Celebrating 20 Years of God-Honoring Dance

In May 2021, Celebrate! Dance Academy reached two decades of ministry and held commemorative recitals where over 1,700 people attended and celebrated their 20th Anniversary on the Arden Hills Plaza.


Here's the Celebrate! Dance story about how it began and how God has been on the move through this ministry.


How it all began

During the Spring of 2000, Tracy Pearce, a God-revering and accomplished dance teacher, had attended a recital. Among the performances were Kindergarten-age girls dancing to a Britney Spears song. They were dressed up just like Britney Spears: wearing blonde wigs, dark stage make-up, and midriff-baring costumes.

“The dance technique and performance quality were excellent,” says Tracy. “My heart was grieved.”

These Britney Spears imitators were just Kindergarten-aged girls! “Why can’t they be five?” Tracy thought.

On the long drive home from the recital, Tracy’s mind raced with ideas. She sensed God planting a vision in her heart for a technically excellent, artistically based, God-honoring dance studio within the walls of North Heights.

When the vision and ideas took shape, Tracy spent every waking hour of Memorial Day weekend, 2000, crafting a ministry proposal. Then she met with the North Heights Church Council and shared the Celebrate! Dance Academy vision. Tracy's proposal described the “Who” this ministry would serve. The “What” its purpose and guiding principles would be. The “Why” this ministry should exist. The “How” it can be age-appropriate, relevant, affordable, and sustainable to the people it serves and to North Heights.

After much prayer and consideration by the North Heights Church Council, Celebrate! Dance Academy was founded. In July 2001, the first Studio was designed and built. By the beginning of the school year the dance academy was filled with 120 students and 22 classes with one director/teacher.

Where it is today

Over the course of the last 20 years, over 1,500 dancers have learned how to praise God with dancing (Zephaniah 3:17), including four second-generation dancers.

“God rooted and built up Celebrate! in Him and has established it in the faith,” says Tracy. “My heart is abounding in thanksgiving and gratitude as I witness God’s harvest (Colossians 2:7).”

Today, Celebrate! Dance Academy has two co-directors, Sarah Pieper and Mary Smith who began dancing under Tracy’s direction at Celebrate! as 9 and 11 year olds, as well as two office staff, Carrie Josephson and Hannah Johnson, and nine teachers. This team has grown Celebrate! to four studios, 88 classes, and 379 dancers.

With diverse and complementary talents, Celebrate! Dance Academy leaders and teachers are providing more technically adept and advanced dance classes than ever before. The artistry infused into classes and performances has never been more focused, purposeful, and creative. Most importantly, these God-seeking, obedient, and nurturing women are leading children, teens, and young adults in God-honoring ways through dance.

“I believe that our ministry has been a centerpiece of God’s work in restoring the arts to Himself,” says Tracy. “And instrumental in leading God’s people into a greater understanding of how He loves, delights, and rejoices over us.”

Thanks to a multitude

Tracy is grateful to everyone who has touched Celebrate! Dance Academy over the last 20 years. There have been multitudes of people, prayers, support, wisdom, talent, enrollment, and sacrifice that have helped the Celebrate! Dance Academy overcome challenges and struggles to flourish and become the blessing it is today.

“Thank you to church leaders, mentors, directors, teachers, teaching assistants, dancers, parents, grandparents, audiences, donors, volunteers, the extended North Heights and regional community” says Tracy. “Thank you for being an irreplaceable part of our story and our family.”

For more information, visit: Celebrate! Dance Academy

Honoring a Legacy and Passing the Mantle

Tribute to Jeff

Jeff TaylorA Tribute to Jeff Taylor

Hundreds packed out the Arden Hills Worship Center to experience “A Tribute to Jeff Taylor” on Saturday, June 5, 2021. This heart-felt retirement celebration honored Jeff’s 24 years of dedicated service as North Heights Christian Academy Principal and the legacy he has left by investing in the next generation of Christian leaders. 

If you missed this event (or if you’d like to watch it again) here’s your chance.

Watch: A Tribute to Jeff Taylor

Passing the Mantle

While we celebrate Jeff Taylor’s remarkable legacy, we also celebrate God’s provision and welcome Josh Thurston as the new NHCA Principal. Josh begins Monday, June 14.

Over the past nine years, Josh has served at Fridley Public Schools. He has held a variety of roles including Teacher, Alternative Learning Center Program Director, and most recently, the Dean of Students and Activities/Athletic Director for over 850 students in grades 5-8. Josh works to create unity with students, families and staff and to ensure a high level of academic achievement. He holds a B.S. in Social Studies Education from Metropolitan State University, a M.A. in Curriculum and Instructional Design from St. Thomas University, and a K-12 Administrators License from Hamline University. 

Christ-centered education has been the foundation of Josh’s life. He graduated from a Christian K-8th grade school in Blaine and a Christian high school (Concordia Academy, Roseville). He married his high school sweetheart, Ria (Lenzen) Thurston who is alumni of NHCA, and now their two children attend NHCA.  

God is on the move and Josh feels called into his new role as NHCA Principal. He is looking forward to meeting everyone and eager to serve the NHCA students, staff and families.


Arden Hills Campus

1700 West Highway 96, Arden Hills
Saint Paul, MN


Roseville Campus

2701 North Rice Street
Roseville, MN


(651) 797-7800