The Company

Karen L. Charles

Artistic/Executive Director

A dedicated performer, teacher and creator, Karen Long Charles received a BFA Ballet/BS Computer Science from Texas Christian University and M.Ed. in Administration from Georgia State University.  Charles has performed with numerous dance companies including Room to Move Dance Company (Atlanta, GA), Susan Warden Dance Company (Kansas City, MO) and was awarded a fellowship to study at the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Charles served as Director at Perpich Arts High School and she was the founding Principal/Executive Director at Main Street School of Performing Arts. Charles has created/presented works for James Sewell Ballet, Carleton College, Macalester College, Main Street School of Performing Arts and Perpich Arts High School.

Threads Dance Project was founded by Karen L. Charles in 2011. Karen and her Threads Dance Project were nominated for a SAGE Dance Award for Outstanding Performance in 2015, have successfully toured to sold-out audiences in Atlanta, GA, and co-hosted the 2017 McKnight International Choreographer, Salia Sanou, of Burkina Faso/France.

Threads was also honored as one of six companies featured in American Dance Abroad’s (ADA): Pitchbook Volume II (Winter 2016) for In-Development Projects, for the Fall 2017 premiere piece “Uncertain Reality.” ADA’s publication is used as a representation of American dance around the world at festivals, performances and marketed to international programmers.

The Dancers & Staff

Karen Christ Aalgaard
Dancer, Rehearsal Manager
Hometown: Lakota, IA
Education: BFA Dance from University of Iowa
Training & Professional Experience: Dance Connection by Michelle Clegg, Dance & Other Behaviors

Nieya Amezquita
Hometown: Decatur, GA
Education: DancerMakers of Atlanta, University of GA
Professional experience and training: Nieya was a founding member of CADENCE and Linds&Co, was president of the Young Choreographer’s committee and attended the American Collegiate Dance Association. She is also a Barre fitness instructor.

Michelle Collins
Hometown: Apple Valley, MN
Education: Cornish College of the Arts – BFA in Dance Choreography
Training & Professional Experience: Michelle Collins Solo Work, Maul Dance, Mankato State University Dance Theater, Cornish Dance Theater

Rae Charles Harge
Community Engagement and Education Manager
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Education: New York University, BFA in Dance; University of Michigan, MA Educational Studies; University of Minnesota, Phd. in Curriculum & Instruction-Arts Education

Sara Karimi
Hometown: Cedarburg, WI
Education: University of Iowa- BFA in Dance, BA in English
Training & Professional Experience: Milwaukee Ballet School, Danceworks Inc, Kayle & Company, 10,000 Feet Dance Theatre, Borealis Dance

Lucy Beers Shenk

Funds Development Manager

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Education: BA in Creative Writing, Macalester College

Training & Professional Experience: OutFront Minnesota, The Loft Literary Center, and Milkweed Editions.

Brenna Mosser
Dancer, Company Manager
Education: Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London, UK,  le Centre National de la Danse Contemporaine in Angers, France
Brenna currently also dances for Alternative Motion Project and Bernadette Knaeble. She is also founder and artistic director of Analog Dance Works.

Lauren Vasilakos
Hometown: Woodbury,
Education: Univ. of IA- BA in Dance: BA in Biology
Professional experience: Martha Graham University Partners Showcase, American College Dance Assc., UI Youth Ballet Instructor, Joffrey Ballet School Intensive, The Rock School for Dance Education Intensive.

Board of Directors & Artistic Advisors

Threads Dance Project’s Board of Directors is composed of members representing the world’s diversity as to ethnicity, race, age, gender, sexual orientation, and religion. Members are united in their commitment to supporting the mission of the organization. Board activities are driven by an Annual Organizational Plan, a statement of individual fundraising and resource-development goals based on personal skill sets, and abilities.

The board meets regularly to fulfill its obligation of governance. The work of the board is carried out by committees that meet as needed. Key committees are Fundraising, Marketing, Organizational Effectiveness, Outreach, and Performance.

If you are interested in joining the Threads’ Board of Directors, please contact Artistic/Executive Director Karen L. Charles:

Amanda Norman

NGE Holdings Inc.

Tricia Kaufman

Stinson LLP

Kenneth Charles

Community Member

Christine Clifford

Vice President
U.S. Bank

Omarra Alexander 

Community Member

Zachary Clifton

CVS Health

Amanda Thor


W. Todd Ackerman

US Bank

Marcus Buggs


Billboard Planet

Ella McGrady-Wiley


The Artistic Advisors are a knowledgeable group of professionals who consult and provide arts related expertise as needed. The Advisors have no legal or fiduciary responsibilities, but are advocates for the company’s mission and serve an integral part of Threads Dance Project’s artistic processes.

Diane Aldis


Herman Milligan


Mary Moore Easter


David O’Fallon


Linda Muir Finney