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 12 years, Valerie has been a director and choreographer for LFDA's Performance Companies. She has served as Manager of the Performance Companies, helping to expand its role in the Lake Forest community and beyond. This is her 21st year with LFDA, and she is honored to be Director of Lake Forest Dance Academy.

----Appling, Jess.jpeg Jess Appling grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and has recently relocated to Chicago from New York City. She started dancing at Miracle Dance Theatre at the age of three and was emerged into the competition world at age 10. Over the years Jess trained with Jason Samuel Smith, Lady Di Walker, former Rockette Angela Kahle, Broadway Dance Centers Doug Shankman and many others. She is an energetic dance professional with over 14 years of teaching experience in multiple disciplines and various ages. Jess is also an adjudicator for Beyond The Stars/Breakout dance competition. She is proficient in in various styles, including, tap, jazz, strength and conditioning, and pom and has extensive experience working with children and adults with special needs.

----Finley, Clara.jpeg Clara Finley is currently attending Lake Forest College to earn her Master of Arts in Teaching for secondary English Language Arts. She graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the College of William & Mary with a degree in English and Linguistics. While there, she was a participant, choreographer, and president of the student-run dance organization, Pointe Blank Dance Company. She grew up dancing at Lake Forest Dance Academy and has loved being back as a substitute teacher. Dance is an enduring passion, and she loves the opportunity to share it with young dancers!

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Brenda Good is a Chicago based choreographer who works nationally. Her choreography has been in a variety of venues, including the Auditorium Theatre, the Park West, Symphony Center, Navy Pier Ballroom, the Harold Washington Winter Garden, and the John and Nancy Hughes Theater. Other highlights include a NFL playoffs and Super Bowl 50 commercial for which she danced and choreographed, and choreography for the Will Arnett produced show, "Hot Date", currently streaming on Netflix. Brenda graduated from Bowdoin College with a B.A. Cum Laude and pursued graduate work in choreography and dance from Northwestern University and Columbia University in New York. She is also certified in Classical Ballet from the Cecchetti Council of America. Brenda also studied dance at several studios in Chicago and New York, including Lou Conte, Gus Giordano, Ruth Page, and Joffrey Ballet dance studios in Chicago and Steps, Broadway Dance Center, and Alvin Ailey Studios in NYC.


Denita Inez is a dancer, choreographer, and instructor. Denita is the Artistic Director of Desueno, a Latin Jazz dance and private event company. She is currently on staff at Lake Forest Dance Academy and at Old Town School of Folk Music. She is 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 Bachelor 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 13th 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 fifteenth year as Director for LFDA's Performance Companies, and her seventeenth year of teaching at Lake Forest Dance Academy.
----H.Liddicoatheadshot.jpg Hannah Liddicoat (Performance Company and Office Admin) 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. Hannah was also 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. Since moving back to the Chicagoland area, Hannah has taught three studios in the area. She is well versed in the instruction of ballet, pointe, dance fundamentals, modern, lyrical, contemporary, 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. Hannah is looking forward to her third season as part of the Lake Forest Dance Academy family!

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!

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Blayna Montgomery is a dedicated and accomplished dance teacher with a rich background in the art form. As the owner of Cloud Nine Dance for over two decades and the artistic director of its performance team, she has honed her expertise in nurturing young talents and guiding them toward excellence. Blayna's dance journey began at the age of 3, and she further refined her skills by participating in the Dance Masters of America Teachers Training Program. Her hard work and talent have been recognized with numerous awards, including technique, choreography, and high point accolades at both Regional and National Competitions. Blayna is well versed in teaching ballet, tap, jazz, acro dance, hip hop, lyrical, baton, and musical theater. Her compassion and dedication to her students creates a nurturing environment where creativity thrives, leaving an enduring impact on all those she inspires in the world of dance.

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Sofia Puterbaugh is a graduate of University of Minnesota - Twin Cities with two degrees in Dance (BA) and Human Resources (BS). She is currently earning her Master's in School Counseling, plus her therapy license from DePaul University. Sofia has been teaching dance for eight years, and wants to create students who are passionate, compassionate, and creative. She wants to foster a classroom of love, respect, and driven dancers. Sofia is inspired not only to promote great dancing, but works to develop thoughtful and driven problem solvers and kind human beings! Sofia's choreography credits include many musical theatre productions for the Kenosha Unified School District: West Side Story, Peter Pan, and Alice in Wonderland. She also has taught at a variety of studios in the Midwest in styles of Ballet, Jazz, Musical Theatre, Contemporary, Modern, Lyrical, and Tap. She has appeared in works by Sidra Bell, Michel Kouakou, Carl Flink, and Angharad Davies. She has studied under amazing mentors including: Erin Thompson, Annie Hackett, Valerie Gonzalez and Holly Stanfield. Sofia has had the pleasure of working at a variety of artistic organizations including Art Institute of Chicago, Navy Pier, Joffrey Ballet.

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, on scholarship 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 certified in PBT (Progressing Ballet Technique), which she enjoys bringing to her students, and training selected dancers for the prestigious YAGP (Youth America Grand Prix). She is now a mother of two boys, who love to dance around the house with her and participate in their school showcase each year, directed by their mom. Hilliary is honored to be in her 19th year at Lake Forest Dance Academy and continues to serve as a director of the Lake Forest Dance Academy Performance Companies.