Meet our teachers…



Meet Our Teachers…

SteppingStone contracts with a number of incredibly talented and highly qualified Theatre Artists from around the Twin Cities metro. Our Teaching Artists have extensive experience working with youth, are annually background-checked, and are held to a standard of Best Practices in the classroom. Collectively, these Artists and Educators provide your student with a high-quality, engaging, and age-appropriate theatre learning experience.



Alanna Morris-Van Tassel
Specialty: Dance
A professional Dancer, Teaching Artist, Choreographer, and Artist Organizer, Alanna holds a BFA in Dance from The Juilliard School and has spent 10 seasons with TU Dance company. Alanna received a Minnesota SAGE Award for Outstanding Performer and is a recipient of a McKnight Dance Fellowship. Supported by The Jerome Foundation, she traveled to Trinidad to study Afro-Caribbean dance as a part of the New Waves! Festival and was an Artist-In-Residence with Art On Purpose where she commissioned a new solo dance and participated in a range of community engagement activities. Alanna continues to actively engage community in the Twin Cities by producing her own work under her company, Alanna Morris-Van Tassel Productions, and collaborating with local artists, educational programs, and individuals.
Ashawnti Sakina Ford
Specialty: Improv, Acting, Comedy
Ashawnti Sakina Ford is an actress, teaching artist and international improviser whose work is centered on arts accessibility and social change. She performs once a month with her improv troop BLACKOUT IMPROV tackling hard topics and the funny. She has taught social justice theatre internationally in Monrovia Liberia and London England. She is also the co-founder and co-artistic director of the Black Ensemble Players; a theatre company designed to give black performers and technicians opportunities to work together and grow in their careers.
Atim Opoka
Specialty: Devised, Music, Comedy
A Vocalist, Actress, and Teaching Artist in the twin cities, Atim is a bold, charismatic, and versatile performer who studied Vocal Performance at McNally Smith College of Music. As an actress & improvisor, Atim has worked with metro companies Smartmouth Collective, Chameleon Theatre Circle, and Lyric Arts. As a Musician, Atim writes and performs original material and regularly performs as a backup vocalist for local bands. Her music is a fusion of County, Blues, Folk, and Pop. Atim teaches Music, Acting, and Comedy with Children's Theatre Company, Stages, Lyric Arts, Climb Theatre, and Ashland Productions.
Austin Lewis
Specialty: Music, Acting
A Musician, Actor, and Educator, Austin holds a degree in Music Education from the University of Northwestern St. Paul. Austin teaches Freshman Choir & Bella Voce Select Group at Irondale High School. Additionally, he runs his own business teaching private voice and piano lessons, leads HERO Homeschool choirs, and is the music director at several local churches. As an actor, Austin has worked with Cross Community Players, Theatre in the Round, Lakeshore Players, SteppingStone Theatre, Theatre Coup d'Etat, St. Croix Off Broadway Dinner Theatre, and Front Porch Theatre.
C. Michael Menge
Specialty: Devised, Acting
C. Michael Menge is a professional actor, improviser, and theater educator who uses radical joy and community presence to explore issues of social justice and communal healing. They attended St. Olaf College for four years where they studied Theater with a focus on acting, education, and black theater history. For the last four years, C. Michael has been teaching and working in the education department at Children's Theatre Company.
Carin Bratlie Wethern
Specialty: Devised, Acting, Directing
A Director and Teaching Artist, Carin is the Artistic Director of Theatre Pro Rata and has directed over 60 productions in Minnesota and Wisconsin including at Park Square, The History Theatre, and Assistant Directing at The Guthrie. In addition to SteppingStone, Carin teaches theater at The Guthrie and schools throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. When not directing or teaching, Carin plays the tuba for Mike's Brass and is a professional knitter.
Dane Stauffer
Specialty: Music, Acting, Directing
An Actor, Musician, and Playwright, Dane received his BFA from New York University Tisch School of the Arts. Dane teaches Yoga, Voice and Improvisation, writes plays, directs, and records music. Dane has worked with Children's Theatre Company, The Playwrights Center, Brave New Workshop, Jeffrey Hatcher, and has appeared in several television shows. He is most well-known for "Triple Espresso", San Diego's longest running stage show, with which he’s also toured the USA, Ireland, and consistently remounted in the Twin Cities.
Emily Villano
Specialty: Devised, Music, Directing
A charismatic and versatile vocalist with a passion for music, Emily brings a captivating voice, persona, and a funky style to everything she does. Along with her career as a singer, Emily has a passion for arts education and teaches with a number of organizations including Youth Performance Company, Nova Classical Academy, Lakeshore Players, and Ashland Productions. As a freelance educator, Emily is a vocal coach, music director, and stage director in addition to maintaining her private vocal studio. Emily graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from McNally Smith.
Erin Granger
Creative Learning Program Manager
With a background in Arts Management, Teaching, and Performance, Erin holds a BA in Theatre Arts with an emphasis in Performance and Directing from Minnesota State University Moorhead. Erin’s professional experience over the past 10 years has centered around empowering young people as creators through education, youth work, and youth programming. She has lead a number of theatre-centric workshops and taught Reggio/Montessori STEAM curriculum as an Early Childhood Teacher. Artistically, Erin has an affinity for Classical Theatre and Theatre for Young Audiences. She has collaborated with local theatre companies including Shakespeare & Company, Theatre in the Round, Lakeshore Players, and Chameleon Theatre Circle. Erin comes to SteppingStone from Trollwood Performing Arts School, in Fargo, ND, where she served as the Assistant Program & Volunteer Coordinator in the theatre’s Education Department.
Erin Schwab
Specialty: Music, Acting
An accomplished singer, Erin knows how to work a song--and an audience. During her tenure as a performer locally and nationally, Erin has toured with musicals, recorded her own music, and sang with local bands and artists. As an educator, Erin worked extensively with college students at McNally Smith College of Music and taught private lessons to middle & high schoolers. She has directed & music directed a number of middle school, high school, and college productions and freelances as a music & acting teacher for students of all ages. When not teaching or playing gigs, Erin can be seen performing in musicals on stage, most recently at The Ordway.
Gretchen Grunzke
Specialty: Devised, Acting, Comedy
Gretchen earned her BFA in Acting from Marymount Manhattan College and has extensive experience as an actor, comedian, and teaching artist in NYC and the Twin Cities. She studied Improv and Sketch Comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater - the only accredited improv and sketch comedy school in the U.S. - and now she's hilarious. Past MN credits include CLIMB Theatre, National Theater for Children, several Fringe shows, and the Guthrie. She currently performs with ComedySportz and Huge Theater and teaches/coaches/directs at the Brave New Workshop, BCT Artistry, Lakeshore Players, Pillsbury House, and her own private studio. Gretchen finds teaching to be the ultimate source of creative and comedic inspiration and loves every minute of it!
Hannah Halvorson
Specialty: Devised, Acting, Puppetry
A Twin Cities native, Hannah holds a BFA in Acting from Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. until recently Hannah resided in New York City where she taught mask work and devised theater to Pre-K and elementary-aged students. Upon returning to MN, Hannah became the Artist in Residence at Capital Hill Elementary where she lead drama classes and created original work with students. Hannah also served as the Educational Director at Woodbury Community Theater. She works locally as an actress and freelance teaching artist.
Jane Froiland
Specialty: Devised, Acting, Comedy
A St. Paul-based actor, director, and teaching artist, Jane has taught with Lakeshore Players, Youth Performance Company, Stages Theatre, Yellow Tree Theatre, and many more. Onstage, she has appeared with Children’s Theatre Company, Park Square Theatre, Mixed Blood, Jungle Theatre, Frank Theatre, Ten Thousand Things, Old Log , Dark and Stormy, and Gremlin, among others. Jane directs the Spring play at Woodbury High School, is the Head Coach of the White Bear Speech Team, and is a performer with Science Live Theatre at the Science Museum of Minnesota.
Julia Gay
Specialty: Dance, Devised, Acting
Julia is an actor, dancer, playwright, and stand-up comedian. She completed her BA at Macalester College. Julia was the recipient of the Playwrights' Center's 2017-18 Many Voices Mentorship. This is her fourth season with St. Paul-based professional dance company, Ananya Dance Theatre (ADT), training, performing, and touring in the contemporary Indian dance form of Yorchha. As a teaching artist, she has led Arts Literacy youth workshops in the St. Paul Public Schools. Through the Irreducible Grace Foundation she collaborated with vulnerable youth who have experienced foster care, homelessness, and incarceration. More recently she collaborated on a poetry mural workshop for young adoptees at the Families with Children from Asia Midwest Conference.
Kiera Stegall
Specialty: Devised, Storytelling
An animated storyteller and educator, Kiera has more than ten years of experience working with children from birth through upper elementary school. After years of storytelling on stage and directing elementary-age church plays, Kiera joined the world of children's theatre. Encouraging the creativity and imagination of children, she loves brining characters and stories to life on stage. Kiera currently serves as the Director of Children & Family Ministry at a local Twin Cities church.
Kristin Fox
Specialty: Devised, Acting, Directing
Kristin Fox has been working as a teaching artist, director and actor across the Twin Cities and the Upper Midwest for over 15 years. She recently earned her Master of Fine Arts in Directing from Minnesota State University, Mankato where she spent time teaching theater history and acting courses. She is the current Artistic Director for the teen theatre program SOS at Merrill Arts Center in Woodbury, MN.
LaTwanna Williams
Specialty: Acting, Dance, Makeup
As a licensed K-12 educator, LaTwanna has extensive experience teaching students of all ages. She holds a B.A. in Theatre and a MAT in Theatre/Dance. Inspired by theatre at a young age, she loves facilitating the ability for students to make their own, personal connection to meaningful art experiences in their lives.
Laurie Dehmlow
Specialty: Music, Early Childhood
A music educator, Laurie has multiple accreditations including a B.S. in Music Education and a M.M. in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy. As a performing artist she has been in several musical theatre and chamber opera productions in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois. In addition to teaching classes for Steppingstone (since 1992), Laurie teaches children's music literacy and private voice lessons at St. Joseph's School of Music, Children's Theatre Company, and local elementary schools. Additionally, Laurie direct two children's church choirs.
Mariah Larkin
Specialty: Devising, Acting, Early Childhood
Mariah Larkin is a Theatre Artist, Educator, and Writer. They earned their BFA in Theatre Arts from Stephens College. They have independently produced work ranging from devised theatre, to storytelling events, short films, and podcasts. Mariah's artistic endeavors are greatly influenced and improved by their work with students in the Minneapolis Public Schools as well as through Adventures in Cardboard. ​They are committed to creating a process and product that ensures the health and safety of every collaborator and holding space for all aspects of their identity.
Megan Flod-Johnson
Creative Learning Specialist: Early Childhood
With a background in Montessori Education and classical music, Megan holds an MFA in Theatre for Youth along with a graduate certificate in Socially Engaged Practice, both from Arizona State University. Megan has eight years of experience designing arts experiences for young people in schools and art centers, for theatre companies and museums and managing multidisciplinary arts programs at youth drop-in centers and children’s museums. Megan’s focus around community-based practice puts the emphasis on the interactive process of creating art whether with professional artists, young children or older adults. Her artistic work in Theatre for Youth has been noted as possessing a highly visual aesthetic. Megan comes to SteppingStone from the Children’s Museum of Southern MN in Mankato where she focused on designing innovative museum programming in the arts and STEM.
Pedro Bayon
Specialty: Devised, Acting, Comedy
With over 30 years of experience, Pedro is a Theatre Artist and Teaching Artist from Puerto Rico. He has worked with local companies including The Ordway, Teatro del Pueblo, and Mixed Blood, amongst others. Motivating minds to explore their creative potential is what motivates Pedro to keep teaching and mentoring students ages 5-85.
Ricky Morisseau
Specialty: Devised, Dance
Hailing from Delray Beach, FL, Ricky has been grooving to his own beat ever since he could walk. Self-taught until college, Ricky earned a BA in Theatre Performance with a Minor Dance and Dance Education from Florida A&M University. He is trained in Hip-Hop, African, Modern, Jazz, and Ballet dance styles. Ricky works in the twin cities as a professional actor and teaching artist with numerous companies including History Theatre, Guthrie, Illusion, CLIMB, Ashland Productions, and Stages. He enjoys working with students of all ages and cultural backgrounds. Ricky loves taking the skills he's gained from his mentors and paying it forward to the next generation of theatre artists.
Scott Nichols
Specialty: Magic, Balloon Artist
International award-winning balloon artist and magician, Scott Nichols may be better known by his stage name The Amazing Scott. He is a Certified Balloon Artist and has been entertaining local audiences for almost two decades. From full stage productions to close-up magic, balloon art, and fire performance, Scott has built a reputation for being one of the Twin Cities premiere entertainers.
Terrell Woods
Specialty: Devised, Beat Boxing
An established Hip Hop Artist, Terrell Woods (aka Carnage The Executioner) has spent over 20 years making music and working with youth and adults from all walks of life and various socio-economic backgrounds. He possesses a knack for establishing strong and healthy relationships. His specialties include fostering personal and artistic growth and helping all people find the voices they might not identify with just yet. Terrell stands firm in his support and practice of provoking positive self-expression, nurturing leadership skills, and speaking in favor of social justice. 10+ years of teaching beat boxing/vocal percussion and song writing has helped him build an impressive artist resume that extends all the way to Europe.