Meet The LBP Instructors

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Elizabeth Johnson
Artistic Director

Elizabeth Johnson started training at LBP as a 4 year old in 1987 under LBP founder Kittie LaPointe.  Throughout her time as a student, Elizabeth trained in Ballet, Pointe, Tap, Jazz, Acro, Pantomime and even a short lived stint in Hip Hop.  Additionally, she has studied dance history and kinesiology through the National Dance Education Organization. She became part of the teaching staff in 1999. She was the Assistant Artistic Director under Ms. Ida for 4 years and became Artistic Director in 2017.  She has danced in, choreographed for, and directed numerous ballets including Swan Lake, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, and Romeo and Juliet.  LBP is such a huge part of Elizabeth’s life and she enjoys sharing her passion of dance with her students.  When not at the studio, Elizabeth is an elementary school teacher and spending time with her family.

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Tatiana Bahena
Instructor: Ballet

Tatiana Bahena is in the Teen leadership program at LBP. She had been dancing here since she was three years old and is a current member of the Living by preforming dance company. Tatiana takes many styles of dance such as Ballet, pointe, jazz, and hip hop. Outside of LBP Tatiana is a senior at Lincoln Park high school. She works with the best buddies program at Lincoln park high school which promotes the importance of understanding and communicating with diverse learners. Over the summer Tatiana was a camp counselor at LPB’s summer camp furthering her connection with students and helping form the next generation of dancers in LBP. 

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Dee Dufree
Instructor: Ballet, La Blast

Dee Durfee has a 45 year connection with LBP.  She came to LBP in 1977. Dee studied classical ballet and modern jazz dance. Meanwhile, she was also in a Ukrainian Folk Dance ensemble which toured all over the US and Canada.  Dee was a Theater arts Dance Performance major at Northern Illinois University. She studied classical ballet and modern dance, mostly Graham technique, and Spanish Dance. After graduation Dee danced in Los Preferidos Spanish Dance company for 3 years and also performed in musicals at Rosary College, Theater on the Lake, Factory Theater and Body Politic. She has been teaching fitness classes at gyms, studios and universities in the Chicagoland area for 27 years. After settling into motherhood, Dee began teaching yoga and Pilates. She also teaches Les Mills Body Pump. After 17 years of juggling motherhood and teaching, Dee has found a way to make it work to come back to her LBP family. She plans on being at LBP until she’s 100. When Dee is not at LBP she is teaching water aerobics somewhere in town. She is also getting her second bachelors degree from Northeastern in communication media and theater. 

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Emily Evans
Instructor: Ballet

Emily is in LBP's Teen Leadership Program as a ballet instructor. She is currently a junior at Francis W. Parker High School. Emily has been dancing at LBP for 11 years. She trains in many forms of dance such as ballet, pointe, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, and hip hop. Emily has performed in many productions in both supporting and lead roles such as Clara, Butterfly, and Jewels. She is also a member of LBPDC, the studio’s competitive dance company, going into her 6th year. Emily has attended different summer intensives throughout the city, including at the Joffrey Ballet. Outside of the studio, Emily worked as a summer camp counselor focusing on early elementary campers furthering her excitement and dedication towards working with kids. She also participates in an advanced vocal ensemble, Grape Jam, as well as her school newspaper, the Parker Weekly. LBP has given Emily her passion for dance, along with the strong sense of community and bond throughout the entire LBP family! 

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Diana Farfan
Instructor: Ballet

Diana started dancing at LBP at 9 years old. She took classes in Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, and Hip-hop throughout the 9 years that she took classes at the studio. She was also a member of the Living By Performing Dance Company and a teacher's assistant during her time at LBP. In college she became a member of her school's competitive dance team and choreographed various routines during the 4 years. After college she continued her passion for dance by teaching at Brookfield Center for the Arts in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She taught at this studio for 3 years in various styles including Ballet, Jazz, Hip-hop, Tap and Poms. During her time here she also coached 5 performance and competitive teams ranging from the ages of 2-17. Diana has recently moved back to Chicago and could not wait to start teaching where she fell in love with dance. 

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Stephanie Farfan
Instructor: Hip Hop

Stefanie Farfan began dancing at Le Ballet Petit School of Dance at the age of 8. She trained in Jazz, Hip-Hop, and Lyrical. Stefanie was a member of Living by Performing Dance Company. She graduated from Columbia College Chicago and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Illustration. Stefanie creates portrait illustrations and editorial illustrations. Stefanie took Modern and Jazz classes while attending Columbia. She was also a member of Columbia’s Poms Dance Team for 2 years and a member of Columbia’s Hip-Hop Dance Crew for 3 years. Stefanie is now a member of Hip-Hop ConnXion Primo at UIC.

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Katie Frendries
Instructor: Tap

Katie has been teaching tap at LBP since 2013, having also taught jazz and acro at the studio.  She began tap dancing when she was six years old, and her love for the style has only grown since then.  In 2010, she received a BFA in Classical Civilization from Loyola University Chicago, where she performed with and choreographed for the L2 Tap Club.  She has studied with Mark Yonally of Chicago Tap Theatre and is currently training as an intensive student at the School of Aerial Dance Chicago.  Sharing her passion and the fun of tap dancing is just as important to Katie as properly instructing students on the nuances of this musical, rhythmic dance form.

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Allison Grabarczyk
Instructor: Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical

Allison Grabarczyk originally hails from Toledo, Ohio where she began dancing at the age of three. She graduated with a B.S. in Dance Performance from Illinois State University, eventually realizing her dreams to share her love of dance not only as a performer but an arts educator. She teaches with multiple programs and facilities in the Chicagoland area and is the co-founder of The Orchid Theory, a newly formed wellness and empowerment based community program. She is currently in her sixth season with the company and third season as a director with Innervation Dance Cooperative, who are artists in residence with Links Hall in Chicago. Allison’s most recent company credits include: Body Movin Dance, IDC S.P.E.A.K.S, and The Monocle Eclectic Dance Company. She has most recently performed original works at The Emergence Choreographer's Showcase, RADFest, and Dance Chicago along with her works with IDC.

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Laura Johnston
Instructor: Yoga

Laura took her first yoga class over 20 years ago and has been practicing ever since. She has a passion for helping her students feel better after her vinyasa-style flow class than they did before it, both mentally and physically. Laura completed her official yoga teacher training at Yogaview Chicago and since has all received additional certifications for prenatal and family/kids yoga, too. She got her start as an instructor teaching yoga to marathoners to help them stay healthy during their rigorous training. She liked that so much that she then moved on to teach regular classes at several local Chicago yoga studios--including workshops for athletes and the occasional yoga weekend retreat. Laura's loved the welcoming LBP community ever since her daughter's very first ballet class over six years ago. She's honored to be a part of the community as both an LBP dance mom and now, as the studio's resident yogi. 

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Olivia Karenas
LBPDC Coach & Instructor: Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Lyrical

Olivia Karenas grew up dancing at Le Ballet Petit School of Dance for 10 years. She attended several summer intensives including at the Joffrey Ballet and Ballet Chicago. She worked for Universal Dance Association where she taught and judged dance competitions for high school dance teams. Olivia also worked for the American Ballet Theatre Summer Intensive in Austin, TX where she was able to take classes as well as mentor and supervise young dancers attending. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing and International Business with a minor in French at Grand Valley State University. She was the president of Momentum, a student-led dance organization at Grand Valley during her senior year of college and was the recipient of the Kenneway Love of Dance scholarship. Olivia can not wait to be back at LBP where her love of dance first started!

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Cori Kolasinski
Instructor: Ballet, Pointe

Cori Kolasinski began taking ballet classes at the age of four, and from that moment has loved dance ever since. Her ballet training continues today at various dance studios around the city including the Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of the Joffrey Ballet. She has gone on to expand her dance repertoire in other styles by taking classes in Tap, Pointe, Jazz, Flamenco, Musical Theatre, Hip Hop, Modern, and Ballroom. Even though Cori has studied many different styles of dance under a variety of respected instructors, she has always been drawn to the elegance of ballet.

 

Since 2004, Cori has been a part of the Le Ballet Petit teaching staff and continually discovers that children’s dance education is always an incredibly rewarding experience for both the instructor and the student. When not at the dance studio, Cori loves being swept away by watching the magic of old movie musicals and new stage productions!

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Shawn Lent
Instructor: Acro

Shawn Lent moves this world as a manager and social practice artist, with experience from a field in Bosnia to a children’s hospital in revolutionary Egypt. Shawn has been teaching dance and acro/tumbling for more than 29 years and currently serves as the Programs and Communications Director for Chicago Dancemakers Forum, an arts writer and consultant nationally, and project lead for Dance Peace, which is an integration initiative for refugee children in Chicago. Shawn is a U.S. Fulbright Scholar (2012-2013) and United Nations Alliance of Civilizations International Fellow (2010). She holds a Masters in Arts Management from Columbia College Chicago, as well as a Post-Graduate Certificate in Youth Arts Development from Goldsmith’s College in the UK and certification from Youth Protection Advocates in Dance.

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Corrine Loren
Instructor: Tap

Corrine grew up in a very musical household; so it was no surprise to her family when she expressed an interest in dance. She took her very first dance class right here at Le Ballet Petit when she was about 7 years old. She began with tap and ballet, and progressed through the years with pointe and musical theater, but later decided to focus on her one true passion; making music with her feet. Corrine was part of the LBP teaching staff for 5 years and is excited to return to the studio after a two year hiatus. She has some new techniques under her belt and is excited to add a bit of tap history into her curriculum. She believes It's important to honor the many great legends who came before us and paved the way for tap dancers today.  See you on the wood! Tap=Love.

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Robin Mark
Instructor: Contemporary

​Robin Mark danced at LBP from when she was 4 years old until she graduated high school, participating in all of the ballet productions as well as being on the dance team. She just graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with Bachelors degrees in Statistics and Economics. Throughout her college years, she remained involved in dance by joining a student-run dance team that did performances at various events and a had big showcase at the end of each year. Being on this dance team was a wonderful way for Robin to continue this passion of hers and also explore her creative side by choreographing dances for the team. She choreographed many large groups, small groups, and solos, in both contemporary and jazz styles. She has learned and grown so much by choreographing on dancers with all different backgrounds and she cannot wait to share her knowledge with the LBP dancers!

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Katie Milne
LBPDC Director

Katie Milne began her training at Le Ballet Petit at the age of four, under the direction Ms. Ida Velez. She has trained in Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Modern, Hip Hop and Tap both at LBP as well as at other studios throughout the Chicagoland area. She joined the LBP teaching staff in 2004. While not at the studio, Katie is the head paralegal at Anthony J. Madonia & Associates, Ltd. and loves using the life lessons she has learned from dance in her everyday life.

 

Katie is the founding director of LBP’s competitive team, Living By Performing Dance Company. She founded the team in 2008 with Amada Coren (Fox). Throughout her time as team director, her choreography has led the team to four national victories, numerous choreography awards and several regional victories. She hopes to share her LBP experience with her students so they may have the same fond memories of the LBP family as she does.

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Sarah O'Keeffe
Instructor: Ballet, Pointe

Sarah O'Keeffe is originally from Boulder, Colorado where she began her dance training with Reverence Academy of Dance. Sarah continued her training at the University of Kansas where she earned her BFA degree in Dance. While at KU Sarah was honored to perform works by Melissa Thodos, Regina Klenjoski, Lane Gifford, David Justin, Talia Beck, and Autumn Eckman. During her time at KU Sarah was appointed president of the University Dance Company as well as being honored with the Lee Family scholarship, the Kick-start award, and the Elizabeth Sherbon Award for Dance. Since moving to Chicago Sarah has worked as a performing apprentice with Inaside Dance Chicago and is currently a company dancer for Trifecta Dance Collective. When not dancing herself Sarah loves sharing her passion for dance with her students around Chicagoland. 

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Allison Phalen
Instructor: Ballet

Allison Phalen began dancing at LBP at the age of 5, training in ballet, pointe, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, and hip hop. She was one of the original members of the Living By Performing Dance Company, dancing with the team for six years, and has had the privilege of dancing various principal roles in LBP’s Nutcracker and spring ballets. In college, Allison continued her dance training at LBP, while also dancing throughout Chicago with the Lucid Banter Project. She began teaching at the studio in 2016, where her love for teaching and working with youth blossomed, and is currently studying to get her Master’s degree in Science Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Allison loves to share her passions with her students and can’t wait to see what they will accomplish this year!

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Maria Politis Stuart
LBPDC Coach & Instructor: Hip Hop

Maria started her dance training at the age of 4 at the Le Ballet Petit School of Dance. She began with ballet then quickly added jazz, acrobatics, pointe and hip hop to her regimen. She became a Le Ballet Petit staff member at the age of 16 under the direction and guidance of Ida Velez. She has taught and choreographed at the Le Ballet Petit School of Dance since the year 2000. Deciding to pursue her dance training and teaching, she has studied and has taken various dance classes with Ballet Chicago, Non-stop Dance Productions, Rast Ballet & Dance Studio, Joel Hall, and Visceral Dance Center. Continuing her education, Maria has included completing 3 years of dance training and education at Columbia College of Chicago. Having found a strong passion for choreography, she has also choreographed numerous ballet, jazz, and hip hop segments for recitals, private parties and dance teams across Chicago. For the last 6 years she has featured her themed hip hop productions for Le Ballet Petit's June show and The Wilmette Park District for Dance. She currently resides at the Le Ballet Petit School of Dance, where she teaches hip hop and choreographs dances for shows and the Living By Performing dance team. Maria is dedicated to ensure quality training to students of all ages.

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Lawrence Powell Jr.
Instructor: Hip Hop, Ballet, Latin

Lawrence is a dancer, teacher, and choreographer from Chicago. Since 2009, he has trained in various genres of dance, including ballet, hip-hop, contemporary, tap, modern, African, jazz, and Latin. His favorite moments of his dance journey so far have been attending ChiArts, studying under Homer Bryant, performing in St.Thomas, dancing with The Happiness Club, dancing for Nick Cave, guest choreographing for Ballet Chicago, freelance dancing for artists and productions such as The Nutcracker, and competing in dance battles. Additionally to being an Eagle Scout, he’s a photographer, videographer, music producer, Youth American Grand Prix semi-finalist, and founder of The Kinetic Collective. His philosophy behind dance is that no matter who you are or where you come from, as long as you have the heart to dance, YOU CAN DANCE!

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Daisy Rueda
Instructor: Ballet

Daisy was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, and received her early dance training at Le Ballet Petit School of Dance. Through her time there she joined their competitive dance team, Living By Performing Dance Company. She received her BFA in Dance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2019, where she has received the Dance Project Award for Summer Study. She also was part of the Mark Morris Dance Group Shadow Program, awarded the opportunity to attend the MMDG Summer Intensive in 2017 and 2018. Through her undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois, she has trained under Jennifer Monson, Linda Lehovec, Abby Zbikowski and Endalyn Taylor. Daisy has received her 200 Hour Teaching certification for Yoga under Linda Lehovec. She has a passion for dance documentation and spent her undergraduate time filming and editing major dance performances for Dance at Illinois dance program. Daisy specializes in modern, ballet, improvisation, hip-hop, jazz, contemporary, and lyrical. Coming back to Chicago, she has interned and currently works as a Teaching Artist/Assistant for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago Community Program. She is happy to be back at Le Ballet Petit, where her passion for dance first started! 

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Mary Shea
Instructor: Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop

Mary Shea is in LBP's Teen Leadership Program and is a currently a high school junior at Saint Ignatius College Prep. Mary grew up at LBP and has danced at the studio for 14 years. She trains in all forms of dance including ballet, jazz, lyrical, hip hop and contemporary. Mary has performed in supporting and lead roles including Clara, Butterfly, Candy Cane and Jewels. In addition to her studio training, Mary is starting her 7th year as a member of LBPDC, LBP’s competitive dance company. In 2020 Mary was recognized as one of Rainbow Dance Competitions senior top five national title winners and in 2022 she received the reginal title in the senior intermediate division at Imagine Dance Competition. Mary has attended summer intensives in both Chicago and New York. Outside of the studio, Mary is actively involved in school activities including Orchesis, Cheer and volunteering. Mary loves the LBP community and considers it her family.

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Jane Smith
Instructor: Ballet

 

Jane is in LBP's Teen Leadership Program as a ballet instructor. She is currently a junior at Lincoln Park High School. Jane has been dancing at LBP since the age of 3. She is trained in Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Hip-Hop, Lyrical and Contemporary. In addition to her many years of training at LBP, Jane has attended summer training at Joffrey Ballet.  She is a member of Living by Performing Dance Company where she has been recognized and awarded for her solo performances, including Solo Dancer of the Year and First Place National Champion. She is also a member of Lincoln Park High School Competitive Dance and Poms Team where she choreographed and danced in various routines including the 2022 Chicago Public School Championship First Place performance. Jane enjoys working with children and hopes to use her experiences as a Chicago Park District Camp Counselor and as a teacher’s assistant at LBP to cultivate a love of dance in the next generation of LBP dancers.