STAFF

Abigail

Instructor: Tap

Miss Abby grew up in Columbus, Ohio where she began dancing at 3 years old. She came to Chicago to earn BAs in Dance and Political Science at Loyola University, where she trained in ballet, pointe, jazz, Graham, Humphry, and contemporary concert dance. Staying in Chicago post grad to pursue a career in dance performance, Miss Abby has had opportunities to train with The Cambrians and the Martha Graham Company, perform in various choreographic showcases locally, and teach ballet and tap to young dancers. She is excited to join the Le Petit Ballet faculty and spread her love for tap dancing to new students!

Allison

Instructor: Ballet, Lyrical, and Contemporary

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.

Cori

Instructor: Ballet

Cori Kolasinski began taking ballet classes at the age of four, and from that moment has loved dance ever since. A year later, she attended Le Ballet Petit’s performance of Coppélia and knew immediately the stage was her aspiration. Fulfilling her desire, she performed the principal roles in LBP’s Cinderella, Swan Lake, Coppélia, and The Nutcracker. For nine years, her ballet training was further advanced by studying under Willy and Evie Shives, Patti Eylar and artistic director Daniel Duell at the School of Ballet Chicago, for two years at the Betsy Herskind School of Dance, and continuing 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 with the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Matt Crowle, and Mark Yonally, Pointe, Jazz, Flamenco, Musical Theatre, Hip Hop, Modern, and Ballroom. She had the extraordinary opportunity of being accepted into Maggie Daley’s After School Matters Gallery 37 Dance Ensemble Program for five consecutive summers, some of the best of her life. She also earned a scholarship with the dance company Jump Rhythm Jazz Project, studying under artistic director Billy Siegenfeld, who originated the distinctive style of Jump Rhythm® Technique. 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 her second home, the dance studio, Cori loves being swept away by watching the magic of old movie musicals and new stage productions!

Elizabeth

Artistic Director and Instructor: Ballet

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.

Ella

Instructor: Ballet and Hip Hop

Ella has been dancing at LBP since the age of three. She studies ballet, pointe, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, pas de duex, pom dance, and lyrical. She also danced for Lane Tech's dance team for the past two years, helping them get to state, and breaking their seven year drought. Next fall Ella will be attending Purdue University where she will study Environmental Health Science. Outside of dance, Ella likes to hangout with my friends, garden, watch TV shows with her sister, and try to have as much fun as possible. 

Giulianna

Instructor: Ballet

Ms. Giulianna been dancing at LBP for twelve years and a teacher since 2014. At LBP she studied ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, hip hop, and lyrical. Also, Ms. Giulianna was apart of the LBPDC for six years. She currently teaches ballet to our younger students. Ms. Giulianna is currently a senior at the University of Illinois at Chicago, pursuing a B.S in Kinesiology. Once she graduates, she plans on going to medical school to further her education. Outside of LBP, she is an active member in the Latinx community by working with UI health to teach high school students about anatomy and illnesses prominent in the brown and black communities. She also is doing research with Dr. Kanan on the prevention of Alzheimer’s.

Ida

Instructor: Ballet

Ida Velez was born in Puerto Rico, raised in Chicago, started dancing as a child with Elizabeth Fisher.
A graduate of Loyola University, she returned to dance as an adult with Kittie LaPointe (ballet and pointe), Evelyn Lare (tap). and Bobbie Berman (jazz). She danced with La Preferidas Spanish Dance Company for 10 years, including 2 years with the Urban Gateways program. Ms, Velez has been LBP for 42 years. During that time she has been a student, teacher, choreographer, assistant director and director. She has staged productions of The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Coppelia, Gaite Parisian and Stars and Stripes.

Jill

Instructor: Ballet

Jill started dancing at LBP at the age of three, along with her two older sisters. She was a member of the living by performing dance company for 5 years and has continued to compete with her high school poms team. Jill has trained in ballet, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, and pas de deux, but the ballet productions will always be her favorite. She has participated in almost every nutcracker and spring production and loves the unique and fun experiences that comes from the shows.

 

Jill is also a competitive figure skater, loves to bake, and enjoys spending time with family and friends!

 

John

Instructor: Pre-Combo Jazz and Tap

John began dancing at LBP when he was three years old, following in the footsteps of his sister. In 7th grade he joined the Living By Performing competition team, which he fell in love with and continued through his Senior year of High School. During his Junior year, John taught his first class at LBP and was introduced to the joys of instructing. That same year he organized and taught a weekly, half-hour contemporary dance class at Ray Elementary school where he had volunteered his Sophomore year. During the summer before Junior year, John participated in a three week summer intensive at the Joffrey where he danced alongside students from across the country and learned a great deal. He is excited to be spending his Senior year at LBP as a student and a teacher!

Katie

LBPDC Director and Instructor: Jazz

Katie Byrd 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 was Co-Captain of Resurrection High School’s Orchesis and is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago. 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 three 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.

Katie

Instructor: Tap and Musical Theater

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.

 

Maria

LBPDC Coach and 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. Maria is also a former staff member of The Wilmette Park District for Dance, Karisma Dance, and Panda Dance Studios. 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 developed and enhanced through her rigorous schooling, she has also been featured in multiple recitals, production shows and full length ballet productions from 1988-2017. Her list of achievements include Le Ballet Petit's June shows, The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, Jazz Productions, and Hip hop Productions. From 2009-2012 under the direction of Katie Byrd, Maria was a company member of Living By Performing Dance Team, competing in solos, duets and group pieces. 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.

Olivia

LBPDC Coach and Instructor: Ballet, Lyrical, Jazz

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!

Sarah

Instructor: Ballet and 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. Sarah is excited for her first year teaching at Le Ballet Petit.

Sarah

Instructor: Ballet and Yoga

Over her 25 years of teaching, Ms. Sarah has developed a pedagogy and curriculum that highlights student strength; in their technique, in their confidence and in their passions.    Her educational background is in dance; including k-12 education, studio techniques, dance history, kinesiology.  Ms. Sarah is also a certified yoga teacher.  Besides teaching, Ms. Sarah's work experience includes various professional performance and choreographic events and arts management.  Currently Ms. Sarah is the art department lead at Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz high school as well as the artistic director for the Luna Troop.  Ms. Sarah has been involved with LBP for over 15 years and has been a member of the teaching staff since 2008.

Shawn

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 25 years and currently serves as the Programs and Communications Director for Chicago Dancemakers Forum, Contributing Editor for The Clyde Fitch Report, and project lead for Dance Peace, which is an integration initiative for refugee children in Chicago. Previously, she was the national coordinator for EducationUSA Egypt with AMIDEAST and U.S. Department of State, U.S. Fulbright Scholar, UN Alliance of Civilizations International Fellow, Commencement Speaker for Millikin University, and panelist/presenter at the Brigham Young University, University of Maryland, Universal Exposition Milan, Hope College, and TEDx Shibin El Kom. In 2013, her blog post Am I a Dancer Who Gave Up? went viral. Shawn holds a Masters in Arts Management from Columbia College Chicago, where she served as the Arts Integration Program Specialist for six years, as well as a Post-Graduate Certificate in Youth Arts Development from Goldsmith’s College.

Sydney

Instructor: Hip Hop

Sydney is a 17 year old senior in high school who has been dancing at LBP since she was in kindergarten. At LBP she studies ballet, pointe, contemporary, hip hop, jazz, and pa de duex. Sydney also dances in a dance company at her school where she is the co-chair of the costume committee. Outside of dance Sydney loves to hang out with her friends, binge watch Netflix with her mom, workout, and play with her dog. Sydney is planning on becoming a premed major in college next year.

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