Our Team

We love teaching your children!

Heather Nelson

Studio Owner/Director

Heather started dancing at the age of two with her mom at Mary Lu Smith Dance Academy. In high school, she earned a full scholarship to Mallory Graham School of Arts in North Carolina. She attended George Mason University in their dance program.  She has more than 25 years of teaching and choreographic experience. Heather traveled with Hoctor's Dance Caravan throughout the U.S. and Canada for six years and worked with such greats as Tommy Tune, Danny Hoctor, Barry Lather, and Henry LaTang. She has appeared in an instructional dance video and she has worked as a choreographer for many local pageants and musicals.  Heather has owned and operated Performing Arts 2000 for eighteen years, and has trained a multitude of dancers who have entered the dance profession. She has directed and choreographed many award-winning numbers, receiving national recognition and national teacher of the year award. Heather is very excited to be entering her 18th season this year.

Heather resides in Mineral with her husband, Tim Nelson, their three sons, Jared, Dillon, Ethan and their two dogs an adopted chocolate lab and a yorkie poo.


Candice Bucker

Dance Teacher

Candice started taking dance lessons at Mary Lu Smith Dance Academy at the age of 4 and joined the competition team in the third grade.  She auditioned and was selected to travel the United States as a Caravan Kid with Hoctor's Dance Caravan.  While traveling as a Caravan Kid, Candice took classes and assisted with classes taught by professional dancers and choreographers such as Gene Nelson, Savion Glover, Bonnie Crawley, and Lisa Ratzin.  Candice took classes at the Radford University Dance Conservatory and performed in the Tap Ensemble at Shuffles Dance Center.  Outside of her hometown of Louisa, Candice has taught tap classes in Blacksburg, VA and Key West, FL.  Candice has won numerous awards at regional and national dance competitions including awards for Outstanding Choreography, Most Entertaining, Best Costume, and various Judge's Awards.  Candice loves to teach dance and is starting her 12th season at Performing Arts 2000.  She looks forward to another fabulous year of learning and performing.

While not teaching, Candice works as a Registered Nurse and enjoys spending time with her family and foster children.

Mary Estes

Dance Teacher

Mary has been teaching all types of dance for 35 years. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Dance from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA. She owned and operated Dance With M.E. Studio in Erie for 10 years prior moving to Midlothian, VA. in 1995. After moving to the Richmond area, she has had more than 20 years teaching experience in Virginia. Her choreography has won numerous local, regional, and national awards over the years. In addition to dance, Mary has also worked as Color Guard Instructor for high schools in both Pennsylvania and here in Virginia. She has just recently retired from Clover Hill High School Marching Band after 20 years service.

Mandy Cheshire

Dance Teacher

My name is Mandy Cheshire and I was born and raised in Louisa Va. I started dancing when I was 3yrs old. I love every aspect of dance from choreography to facial expressions there is no greater joy for me as a teacher than watching a dancer work hard on their skill and go home with a smile on their face because of all the new techniques they learned and the fun that they had. I have been a part of performing arts 2000 since I started dancing at a young age. I now not only have the pleasure of teaching but getting to watch my daughter enjoy the same sport that I have enjoyed all my life.

Emily Throckmorton

Dance Teacher

My name is Emily Throckmorton. I have been dancing for about 20 years. I am thrilled to share my love of dance with the students at our studio. I am a graduate of James Madison University with a Masters in Elementary Education. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, painting, going to the gym, and spending time with my family and pets. I am also a fourth grade teacher at Stonypoint Elementary in Albemarle County.

Sylvia Rigsby

Gymnastics Teacher

Sylvia is a Louisa County native who began taking dance lessons at a young age before switching over to gymnastics where she competed for multiple years and trained at Piedmont Gymnastics and later Classics Gymnastics Center. She attended Randolph-Macon College where she was on the cheerleading competition team before transferring to Virginia Tech and graduating with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering. Sylvia is an active member of the community volunteering with local organizations including the Louisa County Fair, Louisa 4-H Livestock Club, and Mineral Fire Auxiliary. Sylvia enjoys passing along her love for gymnastics and has been teaching at PA 2000 since 2015.