Linda Daniels McDonald, Director of McDonald Dance Academy, received her early ballet education from noted instructors such as Anida Sedala, Ruth Page, Gus Giordano, Fernando Schauffenberg, Barbara Copeland and Jerry Bywaters Cochran. Performing with such artists as Edward Villela and Rudolph Nuryev further enhanced her educational experience. Linda received a fine arts degree in ballet from Texas Christian University, was a soloist with the Fort Worth Ballet Company, and danced with the Fort Worth Opera under the direction of Marina Swveltova. She danced in Summerstock with the Music Theatre of Wichita Kansas. She taught at Dance Center North, Northbrook Dance Center and Dance Variations Workshop in Palatine until opening McDonald Dance Academy in Arlington Heights in 1994.Linda is actively involved with Dance for Life in Chicago and a member of C.N.A.D.M. Board of Directors. Linda directs the Arlington Dance Ensemble, a group she started for those students interested in the opportunity to perform more and share their talents with the community. Linda’s students have gone on to receive dance scholarships, to major in dance at college and to dance professionally. Additionally, Linda has created choreography for many local theatre groups, including four St. James musical productions. Linda lives in Arlington Heights with her husband and three children.
Jennifer Alesi has been studying and practicing yoga and meditation for 35 years. She is certified in Stott Pilates in both mat and the reformer and holds certifications in special populations for yoga. She has created her own form of yoga blending Pranic healing practices with gentle healing postures. She currently teaches vinyasa flow, restorative, and healing yoga, as well as Pilates mat and reformer classes. Jen is a graduate of art and design from Purdue University.
Jeanette Aylward studied ballet at the University of Illinois while earning her BS. After graduation, she continued her training under Avnun Yakabov. She has performed with the Full Body Poetry Ensemble, Reverse Live and Enidsmithdance. Jeanette has collaborated with the late Richard Fammeree for the Pont Des Arts Ensemble and Saint Cloud in Chicago. She has worked as a teacher and choreographer in Chicago and the Northwest Suburbs for the past 14 years.
Jen Cobb graduated Magna Cum Laude from Mount Holyoke College with a B.A. in Dance and French. While in college, she choreographed an honors thesis through the dance department and worked with dance artists such as Terese Freedman, Idan Cohen, Katie Martin, Felice Wolfzahn and Jennifer Weber. Jen is currently completing her K-12 teaching certificate in French at Northeastern Illinois University and is also the head coach of the Saint Viator Poms Team. Jen is an active member of the Chicago dance community as a performer, teacher and choreographer. She recently established Matters of Consequence, a dance collaboration with fellow McDonald Dance Academy alums.
Pat Doyle has taught in the area for the past 35 years. Her training was at Stone Cameron, Gus Giordano, and Anida Sedala. Pat studied with Bruce Stegman and has received her Grade One Cecchetti teacher’s degree. She has choreographed a number of community productions including ones at Morten Jr. College and Stevenson High School and is the costumer for Prospect High School. Pat also taught for Stevenson High School’s Odyssey program and is a CDE Lifetime member of CNADM. She is celebrating 20 years as director of Kids Dance Express, Pre-school Creative Dance Program and is the proud co-owner of D & G Dancewear. Pat has received her jazz teacher certification in Giordano Jazz technique in levels beginning through advanced.
Kelly Dziurgot graduated from the University of Iowa with a BA in Dance and an Entrepreneurship Certificate. Kelly has performed works by renown choreographers Alan Sener, Armando Duarte, and Charlotte Adams and performed a summer series of Duarte Dance Works pieces. Kelly previously danced with Project 606 Company along with other independent works such as JMT/JLS. She was the previous orchesis director at St. Viator and teaches at local area studios.Kelly has taught master classes at CNADM and has received her Jazz teacher certification in Giordano Jazz technique in levels beginning through advanced
Laura Gates grew up in a northwest suburb of Chicago. She holds degrees in Dance and Psychology from the University of Iowa where she was privileged to train with many gifted artists including Francoise Martinet, David Berkey, Randy Duncan, and Mauricio Wainrot. In Chicago she danced with Swallow Cliff Dance Company, Concert Dance, Inc., and several independent choreographers before joining Thodos Dance Chicago. Highlights of her six-year performance tenure with TDC include Dance for Life, an international tour to Turkey, and working with Broadway icon Ann Reinking and other renowned artists. She currently serves Thodos Dance Chicago as Ballet Mistress and Rehearsal Director. Laura has been a Master Teacher for several local intensive programs including TDC, CNADM, Inaside Chicago Dance, Gus Giordano Dance School, the Illinois State Dance Festival and the Midwest Cecchetti Council Ballet Workshop. Deeply committed to the art of dance, Laura has taught in the Chicago area for nearly twenty years.
Christine Janak is a professional and international dancer and dance instructor. She was raised in Colorado and began dancing at age 3. She found her passion for dance and began more serious training with International Ballet School (Colorado) and she spent summers training with various schools including the Pallucca Schule (Dresden, Germany), Joffrey Ballet School (NYC), Joffrey Ballet Exchange at the Bolshoi (Moscow, Russia), Orlando Ballet School, Boston Ballet School, and Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet School (San Francisco). After High school she toured through Europe as a soloist with Cinevox (Switzerland). She loved performing in the Netherlands for a half season with Dance in Art. She was a teacher and rehearsal assistant in both Switzerland and the Netherlands. In Colorado she has danced freelance for Robert Sher-Machherndl, and she danced, taught and choreographed for Mercury Dance Company and Mercury Academy of Dance. She has experience teaching in classical academies like, Lakewood Dance Academy, and has served her community in the recreational sector with South Suburban Rec. Centers. She moved to Chicago to begin with the dance company, Ballet 5:8, and is excited to begin teaching in this diverse and vibrant city.
Katie Calandra Kritek graduated summa cum laude from New York University with a BS in Dance and Dance Education and completed her M.Ed. from National-Louis University. She has been an active member of the Chicago dance community as a dancer, teacher, and choreographer for more than 16 years. Currently, Katie teaches in New Trier High School’s Dance Division.
Leah McClure received her B.A. in both Dance and Journalism & Mass Communication from the University of Iowa. While there, Leah had many performance opportunities and was also a company member for two seasons in the UI dance department’s premiere touring performance company, Dancers in Company. Leah is a certified yoga instructor and completed her 200-hour CYT at the school of James Miller Yoga in 2012. After graduation Leah moved back to her hometown of Chicago and has been enjoying teaching dance and yoga in the Chicago land area. She has been a company member of Valerie Alpert Dance Company and is currently working as a freelance dance artist in Chicago.
Kara McDonald received her BFA in Ballet and Modern Dance from Texas Christian University in 2007. While at TCU she had the opportunity to work with renowned artists such as Fernando Bujones, Christian Von Howard and Li Chou Cheng. Since she moved back to her hometown of Chicago, she has enjoyed teaching, performing and choreographing dance for all ages in the Chicago area. She has performed with project 606 Dance Company, JMT and JLS Dance Project and other various independent choreographers in Chicago.Kara has taught master classes at CNADM. In 2011 she received her yoga certification and currently teaches at Core Power Yoga and is the Assistant Manager at the Roscoe Village Core Power.
Marcy Meyer holds a B.S in Special Education, LBS1 and a M.A. of Education in Reading. She has been teaching self-contained special education in the CCSD15 Structured for Independence program for the past 10 years. Marcy has a passion for working with students with special needs and has been working with children of varied ages, strengths and needs for the past 14 years. She was born, raised, still lives in Arlington Heights and was one of the first students to take dance at McDonald Dance Academy back in 1995! She is looking forward to being a part of a meaningful, inclusive dance program, as well as having lots of fun!
Nicole Morris has worked in special education since 2012. As a certified special education teacher, she has worked with a range of ages and a variety of need in schools throughout NSSEO and CCSD15 school districts. Nicole has worked with students and their families to increase the amount of inclusion experiences within the school setting and in their local communities. Nicole grew up in Arlington Heights, was one of the original dance students of McDonald Dance Academy and is looking forward to merging her passion for special education into the community in she grew up in and lives in.
Sarah O’Keeffe is originally from Boulder, CO; there she trained in ballet (Royal Academy of Dance method), jazz, contemporary, modern, tap, ballroom, and character at Reverence Academy of Dance. Sarah continued her dance education at the University of Kansas where she received her BFA degree in Dance in the spring of 2016. While at the University of Kansas she had many performing, choreographing, guest artist, leadership, touring, and scholarship opportunities with the Dance Department. Sarah has since moved to Chicago in order to pursue her dance career and has begun her first season as a Performing Apprentice with Inaside Chicago Dance. While Sarah loves performing, she also loves to share her passion for dance through teaching and is very excited to be teaching at McDonald Academy of Dance!
Growing up in Arlington Heights, Stephanie Tinaglia trained at McDonald Dance Academy and participated in Hersey Orchesis at John Hersey High School. In 2014, Stephanie graduated from the University of Iowa with a BA in Elementary Education and a minor in Dance. While at the University of Iowa, she studied ballet and modern dance, performed in various productions each year, and traveled to perform as a member of Dancers in Company. Upon graduating, Stephanie began her career as an elementary education teacher while working with Hersey Orchesis as the Assistant Director. Currently, Stephanie is taking a break from elementary education in order to pursue her career as a dancer. Stephanie is in her second season as a company member of Outlet Dance Company and is also beginning her first season as a Performing Apprentice with Inaside Chicago Dance.
Julie Walter grew up in Mount Prospect, IL and trained at Bataille Academie of the Danse in Barrington, IL. Julie graduated with honors receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance and a minor in Sociology in 2012 from the University of Iowa. While at Iowa, she performed in faculty and student works as well as Black and Blue choreographed by Louis Falco, restaged by Alan Sener. Julie also had the opportunity to study Samba Dance and Music in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for a three week study abroad program in 2011. While Julie has always loved to perform, she also loves sharing her passion for dance through teaching and choreographing. She is very excited to be teaching at McDonald Dance Academy this year. Julie is currently in her second season as a Performing Apprentice with Inaside Chicago Dance and can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings!