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.
Scroll & click below to read more about our Professional Dance Faculty!
Lisa Gold, Director of North Shore School of Dance, holds a B.A. in Dance from Barat College. The foundation of her dance training was at the Carol Walker Dance Studio, Rory Foster Dance Studio, Joseph Holmes, and Gus Giordano Dance Center. She performed with the Mesa Community Dance Theatre, Zephyr Dance Ensemble, Emergence Dance Theatre, Rockford Ballet and the Barat Repertory Dance Company. Lisa was on the faculty of the Barat Conservatory of Dance for sixteen years teaching ballet and modern dance. Lisa recently received a Professional Award from the Royal Academy of Dance for Adult Teaching Practice. NSSD became a recognized member of the National Dance Education Organization through Lisa’s continued efforts to maintain the highest quality of dance education for her school.
Kim Volkmann, Director of North Shore Dance Company, and Assistant Director of NSSD grew up in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago. She spent her summers driving to Chicago to train at Piel Morena Contemporary Dance, Gus Giordano Dance School, River North Dance Chicago, and Giordano Dance Chicago (College Mentorship Program). Kim graduated Cum Laude from Southeast Missouri State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and Minor in Social Work. Post-college, Kim choreographed and performed for "Still Inspired (?) Choreography Workshop", directed by Laura Thurston and the Plano Dance Festival in Plano, Texas. Kim enjoys performing, but her passion is educating and mentoring young people. She loves how NSSD encourages the personal and artistic growth of its students.
Born in Flint, Michigan, Greg began his professional career while still in high school, performing, teaching dance and choreographing musicals for other high schools. He became a member of the Pittsburg Ballet Theatre and had four successful years performing and touring as a soloist with the company, performing for professional summer theater productions, and received a bachelor of business degree on a full dance scholarship. Early in his career, Greg worked with some of the most notable and legendary artists of the famed Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Leonide Massine, Vitale Fokine, Edward Caton, Ruth Page, and Frederic Franklin – a master of the romantic ballets, are only a few of the great teachers he studied with. Solicited by Ruth Page, Greg became a principal dancer with the Chicago Ballet, and was an audience favorite. By invitation, Greg joined the Hubbard Street Dance Company, he is an original performer and was the company’s ballet master; successfully they toured throughout the United States, Europe and South America. For many years, Greg has been a guest teacher for Chicago’s professional dance companies, and is on staff at several of the professional schools in the area. Most recently, hosted by the Chinese Foreign Affairs Office, he traveled to China teaching in the cities of Beijing and Suzhou, at the Guangxi Arts Institute in Nanning, and working with a performance group at the World Expo in Shanghai.
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.
Christina Fee, originally from Schaumburg, Illinois started dancing at the age of 3 under the direction of Jan Powers. She has completed her BFA in dance at Ball State University. The University has given her the opportunity to take class with multiple artists such as Sidra Bell, David Dorfman, Nan Giordano and Alex Sanders. She has performed with Inaside Chicago Dance’s youth training program along with dancing in River North Dance Chicago’s summer program. Her emphasis in dance are the styles of jazz and tap and aspires to explore the world of commercial dance throughout her professional career. Along with choreographing unique works inspired from her idol, Bob Fosse, she continues to share her love and passion for dance with today’s youth as a dance instructor. She is excited to begin this new chapter of her teaching career at North Shore School of Dance.
Nichola Goss’s dance career started as a youngster with the Southwest Texas Dance Repertoire and Star Search, she continued until receiving a BFA with honours from the University of Texas at Austin. Nichola has danced professionally in Austin, Dallas, and Chicago. Evanston Arts grant recipient, syllabus writer and instructor for Evanston Community Foundation dance program, she has even choreographed for little ones in Ralph’s World. She holds a professional teacher’s certificate with the Cecchetti Council of America and is currently the Midwest treasure. Nichola has been teaching dance in the North Shore area since 1995 including Chicago Public Schools to the Joffery.
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.
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.
Alex is a member of the Chicago Bulls Dance Team, the Luvabulls. This past season she had the honor of sharing the court during most Chicago Bulls home basketball games, working with famous choreographers from LA and NY (Including Willdabeast, Janelle Ginestra, Kristin Decesare, and Sarah Mitchell), and was also selected for the All Star 2020 Game. She was the featured soloist, Roxie, in the All Star Game feature: Chicago the Musical. Alex has been dancing since the age of 3 at Dancenter North in Libertyville, IL where she studied tap, jazz, lyrical, hip-hop, ballet, and pointe, and performed in The Magic of the Nutcracker in Libertyville for 10 years. Alex was a 4-year member of Warren Township High School's Varsity Dance Team, and captain of the team her senior year. She went on to get a bachelor's degree in the College of Media at the University of Illinois. Throughout her 4 years in college, she was a member of the Illinettes Dance Team performing at all home Illini football games and basketball games. Some special features with this team included performing in two halftime shows at Soldier Field, entertaining in the Dallas Bowl Game, dancing in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, and marching in the Saint Patrick's Day Parade in Ireland. After graduating from college, she went on to become a Pure Barre Instructor, and she also realized she wanted to take dancing more seriously, aspiring to become a Radio City Rockette. She has trained with the Rockettes in multiple Summer Intensives, including a camp that was Invite Only.
Andy Lawson holds a BFA in Dance from Chapman University in Orange, California, where he was instructed by Jennifer Backhaus, Laurence Rosenberg, Dale Merrill, Sean Greene, Holly Johnston, and Liz Maxwell. His training also includes summer studies through programs at Hubbard Street, American Ballet Theatre, Backhausdance and San Francisco Ballet. Lawson performed with Gallimaufry Performing Arts under the direction of Steve Josephson as part of the 2010 Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland, and has also performed in California as a guest artist with Anaheim Ballet, BARE Dance Company, Dmitri Kulev Classical Ballet Academy and Maple Conservatory, working with distinguished artists Mike Esperanza, Sean Greene, Mark Haim, Jennifer Backhaus, among others. Lawson’s previous company credits include: Clairobiscur, BackhausDance, and Hubbard Street 2. In January of 2017, Backhaus Dance partnered with the McCallum Theatre Institute to bring modern dance and classical music into local schools in Palm Desert California. In the summer of 2017, Lawson moved to Chicago, IL. During his time with Hubbard Street 2 under the direction of Terence Marling, Lawson participated in the creations of new works by Peter Chu and Alice Klock. During his time in Hubbard Street 2, Lawson participated in several community outreach programs that brought contemporary dance to local Chicago elementary schools, teaching students about the importance of dance as an art form, sharing insights behind the creative process, and allowing students to participate in contemporary improvisation.
Samantha Lesher received a Bachelor’s of Science, Cum Laude in Dance Pedagogy from Oklahoma City University. While attending college she worked with the American Spirit Dance Company as both a company member and wardrobe crew. Performing in their annual Home of the Holidays performance for multiple seasons. She has also performed as a lead dancer in shows such as Hit the Lights, Applause, and One Night Only. Over the course of her time in school, she taught with such groups as Dance Masters of America, American Dance Training Camps, and the Academy of Ballet Wauconda. She develops classes that challenge her student’s technique and classroom etiquette in a fun and creative environment. Her goal is to impart her knowledge and passion for dance to her students.
Maeghan McHale, named one of Dance Magazine's Top 25 to Watch in 2010, was born in Baltimore, MD. She went on to study at the Baltimore School for the Arts where she performed works by David Parsons, Hinton Battle, David Grenke, and John Clifford. She received a full scholarship to Dance Theatre of Harlem, where she performed with the Dancing Through Barriers Ensemble. While living in New York City Maeghan studied at Steps on Broadway and performed with Extended Dance Company, as well as off-Broadway under the direction of Tony Award winner Hinton Battle. She has also participated in the Jazz Dance World Congress, The Miss America Parade, and Dancers Responding to Aids Benefit. In 2005 Maeghan received a full scholarship to the Giordano Dance School, and in 2006 she became a performing apprentice, performing with the company both internationally and nationally. 2007 marked her first season with Giordano Dance Chicago, and she has enjoyed nine seasons performing in places such as Hawaii, Latvia, Germany, Luxembourg, Austria, Netherlands, Istanbul Turkey, Guatemala, Rome Italy and Tel Aviv Israel. This coming season will be Maeghan’s tenth season with GDC. You may have also seen her grace the cover of Dance Magazine or in other feature articles for Dance Spirit Magazine, Dance Mogul Magazine, inside Dance and La Dancer Magazine. Along with establishing herself as a well recognized dancer, she has also had the opportunity to set her work on the Giordano II company. Maeghan has had her work performed on the Joyce Theater stage, through Dancin’ Downtown at The Joyce, as part of the Dancers Responding to Aids Benefit. In 2011 her piece "Angelica" won the Performance Award and performed in New York City for Central Park Summer Stage, and also won the Performance Award in May of 2013 where the dancers performed again for Central Park Summer Stage sharing the stage with dancers from Martha Graham Dance Company. Her choreography has been recognized with awards such as Critics Choice and Outstanding Choreography/Choreographer. Regional Ensemble winner and outstanding Choreography award at Youth America Grand Prix (2010), and has placed twice in the top 12 Ensemble category at Youth America Grand Prix finals in New York City. Her ensemble choreography had the honor of being part of Youth America Grand Prix’s “Stars of Today meet the Stars of Tomorrow” tour in Virginia and in Pennsylvania. In June of 2014 she had the honor of being on the School Faculty of the International Ballet Competition in Jackson MS teaching the Giordano Technique for two weeks. Just recently in November 2015 she was on faculty for CNADM during their fall Workshop in Illinois.
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.
Tysh Nelson received a Bachelor of Performing Arts degree from Oklahoma City University where she was a Cum Laude Graduate and also selected "Outstanding Dance Major." Tysh is a vested member of Actor's Equity and has performed in numerous musicals. She has appeared on Broadway and with National Touring Companies of the American classic SHOW BOAT & audience favorite JOESPH....DREAMCOAT with Donny Osmond. Chicago stage credits include The Goodman Theatre, Marriott Lincolnshire, and Drury Lane Oakbrook. She was also a featured dancer in a TV Commercial for Kentucky Fried Chicken. Locally, Tysh has taught dance at Lou Conte's Dance Studio, home of Hubbard Street, Columbia College, as well as Giordano's Dance.
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.
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.).
Originally from Des Moines, IA, Heather began her dance training at Iowa's Westside Dance Academy. There, her love for dance began and grew. She studied ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, hip hop and pointe. She competed and performed throughout the Midwest while dancing at Westside and was invited to perform in Disneyland for their 50th anniversary celebration. Heather continued dancing throughout her career at Northwestern College, IA. Studying theatre along with dance, she was privileged to choreograph for theatrical performances as well as dance showcases. After graduation, she continued to push herself into using both her passion for dance and love for theatre. Upon moving to Chicago in 2013, Heather has taught at multiple after school programs, acted and danced for Chicago Princess Premiere, performed and choreographed for dance showcases, and participated in dance films throughout the city. Through teaching and performing, her love for dance continues to grow as she is privileged to share the joy it brings with others. Everyone has their own story to tell, and dancing is her favorite way to tell it. She encourages students to do the same.
Danny DiFoggio is a Chicago native and graduate of the Chicago Academy for the Arts under the direction of Randy Duncan. He spent multiple summers studying at Alvin Ailey in New York and River North Dance Chicago. Post-graduation, Danny performed as a Principal Dancer with Chicago's Luna Negra Dance Theatre. He also served as the Dance Director of Louis L. Valentine Boys & Girls Club of Chicago for five years. In this role, Danny created the Valentine Dance Studio and taught ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, lyrical, modern, and even ballroom. Currently, Danny is a performer with Royal Caribbean Productions, where he has worked since 2009. Mr. Danny and Ms. Keesha became friends while on deck.
Sophie Allen is an independent dance artist currently based out of Chicago. She began dancing at North Shore School of Dance and later trained as a Joffrey Ballet School Jazz & Contemporary Trainee in New York City. Sophie went on to graduate with honors from the University of Michigan with a BFA in Dance and a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE). She has had the pleasure of performing works by Sandra Torijano, Shannon Gillen/Laja Field/Martin Durov, Hanna Brictson, Joshua Manculich and Peter Sparling among others. Sophie's choreography has been presented throughout the Midwest and New York City and is featured in several music videos in collaboration with the artists of OSSI, an Ann Arbor-based music collective. Sophie continues to deepen her training through courses with Alexandra Beller/Dances and various Countertechnique workshops led by Anouk van Dijk, Nina Wollny, Niharika Senapati and Joy Davis among others. Sophie is thrilled to have come full circle and begin teaching at North Shore School of Dance. She can't wait to share her love for dance and help foster the next generation of artists!
Ted Ely Photography