Meghan began her dance training in Madison, WI, where she was a part of the Wisconsin Dance Ensemble and other performing groups in the area. Meghan decided to further her dance education by attending Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA. In 2001, she graduated Magna Cum Laude and most outstanding student in the Department of Fine Arts with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Dance. Following college, Meghan was awarded a scholarship to study at the Giordano Dance Center, from there she became and apprentice with Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, and then a professional company member. With Giordano Meghan traveled the world dancing and had the opportunity to perform works by Randy Duncan, Gus Giordano, Nan Giordano, Christopher Huggins, Ron de Jesus, Jon Lehrer, Mia Michaels, Tony Powel, Davis Robertson, and many more. She also had the honor of representing Giordano on the cover of the August 2007 issue of Dance Magazine. Meghan completed her fifth and final season with Giordano in 2009. After her departure from Giordano, Meghan served one year as the Rehearsal Director and as a dancer for Piel Morena Contemporary Dance. Collaborating with this company Meghan became Co-Director of, and helped to create a very successful summer intensive dance program, International Contemporary Dance Intensive, which is now in its fifth year running. Meghan’s teaching career took flight at North Shore School of Dance in Highland Park, IL, where she became the head of the Jazz Department and Director of the North Shore Repertory Dance Ensemble. She has also been a Master Teacher and Guest Choreographer in the Chicago area and across the United States. Meghan feels very fortunate to be able to share dance with others through her performing, teaching, and choreography.
Jessica found her passion for dance at the age of four in her hometown of Sauk Prairie, Wisconsin where she trained at Kris Pickar’s School of Dance. She had the wonderful opportunity to be dance captain and choreographer for Sauk Prairie’s Executive Session Show Choir for their European Summer Tour in 2006. Jessica is a 2010 cum laude graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance. There she had the privilege to perform works by Susan Marshall Company and Jump Rhythm Jazz Company. Her choreography “Woven into the Texture of Vitality,” was chosen for the student choreography showcase. Jessica choreographed for the University’s productions of “Rent” and “Floyd Collins.” She was awarded the Chancellors Leadership Award upon graduating. She was the dance captain and performed at the Broadway Dinner Theatre in Wisconsin Dells during the summers of 2008 and 2009 as a singer/dancer in the productions of “Footloose,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “The Fabulous 50’s.” Recently Jessica choreographed for Sauk Prairie High School’s musical production of “All Shook Up.” Jessica is now the Assistant Artistic Director, Resident Choreographer and Instructor at Midwest Performing Arts in Waunakee, WI. Jessica is so proud of all the dancers for their hard work, dedication and love for dance!
Celia grew up in Monona, WI and started dancing at the age of three at Monona Academy of Dance. She studied summers on scholarship at Milwaukee Ballet, Joffrey Midwest, Orlando Ballet, and Ballet Hispanico. She danced professionally with the Milwaukee Ballet performing in several of Michael Pink's works including Dracula, Swan Lake, Scheherazade, and Nutcracker and also with The Dayton Contemporary Dance Company (DCDC). She has been teaching for over 14 years and has taught at Monona Academy of Dance, the Milwaukee Ballet School, in the Milwaukee Area Public Schools, in a demo-video in the Milwaukee Children's Museum, MSCR Programs, at DCDC Dance School, in the Dayton Public Schools, and Dance Academy LTD in Elm Grove, WI. She has also hosted a Summer Dance Camp at Cambridge High School choreographing for their dance team; as well as choreographed for the non-profit Dance Wisconsin. She graduated from Edgewood College with a B.S. in Business in 2010 and with an MBA in 2013. Currently, Celia is working for the University of Wisconsin Systems Administration (UWSA). Celia is very excited to be part of the MPA Dance family and be able to share her love of dance and teaching.
Lauren grew up in Waunakee and started her dance training at the age of four. She began at Kehl School of Dance under Ashley Burkland and immediately loved all forms of dance. She joined their competitive program and performed her first lyrical solo at the age of nine. Lauren came to Midwest Performing Arts at their opening in 2011 and become part of the Youth Performance Groups. Lauren has had the benefit of attending numerous master classes and summer intensives with MPA, Madison Ballet, and Milwaukee Ballet. She was able to learn and incorporate techniques from all her instructors throughout the years in the pre-professional program. The Nutcracker has always had a special place in her heart and has had the opportunity to perform over the years starting as a little mouse to ending her senior year as Clara. Lauren studied ballet, modern, jazz, tap, and hip hop and is excited to transition from being a demonstrator during the school year and summer intensives, to running her own classes. Lauren graduated from Summa Cum Laude from Waunakee High School and is currently attending UW Madison.
Michaela King began her dance training in North Carolina where she was born. She continued ballet with coaching and private instruction in Virginia throughout her high school years. During this time, Michaela attended summer intensives with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Chautauqua Institution, The Rock School, Carolina Ballet, and Exploring Ballet with Suzanne Farrell. As a high school student, she had the opportunity to perform Serenade with Suzanne Farrell's company at the Kennedy Center. Upon graduating, she studied in the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre Grad Program where she had opportunities to perform with the company. After two years, Ms. King joined the company and spent two seasons in the corps de ballet. Michaela then joined Madison Ballet where she is currently in her third season. Her repertoire includes roles in La Bayadere, Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Cinderella, Le Corsaire, Nutcracker, along with soloist roles in mixed repertory programs. She is thrilled to share her love of dance with the Midwest Performing Arts community!
Alissa Laufenberg began dancing at the age of three in her hometown of Waunakee, WI. She has trained in Ballet, Modern, Jazz, Tap and Pom. Throughout high school she danced with Midwest Performing Arts before attending college at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Alissa was able to present choreography in Afterimages and Afterimages Unplugged for three years, and performed in both Afterimages and Danstage. She was fortunate enough to study abroad at the University of Limerick, Ireland in the Spring of 2017. There she was able to travel Europe while learning more about its dance culture. Her favorite experience was being able to take an areal course where she trained in silks and dance trapeze. Alissa looks forward to returning home and sharing her excitement for dance with the students of MPA!
Nicole Nelson is an advanced hip-hop dancer and excited to be apart of the MPA team! She values a global mindset, hard work ethic, and a sense of exploration in her students. Her pursuit of dance and sense of adventure have taken her beyond the Madison area and even the U.S. to cities such as Florence, Italy, and Buenos Aires, Argentina to participate in shows, workshops, and conventions. Her dance experience, however, began with musical theater, where she discovered her love of the arts, and dance in particular. She is excited to see her students on the stage, where her love of dance originally flourished.
Crystal Sutherland earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from Columbia College Chicago in 2016, focusing her degree on pedagogy. The Wisconsin native is trained in rigorous modern technique and others such as ballet, jazz, improvisation, and West African. She is educated in dance composition, production, theory, anatomy, history, and pedagogy from qualified professionals. She has been educated about Cunningham, Trisha Brown, Alexander, Graham, Humphrey, and Petronio technique. Crystal has performed in choreography during her time at Columbia under the direction of Taisha Paggett, Alicia Wilson, Rebecca Huang, Pamela McNeil, Dr. Lorenzo “Rennie” Harris, and Jessica Miller Tomlinson. Crystal has had the pleasure of being a choreographer, performer, teacher, and director with Madison Contemporary Dance for three years. Within MCD, she performed in pieces under the direction of Corinne Jones, Michael Knight, Natalie Nemeckay, Tyler Nemmers, Beth Piccolo, Kimberly Smith, and herself. Crystal is an award-winning choreographer and recently, her piece, “Remember My Name,” was selected for the final gala at Cathedral Dance Festival in 2019. Crystal loves sharing her passion for dance with her students and is incredibly proud of all of them!
Kassy L. Coleman is a graduate of UW LaCrosse with a bachelor’s degree and UW Madison with a master’s degree, both in vocal performance. Currently Ms Coleman is co-owner and executive director of The Soul’s Song LLC, a home-based music, yoga and healing arts studio where she teaches singers and voice-users of all ages. Kassy is also a 500-hour E-RYT (registered yoga teacher) and teaches various yoga classes in the Madison area. She has developed a method of teaching yoga to singers called The Voice of Yoga which embraces the singer as a whole person, not just a vocal instrument. Ms Coleman enjoys performing throughout the Madison area in various genres and groups such as Music Theatre of Madison and Fresco Opera Theatre.
Taylor Rudolph fell madly in love with Pilates in the middle of her very first class. She knew she wanted Pilates in her life for the long haul and started her teacher training program as soon as she could. She enjoys teaching as much as she enjoys practicing Pilates and tries to let that shine through in every lesson and class that she teaches!
Lauren began dancing at the age of five in her hometown of Sun Prairie WI, training in ballet, pointe, modern, jazz, tap, musical theater and hip hop throughout the years. Lauren spent four years training at Midwest Performing Arts where she was also a student assistant and receptionist. She attended summer programs at George Mason University and at Portland Festival Ballet under John Magnus and Lisa Slagle. Lauren is pursuing a Bachelors of Arts in Dance and a Bachelors of Science in Sports Medicine and Exercise Science and plans to incorporate both together in her career studying athletic training for dancers. She spent her 2018 summer in Texas working as an intern for American Ballet Theater’s summer intensive at the University of Texas at Austin. She uses her love for people and children in her other occupations as a waitress and swim lesson instructor. Lauren is thrilled to be returning back to her roots at MPA and be a part of the organization that shaped her as a dancer.
Ryan Galloway is from New Richmond, IN and spent his early years studying tap, jazz, and hip-hop. He performed with the professional troupe Fever Inferno Hip-Hop Squad and also earned many titles at national dance competitions. He was introduced to contemporary dance in college at Indiana University, and was quickly cast in many guest works including Paul Taylor’s Esplanade, David Parsons’ Nascimento Novo, Larry Keigwin’s Runaway, and Ishan Rustem’s Long Story Short. He also performed at the National College Dance Festival at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and was awarded the Provost’s Award for Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity in the category of Performing and Creative Arts. Ryan has performed with Elizabeth Shea Dance at the Boston Contemporary Dance Festival, the American Dance Guild’s Festival 2014 at the Ailey Citigroup Theatre, the Midwest Dance Festival, and as a guest with the Indianapolis-based Dance Kaleidoscope, directed by former Graham dancer David Hochoy. He is thrilled to make his debut with Giordano Dance Chicago as a Senior Performing Associate and looks forward to the rest of the season and many to come.
Alejandra started her formal dance education and training in her hometown of Monterrey, México. She moved to Chicago in the year 2005 and since then she has augmented her professional experience as a contemporary dancer, teacher, and choreographer in the Chicago dance community. González graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance Education with a Specialization in Ballet Technique Cuban Style training from The National Institute of Fine Arts in Monterrey, NL México. She became a Giordano Dance Chicago second company member in 2005, where she had the opportunity to work with acclaimed choreographers such as Tony Powell, Christopher Huggins, John Lehrer, Randy Duncan to name a few. In 2007, González became a company member for Luna Negra Dance Theatre under the direction of Eduardo Vilaro. A year later, González joined Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre for their 2008 season. Alejandra founded a 501c3 non-for-profit dance company, Piel Morena Contemporary Dance in which she acted not only as an Artistic Director and performer but was responsible for designing and planning curricula for professional dancers and upcoming dancers. González directed the dance elective program at Francis W. Parker School from 2014-2018 developing a growing interest in dance as well as a strong dance community in the school. Alejandra continued to hone her expertise as a dance instructor, choreographer, and director as evidenced by her extensive performance history. She has had the opportunity to train and help develop students in the execution of dance performances as well as, the history of dance theory and practices with an emphasis on dance performance art. “I strive to continually challenge myself through ongoing education to explore personal growth both as a teacher and an individual.”
Zachary Heller started his training in ballet and jazz in Alexandria, VA. During his early training he performed with the American Dance Company under the direction of Mark Marino. He accompanied ADC on several tours to Europe and Central America. While dancing with ADC he was recognized as the Grishko Outstanding Male Dancer at the Prague International Dance Festival in 2003. His choreography of the musicals A Chorus Line and The Boyfriend received Cappies Awards for outstanding musical theater choreography in 2003 and 2004. He attended the University of Arizona and in 2008 graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance; he also fulfilled all the requirements for Pre Med. At U of A, he performed works choreographed by Susan Quinn, Michael Williams, Sam Watson, Douglas Nielson, Frank Chaves, James Clouser, and George Balanchine. 2017-18 marks Zach's tenth season performing with Giordano Dance Chicago. He is a resident choreographer for Definition Dance Academy in Bucktown. He is on faculty with Star Dance Alliance's PowerPak and WILD Intensive, as well as teaching and choreographing for studios and youth companies in the Chicago area and around the U.S. Zach's mission is to get young dancers psyched about classical and contemporary jazz and ballet techniques!
Maeghan, named one of Dance Magazine’s Top 25 to Watch in 2010, was born in Baltimore, MD. She studied at the Baltimore School for the Arts where she performed works by David Parsons, 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 in New York, 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 GDS, and in 2006 became a performing apprentice. 2007 marked her first season with GDC, making this her sixth season. Along with establishing herself as a well recognized dancer, she has grown as a choreographer. Her work, “The Winner Is,” was performed opening night of Dance Chicago. In March her choreography was part of Youth America Grand Prix’s “Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow” tour. In May 2011 her choreography, "Angelica," was performed as part of Dancin’ Downtown at The Joyce where it received the Performance Award. This piece will be performed in NYC during the Central Park Summer Stage Festival.
Robert Mckee attended Point Park University and is a former company member of Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago. He has been a guest dancer and choreographer most recently with Chicago Dance Crash, Cerqua Rivera, and other Independent projects. Robert began an interest in teaching and choreography at a very young age. Influenced by percussive rhythms and dynamic shapes, he finds himself always inspired to create. Robert has been on faculty at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, a teacher for Chicago National Association of Dance Masters, and teaches throughout the Chicagoland area. He has worked with Rockford Dance Company, The Giordano Project, Giordano Juniors, McDonald Dance Academy, Barrington High School, Northshore School of Dance Performing Ensemble, the Giordano on Giordano choreography showcase, Riverside Brookfield High School, Northern Illinois University and Framework Dance Chicago. Currently Robert serves as the Artistic Director of Inaside Chicago Dance.
Guest Instructor/Choreographer, Director of Inaside Chicago Dance Company
Mr. Salinas, originally from Portland, Oregon, is Artistic Assistant for Giordano Dance Chicago. He began his formal studies in dance with Zohar School of Dance, under the direction of Ehud Krauss in Palo Alto, CA. There he was introduced to the classic jazz styles of Gus Giordano, Luigi, and Matt Mattox. He moved to Oregon where he studied at Willamette Ballet Academy under Deborah Higginbotham. Cesar went on to further his training at the University at Buffalo, where he graduated with a BFA in Dance. He received a scholarship to the Giordano Dance School in Chicago, IL, in 2004 and 2005. From 2006 until 2011, Cesar joined the Giordano Dance Chicago as a full company member performing throughout the United States and Europe. During his tenure, he was proud to be a part of GJDC's educational outreach program, teaching science and health dance classes to 4th and 5th grade students in underserved public schools in Chicago. Cesar was honored to be on the cover of Dance Magazine (August 2007) and to teach at the Jazz Dance World Congress in 2007, 2009, and 2012. In 2013, he was chosen as a soloist for BalaSole Dance Company performing “Hunted” in New York City’s Alvin Ailey Citigroup where he received rave reviews, “richly physical performance that drew the audience’s unfettered enthusiasm” – Philip Gordon. Cesar recently toured the world with Royal Caribbean cruise lines as a performer in the Broadway production of Saturday Night Fever as well as an aerialist. Cesar is an adjudicator for the elite dance competition, World-Class Talent Experience and is on Master Faculty for the sister workshop, AMBITION. Cesar is a certified teacher in the Giordano Technique at the Basic & Beginning Levels of the Nan Giordano Certification Program SM (NGCP SM). He currently teaches master classes and workshops, as well as choreographs for schools across the country.
Cora Schimke is a native of De Soto, KS. She began dancing at Miller Marley at the young age of 3! While there, she was a member of the Miller Marley Entertainers. Cora is a graduate from the University of Kansas with a B.A. in Dance and B.A. in Human Biology. She is also a NASM certified personal trainer. She has trained in Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Tap, Modern, Contemporary, Musical Theater, African Jazz, Classical East Indian and Flamenco. She was fortunate to receive the Hamburg Scholarship, the Fine Arts Scholarship, the Elizabeth Sherbon Award, and the Jump Start Award from KU. Cora was also a member and captain of the Rock Chalk Dancers from 2011-2015. In 2016, Cora was a guest artist for the University Dance Company, where she co-choreographed a work for the company to perform as part of their spring show. Cora has taught at numerous studios in the Kansas City area. Cora is currently residing in Chicago, IL where she teaches at various dance schools, personal trains with Chicago Athletic Clubs, and is a company member with Inaside Chicago Dance!
A native of Prairie du Sac, WI, Ashley has been dancing since she could walk. Her early training was with the Kehl School of Dance, under Susan Marsden, Shannon Gallagher, and Jo Ann Janus. She was a member of the youth ballet company Wisconsin Dance Ensemble, under the direction of Jo Jean Retrum. With this company, Ashley danced roles in The Nutcracker, Coppélia, La Fille mal gardée, and Peter Rabbit Ballet. She also worked with choreographers Frank Chavez, Julie Janus, Tyler Walters, and Greg Begley. Ashley received a scholarship to study dance at the University of Arizona, training with Susan Quinn, Michael Williams, Sam Watson, Jory Hancock, Melissa Lowe, and James Clouser. While there, she performed in numerous Dance Department showcases and ballets including Paquita, Gershwin Medley, and Carmina Burana. Ashley completed her degree at the University of Minnesota, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Dance in 2004. Ashley has danced professionally with Kanopy Dance Company, Jazzworks Dance Company, Madison Contemporary Vision Dance Company, Continental Ballet Company, and Cities Classical Dance Ensemble. While Ashley loves to perform, her true passion for dance is teaching. She has over 20 years of teaching experience at various studios in Arizona, Illinois, Wisconsin, and the Twin Cities area. It is a dream come true for her to own a dance studio and she feels blessed for the success of Ashley Ballet Arts Academy. In ABAA's years of business, Ashley has enjoyed watching the studio grow and the students thrive, and inspiring a love for the ART and JOY of dance in the Twin Cities community. Ms. Burkland lives in Plymouth, MN with her husband Carl and three children, Charlie, Oliver, and Eden.
Dana has enjoyed being part of MPA since its beginning in 2012. She brings to MPA her organizational skills, her eye for color and costuming, and friendly disposition. You will often find Dana back in the costume room, her favorite of the new addition. “I love watching the students grow into young adulthood, and although are happy for them, am also sad to see them graduate.” Dana’s greatest joy has always been watching her two daughters grow through their love or dance and the experiences they are able to share with their students. Family has always been important and Dana relishes her role of “Nana” to her 6 grandchildren. Dana looks forward to her retirement….someday!
Claudine has been a resident of Waunakee since 1981 where she and her husband raised their 4 children. She came out of retirement this year to once take upon her teaching position at St John’s school. In addition to her work at MPA, she also works the front desk of the Waunakee Village Center. Claudine has become an international traveler, often visiting her daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter in Germany.