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
- DAVID FONSECA
- CARiSSA HOLMES
- SHANNON HRITZ
- MINDI KOLODENKO UCCETTA
- EMELIA KOOPSEN
- STACEY LEWIS
- LOREN LOMASTRO SPECHT
- HOLLY PACE
- ELISE MOORE
- LAURAL REINHART
- ANGELA ROGNA
- JAMIE SALAS
- MEREDITH ANN SEELEY
- REBECCA HART SHULMAN
- TONY SUHADOLNIK
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.
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, Cari 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. 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. 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. 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 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. Most recently in 2009 she joined Inaside Chicago Dance. Ms. Hritz is a certified Pilates instructor and is also an ABA therapist for children with autism.
MINDI KOLODENKO 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.
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 second year at LoMastro!
STACEY LEWIS began her training in Virginia where she danced and performed competitively with Encore Performers in jazz, ballet, and tap under the direction of Raynor van de Merwe. After moving to the Chicago area in 1998 she began training at the Dance Academy of Libertyville with Paula Young- David, Lisa Sheppard, and Isabelle Melo-Elefson. Stacey continued her training at the University of Arizona studying with Susan Quinn, Sam Watson, Melissa Lowe, and Michael Williams. She there performed as a soloist in Clifton Brown’s, “Serpente”, Amy Earnst’s award winning, “Songs of Sanctuary”, as well as many other contemporary and ballet works. Since returning to Chicago, Stacey has danced professionally with TJ & Company Dance Theatre in “The Cracked Nut,” as well as Terpsichore Dance Company in “La Fille Mal Gardee.” Stacey holds her Associate I Teaching Certificate from the Cecchetti Council of America. In addition to teaching classes, Stacey is the Assistant Director of our Dance Company.
HOLLY PACE began dancing at the age of three in Libertyville, IL at Dancenter North and then at Dance Academy of Libertyville. She performed in her first production of the Nutcracker at the age of eight and continued to perform with Terpsichore dance ensemble in various choreographic works as well as full-length ballets. Her subsequent training was with the Milwaukee Ballet School as well as Lou Conte Dance studio and Ruth Page Center for the Arts in Chicago, IL. She was Chicago Human Rhythm Project scholarship recipient and performed with the Especially Tap Company. Upon graduation she continued to study and perform professionally as a guest artist throughout the Chicagoland area. Holly has recently moved back from Los Angeles where she performed with California Contemporary Ballet as well as studied and taught throughout L.A.
ELISE MOORE is originally from the north shore of Chicago where she was trained in ballet, modern, jazz, and tap. Elise received her BFA in Dance in 2010 from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign where she continued to develop as a dance artist through performing, teaching, and choreographing. Elise has taught dance and musical theatre choreography to students up to the collegiate level over the past six years. Elise also has a passion for working with individuals with disabilities, which has lead her to pursue a Masters degree in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling from Columbia College Chicago. Elise is thrilled to share her passion for dance with the students at LoMastro!
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 9 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 the Metropolis Performing Arts Centre, the Attic Playhouse, and with the n.u.f.a.n. and Chicago Effective Arts Ensembles. Laural is also a communications consultant for Learned Conversations. She lives in Buffalo Grove with her husband Craig and has 2 children—Jennifer who is a Vet at Cornell University and David who is a Junior at the University of Michigan.
ANGELA ROGNA, 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.
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. After graduation, Jamie apprenticed with the 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 and performed in several freelance shows such as Dance Chance, Dance Chicago, Chicago Freelance Dance, Miss Continental and Mr. Continental. Her choreography has been featured at numerous venues including Northeastern University in Dance Chance: Redux and Chicago Theatre in A Family Portrait. Jamie is currently a company member with Esoteric Dance Project and an apprentice for Chicago Tap Theatre. Aside from dancing professionally, she is 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 began her dance training in Rochester, NY at the Orcutt/Botsford School of Dance. Her advanced training came from the Draper Center for Dance Education, school of the Rochester City Ballet. At just fifteen years old, Meredith joined Rochester City Ballet as a soloist, under Timothy Draper, and went on to perform many leading roles in a variety of productions including The Nutcracker, Firebird, Don Quixote, and Cinderella. Also in Rochester, she danced with modern dance company Present Tense Dance, directed by Anne Harris Wilcox. Meredith later joined the Saint Louis Ballet under director Gen Horiuchi who created the leading role for her in his original production of Beauty and the Beast. She danced several ballets including Black Forest Carousel and A Tribute to Astaire under resident choreographer Francis Patrelle. In Chicago, Meredith performs with many companies including Lyric Opera of Chicago, Chicago Festival Ballet, Civic Ballet of Chicago, NoMi LaMad Dance Inc., Alma Dance Company, Chicago Ballet, and Schaumburg Dance Ensemble. She has worked with renowned choreographers Kenneth von Heidecke, Larry Long, Paul Abrahamson, Guillermo Leyva and many others. Meredith was honored to be invited by choreographer Randy Duncan to perform in the Dance For Life 2008 and 2009 Finale, the largest benefit through dance performance in the Midwest. Meredith is a certified Pilates instructor through Core Dynamics Pilates, holds her Associate II Teaching Certificate from the Cecchetti Council of America, and teaches ballet, pointe, variations, Pilates group classes, and Pilates private classes throughout the Chicago-land area.
REBECCA HART SHULMAN began her dance training at the age of ten at the Dance Academy of Libertyville where Loren LoMastro Specht was one of her teachers. She also trained as a scholarship student at Joel Hall Dance Center. Rebecca spent summers studying with River North Dance Chicago, Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, and Paul Taylor Dance Company. While in High School, she performed works by noted Chicago choreographers Randy Duncan, Jeff Hancock, Lisa Johnson-Willingham, and Jon Lehrer. Rebecca was awarded the Outstanding New Dance Major scholarship to Western Michigan University. While at WMU, she performed George Balanchine’s “Serenade”, Antony Tudor’s “Dark Elegies”, “Khamsin” an original work by Ron de Jesus, as well as faculty and student pieces. In 2009 her choreography was chosen to represent WMU at the American College Dance Festival. Rebecca also choreographed for WMU’s touring dance company, Western Dance Project, and for the new student orientation cabaret show. She has danced professionally for Adams Company Dance in New York City. Currently Rebecca teaches and choreographs in the Chicago suburbs and loves to watch her students’ creativity and imagination come out in class.
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. Tony is now dancing with Inaside Chicago Dance, and has been working with many Chicago base choreographers.