Studio 83 Dance Academy is pleased to offer the community high quality, curriculum based dance instruction from professionally trained teachers, with the low cost associated with a park district. We have 4 fully equipped studios with sprung floors, a warm and welcoming waiting area, and a full selection of classes for ages 2 - adult. We invite you all to become a part of our dance family!
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Current Dance Offerings
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Maddie Plewacki - Recreation Supervisor/Academy Director/Instructor
Maddie has been an instructor and choreographer at Studio 83 Dance Academy since 2008; and, this is her second year as Studio Director. Her routines have received multiple high trophies, placed in the top 10, top 5, and 1st overall, received judge's choice awards (including best choreography and technique), and multiple regional championships. Maddie has trained in ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, hip hop and modern dance for more than 20 years. She is a graduate of Northern Illinois University, where she majored in dance performance, and spanish language and literature. At NIU, Maddie trained with Judith Chitwood, Paula Frasz and Autumn Eckman, and performed in several Northern Dance Theatre shows. In addition, she choreographs numerous musical productions for kids and adults throughout the Chicagoland area. Maddie continues her training by attending DMI conventions, Tremaine conventions, taking class at Lou Conte, and traveling to New York City each summer to attend the Dance Teacher Summit. With her strong passion for dance, nothing is more satisfying than spreading that passion to others.
Aly Stanczak - Recreation Manager/Company Director/Instructor
Aly graduated from Loyola University of Chicago with a degree in elementary education and a minor in theatre. She has trained in ballet, tap, jazz and hip hop, and has been teaching at various studios for over 20 years. She keeps up to date on the latest trends by attending local dance conventions and the National Dance Life Teacher conference. In addition to teaching, Aly has choreographed many local theater productions for children and adults. She created and grew the dance program here at the Park District as the studio director for 14 years, and she now serves as the company director. Aly is proud to have originated and developed the dance company program, which began in 2007. The company gives dancers the opportunity to train at a higher level, and compete and perform in multiple venues, including Disney World! Routines choreographed by Aly for the company have taken top overall placements at competitions, as well as multiple judges choice awards. Aly is pleased to say that dancers trained within the company have gone on to dance at Visceral, Ruth Page, Gus Giordano, and the Joffrey Academy. She can’t wait to continue to share her love of dance with our community!
Laura Biernacki - Instructor
Laura Biernacki is from Vernon Hills, and began dancing at the age of 5. She graduated cum laude from Western Michigan University, with a B.A. degree in dance, and a sociology minor in 2017. She has had the pleasure to choreograph dances for Adali E. Stevenson High School’s Melangé and Concert Dance Companies, while being a member of each of those ensembles. While performing with those companies, Laura had the privilege to have worked with Liz Lerman and her Critical Response Process to enhance her dance, “It’s Not Goodbye, I’ll See You Later.” She was then awarded outstanding senior in dance and the Prominent Patriot Award for her efforts during that process. While at WMU, she had the honor of performing works by Marlo Martin, Lindsay Thomas and Lew Christensen. Other performance credits include works by Randy Duncan, Autumn Eckman, Isabele Elefson and Paula David. Laura is also a certified teacher in Progressing Ballet Technique, founded by Marie Walton-Mahon. Recently, she had the pleasure of attending Rhee Gold’s Dance Life Teacher Conference, where she was able to further her dance pedagogy training. Laura is so excited to be back at Studio 83 for another year!
Jen Byrd-Alvarado - Instructor
Jen began dancing when she was 4 years old, and has trained in ballet, tap, jazz and hip hop. She danced competitively in high school, while also coaching youth cheer and dance teams. Jen is a former Studio 83 Dance Instructor, and is so excited to be back this year. She joined the Park District as a Dance Camp counselor in 2005. After graduating from Loyola University Chicago in 2008, she began choreographing for the company, and her routines consistently received high trophies and judges choice awards. When she’s not dancing, Jen is an event coordinator, and also enjoys running with her dog, Jack, and spending time with her family and friends.
Melissa Gocek - Instructor
Melissa started dancing over 30 years ago at a park district in California, and went on to study at the Round Lake Area Park District Studio of Dance, Northshore School of Dance, Lou Conte Dance Studio, Cincinnati Ballet's Otto M. Budig Academy, and the Joffrey Ballet School in New York. A proud member of the Chicago National Association of Dance Masters, she has taught dance for 20 years, and has also choreographed for more than 20 productions, including the Studio 83 Dance Academy’s own Nutcracker Rhythm and Grace. Melissa loves working with her students to discover their full potential, and seek out those “ah-ha” moments.
Gini Griffin - Instructor
Gini has been dancing for many years, and has trained in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical and hip hop. She was in the Ripon College Dance Company, and has performed in The Nutcracker multiple times. Gini enjoys everything dance - from teaching, to training, to performing, to watching. She loves watching her students grow as dancers, and is very excited to be teaching for Studio 83 Dance Academy.
Kathryn Lahey - Instructor
Kathy has been a dance teacher for 40 years, and had a studio in the Fox Lake area for 6 years. She then moved to Seattle, where she was the owner and director of Kathy’s Studio of Dance and the KSD Dance Company for more than 30 years. Before teaching, she studied at 2 Illinois dance studios, and studied ballet with Judith Svalander School of Ballet in Crystal Lake. Kathy has been a choreographer for musicals, beauty pageants, pom groups and cheerleaders. Many of her competition dances have received first place trophies and overall high ccores. Kathy just retired from Starpower Dance Competition, where she was a judge and staff member for them for over 25 years, and currently works for Manhattan Dance Project, which is a dance convention that travels around the country hosting classes with master teachers from today’s dance world. Kathy is always most happy when she can pass on her passion to dance to children and adults of all ages.
Caeli Sievert - Instructor
Caeli started doing gymnastics and dancing at the age of 3. She was a competitive gymnast herself, and has continued her passion by coaching for over 20 years. Caeli is a former special educator, who put teaching aside to spend time with her children. She coaches competitive gymnastics when she is not teaching at the Studio, and enjoys watching her children dance at the studio, and being a part of the Studio 83 dance company family. Caeli is excited to be a part of the staff, and looks forward to a wonderful year.
Annie Snow - Instructor
Annie is a Chicago based teaching artist and choreographer, and is honored to teach and choreograph here at Studio 83 Dance Academy. She received her B.A. in dance from Hope College in Holland, Michigan, and holds a master’s degree in dance/movement therapy and counseling from Columbia College Chicago. Annie enjoys her time both on the stage and off, with career highlights including concert dance, musical theatre, and improv. Her work off stage includes choreography for both adult and youth performers in various settings. She has been choreographing for the Studio 83 Dance Company since 2015, where her routines have earned both regional and national accolades. Annie choreographs annually for the Mundelein High School theatre department, and is excited to work as a choreographer this fall for Big Deal Productions, here at the Buffalo Grove Park District, and Special Gifts Theatre in Winnetka. Annie is most passionate about providing a fun, safe and nurturing environment for her students, where creativity and self-expression guide young artists in developing integrity, confidence, and a greater sense of self-worth. She dedicates time to attend continuing education courses, in order to widen her understanding of an ever-growing art form, and connect with fellow teaching artists.
Jessica Wunder - Instructor
Jessica is a native of Naperville, and began her dance training at the age of 3. She attended summer intensives with American Ballet Theatre, The Washington School of Ballet, and Boston Ballet. In 2011, Jessica graduated magna cum laude from Mercyhurst University, with a B.A. degree in dance, and world languages and cultures. While at Mercyhurst, she had the opportunity to work with choreographers Randy James, Bruce Marks and Vivi Flindt, as well as dancing leading roles in productions of Cinderella, Les Slyphides and Giselle. After moving to Pittsburgh in 2011, Jessica joined Bodiography Contemporary Ballet, where she had the opportunity to perform many works, in addition to teaching and choreographing. Jessica is grateful to be rejoining the faculty this year, and is thrilled to be directing and co-choreographing Studio 83 Dance Academy’s Alice in Wonderland production.