Faculty

Ackerman, Madeline
Ballet

Maddie Ackerman has worked at the Academy as a demonstrator for many years, and since she has been in college working on her degree in Elementary Education, she has been a substitute teacher for many of the Saturday classes. She has also worked in our preschool program as an aide. Maddie spent many years in our advanced ballet and jazz classes, and performed lead roles in major historical works.

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Rothengass, Patricia
Ballet

Patricia Rothengass studied early childhood at Triton College and early childhood and theatre at Mundelein/Loyola University. Patricia came to the Academy in the summer of 1985 to study dance and began aiding in the Kinder A.R.T.S. program. She has worked as a floating aide, physical fitness aide, Montessori aide, music aide, and one summer as the Downstairs art teacher. She has demonstrated for many ballet classes and spent two years as an aide for a student with cerebral palsy. Patricia joined MOMENTA in 1986 and has been in many reconstructions of Doris Humphrey and Ruth St. Denis dances. She is now involved in passing some of those dances on to the younger members of MOMENTA and watching her daughters perform, and sometimes even performing with them. Her daughters, Rachel (22), and Madeline (18) have grown up here at the Academy. Patricia loves being part of the Academy family.

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Brand, Laura
Ballet

Laura Brand has performed extensively in classical and modern concert dance companies as well as in musical theater, commercial and industrial shows. Her concert work includes performances with the Chicago Ballet Theater, MOMENTA, The Beverly Dance Ensemble, The Polish Opera Company, the Lyric Opera Company of Chicago, The David Puszh Company, the Ukrainian Folk Dancers and in the Tribune Charities production of Ruth Page’s Nutcracker. She has also been in the PBS television production of Page’s Die Fledermaus and conducted workshops for dance teachers. She was a judge at the Dance Olympus competition. Laura has studied with Loretto Rozak, Larry Long, Richard Arve and Lou Conte. She currently works at a number of Chicago area schools including the Academy of Movement and Music.

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Chen, Mei Kung
Ballet, Modern

Born and raised in Taiwan, Mei-Kuang Chen received her early dance training in Chinese classical dance and folk dance as well as Ballet and Modern dance. Seeking further dance education, Ms. Chen has since received her BFA from Ohio State University and her MFA from UIUC in 1999. Ms. Chen joined Hedwig Dances in Chicago from 1999-2007 and later became an artistic associate. In 2003 Ms. Chen received the prestigious Ruth Page Dance Award from the Chicago Dance Coalition. Ms. Chen also taught Mandarin Chinese at Proviso Math and Science Academy from 2007-2010. Currently on the dance faculty at Loyola University and The Academy of Movement and Music, Ms. Chen is truly grateful for the good fortune to be surrounded by so many wonderful colleagues and students. Performing with MOMENTA is the cream on the top!!

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* Clemens, Stephanie
Director of the Academy of Movement & Music

Stephanie Clemens “founded” the Academy in 1971 in her Oak Park living room when she rolled up the rug and began giving dance lessons to neighborhood children. Since that time the Academy has grown into a real village Institution, home to approximately 900 students: 150 families in the A.R.T.S. preschool program, the rest in dance and music classes. Stephanie studied dance at Juilliard and took a B.A. in Physical Anthropology at U.C.L.A. where she did research on the evolution of the human locomotor system. Stephanie spends her time at the Academy teaching in the dance division and has developed the Introduction to Ballet program for preschool age children. She is the Artistic Director of MOMENTA, the Academy’s resident performing company. She has three grown sons, Jason and Justin Prost and JP Tenuta, all of whom have been students at the Academy. Her youngest son teaches ballet at the Academy.

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Deziel, Teresa
Ballet

Teresa Deziel grew up dancing at the Academy of Movement and Music and performing in MOMENTA. Here she had the opportunity to dance in historically famous pieces, star on stage as various character roles, and even travel to Austria to perform in Tanzsommer. Teresa has duel Bachelor of Science degrees in Dance and Art from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as a Bachelor of Art Degree in Advertising Art Direction from Columbia College Chicago. While at UW-Madison she participated in several Dance conferences and even traveled to Brazil, New York, and Vancouver to study, dance, and perform. Teresa can typically be found at the Academy teaching, working in the office, and making costumes and props for performances.

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Fuller, Sarah Cullen
Ballet

Sarah Cullen Fuller began her formal training at the Academy of Movement and Music in Oak Park, Illinois, under the direction of Stephanie Clemens. She continued her studies at the Boston and Joffrey Ballet schools before graduating from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with degrees in dance and psychology. She joined Hubbard Street 2 under the direction of Julie Nakagawa-Bottcher and then was promoted into the main company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, under the artistic leadership of Jim Vincent. Sarah has had the opportunity to dance the works of such leading choreographers as Nacho Duato, Jiri Kylian, William Forsythe, Ohad Naharin, Lar Lubovich, Susan Marshall, Marguerite Donlon, Jim Vincent, Harrison McEldowney and Alex Ketley, among others. During her time with HSDC, Sarah had the privilege of teaching at many University dance programs throughout the country and was able to continue her relationship with both the Lou Conte Dance Studio and the Academy of Movement and Music along the way. Since her retirement, Sarah has returned to teaching at The Academy, is on faculty at the Lou Conte Dance Studio (home of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago), has excitedly joined Loyola University’s Dance Department under the direction of Sandra Kaufmann, teaches a “Dance for Parkinson’s” in collaboration with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Rush University and Medical Center and Fuller Health Group, is co-owner and clinic director of Fuller Health Group LLC, a chiropractic clinic she runs with her husband, Dr. Brian Fuller in the Gold Coast and Lincoln Park. Sarah would like to thank Brian, her parents Bob and Mary, her sister, Laura, and her little man, Levi for their unwavering love and support.

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Gaitan, Ramon
Ballroom

Ramon Gaitan is a Native of Nicaragua. He started his career on stage at the age of 18 at the Academy of Movement and Music.  He graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BFA emphasizing in Dance performance under the direction of Randall Newsom.  Mr. Gaitan has danced with Richmond Ballet, Ballet Theatre of Maryland, Dayton Ballet, Island Moving company, Festival Ballet, Ballet Grand Diva, Lyric Opera, and Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre to name a few. He has worked with Choreographers such as Wayne McGregor, Ron De Jesus, and John Mark Owens at Jacobs Pillow Dance Festival.  He has toured Japan with Ballet Grand Diva and performed in stage productions of Take Me Out with Human Race Theatre Company in Dayton Ohio, as well as Parallel 45  A Street Named Desire. Mr Gaitan has spent the last two years learning and teaching Ballroom dance for Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Dayton, Ohio, and is very excited to be back in the Chicago Area and to be performing where it all started for him, in Oak Park at the Academy of Movement and Music.

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Goodman, Deb
Modern

Deborah Goodman began her dance training at Northern Illinois University. In 1990, she moved to New York to study at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance where she received a full scholarship and took park in the reconstruction of Ms. Graham’s original work, “Prelude to Action” from Sketches from Chronicle, and performed in the reconstruction of Martha Graham’s Panorama. From 1998-2005, Deborah had the great pleasure to work with Yuriko as her assistant and demonstrator. While in New York, she performed with Richard Move, Sandra Kaufmann Dance, Goldhuber & Latsky, Pearl Lang Dance Theater, Colleen Heffernan and Lacy James’ Merriminne dancers, among others. Deborah has served on the faculty of the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, New York University, Long Island University, The Connecticut Conservatory of the Performing Arts and Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts. In 2006, Deborah moved back to Chicago where she dances for MOMENTA. She serves on the faculties of The Chicago Academy for the Arts, Loyola University Chicago and The Academy of Movement and Music, Oak Park.

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Kaufmann, Sandra
Modern

Sandra Kaufmann danced with the Martha Graham Dance Company in New York and served as Artistic Director of the Martha Graham Ensemble. Additionally, she performed with the Pearl Lang Dance Theatre and with Richard Move. Her choreography has been presented in musical and theatrical productions, concert, dance and video throughout the United States. Sandra works as an independent choreographer, as a repetiteur restaging works of Doris Humphrey and Martha Graham, and as a dancer with MOMENTA. She has served on the faculty of Barnard College, New York University, the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, the University of Chicago, The Academy of Movement and Music and is now the Director of Dance at Loyola University Chicago.

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Lenzo, Kris
Physically Integrated Dance

Kris Lenzo has been a national champion in wheelchair basketball and wheelchair track several times. Kris first performed with MOMENTA in March, 2003 in Larry Ippel’s Sharing the Moment. He has taken classes at Axis, performed with Dance>Detour and at the first Chicago Festival for Disability Arts and Culture. He has performed at Dance St. Louis’ Spring to Dance Festival three years in a row, and will be returning this May. He has also participated in Dance Chicago and Duets for My Valentine. Kris is one of the teachers in MOMENTA’s EveryBody Can Dance! workshops for young dancers with and without disabilities

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Loesch, Anne Marie
Modern

Anne Marie Loesch grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina.  There her first job was as an assistant at the local dance studio. Ever since, Anne Marie has been teaching and sharing her love for dance.  She began studying Humphrey-Weidman's modern dance technique under Mary Ann Mee, dancer and demonstrator for Charles Weidman. Katharyn Horne provided her with a solid ballet background in Cecchetti.  It was under these two talented women that she began her professional dance career with Dance Central, Kinetyx Dance Ensemble, and Moving Poets Theatre of Dance.  Since settling in Chicago she has performed with MOMENTA, Joel Hall Dancers, Paul Sanasardo, Zephyr Dance, and various independent artists.  Ms. Loesch has served as the Ballet Mistress for the Joel Hall Second Company and Noumenon Dance Ensemble.  It is with great joy that Anne Marie joins the faculty of the Academy of Movement and Music.

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Sigismondi, Gina
Ballet, Jazz

Gina Sigismondi began her formal dance training in Oak Park at the Academy of Movement and Music.  Gina danced on scholarship for four years at Northern Illinois University, where she earned her B.A. in Dance Performance.  Her professional experience includes dancing for Chicago area independent choreographers Paula Frasz, Kirby Reed, Winifred Haun, Sarita Smith Childs, Sandra Kaufmann, and as a member of Fox River Dance Company, MOMENTA Repertory Ensemble, and MOMENTA.  She has taught ballet, jazz, modern, creative movement and physical fitness. Gina is currently teaching students ranging in age from pre-school to adult at the Academy of Movement and Music. She continues to perform and choreograph for MOMENTA and MOMENTA Repertory Ensemble.

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TeDesco, Caroline
Ballet, Jazz, Tap

Caroline TeDesco began her training at the Academy of Movement and Music at the age of four. She was a member of MOMENTA’s junior company for ten years and in 2003, accompanied them to Austria to dance in the Tanzsommer Festival. She continued her training at Lou Conte Dance Studio, the Milwaukee Ballet School and River North Chicago. Caroline is a graduate of Point Park University’s Conservatory of Performing Arts, where she studied on scholarship as a jazz dance major. She has had the opportunity to work with many nationally known choreographers and dancers including Ron Tassone, Doug Bentz, Ron Hutson, Nicolas Petrov, Ron DeJesus, Sarah Cullen Fuller, Leslie Main, and Jim May. She has also had the honor to perform with the Pittsburgh Playhouse Dance Company, MOMENTA and MRE. She has choreographed at Point Park University, OPRF Orchesis and MOMENTA. Caroline has taught at the Dance Center of LaGrange and currently teaches Jazz, Ballet and Tap at the Academy of Movement and Music. Caroline also teaches in the Academy A.R.T.S. Preschool Program. In 2010 Caroline was honored to receive the Orrin Kayan Memorial Award for excellence in teaching and choreography.

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Tenuta, JP
Ballet

JP Tenuta grew up dancing at the Academy of Movement and Music and with MOMENTA. He completed his BFA in Dance at Northern Illinois University in 1999, where he studied with Randall Newsom and Judith Chitwood. He performed for two years with the Nashville Ballet and two years with Luna Negra. He has also performed in the Chicago area with Lyric Opera, The Civic Ballet, Von Heidecke’s Chicago Festival Ballet and with the Salt Creek Ballet. He continues to perform and choreograph for MOMENTA and toured Austria with them in 2003 and 2010. He has taught in a number of Chicago area schools and is a regular faculty member at the Academy of Movement and Music; he has also taught on the Dance Masters circuit and recently served as assistant director for MOMENTA as it toured for Tanzsommer International in Austria.

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Wollrab, Julia
Ballet

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