Nancy Pasley has owned and operated Pasley Ballet School in Grand Forks since 1975, teaching hundreds of children over the years. She began her dance career at the age of four, studying under Ann Dirksen in Ames, Iowa. She graduated from Iowa State University with a B.S. in Elementary Education, and taught classes locally for nine years before moving to Grand Forks with her family.
Nancy attended the prestigious Jacob's Pillow Dance Camp for six weeks in the summer of 1963 where she studied ballet, character, flamenco, lyrical, pointe, & modern with Geoffrey Holder, Margaret Craske, and Ted Shawn; the founder of Jacob's Pillow. She performed and taught for the North Dakota Ballet Company from 1970-1975 where she was introduced to the late Mary Ellen Wier. The two enjoyed a lifelong friendship, dancing together through many camps and workshops, including their annual trips to Aberdeen, South Dakota where they attended Johnny Cavelle's dance workshops. They studied with many teachers, including Marie Adair, Gus Giodano, Luigi, Jonathon West, and Ann Dirksen. Nancy has danced in and choreographed numerous ballets and musicals, including performing the part of the Sugar Plum Fairy in "The Nutcracker Suite" at Iowa State. Many years later, she "graduated" to the part of Mother Ginger in Ronn Guidi's production of the same at the Chester Fritz in 2000, 2002, & 2003.
Throughout her long career, Nancy’s greatest joy of all is her dance school and the students she has come to know. Nancy feels she offers the very best dance education possible, with exceptional instructors. She and her husband Robb have been married almost 50 years, and have three children, and eight grandchildren.
Sarah Pasley began taking ballet classes at the age of three from her mother, Nancy; as a teenager, she began teaching classes of her own. In addition to dancing all of her life at Pasley Ballet School, she has also danced with the North Dakota Ballet Company as a member of the company, and has taken classes from Ronn Guidi, Director of the Oakland Ballet Company. She spent several years at the Allegro School of Dance in Rochester, MN, as an instructor, but returned to Grand Forks in 2008, where she took over teaching many classes, including the junior and senior ballet, and advanced pointe. She lives in Grand Forks with her daughter Molly, who already has her mother’s love for dance!
Jennifer Pasley began dancing at age 2 from her grandmother, Nancy. She has taken classes in ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, lyrical and hip hop and is currently teaching technique classes. She has attended many dance camps and has taken classes from Brian Friedman, Mia Michaels and many more. Jennifer has been working in the office for Pasley Ballet School for 6 years.
Photo by Behl's Photography
Deb Fontaine began dancing at eight years old and studied ballet, tap, and jazz at the Judy Rae Dance School in Grand Forks. She has studied dance under Jamie Rogers, (choreographer of the movie "Fame"), Gus Giodano, and Helen Philips, (choreographer of Disney theme parks "Captain EO" in Minneapolis, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
Deb has been teaching dance since she was thirteen years old. Over the years, she has operated seven schools specializing in dance in both Dakota's and Minnesota. She has choreographed for the Miss North Dakota pageant and the North Dakota Dance Challenge competition. Since 2000, Deb has been the premier hip-hop and jazz instructor at the Pasley Dance Studio and also spends time teaching in Crookston, MN. She live in Grand Forks, with her son and daughter.
Jeena Kaiser has been a dancer at the Pasley Ballet School since the age of five. She has danced in many productions, including the coveted role of “The Monkey” in “Bob McGrath and Friends”. In addition to her ballet training, she also danced on her high school danceline. Jeena has taught ballet, tap, pointe and currently teaches jazz and hip hop on Thursdays and Fridays. She lives in East Grand Forks with her husband and two children, Koby, Nora and Lola.
Hayley Svedjan started dancing with Nancy Pasley at the age of 8 and was one of the “basement ballerinas”. She danced with Pasley Ballet School as well as the North Dakota Ballet Company through her junior year in high school. She then took a 20+ year hiatus from dance to pursue other interests including earning her undergraduate degree in biology at Concordia College, Moorhead, MN, and ultimately her doctorate from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Grand Forks. She completed her residency in Family Medicine at the UND Family Medicine Residency program in Bismarck, ND. She began her practice of family medicine at Altru in 1997. Soon after she returned to Pasley Ballet School where she continues to pursue her love of dance, especially ballet and pointe. She lives in Grand Forks with her husband Joel Walz and her daughters Josie and Jillian.
Jordin Martinez has been a dancer at the Pasley Ballet School since the age of three. She has 22+ years of dance background including ballet, pointe, lyrical, tap and jazz. She is very excited to start teaching the Sunday Teen class and Advanced Tap class this fall! Jordin graduated from the Practical Nursing program at Northland Community and Technical College in 2012. She is currently running an in-home daycare with her sister-in-law in Grand Forks, where she lives with her husband and three kids Peyton, Maliah and Tobi.
Jane Pasley was a beloved children's teacher at Pasley Ballet School. She passed unexpectedly in August 2013 of cardiac arrest. For more information, photos, and memories, please check our memorial page.