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Instructor Bios

1Gina Wojnar, Dance Arts Director

Gina Wojnar started ballet at the age of 6 and has been dancing ever since. She began her dance training through the Royal Academy of Dance program at the Champaign Park District under the direction of Kim Burson.  She also trained in Vaganova technique at the Champaign Ballet Academy under the direction of Deanna Doty. Throughout her childhood, Gina has performed in numerous programs and performances offered in the Champaign-Urbana community. In 2009, Gina was accepted into the Joffrey Ballet School Summer Intensive in Chicago, and has since developed an interest in modern and other styles of dance.

In 2010, Gina was accepted to study in the Dance Department at the University of Illinois in Champaign Urbana. While obtaining her BFA, she had the pleasure to perform in works by Sahar Azhimi, Catrina Choate, Jan Erkert, Sara Hook, Linda Lehovec, Rebecca Nettl-Fiol, Tere O’Connor, Cynthia Oliver, Kirstie Simson, Tamin Totzke as well as many other student works at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. While working on her degree, Gina helped to produce shows as well as record and edit video of productions put on by the dance department.  She also taught Creative Dance for Children with Kate Kuper and worked as a ballet substitute to students of a variety of levels and backgrounds from 2012 to 2014.

Gina attended the Midwest American College Dance Association in Wisconsin in 2012, and the following year she took class with dancers from the Mark Morris Dance Group and assisted with their community outreach programs. In 2013, she received a scholarship to attend the Mark Morris summer intensive in New York City, and in 2014, she choreographed her own work and performed a solo work choreographed by Nico Brown.

If you don’t see Gina at the ballet studio, you might find her in the taekwondo dojang. Gina has a special interest in taekwondo and has taught at the HMD Academy in Savoy since 2012.

After graduating in 2014, Gina married and lived abroad in South Korea for two years. While she was there, she took modern and ballet class at Seoul Tranz Station and taught English at a private English Academy.  After returning to the Champaign area with her husband in 2016, Gina guest taught a week long intensive class at Champaign Ballet Academy.

Gina currently attends Parkland College and is working towards a graduate degree in Physical Therapy.  She feels privileged to be able serve the Champaign-Urbana community as the Dance Arts Director for the Champaign Park District.

4Jessica Bengtson, Dance Arts Assistant

Jessica began her training in Decatur, Illinois where she was an exam candidate with the Royal Academy of Dance. At age eleven, she was accepted to the National Academy of Arts in Champaign where she trained until its closure in the spring of 1987. Jessica has trained and performed under a variety of notable teachers to include Petrus Bosman, David Keener, Robert Dicello, and Mark Schneider. Jessica has been a Dance Arts instructor since 1989 where she has taught all levels of Royal Academy of Dance ballet syllabus classes, as well as all levels of Adult Ballet.

 

Cindi Adkins

Cindi Adkins began her intensive dance training in 2002, and has taught more than 7000 classes since 2001 in Latin and Middle Eastern dance, as well Pilates and many other fitness programs. Her classes provide a unique and enriching experience, and she continues to teach weekly private and group classes and workshops in the Champaign, Illinois area.

She has deep gratitude to her teachers Susie Romans at the U of I Kahlira, Aliyah Abir, Benazier, Kaylanaa, and Ashley Lopez, for having shared their elegant styles of Belly Dancing. Cindi continuously trains with specialty instructors from Chicago, Indianapolis and more, increasing her skills and adding style varieties and new dimension within her dance repertoire. She has a very diverse variety of specialties extending to Drum Solos, Veils, Goddess Wings, Fan Veils, Finger Cymbals and Feather Fans. Her stylistic influences range from fusions of Turkish, Persian Egyptian, Flamenco and a splash of Tribal, as well as numerous Latin flavors.

Cindi has performed frequently throughout central Illinois since 2005.  She has been premiered on WCIA Channel 3, and Channel UI7, and her choreography’s have been seen since in the C-U area since 2010. Performance venues have been through U of I Opera in Le Chatteau de la Voix’s ‘La púrpura de la rose, Le Jardin Arts Celebration, Amahl and The Night Visitors, presented by La Casa Liric, as well as Parkland College Cultural fair and Theater, Richmond College and Emerald City. Additional performances in support of many fundraisers with R.A.C.E.S., The Humane Society, Northeaast Food Pantry, Grace Orphanage and Disabled Center, C.A.R.E.. Cindi created a performance troupe Classy Combinations, consisting of her most high spirited and talented students, sharing the elegant art form of Belly Dance and thrilled audiences in the C-U area since 2010.  Cindi continues to offer performance as well as offering beginners, intermediate and prop specialties ongoing classes in the C-U area.

Kyle Ayers

Kyle Ayers, originally from Royal, Illinois, began dancing at Illinois State University while earning his Bachelor of Arts in Theatre.  Kyle has extensive training in Modern Dance and has also trained in Ballet (Cecchetti Syllabus) and Jazz.  He has also studied Dance Composition and Improvisation and has thorough experience in the fields of acting, costuming, makeup, lighting, and vocal performance.  In addition to teaching dance, Kyle also instructs high school color guard.  His choreography has been seen at Illinois State University, Hoopeston Area High School, Unity High School, and St. Joseph-Ogden High School.

Siobahn Bryant

Siobahn Bryant, a current dance major at the University of Illinois, has been dancing since the age of three. She started tap dance under the instruction of Sammy Dyer School of Theatre, and grew further invested in its craft after working with artist such as Lane Alexander, founder of the Chicago Human Rhythm Project. 

 

 

 

Bella Chapman

Bella Chapman trained for 11 years at the Champaign Ballet Academy, primarily focusing on classical Vaganova style ballet.  As a Senior Company member in the Champaign Urbana Ballet, she has performed in multiple productions of The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Cinderella, and The Sleeping Beauty, including the role of Clara in The Nutcracker.  In summer 2014, she trained with the Pacific Ballet Academy in Mountain View, California.  Additionally, she has taken classes in aerial arts and pole fitness at Defy Gravity.

 

 

Elise Frost

Elise Frost is a choreographer, educator, and performing artist hailing from Orlando, Florida. Her first experiences of movement occurred on the jetties, dunes, beaches, and boats of the Atlantic Ocean. The deafening abyss of the ocean, clanging rods on masts and a collapsing vessel into a sea of waves were transformative immersions into a kinesthetic world difficult to grasp. Always a mover, though initially trained as a vocalist and actor, her work integrates interdisciplinary arts and focuses on the creative process as collaboration and ideas about the ethics and labor of making. Elise has been producing and choreographing dances professionally since 2005. Most notably, she has choreographed works with Orlando based dance companies Soul Play Modern Dance Co., CineDance Jazz Dance Co., and multimedia performance experience DRIP Productions. Her collaborative work with artist Staci Scatturo Farrah has also been commissioned by Atlanta based dance company Brooks and Co. She has performed and choreographed works in Florida, Texas, Illinois and New York City. In 2012 Elise founded Red Right Return Dance Company, with the mission to create collaborative dance productions intent on fostering the investigation and growth of contemporary dance in Orlando, Florida. In her tenure as Artistic Director of Red Right Return, she produced several full-length performances and the company continues to perform and create collaborative works today. In addition to dancing in her own work, she has also had the privilege of working with independent artists Jan Erkert, Philip Johnston, Angie Pittman, McClaine Timmerman, Jeremy Miranda, and Kirstie Simson, as well as Voci Dance, Blue Star Productions, and The Neta Dance Company. She holds a degree in dance from the University of Florida and recently graduated with her MFA in dance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She hopes to continue researching, making work, merging interests with artists from many disciplines and dancing for as many folks as possible. She is currently navigating the prairies of the Midwest and continues to draw inspiration from the precarious and magnificent littoral landscapes where she spent her youth.

3Joe Grohens

Joe Grohens has been teaching tango with the Champaign Park District for over 10 years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Krista Habing

Krista Habing, currently a sophomore in bioengineering at The University of Illinois, has trained in Irish Dance through the Champaign Park District since kindergarten. In addition to dancing and teaching, she has provided Irish fiddle music accompaniment for some of the Dance Arts performances.

 

 

 

 

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Charlie Maybee

Charlie Maybee is a music and dance artist hailing from Woodbridge, Virginia, and is an alumni of the Metropolitan Youth Tap Ensemble (MTYE) and Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Department of Dance and Choreography BFA Program. He currently resides in Champaign, Illinois where he was an Adjunct Instructor, Production Manager, Space Coordinator, and Accompanist at the University of Illinois, Department of Dance as well as the Director of Dance Arts for the Champaign Park District until 2016. He has since been accepted into the University of Illinois MFA Dance Program where he is currently researching his own creative process in creating art work where tap dance is the central focus, and how to further integrate tap dance into the scope of contemporary performance.

8Megan Ray

Megan Ray has a strong foundation in the Royal Academy of Dance and has trained intensively in both ballet and Irish from a young age. She is a junior at Centennial High school.

 

 

 

 

 

Elisandra Rosario

Elisandra Rosario was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, and began dancing at the age of five. She started her studies by taking ballet and tap classes and slowly began adding more dance styles to her studies; including Hip Hop, Pointe, Jazz, Modern, Contemporary, and West African. Elisandra attended the Chicago High School for the Arts where she continued her dance training, now with a more serious attitude towards the art form. Her commitment to Dance lead her to attend the University of Illinois where she received her Bachelors in Fine Arts. Elisandra now spreads her knowledge of dance by teaching throughout the Champaign-Urbana community.

photo3Erika Smith

Erika Smith has trained in Irish dance since she was young. She went on last year to place within the top ten in an international Irish dance competition.

 

 

 

 

 

5Meghan Uppinghouse

Meghan Uppinghouse is a senior at Central High school. She has danced with the Champaign Park District for 12 years. Sha has completed the Royal Academy of Dance program. Her favorite role she has played was Queen Titania in a Mid-Summer Night’s Dream as well as being a part of a contemporary piece entitled, “A yessong.” She loves to teach creative movement and ballet levels 1 and 2.

 

 

 

9Erin Rockhold

Owner/instructor of Isle of Erin Dance Studio, Erin Wukitsch, is an Illinois Certified Teacher & a World Irish Dance Association (WIDA) Second Level TCRG Certified Irish Dance Teacher, which is the equivalent of a BA in Irish Dance.  In 2013, before achieving her second level certification, she was one of 10 Americans to qualify and be invited to attend/compete in All Irelands in Killarney, Ireland.  Of those 10, four competed.  Erin achieved 8th place overall (in the world) in her division.

Erin is also the first and so far only Instructor in the US certified by WIDA to teach special needs students.  IOE specializes in Irish Dance, but many different types of dance lessons are available. Last year her competition students were state and national champions.  Several IOE students have qualified for & will compete at Nationals again this year and have traveled to different states and throughout Illinois for different Feis competitions.  Erin has gone from teaching three students private lessons in someone’s home to opening her studio in 2009, with a current enrollment of 60+ students ages three through adult in addition to the students she teaches at Dance Arts/Champaign Park District.  Her Peoria studio is located on the corner of Glen Avenue & University, Lower Level.

James Shaffnit, Accompanist

James Schaffnit has been playing for dance classes since 1979 and has played for company classes for American Ballet Theatre, Ballet Arizona, Nevada Ballet Theater, and Hubbard Street Dance Company.  He was on staff at California Institute of the Arts from 1994-96 and is currently on staff at the University of Illinois and Springer Cultural Center in Champaign.  James has also worked as an exam pianist for the Royal Academy of Dance since 1991 and currently plays more than half of the Vocational Graded Exams in the United States.  He holds degrees in piano performance from Arizona State University and California State University, Northridge.

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