Gretchen Pick

Gretchen Pick, Co-Artistic Director, has a BA from Sarah Lawrence College, an MFA in Dance from the University of Wisconsin, and is a certified Laban Movement Analyst. She has been an active dancer, teacher and choreographer in the Twin Cities since 1993. The companies and choreographers she has danced for include 45 Chartreuse, Gomez Dance Group, 10,000 Dances, Flying Sisters Theater, Dancing People Company, Sarah Hauss and Megan Flood.
Gretchen's own choreography has been in original concerts at Studio 6A, Red Eye Collaborations and Old Arizona Studios in Minneapolis. She has also presented her choreography at the Show Off Gallery in Bellingham, WA and the International Festival of Contemporary Dance in Bytom, Poland. Her work has been commissioned by the Walker Art Center, Winona State University and Carleton College. Gretchen teaches dance and yoga to students of all ages at various schools in the Twin Cities metro area. She is adjunct faculty at the University of Minnesota. Gretchen also works in the Minneapolis Public Schools developing curriculum that infuses dance into academics. She has received funding for her work as both a choreographer and as a teacher from the Lyndale Neighborhood association and the Perpich Center for Arts Education. Gretchen will be working with all levels as both a teacher and a choreographer and overseeing the choreography projects of the dancers.

Justin Jones

Justin Jones, Co-Artistic Director, is a dancer, choreographer, sound designer and teacher. He has danced in choreography by Body Cartography Project, Chris Schlichting, Dylan Skybrook, Morgan Thorson, Karen Sherman, Chris Yon and was a member of Tere O'Connor Dance Co. from 2001-2004. His choreography has been presented in Minneapolis at Bryant Lake Bowl, Red Eye, The Southern Theater and the Walker Art Center; in New York at The Thalia, LaMama Etc., Sarah Lawrence, EMPAC and has been a sometimes visitor to the CATCH series. He has a BFA in dance from NYU, is the recipient of the 2007 McKnight Fellowship for Choreography and was awarded a 2003 NYFA Fellowhship for Performance Art/Multidisciplinary work for his work with Chris Yon. Justin creates sound design for his own choreography and for other dance makers including Ivy Baldwin, Chris Schlichting and Chris Yon. Justin is the producer/host of TALK DANCE, a sporadic podcast created for the Walker Art Center website (listen at: A part from his teaching with Young Dance, he teaches preschool at Temple Israel Early Childhood Center.

Jennifer Glaws

Jennifer Glaws, School and Communications Director, is delighted to be experiencing her eighth season with Young Dance. Jennifer is interested in the social and developmental rewards of the arts evident in her work as an arts administrator, performer, choreographer, educator and photographer. Jennifer’s research delves into the relationship of dance with cognitive science, and the view that the practice of choreography enhances critical thinking skills in dancers and non-dancers alike.  Jennifer holds an MFA in Dance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and BFA in dance and photography from Arizona State University. In addition to working for Young Dance, she is an active dance educator teaching in settings as varied as private studios, public education programs and colleges. Jennifer has been producing dance work in Minnesota since 2004 in museum and theater environments including commissioned dance works for Alternative Motion Project, Gustavus Adolphus College, American College Dance Association-Midwest, Eagan and Apple Valley High School, Perpich Center for the Arts and UW-Milwaukee among other private institutions. Her recent evening length work, Study 1 Perceptions: Stuck or Unstuck? was on tour in 2015-16 performing in Minnesota, Wisconsin and New York. Jennifer is continually inspired by the Young Dance community and is grateful for the opportunity to work amongst an ambitious and dedicated staff, faculty and board.


Anat Shinar

Anat Shinar, Director of Development, is a dancer, choreographer, writer, and teacher. She graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BFA in Dance and a BA in Art and is currently working towards her Master’s degree in Arts Management. Anat has had the privilege of working with choreographers Carl Flink, Shapiro & Smith, Hannah Stillwell, Zoe Sealy, Joanie Mix, Lindsay Bullock, Christopher LaPlante, and many more. Her choreography has been presented at the Bryant Lake Bowl, Patrick’s Cabaret, Southern Theater, Minneapolis Theater Garage, The Ritz Theater, and across the country. Her love of teaching began in Ames, IA at age 16 and she has since worked with students ages 0 to 60 in a variety of techniques and disciplines.

Andrea Zimmerman

Andrea Zimmerman is a dancer and pediatric physical therapist.  Andrea graduated with degrees in Dance and Physical Therapy from the University of MN.  She has performed locally with companies including catalyst, dances by Emily Johnson, Zenon Dance Company, Hijack, BodyCartography Project, Gomez Dance Group, and Maggie Bergeron and Company.  She performed in the 2013 Sage Award winning duet "Folding In Wings" choreographed by Megan Flood.  In 2012, she studied physically integrated dance in California with AXIS Dance Company.  She has taught with Young Dance since 2010, working mostly with ballet, creative movement, and all abilities dance classes. Andrea is inspired consistently by the Young Dance community and all it dances for.


Brian J. Evans

Brian J. Evans, since graduating from Gustavus Adolphus College, Brian has had such a breadth of experience ranging from feature film acting to summers performing at Valley Fair as a singer/dancer to community engagement opportunities from education to the medical field. In addition to being a company member of Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater, his principle company for the past 5 years, he has worked with over 30 directors/choreographers on more then 100 pieces. In 2009 he was acknowledged by the Star Tribune as an A|E Highlight Top Five Dance Event. The following year he was awarded a Sage award by a panel of his peers for Outstanding Performer. He supplements his performing life by teaching dance at Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists and Young Dance, Inc. Focusing the uses of dance, Brian challenges his students to find their voice in dance and gives them tools to organize and realize their thoughts through the art form. Brian is looking forward to his adventures in all three realms of the performing arts. He would also like to make mention of his family and friends... especially his mother Kari.

Denise Gagner

Denise Gagner is a local dancer and massage therapist. She graduated from St. Olaf College in 2004 with a B.A. in Dance. She has been teaching creative movement classes for Young Dance since 2009. Denise enjoys working with students of all ages, but particularly enjoys the enthusiastic and explorative nature of Young Dance's youngest movers. She also teaches for Zenon Dance School, Minnesota Montessori, and Becks Montessori. She is currently performing with Rosy Simas Danse and has had the opportunity to work with many wonderful Minneapolis choreographers in addition to creating her own work as well. Outside of dance, Denise runs her massage therapy practice, Taking Root. Denise teaches both Creative Movement I and II for Young Dance.

Erin Thompson

Erin Thompson began her dance career with the Minnesota Dance Theatre and continued in New York City in the companies of Nina Wiener and Bebe Miller from 1980-1989. She received a New York Dance and Performance award, “BESSIE”, in 1986. Since 1990, Erin has been on the faculty of the University of Minnesota's Department of Theater Arts and Dance as well as at Zenon Dance Company and TU Dance, where she continues to provide advanced professional modern dance training for the Twin City's dance community. She is also a certified teacher of the Alexander Technique. Erin received a Sage Award for Outstanding Dance Educator in 2008 and voted City Pages Best Dancer in 2016. 

Blake Nellis

Portrait of Blake NellisBlake Nellis​ is an artist, educator and improviser who creates work with the body. His work is deeply rooted in human connection, physical touch and shared emotion. He originally hails from Door County, Wisconsin, and graduated from Luther College with a degree in Theater/Dance.  He is a 2015 recipient of the MN State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant and 2013 recipient of the McKnight Foundation’s Metropolitan Regional Arts Council: Next Step Funds. He has taught and performed throughout the US, Mexico, Europe & Asia and is proud to call Minneapolis home! He has recently produced work at the Walker Art Center, Red Eye Theater, TEK Box, Bryant Lake Bowl Theater & Luther College. He is a freelance photographer, choreographer and dancer.  His other professional experience includes performing with Mathew Janczewski's ARENA Dances, Stuart Pimsler Dance & Theater, Jim Lieberthal’s Footholds Project, Jane Hawley, Rosy Simas & Taja Will. His work is inspired by his experience with athletics, the circus, singing, acting, playing piano, photography and filmmaking. His favorite moments are those in which laughter reminds us that play is valuable. And he strongly believes that riding bicycle, eating good food and being curious, compassionate and creative are all integral parts of being a good artist.

Maria Gomez Tierney

Maria Gomez Tierney has been teaching, choreographing and dancing in Minneapolis, St. Paul since 1986. She received her B.A from the University of Minnesota and her M.F.A. from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In 2010, Tierney completed the Holistic Health Studies Graduate Certificate from St. Catherine’s University. Tierney created and has directed Gomez Dance Group since 1998. She began working with youth in 1988, and since then has worked with Classical Ballet Minnesota, Stepping Stone Theatre, Ballet Arts Minnesota, and Gap Schools and more recently with Young Dance. In 2008-09, Tierney assisted adults living with disabilities in Mathew Sanford’s Courage Center yoga classes in Golden Valley, MN. Since the summer of 2010, she has been teaching and assisting classes for youth living with disabilities for Young Dance All Abilities Dancing. Maria teaches All Abilities Dance on Wednesdays for Young Dance.

Kathleen Pender

Kathleen Pender graduated from St. Olaf College in May with a B.A. in Dance and is now living in Minneapolis. In her junior year at St. Olaf, she studied dance in Ghana at the University of Ghana-Legon. She is deeply interested in dance education and performance as she continues to feel the impact of invaluable mentors through dance. Kathleen teaches dance at the Northfield Arts Guild as well as assisting for Young Dance.