All About Our Staff and Instructors
Co-Owner & Executive Director
Carol Helmer’s mother started the whole thing. She was a dance teacher in Minneapolis where Carol learned to tap and, as a teenager, assisted her mom in the classroom. When she graduated from high school, she stopped dancing and went to work as a secretary. She did not get back into the dance world until her own daughter, Laura, was 4. Laura started dance at a studio in River Falls and Carol started teaching at that studio. She opened her own studio in the basement of her home in Beldenville in the spring of 1982. Laura started teaching a couple years later.
Carol was the director of the child support agency in Pierce County for 25 years. She retired from that position in 1999 and, together with Laura, opened the studio on O’Keefe Rd. in Hudson. In 2004, land was purchased in the St. Croix Business Park in Hudson and a new studio was built. Both the Beldenville and the Hudson studios were in operation until May of 2010 when the Beldenville studio was closed after 28 years.
Carol’s idol is Debbi Dee, and she has adopted her style. She has won many regional and national awards including the Symposium prestigious “Super Tap” award which honors the memory of Linda Joseph. In June 2019, she received the first "Leaving a Legacy" award from Masquerade Dance Competitions. Carol’s choreography lives on in Laura and in her former students who are now, themselves, teachers.
The Helmer Dance Studio is truly a family operation. Laura and Carol work well together. Laura’s husband, Jason, and Carol’s husband, Milt, are great handymen. Grandchildren, Jazmine, Nick, Jack and Carolyn have all danced at the studio. Clay tried one year of dance in Elk River and decided to play baseball instead. Carol feels very blessed to have such a wonderful family and very privileged to have tapped with so many lovely children...and adult tappers over the last 30 years.
Laura Decheine has been an instructor at Helmer Dance Studio for over 30 years. She is also the co-owner and artistic director of Helmer Dance Studio in Hudson WI.
She has been trained in many dance styles and has trained and choreographed with many renowned choreographers across the country including Tamara Squires, Shawn T, Lilian Manansala, Blake Angier and Sarah Jo Fazio. Laura has served as a judge for Masquerade Dance Competition and Eclipse dance competition and loves watching and critiquing dancers from different parts of the country. Laura’s work has won many regional, national and title awards including many choreography awards. Laura’s students have been featured in Dance Spirit Magazine and many have also gone on to perform in videos, choreograph for studios and award winning dance teams, and even open their own dance studios to continue to pass on the love of dance to yet another generation.
In addition to dance instruction and choreography, Laura is also a licensed and certified Speech Language Pathologist and has worked with many special needs children and adults. She currently works part time at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Communication Disorders department as a clinical supervisor and classroom instructor.
Co-Owner & Artistic Director
Kourtney Getschel comes from a childhood filled with dance. She began at age four and finished with dance team at UMD. She has a degree in Political Science and Speech Communication and uses that knowledge to help make the studio a positive and efficient place for our dance families. She has worked at Helmer Dance for 17 years and feels that her fabulous and talented coworkers are very much a part of her family.
As Studio Manager, Kourtney manages the financial aspects of the studio and also works with costuming, competitions and recitals. As Company Line Coordinator, she is the contact person for Company parents and dancers. She endeavors to make each competition season not only successful and fun but also filled with positive memories for everyone.
Kourtney and her husband, David, have four beautiful children who make them proud daily. Lacrosse, football, soccer, dance, music and theatre keep their schedules very busy and fill their lives with joy.
Studio and Competition Manager
Cheri Rosenberger's education and professional background is in Graphic Design, photography, Audio Visual/Television Production, Corporate Communications, and Marketing/Branding.
Her responsibilities at the Studio, along with managing the office, is designing and maintaining the Helmer website, Facebook page, and other social media accounts, chairing special Studio events, i.e. the Holly Dolls, Toys for Tots Drive, the Holiday Happiness Silent Auction and producing the media presentations during the Annual Recitals.
Cheri's daughter graduated from the Helmer Dance Studio Company Line in 2007. Cheri has been working at Helmer Dance for over 12 years. She and her husband, Hudson residents for over 20 years, are animal advocates and have five rescue indoor cats, and two rescue dogs, a Border Collie and a Rough (Lassie) Collie.
Office & Marketing/Social Media Manager
Melissa Gutting began her dance career at the age of 4, and became a competitive dancer at the age of 9. She began teaching dance at age 13 and enjoys teaching so much! She has taught many different age levels throughout her career, and has been with Helmer Dance since 2002.
Melissa is a Sales Development Manager with Travel Leaders in River Falls, WI. She believes that life has brought her many good fortunes, including the gift of travel. She has had the opportunity to take many trips in her career. She also assists in coordinating our Nationals dance trips.
She has 2 daughters who bring her so much joy, sharing not only her love of dance but also softball and other sports too! Melissa says she has enjoyed her years here at Helmer Dance, where it’s more than just a studio, it’s an extension of her family.
Kailah Hartung has been a dancer at Helmer Dance since age 3 and started competing at age 9. She has been trained in ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical and hip hop, and as a member of her high school dance team she gained experience in pom and kick. During her competition years, she was dedicated to taking as much class and learning as much about dance as she could. This includes the amazing teachers and guest teachers at Helmer Dance, by attending many outside conventions and workshops, and being a member of the Twin Cities Dance Collaborative.
Kailah’s talent has been awarded over the years, being selected for scholarships at Masquerade, WCDE, and Dance Olympus conventions. She has also been selected many years as a Masquerade Parade of Stars dancer and Hall of Fame All Star Dancer. She has won Titles of Miss Teen KAR, Miss Teen Bravo and Miss Encore. And was chosen as All Conference and All State for dance team.
Kailah had a successful competition career scoring many platinum, special awards and overall awards, ending her competition career as 2015 National Champion.
She loved her years as a Helmer Dancer and is now so excited to continue to take dance classes and study dance to pass on what she has learned and loved all of these years to many more dancers.
Harrison Cruz's artistic attitude emerged by age two, the love of music, dance and drawing have grown. Harrison started dancing at age four and had an interest in acting by age five. All aspects of the Arts have been tested by Harrison. He’s been dancing for 14 years, 12 of them with his Helmer Family. He has been recognized for his passion and love of dance through prestigious awards such as the Steven Boyd Award, Mr. Teen Bravo and many others. Harrison adds to his list of experiences several years of piano, acting in DI and church plays and musicals. In 2013, Harrison performed a liturgical dance for Easter Sunday church services that he choreographed himself.
Harrison enjoys his involvement in concert band, jazz band, National Honor Society, Volunteer club, Ecology club and Advanced Art group. He’s excited to share and inspire the love and enjoyment of dance to all!
Annie Vitale has been dancing ever since she can remember. She grew up training at Woodbury Dance Center and Spotlight Productions Dance Studio where she danced competitively. She has been trained in a wide range of styles including jazz, lyrical, contemporary, hip-hop, ballet, tap and musical theatre. In college, she danced on the nationally ranked University of St. Thomas Dance Team where she earned three consecutive national hip-hop titles in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Annie was also a senior captain of the 2017-2018 team. Throughout her time dancing at St. Thomas she enjoyed cheering at football games, teaching at high school dance team clinics, choreographing halftime routines, appearing at university events and competing at Universal Dance Association national competitions. Annie had the opportunity of dancing on the field at Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl 52 Halftime Show with the dance team. Annie is extremely passionate about dance and loves having the opportunity to share her passion with others!
Michaela Macauley received her training at The Gelsey Kirkland Ballet Academy in NYC. The curriculum is based in traditional Russian technique. The syllabus consisted of core dynamics, technique, pointe, repertoire, pas de deux, music, and acting. She also studied with Jessica Howard, a three time National Championship winner in Rhythmic Gymnastics. Michaela attended both The American Ballet Theatre and Bolshoi Ballet summer intensives. She is a recipient of a gold medal at the LIBC and was inducted into the National Society of Dance Arts. She has danced with Gelsey Kirkland Ballet, Twin Cities Ballet and is currently with Continental Ballet Company. Michaela received her teaching certification from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy of Russia and is a certified Progressive Ballet Technique instructor. She has coached for the YAGP with two of her students placing in the finals. Her teaching style is rooted in classical ballet with an emphasis on wellness.
Kallie Terrazas became a Helmer Dancer at age 3 and began dancing competitively at age 8. Trained in tap, jazz, lyrical, ballet, hip-hop and musical theater, Kallie earned many team and individual awards. As part of her high school dance team she gained training in Pom and helped bring home four state championships, and was individually named to the all-state team for four consecutive years. She continued her dance career in college where she danced for the nationally ranked UW—Madison dance team, cheering on the Badgers field- and court-side.
Returning to her Helmer family in 2009, Kallie had the privilege of teaching and choreographing for both recreational and competitive lines for five years. Her work won several awards during this time. After a short hiatus that included a move to Chicago, marriage to her husband Chris, move to Nashville and the birth of her two beautiful babies Julian & Emma, she’s so excited to be returning to her Helmer family yet again! In addition to teaching, Kallie works as the Marketing Manager for the Chicago-based dancewear brand, Russian Pointe. She spends the rest of her time with family, soaking up every snuggle, scrape and milestone her kids throw her way.