Valerie Gonzalez (Director) received her Master of Fine Arts degree in Dance Performance and Choreography from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She was a guest teaching artist in the dance program of Western Michigan University, adjunct faculty at Carthage College and has served on the faculty of several diverse New York, Chicago and Wisconsin studios. She is one of the original master teachers of Dance Exchange, a collaborative workshop with schools in Wisconsin and Minnesota. Valerie has trained and performed with notable companies such as Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago II, River North Chicago Dance Company, Chicago Arts Project, Joel Hall Dancers and TJ & Co. Dance Theatre. Valerie's experiences have allowed her to perform across the country and internationally. She has choreographed for the Second Avenue Dance Company, TJ & Co. Dance Theatre, Terpsichore Dance Company, Lake Forest Dance Academy's Prelude Dance Theatre, numerous competitive entries, high school musicals and orchesis groups. Valerie is a certified Progressing Ballet Technique teacher and is thrilled to continue to mentor students through the art of dance. She feels blessed to be a part of the growth of so many wonderful dancers. For the past 10 years, Valerie has been a Director and choreographer for LFDA's Prelude Dance Theatre. She has served as Manager of the Performance Companies, helping to expand its role in the Lake Forest community and beyond. This is her nineteenth year with LFDA and she is honored to be Director of Lake Forest Dance Academy.

Laura Biernacki (Company Manager & Dance Office Assistant), from Vernon Hills, Illinois, began her dance training at the age of five. She graduated with high honors from Western Michigan University with a minor in Sociology and Bachelor of Arts in Dance. Laura is a certified teacher in Progressing Ballet Technique, founded by Marie Walton-Mahon, and believes in its many benefits. She has had the pleasure to choreograph dances for Adali E. Stevenson High School's Melange and Concert Dance Companies while acting as a member of each ensemble. Participating in these different ensembles offered her the opportunity to work hand in hand with Liz Lerman and her Critical Response Process to enhance her dance, "It's Not Goodbye, I'll See You Later". Laura has choreographed for multiple dance companies, and has presented numerous competitive entries across the country. Laura has won Technique, Choreography, and High Point Awards across the Regional and National Competitive Circuits. Most notably, in 2021, Laura's pieces, "Divenire'' and "One, Two, Three" tied for second place at the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) Regional Competition. Laura is excited to continue to share her love and passion for dance with her students here at LFDA!

Rich Ashworth began dancing at the age of two, receiving most of his training at the Legein Dance Academy of Performing Arts and conventions around the New England Area. Richard attended the University of New York at Buffalo; receiving a BFA in Dance in June 2007. During his time at UB, Richard performed and choreographed for the university's Zodiaque Dance Company (Director Tom Ralabate) as well as the Zodiaque Studio Ensemble and Young Choreographers Showcases. Richard has apprenticed for the Lehrerdance Company (Director Jon Lehrer); is a guest principle of the Configurations Dance Theatre (Director Joseph Cipolla) and performs with the Pick of the Crop Dance Company (Director Elaine Gardner). He has also established himself as a teacher, joining the faculty of several dance education organizations including Dance Masters of America and the Interdanza Organization of Mexico. Rich is the former Rehearsal Director of Chicago Tap Theatre and has choreographed for and performed with such notable organizations as Chicago Dance Crash and Be the Grooves "Collective Beat". He currently resides in Chicago and is a freelance dancer and choreographer. In 2017 Rich premiered his latest venture "Blue Collar Music Box", an evening length concert combining the ideals and stories in bluegrass music with the rhythms of American tap dance. Richard will be teaching at LFDA for his 13th year.

Ashley Deran is a Chicago-based dancemaker, teaching artist, and photographer. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance from Western Michigan University, having graduated with high honors. In 2013, Ashley co-founded Project Bound Dance, a tri-focal contemporary dance theatre collaboration aiming to foster community engagement, dance/technology experimentation, and socially conscious performance. Her work with co-director Emily Loar was selected as one of the "Top 10 Performances of 2019" by SeeChicagoDance. As part of Bound's mission, Ashley helped create the One Hour Project - a collaborative endeavor that gives Chicago artists 60 minutes to create a 60 second dance film in unique spaces and places. Ashley's choreography has been presented by numerous companies and festivals across the country. Most recently her work has been featured in the film "Limerence" by Dan Pedersen and Glass City Films. Ashley is also an adjudicator for Applause Talent and can often be found behind a camera photographing the Chicago dance community and beyond. She is so thankful to have the opportunity to continue teaching at Lake Forest Dance Academy!

Julianna Hom is originally from Wilmette, IL. She graduated with distinction in May 2020 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. She has performed works by Jin-Wen Yu, Li Chiao-Ping, Chris Walker, Collette Stewart, Christian von Howard, Kaitlin Webster, and Merce Cunningham, and has served as a rehearsal assistant to Sean Curran. Julianna has performed at various venues throughout Chicago and Madison including Links Hall and the Overture Center for the Arts, as well as internationally in Guatemala City with Jin-Wen Yu Dance. She has received additional training through summer programs with Perry-Mansfield, Gibney Dance Center, and LA Contemporary Dance Company. She is excited to be returning to LFDA this year!


Denita Inez is a dancer, choreographer, and instructor. Denita is the Artistic Director of Desueno, a Latin Jazz dance company. She is currently on staff at Lake Forest dance Academy and at Dancing with Class. She is also an independent freelance dancer and has danced for Chicago Dance Crash, Noumenon Dance Ensemble, Modern Clave, and Civic Dance Ensemble. She has represented the United States at the World Latin Dance Cup. Denita Inez is known for her energetic style and dynamic musicality. She has various choreography credits including "The Chi" on Showtime. Denita Inez received her Bachelors of Science in Dance at Wayne State University. She has also trained with Deeply Rooted and Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She danced in works by Alia Simon, April Tornby, Rosa Mercedes, Samantha Shelton, Christopher Huggins, Kevin Jeff Iega, Richard Amaro, Lisa McCall and Raymond Robinson. As a performer, Denita Inez is revered for her musicality and unique movement style. This will be Denita's tenth year at LFDA.

Jenna Jozefowski graduated from The University of Akron with a BA in Dance and a minor in Business Administration. She is a member of the Midwest Committee of the Cecchetti Council of America and currently holds a Grade IV Teacher's Certificate. Professionally, she has performed with Joel Hall Dancers II, RASA Dance Chicago, Chicago Dance Crash, and Chicago Tap Theatre. She is currently working as an independent performance artist and choreographer; performing and presenting her work in Rebound Dance Festival, Dance Chicago, and Chicago Freelance Dance, to name a few. She recently completed Tap Teacher Training Program with American Tap Dance Foundation in NYC. Jenna is also an E-RYT 200 yoga instructor and a NASM certified personal trainer, and loves using her knowledge of anatomy to help her students improve their dancing. She looks forward to her thirteenth year as Director for Euphony Tap Ensemble, and her fifteenth year of teaching at Lake Forest Dance Academy.

Hannah Liddicoat is a dance instructor, production manager, and choreographer in the Chicagoland area. She graduated magna cum laude from Western Michigan University, earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts in dance and interpersonal communication. While there, she performed works by Jeremy Blair, Jackie Nowicki, and Mike Esperanza. In addition, Hannah was a member of Western Dance Project, a touring dance ensemble, under the direction of Whitney Moncrief. Hannah took on the role of production manager for many dance concerts at the university and demonstrated a passion for dance production. Her experience includes house management, stage management, and lighting design for dance. While completing her education, Hannah taught at a variety of dance studios in the Kalamazoo community. She is well versed in the instruction of ballet, pointe, dance fundamentals, modern, jazz, and tap. In addition to dance education, Hannah choreographed a variety of works throughout her collegiate career including dance films, site-specific works, and concert dance pieces. Currently, Hannah is a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where she is pursuing a master's degree in counseling.

Lizzie Rausch is a Licentiate graduate of the Royal Academy of Dance in London and holds a Master of Arts Degree in Ballet Studies from Surrey University U.K. She was a principal in Chelsea Ballet London where her roles included the Act II Pas de Deux from Giselle, Dawn in Coppelia, the Pas de Trois from Swan Lake and varied roles in the Nutcracker. The role of Marie Taglioni was recreated on her by a former soloist of Rambert Ballet. Lizzie has danced and taught in Europe, Africa, the Education Department of Birmingham Royal Ballet, Barat Conservatory of Dance and College of Lake County amongst others. Lizzie holds her Level VI Licentiate Professional Cecchetti Teacher's Certificate from the Cecchetti Council of America. She is excited about starting her sixteenth year with LFDA. She is also a licensed massage therapist working with dancers and athletes at Northwestern University and as adjunct faculty at College of Lake County.

Amy Rose trained on scholarship at the Ruth Page Foundation School of Dance, American Ballet Theatre School and the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Amy performed with the Chicago Ballet in "The Nutcracker" and "Alice in Wonderland" before joining American Ballet Theatre at the age of sixteen. Amy danced as a soloist with ABT, featured in principal, soloist and character roles in both the classical and contemporary repertoire. She was featured in several "Dance in America" and "Live from the Met" television and video productions. During this time she also guested with the Universal Ballet in Korea, Japan and China, with Stars of American Ballet in Manila and performed at Jacob's Pillow with Patrick Bissell and other ABT principals. She then went on to dance with Pacific Northwest Ballet where she danced leading roles in many ballets including creating her roles in Kent Sowell's "Carmina Burana", "Cinderella" and Mark Dendy's "Les Biches". She was a featured dancer on their tour to Australia. As a freelance dancer she guested with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Dance West Ballet, Northwest Ballet and the Civic Ballet of Chicago among others. Ms. Rose has been on the faculty for the ABT Summer Intensives and in the Chicago area for 20 years. She's currently on faculty for three different schools and is the ballet mistress for Ballet Theatre of IL and for the Schaumburg Prairie Center of the Arts "The Nutcracker". She has also coached students for various competitions. Amy Rose is an ABT Certified Teacher who has successfully completed the ABT Teacher Training Intensive in Primary through Level 7 of the ABT National Training Curriculum.

Aimee Russon began her dance training at age five, dancing with many organizations in the Chicagoland area. She furthered her training at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, receiving a BFA in Modern Dance. While studying at the University of Utah, Aimee performed works by Sidra Bell, Pamela Geber Handman, and works set by the Martha Graham dance company in addition to performing with the University's Performance Dance Company. Upon graduation from college, Aimee pursued her passion for teaching, returning to the Chicagoland area. Since 2013 Aimee has taught dancers of all ages in a variety settings including studios, workshops, and performance teams. Sharing her passion for dance she continues to teach ballet, modern, jazz, contemporary, tap, and creative movement to students around the Chicagoland area.

Hilliary Vaccarello
Hilliary Vaccarello started dancing at the age of three in Madison, Wisconsin and continued her training with the Milwaukee Ballet and the Kirov Academy of Ballet. She furthered her education in dance by receiving a B.A at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Hilliary then joined Thodos Dance Chicago, which allowed her to perform throughout the United States and work with renowned choreographers. Her choreography has been set on numerous high school dance programs, universities, advertising agencies, and other productions. She is now a mother of two boys, who love to dance around the house with her. Hilliary is honored to be on faculty at Lake Forest Dance Academy, and continues to serve as the Company Technique Mistress.