Classes & Programs / Dance

Junior Training Program for Dancers

Junior Training Program for Dancers

Ages 9 years- High School

July 5-17 M-F 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., Performance July 17

Are you ready to dance your day away? Here is your chance! Each day dancers will warm up in a ballet class; build foot and ankle strength in pre-pointe; dabble in different theory classes such as dance history, composition (choreography), and theatre; and round out their dance experience with a “genre of the day” class, including jazz, modern, musical theatre, and hip hop. Each day will end with a rehearsal in preparation for a final showcase for up to two family members per dancer. Dress rehearsal and performance schedules, July 16-17 may vary from the above times, but will be communicated in advance.

No auditions are required, but it is recommended that dancers have at least three  years of training.

Due to COVID the capacity is only 10 dancers.

Fee: $429 before 5/15/21, $450 after 5/15/21(Fee includes over 60 hours of instruction. Students will need to bring a lunch and water bottle daily.)

Our child’s personal growth had been amazing. The programming challenges her, but also makes her successful. The instructors genuinely care about her both as a dancer and as a person.

Parent of Dancer

Questions & Answers about the Junior Training Program

Who is this Intensive for?

MCA’s Junior Training Program for Dancers is the perfect experience for young male and female dancers ages 9 years old through high school who love to dance. Dancers should have at least three years of dance experience or be in a level equal to or higher to Ballet II at MCA. Students who have not danced at MCA are welcome, please contact us if you need help accessing if this program is a good fit for you or your dancer since levels vary greatly from studio to studio. During the camp dancers will be broken into groups or given differentiated instruction to make sure each dancer is nurtured and challenged.

This is a perfect experience for dancers who are serious about dance and ready to take their dance experience to the next level, stay conditioned over the summer and explore the dance world in new ways.

Students aged 11-22 who are interested in an all-day/ boarding program should check out our annual Summer Dance Intensive.

Do you need to be a current MCA student to participate?

No, MCA welcomes dancers who have danced at any studio. If you have questions about the level of dance experienced needed for success in this camp or any other MCA program, please feel free to contact us at 507-453-5500 or by email:

When and where is the Intensive?

The Junior Training for Dancers will run Monday- Friday, July 5-16, 9am- 4pm at Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts home the Valencia Arts Center. A final showcase will be performed for friends and family on Saturday, July 17th. The dress rehearsal and performance time is TBA. Due to COVID, each dancer will be allowed to invite 2 friends or family members to cheer them on.

Are there Auditions for the Intensive?

No, there are not auditions for the mini-summer dance intensive. Intermediate dancers must be at least 9 years old and have at least 3 years of dance experience.

Click here information about auditioning as a boarding or commuter student in our intermediate-advanced Summer Dance Intensive for 11-22.

What is the cost?

Due to COVID there we are only allowed to open this opportunity up to 10 dancers. The fee to participate is $429 (paid prior to 5/15/21) or $450 (paid after 5/15/21), Fee includes over 60 hours of instruction. Students will need to bring a lunch and water bottle daily.

There will be no admission charge for the final showcase.

What will a normal day look like?

As you will see from the sample schedule below, dancers will have the opportunity to learn from a variety of qualified teaching artists, explore dance forms and important dance related topics that will help dancers grow into a well-rounded dancers. Ballet technique are offered daily, as this is the foundation for all dance forms. Repertory is time spent learning a dance piece that will be rehearsed and performed during the final showcase at the end of camp.  

Sample Schedule: (subject to change)

9-10:30 a.m. – Ballet Technique

10:45-11:45 a.m. – Dance Survey (each day students will experience a different style of dance, such as Irish, Tap, Hula,Conditioning, or Musical Theatre)

11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Lunch and free time

12:30-1:30 p.m. – Jazz, Modern, or Contemporary Technique 

1:40-2:40 p.m. – Dance & Performing Arts Theory Class (These classes will include topics such as Costume Design, Site Specific Dance (creating dance outside or in non traditional spaces), Acting for Dancers, Stage Make-up and more.

2:50-4:00 p.m. – Repertory (learning choreography for the final showcase)

Is there boarding available for this program?

Unfortunately, at this time our Junior Training Program is only open to area students or those that are able to secure their own housing.

Dancers who are 11-22 years are welcome to audition for our full-day Summer Dance Intensive which does welcome students from afar who are housed overnight at the Alverna Center which is located right next door to MCA. (Unfortunately, due to COVID no room and board is available for the summer of 2021.)

How is dancing different at MCA?

There are other opportunities to study dance in the Winona community, but there is nothing that compares with the the long rich history and unique experience MCA offers. MCA begun as the Ballet School under the direction of our founder, Stefannié Valéncia Kierlin in 1973. We invite you to join us for a class, camp or free Family Arts Academy Workshop to experience the difference for yourself, in the mean time below is a list of a few things that make the MCA experience special.

Quality Instructors

MCA instructors hold degrees or comparable experience that allow them to help students develop technique as well as artistry in a fun and supportive environment.

Family Friendly Environment

One of the remarks that we hear most often from MCA students and families is that they feel that MCA is like a second family with teachers that are caring and positive role models. They also love the progression they are making in dance without the pressure of competition. Dress codes and careful selection of music also help foster a positive environment for all ages. Family discounts, payment plans, scholarships, apprentice opportunities, and our adult wellness discount help make MCA programs accessible to everyone. Learn more about our policies & discounts.

State-of-the-Art Facilities

MCA is located inside of the Valencia Arts Center (VAC) in Winona, MN. The VAC features 3 dance studios equipped with wood sprung floors (that are gentler on joints than other surfaces), a black box theatre, recital hall, four practice rooms for private music lessons, class piano lab, lobby and other waiting areas. Our building equipped with free Wi-Fi, reading materials to enjoy while you wait and our lobby features a TV that streams a closed circuit view of youth dance classes. 

Variety of Offerings

MCA’s Dance Division offers classes for students’ 18mo- Adulthood. We even have adults in our Adult Dance and Wellness Program and Seeding Vitality Arts Program (for ages 55+) that are staying fit and active well into their 80’s. Dance and Fitness styles taught at MCA include; Ballet, Pointe, Tap, Jazz, Musical Theatre, Modern, Hip Hop, Creative Movement, Irish, Barre Fitness, Yoga, Dance Conditioning, Choreography. MCA also runs a Boys Dance Program that has received national attention and a three-week Summer Dance Intensive with a boarding option that attracts students from as far away as Alaska, Texas and Mexico. Thanks to our affiliation with Saint Mary’s University of MN, some dance classes are eligible to be taken for credit. Special arrangements have also been made at Cotter High School to accept hours of dance instruction and rehearsal to be counted towards Physical Education requirements.

Performance Opportunities

MCA is not a recital based studio so students that wish may take classes just for the sake of learning the technique, artistry and physical benefits. However, with two productions yearly with our pre-professional Dance Repertory Company (DRC) offers students the opportunity to perform in fully mounted dance concerts. Dance Concerts range from the biannual production the the full length ballet of The Nutcracker to stagings of new contemporary works. DRC holds auditions and rehearsals that are separate from classroom instruction time, so students can focus on technique and artistry during class time. Intermediate and advanced dance classes regularly have an opportunity to perform throughout the community at special events such as the National Tap Dance Day Celebration, St. Patrick’s Day Events and more.

More than Dance

MCA dancers not only have the opportunity to dance but they can also develop leadership and other life skills through participation in our Apprenticeship program and by joining our National Honors Society for Dance Arts Chapter. Parents, Alumni, and Community Members are invited to join our Friends of MCA, a board to help support what is happening at Conservatory and have input into future programming and policy changes.

Proven History of Success

Dance can provide students of any age coordination, balance, strength, and motor skills but it can also teach valuable life skills such as; confidence, teamwork, poise, and perseverance. MCA offers both recreational and pre-professional students what they need to meet their goals. MCA students and alumni have studied at or performed with American Ballet Theatre, Ananya Dance Theatre, Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Radio City Music Hall Rockettes, Minnesota Ballet School, Ballet Austin, Milwaukee Ballet School, Continental Ballet, St. Paul Ballet, Limon Dance Company, Juilliard, Ordway Theatre,University of Oklahoma, and the Joffery Ballet among others.

Meet the 2019 Mini-Summer Dance Intensive Faculty

(subject to change)

Natasha Posey

Natasha Posey

Instructor - Dance

Natasha Posey, a Georgia native, began her dance career performing with Augusta Ballet Company. She earned a BFA in dance from Point Park College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She has since performed with Lynda Martha Dance Company (Chicago), Wisconsin Ballet Theatre (Green Bay), Ballet Madison and Danceworks Performance Company. Natasha is currently on staff at Milwaukee Ballet and Danceworks Inc. of Milwaukee. Natasha’s “day job” is a schoolteacher at Maryland Avenue Montessori School.  She earned her teaching certification at UW-Madison where she graduated with honors. Natasha then began integrating the arts into education with her project “Language Arts Learned Through the Creative Arts.” As an artist-in-residence at Schenk Elementary School in Madison, Natasha taught classes that combined dance with reading, writing, and arithmetic to the whole school. She has led teacher-training workshops through Very Special Arts-Wisconsin where educators are taught how to integrate movement with students of all abilities.

Jennifer TeBeest

Jennifer TeBeest

Instructor - Dance

Jen started dance training at age four and continued to study ballet, jazz, modern and tap at La Crosse Dance Centre.  She continued her to study modern at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and at Viterbo University in La Crosse where she graduated cum laude in 2005 with a B.A. in English Writing and minor emphases in Dance and Art-Graphic Design from Viterbo University.  She has attended the Miami Dance Festival; American College Dance Festival, PULSE workshop in Minneapolis, Jump Rhythm Jazz Project Summer Intensive, and was fortunate enough to work with Broadway tap legend Ted Levy through his work with La Crosse Dance Centre in 2006 and 2007. Jen was on staff at Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts in Winona, MN from 2005-2010 and has choreographed for MCA’s Dance Repertory Company and taught in more recent Summer Dance Intensives. Currently, she is an instructor at Viterbo University, Winona State University, Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and La Crosse Dance Centre.  She has choreographed numerous musicals throughout the area, including “Oklahoma,” “L’il Abner,” “King and I,” “Fiddler on the Roof,” and “42nd Street;” “Suessical the Musical” for Appleseed Community Theatre, and many annual summer musicals with Home and Community Options of Winona.

Tammy Schmidt

Tammy Schmidt

Director of Dance

Schmidt holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Ballet from Texas Christian University and a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from the University of Oklahoma. In 2017 she became an ABT (American Ballet Theatre) Certified teacher for Pre-Primary-Level 3 and in 2018 she was certified as Progressive Ballet Technique (PBT) Instructor. As director of dance, Schmidt leads and teaches in the dance division of MCA, as well as the dance minor program at Saint Mary's University. Additionally, she serves as artistic director for MCA's Dance Repertory Company. Schmidt has restaged and choreographed several full-length ballets for the company including: Cinderella, Paquita, The Nutcracker, Excerpts from Swan Lake, and the Kingdom of the Shades from La Bayadère. Schmidt received the State of Oklahoma's Miguel Terekhov award for her original ballet, A Tender Age. Schmidt is a member of the American College Dance Festival Association and the National Dance Education Association. She has previously taught at Viterbo University, Winona State University, La Crosse Dance Centre, the University of Oklahoma, North Houston Ballet, and Backstage Dance Theatre. Her performing career includes work with Ballet Dallas, Houston Ballet, Ballet Austin, Milwaukee Ballet, and Oklahoma Festival Ballet. Contact Tammy at: or 507-453-5502.

Jessica Dienger

Jessica Dienger

Instructor - Dance

Jessica has been studying all forms of dance since the age of three. She eventually turned her lifelong passion for the art into a career when she began teaching at the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts in 2006. She was a founding member and dancer of the Two Lakes Dance Project in 2010, and in 2014 restaged Plum's Divine Crazy Quilt for the DRC 40th Anniversary Concert. Dienger has created original works for both DRC & DRC. Dienger now teaches jazz, hip hop and tap at MCA. In 2017 she became a certified PulsePointe Barre Instructor. She resides in La Crosse, WI with her husband, Mitch and daughter Elliotte.

Sharon Mansur

Sharon Mansur

Dance Professor & SHIFT Curator

Originally from the East Coast, Sharon Mansur is a dance and visual artist integrating movement and images within live performance events, site-specific installations and dance films. She is currently based in Winona, MN, and her dance films have been screened throughout the U.S. as well as Ireland, Canada, Germany and Italy. variation on residue won Best Performance Award at the Mirror Mountain Film Festival in 2015.  Sharon has been a dance professor at Winona State University and the University of Maryland, and was recently a guest artist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Luther College, and the Texas Dance Improvisation Festival. She has guest taught at several other universities, dance festivals and studios, including at MCA’s Summer Dance Intensive.  Sharon is currently on staff at Infinity Chiropractic & Wellness Center in Winona as a Certified Massage Therapist, Reiki energy healing practitioner and Somatic educator, and curates their SHIFT~ performance salons. 

Jamie Schwaba

Jamie Schwaba

Managing Director

Schwaba earned a Masters degree in Adult and Continuing Education Leadership from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre with a minor in Communications from Carroll University in Waukesha, WI, and is a certified Rhythm Works Integrative Dance Instructor. In addition to her role at MCA, Jamie is a member of the Education Committee for Great River Shakespeare and a former Secretary of the River Arts Alliance. Before relocating to Winona for this position she was the Director of Continuing Education and Children's Theatre Director at University of Wisconsin- Marinette from 2007-2014.  Also while living in Marinette Schwaba was an active member of the Menominee Area Arts Council who's mission was to promote, educate and support local arts activities.  Prior to living in Marinette she spent 8 years in the Milwaukee area where she was the Education Director at Milwaukee Youth Theatre, taught at First Stage Milwaukee, Danceworks, To The Pointe Fine Arts Academy and the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music as well as performed professionally with Skylight Music Theatre, Discovery World and Windfall Theatre. Contact Jamie at: or 507-453-5501


Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts
1164 West Howard (10th) Street
Winona, MN 55987

Phone: 507-453-5500
Fax: 507-453-5507


Contact Us


Fall 2021 Hours (Aug. 31-Nov. 5)

Monday- Thursday- 8am-6:30pm

Friday- 8am-3pm

Saturday- 8:45am-1pm

Closed Sept. 6, 2021

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This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a Minnesota State Arts Board Operating Support grant, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

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