Amber Burns Blazes Her Own Path on Her Artistic Journey


Amber Burns is a multi-talented artist. Photo by Lynnette's Portrait Design.

Amber Burns is a modern-day Renaissance woman with a distinctive array of talents and accomplishments. Whether choreographing, directing, dancing, acting, teaching, or making a positive impact on the community, she is a human dynamo who puts her creative stamp on everything she touches.

Born in Shakopee, MN, she grew up in Chanhassen/Chaska, MN and graduated from Chaska High School in 2006. Amber has a BFA in Art Education from University of MN Duluth and a MLS in Arts Administration from the University of Denver.

Her job experiences include being an AmeriCorps member, a dance and theatre instructor, an art teacher and Fine Arts Department chair, and the Artistic Director of the Playhouse Family Theatre and Education Programming. She now works as a Community Impact Specialist for the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation.

A big part of her love of the arts is centered on dance and choreography. “I have been a dancer since I was 3 years old! I have always loved to dance and known that I would continue dancing and creating for my entire life,” she said.

Theatre came into her life later in her life. “I actually didn’t start doing theatre until after college. My friends Evan Kelly and Jenna Kelly(Kase) were auditioning for a production of the ‘Who’s Tommy’ at Renegade and invited me, saying, ‘We always need dancers in theatre.’ I auditioned and was cast as an ensemble dancer and also as Young Tommy. From there, I was hooked on theatre!”

Amber has brought her own brand of magic to a variety of theater, dance, arts organizations in over 50 productions since 2012 at The Duluth Playhouse, Zeitgeist Arts, Renegade Theatre, Minnesota Ballet, Raise the Barre, 218 Dance Project, Madill Performing Arts, Dream Dance, University of MN, East High School, Denfeld High School, Marshall School, Superior High School, Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, Minnesota State Arts Board, and the Hennepin Theatre Trust.

Amber plays Ali (R) in Duluth Playhouse Mama Mia with Jessie Olson (L) and Courtney Groves (M). Photo submitted.

“My favorite productions I have worked on have been ‘Newsies,’ at the Duluth Playhouse Family Theatre, ‘Matilda,’ at the Duluth Playhouse Family Theatre, ‘Grease’ at the NorShor Theatre, ‘American Idiot’ at the Underground Theatre, and most recently ‘Dance TV’ at Zeitgeist. I had so much fun working on each of these shows and mostly it was because the group of people and the team I worked with were amazing and wonderful. These shows also had a lot of dancing, which I love! “

Amber Burns directed and choreographed a combined youth and adult projection of Matilda, both in March 2020, and remounted in October 2021. Photo submitted

“I think the arts community in the Twin Ports is thriving. After college, I remember thinking that I could go back to the Twin Cities, where there is already a big arts community, or I could stay in Duluth and probably be a big part of creating a thriving arts community. I chose to stay, and I have loved how involved I have been able to be,” Amber noted.

“I am also a visual artist, and have taught art for many years,” she said. “I love to create acrylic paintings of animals and nature. I recently had an exhibition at the Great Lakes Aquarium and had a piece in the First Witness Art Exhibition at the Duluth Art Institute. This winter I will have a show up at the Northern Lakes Art Association in Ely, MN.”

Amber Burns stands next to her acrylic painting "Protector" at First Witness Art Exhibition at the Duluth Art Institute. Photo submitted.

Burns said, “My parents have always been strong advocates for me and have inspired me to always create and follow my passions. My dance teachers over the years have also had a significant impact in my life and have always encouraged me,” Amber said.

She is married to Bryan Burns, who is playing one of the characters in the show she is choreographing now for Boat Club. “Bryan and I love to spend our spare time making people laugh in the sketch comedy shows at Renegade and doing shows together,” she said. “And I also still love teaching dance and fitness classes on the side!”

Bryan and Amber traveled to Mexico earlier this year. Photo submitted.

“We have two fur babies, a dog and a cat. Our dog loves to come to work with me every day at the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation where I am in charge of scholarships and get to give out money to youth pursuing higher education,” Amber noted.

 “Great American Trailer Park Musical” at Boat Club

“Trailer Park sounded like such a fun show, and honestly, it is a stellar group of people. I am always all in when I know the team is going to be amazing! I love collaborating and when you get the right group of people it can be magical,” Amber explained.

“I have never done the show before, and I didn’t really know that much about it before doing some research, which can be exciting but also intimidating to take on a big project that you don’t know much about,” she said. “But it has been really fun getting to know the story, the characters, and creating movement to help guide the process! “

She added, “The show is silly, fun, over the top, but also really down to earth. I think this will be one of those shows that you are laughing one minute, and crying the next. It is touching and sincere, while also being ridiculous!”

 “The Great American Trailer Park Musical”

Music and Lyrics by David Nehls, Book by Betsy Kelso
June 7-16, 2024
June 7-8 7:30pm | June 9 2:00pm
June 13-15 7:30pm | June 16 2:00pm

Spirit of the North Theatre, Fitger’s – 3rd Floor
Box Office Phone Number: (218) 623-7065
Buy tickets online at

Content Warning: Due to the mature nature of this production, it may not be suitable for all ages.

The story has, at its center, a love triangle between an agoraphobe, a highway toll collector and an exotic dancer with an unhinged ex-boyfriend. A Greek-chorus-eque trio of trailer park women helps guide the narrative, playing any character or gender they choose while breaking the fourth wall at whim to air their own dirty laundry. The result is a sense of informality and community – the lifeblood of neighborhoods everywhere.

More than a decade after its New York premiere, “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” continues to connect with audiences and sold-out crowds. Beyond the broad comedy and Jerry Springer-worthy confrontations, the show is about rising above our impulses, our mistakes and our surroundings to make a future we can believe in despite the past. (Synopsis from Boat Club website)


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