Our Staff and Instructors
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 dance 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 is the co-owner and artistic director of Helmer Dance Studio. She is trained in many dance styles and has trained and choreographed with many renowned choreographers across the country. Laura teaches pre-dance, tap, ballet and jazz to all ages in the HDS recreational program and tap, ballet, lyrical, contemporary, musical theater and jazz for the HDS competitive program. 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 gone on to perform in movies and music videos, perform for college dance teams, 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 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 and University of Minnesota–Duluth as an associate lecturer and clinical 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 19 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 include 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 almost 15 years. She and her husband, Hudson residents for 22 years, are animal advocates and have five rescue indoor cats, and two rescue dogs, a Border Collie and a Rough (Lassie) Collie. She recently became a new Grandma too!
Office Manager/Graphic Designer
Melissa Gutting began dancing as a child at age 4, dancing competitively quickly after and started teaching when she was only 13 years old. Being able to share her love of dance with students of all ages, brings her such joy! Teaching at all levels here, she has been a part of the Helmer Dance family 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 even assists in coordinating our Nationals dance trips. Join us!
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 HDS since age 3 and started competing at age 9. She's 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 took as much class and learned as much as she could. This includes the amazing teachers and guest teachers at HDS, attendance of many conventions & workshops, and being a member of the Twin Cities Dance Collaborative.
Selected for scholarships at Masquerade, WCDE, and Dance Olympus conventions, Kailah’s talent was awarded over the years. She was also selected many years for Masquerade's Parade of Stars and Hall of Fame's All Star Dancers. She won Titles of Miss Teen KAR, Miss Teen Bravo and Miss Encore, snd was chosen as All-Conference and All-State for dance team. Kailah had a successful competition career scoring many platinums, special awards and overall awards, ending her competition career as 2015 National Champion.
She loved her years as a Helmer Dancer and is now excited to continue taking classes and studying dance to pass on what she has learned and loved all of these years to many more dancers.
Harrison Cruz began dancing at age 4, and has been dancing with Helmer Dance Srudio since he was 6. He has competed in several styles including Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Hip Hop, Ballet, and Contemporary, as well as participated in Improv contests and Masquerade's Dancer of the Year. He has won title awards including Mr. Masquerade and Mr. Teen Bravo.
Harrison graduated in 2016 from Prescott High School and has been working with Helmer ever since, as a teacher, assistant, and choreographer. In 2020 he graduated from the University of Wisconsin - River Falls with a bachelor's degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Spanish.
Harrison has had experience choreographing for high school dance teams, and has had the privilege of studying dance under amazing teachers such as Ryan Lohoff, Angie Carter, and Greg Russell amongst others.
The Helmer Dance family has always been an important part of Harrison's life and he feels incredibly lucky to be able to share his knowledge of dance with new dancers in a place that he calls home.
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.
Carolyn Decheine has been a dancer at Helmer Dance since the age of 2 and started competing at age 5. Miss Carolyn was our class of 2021 graduating senior this past season and will continue as an instructor and choreographer at Helmer Dance while attending the University of St. Thomas. Her years of training include jazz, tap, ballet, hip hop, lyrical, musical theater, pointe, and dance team experience on the River Falls High School Dance Team. Carolyn has been selected to perform in Masquerade’s Parade of Stars opening number since the age of eleven, was awarded 2017 Teen Miss Masquerade and 2013 Junior Miss Eclipse. She was also selected as one of three Celebrity Crew Members at Celebrity Competitions in 2019. Carolyn’s passion and dedication for dance is apparent in her dance career as she has been awarded many unmasked elite, platinum, special, and overall awards for her performances. Carolyn has always had a passion and love for dance and continues to do so as she passes on what she has learned and loved all of these years to many dancers to come!
Wesley Rocha is from Vitória, Brazil. Wesley began classical ballet training at Expressão & Arte Studio de Dança in Cariacica, Brazil under the direction of Helen Cristine. In 2003 he received his training at the ballet school Espaco da Danca in Villa Velha. In 2008 he moved to Rio de Janeiro for complete his training at school of dance Petite Dance. In 2009 he joined the ballet company Dancar a Vida (Dancing Life Company) in Rio de Janeiro.
Wesley has performed in the following Brazilian acclaimed original spectaculars: Villa Lobos, Uma Cançáo de Amor, Nos Passos da Dança, De Tudo se Faz Canção and Enquanto A Banda Passar. Each show was performed live in 60 performances over a 6 month period. He has performed guest principal roles in full-length productions of The Nutcracker, Don Quixote, Swan Lake and Giselle. He also performed roles as La Bayadère, Pas d`Action, La Corsair pas deux, Coppelia,Pas de Duex, feridool pas de trois, Peasant Pas de Deux, Swan Lake Pas de trois and Harlequinade. Wesley also participated in the biggest Competitive Exhibition dance festivals in Brazil from 2009-2011. After moving to Minneapolis, Wesley joined Continental Ballet Company where he has danced professionally since 2015.