Faculty

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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*Dolgallo, Valery
Ballet Master

Valery Dolgallo is a graduate of the Vaganova Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia – the training school of the great Kirov Ballet (formerly the Maryinsky), which premiered many of the great classical ballets of the last century. The school has recently been named the Academy of Russian Dance; Valery taught ballet technique and pas de deux there from 1971-1979, and later became first soloist and then director of the Maly State Opera Ballet, with whom he toured internationally. Valery has performed many of the great classics including Albrecht in Giselle, Konrad in Corsaire, Andre in Sylvia, the prince in Sleeping Beauty and classics for both the school’s recitals and for MOMENTA, including the full length Sleeping Beauty, two acts of La Bayadere, Harlequinade, Les Sylphides, Paquita, Giselle – Act II, Aurora’s Wedding, Le Spectre de la Rose, Don Quixote, Coppelia, and Pas de Quatre. He has choreographed and created three full-length original ballets for MOMENTA ~ Baba Yaga in 1996, Seven Beauties in 1999, The Clever Little Horse in 2001 and Doctor Ouch I. Hurt in 2003. Still active as a performer, Valery has been seen here as Hilarion in Giselle, Baba Yaga and Puss in Boots in Sleeping Beauty - and with Salt Creek Ballet as Drosselmeyer in The Nutcracker and the Witch Madge in La Sylphide.

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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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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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Ippel, Larry
Physically Integrated Dance

Larry Ippel, a native of Chicago, has been performing, teaching and choreographing in Chicago over thirty years. He completed his B.S. in Comprehensive Art Education at Illinois State University in 1970 and followed it with three years of graduate studies in dance at the California Institute of the Arts. During the early 70’s, Larry performed with the Chicago Contemporary Dance Theatre, and from 1976 to 1983 he toured with the Arve Connection Dance Company. Larry received the first Orrin Kayan Memorial Award for Excellence in Dance Teaching. He is listed in Who’s Who in American Education and was a finalist for the Kohl-McCormick Early Childhood Education Award. Larry has presented his “creative movement approach to problem solving” at the annual conferences of the Chicago and/or DuPage Chapters of the Association for the Education of Young People. Larry’s writings were published in two of their national publications. Larry has been on the faculty of the Academy of Movement and Music since 1975. Larry’s Creative Movement classes have been a part of the Academy’s Arts Readiness Training Preschool since its opening in 1983. Larry has served on the Board of Directors of the Chicago Dance and Music Alliance. In 2001, he was elected to the board of the Doris Humphrey Society. In addition to many contemporary roles, Larry has had the privilege of performing many major roles from classic American modern dances. For example, Larry performed José Limon’s roles in Doris Humphrey’s Day on Earth, Invention and Night Spell, and Ted Shawn’s role from Denishawn’s Ishtar of the Seven Gates. Larry has also performed in Humphrey’s Water Study and With My Red Fires and Charles Weidman’s Brahms Waltzes and Lynchtown. For five years, Larry danced the role of Drosselmeyer in Kenneth Von Heidecke’s Nutcracker.

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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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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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