Our Story

It started with a vision to bring a diverse program to the Central Wisconsin community…

Wausau Academy of Dance was created with the goal to provide new and exciting opportunities for the students of our community.  We knew that we wanted to offer experiences that would challenge the dancers which is why we travel around the nation with our competitive dancers so that they can compete amongst the best. We knew we wanted to offer experiences that allowed for personal growth and enriching life experiences, so we travel to places like New York and Disney World.  We knew that we wanted to create a program that nurtures each dancer’s artistic voice with summer choreo labs, solo lessons and an opportunity for dancers to perform self choreographed pieces.  We knew that we wanted to create a program that emphasized the importance of community and our pride in the Wausau area. In turn, we hold charity events to support local nonprofits such as The Women’s Community, Boys and Girls Club of Wausau, Marathon County Humane Society, Children’s Miracle Network of Central Wisconsin, The Grand Theater Foundation and more.  We knew that we wanted to create a program that allowed ample performance opportunities for those that wanted them, as well as a place for students who have an appreciation for dance but also have other interests outside of the studio.  The level of education needs to be high for all of the students.  When hiring teachers I look for individuals who have two things that stand out, their love of working with people and their knowledge of safe teaching practices.

Meet the Owners

Creating a Dream in 2009

Wausau Academy of Dance was born in 2009 when dancer Bekki Chelminiak and businessman Brad Bauer opened the doors.  1 year later they were married and shortly after had two beautiful girls Violet and Eve.  

Owner and director Bekki Bauer earned her BS in dance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she had the opportunity to work with many choreographers. She has studied at Broadway Dance Center and Steps both of New York, Gus Giordano Dance Center of Chicago, Illinois, UW-Stevens Point and many national conventions. She has performed with Jin Wen- Yu Dance & Tri-Polar Dance, Dance International- Australia, Dance for Camera-Utah and the City of Roses Ballroom Showcase- Oregon in addition to numerous university performances. Ms. Bauer has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum, is a certified Pilates instructor, taught in Costa Rica for MaryAnn Wells’ Yoga Teacher Training program and is certified in Acro Arts.   Ms. Bauer received the 20 Under Forty award from the Wausau Daily Herald, an award acknowledging young professionals who have a positive impact on their community. She also served on the board for Ascension’s Foundation.   

Owner and manager Brad Bauer received his BS in economics from UW- Madison.  After graduation he spent his time flipping houses and working as a meat cutter.  At the studio he can be found helping out in the office, taking care of the accounting, or updating the space.  When Mr Brad is not working at the studio he spends his time managing, maintaining and refurbishing his other commercial properties as well as running Bauer’s Mega Storage.  

Our Team

Our Instructors + Faculty

Our award-winning, dedicated instructors have molded Wausau Academy of Dance into the studio it is today, making it the best in the central Wisconsin area. Dance is appreciated as both an art form and as an educational tool for our dancers by all teachers. Our instructors are dedicated to creating a safe and ever-growing atmosphere for all dancers with various levels and skill sets… we want your dancer to grow every time they step in the door.

Meet Our Staff

We Love What We Do. We Love What We’ve Done.

Ms. Renee

Renee Buchholz is the owner of Starting Strong 4 Dance a company that focuses on choreography, consulting, and cleaning routines.  Renee started her career coaching in 1997; she coached for twenty-five years and finished her coaching career with back to back state championships in 2021 and 2022.  She coached DC Everest Dance team for 16 years, she coached Kaukauna Dance team for eight years, and was the Eau Claire North JV coach for 1.5 years. Renee was also a dance instructor at Eau Claire School of Dance and Wausau Academy of Dance and has spent many years teaching and choreographing in high schools and dance studios. She spent three years as a Universal Dance Association (UDA) Instructor, three years as a StarStruck Dance Camp instructor, and has professionally choreographed for dance teams in the mid-west. Most recently she has found a passion for Group Fitness. She is a certified group fitness instructor and teaches HITT ZENN, Toning to the Core, Les Mills BodyPump, and YogaBody Boot camp, Barre, Cardio and Strength. In 2022 she began certified in MX4. Her gained knowledge in group-fitness has helped her take dancers to the next level.  Renee launched a coaching forum on social media called “Starting Strong” as a way to share her coaching experience with her coaching tribe.  Renee was the WACPC coach of the year in 2010, she’s served as a WACPC district rep, and she’s led her team to four D1 State Pom Championships winning many state and national accolades throughout the years. Most recently Renee helps serve on the WACPC Board and Dance Committee and was the WACPC Northern Dance Championship Regional Site Director. Renee is a former High School English teacher; she is a mother of five, and works as a fitness instructor, dance consultant and a choreographer. 

Ms. Leah

Ms. Leah was a member of Allegro Dance Theater for over eight years. While in Allegro she had the privilege of being the title character in the ballet Cinderella and shared the stage with many professionals from the Milwaukee Ballet and Julie Kent, principal dancer of ABT. She trained at the Milwaukee Ballet School throughout high school and while attending UW- Milwaukee. Ms. Buffinton choreographed the state champion Northland Lutheran Show Choir and has taught locally for the Community Ballet. Ms. Buffinton is also a registered nurse and proud mom of 4!

 Ms. Josie

Rooted in contemporary, ballet, and lyrical styles, Josie cultivated a passion for dance early on in her life. Her journey began where dance was more than a hobby—from studio dance to the D.C. Everest Dance Team and Allegro Dance, she immersed herself in several performance opportunities and various styles of dance including hip hop, ballet, lyrical, musical theater, jazz, and modern. Later during her college venture as a graphic design student at UW-Eau Claire and UW-Stevens Point, she was a part of the UWEC Concert Dance Company where she attended several workshops and ACDFA Festivals. She choreographed numerous contemporary pieces at ACDFA festivals, earning a choreographer award at the ACDFA Gala performance. After her transfer to Stevens Point, she joined the UWSP Dance Team and choreographed pieces for a senior capstone project. While in college, she also earned her WACPC High School level judge certification.

Josie feels blessed to be a part of the WAD family where she can continue to express her creativity through her choreography. In her choreography, she strives to push boundaries, infusing innovation, technique, and telling stories. She pushes both herself and her students to explore expression and exemplify their talents.

Beyond the studio, she is a mother of two, a professional photographer, and a graphic designer, with a passion to help non-profits and small businesses with their marketing needs. She hopes to inspire, uplift, and to foster a community where every youth and dancer can shine brightly, embracing their God-given talents and reaching new heights of excellence.

Ms. Daniela

Ms. Daniela began dancing at the age of 4 and quickly found her love for ballet. At 9, she began training with Ballet Minnesota’s Classical Ballet Academy and had the opportunity to train at Summer Intensives with Milwaukee Ballet and Long Beach Ballet Company. Following a decade dedicated to animal welfare, Ms. Daniela reignited her passion for dance by joining an adult ballet class and, soon, began her teaching career.  Ms. Daniela commits herself to cultivating wellness in dancers, prioritizing both physical and mental wellbeing. Her nurturing approach cultivates a supportive environment where students feel empowered to freely express themselves.

Ms. Daniela is a proud mom of two wonderful daughters, Program Director for non-profit organization “Girls on the Run”, and has recently become an endurance runner, completing five marathons and an ultramarathon to date. Currently, she’s pursuing UESCA certification to become a running coach, driven by her desire to share the transformative benefits of running with others.

Ms. Emily G.

Ms. Emily grew up dancing and loved tap, ballet, and pom. She enjoyed dancing on the competition team at Wausau Academy during her seven years at the studio. While in high school, she was also a member of the award winning DC Everest Dance Team. In college, she studied Early Childhood Education at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse and is currently a 2nd grade teacher here in Wausau. Ms Emily loves being back at Wausau Academy of Dance, teaching the littlest of dancers!

Ms. Emily H.

Madeline is a Wausau native who has been dancing since the age of 3. For fifteen years she has trained in ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, lyrical, and hip hop, and has decided to continue her dance career as a teacher with Wausau Academy. Ms. Madeline is an Education Major at UW-Stevens Point. She especially loves to work with our younger dancers and was a student demonstrator throughout high school. She was a member of our competition team and performed across the Midwest and in Nevada. She loves to spread positivity and always sees the best in her students, encouraging them and pushing them to be the best they can be.

Ms. Kim

First & foremost Ms. Kim is a proud Dance Mom to Taylor and Tatum. She has been engaged with dance her entire life, whether taking classes herself or supporting her girls in their dance journey. She LOVES everything about the dance studio atmosphere. Her passion lies within our littlest dancers helping them learn all they can about the art form and making sure they have fun doing so. You can often hear “Fireball” or “It’s Raining Tacos” blasting from her classroom. Ms. Kim was a competition kid herself that started dance at 3 years old. She took various styles up through her high school years but always gravitated toward tap. She had the opportunity to student demonstrate at a young age and taught her first class on her own as the instructor when she was 15. She loves all styles of movement and likes to be creative when working on dance themes & concepts. She is a costume junkie and if you know Ms. Kim you know she will add a rhinestone or 100 to any costume!

Ms. Madeline

Madeline has been a dancer since the age of three. As a competitive dancer, she has trained in ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, and hip hop. As a member of Wausau Academy of Dance’s competition team, Madeline had the opportunity to perform across the Midwest and and Nevada. She loves to share her boundless energy and enthusiasm with her dancers, pushing and motivating them to unlock their potential and strive for excellence. Madeline is also a passionate school teacher, currently teaching at Mountain Bay Elementary School in Weston.

Ms. Haylee

Ms. Haylee started dancing when she was just three years old and has been involved in the dance world ever since. Including over 15 years experience of being an instructor and choreographer. In her performing years, she was awarded with Titles, All Star awards and dance scholarships. She grew up with Tap being her specialty and enjoys sharing that passion with her students. She has a knack for teaching our youngest little dancers and has an easy time transitioning to teach our advanced dancers as well! She has a keen eye for detail and an ear for articulate rhythms. In addition to teaching, Haylee is a licensed cosmetologist. She also spends her time writing a blog and advocating to help others struggling with infertility and child loss in memory of her infant son, Beau, who passed away in 2019.

Ms. Jeni

Ms. Jeni grew up in Milwaukee, WI. She began her training at Dance Spectrum in Shorewood, WI where she danced with their children’s company. Finding her passion for ballet, she began training at the Milwaukee Ballet School. While a student, Ms. Jeni received many opportunities to perform with the Milwaukee Ballet Company. While at the Ballet school, she continued her training in tap, modern, and jazz at Danceworks. Ms. Jeni attended Milwaukee High School of the Arts as a dance major, where she received many awards for her performances and dedication to dance. While in high school and into college, Ms. Jeni also trained at the UW- Milwaukee, where she met her husband, a Mosinee native and proud WAD supporter. She earned her BS in Psychology and has successfully completed the ABT® Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 3 of the ABT® National Training Curriculum and is also certified in Alixa Flexibility. Locally, Ms Jeni taught for The Community Ballet and in the past has served as a board member and executive director for the program. She has choreographed for Mosinee Community Theatre and Central Wisconsin Children’s Theatre. Ms. Jeni’s choreography continuously receives special judges’ recognition at competition for its creativity and artistry. Last, but definitely not least, Jeni is also a very proud dance mom to Percy and is his biggest supporter.

Ms. Mackenzie

Mackenzie grew up enjoying the arts and found herself falling in love, especially with dance. She has been in dance since she was 7 and for 10 years has been training in a range of styles and competing with our competition team. Mackenzie attends University of Wisconsin Stevens Point and is working towards a Biochemistry major on a pre-medicine tract. She enjoys the presence of the younger dancers and hopes to continue working with them throughout her career. Mackenzie is a big sister to all the dancers and encourages them to try their best and work towards their goals.

Ms. Amanda

Ms Amanda grew up dancing at Dorinda’s in Merrill and CWSB. She was a member of the Merrill dance team and spirit squad. She went on to minor in dance and exercise and major in prelaw at Syracuse University and
was a member of the Cheer and Dance Team. Ms. Amanda is a talented seamstress and owns Béla Joy Boutique, a custom dance costume company. Ms Amanda has a great eye for cleaning routines and does a great job of making dancers feel welcome into the classroom. She has earned her certification through International Dance Teaching Standards and acrobatic arts.

Ms. Tori

Ms. Tori is a Wausau native who has returned home after receiving her BFA in Contemporary Choreography and Performance from UW-Milwaukee. She was on the Dean’s List for four years and was awarded the Dance Undergraduate Student Scholarship. Her intensive study of ballet and modern dance allowed her to work with Simone Ferro, Karl von Rabenau, Maria Gillespie, Molly Shanahan as well as many others and to travel to Brazil. She has taught in Milwaukee, Tempe, Arizona and has been sharing her kindness and dance knowledge with our students.

Ms. Chi Anna

ChiAnna is a teacher and choreographer who grew up training at Wausau Academy of Dance where she gained experience in styles such as tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, hip hop, acro ballroom, and ballet. Throughout her career she has attended numerous national conventions, competitions, and festivals such as Nuvo, Showstoppers, Thunderstruck, and OC Tap fest. In addition, she expanded her tap knowledge as a traveling apprentice for Tap Into the Network. She has also used her talents to serve in her community by teaching at a local Boys & Girls Club and performing in the Wausau Area Silver Pageant. Aside from her dance career ChiAnna is a student at Concordia Chicago University where she is pursuing a degree in Kinesiology.


Ms. Kaitlin

Kaitlin is an alumnus of the Wausau Academy of Dance. She is currently enrolled at UWSP with a BA in Dance and a BS in Business Administration with a minor in Accounting. The dance program has allowed her to focus on injury prevention strategies and help her with a Pilates Mat certification. She has taken classes from choreographers around the nation in African jazz, tap, modern, improv, contemporary, and ballet. She has choreographed and performed for Danstage, Afterimages, and Opera. She has interned for Walt Disney World to grow her knowledge of performance opportunities and event coordinating.

Ms. Lindsey

Ms. Lindsey’s journey in dance began in Wausau and flourished through training at Larkin Dance Studio in Maplewood, MN, as well as at Edge and Millennium Dance Complex in Los Angeles. Her talent led her to work on TV shows like Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Dance 360, Fastlane, and Without A Trace, among others. Notably, she performed in Carnival-LA’s renowned choreographers’ showcase with Gina Starbuck. Throughout North America, from Los Angeles to Toronto, Ms. Lindsey has shared her expertise, delivering challenging and cutting-edge choreography. Her tap, hip-hop students and choreography consistently receive top honors at competitions. Beyond the studio, she passionately advocates against domestic violence in memory of her best friend, Kira, and champions the cause of homeless animals. A devoted mom to two bulldogs, Petunia and Gary, she balances her love for dance with a commitment to social impact.

Ms. Angela

Angela Zarnke is a dance professional that has many years of experience working with children and young adults, teaching them the art of dance and co-directing performances. She is truly passionate about the art of dance and what it can teach youth about themselves, creativity and teamwork. She earned her bachelor’s degree through the UW-Stevens Point dance program and has been teaching dance for 20+ years at various studios. Angela is currently the co-founder and co-director of Dance for Screen, a local dance workshop that combines the art of dance and film around the Central Wisconsin area. She has earned many awards for her choreography at regional dance competitions, as well as accolades at national and worldwide film festivals. She is also the mother of two boys and an administrative assistant at a local charter school. Angela is delighted to share her love and passion for dance with her students.  

Come Visit us!

Or Message Us!

We welcome anyone to come view our classes at our studio. Our lobby is open weekdays in the evenings and we would be happy to assist you with any questions you have. Message us today!

226806 Harrier Ave

Wausau, WI 54401

Studio: 715.841.0060
Bekki’s Direct Line: 715.432.0203