attended Oregon State University and earned a BS in Secondary Education from Portland State University. However, dancing quickly pulled me back in and I joined Margaret and Tony Dallman in opening our first dance studio in Hood River, The Mid-Columbia School of Dance Arts, then, re-named The Workout, which was located in the Heights of Hood River.
It has been an extreme privilege to study and dance with the following great Masters of Tap: Charles “Honi” Coles, Cholly Atkins, Fayard Nicholas, Steve Condos, Brenda Buffalino, Savion Glover, Sam Weber, LaVaughn Robinson, Carnell Lyons, Lane Alexander, Derick Grant, Chuck Green, Fred Strickler, Josh Hilberman, Jason Janas, Lynn Dally, Terry Brock, Heather Cornell, Michelle Dorrance, Barbara Duffy, Sarah Reich, Roxanne Butterfly, Diane Walker, Jeannie Hill, Chloe Arnold, and many others. . .
I encourage everyone to join me and make time in your life to dance!
Caitlin Anghilante Pederson
Advanced Teen Tap
From a young age jazz, tap and lyrical dance stole Caitlin’s heart. All forms of dance helped Caitlin feel good in her body, challenge her physically and most importantly express herself. Over the years she has expanded her studentship in many areas of dance including West African dance and Lindy Hop. Other professional training in secondary education, yoga, and Occupational Therapy will guide her teaching style to create a positive and joyful dance experience for students. You will find Caitlin dancing with Charlotte’s Over the Top advanced adult group, “swinging out” with the Gorge Hep Cats, and generally grooving down the grocery store aisles.
Sara Hasegawa Bondurant
Tap 3rd – 6th graders
Beginning Adult Tap
Sara’s passion for dance began at the age of three. Sara was shy as a child, but once she put on her tap shoes, she knew exactly how to express herself. Over the years Sara focused primarily on Tap, however she studied Hip Hop, Jazz, and Modern styles too. Throughout college she continued her dance education and her love for dance grew and developed into a lifelong passion with each class she took. She performed in various senior level production pieces and tutored Tap in her spare time. Over the past few years, she’s enjoyed substitute teaching the Beginning and Intermediate Tap classes. Sara has continued to expand her Tap knowledge and growth as an Over-the-Top Rhythm Tapper in the Advanced Adult class at the CGDA.