About Us

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Laura East’s Ferndale Dance Academy was founded in 2003 to provide our community with a creative learning center for dance. When FDA opened, it had 35 students, and classes were offered in a tiny loft at the Ferndale Gym.  Over the years, FDA has blossomed and now offers a comprehensive dance program in a well-equipped studio with annual winter and spring performances.

The study of dance is highly beneficial for the physical, intellectual, and emotional development of children and teens. Students develop muscle strength and coordination, flexibility, agility, and balance. Intellectually, they are called upon to focus and concentrate and to remember combinations of movement. Emotionally, students benefit from the opportunity to express themselves creatively and to explore who they are in a safe and supportive environment. In addition, by working together in classes and performances, students foster friendships and build self-esteem.

MarynThe Ferndale Dance Academy offers classes for children and teens from the ages of 3 years old and up. All classes are held at our spacious dance studio at the Danish Hall, 430 Ocean Avenue. Please see the Classes page for more information and a schedule of the classes.

The Ferndale Dance Academy provides more than just instruction. Students benefit from these special features, as well:

  • Annual winter and spring performances
  • Scholarship Program
  • Teacher Training Program
  • Biannual Trips to Dance Conventions and Competitions

Our Instructors

Laura East

Laura East

Laura took her first ballet class at the age of four with Miss Pam. During her most formative years, she studied with Miss Anna at the Allan Hancock College Youth Department. During high school, she spent each summer on the East Coast training with the Joffrey Ballet and Pittsburgh Ballet Theater. Upon graduating, she was awarded a scholarship and a position as a trainee with the Joffrey Ballet in New York City. While there, she also danced with the Westchester Ballet. Later, Laura studied dance and musical theater at the University of Arizona before returning to New York City where she apprenticed as a ballet instructor at Ballet Academy East, created her own cabaret show, danced, acted, and sang in numerous productions, and recorded an album of children’s lullabies. She has completed a workshop for dance instructors taught by Jillana, former Principle with the New York City Ballet, and attends annual dance conventions to stay current in the field of dance. Laura founded the Ferndale Dance Academy in 2003 and to this day, still loves her job.

Maryn Gossien


Maryn began dancing at the Ferndale Dance Academy at the age of five, after attending a FDA performance and being inspired by Kelsey Synder’s portrayal of Glinda the Good Witch. At the age of twelve, she began competing and since that time, has been awarded numerous honors including Gold and High Gold at JUMP, second place at Tremaine, and Gold at New York City Dance Alliance. During her teenage years, Maryn began training with Laura East to become a dance instructor and has completed FDA’s Teacher Training Seminar taught by Kyleigh Carlson.  She is now a valued member of the FDA faculty.  Maryn is a certified teacher with Acrobatic Arts and created the Tumbling for Dancers program at the studio.  Maryn has choreographed for FDA’s Winter Showcases as well as Free The Beasts. She has attended summer dance intensives at Northcoast Dance and Nor Cal Dance Arts in San Jose and has performed at Disneyland and with 555 Contemporary and Dancing Stars of Humboldt.

Kayla Thomas


Kayla was a student in one of the first dance classes offered at the Ferndale Dance Academy. She was four years old. Her first leading role was as Tinker Bell in the FDA production of Peter Pan when she was six years old. Kayla continued to perform in FDA’s annual performances until the age of 17. During her teen years, she became a teaching assistant to Laura East until she was promoted to teaching dance classes of her own. Kayla has attended and competed at numerous dance conventions and competitions including The Pulse, JUMP, and Tremaine. At JUMP, she was awarded a scholarship from dancer/choreographer Al Blackstone to attend Dancerpalooza in Long Beach, CA. Danceraplooza gave her the opportunity to study with world reknowned choreographers such as Sonya Tayeh, Mandy Moore, and Andrew Winghart. In addition, Kayla was selected to participate in a dance music video production as a part of her contemporary class. Kayla has studied ballet, contemporary, lyrical, jazz, hip hop, and tap. Her favorite style of dance is contemporary/lyrical. Kayla is excited to share her knowledge of dance with her students.

Kelsey Snyder

Kelsey Snyder

Kelsey was a student in the first dance class held at the Ferndale Dance Academy. She was 13 years old at the time, and it was her first dance class too. In no time, Kelsey was hooked and delved into her dance training. Within a few years, she auditioned and was accepted to Anaheim Ballet’s summer intensive. In addition, Kelsey has attended summer intensives at City Ballet of San Diego and the Boulder Jazz Dance Workshop. While in high school, Kelsey began training with Laura East to become a dance instructor. Kelsey has since taught all ages, created and directed original dance productions, and stage managed recitals.

Rosemary Swan


Even before kindergarten, Rosemary was swept onto the stage in the FDA production of The Great Oz. Here she found her place in the spotlight; on stage where she belonged. When not at work on a show, her living room became her stage and her family the audience. Rosemary has since studied ballet, jazz, tap, hip hop, musical theatre and contemporary. She has competed at NYCDA and JUMP in group and solo pieces and and won numerous awards. Locally, she has danced with North Coast Dance and 555 Contemporary. As an actor, Rosemary appeared on stage in a production of Matilda at the Ferndale Repertory Theatre and was a featured extra in Griffin Loch’s film A Spark in Nothing. Rosemary is a graduate of FDA’s Teacher Training Seminar led by Kyleigh (Carlson) Brine and is motivated and excited to be sharing her passion for dance and theater with her students.

Stella Bourke


Stella started dancing competitively at the age of seven at the Brosnan School of Irish Dance.  She continued with this style for the next eight years.  During this time, she competed at the Western Regional Competition (the Oireachtas), once with a group and twice as an individual.  She also performed with the Brosnan School of Irish Dance at the Golden State Warriors Halftime show for three consecutive years for the Irish Heritage Night.

During her teenage years, Stella ventured into other styles, which she continues to this day. These consist of hip hop, funk styles, contemporary, ballet, afro dance, and jazz. For the past four and a half years, Stella has danced with Rocco, ODC, and Lines Ballet.  At Rocco, she was part of their “Body Language” contemporary group and their hip hop crew, “New Constitution.”

She has also competed in battles at The HERC and cyphers at In The Groove Studios.  From a very young age she has been inspired by Alvin Ailey and the company’s unique style and perspective in the world of contemporary dance. This style often influences both her contemporary and hip hop choreography. Stella is very excited to bring more styles of hip hop and West Coast funk to the Ferndale Dance Academy.

Guest Instructor

Melissa Hinz

Melissa Hinz

Melissa has been passionately dancing, singing, and loving the creative process for most of her life. Her classical training and performance experience with the Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre and training on full scholarship at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago lead her to a successful career in dance and musical theatre in NYC, Chicago, and touring across the county. Favorite performance credits include the national tour of The Will Rogers Follies and the following regional productions: 42nd Street (Anytime Annie), Thoroughly Modern Millie (Millie), Crazy For You, South Pacific, Mary Poppins, Annie Get Your Gun, Damn Yankees, Gypsy Love, and Kismet. She’s proud to have been an original member and teacher for House of the Roses directed by Jeff Shade, performing in their first show at Symphony Space in NYC.

During her career in NYC she continued her dance and vocal studies, working closely with many master teachers at Steps on Broadway, Broadway Dance Center, and Circle in the Square Theatre School. She also attended the Broadway Theatre Project directed by Ann Reinking and received her Yoga Teaching Certification from Laughing Lotus NYC.

Since moving to Humboldt County to live with the love of her life she’s become a choreographer, teacher, and producer. She is honored to be a guest teacher at Sunrise Studios (Vienna, Austria), Vienna International Ballet Experience (VIBE) (USA and Austria), TCDA-IBF (USA), and Ballet Beyond Borders (BBB) (USA.) She and her students have won gold, silver, and bronze for their performances at VIBE & BBB. She has been awarded Outstanding Dance School at BBB. Favorite local choreography credits for the Humboldt Light Opera Company: Thoroughly Modern Millie, Mary Poppins, Wizard of Oz, and Damn Yankees; for North Coast Dance: Wizard Of Oz Ballet, West Side Story Excerpts, and many original works; for Arcata High: Singing in the Rain; for Sunny Brae Middle School: Millie Junior; and a flash mob for a birthday surprise! She feels honored to be able to pass on her training and experiences through teaching in Humboldt and beyond.