Introducing the DanzArts' Staff.........


A school is only as good as their instructors and at DanzArts we are extremely picky. Even the youngest of dancers will be in the hands of adult instructors. Please take the time to read the bios of our wonderful instructors. We are sure you will be impressed with the experience, diversity and professionalism of our staff. Did we mention they are some of the nicest people you will ever meet?

Paula McArthur

Director DanzArts

Ms McArthur has over 30 years of teaching with experience and versatility in teaching many forms of dance. Her range of expertise includes modern, ballet, jazz, tap, ballroom, Latin, creative preschool movement, improvisation, and body conditioning. She taught dance for 17 years for the musical theater department at Drake University; and has also taught for Penn State University and Iowa State University. For over a decade she was the Associate Director for the School of Classical Ballet & Dance and has taught for other schools: Vine Street Ballet, Ballet Iowa, The Dance Place, Central Iowa Dance Central Pennsylvania Dance Workshop, Edmunds Art Academy and Co Motion Dance Theatre. She has worked extensively as an artist in residence within the public schools 

Paula is a founding member of "Hurley and Dancers" amd continues to perform for them along with choreographer Ken James (Fellow Travelers Group). DanzArts is proud to be the rehearsal home for these Iowa based companies. Additional companies she has worked for: Pennsylvania Dance Theater, Sandance, Neuman Project and choreographer Shawn Womack

Ms McArthur began her professional carrer in ballet, performing with the Des Moines Ballet. she also trained at the Joffrey Ballet School in NYC and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School in Canada . Ms McArthur earned her BFA from ISU where she turned her attention to modern dance. She was honored with both the Anna R. Toman and Charlotte Wilkason awards from ISU. She continued her study at the Bates Dance festivals, Doug  Varone intensives and summer programs at NYU. Since becoming a modern dancer she has worked, trained and/or performed for such choreographers and companies as Bill T. Jones, Bill Young, Doug Elkins, Doug Varone, David Dorfmann, Claire Porter, Kathleen Hermsdorf, Michael Foley, Tony Coray, Kevin Wynn, Ben Munisteri, Joanna Mendl Shaw, Ron K. Brown, Rennie Harris, Larry Keigwin and jazz with Cathy Young.

Kathleen Hurley

Young Dancer Program & Contemporary 

Kathleen Hurley is the founder and Artistic Director of Hurley & Dancers, and was also the founder and Artistic Director of the Chamber Dancers, 1996-2001. Her career includes performances with Yancey Dance Theatre and the Doris Humphrey Dance Ensemble in NYC, and guest appearances in Germany and Mexico. In addition, she was a member of Pennsylvania Dance Theatre, touring the east coast and Europe. Kathleen is an honors graduate of the University of Iowa where she toured to Hong Kong with the Dancers to Go Company. Her Iowa dance career includes performances with Iowa Dance Theatre, the Nueman Project, and Co Motion Dance Theatre. She currently teaches the modern and ballet dance technique courses at Grinnell College. Her teaching resume also includes teaching for the Limon Institute in NYC, Perry Dance in NYC, Dance Space in NYC, Long Island University, and Iowa State University workshops. Check out her dance company's website:

Gigi Oerter

Foot Fundamentals & Ballet

Ms Oerter earned both her high school diploma and BFA from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She performed soloist and principal roles with Milwaukee Ballet, San Antonio Ballet, and Des Moines Ballet, touring widely. Gigi also served as Ballet Mistress for Ballet Iowa and has taught for Nevada Dance Theatre, Eugene Ballet Company, San Antonio Ballet, School of Ballet Iowa, Iowa Dance Theatre, Iowa State Dance Festival, and Siouxland Dance Association, plus several local dance studios. She has known and admired Paula since she was a teenager and is excited to work with the fine folks at DanzArts Studio

Lisa Lewis

Jazz & Contemporary

Lisa Lewis began studying dance at the age of three at Kate Carol & Company Dance, in Iowa City, IA.  Each summer in high school, she attended classes at the Giordano Dance Center in Evanston, Illinois.  Lisa received a Bachelor of Fine Art in Dance with Honors and with Highest Distinction in May of 2006 from the University of Iowa.  While there, she performed in many concerts, including several Dance Galas, graduate/undergraduate concerts, and self-choreographed solos.  She was a member of Duarte Dance Works, Dancers in Company, and also performed in the American College Dance Festival '06. She had the privilege to work with choreographers such as Gabriel Masson, Alan Sener, Jennifer Kayle, Charlotte Adams, Armando Duarte and George de la Peña.  Lisa currently resides in Des Moines, IA, where she is a certified STOTT PILATES Instructor Trainer, and is a member of Hurley & Dancers.  She has also danced with Poetic Rebound Performance Company and Co'motion Dance Theater.  Her most recent performances include: Iowa Dance Fest '07 and '08, Octagon Arts Fest '08, Share the Arts '08 in Ames, IA, the Three Penny Opera '07, Global Dance Fest 08, ArtStop '08, '09 and '10, Fresco Aroused '10, Des Moines Art Fest '10, and Once in a Blues Moon '11.  Lisa has taught variety of all ages and classes, including a wheelchair dance class.  She is excited to be a part of the DanzArts faculty!


Brooke Mayer

Ballet & Pointe

Brooke Mayer is an Iowa native whose dance background is primarily in classical ballet. After dancing with Ballet Theater of Des Moines, Brooke went on to dance with Omaha Theater Ballet in the corps de ballet under the direction of Robin Welch for two years.   Brooke has performed in many ballet productions over the years including Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, Dracula, Coppelia, Paquita, and many variety shows.  Brooke has over 12 years of dance teaching experience which includes four years of running a dance school in Florida.  Brooke moved back to Iowa in 2014 with her three beautiful children to be close to her family. 


Alissa Hamer Thompson

Contemporary & Pilates

Alissa Hamer Thompson started her formal dance training during her freshman year at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. She transferred schools to complete her collegiate training at the University of Iowa. She graduated in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Dance. After graduation, Ms. Thompson moved to Des Moines and joined the faculty at Capital City Dance Center (CCDC). Under the direction of Melissa and Emery Uyehara, Ms.Thompson developed her skills as an instructor and enjoyed 13 years of training CCDC dancers. Some of Ms. Thompson's favorite performing roles include Meghan Beresford's Little Gods, Maggie Rupprecht's I'm Here, Tracy Vacura's When You Look At Me, Do You See Me?, and Kathleen Hurley's My Funny Valentine.

In addition to being a dancer, Ms. Thompson is a licensed Physical Therapist Assistant and a Pilates instructor. In her free time, she loves being with her family. Ms. Thompson is excited to be a part of the DanzArts faculty!

Dharmini Piekarska

Ballroom, Ballet, Pointe & Fusion

Dharmini Piekarska is a multidisciplinary artist whose work spans multiple genres and modes of delivery. A former English Open Ten Dance champion, she hails from a background of dancesport competition. She holds a Certificate in Sports and Health Studies from LMU and a bachelors in Dance from the University of Iowa. While at the university, she has been cast in works by George de la Pena, director Marion Schoevert, playwright Lisa Schlesinger, Anthony Orrico, Urban Bush Women dance company, Britt Juleen, Christopher Rasheem Macmillan and Armando Duarte. Outside of her education, she has also dabbled in film, appearing in several film productions including Dr. Strange, Jason Bourne, and Ready Player One. She is keenly interested in exploring different somatic approaches to teaching dance. Through her studies, she hopes to challenge double standards and empower those from diverse backgrounds. Her favorite points of interest are body mechanics, and female empowerment through dance, be it through studio work, stage, or screendance content. As a student choreographer, she hopes to use this medium to bring joy and thoughtful reflection to her audience. She is proud and blessed to be a part of the dance community and very much looks forward to joining Danzarts in the fall!


David Decker

Jazz & Musical Theater

David Decker began his formal dance training at Luther College in 1995 under the direction of Douglas Risner and Janet Gillespie, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre/Dance (dance emphasis). David is a founding member of Hurley & Dancers, and has been an instructor with numerous Des Moines Playhouse summer classes.  He has devoted a good deal of time choreographing for theatre in the Des Moines metro area over the past fifteen years, including at StageWest (Carrie, Evil Dead, Hedwig and the Angry Itch) and Waukee High School (Beauty and the Beast, Guys and Dolls, Wizard of Oz, Les Miserable, and Legally Blonde).

Charlie Faraday

Hip Hop, Tap

Charlie Faraday is an acrobat currently in the Cirque du Soleil and Marvel Universe Live casting databases, won Best Artistic Performance at the 2012 Denver Aerial Acrobatic Arts Festival, has performed for Disney, Quixotic, Emerald City Trapeze, Cirquetacular Entertainment, and Airealistic, and has been featured on AMC’s Showville, ABC7 Los Angeles, KCCI Des Moines, and The Des Moines Register. She is also a very silly clown.