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 nine 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 eighteenth year with LFDA and she is honored to be Director of Lake Forest Dance Academy.

Laura Biernacki (Dance Office Assistant and Company Coordinator), began dancing at the age of five. She graduated Cum Laude from Western Michigan University with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and a Sociology minor. She has had the pleasure to choreograph dances for Adali E. Stevenson High School's Melange and Concert Dance Companies while being a member of each of those ensembles. During her time at Stevenson, Laura was the president of their Performance Dance Companies. While performing with those companies, Laura had the privilege to have worked with Liz Lerman and her Critical Response Process to enhance her dance, "It's Not Goodbye, I'll See You Later." She was then awarded Outstanding Senior in Dance and the Prominent Patriot Award for her efforts during that process. While at WMU, she had the honor of performing works by Marlo Martin, Lindsay Thomas and Lew Christensen. Laura is also a certified teacher in Progressing Ballet Technique founded by Marie Walton-Mahon. At LFDA, Laura has been coaching selected dancers for Youth American Grand Prix (YAGP), with their classical variations for the past two years. Not only is Laura proud to be a dance teacher for her fourth year at LFDA, she is also the Dance Office Assistant and the Performance Company Coordinator.

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 12th 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 joining LFDA this year!

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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 ninth year at LFDA and eighth year as director of Hip Hop Evolution.


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 twelfth year as Director for Euphony Tap Ensemble, and her fourteenth year of teaching at Lake Forest Dance Academy.

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Veronica Lilja began Irish dancing at the age of three and had tremendous competitive success at a young age. Under the instruction of Tim O'Hare, she competed at her first Regional championship as a solo dancer at age 8, her first National Championship at age 9, and first World Championship at age 11. Veronica became a two-time Regional champion and a two-time World medalist. At the age of 14, while continuing her competitive career, she started teaching classes in Lake Bluff under the direction of Tim O'Hare. Lake Bluff's program quickly grew with success and popularity. In 2011 and 2012, she was fortunate enough to perform with the Baltimore, Fort Worth, Knoxville, and Ottowa Symphonies in the show "Celtic Celebration". In 2013, Veronica was awarded the esteemed TCRG certification in Limerick, Ireland and brought the O'Hare School of Irish Dance to Lake Forest Dance Academy. In 2017, Veronica was asked back to perform a leading role in "Celtic Celebration" with the Baltimore Symphony. She is excited to continue expanding the school this fall. This will be her eighth year with LFDA.

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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 fifteenth 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 American Ballet Theatre School, the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Ruth Page Foundation School of Dance. She performed with 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 in principal, soloist and character roles from 1979-1992, including her role opposite Mikhail Baryshnikov. She has guested with the Universal Ballet in Korea, Japan and China, and performed at Jacob's Pillow. In 1992 she joined Pacific Northwest Ballet where she was a featured dancer on the company's tour to Melbourne, Australia. Ms. Rose has been on the faculty for the American Ballet Theatre Summer Intensives for the last thirteen years and has been teaching in the Chicago area for twelve years. She is currently a faculty member at area schools and is also the ballet mistress for Ballet Theater of Illinois. She has 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 and recently became certified in Progressing Ballet Technique. This will be Amy's ninth year at LFDA.


Aimee Russon began her dance training in Cary, IL and continued her training at the Universty of Utah in Salt Lake City, receiving a BFA in modern dance. While attending the University of Utah she had the opportunity to perform works by Sidra Bell, Pamela Geber Handman, and works set by the Martha Graham dance company. While in Chicago, Aimee has participated in numerous summer intensives, instructor trainings, and creative projects. Aimee has also had the pleasure of performing with the Modern Marvels dance company. With an immense passion for teaching, Aimee continues to teach ballet, modern, jazz, contemporary, tap and creative movement to students around the Chicagoland area.

Ally Sanov
Ally Sanov graduated summa cum laude from Texas Tech University with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance. During her time at Texas Tech, Ally was a member of the University Dance Company where she performed works by Nicole Wesley, Genevieve Durham Decesaro, and Ali Duffy. While with the company, she had the opportunity to tour in Trinidad and Tobago while performing at the COCO Dance Festival where she learned from several guest artists, including Battery Dance Company. During her senior year, Ally's choreography was also selected to represent Texas Tech at American College Dance Association. She has had the pleasure of working with many notable artists in her career including Sarah Gamblin, Trent Williams, Jr., and Sarah Magoon and has served as an apprentice with Flatlands Dance Theatre, based in Lubbock, Texas. Since relocating to Chicago, Ally has performed with Alluvion Dance Chicago as a company member and choreographer for two seasons and performed with Visceral Dance Chicago in "Within". Ally is the co-founder of forward. the movement, Chicago's newest contemporary dance company. This will be her fourth year at LFDA.


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 for 6 years 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.