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The Dream Team

Jory B
Jenny O
Katy W
Olivia N
Alyssa D
Katie B
Kim
Abbey M
Bigid
Kelsey
Samantha
Katie Mc

Jenny O'Brien
Studio Owner and Director

Community Image Award 2016, St. Charles Chamber of Commerce

Rainbow Kids Yoga Certified Instructor 

Success Principles Certified Trainer

Founder of Live Your Purpose

2021 Member of the Year, International Dance Entrepeneur's Association

2022 Developed and released  Pop-Up Camp planners nationwide, in partnership with Rhee Gold's Dance Life

Jenny has been dancing for over 30 years and studied  jazz, tap, ballet, lyrical, and musical theater.  She has been teaching since 1999 throughout the Chicago area.  

From her first ballet class at the age of 3, Jenny had a passion for dancing and performing.  Throughout her youth, she danced at Palmer’s Dance & Gymnastics and Dorothy’s Dancing Unlimited. Jenny also performed in theatrical productions such as "The Nutcracker" with Pennsylvania Ballet Company and "The Night Before Christmas" with Dayton Ballet. She participated in dance team and Orchesis throughout high school, in addition to continuing studio classes. Jenny was the only freshman accepted as a Company member for Orchesis (dance troupe), which is also where she got her start choreographing. Her start in choreographing sort of happened by accident while recovering from a spinal fusion surgery from '95 - '96.  When she graduated from Lake Park High School in 1999, she started teaching dance under the direction of her former dance instructor, Mary Pilalis, and fell in love with teaching. After teaching for 2 years while earning an associates degree at College of DuPage, she attended Illinois State University and graduated with a BA in Communications. She began teaching again part time when she graduated college. Her full time focus was on her career in the Communications field until 2012.

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In 2012 she realized where her true passion was, and that is in the studio with her students. After focusing on her career for 10 years, she decided to pursue her dream of teaching full-time. Jenny formed Dreams Dance Academy – a true life-long dream. She started "Dreams Dance Academy: The Traveling Studio" in July 2012 by renting space at community and fitness centers in three towns, and it skyrocketed from there. DDA reached 85 students in just five months. In August 2013, Jenny obtained her own studio space in La Fox to accommodate the quickly growing program.  And in August 2015, DDA moved to St. Charles to a 3-studio facility which she hopes to call home for a very long time now that we can accommodate our growing program. The current home is truly the dream studio she always envisioned in her mind! In summer 2019 as the studio continued to grow at a quick rate (right before the pandemic!), DDA expanded again and added an additional 1,100 square feet to accommodate a 4th dance room.

 

Jenny continues to attend both teacher trainings and studio owner conferences, as she believes in the importance of continuing education to keep the studio, technique, and teaching skills at DDA top notch. Teaching and business ownership is always evolving - so as professionals, we must continue to train and educate ourselves. She has written various stories for Dance Studio Life Magazine, and DDA has also been featured in DSL articles such as "Studio Style" and "Competition Dancers: The Early Years." In August 2016, Jenny became one of the first members of the International Dance Entrepreneurs Association. In 2021, she was named Member of the Year at the annual DanceLife Teacher Conference. She is also a volunteer mentor for the INCubator program at STC East, providing mentorship to high schoolers in this business program

Jenny is especially passionate about teaching the 9 and under age group. These are critical years in a dancers training and she firmly believes in instilling the proper fundamentals from the star...but in a fun, engaging way that molds young, new students into passionate, properly trained dancers. 

In March 2020, she began what would be the most challenging chapter in her life as a business owner and studio director. One of the positives that came from the pandemic, was creating a virtual studio program in just a few days. Jenny launched DDA's virtual studio in mid-March and DDA continued to run strictly virtual until early June. During this time, she assisted studio owners across the country with running their programs remotely. 

In January 2021, Jenny became a Certified Success Principles Trainer (teaching the 67 Success Principles founded by Jack Canfield) and founded Live Your Purpose. This was a journey that ironically began in early 2020 so it got put on the backburner due to the pandemic and having to shift all of her focus. As 2021 proved to be a year of reinventing the wheel for what felt like everything, she has had to continue to put a hold on Live Your Purpose. But she has big goals and big dreams...so stay tuned! 

In 2022, she became the Membership Liaison for International Dance Entrepreneurs Association. Over the years, she been a presenter on a number of I.D.E.A. training seminars for studio owners, including topics such as Starting a Student Leadership Academy, Summertime Strategies, and Dancing Through Tough Times. She presents monthly Tip Tuesdays for I.D.E.A. members as well. Jenny is incredibly passionate about this side of entrepreneurship, as well as ensuring she is keeping up with continuing education for herself as well.

Jenny is actively involved in the community and in her spare time, she can be found DIY-ing, spending time with family and friends, and spoiling Molly the Studio Dog!

Jory Macapinlac

Jory Macapinlac is a highly experienced dancer and dance instructor with over 30 years of training from renowned studios in the Chicagoland area. She competed as a member of Midwest Movement and trained in Ballet, Pointe, and Modern at Northern Illinois University.

 

Jory's professional credits include choreography and performances in various productions such as "The Dream King" in Las Vegas and special event games for the Chicago White Sox. She has been teaching Jazz, Jumps/Turns, Lyrical, Stretch & Strength, and Ballet to students of all ages since 1999. Her students have achieved success in various fields of the entertainment industry. Jory has also judged for various competitions since 2001 and currently is an emcee and Regional Director at Applause Talent. 

Katy Wenger

Katy attended Oklahoma City University, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude from the top-ranked Ann Lacy School of American Dance and Arts Management with a Bachelor of Science in American Dance Pedagogy.

While at OCU, Katy was able to learn the art and science of teaching dance from many nationally recognized dance professors, as well as dance with world-renowned faculty and guest teachers. Since her graduation, Katy has been teaching dance throughout the Chicagoland area for over a decade.

Today, Katy’s passion soars in the classroom where she is able to work with students of all ages, encouraging them to find a love of movement like she has. Currently, she teaches an average of 20 dance classes each week, with students ranging from 3 year olds to adults!

As an arts manager, Katy has had the opportunity to direct and produce multiple recitals, lead a dance department of over 500 students, direct a Performance Company, and wear many hats as a dance administrator. She feels incredibly blessed to be a part of the Chicagoland dance community, and is looking forward to her future as a teacher, choreographer, and arts manager.

Katie Behrens

Katie has been dancing since age nine and has teaching for over 28 years. She spent her younger years studying at the St. Charles School of Dance under the direction of Kelly Delprincipi and Northern IL University dance head, Judith Chitwood. In the spring of 1997 was accepted into the Chicago Academy for The Arts. There she had the honor of dancing under the brilliance of Anna Paskevska and Randy Duncan. Behrens has also studied with Homer Bryant of Bryant Ballet Chicago and Claire Bataille of Hubbard Street dance Chicago.

 

In the fall of '99 Behrens was accepted into Northern Illinois University’s dance program under the direction of Randall Newsome.  She continued to to teach dance for the Saint Charles School of Dance and later became the dance director for the West Chicago Park District. In 2004 she took on the director position for the Geneva Park District and later “retired” in December of 2016. During her retirement, she became a certified health coach and certified personal trainer. She owns her own wellness company and most recently became the health educator at Sherman Hospital in the medical weight management department. 

Over the course of her teaching career, she has received numerous choreography and special awards.  Miss Katie is thrilled to be working with Miss Jenny again, and believes you should always go after your dreams.

Olivia Neitzel

Olivia grew up dancing and competing in the Chicagoland area. She has extensively studied and trained in ballet, tap, modern, jazz, lyrical, and contemporary. In high school, Olivia competed with her high school’s varsity dance team where she continued her technique development in jazz, contemporary, lyrical, and pom.

 

Olivia studied Dance Performance at Grand Canyon University before transferring to their Online Program.

She has been teaching and choreographing for the past seven years. Her recent pieces have received choreography recognition at both local and national dance competitions. Olivia has continued her education by becoming a certified Giordano Jazz Instructor and a Danscend Mental Wellness Dance Educator.

Alyssa Decker - Dance Company Director

Alyssa trained with the Visceral Studio Company under the direction of Nick Pupillo and Laura Wade. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance with a minor in Movement Science on a merit scholarship in December 2018.

 

At Michigan, she performed works by Ohad Naharin, Shannon Gillen, and the University of Michigan dance faculty, among others. During her summers, Alyssa studied with River North Dance Chicago, Backhausdance, DanceWorks Chicago, and abroad in Paris.

After graduating, Alyssa moved back to Chicago to pursue a career in dance and teaching. She has

choreographed musicals, been on Universal Dance Association staff, and taught and choreographed around the Chicagoland area. She was on contract with Inaside Dance Chicago for a few seasons and in 2022  announced a new project - The LAUNCH Chicago. The LAUNCH is the newest non-profit professional dance

company in the Chicagoland area. Check it out at @thelaunchchicago on Instagram.

Kim Pendzimaz

Kim Pendzimaz is a Chicagoland native and trained at many different studios. Her performing credits include Chicago Rhythm Project, Disney World, Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, Bring In Da noise, Bring in Da Funk and Dance for Life. She has also released how to videos on Musical Theater through CR Productions. As a seasoned master class teacher and adjudicator, she has worked for Rebel Dance Convention, Cathy Roe Productions, Starquest National Talent Competitions, Bravo Dance Competitions, and Edge Talent Competition.

 

Kim was the owner of Jagged Edge Dance for 13 years (closing it's doors in 2021). During that time her students received numerous accolades and accomplishments, including acceptance into the Chicago Academy for the Art, The Julliard School, Interlochen, National Dutch Ballet, Des Moines Ballet, and Austin Ballet. Her dancers won the gold medal (first place) at International Dance Organization in Poland for ballet and lyrical. Kim's studios won Best Technique, Best Choreography, Industry Dance Award nominations, and highest scoring routine at multiple competitions. Jagged Edge was fortunate to receive the ADCC studio of excellence award in 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019. Now Kim is focused on educating dancers all over the Chicagoland area.

Abbey Mastroianni - Performance Troupe Director

Abbey is a veteran dance instructor who excels at teaching a broad range of dance styles for both recreational and competitive dancers. She enjoys working with students of all ages and levels teaching fun, engaging and structured classes.

Abbey has trained extensively in ballet, jazz, tap, hip-hop and lyrical as well as spent many years dancing competitively and performing. Her work with competitive dance teams has garnered her choreography, high score, and special awards.

In addition to her "dance life,", Abbey holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from Loyola University Chicago and currently works as an Education Coordinator at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Abbey is excited to be a part of DDA and share her knowledge, experience and love of dance with her students.

Brigid Redmond-Mattucci

Brigid is a former DDA student and a graduate of the Leadership Academy. She has trained in many styles of dance including Ballet, Pointe, Lyrical, Contemporary, Jazz and Modern.

 

Although she no longer takes classes at DDA, she is still involved with the studio as an office assistant and substitute teacher. Brigid is currently a student at Aurora University, studying Secondary Education Mathematics with minors in Spanish and Special Education. She hopes to get her master's degree soon after graduating.

 

Brigid was inspired to become a teacher through her experiences as a student assistant and substitute teacher at DDA and hopes to make a positive impact on her future students.

Kelsey Green

Kelsey is a seasoned performer who has competed and trained in various styles of dance including Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Lyrical, Tap, Hip Hop and Contemporary. She has competed in numerous productions and competitions across the country, and received extensive ballet training from Jill Johnson, founder of Studio 121. Kelsey furthered her pre-professional dance training at Xtreme Dance Force in Naperville, IL under the direction of Samuel Renzetti. Throughout her career, she has had the opportunity to work with renowned choreographers such as Tabitha and Napoleon D'Umo, Kevin Maher, Jesse Lee Santos, Brian Friedman, Marty Kudelka, Sky Hoffman and Mia Michaels.

Kelsey graduated from Elmhurst College in May 2011 with a B.A. in Philosophy and a minor in dance. She has been teaching and choreographing for over 17 years and has received recognition for her work at competitions, including High Point, Overall, and Choreography awards. She has also been a co-director for Xtreme Dance Force (Naperville, IL) and Studio Director for Legacy Performing Arts (Beaverton, OR), as well as a guest teacher/choreographer at various studios. Kelsey has a passion for sharing her love of dance with others.

Samantha DeBenedictis

Samantha DeBenedictis began her training at The Academy of Dance Arts under the tutelage of Sherry Moray and Irina Starovoitova. She has enjoyed a successful professional career with Ballet Arizona, Alabama Ballet, and the Cincinnati Ballet where she was cast in key roles in their productions of Swan Lake, Giselle, Alice in Wonderland, Balanchine’s Nutcracker, Midsummer Night Dream, Sleeping Beauty, Serenade, and Paquita. Samantha was also cast in Speaking In Tongues, an original piece choreographed by Devon Carney of Cincinnati Ballet. She was chosen to perform in B Major an original piece choreographed by Roger Van Fleteren of Alabama Ballet. Samantha was a member of Illinois Ballet Theatre and is certified in Cecchetti Method through Level V. 

 

Samantha was a top finalist in the Youth America Grand Prix Ballet Competition and has received scholarships to The Washington Ballet, Orlando Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet, Houston, and Pacific Northwest Ballet. Samantha has been teaching classes for all ages throughout the Chicagoland area for nine years, and has choreographed for competition teams. In addition she has privately coached students for various ballet competitions. Samantha is a gifted performer and loves to share her knowledge, talent, and love of dance with her students.

Katie McCall

Katie McCall began her dancing career at the tender age of 3 when her mom enrolled her in Baby Ballet at the local park district. It was then that her lifelong love of dance began ...

 

For the next 10 years, she honed her skills in ballet, Pointe, jazz and tap at a local dance school, but after seeing Michael Flatley's Lord of the Dance with her family, she was in awe of the style and knew it was time for a change.

 

So at 13, Katie joined the Reel Studio of Irish Dance and began intensive instruction under Julie Creighton-Shannon, a former World Champion dancer and pupil of Michael Flatley himself. Despite Katie's later start to the Irish dancing scene, she quickly progressed through the competitive levels and even had the opportunity to compete at the Regional Mid-America Championships (Oireachtas) three times prior to graduating high school. During her time at Reel Studio, she not only performed all across the Chicagoland for special events, but she also worked as an assistant instructor.

 

Though Katie retired from her competitive dancing career when starting college at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she couldn't shake her passion for dance. As a result, she helped form and acted as Co-Director of the university's first collegiate Irish dance troupe - IDentity Irish Dance Company. As one of the lead choreographers, Katie and her elite group performed all over the campus and Chicagoland area, with a highlight of dancing live on WGN Channel 9 News for St. Patrick's Day. Katie was also selected two years in a row to dance alongside the famed Irish rock band - The Dropkick Murphys - at the House of Blues in Chicago.

 

During Katie's senior year at U of I, she was hired as an Irish dance instructor at the Christine Rich Studio - Dance Academy & Performing Arts Center. There, she proudly took a rather uncoordinated group of young students and watched them blossom into graceful Irish dancers!

 

Fast-forward to present day, and Katie is thrilled to return to her dancing roots by joining the DDA family. She hopes to bring her lifelong expertise and love of Irish dance to the community by offering a program that will honor tradition, build confidence, instill discipline ... and most importantly -- be loads o' FUN! 

Larkin Cohrs - Junior Teacher

Larkin has been dancing since she was 2 years old and started dancing at DDA when she was 7 years old. She has been part of the DDA Dance Company since she was 7 as well.

She joined the Leadership Academy when she was 9 years old, and worked her way to a Student Assistant and then a Teacher in Training. She graduated from the program in Spring 2022 and is now a Junior Teacher. She loves connecting with students of all ages and watching them grow and love dance as much as she does!

Larkin has gained many qualities and valuable lessons during her many years at DDA and on the Leadership Academy, that will have helped her in and out of the studio. She has seen her confidence grow in not only her dancing, but in using her voice to help lead others.

Larkin has been a part of the Geneva High School Varsity Dance Team since her freshman year. She loves all the outside opportunities that Dreams Dance Academy has helped her experience which have led to many exciting accomplishments such as the Refresh Dance Squad, convention scholarships and being selected for The Launch Youth Ensemble.

Rachel Wade - Junior Teacher

Rachael is 16 years old and a junior at Geneva High School. She has been dancing since she was 2 years old and started dancing at Dreams when she was 5, in 2012 when the studio opened. She was also part of DDA’s first Dance Company team when there were only 9 members.

When Rachael was 10, she joined DDA’s first Leadership Academy and became a Student Assistant. From there she became a Teacher in Training, and after a year in that program she graduated in Spring 2022 to a Junior Teacher.

She is trained in Jazz, lyrical, contemporary, musical theater, ballet, hip hop, and pointe. She has also competed in various productions, group dances, and duets/trios. This year she is competing her first solo. Rachael is also part of the Geneva High School Varsity Dance Team.  

One of her favorite classes she’s ever assisted with is DDA’s Adaptive Dance Class, where she got to be a one on one buddy with a student. They performed at recital together and it was her favorite dance by far.

Rachael hopes to continue on her dance career and teacher career for years to come!

Jack Canfield Certified
Larkin
Rachel
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