Our faculty shares a common philosophy: to bring each student the benefits of performing arts training - healthy lifestyles, alert minds, self-discipline, the spirit of team work and a love for the arts.
- JULIE CROSSEN
- KATRINA DELGROSSO
- DAVID FONSECA
- CARiSSA HOLMES
- SHANNON HRITZ
- HANK HUNTER
- EMELIA KOOPSEN
- LOREN LOMASTRO SPECHT
- STEPHANIE MARTINEZ
- ANGELA McNICHOLAS
- ALEXA MEISSNER
- LAUREL REINHART
- AIMEE RUSSON
- JAMIE SALAS
- MEREDITH ANN SEELEY
- TONY SUHADOLNIK
- MINDI UCCETTA
- MARK YONALLY
LOREN LOMASTRO SPECHT (Director) has worked as an instructor and choreographer throughout Illinois and Indiana since 1997. She is a member of the Cecchetti Council of America from which she holds her Associate IV Teaching Certificate, a member of the Chicago National Association of Dance Masters, a graduate of the NFHS Coaches Education Program and a graduate of the American Tap Dance Institute’s Teacher Training and Certification Program, the world’s foremost training program for professional tap dance teachers. During the 2001- 02 season she attended company classes and trained with River North Chicago Dance Company. She has performed at Dance Chicago, Disney’s Magic Kingdom, EPCOT Center, Dance For Dreams, Ela Festival of the Arts and Tango 21 (Ravinia Festival). She has danced in works by renowned choreographers Claire Bataille, Frank Chaves, Jeff Hancock and others. From 2001-08 she was the dance instructor/coach of the Lake Forest H.S. Poms Dance Team leading them to win 4 consecutive State Championships and 2nd place at UDA Nationals. From 2002-07 She was the director of Euphony Tap Ensemble and Prelude Dance Theatre. Since 2008 Loren has choreographed/coached the Loyola Academy Poms Dance Team. Loren has choreographed works for many Chicago area dance companies, CenterStage Theatre and Lake Forest H.S. She has received choreography awards from the Chicago Dance Connection, Dupree Dance and Universal Dance Association. Loren actively serves as Regional Director for the National Dance Week Committee and was a guest faculty member of the National Tap Ensemble's "Spirit of Tap"Conference. In addition to being the director/founder of LoMastro Performing Arts Academy, Loren continues her studies through master classes, seminars and festivals.
JULIE CROSSEN holds an M.A. in Vocal Pedagogy and a B.A. in Theatre Arts. She has performed professionally throughout Chicago and regional theatre, as well as in television and film. As a voice teacher she has worked with ages 7-adult and specializes in preparing performers for a career in the arts. In addition to teaching privately, she has musical directed and accompanied for shows on the professional circuit, university, high school and lower grade level productions. As a singer and musician, she performs with a jazz/pop duo for clubs and private parties. She lives in Highland Park with her children Kaleb and Jadyn.
KATRINA J DELGROSSO grew up dancing at Suzanne’s Dance Connection in Massachusetts. She danced with I Love Dance Company through her teens and performed two full-length floor shows at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. She recently returned to I Love Dance, working with Director Kim McKimmie and other amazing artists, directing dance competitions all over the US. Katrina is a graduate of Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA, with a BA in Dance. She studied under Doug Bentz for three years, learning contemporary movement, ideas and concepts that inspire her everyday as a modern jazz dance artist. She has worked with other well-known artists such as Keisha Lalama-White, Susan Stowe, Ron Tassone, Whitney Moncrief, and Richard Rein. She performed seven original works and two full-length productions with the Playhouse Dance Company while in Pittsburgh. Katrina is was original company dancer and choreographer for Enigmatic Contemporary Dance in Cambridge, MA from 2009-2012. She is a company member of Dance Prism and has been performing with them since 1995. She has been featured in such roles as the Snow Queen in The Nutcracker, Morgana in The Magic of Merlin, the title role in Peter Pan and many others. She has taught up and down the east coast for the past 15 years. Her passion for dance and love for teaching has now carried her all the way to Chicago! She is excited to share her knowledge and experience with such hard working students.
DAVID FONSECA is a co-Artistic Director of the Hip Hop ConnXion HQ professional dance company and regional director of the Hip Hop ConnXion Family which consists of all the HHC branches nationwide. He has been part of the HHC family since 2003 and has established himself as one of the leading dancers and choreographers in Chicago. David has taught master classes and workshops across the country as well as taught and judged events internationally in countries such as Colombia and Norway. He is a representative for the DARE Dance program as well as being named the head choreographer to Aurora East High School dance team. Through the Hip Hop ConnXion David has represented Chicago in the USA Hip Hop Championships and the USA in the World Hip Hop Championships in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, helping to secure gold and silver medals in the USA and World varsity divisions. He has also had the honor of dancing in some of the most prestigious urban dance shows in the country such as Carnival Choreographers Ball, World of Dance, Dance Chicago and THE ONE! David has been featured in both music videos and movies for artists such as Adero and in the feature movie DREAMS as well as opening up for platinum selling recording artist Chris Brown. Through working with many dancers and students around the globe, David is greatly devoted to teaching and inspiring children and adults to become better dancers, entertainers, and individuals.
CARISSA HOLMES, a native of Wauconda, IL, began dancing at the age of four. Trained in Modern, Jazz, Ballet, Pointe, Tap, and Hip Hop, she has studied with many Chicago area instructors and choreographers at various studios including Lou Conte Dance Studio and Joel Hall Dance Center. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance from University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2011. While attending UW-Madison, Cari performed in works choreographed by Kate Corby, Peggy Choy, Karen McShane-Hellenbrand, Li Chiao-Ping, Marlene Skog, Collette Stewart, Jin-Wen Yu, as well as guest artists in residence Kun-Yang Lin and Bill Young. She was awarded the Louise O. Kloepper Scholarship in 2010 and was also awarded the World Dance Alliance and Bates Dance Festival Summer Awards from the UW-Madison Dance Department. Cari was also chosen to represent the UW-Madison Dance Department in the faculty adjudicated solo “Boxher” for the American College Dance Festival Association in Spring 2011. Cari has had the privilege of performing as a member of Terpsichore Dance Ensemble, Prairie Spirits Dance Troupe, TJ & Company Dancers, and Daved Beck’s Evolution: The Next Level. This summer, Cari is proud to be starting a company called the L Theory Collective with two of her colleagues. From 2003-2011, Cari was co-owner and artistic director of a dance studio in Island Lake, Illinois where she taught ballet, jazz, modern, tap, hip hop and lyrical classes. She is also a certified instructor of Li Chiao-Ping's Extreme Moves Training Method. Cari enjoys teaching and choreographing for students of all ages and seeks to provide a more bio-mechanically sound understanding during the students’ learning process in all dance forms.
SHANNON HRITZ a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, began her early dance training at the Laurel Youth Ballet in Greensburg, PA as well as the Johnstown Concert Ballet in Johnstown, PA. In 2002, she furthered her training at BalletMet’s intensive summer program in Columbus, Ohio and then returned to Pittsburgh. Shortly thereafter, Ms. Hritz joined Bodiography Contemporary Ballet in 2002 as an apprentice and was soon promoted to soloist in 2004. That same year she earned her Bachelor of Arts in biology with a minor in psychology, graduating Summa Cum Laude from La Roche College in Pittsburgh, PA. Ms. Hritz finished her last season with Bodiography in 2007. Despite being offered a position with Groundworks Dance Theater, she participated a company apprenticeship with River North Chicago Dance Company in the fall of 2007. In 2008 she joined Cerqua-Rivera Dance Theatre. Ms. Hritz was then offered a position with Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago III where she performed works by Chicago choreographers and Giordano company members. Ms. Hritz danced for 5 seasons with Inaside Chicago Dance from 2009-2013. In addition to teaching dance, Ms. Hritz is a certified Pilates, WERQ, and Pure Barre Instructor.
HANK HUNTER hails from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and has been dancing since he was seven years old. While growing up, he attended programs such as Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School, LINES Ballet Summer Program, Paul Taylor Dance Company Scholarship Intensive, Point Park University’s International Summer Dance, and many conventions and competitions. He graduated with a BFA in dance with a jazz concentration at Point Park University, where he had the privilege of performing pieces by Ohad Naharin, David Parsons, Gerald Arpino, Val Caniparoli, George Balanchine, Darrell Grand Moultrie, Gina Patterson, Kiesha Lalama-White, Doug Bentz, and others. While in the Pittsburgh area, he danced with Texture Contemporary Ballet, under the direction of Alan Obuzor and Kelsey Bartman. He currently resides in Chicago where he dances with River North Dance Chicago.
EMELIA KOOPSEN began her dance and tumbling training at the age of 4 in Kalamazoo, MI with Ballet Arts and Kalamazoo Gymnastics Center. From ages 12-18 she spent most of her time training with the Ballet Arts Ensemble. Ms. Koopsen spent 5 summers at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Twin Lakes, MI; one summer spent touring in Europe and around the Midwest. She had the luxury of studying with the faculty of Western Michigan University while in high school and then continued her training as a student when she attended college at WMU for her first two years. She transferred to Grand Valley State University where she finished her Bachelors of Arts in Dance. Ms. Koopsen trained with The Grand Rapids Ballet Company and performed with The Grand Rapids Dance Project for three years following graduation. Throughout her many years of dancing, she began assisting her mother with pre-ballet classes at Ballet Arts for all of her teen years. For the past 10 years, she has been teaching dancers from 3 years old to adults, and everything from ballet, point, tap, jazz, lyrical, and tumbling. Ms. Koopsen helped develop parent and tot tumbling, movement, and dance classes for The Grand Rapids Parks & Recreation department in Michigan. She also developed the kids and Adult tap program for the community center in Three Rivers, MI. She is USA Gymnastics certified instructor. Ms. Koopsen truly enjoys dancing and teaching- she moved to the Chicago area in August 2011 and looks forward to sharing her love for dance and tumbling for her third year at LoMastro!
STEPHANIE MARTINEZ has performed with numerous Chicago-based ensembles. These have included Luna Negra Dance Theater, Same Planet Different World, River North Chicago Dance Company, James Kelly Choreography Project, and Concert Dance Inc. She was also a featured dancer for Diana Ross’s appearance in the 2006 World Cup Opening Ceremonies. Stephanie has extensive experience in major industrial and trade shows, and she has made several appearances on PBS and MTV. She is a former Ruth Page Award winner and has studied on scholarship with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, and Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theater. She has also been a principle dancer with the Lyric Opera of Chicago in productions of Manon and The Merry Widow. Currently, Stephanie choreographs works for dance companies locally and around the country.
ANGELA McNICHOLAS, a native of Lake Forest, IL, began her dance training at the age of four and performed competitively with a focus in jazz, tap and ballet. As a four-year member of the Lake Forest H.S. Varsity Dance Team, Angela developed her skills as a pom dancer, giving her the chance to balance her love of dance and competition with school spirit. While on the team, she won six Illinois state championships, and earned individual all-star recognition from the Universal Dance Association. As a captain her senior year, she led the team to a national second place finish, their best to date. After graduating from Lake Forest H.S., Angela attended the University of Michigan graduating with a BA in English. During her college career, she continued to dance on campus and coached for her alma mater, Lake Forest. Angela has choreographed several competitive pom routines for dance teams at Jenks H.S. in Oklahoma, Glenbrook South H.S., Lake Forest H.S. and Loyloa Academy. Since 2009 Angela has been assistant coach for the Loyola Academy Dance Team, choreographer for the Varsity and JV’s camp and pom routines, and also attends practices weekly to build technical jazz and pom skills. Angela is thrilled to be on faculty at LoMastro Performing Arts Academy and continues to pass on her passion for competitive dance.
ALEXA MEISSNER, originally from Media, Pennsylvania, began her dance training at the age of three at Springton Dance Academy. She continued her education throughout high school studying in the Academy of Notre Dame de Namur’s performing arts program. She then began her training at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA under a promising artist scholarship, while she obtained her BFA with honors in Jazz Dance Performance in 2013. While in Philadelphia, she has had the opportunities to perform at the Merriam Theatre, The Performance Garage, The Painted Bride Theatre, and also for the Philadelphia Phillies and 76ers. Alexa also experienced training in various styles of dance while attending regional and national conventions, competitions, and festivals. She has been privileged to work with choreographers such as Brian Sanders, Ronen Koresh, Molly Misgalla, Curt Haworth, Helen Simoneau, Wayne St. David, and Donald Lunsford. In addition, she studied the Forsythe technique while learning reconstructed choreography under the direction of Douglas Becker. She was formerly a dancer under Michael Susten’s direction of the Xhale Dance Company for two years with whom she performed for Philly Fringe Festivals, the Jazz Dance World Congress, Traci Stanfield’s Synthesis Dance Project, and for numerous Koresh Artist Showcases. She also worked under the direction of Teddy Tedholm in his production of Eleven:Eleven. Not only has she shared her passion to perform, but also her passion to teach young dancers at local studios as well as her high school, where her choreography was chosen for the national high school dance festival. Her choreography can also be seen on the University of Vermont’s dance team. Alexa is thrilled to be moving to Chicago to begin dancing for Giordano Dance Chicago and is very privileged to be joining the talented LoMastro dance family. She is excited to continue to further develop and explore her passion in teaching young dancers in this new city!
LAURAL REINHART has a Master Degree in Theatre with a specialty in Children’s Theatre and Creative Dramatics. For over 35 years, Laural has taught theatre classes, directed and performed professionally. Growing up in the Detroit area, Laural performed and had the unique opportunity early on to teach and direct shows thanks to her mentor Mr. Phillip A. Mark. After graduating from college and getting married, Laural continued her work in theatre. She has taught theater classes for all ages from preschoolers to adults, including teaching at the high school and college levels. As Artistic Director of the Carousel Players, Laural toured children’s theatre shows throughout the Chicago Area performing in schools, summer camps, libraries & senior citizen centers. After moving to Cedar Rapids, Laural designed a problem-solving theatre program for 4th graders called the Calliope Project and received an Iowa Arts Council Grant. She also developed a Creative Dramatics program, as well as a Youtheatre Artists program for the Cedar Rapids Public Schools. Both interactive programs brought theatre into the classroom. After moving to Louisville, Kentucky, Laural performed, directed, and was the Education Director for the Story Station Children’s Theatre. She also taught classes for the internationally recognized Stage One Children’s Theatre and developed an educational outreach program for Actors Theatre of Louisville. Laural and her family moved back to Chicago 11 years ago. For 7 years, Laural worked with the Northbrook Theatre where she was a member of their professional children’s theater company, taught drama classes, and directed the Babes on Broadway Summer Workshop program. Besides performing in children’s theatre, she has performed professionally at Theatre at the Center in Munster, IN, the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, the Attic Playhouse, LegalActs and with the n.u.f.a.n. and Chicago Effective Arts Ensembles. Laural lives in Buffalo Grove with her husband Craig and has 2 children—Jennifer, a Veterinarian at the Kansas State University Vet Hospital and David, a Law student at the University of Minnesota.
AIMEE RUSSON began her dancing in Cary, IL at the Dance Academy of Cary then Cary-Grove Performing Arts Center. Aimee has recently graduated from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, UT, receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance. While at Utah she performed with the Performing Dance Company, Panorama with the Martha Graham Dance Company and various other student productions. Her performance experience also includes the Xtreme Dance Force Jazz Division of Naperville, IL and the Schaumburg Dance Ensemble in Schaumburg IL. In addition to performing, Aimee also loves to teach dance; an enthusiasm that began while teaching at the Cary-Grove Performing Arts Centre. Believing in the spirit of strengthening the next generation of dancers, Aimee has taught ballet, jazz, and tap to students of all ages and is excited to share her passion with the students at LoMastro.
JAMIE SALAS, originally from San Antonio, TX, received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a concentration in performance and choreography. While attending UNLV, Jamie had the opportunity to perform at the International Dance Festival in Kiel, Germany; Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland; and Korean National Sport University in Seoul, Korea. Upon graduation, Jamie became a founding member of Las Vegas Contemporary Dance Theater. Soon thereafter, she received a yearlong scholarship to train at the Giordano Dance School in Evanston, IL. Since moving to Chicago, Jamie has danced with Inaside Chicago Dance, Chicago Tap Theatre, Esoteric Dance Project and bnw:dance. She has also performed as a freelance artist in several shows including Dance Chance, Dance Chicago, Chicago Freelance Dance and Thodos New Dances. Her choreography has been featured at venues such as Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago Theatre, Ruth Page Center for the Arts and Stage 773. Performance, choreography and teaching are definitely three passions instilled in her. She is so grateful to have the opportunity to contribute to the growth of so many talented dancers at LoMastro and is looking forward to another successful year!
MEREDITH ANN SEELEY trained in Rochester, NY. At age 16, she joined Timothy Draper’s Rochester City Ballet as a soloist dancing leading roles in productions including The Nutcracker, Firebird, Don Quixote, and Cinderella. She also performed with Rochester’s modern dance company, Present Tense Dance, directed by Anne Harris Wilcox. She later joined Gen Horiuchi’s Saint Louis Ballet, where she originated the leading role in his production of Beauty and the Beast and worked with resident choreographer Francis Patrelle. Meredith has performed with the Dallas Opera, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Festival Ballet, Civic Ballet of Chicago, Alma Dance Company, NoMi LaMad Dance Inc., Chicago Ballet and Schaumberg Dance Ensemble. She has also performed in Randy Duncan’s finale of Chicago’s Dance for Life. Meredith currently serves as a Governor on the AGMA Board of Governors as well as a committee member of AGMA’s Midwest Area Committee. She is a certified Pilates trainer, holds her Associate II Teaching Certificate from the Cecchetti Council of America, and teaches Pilates and dancing throughout the Chicago-land area.
SUAVE' Born in London, England, Suavé has been teaching dance since 1987 and has had the opportunity to perform and work with many different artists, groups and companies all over the world. Suave' is the founder and executive director of the renowned Hip Hop Connxion, which he created with the goal of developing talent and spreading a positive message to kids and adults in all communities through dance. The HHC has taken the highest honors at all levels, notably bringing home the Varsity Gold and Adult Silver medals in the USA Championships, and the Varsity Silver medal in the World Championships. Suavé was one of the original members of former Nike sponsored professional dance troupe, Culture Shock-Chicago in 1998 and has appeared in various music videos and movies such as, Walt Disney’s ‘Just Visited’ with Christina Applegate, and as a specialist dancer in the hit movie, ‘SAVE THE LAST DANCE’. He was also hired as a dance coordinator as well as featured as a dancer in the movie ‘DREAMS’ in which he worked beside Dave Scott whose credits include ‘U Got Served’, ‘Stomp The Yard’ and ‘Step Up 3’. He was the dance coordinator for one of the world’s biggest DJ’s, Bad Boy Bill, at the 2002 B96 Summer B-bash and performed in front of 60,000 people alongside artists such as P-Diddy, Nelly and Ja Rule. Suavé guest choreographs at numerous schools and universities and teaches hip hop master classes and workshops in the USA in states. He has also been hired to teach in countries such as Norway, Colombia, Ireland and England. At present he also choreographs for different movie and recording artists in the USA and guest instructs and judges for competitions in Illinois and overseas. As the creator of the biggest annual urban dance showcase in Illinois called THE ONE, alongside producing other major dance shows, Suavé has established himself as one of the most respected leaders in the hip hop industry in the state and in the country. With his unique style of teaching, personality, and versatility to work with all ages and skill levels, Suavé has become one of the most sought after choreographers in Chicago.
TONY SUHADOLNIK grew up in Seattle where he started dancing at a neighborhood studio at the age of ten. He furthered his training at the Arc School of Ballet in Seattle and, while in high school, was nominated for several 5th Avenue Musical Theater Awards. In 2007, Tony moved to San Francisco to train for two years at Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet School’s Training Program. While there, Tony worked with Robert Moses, Alonzo King, Yannis Adoniou and several other Bay Area choreographers. After graduating, he then guested with Moving People Dance Theater in Santa Fe, New Mexico before moving to Chicago. While living in Chicago, Tony has danced with Inaside Chicago Dance, Chicago Reparatory Ballet, Dance In the Parks, and has been working with many Chicago base choreographers.
MINDI UCCETTA began dancing at the age of five, training at Kassel Studio of Dance where she became one of the youngest members of the Company. Mindi attended Stevenson High School where she was a member of the poms squad and the Melange Dance Company, which led her to perform under the direction of Randy Duncan. Her training continued at Dancenter North and Dance Academy of Libertyville and led her to the University of Kansas where she received her extensive jazz training. Upon her return to Chicago, Mindi began teaching ballet, jazz and funk while attending Northeastern Illinois University. As a member of the Student Dance Ensemble she studied and performed under the direction of Joel Hall, Anna Simone Levin, Venetia Stifler, Rachel Burton, James Morrow and Raphaelle Ziemba. Mindi earned her BA and minored in dance as an Honor’s Scholar.
MARK YONALLY is currently the Artistic Director of Chicago Tap Theatre, one of the most critically well-regarded companies in Chicago. Mark has developed a national and international reputation as a performer, with solo performances in Chicago, Kansas City, Albuquerque, Amsterdam and Paris. He has been blessed to have Sarah Petronio, Dianne Walker, Bill Evans and Billy Siegenfeld as mentors. As a company member of the Bill Evans Dance Company and Especially Tap Chicago (ETC), Mark performed at such prestigious festivals as the St. Louis Tap Festival, the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, the Gus Giordano Jazz Dance World Congress and at the Royal Opera House in Helsinki, Finland. Furthermore, Mark has gained the plaudits of major dance critics for his innovative approach to tap choreography. His works have been commissioned and performed by the Bill Evans Dance Company, ETC and Hope College, among others. Mark also maintains a longstanding professional relationship with Valérie Lussac, Artistic Director of Tapage of Toulouse, France. Mark is a noted educator and has taught at festivals throughout the U.S. and has served on the faculty at Oklahoma City University and Hope College. He is sought after for his multidisciplinary approach to tap teaching, which includes history, basic music theory and an emphasis on jazz music, and has taught in France, Germany, Switzerland and the United States. Mark is also a published author, with pieces appearing in Dance Spirit, Dance Teacher and Dance Magazine.