Our Professional Dance Faculty have performed with many well-respected Dance Companies such as: Alvin Ailey 2, Joffrey Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, River North Dance Chicago, Dance 2XS, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Atlanta Ballet, Luna Negra Dance Theatre, Especially Tap Company, Chi-Town Jazz Dance Company, Inaside Chicago Dance, Thodos Dance Chicago, Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, Pittsburgh Ballet, Piel Morena Contemporary Dance, and Chicago Repertory Ballet.
Lisa Gold, Director of North Shore School of Dance, holds a B.A. in Dance from Barat College. She performed with the Mesa Community Dance Theatre, Zephyr Dance Ensemble, Emergence Dance Theatre, Rockford Ballet and the Barat Repertory Dance Company. Lisa trained with Eileen Cropley, Randy Duncan, Rory Foster, Rick Moyano, and Marcus Alford. She has studied at the Carol Walker Dance Studio, Joseph Holmes, Gus Giordano Dance Center, and Ellis-DuBoulay School in Chicago, and the Graham School in New York. Lisa was on the faculty of the Barat Conservatory of Dance for sixteen years teaching ballet and modern dance, assisting in teaching pedagogy, and served on the Dance Search Committee.
Brook Burkhardt, Director of North Shore Dance Company and Assistant Director of NSSD, is originally from Denver, Colorado. Brook graduated from the Denver School of the Arts where she worked with famed dancers Kim Robards and Cleo Parker-Robinson. Brook went on to study at the California Institute of the Arts where she received a Bachelor’s Degree in Dance. Brook has launched many children’s programs in Chicago and specializes in teaching children ages 2-5 years old, as well as, all genres and all ages of dance.
Greg Begley, was born in Flint, Michigan and began his professional career while still in high school. He spent four years as a member of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre while also obtaining a college business degree on a full dance scholarship. Personally solicited by Ruth Page, Greg moved to Chicago to become a principal dancer with the Chicago Ballet. Greg performed many of the traditional classical ballets and has worked with some of the most notable and legendary dancer/choreographers that we have known. His title role of Johnny, in Ruth Page’s famed “Frankie and Johnny” was filmed by Chicago’s WTTW bringing universal recognition to his career. By invitation of Lou Conte, founder of the company Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Greg became an original member, a featured performer, and the company’s ballet master. His background in classical ballet, musical theater, modern, jazz and tap created a natural fit with the company.
He has made numerous guest appearances with various dance companies to stage new choreography and traditional classical ballets. He has been enlisted on two occasions to set the ballet “Frankie and Johnny” on the Joffrey Ballet and Kansas City companies. Greg today is a prominent and distinguished teacher having worked with most of the professional dance companies in Chicago. He has been on staff at the Lou Conte Dance Studio, Ruth Page School of Dance, and the Gus Giordano Dance Center, along with many of the professional schools in the area. Recently, hosted by the Chinese Foreign Affairs Office, he traveled in China teaching in the cities of Beijing and Suzhou, at the Guangxi Arts Institute in Nanning, and working with a performance group in Shanghai at the World Expo.
Mr. DiCriscio, of Wilmington, DE, received his initial training from Anna Marie and Sonny Leo. He then went on to pursue a B.A. in Dance at Point Park University. While in school he apprenticed with River North Dance Chicago and then became a company member in 2007, dancing with the company for four seasons. Brandon has worked with choreographers including Robert Battle, Sidra Bell, Frank Chaves, Ron De Jesus, Shannon Gillen, Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, Lauri Stallings, Doug Varone, Edgar Zendejas, and Sherry Zunker. While at Springboard Danse Montreal he worked with BJM Danse Montreal under the direction of Louis Robitaille. Brandon also has apprenticed with Luna Negra Dance Theater. His passion is for dance-making. In 2011, he won the Dance Chance Redux competition sponsored by DanceWorks Chicago and the Ruth Page Center for the Arts. In 2012, he created two works on The Big Muddy Dance Company of St. Louis and continues his partnership with them. Currently Brandon teaches musical theatre dance and contemporary technique at The Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts). Additional Chicago area commissions include Nomi Dance Company, DanceWorks Chicago, Inaside Chicago Dance, and the collaborative work with Eddy Ocampo for LEVELdance. Mr. DiCriscio is currently Assistant to the Director, Choreographer, and Dancer for LEVELdance.
Victoria Dutton received a B.S. in Dance from Texas Woman’s University and a M.F.A from Boston Conservatory. She is a former company member of Atlanta Ballet and has also danced with Portland Ballet Company, Houston Ballet and Moving Theater Images of Sean Murphy. She has taught at Loyola University, Walnut Hill, Festival Ballet of N.C. Texas and Boston Conservatory. She is also a recipient of the Leaman Award for Artistic Excellence.
Rachel Gruber received her BFA in Dance from Barat Conservatory of Dance (Lake Forest), where she studied under Rory Foster and Eileen Cropley. She has been teaching dance for over fifteen years, and she especially loves teaching Pre-Dance where she can enjoy encouraging the love of dance in young dancers. Rachel is a North Shore School of Dance alumni and she is so happy to be returning to the faculty.
Adam began his early training in his hometown of Boone, Iowa. Upon graduating high school, he moved to Tucson, Arizona where he continued studying at the University of Arizona. There Adam began his professional training in ballet with James Clouser, along with modern and jazz. During his time at U of A, Adam performed works by James Clouser, Elizabeth George, Doug Nielsen, Susan Quinn, Michael Williams, and Sam Watson. Adam graduated magna cum laude from U of A receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance. He was also named Outstanding Senior by the School of Dance for the graduating class of 2013. Upon graduating from the University of Arizona, Adam began his professional career with Giordano Dance Chicago as a Performing Associate. During his time as a PA, he performed with the main company regionally, nationally, and internationally. Adam also had the opportunity to teach and choreograph in Michigan as part of a residency project on behalf of GDC. In addition to dancing, he teaches and choreographs in Chicago and the Chicagoland area. Adam is excited to begin his second season with Giordano Dance Chicago with his promotion in the newly created role, Senior Performing Associate.
Stacy Joy Keller
Stacy Joy Keller has danced with The Joffrey Ballet for the past twelve seasons. She has enjoyed many roles with the company including: Clara in The Nutcracker, American Girl in Parade, Chorito in Joffrey’s Pas de Deeses, and the fast pas de deux in Mr. Arpino’s Suite Saens Sans to name a few. Prior to joining The Joffrey Ballet, Mrs. Keller was a member of the Sarasota Ballet of Florida where she performed roles including: The Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker, the title role in Cinderella, the pas de trios in Swan Lake, Calliope in Balanchine’s Apollo, and the Peasant Pas in Giselle.
Mrs. Keller has taught in many programs and schools throughout Illinois, Wisconsin and Florida which include: Joffrey’s ECE outreach program, CNADM(Chicago’s National Association of Dance Masters), Whitney Young High School, Melissa Thodos’ Company, Chicago Ballet Arts, North Shore School of Dance, Ballroom and Dance School of Deer Park, Dancenter North, Sarasota Ballet School’s Venice program and the Classical Ballet Center of Tampa.
Mrs. Keller began her ballet training at the Classical Ballet Center of Tampa with Haydee Gutierrez. In addition, she also studied with The San Francisco Ballet, The School of American Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and Oregon Ballet Theatre on full scholarships. Mrs. Keller received the Ruth Eckerd Hall youth’s scholarship, presented by David Parson’s and was also a part of Robert Altman’s film, The Company.
Caroline Kuhl graduated from Illinois State University, and has performed with Zephyr Dance Ensemble, The Funny Firm, Pheasant Run Dinner Theatre, Flamingo Hilton Boardwalk Casino (Las Vegas), a tour of Tokyo with magician Luna Shemada, Ameba, and Motivity. She currently takes classes with Julie Cartier.
Christine (Machonski) Wellner
Christine Wellner, a native of Northbrook, began her dance training at NSYMCA studying ballet, modern, jazz and tap. She is a graduate of UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, Urbana-Champaign, IL with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. During her college years, she participated in the dance program as a non-major with coursework in modern, ballet, jazz, tap and improvisation technique with university faculty and artists-in-residence. She was awarded the talented student scholarship within her first year. Christine continues to train in ballet, modern, jazz and tap technique with studio classes in and around Chicago.
Over the course of her teaching career, she has developed programs specifically designed for toddler and pre-school age students. She provides developmentally appropriate instruction for early childhood and early elementary school students. Balances a sense of play within music and movement exploration while providing foundation for dance technique and classroom etiquette, honoring each student’s abilities and creativity.
Heather’s love of the performing arts began at a young age singing and performing with a non-profit children’s organization in Colorado Springs. With CSCC, she toured internationally performing at iconic venues such as the Sydney Opera House and Japan-American Festivals with an ambition to bridge borders, cultures, and all people through the arts. Through her musical theatre training she has worked with Herman Payne, Deb McWaters and Ben Vereen.
She fell in love with contemporary, modern, jazz, and ballet while training and performing with the Colorado Jazz Dance Company. Continuing her dance training at the University of Arizona with James Clouser, Doug Neilson, Michael Williams, and Sam Watson, she studied all styles including composition and improvisation, and performed in a variety of choreographic projects. In Chicago, she has diverse training from Thodos Dance Chicago, River North Dance Chicago, Lou Conte Dance Studios, and was on scholarship at Visceral Dance Chicago. She is currently working with Winifred Haun & Dancers and The Monocle Eclectic Dance Company. Also as a professional writer, she composes articles for dance companies and runs her own website: danceinventions.com. Heather is so passionate about teaching a variety of age groups and levels to further develop their dance abilities and encourage their self-expression. She is also thrilled to be working with North Shore’s Dance Company students as they share their love of dance with the community.
Brian lives in Chicago after dancing professionally for twenty years in NYC. He began his training at the age of seven in Worcester, Massachusetts with Jo Ann Warren. He has danced and toured the world with Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Elisa Monte Dance, Parsons Dance Company and Buglisi Dance Theatre. He is on faculty at ChiArts and Visceral Dance Center in Chicago and is a guest Choreographer/Teacher at The Fine Arts Center in Greenville, South Carolina. Brian has had the opportunity to perform at Jacob’s Pillow, Lincoln Center, Cultural Center of the Philippines, The Bolshoi Theatre, American Dance Festival, The Joyce Theatre, NYC City Center, The Kennedy Center and The Spoleto Festival, Italy. In 2009, Brian co-created and presented a commissioned evening length work of Romeo and Juliet-a death marked love at The Peace Center in Greenville, South Carolina. He holds his Bachelor of Fine Arts from The Juilliard School under the directorship of Benjamin Harkarvy and an Associates Degree in Occupational Science for Massage Therapy.
KESHA MILENKOVIC is originally from Gaithersburg Maryland. She started dancing at the age of nine at Motion Mania Dance Center. For many summers she attended Debbie Allen Dance Academy, Alvin Ailey Summer Intensive, Bates Dance Festival and many more. She also got the opportunity to perform at the Kennedy Center under the direction of Debbie Allen in two productions called “Dreams & Pearl”. Kesha attended Columbia College Chicago and got her Bachelor of Arts in Dance. After graduation Kesha got a scholarship at Gus Giordano Dance school and later on accepted into Giordano second company. In 2010 Kesha got hired as a dancer/vocalist for the Broadway musical Chicago on the largest cruise ship in the world “Allure of The Seas”. Kesha passion has always been to perform but now she would like to expand her knowledge and start teaching/choreographing . She would like to thank her friends, family and husband for always supporting her dream.
MissG was born and raised in New York City. She has received training in Modern, Jazz Funk and Hip Hop in NYCs prestigious Broadway Dance Center and Steps, among other dance studios in South Florida. In 2004 she founded Dance Alight, an organization that gives choreographers and dancers of all styles the tools to successfully pursue a professional career in dance. Dance Alight re-emerged in full force as Alight Movement in 2008 and has already made a mark within the dance community through events, dance competitions, shows and workshop tours. Alight Movement was seen on BET’s 106 and Park, where some of MissG’s choreography was displayed.
MissG has recently relocated to Chicago from Florida. She has choreographed and performed as a backup dancer for various local venues in South Florida including television shows and music videos. Her choreography was also seen on BET’s Spring Bling Invitational Showcase in Venice Beach,CA. She has trained artists in development for major recording companies and continues to inspire her students, from all walks of life, to aim high in their endeavors. One of MissG’s students, artist Joselyn Rivera, appeared on the third season of The Voice.
MissG has more than 13 years of experience teaching Hip Hop from beginners to advanced levels to children and adults alike. Her mastery of various dancing styles along with the diversity of her clientele has allowed her to develop a unique teaching style that stands out from the rest.
Tysh Nelson received her Bachelor of Performing Arts degree from Oklahoma City University. She was selected Outstanding Dance Major and was also a Cum Laude Graduate. Tysh has performed in hundreds of musical productions including Broadway and National Touring Companies. Chicago credits include The Goodman Theatre, Marriott Lincolnshire, and Drury Lane Oakbrook. She has a diverse background in dance as can be witnessed by her appearance in a Kentucky Fried Chicken Commercial as a hip hop dancer. Locally, she has taught dance at Lou Conte’s Dance Studio as well as Giordano’s. She is currently a member of the Mature Dance Project, started by River North founder, Sherry Zunker. Tysh is currently the director of Kipling Theatre Workshop in Deerfield.
Pamela Johnson Tanis
Pamela Johnson Tanis is a former principal dancer with the Joffrey Ballet (New York City) and also danced with American Ballet Theatre, Maria Tallchief’s Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Illinois Ballet. She was coached in principal roles by Robert Joffrey, Gerald Arpino, George Balanchine, Leonide Massine, Danilova, Bronislava Nijinska, Jerome Robbins, Rudolf Nureyev, Todd Bolender, and Alvin Ailey, among others. She trained with Richard Ellis & Christine Du Boulay, Robert Joffrey, Hector Zaraspe, and Basil Thompson, and taken classes with Finis Jhung, David Howard, and Maggie Black. She has taught at Gus Giordano’s Dance Studio and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and served on the faculties of Northern Illinois University (co-director), Columbia College Dance Center, Barat College Dance Conservatory (Lake Forest), and the Joel Hall Dance Center. She is a biographee in the Marquis Who’s Who in Entertainment. She has taught master classes in ballet and character at Dartmouth College, Ballet Folk of Moscow (Idaho), Rockford Dance Academy (Rockford, Ill.), Southold Dance Theater (South Bend, Ind.), and for the Cecchetti Council of America at Hope College (Holland, Mich.).
Wesley “Wesside” Owens is a dancer, choreographer, and MC. He began his dance career at an early age, and continued it throughout college and beyond. Wes graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Informatics, a cognate in Telecommunications Management, and a minor in Spanish. During his college years, he was the lead choreographer and artistic director of Hip Hop Connexion (Indiana Branch).
Wes has performed and taught across America. He has performed with Big Boi of Outkast, Mike Posner, Jason Derulo, the Cataracts, LMFAO, and Ludacris. He is known for a variety of hip hop styles, such as: Gliding, waving, bugaloo, krumping, footwork, locking, bucking, and popping. Currently he is a featured dancer, choreographer and MC for Monster Entertainment.
Olga Meyer-Ballet Accompanist
Olga Meyer graduated from the Azerbajian State College in Baku and earned her Masters in Music and Teaching from the State Conservatory. She taught and concertized in Russia before coming to the United States in 1981. She has been an accompanist for Maria Tallchief at the Chicago City Ballet, the Ruth Page Foundation School of Ballet, and the Salt Creek Ballet Company. For over 20 years, Olga has played at Columbia College and the Chicago Academy for the Arts. Olga worked with the late Anna Paskevska on Music for Ballet Class, a cd with selections arranged and played by Olga. She was also an accompanist for ballet class in the movie Save the Last Dance.