Jana Hilja Schneider came on board in the fall of 2017 as the Interim Artistic Director of Foster Dance Studios. Prior to her new position, Jana taught as a main faculty member pioneering Foster Dance’s coveted Jr. Crew and Musical Theater programs, as well as choreographing with Foster Dance founder Ronn Stewart on the FDS Studio Companies. In addition to Foster, Jana has established dance programs throughout the Chicago area, most currently at Baker Demonstration School and Beacon Academy. Presently, Jana dances professionally as an original member of Cocodaco Dance Project’s professional company. Throughout her career, Jana has worked with and performed in dances by numerous choreographers including Francisco Avina, Kanji Segawa, Christian Von Howard, Sam Watson, Susan Douglas Roberts and Ronn Stewart. She has performed throughout the Chicagoland area at Dance Chicago, Harvest Dance Festival, Stage 773 and The iO Theater, to name a few. Jana has also collaborated with many artists, including Wild Goose Chase Dance, John Sabine and Claudia Wallace of The Second City and various professional photographers such as Peter Hinsdale, Moe Martinez and Eddie Eng. She was featured in 2015 as Dance Magazine’s "#dancemagme" photo winner. Jana is a 2013 B.F.A. graduate of the TCU School for Classical and Contemporary Dance, and was designated as a John V. Roach Honors Laureate.
Graca is a gifted and accomplished dancer, ballet mistress and dance coach. Ms. Sales was born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and began training in classical ballet at the age of 6 and at only 13, she was invited to become a member of the dance company of the Palacio Das Artes, Brazil. In 1994, Ms. Sales was awarded twice with a gold medal for her work in Giselle and Swan Lake at the Joinville Dance Festival in Santa Catarina, Brazil. In 2007, Ms. Sales joined the Joffrey Ballet, and under the artistic direction of Ashley Wheater, she was a ballet master and principal coach. Ms. Sales' passion and commitment to dance is evident in the quality of technique and performance she has instilled in the Joffrey dancers. Her teaching and coaching repertoire at the Joffrey is internationally recognized. She has had a lead role teaching and coaching dozens of ballets from world class choreographers, including Christopher Wheeldon, Twyla Tharp, Jerome Robbins, William Forsyte, Lar Lubovitch, Frederick Ashton, Yuri Possokov, Jiri Kulian, Val Caniparoli, Stanton Welch. Ms. Sales transforms her dancers by raising their level of classical technique and artistic confidence, infusing them with new energy and ambition. Full biography available here.
Sarah Cecile Goldstone is the Associate Artistic Director and co-founder of Foster Dance Studios. She is also the Program Director for GYROTONIC® exercise and GYROKINESIS® exercise. Sarah received her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from The Juilliard School in 2009. While at Juilliard, she trained intensely with world renowned teachers Lawrence Rhodes, Risa Steinberg and Alphonse Poulin. She had the privilege to perform the repertory of Ohad Naharin, Julian Barnett, Twyla Tharp, Lar Lubovitch, and Jose Limon as well as new creations by Larry Keigwin, Azure Barton, Nicolo Fonte and Matthew Neenan. Originally from Santa Fe, NM, Sarah performed extensively with Moving People Dance, working with choreographers Sam Watson, Robert Moses, Max Stone, Gail Gilbert and Ronn Stewart. Sarah relocated to Chicago in 2009 and has danced professionally with Same Planet Different World Dance Company and with DanceWorks Chicago, under Artistic Director Julie Nakagawa. Sarah is also Associate Artistic Director and dancer for the newly formed contemporary dance company, Cocodaco.
GYROTONIC® and GYROKINESIS® are registered trademarks of Gyrotonic Sales Corp and are used with their permission.
Daniel is the founder of Mad With No Reason crew and co-founder of Purus Motus. He was the in top 16 world of dance (WOD) finalists two years running. He is well versed in bboying, popping, house and locking. Pairing up with his partner Katie Carey, Daniel has performed for independent movie premieres, Willow Creek church, and has taught multiple workshops and intensives nationally and internationally. Locally, Daniel choreographed the wildly popular boys hip hop piece for Haven Help Us and he teaches at multiple studios around the North Shore. Daniel's passion is teaching students to become everything they already are and more.
Braeden Barnes, a native from Chicago, Illinois, received his training from Faubourg Ballet, Academy of Dance Arts, San Francisco Ballet School, and Houston Ballet school. Braeden was then accepted into the Joffrey Ballet training program. Braeden has worked professionally with Balletmet, Joffrey Ballet, Ron de Jesus Dance, Billy Elliot the Musical, Cocodaco Dance Project, LEVELdance, and Nevada Ballet Theatre. Among his time at these companies, Braeden has worked with choreographers such as James Canfield, Paul Vasterling, Andre Kastan, Gerald Charles, Eddy Ocampo, Jose Navas, Matthew Neenan, Sarah Slipper, Adam Pelty, Banning Bouldin, and Yoshito Sakuraba.
Nina Tatarowicz discovered GYROTONIC® while professionally dancing and teaching Argentine Tango in Buenos Aires. GYROTONIC® movement, with its healing arches, curls and spirals, has led her on a remarkable journey. She realized that GYROTONIC®, as a foundational movement system, offers anyone the gift of improving their quality of life through more efficient, supportive, and interconnected movement. Nina began teaching GYROTONIC® in 2009, and has observed the profound effects of the work on a wide range of clientele. Her welcoming approach honors each person where they're at in their body and life experience. Nina uses a combination of imagery and descriptive cues to accompany the movement sequences, inviting students to deepen their body awareness. She focuses on the exploration of one's own dynamic alignment throughout the class, and helps students recognize parallels in their dance or everyday movement. Nina practices and teaches GYROTONIC® with a joyful spirt, infused with gratitude for the unique expression of each and every one of us.
Born and raised in San Francisco, California, I started at City Ballet School at the age of 5 and trained there until the age of 18 under artistic director Galina Alexandrova. While there, I had opportunities to participate in Regional Dance America, Youth America Grand Prix, and spent time in Moscow, Russia to take classes with Elena Bobrova at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.
After leaving City Ballet School, I joined the trainee program at Joffrey Ballet of Chicago where I worked with teachers and choreographers such as Sean Carmon, Kim Sagami, Ashley Wheater, Raymond Rodriguez, Karin Wentz, Daielma Decker, Christian Denice, Wade Schaaf, Kyle Seguin, Ronn Stewart, and more. I performed in performances and pieces such as "Etudes", "Don Quixote", and "Suite Hearts" in their Winning Works showcase. After one year of being a trainee, Ronn Stewart invited me to be an apprentice with Cocodāco.
Ayana Strutz is an island girl from Hawaii who began her dance training at age four. Growing up in Honolulu, she attended a performing arts high school, where she became highly involved with musical theatre. After graduating Ohio State University in 2015 with a BA in Sociology and a minor in Dance, she made her professional theatre debut as "Connie Wong" in Short North Stage's production of A Chorus Line. Moving to Chicago in 2016, she joined Cocodaco Dance Project to continue her dance education, and began training in aerial arts and contortion technique at the Actors Gymnasium. She is currently a student in their professional circus training program. On a typical day you might catch her performing as “Moana” with Princesscapades Princess Parties, or swinging on the trapeze!
Developing Dance From Within
FOSTER DANCE STUDIOS
Katie Carey is the co-director of Purus Motus, a company founded in 2015 that allows all forms of dance to be displayed at a high level of maturity through constructs of improv, musicality, energy and emotion through real life experiences to connect the viewer to the performer in depth. Katie was as a dance major at The Ohio State University with a focus on dance performance. In 2009 she moved to Chicago to study on scholarship with the Giordano Dance School. From 2011-2017 she performed as a principle dancer with Nomi Dance Company, a contemporary company based in Chicago. Katie has performed in Dance Chicago, Dance Chance, Arts Midwest, New Voices, and j e l l o. Katie has been teaching all over the Midwest and recently traveled to Costa Rica to choreograph for Dansteps. This Fall she will be creating new works for Nomi Dance Company, Trifecta Dance Collective and Trifecta Youth Company. Katie is currently a company member of Cocodaco Dance Project! She is very excited to be back teaching at Foster Dance Studios.
Kathryn Ebert, is co-founder and Executive Director of Foster Dance Studios. She has a Finance degree from the University of Illinois, and an MBA from DePaul University. Prior to starting a family, Kathryn had a successful ten-year career in banking and finance. She is inspired by the transformative power of dance and is committed to Foster Dance Studios' mission of providing excellence in teaching, a flexible class schedule and an inclusive setting.
Lounes began his training at the age of twelve at Foster Dance Studios. He has studied at various summer programs including Pacific Northwest Ballet School, San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, and The Juilliard School. Photo Credit Peter Hinsdale.
Joel Walsham began training at the age of three in Auckland, New Zealand. In 2013 Joel relocated to the United States to attend Alonzo King LINES Ballet/ Dominican University of California, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance in 2017. Joel has also received training at Springboard Danse Montreal, the School at Jacobs Pillow, the Gaga Summer Program at Batsheva Dance Company in Tel Aviv, Movement Invention Project, Sidra Bell Dance New York’s Winter MODULE, and American Ballet Theatre’s Collegiate Program. Since moving to the USA, Joel has been privileged to work with choreographers Robyn Mineko Williams, Danielle Agami, Emily Molnar, Kyle Abraham, Brian Brooks, Amanda Miller, Amy Seiwert, Gregory Dawson and Liv Schaffer, among others. Joel is currently dancing with Visceral Dance Chicago, under the direction of Nick Pupillo
Maura graduated from Illinois State University in 2014 with a degree in Dance Performance. She studied at The American Dance Festival School as a scholarship student in 2013 and 2014. Maura has performed works by several artists including Ronn Steward, Melinda Jean Myers, Tony Orrico, Nicholas Leichter and John Jasperse. Maura currently performs with Cocodaco Dance Project, choreographs and teaches dance in Chicago.
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Ronn Stewart was our beloved Artistic Director and a co-founder of Foster Dance Studios and Cocodaco, a Community of Contemporary Dance Companies. He was the artistic force at Foster Dance from its creation in 2011 to his passing on September 30, 2017. His spirit and vision continue to inspire and guide the faculty's approach to teaching the essence of dance across all levels and ages. Ronn was also the creator of “More People Dancing,” or MoPeD – his signature dance technique and approach to movement and body awareness that combines dance improvisation, imagery, and experiential anatomy. An award-winning choreographer and teacher, Ronn was known for the high standards of excellence he brought to teaching and training, which he honed during the 12 years he founded and ran the Moving People Dance Santa Fe contemporary dance company and dance centre in New Mexico. A strong believer in the power of dance to move people forward in their lives, Ronn was passionate about making dance more accessible to people of all backgrounds, ages, and abilities. Back in the Windy City as a teacher for the Joffrey Ballet/Academy of Dance, Ronn brought a fresh approach to the Chicago dance scene, fusing his love of jazz with technical mastery to create a distinct brand of dance that left dancers and audiences energized and asking for more. Visit www.ronnstewart.com for more information.
David Maurice, began training with César Degollado while attending the University of Arizona. In school David performed works by Donald McKayle, Charles Weidman, and George Balanchine. After leaving school he has worked with Danielle Agami's Ate9 Dance Company, Gustavo Ramirez Sansano's Luna Negra Dance Theatre, Ronn Stewart's CoCoDaCo dance Project, Loni Landon Dance Project in New York City, Alex Ketley's The Foundry, and Roderick George of The Forsythe Company. He has assisted and taught along side Jon Ole Olstad at the Lines Training and BFA programs, has taught workshops at the University of California Santa Barbara, University of California Irvine, Loyola Marymount, has assisted Loni Landon both in classes in NYC and San Francisco as well as her casting and choreographing of the film Saturday Church directed and written by Damon Cardasis. He assisted Barak Marshall’s creation, The Castaways for Ballet Rambert. With Kevin Jenkins, they have won Dance Magazine's Dance for Camera Editors choice for October, 2013 (Snap, Pop), toured to Jacob's Pillow's Inside/Out, and serves as his rehearsal director. David Maurice has choreographed for CoCoDaCo Dance Chicago, Santa Barbara Dance Theater, and with Ate9 Dance Company. His solo Liminal Red has toured to Poland’s Gdansk solo festival. He is cofounder of Untitled Tenth.
Kristen Donovan, originally from Pinckney, Michigan, began her dance training with Performing Arts Dance Theater, a youth dance company with whom she performed for six years. She attended the University of Michigan, where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance and studied with faculty members such as Peter Sparling, Rodger Behlman, Julie Tice, and Amy Chavasse. Kristen now resides in Chicago, where she is a company member of Cocodaco Dance Project, performs with a 90's hip hop cover band, Too White Crew, and was a cast member in Chicago Dance Crash's 2015 remount of "Cotton Mouth Club".
Ms. Centurion began training in her native Argentina at the Northeast University Ballet School. She graduated from the School of Ballet Contemporaneo del Teatro San Martin in Buenos Aires. She has performed ballet, modern, jazz, gymnastics, folkloric dance and tango throughout Argentina and abroad. She has had a very extensive career in contemporary arts, teaching and performing professionally for over 20 years. She has worked with well recognized choreographers and directors from South America, Italy and United States. In the USA, Ms. Centurion joined Miami Contemporary Dance Company & School as a company dancer, ballet mistress and Assistant of Artistic Director. Ms.Centurion also has dedicated her career to promote Argentinian culture, music and dance, working with her husband Richard Scofano, Professional musician; Bandoneon Player and Composer, traveling around the world teaching and performing their work of art. Currently Ms. Centurion lives in Chicago where she continues to develop relationships between dance techniques and her native folklore and tango background. She shares her knowledge by teaching in local dance studios and social dancing milongas, lecturing at Northwestern University, and volunteering for Auroris Dance Company at Niles North High School.
Madeleine Klein began her training in the pre-professional program at Gus Giordano Dance School. She majored in Dance and English at Oberlin College, where she trained in Ballet, Contact Improv, and Modern. Previously, she danced with Aerial Dance Chicago. Currently, she is a member of Cocodaco Mezzo and an apprentice to the professional company.