Staff

Chad Lessard – Owner

NDCA Certified Social & Advanced Bronze, Social & Advanced Silver, Gold, Associate Professional Diploma

Chad began his dance career in 1995 following a stint in the military. He was a student and later an instructor at the Roseville, MN Fred Astaire Studio, eventually transferring to the Inver Grove Heights studio where he met and later married Joanna. Together they were Fred Astaire National Rising Star & Open 10-Dance finalists and have performed with such stars as Edyta Slowinska, Alec Mazo & Kym Johnson of Dancing With The Stars. They have also directed and produced the annual MN Showcase of Stars for a number of years.

After rising through the ranks at the studio for several years, Chad & Joanna purchased it in 2005. In addition to continuing with his first love, teaching, Chad also focuses on staff development and studio growth.

 

Joanna Lessard – Owner

NDCA Certified Social & Advanced Bronze, Social & Advanced Silver, Gold, Associate Professional Diploma

Joanna took her first ballroom dance class in 1994 while majoring in psychology and minoring in dance at St. Mary’s University. After graduating, she became an instructor at the Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Rochester, MN, later transferring to the Inver Grove Heights studio where she met Chad, who became her dance and life partner. Together they were Fred Astaire National Rising Star & Open 10-Dance finalists and have performed with such stars as Edyta Slowinska, Alec Mazo & Kym Johnson of Dancing With The Stars. They have also directed and produced the annual MN Showcase of Stars for a number of years.

In addition to her extensive ballroom experience, Joanna has participated in university & community theater and musicals and has been a guest choreographer at Theatre in the Round Productions in Minneapolis. She has studied ballet, tap, jazz, flamenco and belly dance. She teaches bellydancing and belongs to a performance troupe which has made many appearances at the Renaissance Festival & the Festival of Nations.

 

Beth Hurlbert – Studio Manager

Beth began ballroom dancing in 2010 to prepare for her sister’s wedding in Europe where partner dancing is more popular. As a fan of Dancing with the Stars, the wedding provided another reason to become involved in a sport she already had interest in. She started taking lessons at Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Inver Grove Heights, while working full time in social services. Beth has participated in various shows, competitions, and studio events, but states that her first competition at the Cross Continental Dance Competition (CCDC) in Vegas as her biggest dance accomplishment. Even though she had done theater in high school and performed on stage for the studio, she had never done a competition before.

 

Gideon Rider – Instructor

Gideon actually began his dance career as a student.  After reaching the point of being fairly comfortable on the dance floor, he knew he needed more.  He has competed and performed on both local and regional level and looks forward to bringing that to a nation level.

Gideon currently teaches full time with students from varying levels.  Whether helping students prepare for performances, competitive heats, or especially getting ready for their first dance at their wedding, he enjoys getting to come work at a school that enriches lives.