Our Staff

denise-headshot Denise Sabala (Executive Artistic Director) began her dance studies at age 4. Her dance training began in Chicago and eventually moved to Los Angeles where she had the opportunity to work with the Carol Burnett Dancers. Upon the 1976 opening of Great America in Gurnee IL, Denise performed, choreographed and directed the shows at the Bugs Bunny Theater Royal. While there, Denise had the opportunity to work with the infamous Mel Blanc, “the voice” of Bugs. Throughout the years, Denise has been recognized and awarded for her outstanding choreography. She also has judged regional dance competitions and beauty pageants throughout the states. Ms. Sabala held the title of Miss Barrington and went on to compete for the Miss Illinois title. Several years following, she returned as guest performer, choreographing and co-directing the pageant. She has owned Denise Sabala Dance Studios for the past 45 years with locations in Rolling Meadows, Mt. Prospect, Arlington Heights, Orland Park and Lake Zurich, Illinois. Currently, teaching all styles of dance including her passion of Jazz and Musical Theater. Denise is currently choreographing for Lake Zurich High School’s musical productions. Past Shows Include – “Frozen” / “Guys and Dolls” / “The Drowsy Chaperone” / “Once Upon A Mattress” / “Sound of Music” / “Grease” / “School House Rock” (directed and choreographed) “The Wedding Singer” / “Thoroughly Modern Millie” / “The Wizard of Oz” / “Pinocchio” / “High School Musical” (directed/choreographed), “Urinetown The Musical”.

Denise is Executive Director for Denise Sabala Dance Company. A 100+-member youth competitive dance team who has won top awards and scholarships. Many past company members are now performing, choreographing and directing in the professional arts industry from coast to coast.

Aside from her love of dance, she also enjoys spending time with her dogs, horse, family and friends.

Tatum Lang began dancing at the age of three in the small town of Waconia, Minnesota. Throughout her teen years, Tatum attended summer intensive programs, including Joffrey Ballet School NYC, School of Ballet Arizona, and Kansas City Ballet School. Tatum graduated from the University of Iowa in 2021 with a BFA in Dance and a Certificate in Arts Entrepreneurship. During her time at UI, she worked with reputable choreographers including: Shannon Alvis, Christopher Rasheem-McMillan, Eloy Barragan, Britt Juleen, and Armando Duarte. While at UI, she performed in the Iowa Dance Festival, the Harvest Contemporary Dance Festival in Chicago, and at Hollins University for Eloy Barragan’s Master’s Thesis “Ashes in the Air.” One of the highlights of her college career includes working closely with Shannon Alvis as a soloist in her work The Love of Souls in 2018. Following graduation, she promptly moved to Chicago to further pursue her love of dance. She is currently an ensemble member of Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, where she trains with, and has performed works by Shannon Alvis, Katlin Bourgeois, and Monique Haley. In addition, she also freelances around the Chicago area. With over 7 years of teaching experience, Tatum is so grateful for the role dance plays in her life and finds joy in sharing her knowledge and love of dance through finding connection with her students. She strives to create a healthy and fun classroom environment where students can be their genuine selves as they pursue excellence in dance.

Vanessa Urbán began her training in dance at the age of 3, studying ballet, tap, jazz, and gymnastics. At the age of 12 she discovered her true passion for hip hop dance, joined the competitive company at Xtreme, and never looked back. From ages 12-21, Vanessa was an active member of Xtreme Dance Force, training under the instruction of Sam and JC Renzetti, Robert Lewis, and Alvin Ramirez. During her time on Xtreme’s competitive team, Vanessa received numerous awards with the company for small and large groups, lines and productions. She is also proud to have experienced winning four national Victory Cups with Xtreme. Since graduating from Xtreme in 2017, Vanessa has acted as an assistant co-director for the competitive team. In the Spring of 2020, Vanessa received their Bachelors in Music from North Central College and later received their Masters in Higher Education and Leadership in the spring of 2022 from the same institution. In addition to dance, Vanessa has a love for music and has participated in numerous vocal productions and competitions. Vanessa’s educational and professional goals are focused on Academic Advising and Recruitment in a higher education setting. With her passion for dance and music, and her awareness on the power of teamwork, Vanessa is excited to share her experiences with the next generation of dancers.

Amanda Langlie was a student at Denise Sabala Dance Studio for over 10 years and studied many styles under Miss Denise and staff. In high school she was a member of Aspire Dance Company and the president of Mundelein High School’s Orchesis program for which she received a dance scholarship. As a college student, she joined the Illinois State University Competitive Dance Team as well as the student-run Impact Dance Team. She choreographed several routines for both teams that were performed at fundraisers, athletic events, and showcases on campus. Post college, she has worked with multiple local schools as a guest choreographer and technique instructor.

Genevieve Brady, professional dancer and aerial circus artist, began her dance training in 1999 in the suburbs of Chicago. During her early career, she was exposed to exceptional professional dancer/choreographers including Sarah Ford, Cesar Salinas, Natalie Tursi, Megan Michale, Ashley Rockwood, and many more. She graduated from Western Michigan University, earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance in spring of 2018. During such time, she was featured in restaged works by Loïe Fuller, Lew Christensen, and Brian Enos, as well as in original works by Brenden Duggan, James Gregg, and David Curwen. She also received supplemental training from Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Visceral Dance Chicago, Giordano Dance Chicago, Inaside Dance Chicago, and Movement Invention project in New York City. Genevieve joined Aerial Dance Chicago in the fall of 2018 where she began her aerial dance training.  She thoroughly enjoyed working with Dir. Chloe Jensen, Resident Choreographer Karen Fischer-Doyle, guest artists Hanna Brictson, Joshua Blake Carter, and Mike Gosney. In the fall of 2021, Genevieve performed at Millennium Park on the Prizker Pavillion stage representing ADC at the Chicago Dancers United ‘Dance for Life’ concert finale Choreographed by Randy Duncan. She now trains and performs extensively both in dance and in aerial disciplines such as silks, lyra, trapeze, sling and harness, and cyr wheel. Other dance/aerial organization credits include C5 Create With No Limits, Ardent Dance Company, and Trifecta Dance Collective. Genevieve is traveling the world and dancing for Royal Caribbean International and just recently completing 2022 on the beautiful Jewel Of The Seas!

shannon-headshot Originally from Greenwood, Indiana, Shannon Alvis received her training at Butler University and the University of Utah. She began her career with the second company of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, then going on to dance and perform professionally with HSDC for nine years. In 2009, Shannon went on to further her growth as a dancer at Nederlands Dans Theater under the direction of Jim Vincent and Paul Lightfoot. During her time in Chicago and Europe, Shannon toured internationally dancing works by many world renowned choreographers such as: Jiri Kylian, Nacho Duato, William Forsythe, Ohad Naharin, Jorma Elo, and Crystal Pite. After taking time away from the stage to focus on the birth of her daughter, Shannon has been sharing her artistry once again with the Chicago community. She has appeared in seven productions at the Lyric Opera including Rob Ashford’s Carousel , Susan Stroman’s The Merry Widow, and Les Troyens with Helen Pickett. Shannon teaches around the city and has been on faculty at the Joffrey Academy, Interlochen School for the Arts summer faculty, and Visceral Dance Center. She is very happy now to be exploring her creativity through works of her own, and has choreographed for Visceral Dance Chicago, Thodos Dance Chicago, DanceWorks Chicago, The Big Muddy Dance Company in St. Louis, and was a recipient of the Joffrey Ballet’s Winning Work’s Choreographic Competition. She feels very fortunate for every one of these opportunities, finding inspiration in the things that she loves, and is currently putting her efforts into pursuing a master’s degree through the University of the Arts with continued commitment to the power of dance.

sandy-headshot Sandra Ferrigno “Miss Sandy” began her dance training when she was just three years old at Denise Sabala Dance Studios. She has been teaching at our studio since 1989. Sandy’s tap training was from Denise Sabala, Jay Fagan, Julie Cartier, and Bruce Stegman. She also took classes from Lane Alexander, Lady Di Walker and other well known tap masters. Sandy has also trained heavily in ballet, pointe, jazz, hip hop, lyrical, modern, Latin jazz, jazz funk, and Zumba. Training other than Denise Sabala Dance Studios includes Barat College, Joel Hall Dance Center, Lou Conte, Ruth Page, Giordano’s Dance Center and a few other local studios. She also attended an abundance of dance conventions growing up receiving scholarships at many of them. Sandy has competed and performed all over the Chicagoland area. Her work has been seen at Street Scenes over at Carmel High School the past several years. Also at Lake Zurich High School and Lake Zurich Middle School North. Many of the pieces she set at these venues were large production numbers and tap routines. She has a serious love for working with the preschoolers along with the elementary age dancers. She tries to instill that passion at a young age with her patience and her own love for dance. Sandy is the director of our children’s program. When she is not dancing or teaching, Sandy is in a hockey rink with her third grade son, Caden. She has passed the passion gene onto her elite hockey player!

bhare-headshot Brian Hare attended Columbia College Chicago, graduating with honors with a degree in Arts Entertainment Media Management and minor in Dance. He spent four seasons with the critically acclaimed multi-diciplinary dance company Chicago Dance Crash and then five seasons with Thodos Dance Chicago. He is currently a contributing artist with contemporary dance companyLEVELdance under the direction of Eddy Ocampo as well as an aerialist with C5: create with no limits under the direction of Jeremy Plummer. He has worked with Melissa Thodos, Ron De Jesus, tony winner Ann Rienking, KT Nelsen, Harrison McEldowney, Brian Enos and Gustavo Ramirez Sansano among others. In addition to presenting his own work in the repertory of Chicago Dance Crash and Thodos Dance Chicago has has also performed never before seen archival works by Bob Fosse. As a teacher and choreographer he has toured and taught around the country guesting at privates studios and large universities alike. He is currently a master teacher and judge for Move Productions, Chicago Dance Connection and World Class Talent Experience.Photo Credit: Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth

claire-headshot Claire Hutchins began her dance training at the age of 3 at Denise Sabala Dance Studio in Lake Zurich, Illinois, under the direction of Jamie Farrell, Brian Hare, Lauren Blane, Rebecca McLindon, Sasha Vargas, and many more. While on their competition dance company, she discovered her love for teaching. She graduated from Prospect High School, and was part of the dance program for all four years she atteneded. During her senior year, she had the opportunity to be a student director and a head choreographer. She performed at the National High School Festival in Pittsburgh in 2018. In summer of 2019, she assisted William Angulo in putting together a short musical theater production with 300 students at the convention Chicago Dance Connection. Now, she is an assistant coach and choreographs for Denise Sabala Dance Company. She has loved dance all her life, and is looking forward to sharing that with young students.

tiffany-headshot Tiffany Krause Originally from Dundee, Michigan, Tiffany attended Columbia Chicago College, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance Teaching and Public Relations. After graduation, she received an internship with Thodos Dance Chicago and made her professional debut performance at the Harris Theater in “A Light In The Dark” choreographed by Ann Reinking and Melissa Thodos. After her experience working with Reinking, Tiffany realized her passion for musical theater. Her regional credits include On The Town (Marriott Theater), West Side Story (Paramount Theater), and Wonderful Town (Goodman Theater) where she became a member of the Actor’s Equity Association. As for commercial work, Tiffany was a featured dancer in the Indian Bollywood film Dhoom 3, and has performed with global brands, such as T Mobile and McDonalds.

Throughout her training experience, she was fortunate to attend many remarkable programs with Hubbard Street Dance Company, River North Dance Chicago, The Joffrey Ballet, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, and American Ballet Theater. She has received many awards and scholarships from various dance conventions and toured as an assistant with LA Dance Magic Convention at the age of 17.

Along with being an active performer, Tiffany has been noted as an up and coming choreographer of the Chicago area. She was nominated twice as a featured artist for InAside Dance Chicago’s Choreographic Sponsorship Event, where she presented her works “Embrace Against Time” (2014) and “Those Left Behind” (2015). Last year, she was chosen as the Featured Bravo Choreographer for the Dancewerks National Werkshop, where she presented her work “Read Between the Lines.” Tiffany has choreographed many award-winning pieces within the competitive dance scene.

As a performer, choreographer, and instructor, Tiffany is driven to craft, mentor, and inspire the next generation of dancers with the knowledge that she has gained throughout her diverse dance career and help them lead a healthy and enthusiastic passion for dance artistry.

ciera-headshot Ciera Nolan, originally from Lake Zurich, Illinois, graduated from Western Michigan University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance, a minor in event management, and a certification in Dance Studio Management. At WMU, Ciera performed in many student works and was a part of the WMU department of dance touring ensemble, Western Dance Project, under the direction of Whitney Moncrief. Additionally, she performed works by guest artists Jackie Nowicki, Mike Esperanza, and Melanie George, as well as faculty members Jeremy Blair, Monique Haley and Kelsey Paschich. During her time at WMU, Ciera represented her class serving on the board of Orchesis Dance Society. Ciera has also attended many intensives including DanceWorks Chicago, The Cambrians, Inaside Chicago Dance, and River North Dance Chicago. She is also a staff member at Masquerade Dance Competition and Chicago Dance Connection. Ciera teaches and choreographs throughout the Chicagoland area and enthusiastically shares her passion of dance with young dancers.

tess-headshot Tess Renaud began dancing in the Chicagoland area. She trained at Visceral Dance Center, under the direction of Nick Pupillo. Tess continued dancing and graduated from Western Michigan University with a Bachelor of Arts in dance, and a minor in nonprofit leadership. Since graduating, Tess has performed the works of various Chicago choreographers including Joey Hernandez, Nick Pupillo, and Harrison McEldowney. She has performed at multiple festivals, and at venues such as the Art Institute of Chicago. She expanded her knowledge and completed her 200-hour vinyasa yoga teacher training at the White Lotus Yoga Foundation in Santa Barbara, CA.

Tess is currently pursuing a career in teaching and choreography. She is currently a rehearsal director for Visceral Studio Company, and Tess is on faculty at Exhibit 3 Dance Company and Visceral Dance Center. She is looking forward to her first season at Denise Sabala Dance Studio.

shauna-headshot Shauna Shrewsbury holds her BFA in Dance from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and her MA in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling from Columbia College Chicago. Shauna is a Registered-Dance/Movement Therapist serving the greater Chicagoland area. Shauna is a graduate of Denise Sabala Dance Studio, and is so excited to return teaching for her 3rd year!! Shauna is in the completion stages of her 200-hour registered yoga teacher training, and is beyond honored to bring yoga to her students and their families!

Sasha Vargas (All styles instructor – Dance Exchange director) is proud to have trained at Denise Sabala Dance Studios since the age of three and has been a teacher for 17 years. Her theater credits include The All Night Strut (Choreographer – Jeff Award), The Light in the Piazza (Choreographer and featured dancer), Carousel (Louise). Her company work includes the Joel Hall Dancers, Ascension – the Kirby Reed Project, River North Chicago Dance Company (apprentice), European U.S.O. tour, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (Dance Captain). Founder and Director of Legend Dance Company (University of Illinois Urbana – Champaign), Sabala Dance Ensemble, and The Dance Exchange. Her choreography has been seen at the State Street Thanksgiving Day Parade, Dance Chicago, Dance Week (Metropolis theater), Dance For Life: Next Generation. She has been a master instructor and guest choreographer for studios and schools across the Midwest including Iowa and Minnesota. She has been a master instructor for the Chicago Dance Connection for 12 years. Thanks to all the students, parents, and fellow teachers. I am consistently inspired by the commitment to this beautiful art form.

Former Staff & Choreographers

jessica-headshot Jessica Wolfrum, originally from Buffalo, New York, currently resides in Chicago, IL. Jessica is a proud member of Actors Equity Association. She was the Assistant Director and Choreographer for Drury Lane Theatre‘s regional premiere of “An American in Paris“. Recently, Jessica was the Dance Captain and appeared in the ensemble of the Chicago premiere of “Something Rotten!” at the Marriott Theatre. Other Marriott Theatre credits include Broadway’s regional premiere of “Holiday Inn” (Dance Captain, Ensemble) directed and choreographed by Tony nominated choreographer Denis Jones, “Sweet Charity” (Carmen, Ensemble), “Oklahoma!” (Dance Captain, Ensemble), the Broadway First Regional Production of “Honeymoon in Vegas” (Ensemble) and “Singin in the Rain” (Lady in Green, Olga Mara, Ensemble). She has also performed as a principle dancer in The Lyric Opera of Chicago‘s “Carmen“, choreographed and directed by Broadway director and choreographer Rob Ashford, “My Fair Lady“, choreographed by Lynne Page, and “The Pearl Fishers“, choreographed by John Malashock. Her upcoming theatre credits will include “Kiss Me Kate” (Dance Captain, Ensemble, Haberdasher) at The Marriott Theatre. In 2015, Jessica celebrated 14 years with River North Dance Chicago, under the direction of Frank Chaves, where she toured nationally and internationally to such countries as Russia, Germany, Switzerland, South Korea, Israel and Luxembourg. She is best recognized for two original works created and choreographed on her. The solo “Renatus”, choreographed by Nejla Yatkin, and the duet “The Mourning”, choreographed by Frank Chavez. While performing with River North, Jessica also performed works choreographed by Robert Battle, Laurie Stallings, Ivan Perez, Kevin Iega Jeff, Randy Duncan, Margo Sappington, Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Sherry Zunker, Harrison McEldowney, Sidra Bell, and Adam Barruch. Jessica graduated cum laude in 2002 with a joint BA degree in Dance and Psychology from the University at Buffalo. Jessica has performed as a guest artist for Barrington Dance Ensemble’s ‘The Nutcracker’ for 15 years. She has also performed lead guest artist roles in ballets including The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Cinderella, Coppelia, and La Fille Mal Garde in Iowa, Wisconsin and with the Buffalo City Ballet in Buffalo, NY. Jessica has been on faculty teaching ballet at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago for 10 years. Currently, she is on faculty at Exhibit Dance Company. She teaches private and master classes throughout the US and is a personal dance and fitness trainer. Jessica is an adjudicator for VIP Dance, Headliners, Encore and Standing Ovation Dance Festivals. Jessica was also in the touring commercials for “The Producers”, “The Wedding Singer”, and “Memphis”. Her TV and film credits include “Every Dancer Has A Story”, “Hot Date” Ep. 106 ‘Adulting’.

jc-headshot JC Renzetti (Hip-Hop – Co-Director of Xtreme Dance Force) grew up and resides in the Chicagoland area. With a credited bachelors degree in Political Science from UIC, JC trained in jazz, tap, ballet, acro and hip hop since age 7. Through his performing and training years, JC lived in the competition limelight winning countless overall 1st place awards and being offered scholarships throughout the country. He was recently featured as a top 10 finalist with Xtreme Dance Force on MTV’s Randy Jackson Presents America’s Best Dance Crew Season 2. JC was also an assistant hip hop coach on MTV’s hit show MADE. He has performed and opened up for several top recording artists such as Ludacris, Ciara, Twista and Soulja Boy. JC has also been showcased in top shows in Las Vegas. He was a choreographer for the internationally broadcast MLS All Star Game Half-Time Show featuring top recording artist Lupe Fiasco on ESPN. He is also a choreographer for the NBA Detroit Pistons dance team Automotion. JC continues teaching all over the country while he sets award winning hip hop routines for numerous dance studios, companies and universities. Since becoming Co-Director of Xtreme Dance Force, the company has opened up for celebrity recording artists such as Chingy, Tyrese, Bow Wow and Mims, just to name a few. He was a part of the Dance Power Express faculty for 2 years, and was also an instructor on the dance convention/competition WILD.

josh-headshot Josh Jaffe grew up dancing at DSDS from the age of two years old. He then trained with some of the best names in tap dance, including: Diane Walker, Jay Fegan, Maurice Hines, Bril Barrett, and many more. He has been honored to have been mentored by Mark Yonally in Rhythm Tap, and Matt Crowle in Musical Theatre Tap for many years, to sharpen his talent in improvisation, choreography, and teaching ability.

jamie-headshot Artistic Director of Denise Sabala Dance Company and Instructor, Jamie Farrell began dancing following her competitive gymnastics career. After earning her B.A. in Dance with Business Management minor from Point Park University in three years, she moved to Chicago to train and perform. Jamie is the Facilitator of Dance Program and an Instructor at Northeastern Illinois University, where she also earned her M.S. in Exercise Science.  In 2015, Jamie was honored to receive an Excellence Award at Northeastern Illinois University. Jamie has been a company member of Venetia Stifler’s Concert Dance, Inc. since 2005, and currently serves as the Rehearsal Director. She is an Emmy nominated dancer for her work in the 2007 PBS documentary revival of Billy Sunday. Ms. Farrell is grateful for her past performance opportunities with Chicago Dance Crash, Corpo Dance Company (Assistant Artistic Director), Impetus Dance Theatre and Rasa Dance Theatre. Finally, Jamie serves on the faculty of Chicago Dance Connection convention. Her choreography has won recognition both regionally and nationally at the collegiate, pre-professional, and youth levels. Jamie continues to share her passion to her students at DSDS and through private dance organizations in the Chicagoland area.

lauren-headshot Lauren Blane Brogen began her training at the Faubourg School of Ballet under Watmora Casey. She graduated with honors from Grand Valley State University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Dance. Upon graduation she was chosen to receive The Outstanding Undergraduate Award in Dance by her professors. In her senior year of college, Lauren’s choreography was chosen to present at the American College Dance Festival, and was later selected to be featured in the Gala.
Professionally, Lauren was one of twelve dancers to be accepted into the Lou Conte Dance Studio Scholarship Program under the direction of Claire Bataille. She also performed with Giordano Dance Chicago’s Second Company for two seasons. Lauren had the privilege of being a backup dancer for Beyonce on Oprah’s Farewell Episode at the United Center. In addition to concert and commercial dance, Lauren has also been featured in the Marriott Theater’s productions of SHOUT!, Now and Forever, The Nutcracker, Mary Poppins, and Evita as well as Drury Lane’s production of Chicago. Lauren is a proud member of the Actor’s Equity Association since 2016.
Shortly after graduation from Grand Valley, Lauren was chosen to be the first alumni in residence in the dance program. Lauren returned to her high school, Glenbard West in 2011 and 2012 to choreograph the fall musicals 13 and Urinetown. In 2013 she began her position as the Resident Choreographer for Lake Zurich High School’s Spring Musicals. Lauren has been invited to teach as such prestigious organizations as the Chicago Dance Connection (CDC), Dancewerks, Regarding Actors (Re: Actors), Dance Masters of Wisconsin, and the Chicago National Association of Dance Masters (CNADM). Lauren chose to further her dance teaching knowledge, and is now an American Ballet Theatre (ABT) Certified Teacher, who has successfully competed the ABT Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary though Level 5 of the ABT National Training Curriculum.
Recently, Lauren was one of six choreographers featured in Thodos Dance Chicago and Danceworks Chicago’s NEW Dances: A New GenerationStill Inspired(?) this fall collaborating with local visual artists. Lauren earned the position of Assistant to the Director for the Marriott Theater’s production of Junie B Jones: The Musical this summer.
Lauren has had four works selected to compete representing Team USA at the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix Competition in New York. She’s also helped students qualify and place in the World Ballet Arts Competition Finals in Canada. It is these experiences and more that encouraged her to create her own pre-professional ballet program aimed at helping young dancers achieve a higher education in ballet training. Lauren is the Founder and Artistic Director of Main Street Ballet Company in Lake Zurich, mentoring and coaching young dancers in the discipline of ballet. Every opportunity Lauren has pursued has also been an opportunity for her students to learn and grow. Lauren aims to inspire work ethic, drive, and a desire to be the best version of themselves in her students, and encourages them to find a deep appreciation and respect for ballet.

haley-headshot Haley Pennington started her dance training at Denise Sabala Dance Studio in Lake Zurich, IL at the age of eight years old. She went on to graduate from The University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and General Business. At the university, she performed works by Cornelius Carter, Kavin Grant, Rebecca Salzer, and Rita Snyder, as well as being a lighting designer for department concerts. She was awarded the Outstanding Artistic Achievement Award for her pieces in the student choreographed concert, Dance Alabama. After graduating, Haley plans on using both of her degrees to advance the importance of the arts through exposure and education.

Photographed by Kristie Kahans
Mark Yonally is currently the Artistic Director of Chicago Tap Theatre, a critically-acclaimed dance company in Chicago that produces a three-show season and tours nationally and internationally. Mark has developed a global reputation as a performer, with solo performances in Chicago, New York, Finland, Holland, France and England. He has been blessed to have Sarah Petronio, Dianne Walker, Sam Weber, Bill Evans and Billy Siegenfeld as mentors. Mark has gained the plaudits of major dance critics for his innovative approach to tap choreography, which he displayed while dancing and choreographing with the Bill Evans Dance Company and Especially Tap Chicago (ETC). His works have been commissioned and performed by the Bill Evans Dance Company, ETC and Hope College, among others. Mark is a noted educator and has taught at festivals throughout the U.S. and has served on the faculty at Oklahoma City University and Hope College. He is sought after for his multidisciplinary approach to tap teaching, which includes history, basic music theory and an emphasis on jazz music, and has taught in France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and the United States. More recently, he has been teaching for multiple dance conventions and judging for competitions. Mark is also a published author, with pieces appearing in Dance Spirit, Dance Teacher and Dance Magazine. Last year his Company was the recipient of the “Best New Production of the Year” award from the Dance Magazine Reader’s Poll and was featured on the “Ten Best” lists of the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, Windy City Media and SeeChicagoDance.

rebecca-headshot Rebecca McLindon Blanchard, originally from Baton Rouge, LA, began training with Donna Blanchard and Stacie Collins. She went on to study dance at Marymount Manhattan College under direction of Katie Langan, where she performed with MMC’s Dance Company and had the opportunity worked alongside David Parsons, Edwaard Liang, Anthony Ferro & Geoffrey Doig-Marx on original choreographies. She graduated Magna Cum Laude, earning a BFA in Dance with a minor in business. In 2010 Rebecca joined Michigan’s Eisenhower Dance Ensemble. While dancing with EDE, she had the privilege of performing works by Laurie Eisenhower, Lar Lubovitch, Harrison McEldowney, and Brock Clawson, to name a few. She was also chosen to perform the principal dance role in Michigan Opera Theater’s production of “The Pearl Fishers” choreographed by John Malashock. Rebecca has taught master classes and set choreography at many studios, high schools and universities across the country, some of which include Hope College, Oakland Dance Theater and Western Illinois University. Prior to her time with Eisenhower, Rebecca danced with Giordano Dance Chicago II, apprenticed with River North Dance Chicago and was a scholarship student at Lou Conte Dance Studio. Rebecca resides in Chicago where she performs with Chicago Repertory Ballet, Dance In the Parks, Pursuit Productions, Jaxon Movement Arts and LEVELdance, and works as a choreographer for Still Inspired.

maria-headshot Maria Jones was born and raised in Phoenix, AZ. She studied through high school at Royal Dance Works under the direction of Carole Royal. She has had numerous opportunities to work along side major choreographers including Mia Michaels, Brian Friedman, and Justin Giles. She has trained with and performed company works for Royal Flux, Dana Metz Co and SoulEscape in California, New York, Texas, and Arizona. Maria is excited to be here in Illinois and to share her passion and love of dance with her students!

stacy-headshot Stacy Bills (Jazz, Competition) – Stacy Bills, originally from Orem, Utah, started her career as gymnast but soon realized her love was dance.  She received her training at Center Stage Performing Arts in ballet, jazz, hip-hop, tap, and ballroom. In high school, Stacy won the junior and senior national solo championship in Orlando, Florida, and went on to become Miss Dance/Drill Utah 2000 and 1st runner up at the Miss Dance/Drill USA Competition. Stacy was awarded the “Dance Talent Scholarship” at Brigham Young University and danced with the 7-time National Champion Cougarettes for three years and was dance captain for two years. Later, Stacy represented her city as Miss Provo, and then went on to win the title of Miss Utah. She was awarded a talent award at Miss America. Stacy has been featured on the nationally televised show, Star Search and made it all the way to the finals. Stacy also danced with the professional companies, “Evolutions” and “Odyssey” Dance Theatre. In 2008 she was honored to make the top 20 girls on FOX’s hit series “So You Think You Can Dance.”  Stacy was a teacher at Center Stage, and directed the Teen and Senior Companies. Her students have danced and toured with JLo, Chris Brown, “Glee,” “Dancing WIth The Stars,” “Donny and Marie,” and “La Reve.”  She has choreographed all over the country and has won many national titles with her choreography, including  “Critic’s Choice” awards at New York City Dance Alliance and West Coast Dance Explosion, “Best Of Jump,” “and “Best NU” group at NUVO.  Her companies have been featured on the “Dancing With The Stars” national tour, the “Stadium Of Fire,” and were finalists for two years in a row at the “Capezio Ace Awards.”  Most recently she has enjoyed working behind the camera choreographing and directing for films, theatre, and music videos.  She feels blessed to have a wonderful husband, beautiful daughter and adorable twin boys.

avnun-headshot Avnun Yakubov (Ballet Master) was born in Russia and received a Masters Degree in Choreography and Arts Management from the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory in Leningrad.Mr. Yakubov was the Artistic Director and Head Choreographer Alumnus of the Moscow Ballet Theater in Russia from 1973-1993. From 1974-1988, he staged numerous works in Italy, Austria, Turkey, and Greece. By invitation of the Italian government in 1992, he choreographed and produced “An Evening with Strauss.” He also choreographed different ballets for the Kirov Theater in Leningrad and the Vaganova Choreography College.From 1993-1997, Mr. Yakubov appeared in the Chicago Festival Ballet‘s “Nutcracker” as Herr Drosselmeyer and served as Ballet Master and Choreographer for the Chicago Festival Ballet School. He served as a choreography instructor for the Looking Glass Theater Company‘s production of Bulgakov’s “Master and Margarita” and taught at the Lou Conte Studio.Mr. Yakubov was the Ballet Master and Head Choreographer for the Faubourg Ballet Theater from 1995-2001. In 1997-1998 he staged and choreographed Ravel’s “Bolero” and “Paquita” with Alexander Lunev (principal dancer with the Kirov Ballet). In 1999-2000, he served as Ballet Master and choreographer at the Academy of Dance Arts. There he staged and choreographed “New Ballet Divertissement” and “Paquita” with Roger Van Fleteren (principal dancer with American Ballet Theatre) and Yumelia Garcia (principal dancer with Milwaukee Ballet).From June 2001 till August 2007, Mr. Yakubov was a Founder and Artistic Director of “Ballet Cultural Arts Center” and “Youth Ballet Theatre of Chicago – NFP“.

In 2002 – Evening of Ballet was preformed at the Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts. Featured guest artists included Elena Martinson & Andrei Ustinov formerly principal dancers from the Kirov Ballet Theater and Mr. Yakubov’s Youth Ballet Theatre pre-professional division students.

In the summer of 2004, Mr. Yakubov proudly presented his US Ballet Premier of “BAMBI“. This full-length ballet in 2 acts featuring original libretto stage version with staging and choreography by Mr. Yakubov. Performances by Milwaukee Ballet Theater members Jennifer Provins and Christopher Fellows – 1st Principal Soloists and Kirk Henning of Daytona Ballet Company – Principal Soloist. Performing from the Youth Ballet Theater (YBT) NFP were Principal Soloists Renee Briglio, Lindsay Cregier and Kira Stiers and the pre-professional division students of the YBT. This wonderful event was held at Hemmens Cultural Arts Center.