Faculty

Sarah Ford Thompson
Dance Department Head

Originally from Georgetown, Kentucky, Ms. Ford began her dance training at age 8 at the Lexington Ballet under the direction of Karl Kaufman. She went on to earn her B.F.A. in Dance from the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. While studying at CCM, she trained with James Truitte and fell in love with the Horton Technique and modern dance. After relocating to Chicago, Ms. Ford danced for 9 years as a company member with Deeply Rooted Dance Theater and self-produced several dance concerts as Nucleus Dance Collective. Currently, Ms. Ford serves as Associate Artistic Director to Hyde Park School of Dance, Tyego Dance Project and Tyego Next Generation. She is the director of Hyde Park School of Dance’s outreach program for the community and director of the modern dance department. She is delighted to be returning to ChiArts for a second year in the dance department. Ms. Ford is also a certified Kundalini Yoga Instructor, certified group fitness instructor and Clinical Exercise Specialist.

April C. Lewis
Department Admin. Assistant + Dance Injury & Prevention

Originally from the south side of Chicago, IL, Ms. Lewis’ dance education has carried her across the country. Joel Hall Dance Center Chicago, Ballethnic Atlanta, Dance Theatre of Harlem and The Ailey School New York, and many other dance institutions have contributed towards shaping her dance education, skills, and style. After earning a Bachelor of Science in Dance from Wayne State University (Detroit, Michigan), she returned to Chicago where she made guests appearances with several local dance companies. Ms. Lewis also performed and taught with Joel Hall Dancers: Dance is a Language, an outreach company serving communities throughout the greater Chicagoland area. Ms. Lewis has since earned a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology from University of Illinois at Chicago. She is also a Stott Pilates trained instructor at the intermediate level on all apparatus. Ms. Lewis has shared her knowledge of dance and movement sciences with students throughout the city and its surrounding areas for over 10 years.

Emily Barrett
Accompanist
Barry Bennett
Accompanist

Barry Bennett is a drummer, bandleader, and a JEFF nominated maker of theatrical music and sound. By day Barry is a modern dance accompanist. He is an Associate Artist with 16th Street Theater, Chicago Dramatists, Chicago Moving Company, and Winifred Haun and Dancers. Other folks he has composed and designed for include: Cindy Brandle Dance, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens, National Pastime, Asimina Chremos, The Goodman, Emerald City, Breakbone, and Writer’s Theatre. He has no interest in adulthood. He has released two solo albums under his own name, and five albums as part of the group Led MiLkBabY. Barry is the Artistic Director of The Impending Behavior Orchestra, and works with regional bands Black Dot & Grape Juice Plus, as well as Strangers & Saints and Planet Clarie. Listen/Learn/Connect: http://barrybennettsounds.com.

Zineb Chraibi
Graham Technique

A former dancer with the Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theatre, Zineb Chraibi grew up in Casablanca, Morocco where she first started training. She later returned to her native city of Paris to study ballet, modern, and jazz, then to Montreal to pursue her training at Les ballets Jazz De Montreal. In 1991, she completed her BA in Dance Magna Cum Laude at Point Park College in Pittsburgh, PA while performing with the Playhouse Dance Theatre. Since moving to Chicago, Ms. Chraibi has performed with with the Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theatre, Winifred Haun and Dancers as well as with various independent choreographers. She has served on the faculty of the Conservatory of Dance at Barat College, The Chicago Academy for The Arts, The Joel Hall Dance Center and taught at the Lou Conte Dance Studio. She is currently on the faculty at the Dance Center of Columbia College, the Joffrey Ballet and guest teaches in the U.S. and abroad.

Colin DeJong
Music for Dancers + Dance Accompanist

Colin DeJong is a company class pianist at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and accompanies classes at the Lou Conte Dance Studio, the Joffrey Academy of Dance, the Hyde Park School of Dance, and the Interlochen Arts Camp. He has sung with Music of the Baroque and taught music theory at the Merit School of Music. Mr. DeJong earned his MM in Music Theory and BM in Music Composition at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, where he was Associate Instructor in music theory and an accompanist for the university’s pre-college ballet program.

Brandon DiCriscio
Contemporary/Modern C, Musical Theatre Dance Fundamentals + Dance I & III

Mr. DiCriscio, of Wilmington, DE, received his initial training from Anne Marie and Sonny Leo. He then went on to pursue a B.A. in Dance at Point Park University. While in school, he apprenticed with River North Dance Chicago and then became a company member in 2007, dancing with the company for four seasons. Brandon has worked with choreographers including Robert Battle, Sidra Bell, Frank Chaves, Ron De Jesus, Shannon Gillen, Gustavo Ramierz Zanzano, Lauri Stallings, Doug Varone, Edgar Zendejas, and Sherry Zunker. While at Springboard Danse Montreal, he worked with BJM Danse Montreal under the direction of Louis Robitaille. Brandon also has apprenticed with Luna Negra Dance Theater. His true passion is for dance-making. In 2011, he won the Dance Chance Redux competition sponsored by DanceWorks Chicago and the Ruth Page Center for hte Arts. In 2012, he created two works on the Big Muddy Dance Company of St. Louis. Currently Brandon trains aspiring dance professional at ChiArts, as well as the North Shore School of Dance. Additional Chicago Concert dance commissions include Nomi Dance Company, DanceWorks Chicago, Inside Chicago Dance, and LEVELdance. Brandon is currently Rehearsal Director, Choreographer, and collaborating artist at LEVELdance.

Maliwan Diemer
Ballet Technique F, Cardio Conditioning for Dancers + Professional Development II

Maliwan Diemer began her dance training in Columbus, Ohio at the age of three. She continued her studies with RAD certified teacher, Ng Siew Fong, while her family lived abroad. Ballet became her passion and by the age of thirteen she had been invited to study and perform with Indiana University’s Ballet Theater, where she trained with Violette Verdy, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, Patricia McBride, Jacques and Virginia Cesbron, Leslie Peck and Doricha Sales, along with notable guest choreographers and directors. A long time instructor for Indiana University’s Pre-College Ballet Program, Ms. Diemer also spent a year as Associate Instructor for the African American Dance Company under the direction of Iris Rosa. She is now on faculty at the Lou Conte Dance Studio, serves as faculty member and Performance Project Director for Chicago Ballet Arts, teaches for Hubbard Street’s Youth Dance Program,0 and is a guest teacher for Empower Dance Company. Ms. Diemer has also worked with the University of Chicago’s UBallet and has taught company class for DanceWorks Chicago. She has been a part of the dance faculty at ChiArts since 2011. Ms. Diemer currently competes as a professional ballroom dancer, specializing in American Smooth. She has won Professional Rising Star and Open events in International and American styles. Ms. Diemer holds a M.A. in Arts Administration and a B.S.O.F. in Ballet and Political Science, magna cum laude, both from Indiana University.

Randall Fleer
Accompanist
Robert Garrett
Accompanist
Julia Hinojosa
Spanish Dance

Of Mexican-Puerto Rican descent, Julia Hinojosa is a native of Chicago and a Company Dancer/Rehearsal Assistant at Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater. She began her Spanish dance studies with Dame Libby Komaiko in the fall of 2000 and has since studied with renowned teachers and choreographers including Irma Suarez Ruiz, Jorge Pérez, Ana González, Juan Mata, Ron de Jesus, Edo, Timo Lozano, Celia Fonta, Manolete, Vida Peral, Inmaculada Ortega, Miguel Cañas, Omayra Amaya, Carmela Greco, Raquel Gomez, Paloma Gomez and Christian Lozano. She has also studied Ballet and Modern dance with Ana Czajun, Rachel Burton, Jim Morrow, Ana Levin, and Dr. Venetia Stifler of the Northeastern Illinois University’s dance program, to which she received a Dance Talent scholarship. In May 2011, Julia graduated from Colombia College, Chicago with a Master’s Degree in Arts Management. In addition to her work as a dancer, Julia is currently working with the Ensemble Español as their Arts Education Program Coordinator and Associate Artistic Director of the Ensemble Español Youth Company. She teaches in several schools and studios throughout the Chicago land area and is an instructor with the NEIU Preparatory Dance program and on the faculty of the Ensemble Español’s community dance program and in-school residency program.

Mike Przygoda
Music for Dancers + Dance Accompanist

Mike Przygoda is a composer and multi-instrumentalist from Chicago who has been at ChiArts since the very beginning. He has written music for film, dance, live theatre, orchestras, jazz and rock bands, commercials, and sometimes just for himself. He also produces records for local bands, has been the touring music director at Second City, and has a Joseph Jefferson Award for Artistic Specialization In Percussion.

Kim Sagami
Ballet

Kim Sagami’s professional background began with American Ballet Theater II, then joined the Joffrey Ballet under the directorship of Robert Joffrey and Gerald Arpino and completed her career with the National Tour of ‘Phantom of the Opera’. With the Joffrey Ballet for fourteen years, Ms. Sagami participated in many significant historical dance restorations, revivals, as well as newly commissioned works by a wide range of choreographers such as Ashton, Arpino, Cranko, Kudelka, King, Nijinsky, Nijinska, Massine, Tudor, Taylor, Dean, Moulton, Pucci, Kylian, Morris, Sander, Joffrey, and Balanchine. Presently, Ms. Sagami teaches at ChiArts, the Joffrey Academy, and Chicago Ballet Arts. During the summer months, she conducts master classes and teaches at Interlochen Center for the Arts and Fort Wayne Ballet. Ms. Sagami also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago. She maintains time between both architecture and dance.

Kyle Seguin
Ballet Technique C

Kyle Seguin danced with the Alabama Ballet in Birmingham, Alabama, where he performed many principal roles including, Count Albrecht in Giselle, Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, Prince Desire in The Sleeping Beauty, Franz in Coppelia, El Capitan in George Balanchine’s Stars and Stripes, and the title roles in Dracula and Romeo and Juliet. Kyle also worked with Southern DanceWorks, where he danced works by Robert Battle and Teri Weksler. Kyle is a Stott-trained Pilates instructor, an ACE Certified Personal Trainer, holds a BS in Psychology from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, and is currently adjunct faculty at Columbia College Chicago, where he teaches ballet technique, Pilates, Anatomy, and Kinesiology. Kyle is the founder/owner of One Hundred, a Pilates and dance studio in East Lakeview.

Ted Seymour
Pointe II + Ballet Technique B

Ted Seymour was born in Dallas, Texas where he trained at the Dallas Metropolitan Ballet. He moved to Chicago to study with Dan Duell and Patricia Blair as a member of the Ballet Chicago Studio Company. Ted later attended The School of American Ballet where he choreographed two ballets for the school and was invited by Peter Martins to create a new ballet for the New York Choreographic Institute. After leaving SAB, he joined Cedar Lake Contemporary dance Company. Ted joined Suzanne Farrell Ballet in 2007 where he has danced featured roles in Balanchine’s Episodes, La Valse, and the Act II pas de deux from A Midsummer Night’s Dream among others.

Anna Shuba
Accompanist
Nicole Taylor Steward
Body Conditioning

Nicky Taylor Steward is a graduate of the Chicago Academy for the Arts. She continued her studies with Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theater, Chicago Multi Cultural Dance Center, Deeply Rooted Productions and Lisa Johnson-Willingham. She has danced professionally with Bryant Ballet, Randy Duncan, The Joel Hall Dancers and Dallas Black Dance Theater. Ms. Chronopoulos has most recently danced with the Willingham Project, where she also served as rehearsal director and was a part of the creative process behind “A Bronzeville Nutcracker”. She was invited in January 2011 to become the Artistic Director of AileyCamp Chicago, where she worked as the Administrative Director for the past 7 years. In addition to her professional dance career, Ms. Taylor Steward is a graduate of The Chicago School of Massage Therapy, a certified Gyrotonic® and Gyrokinesis® Instructor, as well as a Level I Gyrotonic® Pre Tainer. Having twice completed the McEntire Pilates Comprehensive Professional Track, she was invited by Trent McEntire to become a Master Teacher in the fall of 2009. It is this combined experience and love of teaching dance and movement that she brings to her students at ChiArts.

Teanna Zarro
Ballet Technique C

Teanna Zarro was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and received her early ballet training with Meredith Baylis. She continued her training with The Pennsylvania Ballet School, as well as studying on a full scholarship with The Joffrey Ballet School. At the age of seventeen Ms. Zarro moved to New York to join The Joffrey Ballet II, and also performed as an apprentice with The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago. In 1999, Ms. Zarro was invited to join The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago, under the direction of Gerald Arpino. With The Joffrey, Ms. Zarro performed ballets by renowned choreographers such as Gerald Arpino, George Balanchine, Leonard Massine, Agnes de Mille, Vaslav Nijinsky, Frederick Ashton and Martha Graham. Currently, Teanna is enjoying a career as freelance artist and ballet teacher. She has performed featured roles with Ballet New York, The Los Angeles Ballet, Civic Ballet of Chicago, The San Diego Opera, The Dallas Opera and The Lyric Opera of Chicago. Principal roles include: Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, the Sugarplum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Medora in Le Corsaire, Swanilda in Coppelia and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet.