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 11 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 twentieth 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 and 2022, Laura's pieces received finals invites 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!

Ashley Deran is a Chicago-based dancemaker, teaching artist, and photographer who received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance from Western Michigan University. In 2013, she founded Project Bound Dance and her work with co-director Emily Loar was selected as one of the "Top 10 Performances of 2019" by SeeChicagoDance. Most recently Ashley's choreography has been presented by COMMON conservatory, Chicago's Dance in the Parks, Harvest Contemporary Dance Festival and Death's Door Dance Festival in Door County. She is also a producer and collaborator with #The1HourProject - a collaborative endeavor that gives Chicago artists 60 minutes to create a 60 second dance film in unique spaces and places. When not in the studio, Ashley 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!

Veronica Lilja began Irish dancing at the age of 3 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 her first World Championship at age 11. Veronica became a two-time Regional Champion and a two-time World medalist.
After her competitive career, Veronica performed with the Baltimore, Fort Worth, Ottowa, Knoxville, and North Carolina Symphonies in the show "Celtic Celebration". In 2013, Veronica was awarded the esteemed TCRG certification in Limerick, Ireland and brought the O'Hare School to Lake Forest, IL. In 2017, she further expanded the school by opening another location in Libertyville, IL. In January 2019, Veronica opened her own O'Hare Irish Dance studio in Lake Bluff, IL. It is our privilege to have her talent and expertise to offer our students!


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. Professionally, she has performed with Joel Hall Dancers II, RASA Dance Chicago, Chicago Dance Crash, and Chicago Tap Theatre. She has worked 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 is a member of the Midwest Committee of the Cecchetti Council of America and currently holds a Grade IV Teacher's Certificate. She has completed her iTap Teacher training as well as the Tap Teacher Training Program with American Tap Dance Foundation in NYC as well. 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 fourteenth year as Director for Euphony Tap Ensemble, and her sixteenth 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 eighteenth 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 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. Aimee was also fortunate to be part of the Performance Dance Company. Upon graduation form college Aimee pursued her passion for teaching, returning to the Chicagoland area. Since 2013 Aimee has taught dancers of all ages in a variety of settings including studios, workshops, and performance teams. She has also been fortunate to work behind the scenes as the backstage manager for the Schaumburg Dance Ensembles production of the Nutcracker. Sharing her passion for dance she continues to teach ballet, modern, jazz, contemporary, tap, musical theater, 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. More recently she was certified in PBT(Progressing Ballet Technique), which she has enjoyed bringing to her students. She is now a mother of two boys, who love to dance around the house with her. Hilliary is honored to be in her 18th year at Lake Forest Dance Academy and continues to serve as the Company Technique Mistress.

Phillip Wood Phillip Wood is from Indianapolis, Indiana and moved to Chicago to dance and work in video production professionally. Hip Hop, Breaking, and House dance are main styles of interest, but he also trains in Modern, Popping, and Tricking movement styles. He has performed mostly in the midwest, ranging from digital showcases, dance battles, concerts, or anything in between. The best part of dance for him is the individuality and creativity, and he hopes to share that love with the people he gets to teach!