Richard Ashworth (Tap, Hip-Hop)
Richard Ashworth (Chicago, IL) is an educator, choreographer, and performer whose technical abilities and historical knowledge have made him a sought after resource in the urban and rhythmic dance communities. Richard attended the University at Buffalo receiving a BFA in Dance in June 2007. After graduating, Rich has performed and/or choreographed for several internationally touring dance companies including Lehrerdance (dir. Jon Lehrer) and Chicago Dance Crash (dir. Jessica Deahr). He has also established himself as a teacher, joining the faculty of several dance education organizations including Dance Masters of America, CNADM, and the Interdanza organization of Mexico. Rich is the former rehearsal director for Mark Yonally's Chicago Tap Theatre and freelances as a performer/choreographer throughout the Chicagoland Area. Rich's directorial debut of his own show "Shoestrings" opened to 3 sold out houses and rave reviews by the Chicagoland media. Other credits include Chicago's Dances in the Park, About Face Theatre, and Tapman productions. Rich is very excited to be a new face in such a talented group of people.
Victoria Barlow (Ballet Dept Chair)
Victoria Barlow completed her BA in Dance Education at Columbia College. She was a principal member of the Rockford Dance Company from 1987 to 1993, training with Kenneth Von Heideke of the Lyric Opera and Joy Xu, former principal dancer of the Shanghai Ballet of China. During 1992 and 1994, Victoria toured China attending two international dance festivals. She was a member of the Bryant Ballet from 1996 to 2001 and has been seen in numerous Chicagoland productions of The Nutcracker. They include the Chicago Tribune Charities and the Dancenter North production, in which she was The Sugar Plum Fairy. She has danced the title roles in Dancenter North's Cinderella and Schaumburg Dance Ensemble's Snow White and performed with the Chicago Ballet under the direction of Paul Abrahamson. Ms. Barlow joined the Dancenter North staff in 1995.
Greg Begley (Ballet)
Greg Begley is a native of Flint, Michigan where he began his dance career with the Flint Ballet Theatre. He attended Point Park College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on a full dance scholarship and spent his summers performing in stock productions of many Broadway shows. Greg became a principal dancer with the Chicago Ballet under the direction of Ruth Page and Frederick Franklin, where he performed many traditional classical pas de deux including the grand pas in Ruth Page's production of The Nutcracker. He also danced the role of Johnny in Page's public television production of Frankie and Johnny, which Greg has recently set for the Joffrey Ballet of Chicago. In 1980 Greg became an original member of the world famous Hubbard Street Dance Company where he served as a principal dancer and the company dance master.
Christina Bushala (Jazz Pro Track Director, Jazz, Ballet, Hip-Hop)
Christina Bushala began her dance training at the age of 4 at Dancenter North. She attended Chicago National Association of Dance Masters and was the recipient of the CNADM ballet scholarship. She has had the honor of performing throughout the Chicagoland area. She attended summer intensive programs for Orlando Ballet and Ruth Page Dance Center. She attended Point Park Conservatory of Dance, where she studied ballet, jazz, and modern dance. She then transferred to Illinois State University to complete her Elementary Education degree and Dance minor. During her time at Illinois State she worked with Denise Vale and Sandra Kaufmann in the re-staging of Martha Graham’s Diversion of Angels. She also danced a lead role in Pas de Quatre and many other original pieces by Sara Semonis, Darby Wilde, and Greg Merriman. Christina is currently a kindergarten teacher in McHenry.
Julie Cartier (Tap Dept Chair, Jazz)
Artistic director, performer, choreographer, teacher, and dance fanatic. Julie first came to Chicago via the concert dance scene, performing with some of Chicago's finest dance companies including Chi-town Jazz Dance, The Lynda Martha Dance Company, & River North Dance Company. She also dabbled in musical theater, trade shows & the like, & became a founding member of Especially Tap Chicago, one of Chicago's oldest & most successful tap ensembles. In 2000, Julie took over leadership of the group as artistic director. Julie's diverse background has presented her with a wide range of theatrical projects both as performer & choreographer. She has performed with The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, & on a lark performed on The Today Show! She has recently choreographed for Celebrity Cruise Lines newest ships & continues to create new work for companies throughout the US. Julie started Soul-2-Soles Youth Tap Company at Dancenter North in Libertyville & continues to teach for some of the finest studios in the Chicagoland area & abroad, including a 10 year stint at Barat College, Dance Center Evanston, Danceworks of Milwaukee, Gus Giordano's Dance Center, & the Lou Conte Dance Studio. Julie's next chapter features "The Cartier Collective'-all things rhythm, all things movement....dive in.
Olga Chudaikina (Ballet)
A native of Russia, Olga graduated with a Masters degree with Honors from the prestigious GITIS Institute of the Arts in Moscow. Trained in the Vaganova method, her co-students were such famous dancers as Sergey Radchenko & Maris Liepa (partners of Maya Plisetskya). Olga performed with the world famous Bolshoi Ballet in both classical & modern roles. She received her PhD inArt Criticism & worked as a Professor of Choreography at the University of Culture and has also been a master teacher in Russia & Belarus. Olga came to the U.S. in 2001 joining the DCN staff in 2003.
Jesse Hoisington (Ballet, Jazz, Modern Dept Chair)
Jesse first started dancing at the age of four in Milford, MI. In 2006, he was accepted into Interlochen Arts Academy under the tutelage of Mark Borchelt, and had the honor of working with guest artists Earl Mosely, Mari Jo Irbe, and Jennifer Mabus. After high school, Jesse continued his education and training at Western Michigan University's Department of Dance, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2014. While attending WMU, Jesse performed in works by Gerald Arpino, Alonzo King, Peter Chu, Danceworks Chicago with Nelly van Bommel, Lauren Edson, Joshua Manculich, and KT Nelson. He also began to establish himself as a choreograhper in college, with works being accepted into the American College Dance Festival Association's East Central Conference gala concert, as well as the Midwest Regional Alternative Dance Festival. Since moving to Chicago, Jesse has had the privilege of performing with Winifred Haun & Dancers, Dance in the Parks, and Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre. He is currently dancing with Hedwig Dances at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts.
Stacy Keller (Ballet, Ballet Pro Track Director, Artistic Advisor)
Stacy Joy Keller joined The Joffrey Ballet in August 1999. Raised in Lutz, Florida, she began her ballet training at the Classical Ballet Center of Tampa with Haydee Gutierrez. Ms. Keller studied ballet in summer programs with San Francisco Ballet and the School of American Ballet. She also studied at Oregon Ballet Theatre and Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre on full scholarships. Ms. Keller received the Ruth Eckerd Hall Youth's scholarship award, presented by David Parsons. Prior to joining The Joffrey, Ms. Keller was a member of the Sarasota Ballet where she performed in roles including Cinderella, Swan Lake (Pas de Trois), Apollo (Calliope), and Giselle (Peasant Pas). Ms. Keller also appeared in Robert Altman's 2003 film 'The Company'. She has also instructed at the Sarasota Ballet School's Venice Program and various studios throughout Illinois.
Emily Malkowski (Ballet, Jazz Dept Chair, Production Manager)
Emily began her dance training at Dancenter North at the age of eight. She attended San Diego City Ballet and Orlando Ballet summer intensives both on scholarship where she was privileged to work with David Howard, Susan Jaffe, Fernando Bujones, and more. Emily was a soloist performer while attending both intensives, but also in Chicago National Associations of Dance Masters which she attended for four years on scholarship. Emily graduated from Western Michigan University with a BA in dance and communication. While at WMU, she performed in Serenade which was staged by Victoria Simon from the New York City Ballet and Balanchine Trust and performed a solo variation in Birthday Variations staged by Willy Shives from the Joffrey Ballet. Emily has spent ten seasons working at Six Flags Great America as a featured performer, choreographer and dance captain of the shows performed in the Grand Music Hall. She has been awarded with the best female dancer of the year award and three Big “E” awards from IAAPA. From 2012-13 Emily was the casting director, choreographer, featured performer and dance captain of the Lady Gaga inspired touring production, Bad Romance. She currently assistant directs "The Magic of the Nutcracker" and coaches the Lake Forest High School JV Dance Team.
Janine Newman (Ballet, Pilates)
Janine Newman trained in ballet at the Ellis Duboulay School and continued at the Ruth Page Center. She studied with such ballet greats as Richard Ellis, Larry Long, Dolores Lipinski, Warren Conover and Daniel Duell. For six years, Janine performed in the Chicago Tribune Charities production of The Nutcracker. She also performed in Paquita, Coppèlia and Graduation Ball. Most recently, Janine has performed in the Dancenter North productions of The Magic of the Nutcracker and Cinderella. In addition to her teaching of ballet, Janine is a certified Pilates instructor teaching in the Chicagoland area.
Samantha Robison (Ballet, Operations Manager)
Samantha began classical Ballet training in 1985 at The Academy of Ballet in Dubuque, IA under the direction of Tatiana Bechenova, former soloist with The Ballet Russe. Samantha performed with the Dubuque City Youth Ballet and later as a principle dancer with The Heartland Ballet of Dubuque, both directed by Marina O’Rourke. She has danced principle roles in Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Coppelia, Cinderella & Sleeping Beauty. Samantha continued her training as a Dance major at the Conservatory of Dance at Barat College in Lake Forest, IL from 1999-2002 with a Theatre minor. She later joined 98.6 Farenheit Dance Company out of Arlington Heights, IL. She has been a guest performer and choreographer for numerous theatres in the greater Chicagoland area. Samantha joined the staff of Dancenter North in 2012 as a Ballet instructor and the school’s Production Manager. She resides in the northern suburbs of Chicago with her husband and three children.
Tori Rumzis (Ballet, Jazz, Modern)
Tori began her training at the age of 14 at Dancenter North in Libertyville, IL. She pursued her studies at Point Park University on scholarship with a concentration in modern dance. In three years, under the direction of Rubén Graciani, she earned her BFA, graduating magna cum laude. She has attended The Movement Invention Project in New York, where she had the privilege of working with Alexandra Wells, Nancy Turano, and Sidra Bell. Additionally, Tori was awarded scholarships from Thodos Dance Chicago and the Chicago National Association of Dance Masters. Tori is currently working with Aerial Dance Chicago as a company apprentice. In addition to performing, Tori enjoys working as a guest choreographer and teacher and is excited to be returning to Dancenter North.
Ian Sokoloski (Hip-Hop, Breakdance)
Ian began his dance training at the age of 15 while attending Mundelein High School. He continued his education and training at Carthage College where he received a BA in Exercise in Sports Science and minored in Dance. He worked under the direction of Stacy Pottinger. While attending Carthage, Ian co-captained and choreographed Iluzion, a student run Hip-Hop Company. Ian spent four seasons dancing at Six Flags Great America as a featured performer and choreographer of the shows performed in the Grand Music Hall. Ian was a featured dancer in the touring Lady Gaga inspired production, Bad Romance. He then served as dance captain and performer for Matt Davenport Productions in IAAPA winning shows at Hershey Park and the Hershey Lodge. Ian then joined the crew of the Carnival Pride as a featured dancer. After participating in the 2014 Dancenter North production of, The Magic of the Nutcracker, Ian is very excited to have his own set of Hip-Hop classes for the upcoming year.
Phyllis Warrender (Ballet, Tap)
Phyllis Warrender received her BFA in Theatre and Dance from Barat College where she was a soloist with the Barat Repertory Company. While attending Barat College she performed in several musical productions. Professionally, she danced at Marriott's Great America, Spectrum Theatre, Dance & Co., and as a soloist with Heritage Dance Theatre. She also performed with Northstage Theatre Company productions of Bye Bye Birdie and Brigadoon and in Dancenter North's The Magic of the Nutcracker and Cinderella. Phyllis has taught dance at Dancenter North since 1983
Kristy White (Special Programs)
Kristy started dance at 3 years and has been performing since the age of six. She received her training from such notable teachers as Laura Wade, Jeff Hancock, Eduardo Villaro, Wilfredo Rivera, Lisa Sheppard, Paula David, and Cheri Lindell. Her training has been furthered through Chicago National Association of Dance Masters and Dupree Jazz Forum. Kristy is a former member of Luna Negra Dance Ensemble of Chicago, Terpsichore, and has performed in Dance Explosion with TJ & Company. She has participated in the musical “Grease” playing the role of ChaCha DiGregorio, “Who’s That Girl” Benefit for AIDS and “Dance for Dreams.” Kristy’s choreographic credits include “A Chance to Dance” (TJ & Company,) Lake Forest High School musical, competitive high school Pom Squads, dance ensembles, and soloists. Currently, she is the Technique Coach for Libertyville HS Varsity and Junior Varsity Dance Team. She also is the director of Lake County Dance Showcase through the Waukegan Arts Council. Starting in 1998, Kristy began teaching throughout the Chicagoland area. In addition to this, she extended her dance career and become a certified massage therapist. Kristy is the director of the Prelude Dance Theatre Trainee Company, the Company Coordinator for Lake Forest Dance Academy, and also the director of Lincolnshire Academy of Dance's Perfromance company.
Laura Gates (Ballet)
Laura Gates is excited to be returning to the faculty of Dancenter North where she previously taught from 1998-2006. Laura grew up in a northwest suburb of Chicago. She holds degrees in Dance and Psychology from the University of Iowa where she was privileged to train with many gifted artists including Francoise Martinet, David Berkey, Linda Crist, Alicia Brown, and Alan Sener. After graduation, she moved to Chicago and danced with Swallow Cliff Dance Company, Concert Dance, Inc., and several independent choreographers before joining Thodos Dance Chicago in 1999. Highlights of her six-year performance tenure with TDC include Dance for Life, an international tour to Turkey, and working with Broadway icon Ann Reinking and other renowned artists. Laura continues to serve Thodos Dance Chicago as Artistic Associate. She has been a master teacher for local intensive programs including Thodos Dance Chicago, Chicago National Association of Dance Masters, Dance Masters of Wisconsin, Inaside Chicago Dance, Gus Giordano Dance School, the Illinois State Dance Festival, and the Midwest Cecchetti Council Ballet Workshop. Deeply committed to the art of dance, Laura has taught in the Chicago area for twenty years.