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December 2018 Newsletter
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Maddie Plewacki - Program Specialist/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
Aly graduated from Loyola University of Chicago with a degree in elementary education and a minor in theatre. She has pursued her dance training at various studios throughout the Chicagoland area. In addition to teaching, Aly has choreographed many local theater productions for children and adults. Aly is thrilled to have created and developed the dance company program here at the Park District. Going into its 11th successful season, dancers from the company have competed and performed in multiple venues, inclduing Disney World. Aly is proud to say that dancers trained within the company have gone on to dance at Visceral, Ruth Page, Gus Giordano, and the Joffrey Academy. She is pleased to share her passion for dance with the community.
Noelia Castanon - Instructor/Assistant
Noelia started her dance journey here at the Buffalo Grove Park District when she was only 3. She was on her studio’s competition team for more than 5 years, attending and performing in multiple competitions. For her 4 years of high school, she was on and choreographed for the Wheeling’s varsity poms team. Currently, she is a college student studying elementary education. Throughout her dance experience, Noelia has assisted and taught numerous dance classes, now getting a classroom of her own. This will be her first year teaching; and, she is very excited to be joining Studio 83 Dance Academy.
Melissa Gocek - Instructor
Melissa started taking dance lessons at age 4 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, the Joffrey Ballet School in New York, and is a proud member of the Chicago National Association of Dance Masters. Melissa has been teaching dance for over 17 years, and has choreographed for more than 20 productions, including the Buffalo Grove Park District's own Nutcracker Rhythm and Grace. She is absolutely thrilled to be joining the staff again as a regular teacher, and cannot wait to get into the studio!
Gini Griffin - Instructor
Gini has been dancing for over 30 years, and has trained in ballet, tap, jazz and lyrical. She was in the Ripon College Dance Company, and has performed in the Nutcracker multiple times. Gini enjoys everything dance, from classes, to performing, to watching. Her favorite performances to watch are anything her daughters are in. She is very excited to be teaching for the Buffalo Grove Studio of Dance.
Katie Illera - Instructor
Katie has been dancing for more than 20 years, with formal training in tap, jazz, ballet, modern, lyrical and hip hop from studios across the country, including Kansas City Ballet, Boston's Jeanette Neil, and Lou Conte in Chicago. In high school, she danced competitively on the St. Teresa's Academy dance team in Kansas City. When her family moved to Boston her junior year, and there wasn't a dance team at her new school, she created one, serving as captain and lead choreographer. Her dance career continued in college, where she was captain for Loyola University Chicago's nationally ranked dance team, serving as choreographer for many of the half time and competition routines. After graduation, she was selected to join Chicago's BOOM CRACK! Dance Company, a hip hop company under the creative direction of Trae Turner, where she performed across the United States for over 4 years. This is Katie's first season with Studio 83 Dance Academy; and, she's excited to share her passion and expertise with her students.
Kathryn M. Lahey - Instructor
Kathy has been a dance teacher for 40 years. She had a studio in the Fox Lake area for 6 years, and then moved to Seattle, where she taught dance at many area community centers, and was the owner and director of Kathy’s Studio of Dance for 34 years. Before teaching, she studied at 2 studios in Illinois, and studied ballet with Judith Svalander School of Ballet in nearby Crystal Lake. She has been a choreographer for musicals, beauty pageants, pom-pon squads and cheerleaders. Kathy is a past member of the Dance Educators of America, and the Professional Dance Teachers Association. She teaches preschool dance, ballet, tap, jazz, musical theater, lyrical, tumbling and kickline. Kathy has worked for 25 years with Starpower National Talent Competition as a judge and staff member. Kathy is also on staff with Manhattan Dance Project (MDP), traveling around the country, hosting classes that are conducted by professional working teachers from today’s dance world. MDP helps Kathy keep up and be current in today’s dance techniques. Kathy is always most happy when she can pass on her passion of dance to children and adults of all ages.
Sean Murillo - Instructor
Sean has been involved in the performing arts since the age of 7, and is trained in jazz, musical theater, with a main focus in hip hop. He has performed in a number of Big Deal Productions, the most recent being the Donkey in Shrek. Along with his background in musical theater, Sean was the captain and choreographer for The Wheeling High School New Dawns show choir. Sean has also participated in the Disney Dancin workshop in Walt Disney World. This will be his fourth season with the Buffalo Grove Studio of Dance and the Hot Shots dance team.
Caeli Sievert - Instructor
Caeli started doing gymnastics and dancing at the age of 3. She was a part of the club gymnastics team at the University of Illinois, and has coached gymnastics and tumbling for 20 years. Caeli is a former special educator, who put teaching aside to spend time with her children. She enjoys watching her children dance at the studio and taking classes herself. Caeli is excited to be a part of the staff and looks forward to a wonderful year.
Annie Snow - Instructor
Annie has been dancing for over 20 years and is excited for her first year at the Buffalo Grove Studio of Dance. She has trained in ballet, jazz, tap, modern, musical theater, capoeria, creative movement, and improvisation. She has a degree in dance from Hope College and a Masters in dance/movement therapy and counseling from Columbia College Chicago. Annie enjoys performing as a dancer/actor whenever she gets the chance. She danced for 2 years with Dance>Detour Chicago and recently, for several local theatre companies. She enjoys working as an actor for seasonal events at Navy Pier and continuing her dance training at Lou Conte in Chicago. Annie has been working as a choreographer/director for musical theatre for the past 9 years. She is the resident choreographer for Encore Theatre in Libertyville and works at the Northbrook Park District summer drama camp. Some of her favorite works include Shrek, Brigadoon, Footloose, Hairspray, Guys and Dolls, All Shook Up, and Thoroughlly Modern Millie. Dance has been a passion of Annie's for a long time and she feels so blessed to continue to share her love of dance with her students and community.
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 join the faculty this year, and can’t wait to share her passion for dance with her students.