Mohler Dance Academy Faculty
Introducing our amazing faculty line-up for 2017-2018...
All classes are taught by professional, adult instructors who are highly trained in their field. We have assembled a faculty of highly-educated and caring teachers that are dedicated to providing your dancer with the highest level of training in a nurturing and non-competitive environment.
Tressa Mohler, MDE
Tressa Mohler, Owner and Director, is an accomplished educator in all forms of dance including ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, modern and creative movement. With over 30 years of teaching experience, she is able to instill the necessary foundation in children to better equip them for their future in dance, school and life. Her educational expertise spans all ages and ability levels.
While earning her degrees (BA in Dance and BA in Business Management), she studied under Rory Foster (ABT and author of Ballet Pedagogy: The Art of Teaching), Eileen Cropley (Paul Taylor Company), Harriet Ross, Randy Duncan, Julie Cartier, Joel Hall and more. From 1995-1998, she was Dance Department Head at the Valparaiso Conservatory of Performing Arts, developing the dance curriculum and organizing many outreach programs and performances.
Tressa believes in the importance of continuing her own business and dance education. She regularly attends teacher seminars, conferences and movement workshops throughout the country and has been certified as a Master Dance Educator (MDE) through the Chicago National Association of Dance Masters, where she now serves on the Board of Directors.
Beyond owning and operating Mohler Dance Academy for over 12 years, she has founded and is director of M3 Dance, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit dance company offering additional performance opportunities for young dancers and sharing the art of dance through community outreach initiatives. She has also founded Chicago Ballet Conservatory, a division of Mohler Dance Academy, dedicated to training the aspiring professional ballet dancer.
Chicago Ballet Conservatory
Anna Spelman began training in ballet at the early age of three in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. By the time she was nine years old, Anna was studying ballet seriously at the San Diego Ballet School. There, and later at the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, Anna trained with Thor Sutowski and Dame Sonia Arova. Anna received scholarships to the School of American Ballet in New York, where she started studying as early as age eleven under George Balanchine. She attended Centre Dance International at age 12 under Rosella Hightower in Cannes, France and entered the Eighth International Ballet Competition at Varna, Bulgaria as a junior contender. She began her performing career at the age of nine with the San Diego Ballet Company. At the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, Anna performed in August Bournonville’s The Flower Festival in Genzano pas de deux and a leading role in Michel Fokine’s Les Sylphides which prompted her to win an obelisk award for best female dancer. Later, while on scholarship at American Ballet Theatre School, Anna had the opportunity to perform Richard England’s Vivaldi pas de deux behind another couple on the Metropolitan Opera House stage and was asked to join American Ballet Theatre to perform as a snowflake in the The Nutcracker, which marked the beginning of her career with ABT. During her ten-year professional career with ABT, Anna toured the major cities of the US as well as France, Italy, Japan, and Israel. In Israel, Anna performed Michel Fokine’s Le Spectre de la Rose, Emilia in Moor’s Pavane by Jose Limon and Paquita under the direction of Elena Tchernichova. Anna danced and acted in the films Hair, directed by Milos Forman and choreographed by Twyla Tharp, and Dancers, directed by Herbert Ross and filmed in Livorno, Italy. Her television credits include: Live from Lincoln Center, PBS special Twyla Tharp with ABT, and American Ballet Theatre in San Francisco, and Don Quixote ABT with Mikhail Baryshnikov at the Met, and the David Gordon television special Dance in America. She has worked closely with choreographers in both ballet and modern dance including George Balanchine, Kenneth MacMillan, Jerome Robbins, Antony Tudor, Frederick Ashton, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Merce Cunningham, David Gordon, Paul Taylor, and Twyla Tharp. Anna continues to fuel her passion for dance by teaching her craft. Anna has completed intensive training in the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum and is ABT certified to teach Primary thru Level 7. She resides in Naperville, Illinois with her husband and their four children.
Contemporary, Hip Hop
Joey Hernandez is a first-generation college graduate receiving his B.A. in Dance and Health & Society from Beloit College where he has been privileged to return as a visiting instructor for the Dance Department and Upward Bound Program.
Currently, Joey can be found as the associate lecturer of Hip Hop at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee in addition to his role as an adjunct professor at Carthage College. Prior to his positions with U-W Milwaukee and Carthage, he was on faculty at Millennium Dance Complex Chicago and the artistic director of Resilience Dance Company, a pre-professional mentorship program.
Performance credits include: Carnival Los Angeles & Chicago, The Millennium Experience, The Miss Illinois Pageant, Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival, American College Dance Festival Gala, Summerfest (Milwaukee, WI), and Legends in Concert (Las Vegas, NV).
Joey has had the privilege to set pieces for: Chicago's Choreographers Carnival, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, SueMo: A Dance Experience, Madison Contemporary Vision, and The Milwaukee School of the Arts. Joey as contributed guest classes at the Athletic Garage (Pasadena, CA), Fuzion Dance (Chicago, IL) and award winning choreography for many dance studios and high school dance teams across the United States. In addition, to being a featured instructor for Dance Masters of Wisconsin Inc, Southern Association of Dance Masters, and Chicago National Association of Dance Masters. Joey has the great fortune to be a judge for Applause Talent, Shake the Ground and StarQuest Dance. In his most recent venture, Joey has started an open in-studio workshop series titled "Dance-4-Change" to promote advocacy, awareness, and raise donations in support of the Crohn's Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA.Org).
Chicago Ballet Conservatory
JP Tenuta grew up dancing at the Academy of Movement and Music and with MOMENTA. He completed his BFA in Dance at Northern Illinois University in 1999, where he studied with Randall Newsom and Judith Chitwood. He performed for two years with the Nashville Ballet and two years with Luna Negra. He has also performed in the Chicago area with Lyric Opera, The Civic Ballet, Von Heidecke's Chicago Festival Ballet and with the Salt Creek Ballet.
JP continues to perform and choreograph for MOMENTA and toured Austria with them in 2003 and 2010. He has taught in a number of Chicago area schools and is a regular faculty member at the Academy of Movement and Music; he has also taught on the Dance Masters circuit and recently served as assistant director for MOMENTA as it toured for Tanzsommer International in Austria.
Jazz, M3 Dance Company
Kaitlin began dancing at Bataille Academie of the Danse where she trained until she was 18 as a member of their Elite Dance Company. While studying Spanish and Italian languages at Illinois State University, she danced with the Illinois State University Competitive Dance Team and competed at NDA Nationals in Florida in Jazz and Hip Hop.
She then pursued her love of hip hop by co-founding and co-directing Urban Movement, a semi-professional hip hop and urban dance company based out of Illinois State University. Kaitlin also danced with Cereal Killaz, a side project of professional dancers of Chicago based out of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Kaitlin has performed in the Halftime Show at the 2012 Orange Bowl choreographed by Mandy Moore, the "Don't Forget Your Bit" promotional video for the University of Illinois' new Engineering Building, the opening performance for Red Man on tour in Chicago with Hip Hop ConnXion HQ, and most recently, Kaitlin performed in Rome at The Yellow Bar. Today, Kaitlin is a member of Hip Hop ConnXion HQ, a professional hip hop company in the Chicago suburbs, of which she has been a part of for the past 5 years. Kaitlin is also an interactive entertainer with A-Z Entertainment, bringing the joy of dance and music to all kinds of events from day camps and mitzvahs to corporate events and birthday parties.
Jazz, Contemporary, Musical Theater
Lauren began training at the Faubourg Ballet Academy under Watmora Casey. She graduated with honors from Grand Valley State University with a B.A. Degree in Dance. Upon graduation, Lauren was chosen to receive The Outstanding Undergraduate Award in Dance and her choreography was featured in the American College Dance Festival Gala.
Lauren studied as a scholarship student at the Lou Conte Dance Studio under Claire Bataille, and performed with Giordano Dance Chicago's Second Company. She also had the privilege of performing with Beyonce on Oprah's Farewell Episode at the United Center. She has been featured in the Marriott Theater's productions of SHOUT!, Now and Forever, The Nutcracker, Mary Poppins, and Evita and, most recently, Drury Lane's production of Chicago.
Lauren was honored to be chosen as the first alumni in residence at Grand Valley State University. She is the Resident Choreographer for the Lake Zurich High School Musicals and has choreographed The Music Man, Anything Goes, Catch Me If You Can, and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. Lauren choreographs for many schools and studios in the Chicago suburbs and has coached and choreographed for numerous high school Poms, and Orchesis teams.
She also teaches master classes at the Chicago Dance Connection's Jazz Camp and Dance Masters of Wisconsin. Lauren is an ABT® Certified Teacher, who has successfully completed the ABT ® Teacher Training Intensive in Pre-Primary through Level 5 of the ABT ® National Training Curriculum. Lauren is thrilled to finally join the Mohler staff this year!
Chicago Ballet Conservatory
Ludmila Lupu is a graduate of the Kishinev Choreography Academy in Moldova (former Russia). She trained with teachers who were Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet graduates. For 15 years, Ms. Lupu has worked as a soloist in the Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Kishinev.
She has performed throughout Italy, Germany, Romania, Bulgaria and Russia in many ballets, including Don Quixote, Paquita, Swan Lake, Spartacus, Giselle, Coppelia, Sculptures of Roden, and Romeo and Juliet. Her teaching experience includes Salt Creek Ballet, Faubourg School of Ballet and Dance West Ballet School. While at Dance West Ballet, she staged excerpts from Paquita in 2008 and Don Quixote in 2010 for the Regional Dance America competition.
Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Modern
Myrria was introduced to dance at the age of six and studied for many years under Madame Beata Sorell, formerly of the Paris Opera Ballet. She also performed in the Sorell Ballet Ensemble and assisted with teaching younger dancers while in high school.
After a long absence, she was given the chance to share her love of the art with children in 2004. Myrria has had the privilege of instructing many promising young dancers in the Chicagoland area. Myrria has also worked with students attending and competing in dance competitions such as Youth America Grand Prix in addition to instructing in ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, hip-hop, contemporary and floor barre.
Ballet, Musical Theater, Acro
Renee Heitman brings a diverse background that includes the performing arts and business. She holds a B.S., Arts Administration from Butler University and an MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management. She has over 25 years of professional experience having worked in a variety of marketing positions within corporate, agency and non-profit environments. Most recently, she provided administrative support for a park district dance program.
Prior to college, Renee trained at the Lisa Boehm School of Ballet where she also served as a teaching assistant and demonstrator for pre-ballet and children's classes. During her years at Butler University, she performed in annual productions of the Nutcracker as well as original works set across a variety of dance forms. Renee was a gymnast early in life, grew up playing the piano and cello and was involved in choral music. Over the years, she has performed in numerous recitals and concerts as an ensemble member and accompanist.
Drawing upon her understanding and love of music, Renee's teaching style seeks to encourage a heightened awareness of the relationship between music and movement. In addition, Renee has enjoyed the opportunity to choreograph musical theatre productions at the community and school level including: Annie Jr., Music Man Jr., Fiddler on Roof, Jr., Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Once Upon A Mattress, Anything Goes, How to Succeed in Business, Grease, Oklahoma, Spamalot, and Thoroughly Modern Millie.
Renee is excited to share her passion for dance and the broader performing arts with students of all ages and experience levels. She is equally excited to join Mohler Dance Academy's office management team beginning July, 2017.
Chicago Ballet Conservatory
Robin Gayle is a professional dancer and an established dance instructor. As a Soloist with the Columbia City Ballet, Robin performed numerous principal roles for nine seasons. Before her career with CCB, Robin apprenticed with the Colorado Ballet, trained privately under Sherry Moray and Alla Osipenko and attended the Académie de Danse Classique Princesse Grace in Monte Carlo and the Ruth Page School of Dance. Her summer intensive training included the schools of American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, and Joffrey Ballet, under scholarship.
Robin was a top finalist at the Youth America Grand Prix competition, and was chosen to perform at YAGP Galas in 2000 and 2001. As a frequent guest artist, Robin's reviews include Dance Magazine's late Ann Barzel, who praised Robin as a "uniquely talented dancer," and the Chicago Sun-Times' Hedy Weiss, who characterized Robin's dancing as "brilliant." Some of Robin's film and television credits include appearing in the movie "Save the Last Dance" and the TV show "Sabado Gigante." In addition to dancing, Robin has modeled for Capezio and Leo's Dancewear, and is a certified Pilates instructor.
Suavé is the Founder of the Hip Hop ConnXion Family Nationwide with branches in Indiana, Michigan and Headquarters in Illinois. Hip Hop ConnXion has taken 1st in the USA and 2nd in the World at the Hip Hop International Championships in previous years and is the only Illinois based dance company to have been awarded medals at the event.
He 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 a choreographer and dance coordinator for the recently released movie, 'DREAMS' and played a cameo role as a dancer and teacher for the movie working beside Dave Scott whose credits include 'U Got Served', 'Stomp The Yard' and 'Step Up 3'.
Suavé was the dance coordinator at the B96 Summer B-bash for Bad Boy world renowned DJ, Bill and performed in front of 60,000 people alongside artists such as P-Diddy, Chris Brown, Christina Aguilera and Nelly. He is a performance coach to movie stars, actors and recording artists, having worked with artists such as Roshon Fegan (Shake It Up and Camp Rock), Jessy Schram (The Mentalist, House, American Pie, Without A Trace and more) and upcoming singing sensation, Adero.
Suavé guest choreographs at numerous schools and universities and teaches hip hop master classes and workshops in the USA. He has taught around the world in Norway, Colombia, Ireland and England. He also guest instructs and judges for conventions and competitions around the country and overseas. He is currently on faculty for the Manhattan Dance Project (MDP) National/ International Tour.
Suavé is also the creator and producer of THE ONE Urban Dance Showcase which is the largest annual urban dance showcase in the Midwest, alongside producing other major dance shows.
Randall Walker, also known as Taye, is a native Californian who began dancing in his adolescent years. He ventured into the art of street dancing, being trained in various types of Hip Hop and battle dancing. Within this realm, he was recognized as a skilled dancer, securing him a spot to perform at Carnival, the Choreographer's ball.
Randall's ambition and dedication was noticed by one of MC Hammer's top choreographers, which led to the opportunity to tour with acts like MC Hammer, Halo, and Mindless Behavior. Randall has performed as a background dancer on stage for over nine years. He has appeared on music videos by artists such as Skrip, JMoss and Halo. Some of his recent accomplishments include the American Music Awards 2012 and a dancing appearance on the set of the movie "Dreams."
Always striving to give back, Randall regularly works with a program that performs motivational dance plays, addressing the issue of bullying, in community schools throughout the country. Taye continues to perform in various venues and events while instructing young dancers. His unique teaching style employs a positive, uplifting approach that energizes and inspires.
While studying at Columbia, in 2003, Tristan was accepted into the Chicago Human Rhythm Project's performing ensemble, BAM!, under the direction of Lane Alexander. This was Tristan's introduction to the professional dance community. He was a member of BAM! for seven years, performing at locations such as China, Mexico, and Spain, and at local venues such as the Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park, Harris Theater for Music and Dance, and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
In 2008, Tristan expanded his professional career by joining The Cartier Collective, under Julie Cartier, and shortly after, MADD Rhythms, under Bril Barrett. Tristan's credits outside of local dance companies include a featured performance in the Chicago Dance Crash production of Busta Keaton, several appearances at Dance Chicago, and local theater performances of his own vaudeville-style comedy-dance act, Tapman.
Currently, Tristan has turned his attention to creating his own dance business ventures, including a tap dance company under his direction, aptly named The Tapmen, and his own production company, Tapman Productions, LLC. Tristan's goal with his new ventures is to have a vehicle through which to showcase his own work, and to grow as an artist and producer in Chicago.