WHO WE ARE

Kate Louer
Owner | Instructor

Originally from Ithaca, NY Kate has been training in Ballet, Jazz, Tap, contemporary and Hip Hop for more than 20 years. After Graduating high school she went on the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) earning her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Performance and Choreography. While in college Kate studied and performed with many well know Choreographers including, John Lehere, Charmaine Hunter, Richard Havey, Gail Gilbert, Douglass Dunn and Susan Quinn. Performing in many concerts throughout college Kate was also chosen to perform with Bay Area Dance Company out of San Francisco; the Choreography Showcase in Madrid, Spain; and The International Dance and Gymnastics Festival in Kiel, Germany. On scholarship at UNLV she was awarded outstanding performer and choreographer her senior year. Moving to Chicago straight out of college in 2005 Kate was asked to be on scholarship with Thodos Dance Chicago in their summer intensive and then moved on the be a full time trainee with the company. After Thodos she then became a member of RASA Dance Chicago where she worked with them for 2 years. After dancing professional she found teaching and choreographing to be her new passion. She has taught throughout the city of Chicago as well as all the United States choreographing and teaching master classes. Loving to teach and choreograph, she feels it is a way to express herself and spread her love and knowledge of dance to others. Kates other passion in life is being a wife and a mom to her husband Mike and 2 amazing Children Abby and Ryan. She wants to thank all of her family for their support in making her dream of a studio come to life.

Meredith Schultz
Owner | Instructor

Growing up in the competition circuit, Meredith was trained in multiple disciplines including tap, jazz, ballet, modern, and contemporary. While attending college she was a guest artist for Dayton Ballet and a member of Dayton Contemporary Dance Company’s 2nd company. After graduating from University of Cincinnati’s College Conservatory of Music with a BFA in ballet, Meredith moved to Chicago to pursue her dance career. She came to Chicago on scholarship to study at Giordano Dance School, and was then promoted to Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago’s main company, where she spent six amazing seasons. She has performed works by Mia Michaels, Ron De Jesus, Randy Duncan, Christopher Huggins, Davis Robertson, Rennie Harris and more. While dancing professionally at Giordano’s, Meredith also taught master classes nationally and internationally in Germany, Austria, Turkey, Guatemala and Hawaii. Meredith has been teaching and choreographing all over the country for the past 9 years, teaching dance for the Science and Health program in underserved Chicago Public schools, and has been part of the Master Faculty for Jazz Dance World Congress Kid’s Jazz. She currently adjudicates for the world renowned dance competition, World – Class Talent Experience and is on master faculty for the national workshop, Ambition. Meredith’s passion comes out through her teaching and mentoring, and she prides herself on her ability to help student’s pursue their dreams.

Nicki Niemet
Instructor

Nicki Niemet has previously performed with Design Dance Company located in Chicago, IL. Design Dance Company has been honored with numerous prestigious awards including Prelude Midwest Dance Competition Champions and Placed top ten at U.S Hip Hop Championships hosted by Hip Hop International. She recently was a performing member with another Chicago based dance company, Purifyied Entertainment, established in 2008.Prior to her recent success, Nicki started dancing at the age of 15 training under Hip Hop Connxion Dance Company from 2003-2009, A team continuously placing top ten in the nation at Hip Hop International 2005-2008. Nicki has also been seen performing in numerous Dance Chicago’s and was previously part of the Dare Dance Program, inspiring kids all over the Chicago land Area. In fall 2009, Nicki had the privilege of performing alongside the Black Eyed Peas at Oprah’s 24th Season Kickoff Party where she assisted to teach 21,000 people, the largest flash mob in history. Nicki just recently had a principle-dancing role in Bollywood’s 2013 box office film, DHOOM 3. She has been seen in numerous music videos and concert performances throughout her career with artists including: Krewella, Pheave, J’Moss, John Blu & JP Roquet. In addition, She was blessed with the opportunity to perform on BET’s 2013 Celebration Of Gospel along side Grammy Award winning artist, Smokie Norful. Nicki’s passion for dance is continuously growing stronger and stronger and although her back ground primarily consists of street styles, she appreciates and trains in all styles of the art.

Cesar G. Salinas
Instructor

Cesar began his formal studies in dance with Zohar School of Dance, under the direction of Ehud Krauss in Palo Alto, CA. There he wasintroduced to the classic jazz styles of Gus Giordano, Luigi, and Matt Mattox. He moved to Oregon where he studied at Willamette Ballet under Deborah Higginbotham. Cesar went on to further his training at the University at Buffalo, where he graduated with a BFA in Dance. He received a scholarship to the Giordano Dance School in Chicago, IL, in 2004 and 2005. From 2006 until 2011, Cesar joined the Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago as a full company member performing throughout the United States and Europe. During his tenure, he was proud to be a part of GJDC’s educational outreach program, teaching Science and Health dance classes to 4th and 5th grade students in underserved public schools in Chicago. Cesar was honored to be on the cover of Dance Magazine (August 2007) and to teach at the Jazz Dance World Congress in 2007, 2009, and 2012. Cesar recently toured the world with Royal Caribbean cruise lines as a performer in the Broadway production of Saturday Night Fever as well as an aerialist, traveling throughout the Caribbean, the Baltic, Scandinavia, Iceland, Italy, Spain, Greece, Turkey, Malta, Oman and Dubai. He was honored to be chosen as a soloist for BalaSole Dance Company performing “Hunted” in New York City’s Alvin Ailey Citigroup where he received rave reviews, “richly physical performance that drew the audience’s unfettered enthusiasm” – Philip Gordon. Cesar is an adjudicator for the elite dance competition, World-Class Talent Experience and is on Master Faculty for the sister workshop, AMBITION. He currently serves on Faculty at Foster Dance Studios and The Joffrey Academy of Dance. Cesar is currently the artistic Assistant for Giordano Dance Chicago.

Benjamin Holiday Wardell
Instructor

Benjamin Holliday Wardell is the founder and Creative Director of The Cambrians. His dance training began in ballet and has since widened to encompass an ever broader range of techniques. In his fourteen years as a professional dancer, Ben has had the privilege to work with many of the world’s leading choreographers and movement researchers on innovative performance ventures. His career began with The Cincinnati Ballet, where he achieved the rank of soloist before moving to San Francisco to dance with the Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet. Working with LINES allowed Ben to expand further into his understanding of the human body and the many ways to create dance performance. Moving from San Francisco, he joined Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. As a dancer
with the company for over four years, Ben was able to work directlywith global leaders in the field of dance. Since leaving Hubbard Street four years ago, he has focused on creating new methods for the construction of dance productions. These methods center on generating work through large-scale, complex collaborations in which members of numerous dance genres and communities contribute their knowledge and creativity to the creation of singular performance processes. The purpose of these collaborations is to create high-quality, progressive art without sacrificing comprehensibility and accessibility to audiences from a broad array of communities. Ben is also currently an ensemble member with Lucky Plush Productions under the direction of Julia Rhoads.

Ben is the recipient of a 2014 Illinois Arts Council Fellowship for Dance and a 2015 Lab Artist Award from Chicago Dancemakers Forum.

Valerie Robin
Instructor

Valerie Robin celebrated the end of a 26 year professional dancing career in Spring of  2013 . Her repertoire included leading roles in works by Arpino, Joffrey, Balanchine, Ashton, Kylian, Lubovitch, Tharp, Christopher Wheeldon, James Kudelka, Ronald Hynd, Yuri Possakhov, Uwe Scholtz and Jerome Robbins as well as a majority of the Classics including The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Giselle, Les Sylphides, La Sylphide, Sleeping
Beauty, Cinderella, Suite en Blanc and Grand pas Classique . Ms. Robin participated in the 1990 New York International Ballet Competition acquiring a bronze medal and the 1992 Varna International Ballet Competition becoming one of the first Americans to reach the finals in 10 years. She danced in Tulsa Ballet Theatre, Milwaukee Ballet, Leiziger Ballets, Kieler Ballets and Ballet Wisconsin before joining the Joffrey Ballet in 2000. She was a cast member in the film “The Company” directed by Robert Altman and created the leading role in Rebecca Aleman’s short film “Basta!”. She has taught all levels of ballet from creative movement to professional company classes with Leipziger Ballets, Ballet Wisconsin, Kieler Ballets and Joffrey Ballet. Ms. Robin is certified in Ultra Barre as lead instructor and has her national 200hr yoga teacher certification through Moksha Yoga Center in Chicago.

Alex Neil-Sevier
Instructor

Alex Neil-Sevier began her dance training in Western Michigan, competing in various regional competitions and attending dance and theatre intensives in New York during the summers. She also trained in the Cecchetti Ballet Method and passed student exam grades I-IV. Alex graduated in 2011 with her Bachelor’s in Dance from Columbia College Chicago. While at Columbia, she had the opportunity to perform in works by Pam McNeill, Rebecca Lemme and several fellow students. In addition to performing and choreographing, she focused much of her coursework on pedagogy and the importance of understanding anatomy and movement. Upon graduating, she began teaching in the Chicago area. Her choreography has placed overall in regional competitions throughout Chicago and Michigan. She is also a member of the International Association of Dance Medicine and Science and the National Dance Education Association. Alex’s passion is working with little dancers, helping them experience movement and foster artistry when they are young.

Joshua Blake Carter
Instructor

Joshua Blake Carter is a member of Giordano Dance Chicago, America’s original jazz dance company. Originally from Atlanta, GA, he received his early dance training from the Cobb County Center for Excellence in the Performing Arts, and continued his studies at the University of Arizona, where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Cum Laude as well as the Outstanding Senior Award from the School of Dance. Since joining GDC in 2010, Joshua has had the opportunity to tour nationally and abroad performing works by Brock Clawson, Autumn Eckman, Nan Giordano, Liz Imperio, Roni Koresh, Ray Leeper, Jon Lehrer, Ray Mercer, Mia Michaels and more. He also serves as the Director to GDC’s second company, Giordano II, and he is a member of the Dance For Life Chicago Ambassador Committee. Joshua’s continued interest in choreography led him to become a finalist in the Dance Under the Stars Choreography Festival in Palm Desert, CA, in 2008. The following year he was selected as the winner of Wonderbound’s (formerly Ballet Nouveau Colorado) national choreography competition, dancemakers2.0, and in the spring of 2013, he was one of six winners commissioned to create a new work for DanceWorks Chicago’s DanceMoves choreography competition. Later in 2013, he was awarded the Producers’ Panel Prize by The Ruth Page Foundation for his work, “Ripen”, as part of Dance Chance: Redux 5.0. Joshua’s 2015 work for Giordano Dance Chicago was referred to as “fresh and cohesive… honest and genuine” by Halfstack Magazine. Other commissions include: Giordano II, Missouri Contemporary Ballet, Nomi Dance Company, Visceral Dance Chicago, Artifact Dance Project, and Glendale Community College (Artist in Residence 2012). In addition to performance and choreography, Joshua is a passionate dance educator and teaches in schools across the U.S. each year, as well as in several Chicago dance institutions.

Adam Houston
Instructor

Adam began his early training in his hometown of Boone, Iowa. Upon graduating high school, he moved to Tucson, Arizona where he continued studying at The University of Arizona. There Adam began his professional training in ballet with James Clouser and Melissa Lowe, along with modern and jazz. During his time at U of A, Adam performed works by James Clouser, Elizabeth George, Doug Nielsen, Susan Quinn, Michael Williams, and Sam Watson. He also performed in works by guest choreographers Larry Keigwin, Ann Reinking and Gary Chryst’s CHICAGO Suite, and George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante and Rubies, as the Principle Male. Adam graduated magna cum laude from The University of Arizona receiving a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance. He was also named Outstanding Senior by the School of Dance for the graduating class of 2013. Upon graduating from the University of Arizona, Adam began his professional career with Giordano Dance Chicago as a Performing Associate. He was then promoted to Senior Performing Associate. During his time as a PA, he performed with the main company regionally, nationally, and internationally. Going into his fourth season with Giordano, Adam has had the opportunity to perform works by Autumn Eckman, Liz Imperio, Roni Koresh, Ray Leeper, Randy Duncan, and Gus Giordano, to name a few. In addition to dancing, Adam is a part of GDC’s Jazz Dance/Science & Health outreach program; teaching 4th & 5th grade students in Chicago Public Schools about dance, health, and fitness. He also teaches and choreographs in Chicago and the Chicagoland area. Following two years as a Senior Performing Associate, Adam is excited and honored to be in his second season with Giordano Dance Chicago as a main company member.

Kara Lozanovski
Instructor

Kara Lozanovski was born in Crown Point, Indiana and started dancing at age of three with the Indiana Ballet Theatre North West. She continued to train and perform with them until high school graduation, where she had many lead roles in their productions and traveled to London, England to receive her Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance certification. Kara also competed as a soloist winning many national dance competition titles. Kara continued her studies at Butler University where she received her BFA in Dance Performance and played the viola with the Butler Symphony Orchestra. While at Butler, Kara performed many lead roles in The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Copellia, Giselle, Midwinter Dance Festival, George Balanchine’s Serenade, and Anthony Tudor’s, Dark Elegies. After graduation, she moved to Chicago to live her ‘big city’ dream! She was a scholarship apprentice with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and has been performing at exclusive events with several production agencies throughout the city. Kara has had many professional performance opportunities since her time in Chicago including back up dancing with Beyonce and Katy Perry. She is also in New York Times Best Selling book “Dancers Among Us” by author/photographer Jordan Matter. Currently, Kara has been traveling and performing with ‘C5 Create With No Limits.’ She is also a competitive judge for Showstopper Dance Competitions. Other than dance, Kara was a level 8 gymnast and is a certified Pilates Instructor. She is so excited to share her love and passion for this art form at Definition Dance!

Kris Knighton
Instructor

Kris started his dance career as a freshman in high school with a club called Spotlight. His junior year he starting teaching in an after-school expressive club called Urban Arts Club as the popping instructor. Since then he has danced with multiple dance companies and performed different genres to influence his diverse hip-hop dance style. Kris made his professional theatre debut last fall as Grafitti Pete in Porchlight Music Theatre’s hit “In the Heights”.  He is currently working as an instructor at Dance Room Chicago, Wings Dance Studio and Lincolnshire Academy of dance and is working on his AA at College of Dupage.  Kris loves working with his students and helping them grow to their fullest potential.

Zachary Heller
Resident Choreographer

Zachary Heller started his training in ballet and jazz in Alexandria VA. During his early training he performed with the American Dance Company under the direction of Mark Marino. He accompanied ADC on several tours to Europe and Central America. While dancing with ADC he was recognized as the Grishko Outstanding Male Dancer at the Prague International Dance Festival in 2003. His choreography of the musicals “A Chorus Line” and “The Boyfriend” received Cappies Awards for outstanding musical theater choreography in 2003 and 2004. He attended the University of Arizona and in 2008 graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance; he also fulfilled all the requirements for Pre Med. At U of A, he performed works choreographed by Susan Quinn, Michael Williams, Sam Watson, Douglas Nielson, Frank Chaves, James Clouser, and George Balanchine. This is currently his eighth season performing with Giordano Dance Chicago. He is a resident choreographer for Midwest Dance Collective in Barrington, IL. He also teaches at ACDFA and choreographs for studios and youth companies in the Chicago area and around the U.S. Zachary would like to thank his family and friends for their love and support.