Heather Lea Gerdes
Beach Born & Street Smart
I was born (literally) on Sunset Beach, California. I spent hours digging coquinas out of the sand as if they were diamonds. I wanted one of each. I’m not sure when the little daredevil actually kicked in, but I remember becoming quite a fearless skateboarder. It wasn’t until my mom talked me to the ground from building a tree fort and into a dance class that I learned to apply all that energy ... five decades later, I’m still dancing and involved in the entertainment industry!
I began my career with the Florida Ballet Company, where I was classically trained in the Cecchetti Method of Dance. I hold an A.I.S.T.D. (Associate Level) in that discipline. When I moved to New York, I studied with Finis Jhung. Finis’ training changed how I danced. I respect him and his methods, as they are responsible for much of my longevity and career successes. Throughout my performing career, I’ve been able to develop and establish strengths as a teacher and choreographer. As such, I’ve taught and choreographed in New York, Los Angeles, Orlando, Japan, Vienna, and London. I’m currently represented by Clear Talent Group in Los Angeles and I’m a proud member of The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, SAG-AFTRA, and AEA.
Manhattan was my home for nearly thirteen years. It was there that I landed the role of Velma in the Broadway Revival of West Side Story, and later, toured with that company throughout Italy and France. I absolutely adored Jerome Robbins and loved working with Leonard Bernstein. I also performed in the production of Copperfield, and danced the female lead in Bob Fosse's Dancin' when our show was the first All-American company to perform in London's West End. That’s where I met the Queen and Gene Kelly kissed me on the cheek. Wow, right?! After the show's run, I participated in the American/British Equity Exchange program and performed with the London company of Cats. Living and working in London was truly amazing!
Movies & TV
I’ve worked on thirty films from background to day-player roles, and am one of the original dancers in the film, Dirty Dancing. Talk about something that has become part of the fabric of American Pop Culture! That movie screams of it. In Los Angeles, I was cast in the Whoville Choir in Ron Howard’s, The Grinch, and had my first experience with facial prosthetics, big ears, and giant front teeth. Good fun! I shot a Sprint Picture Mail print campaign and the pilot for ABC’s Eli Stone. In An American Carol, I'm a featured dancing/singing Professor. I appeared on Glee in Gwyneth Paltrow’s return episode. You’ve got to love Jazzercise! How long has that been around? I also played a “Vixen” on Disney’s, Shake it Up, with the lovely Anita Gillette and a small group of great ladies, and danced on two different episodes of Two and Half Men. Here I am in the Season 2 opener of Netflix's Disjointed from January 2018, reposted in honor of 4/20.
And here's the #tiffanyblue #tiffanypaperflowers commercial!
Tiffany & Co. 2018 Believe in Dreams
I'm a Certified Group Exercise instructor with NASM/AFAA, with Practical Yoga, Resistance Training, 10-Minute Total Body Workout, Turbo Jam, Fuze Craze, YoChi, YogaLean, and Golden Hearts: Senior Fitness Training Workshops/Classes under my belt. I’ve studied UZAZU (Levels 1, 2, & 3), The Language of Energy, a method of achieving energy embodiment by utilizing polarity-based movement, breath, and sound. Blending dance and fitness is a passion of mine. I created Functional Body Training™ as a collection of dance-exercise formats that incorporate resistance work using Heather Lea's Flex Ropes. My formats are Country Cardio®, Ballet for Real People™, Stand Bend & Shake™, and Sit & Shake™. I am also a Senior Fitness Specialist with NASM and I've created a special program for seniors and active older adults called, Synergy for Seniors™.
- NASM Senior Fitness Specialist
- NASM/AFAA Certified Group-Exercise
- Insured & CPR/AED Current)
I have a BA in Motion Picture Technology and my production experience includes assisting in the Principals Casting Office of HBO's, From the Earth the Moon, and later, assisting the Director of Photography on this same Emmy award-winning mini-series. I’ve worked with Bill Dance Casting in Los Angeles on various projects, handled production coordinating and locations for others, and directed and produced my own documentary entitled, "Save the Last Drive-In.” In a bit of a turn, I spent six invaluable months as an agent-in-training at the Bobby Ball Agency in the Dance/Music division, coordinating the acquisition of some 150 New York based musical theatre and dance clients as well as maintaining the Los Angeles client roster. As the Script Department Supervisor for LMNO Entertainment Group for 15 years, I worked multiple seasons on network and cable shows for History, Soapnet, HGTV, Discovery ID, TLC, WE, OWN, Travel Channel, and CBS. I worked as a Script Supervisor for Asylum Entertainment's National Geographic's Origins for the spring 2017 rebranding campaign.
This year I am beginning to embrace the perspective of life happening for me and not to me. Last year was especially rough and challenges are ahead, but to have found grace as Lady Heather Lea through drawing, watercolor, flower crafts and wreath-making was a gift ... I even tested a yummy organic oatmeal cookie recipe! Although they may seem like idle activities, hand-to-God's-ear, they were simply my therapy. Grateful to be dancing and teaching, I want to do more of both this year! And to those beautiful humans who jumped in to help, sent cards and gifts, talked and listened, you are my true friends. I love you for being fearless and being real.