About

Staff & Board

Treasurer – Laura Watkins

Born and raised in West Des Moines, Iowa, Laura trained at School of Classical Ballet and Dance and performed with Ballet Des Moines in her youth. Her senior year of high school she attended Walnut Hill School for the Arts as a Ballet major. Laura has earned a B.F.A. in Ballet and a Master’s of Science in Parks, Recreation, and Tourism from the University of Utah. She spent 1 season as an Apprentice with American Midwest Ballet (formerly Ballet Nebraska), and has performed with Municipal Ballet Company and Mountain West Ballet. During summers, she trained at the School of American Ballet, Walnut Hill School for the Arts, Colorado Ballet, and Ballet Austin. Laura has danced lead and soloist roles including Swanhilda and Dawn in Coppelia, a lead in Ma Cong’s Passion There, Summer Fairy in Cinderella, and featured roles in La Bayadere and Swan Lake. She has performed abroad in Seoul, South Korea and Zaragoza, Spain.

Laura is an ABTⓇ Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABTⓇ Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 5 of the ABTⓇ National Training Curriculum. She is also certified in Progressing Ballet Technique and Group Fitness Instruction. Since moving to Rochester, Laura has kept busy producing, directing, and choreographing for various productions. Her first full length ballet, Snow White, premiered in April 2022.

Secretary – Amanda Ruggeri

Rochester native Mandy Ruggeri has been involved in the local fine arts community for nearly 4 decades.  Her passion for theatre and dance began in her youth, with involvement in the Masque Youth Theatre, Children’s Dance Theatre, Janet Lang Dance Studio and the Rochester Civic Theatre.  After living in Australia for many years, Mandy returned to Rochester in 2010.  She has coached Mayo Spirits Fall Performance dance team, formed the Longfellow Elementary Hip Hop Club,  was a featured dance professional for Dancing for the Arts (Takes I-III), Style on the Plaza, RED’s Uplift! and has performed numerous stage roles with area theatres (including Grace Farrell in Annie, M’Lynn in Steel Magnolias andChelsea in On Golden Pond). Mandy is also a professional actress in local commercials and the movie Seed of Doubt, filmed in Rochester in 2018.  She currently co-coaches the Poetry Out Loud recitation competition class.

Outside of the arts, Mandy works for RPS Community Education, where she manages the office of Early Childhood Family Services. She believes in the power of performance as a teaching tool and outlet for creative expression and she’s so happy to be able to give back to Rochester youth by serving on the RED Board. She loves to go adventuring with her three children, cuddle her dog and three cats, putter around in her garden and cook up new recipes for her partner.

Founding Board Member – Amanda Moder

Amanda Moder is a dancer, choreographer, registered dietitian, and published author. She currently works full-time as an inpatient cardiac dietitian. Amanda previously worked at the Kansas City Ballet School as a ballet and pointe instructor in the Academy division, also providing nutrition education and eating disorder prevention seminars for dancers. She has performed with The Pendleton Dance Project, VidaDance, and as a company member with Dramatic Truth Ballet Theatre. Amanda has performed nationally and internationally through Project Dance Paris (2016) and Project Dance NYC (2017, 2019). As a dietitian in the community setting, she has made over 20 live TV segment appearances on the KC morning show and previously authored a newspaper column called “Cart Smarts” in the Post Bulletin (Rochester). She is a contributing author for Brio Magazine (Focus on the Family) and INSight™ Magazine for Dance Studio Owners (MTJGD). In college, Amanda earned a minor in Dance and a minor in Biology along with her Bachelor of Science degree in Community and Medical Dietetics (nutrition). She is currently pursuing a Master of the Arts in Leadership through Wheaton College. Amanda is passionate about the art of dance and its power to deliver messages, tell stories, inspire depth, and affirm identity. She is extremely grateful for the gift of dance and looks forward to serving as a Board Member to help facilitate sharing dance and making it more accessible for the community of Rochester. 

Nutcracker 2022 Artistic Director – Emily Winn

Emily Winn is originally from Statesboro, Georgia, and graduated summa cum laude from Georgia Southern University at the age of 18. As a student, she performed with Ballet Savannah and Columbia City Ballet, and attended summer intensives with Alonzo King’s LINES, Boston Ballet, and American Ballet Theatre. After graduating, she danced with Greensboro Ballet and then did a post-baccalaureate program in ballet & modern at Belhaven University. She taught ballet, modern, and tap at Statesboro Youth Ballet before moving to Minnesota in 2014. Emily taught at Allegro School of Dance & Music from 2015 to 2020. She directed Allegro’s production of The Nutcracker in 2016 & 2018, and taught and choreographed for students ages 5 through high school. She is currently the Operations & Development Coordinator for Twin Cities Ballet and a faculty member of Ballet Royale Minnesota.

Nutcracker 2022 Guest Choreographer, “Tea” Divertissement – Ying Li

Ms. Ying Li graduated from Shenyang Conservatory of Music with a bachelor’s degree in Chinese Dance. Since then, she has been dedicated to dance education, choreography, and performing arts for more than 20 years. In 2009, Ms. Li moved to the United States to continue her dance career in Minnesota. She founded Phoenix Chinese Dance Academy in 2019 and is the Principal and Artistic Director of the school. Throughout her career, Ms. Li and her students have won many national and international awards in dance competitions.