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.
LOREN LOMASTRO SPECHT
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 certified Rhythm Works Integrative Dance instructor, 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, Paula David, Jeff Hancock and others. From 2001-08 she was the dance instructor/coach of the Lake Forest H.S. Varsity 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. From 2008-18 Loren choreographed/coached the Loyola Academy Varsity 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 was a guest faculty member of the National Tap Ensemble's "Spirit of Tap"Conference. Loren is a member of the International Dance Entrepreneurs Association and Dance Studio Owners Association Inner Circle. In addition to being the director/founder of LoMastro Performing Arts Academy, she is the creator of Dancing Tots, an early childhood dance program used by dance instructors throughout the US and Canada. Loren lives in Lake Forest with her husband Brian and son Leo (8).
Abby Rossiter (Associate Director) is thrilled to be back at LoMastro where she performed as a Next Step company member. Abby grew up training and competing in dance throughout the Chicagoland area. She was selected as an NYCDA Studio Showcase Dancer and recipient of the Dupree Dance Convention Advanced Ballet Scholarship. She also performed as a Patriette and Concert Company dancer at Stevenson High School. Abby graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Miami where she studied Motion Pictures, Dance, and Sociology. Favorite opportunities while there include The New York: Invitation to Dance summer program (attended on scholarship), The Frost School of Music Dance Department and Composers Collaboration (selected choreographer and soloist), and Dancing With the UMiami Stars (1st place, Standard division). Additionally, Abby was part of the Miami Motion Dance Team as a performer, student president, and coach post-graduation. Abby loves sharing her passion for dance with eager students and enjoys choreographing musical productions as well. Choreography credits include: Masque (University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL) Willy Wonka, Thoroughly Modern Millie, The Little Mermaid (Area Stage Company in Coral Gables, FL) and The Wiz, 13, High School Musical, and Legally Blonde (Northbrook, IL).
Originally from Greenwood, Indiana, Shannon received her training at Butler University and the University of Utah. She began her career with the second company of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, then going on to dance and perform professionally with HSDC for nine years. In 2009, Shannon went on to further her growth as a dancer at Nederlands Dans Theater under the direction of Jim Vincent and Paul Lightfoot. During her time in Chicago and Europe, Shannon toured internationally dancing works by many world renowned choreographers such as: Jiri Kylian, Nacho Duato, William Forsythe, Ohad Naharin, Jorma Elo, and Crystal Pite. After taking time away from the stage to focus on the birth of her daughter, Shannon began sharing her artistry once again with the Chicago community. She has appeared in seven productions at the Lyric Opera including Rob Ashford's Carousel, Susan Stroman's The Merry Widow, and Les Troyens w ith Helen Pickett. Shannon teaches around the city and has been on faculty at the Joffrey Academy, Interlochen School for the Arts summer faculty, and Visceral Dance Center. She is very happy now to be exploring her creativity through works of her own, and has choreographed for Visceral Dance Chicago, Thodos Dance Chicago, DanceWorks Chicago, The Big Muddy Dance Company in St. Louis, the University of Iowa, and was a recipient of the Joffrey Ballet’s Winning Work’s Choreographic Competition. She feels very fortunate for every one of these opportunities, finding inspiration in the things that she loves, and most recently completed an MFA from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia w ith continued commitment to the power of dance.
Shannon is an adjunct member of our faculty.
Lindsay completed her MFA in Dance at the University of Michigan. Her choreography ranges from screen dances to formal evening-length works in the round, covering topics such as politics, classic literature, and space travel. Her works have been performed indoors and outdoors, at train stations, historic mansions, video game arcades, and onstage. In 2012, Lindsay received funding from the University of Michigan to research fairytales for her graduate thesis work, Many Upon a Time, which was performed in the round at Betty Pease Studio Theater in Ann Arbor, Michigan and later restaged at the Fasseas Whitebox and at the DANK Haus. Lindsay has also produced many full length shows at the Drucker Center and at Dovetail Studios. J. Lindsay Brown Dance, founded in 2013, has performed at the Elgin Ties Dance Festival, Going Dutch, Delve, Chicago Dance Month, Trifecta Dance Collective Showcases, Harvest Contemporary Dance Festival, and many others. The company has created and performed works in various unusual locations, such as the Loyola Red Line stop, the Dole Mansion, the Piper Mansion, and at Indian Boundary Park. In 2015, J. Lindsay Brown Dance collaborated with The Glitter Island Gang to produce Spectacle Spectacular! A Fully Improvised Song and Dance Musical, which sold out and was brought back to Chicago by popular demand for three more runs. Lindsay has taught modern, tap, composition, improvisation, and partnering workshops at the University of Michigan, ACDF, the Illinois High School Dance Festival), and has taught for companies such as Hubbard Street Dance and River North Dance Chicago.
Nicole Cederberg was born in Highland Park, Illinois. She has trained at several studios in ballet, contemporary, jazz, tap and hip hop since she was young. From 2012 to 2020, she trained and competed with LoMastro Performing Arts Academy. While in at Highland Park High School she choreographed multiple pieces on her peers, From 2017-2020 Nicole taught dance classes through a volunteer program called Working Together. Nicole is currently working toward degrees in Dance and Communication arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Most recently she co-choreographed a piece for the Kloepper Concert. Nicole is currently teaching, performing, and choreographing. Nicole is thrilled to be an Associate Teacher on faculty at LoMastro and share her love for dance with her students!
Bennett began his dance training in the suburbs of Chicago, and continued training at the University of Iowa. He has previously danced for The Big Muddy Dance Company where he has performed work by Brian Enos, Kirvan Douthit-Boyd, and Prince Lyons. He has also had the privilege to perform works choreographed by Ohad Naharin, Shannon Alvis, Ramon Flowers, Stephanie Miracle, Sarah Olson, Marc Macaranas, Eloy Barragan, Jennifer Kayle, Armando Duarte, and Meredith Stapleton. Additional training includes Hubbard Street Dance Chicago summer intensive, Gibney and Bates Dance Festival Connect winter intensive, Threads Dance Project summer intensive, DanceWorks Chicago summer intensive, and The Cambrians summer intensive. Bennett is currently a Company Artist with Visceral Dance Chicago.
Deb's roots are in Northbrook where she lived and breathed sports growing up. She was in class or teams for soccer, swimming, diving, baseball, ballet, skiing, and enjoyed roller skating and bike riding, but her all time favorite- gymnastics. She was the equivalent of a level 5 USAG gymnast and then in high school until a sophomore. She trained at Mid-American Twisters and when that closed-Northbrook Gymnastics. She started coaching in college at NIAG in DeKalb, then under Leonard Isaacs at AAG Wheeling. Deb graduated from NIU with a B.A. in English, married her college sweetheart, then had two children who are now 25 and 21. Her husband can often be seen around town rollerblading with dogs running out front. Her son is a gamer, former skate boarder, and expert pool player. Her daughter, a senior in pre-med, danced all the way through High school and there, she noticed in her daughter, the beauty and emotionally dynamic force that dance created. While her kids were little she started coaching sports at 8 park districts, became a gymnastics director in Evanston, a coach and then Coordinator at the Park District of Highland Park. Deb lived and breathed gymnastics for 30 years with kids ages 1.5 to 15 in levels Parent/Tot to GIJO/AAU level 4 team. Deb created several classes that added a focus on sparking imagination and communication in Pre-K to K. Deb went on to become a pre-school teacher at Glencoe Park District then started a Tumbling enrichment program there. When covid hit she was encouraged to start an at-home tumbling business, mostly in the summer, on the north shore, called Sweet Home Gymnastics. Her love for gymnastics has deepened as well as her love for kids. Deb is spurred on by the sports science behind movement, progressions, and the collaboration and awe-inspiring coaches she's worked with through the years. Outside of work, she invests her time caring for and spending time with family and friends, reading books in topics of research, education, theology, culture, faith, history, memoirs, watching TV or movies, and cuddling with her cat, Odie. Deb is looking forward to teaching at LoMastro as an Acro Arts teacher and is so excited to help each Acro student develop dynamic technique. She is certified through Acrobatic Arts levels 1-6. "Acro, when incorporated into dance routines, is remarkably stunning to perform and watch"
Kara is originally from Boston, Massachusetts received her ballet training at The Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts in CT. She spent her 4 years under the direction of Sharon Dante and Victoria Mazzerelli. Kara had many mentors such as Alexei Tchernichov, Eleanor D'Atuonno, Kirk Peterson and Tim Melady. There she performed lead roles as The Sugar Plum Fairy, Raymonda, Paquita and Odette. After graduating from the pre-professional program she went to dance with Enigmatic Contemporary Dance in Cambridge, MA as an original member. Kara continued to dance with her local ballet company Dance Prism in Concord, MA. She became a company member in 2008 and performed many featured roles including Giselle and The Sugar Plum Fairy. In 2011 Kara made her way across the country to join the Missouri Ballet Theatre in St. Louis, MO. Snow Queen, Dew Drop, Arabian, and Puck in A Midsummer Nights Dream are just a few lead roles she performed as a soloist. Kara was also the Youth Cast Coordinator/Ballet Mistress for MBT. This year Kara was certified as a PBT instructor and is looking forward to teaching her students new ways to strengthen their ballet technique.
Chelsie Jackson has been a professional choreographer, dance educator, and performer for over a decade. She first started her dance training near Detroit, Michigan at the age of three. While growing up she participated in many conventions, master classes, performances, and competitions in all idioms of dance. Chelsie graduated Summa Cum Laude with a B.A. in Dance from Western Michigan University. During college she trained with faculty members as well as guest artists including Derrick Evans, Eddy Ocampo, Willy Shives, and Ron De Jesus. She has also taken her training to various parts of the country such as The Edge Performing Arts Center, The Paul Taylor Dance Intensive, ACDF, Dance Masters of America's Teacher's Training School, Lou Conte Dance Studio, Visceral Dance Center, and Detroit Dance Collective. Chelsie has danced professionally for Chevrolet, Nabisco, Lisa Lamarre and Dancers, Tapestry Dance Company, and A. Deran Dance as well as many independent artists and choreographers. Her passion for teaching has given her opportunities to be on faculty at Illinois High School Dance Festival and Raw Energy Dance Competition, as well as many studios throughout the Midwest. Chelsie is certified in Acrobatic Arts, Zumba and ABT's National Training Curriculum in Pre-Primary through Level 3.
Jana Kalivoda has been dancing since she was 8 and is trained in contemporary, jazz, ballet, hip hop, and modern. From 2013 - 2018, Jana was a part of Capitol Movement Inc.; a non-profit, pre professional dance company in Washington, DC. With this company, she has performed multiple times at renowned venues, including: The Anthem Theatre, John F. Kennedy Center of the Performing Arts, the Atlas Performing Arts Center, and the Shakespeare Theatre. Jana was a dance major at James Madison University. During her time at university, she was a member of Virginia Repertory Dance Company, and worked with artists such as Kyle Abraham, Omar Roman De Jesus, Christian Warner, Xiang Xu, and Ricky Ruiz. She also was Head Artistic Director for the competitive hip hop dance team at her university called Mozaic Dance Team. After graduating, Jana performed professionally with Ensemble InterTwining at Green Space in New York. In August, she moved to Chicago and trained at DanceWorks Chicago’s summer intensive, and Visceral’s professional summer intensive. Additionally, Jana has a passion for teaching and creating choreography. She has explored this passion with Capitol Movement Inc., The Movement Studios - a competitive dance studio in Springfield, Virginia, Dance & Co - a dance studio in Harrisonburg, Virginia, Mozaic Dance Team, and through the dance program at JMU. She is excited to continue her passion of teaching and choreographing at LoMastro Performing Arts Academy!
Jessica Lynn graduated from the Youth Performing Arts High School as a Dance major. After a short stint performing nationally in regional theatre, she then moved to Los Angeles California. There she danced for the artists Blu Cantrell, Nelly Furtado, Beyonce, Fantasia Barrino, & toured overseas with the reggeaton artist Adassa. Over her career Jessica has appeared in Film, Industrials, Music Videos, Stage, and on Television including the hit sketch show MadTV as a Britney Spears back up dancer.
An established teacher and choreographer in her own right, Jessica Lynn has taught throughout the United States, Italy, and Guam. She was on faculty at the famed Musician's Institute in Hollywood CA for seven years and has also taught at the Millennium Dance Complex and other studio's throughout the Los Angeles area. Jessica has been an adjudicator for Applause Talent, Precision Arts, and The Movement Dance Competition.
Currently Jessica resides in Chicago where she has served as a Competition Director for two studios and was also artistic director for her own Youth Dance Company, JLynn Productions. Jessica is now a teacher and Dance Co. Rehearsal Director at LoMastro Performing Arts Academy. She is certified In Progressing Ballet Technique, Intellidance, Acrobatic Arts, and Progressing Contemporary Technique. She still enjoys traveling to teach guest classes & set choreography.
Gloria Mattero has always had a passion for working with children. After raising her three daughters, she helped create a Tot Camp program for preschoolers in Highwood, IL. The program’s objective was to incorporate learning through movement and play. For the past 11 years, she has been coaching recreational gymnastics in Highland Park. This has given her the opportunity to work with children of all different ages with various skill sets. In the parent-tot classes she was able to facilitate parent and child bonding through activities that created a special connection between learning and play. In her work with preschool aged children, she encouraged the children to develop skills and gain confidence in basic tumbling tasks. She takes pride in teaching more complex tumbling while the children learn body awareness, gain strength and flexibility. She loves to teach new skills using creativity and games that encourage self-confidence and growth. She is enthusiastic and passionate and loves to praise each and every child on their individual development. As a member of USAG, she is always encouraged to learn new and innovative ways to keep the children striving to reach their best potential. She was born and raised in Highland Park, IL, where she continues to live with her husband of 35 years and their Shih Tzu. In her spare time she enjoys going on walks, spending time with family and doing home improvement projects.
Joanna Meccia received degrees in Dance and Kinesiology from Indiana University. After graduating with Highest Distinction, she relocated to Chicago. She has performed with Esoteric Dance Project, Cerqua Rivera Dance Theater, Project606 Dance and is currently the artistic director of Trifecta Dance Collective. Joanna’s work has previously been set on Esoteric Dance Project as part of their Choreographic Mentorship Program, Trifecta Dance Collective and Project606 Dance. She has presented with Dances in the Hall, Going Dutch Dance Festival, and the Awakening Movement Project (NYC). In 2017, she co-produced a multidisciplinary performance, Where Beauty Rises, at Links Hall with the non-profit Photoserve. All proceeds went to the clean water organization Wine to Water. In 2018, she and co-choreographer Colleen Welch received an Independent Artist Grant from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs to create Dance Across Chicago, a series using live music, dance and technology to bring free performances to public spaces and two Chicago public schools. In addition to choreographing, performing and teaching dance, Joanna is also a certified Pilates and Yoga instructor.
Matt Pospeshil grew up dancing, singing & performing theater in the northern suburbs of Chicago, and got his start dancing professionally in high school with Especially Tap Chicago (dir. Julie Cartier). He furthered his education at Western Michigan University; received a bachelor’s degree in Dance, with concentrations in Ballet, Jazz, Modern and Musical Theater. During his college summers, Matt was performing at Six Flags Great America - Gurnee, IL. After college Matt returned home to dance with Inaside Chicago Dance (dir. Richard Smith), Chicago Tap Theatre (dir. Mark Yonally), Chicago Human Rhythm Project - BAM! (dir. Lane Alexander), and Chicago Human Rhythm Project - Stone Soup Rhythms (dir. Dani Borak). Some of his memorable performances are Dance for Life (2015, 2017, 2019), Dance in the Parks (2017), The Fly Honey Show (2017), Audible Odyssey (2015, 2016), and The Green Mill Poetry Slams (2013-present). Matt currently is a Judge for Starpower Talent Competition. He has previously adjudicated for Dance Masters of America, Dance Educators of America, Dreamstar Dance Competition, Edge Talent Competition, and has taught for the Wild Dance Intensive - National Touring Convention.
Missy Ridgway, trained in Los Angeles, is an internationally recognized teacher and choreographer, constantly in demand for her expertise and creativity. As a dancer, Missy performed with dance companies and in musicals. In 1997, Missy started Perseverance Dance Company which was awarded top 10 in the county. She has decades of experience as a teacher and choreographer, and was a dance studio owner for 18 years. Missy has traveled the world educating both students and teachers in dance. She has also adjudicated at several competitions across the US including Rainbow & KAR, in both regional and national positions. She is known for her dynamic style and high energy classes. She has a passion for inspiring her students to have confidence, work hard, and understand what is needed to achieve excellence. Her students have gone on to perform with Rasta Thomas’ Bad Boys of Dance, Sonya Tayeh, MTV’s Video Music Awards, the motion picture FAME and Cirque du Soleil. They have appeared on Dancing With The Stars, performed as guest artists for the Macy’s Stars performance and toured with Ricky Martin. Two of Missy’s students were top twelve finalists on So You Think You Can Dance. Many have gone on to teach and inspire students of their own. Missy continues to teach and choreograph internationally for dance companies and other professional organizations. Through her work with Jean Ann Ryan Productions, you can find Missy’s choreography all over the world on the luxury cruise line Oceania. Her exceptional pieces consistently win top awards in choreography, outstanding technique and are regularly honored as the critics’ choice.
Jessica Sawyer started dancing at the age of 3. She has trained in ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary and modern. She holds her B.A. from North Park University where she was a member of the dance team. She has choreographed for a variety groups including dance studios, theaters, dance teams and show choirs. Her choreography has received numerous accolades, including top scores at various dance competitions and national titles. Jessica is an active member of the National Dance Educators Organization and has served on their Honors Society adjudication board. She is also a certified Progressing Ballet Technique instructor. When not working in the studio, she can be found directing and choreographing theater. Some favorite credits include: Sweeney Todd, Spring Awakening, Heathers and Into the Woods. Jessica currently teaches in the Chicagoland area, sharing her love of dance with students. She loves the freedom and expression that dance provides and strives to make her classes an experience that will bring out the best in each individual dancer.
MEREDITH ANN SEELEY
Meredith trained in Rochester, NY at the Orcutt/Botsford School and the Draper Center for Dance Education. She received further training from the Hartford Ballet School, Pennsylvania Ballet School, Chautauqua School, and the NYSSSA Program. At a young age, Meredith 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. Later, Meredith joined Gen Horiuchi’s Saint Louis Ballet, where she originated the leading role in his production of Beauty and the Beast and danced numerous pieces by resident choreographer Francis Patrelle. She later went on to perform with the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Dallas Opera, Civic Ballet of Chicago, Chicago Festival Ballet, and many others. Meredith loves helping students of all ages and abilities develop a true connection to their bodies. She has a passion for teaching dancers how to cultivate healthy and sustainable movement patterns both in dance and in everyday life. She enjoys sharing skills that help students regulate their bodies for optimal learning and performance and to help boost confidence. Learning how to move well and be well is essential for building and maintaining robust whole-body health. This philosophy has led Meredith to explore and study many other styles of movement and somatics beyond the dance realm including Pilates, Restorative Exercise, natural movement, aikido, climbing, parkour, Somatic Experiencing, and nervous system regulation. Meredith is a Certified Restorative Exercise Specialist (CPT-RES) through Nutritious Movement, a Nationally Certified Pilates Teacher (NCPT), and a movement teacher and coach. She graduated summa cum laude from Saint Mary’s College of California’s LEAP program and holds her BA in Performing Arts.
Abigail Stachnik was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She began her dance training at the Young Dance Academy under the direction of Sandra Young. Abigail became a faculty member at the Young Dance Academy in 2010 and has continued to teach and choreograph since then. In 2015, Abigail earned a BFA in Dance with Honors from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. She has trained in the Scholarship Program at Lou Conte Dance Studio, apprenticed with Chicago Repertory Ballet, and performed in the Mezzo Company with Cocodaco Dance Project where she eventually joined the main company in 2018. Additionally she has performed as a guest artist with Marlene Skog Dance and performed at Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival in works by Jessica Miller Tomlinson and MitchellMovement Collective. Abigail is currently dancing with Moonwater Dance Project and Symbiosis Arts, and one of her choreographic works “Windmill” has been commissioned by Simantikos Dance Chicago for their 2020 season! Abigail was honored to present her choreography at the Athenaeum Theatre, the College of DuPage, and the “Take Up Space” festival this past year. Her choreography has also been performed at the University of the Arts, DanceChance, Simantikos Dance’s Celebration of Chicago Art and Choreo Kick-Off. Abigail is an adjunct member of our faculty.
Mikki Stotter grew up in Skokie, Illinois, where she began dancing at the age of 2. She has trained in the styles of ballet, tap, jazz, modern, contemporary, lyrical, and musical theater. She was a member of the Auroris Dance Company and Theatre Troupe 113 at Niles North High School and was an avid musical theater performer. She also participated on a studio competitive team, where they were national champions at major competitions such as Showstoppers Dance Convention and Dupree Dance Convention. She studied at Loyola University Chicago, where she majored in Psychology and minored in Dance. During her time at Loyola, she studied under Deborah Goodman, Amy Wilkinson, and Sarah Cullen Fuller, focusing on ballet and Doris Humphrey’s modern techniques. Mikki also participated in the first annual Chicago Inclusive Dance Festival. She began her teaching career as an assistant teacher at the age of 14 and has continued to grow as a teacher ever since. She is passionate about helping any individual to thrive in their movement styles and sharing her passions with students.
Alana Thon grew up in Villa Park, Illinois, where she began dancing at the age of 2. She received her early training at Aspirations Dance and then continued at Deforest Dance Academy where she studied ballet, contemporary, jazz, and hip hop. From 2012 to 2022, she trained and competed with Steppin' Out at Deforest Dance Academy in both regional and national competitions. She became an assistant teacher at the age of 15. As a student she has studied primarily with Ashely Deforest, Carly Brandle, and Devon Perri. Alana has been teaching dance in the Chicagoland area since 2019. In addition to teaching, Alana is currently the Hip-Hop choreographer for Grayslake North High School Dance Team. Alana is thrilled to be on faculty at LoMastro and share her love for dance with her students!
Blair Vaudelle was born in Houston, Texas. Her training began at the Houston Ballet Academy and later continued her studies with the Dallas Metropolitan Ballet School and the Atlanta School of Ballet. She was invited to attend ballet class at Northern Illinois University, at the age of 14, while training and performing with the Rockford Dance Company. She studied ballet at the University throughout her high school years and went on to receive her B.F.A in Dance Performance there after graduation. Professionally, Blair has worked with Ballet Nouveau (Colorado), Ballet Deviare (NYC), the Sarasota Ballet of Florida, and guested with the Civic Ballet of the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, the Faubourg Ballet, State Street Dance Studio, and Alma Ballet. She currently lives in Chicago and has been teaching and choreographing for over 15 years. Most recently she worked as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Northern Illinois University, teaching ballet and setting contemporary ballet works.