Faculty


Connie Sweeney (Choreographer to City Nation Studios), a former member of performance Company Same Planet, Different World, adjudicator and workshop instructor to CDC (Chicago Dance Connection), CNADM (Chicago National Association of Dance Masters, and others, currently performs with Jay Fagan in Sibling Rivalry and is the former Artistic Director of Footwork Dance Ensemble.

 

 

 

 


Zoe Martinkus (Musical Theater, Junior Jazz, HipHop, Twinkle Stars Combo & Kindergarten, and Director of the Dance Workshop Ensemble Company), has a Bachelor of Arts-Musical Theatre from North Central College. She has trained in tap, ballet, lyrical, hip hop, and modern through North Central, Lou Conte Studio, American Dance Center, and La Danse Academy.

 

 

 

 

  
Zada Cheeks
(Ballet), a native of Aurora, IL, began his dance training at the age of 10. He became a member of The Cartier Collective and Chicago Human Rhythm Project’s “BAM!” while graduating from West Aurora High School. Since then, Mr. Cheeks has also performed with dance companies such as: Chicago Dance Crash, Civic Ballet of Chicago, Corpo Dance Company, Inaside, Kanopy Dance Company, River North Chicago, and Winifred Haun and Company. He has toured nationally and internationally to China, Italy, Spain, and Venezuela.

 

 

Chris Zarate, (Hip Hop Instructor & Director, City Nation)

Former director of Work In Progress, Chris first honed his performance skills working with DJ Too Kool Chris and built his technical foundations under the guidance of Karlo Familiara and Suave at Hip Hop Connxion, Angelina Grima and Karlo Familiara at Design and a variety of instructors with The Puzzle League and the Chicago Onyx Dance Alliance (CODA). In recent years, he has been 1 of the 4 directors to lead the first Chicago based Mega-Crew company to Hip Hop International in Las Vegas, performed at various competitions (including World of Dance Chicago, Prelude, Masterpiece, and more), and has joined the Chicago Branch of “Young Lions” under the direction of Ian Eastwood.

Today, as Director and Owner of City Nation Studios, Chris enjoys sharing his experience across the country with a new generation of dancers as they embark on their own journeys.

 

J.P. resume photo (2)JP Tenuta (Ballet)(BFA-Dance Performance Northern, IL) has performed with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Luna Negra Dance Company, Nashville Ballet Company (Nashville, TN)  MOMENTA Performing Arts Company; toured in Austria for Tanzsommer International, Ballet Chicago– Civic Ballet of Chicago, Chicago Festival Ballet, Bryant Ballet, Midwest Ballet and Salt Creek Ballet, plus, performances with NIU Dance Theatre.  In addition to his performances, JP’s dance background includes Modern, Jazz, and Lyrical and has taught for various dance studios & companies both nationally and internationally: Beginning Ballet for Boys, Advanced Ballet, School of the Nashville Ballet – Intermediate/Advanced Ballet, Modern (Graham/Horton) Von Heidecke School of Dance – Advanced Ballet and Pointe, Ruth Page Foundation – Advanced-Professional Open Class, Luna Negra Dance Theatre – Company Class.  In addition to his performance and educational credentials, he continues to deepen his dance by attending various intensives at Alvin Ailey, Paul Taylor School, Martha Graham, Lou Conte, and Ruth Page, to name a few.

 

Marissa Flores (ballet, twinkle, tap)  Marissa started training for dance at the age of 3. She has danced at several dance studios including Dance Images, The Dance Workshop and American Dance Cente in Orland Park. Her training includes all styles of dance – Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop, Modern and Contemporary. She was also in dance companies at both The Dance Workshop and The American Dance Center. In these excel programs she has performed in many events such as The Chicago Bulls ‘Pre-Game’ events, Miss Illinois Pageants, The Art Institute of Chicago, Anthaneum Theatre and Great America.  Marissa has also trained in gymnastics and has a strong theatre background.  She has been performing various theatrical productions with Missoulas Children      Theatre.  In addition to training at various studios, Marissa has competed in many dance conventions such as Dance Olympus, Tremaine, and Dance Chicago. In high school, she was involved extensively in cheer and poms. Marissa continues her dance education while taking dance classes at Visceral Dance Centerand Lou Conte in Chicago. She is also currently attending Governors State University and working towards her Early Education degree.

Kalina Bartlett (Ballet)
began performing with Ballet Wichita at age 10 and danced principal roles while in high school. She returned to BW as guest artist for The Nutcracker, dancing Sugar Plum Fairy and Snow Queen.  She graduated Summa Cum Laude from Wichita State University with a BFA in Performing Arts in Dance.  With Wichita Contemporary Dance Theatre, she toured to New York City and Italy, and earned soloist roles with choreographers Cheyla Clawson Chandler, Rachel Boyajian, Darrell Grand Moultrie and Shauna Martinez. She performed professionally with Modern American Dance Company (MADCO) in St Louis. She resides in Chicago, trains  at Lou Conte Dance Studio, freelances and teaches.

 

Bailey Caves (Jazz) started her dance career at the age of two at Dancentre South in Woodstock, GA under the direction of Annie Day and Marcus Alford. She trained and performed a variety of styles at DCS such as: tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop, contemporary, African, and musical theatre.  While training at DCS, she performed at the Nutcracker of Cherokee County, BalletFest, Jazz on Tap Festival, Disney World, the Panoply Festival, and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival. Having found her life passion in dance, she attended Oklahoma City University to pursue dance as a career. Bailey is a 2017 Magna Cum Laude graduate with a B.S. in Dance Management. Bailey is currently with Chicago Tap Theatre.

 

 

 


Donna Johnson
(tap)  is the founder and director of the award-winning tap company “Steppin’ Out Dance Company”. Donna’s students are regional and national dance champions. Many of them are now dancing professionally. Ms. Johnson graduated with honors from the University of Illinois, Chicago, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech and Theater. She has trained at several Chicago area studios with teachers including Jay Fagan, Bruce Stegmann and Lane Alexander. Ms. Johnson has received numerous choreographic accolades for jazz, lyrical and especially for tap

 

 

K J  Sheldon (Tap)Native of Colorado, KJ grew up dancing under the direction of her late mentor, Prof. Robert L. Reed. She was inspired by him for 10 years, and he was the one to introduce her to the tap community. At 18, she moved to Chicago to pursue a BFA in musical theater with an emphasis in dance. She earned her degree in May 2019. Throughout her years of studies, KJ started dancing with MADD Rhythms Tap Company and is now a professional member. Since being in Chicago, she’s been able to perform at the DuSable Museum, Jay Pritzker Pavilion, Harris Theatre, and countless others across the city and nation. Today, she continues to perform as a ional tap dancer and educator in the city.

Amber Kreis (Jazz,Hip Hop)Amber began dancing at Legacy Dance Ensemble in 2010 under co-founder, Donn Lusung. She trained in ballet, jazz, lyrical and hip hop styles for 8 years and competed with City Nation Studios for 5 years. Amber is eager to grow as a teacher imparting her knowledge and experience to future generations of dancers.

 

 

 

 

Teddy Ganesky (Advanced Jazz, Lyrical) Teddy Ganesky started dancing when she was 2 years old, and hasn’t stopped since.  Not wanting to limit her abilities, she has immersed herself in all styles including jazz, tap, ballet, lyrical, contemporary, hip hop, heels, and even ballroom. She views dance as the language that the soul speaks,  and continues to become more fluent and expressive in that language.  Her continued education has culminated in a minor in dance and constant attendance of classes, workshops, and even competitions in order to keep honing her craft.  Some of her credits include, World of Dance Three time champions with Puzzle League, Velocity Finale Piece under Dee Caspery, Talia Favia’s Chapters Member, Finalist at a ShowCase Jack & Jill, as well as countless training under some of the top industry leaders in LA. She keeps pushing her own boundaries so she can help grow the boundaries of those who want to learn this language she loves so much.

Kayla Kurns (Jazz, Lyrical)Kayla Kurns is an artist, teacher and choreographer from Chicago, who has her B.A in dance at Columbia College Chicago. Kayla began her dance career when she was seven years old. Though she was initially self-taught, she later sought more formalized training, ballet, hip hop, modern, urban hip hop, West-African, contemporary and more. She’s trained and competed with Premiere Dance One Academy, Legacy Dance Ensemble and City Nation Studios. Kayla works with dancers of all ages. At Columbia, she added West-African, ballet, Hip Hop and traditional Modern dance styles to her repertoire. Kayla further mastered her dance techniques, teaching skills and choreography. She also taught and works at various dance studios and conventions like City Nation Studios, Triple Threat Divas, Jo’s Footwork, All That Jazz and Activate Your Artistry. Kayla has performed throughout the United States working and teaching choreography in music videos and live performances. Her passion for teaching continues to grow every day sharing the knowledge and experience to the future generations of dancers.

Gianna Vancura (Poms) Gianna started dancing when she was three and has been taking classes at The Dance Workshop since 2008. She has trained in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, and poms. She was apart of the DWS Ensemble, Jo’s Footwork Rhythm Collective, the Shepard Poms/Dance Team and is currently competing with City Nation Studios. She has a huge passion for dance and can’t wait to pass it on to other dancers!

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth McNally (Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary)