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 to the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), studying Performance and Choreography in dance. While in college, Kate studied and performed with many well-known 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

Resident Choreographer

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


Cesar G. Salinas, originally from Portland, Oregon, was named Giordano Dance Chicago’s Associate Artistic Director at the start of GDC’s 60th Anniversary Season. He began his formal studies in dance with Zohar School of Dance, under the direction of Ehud Krauss in Palo Alto, CA. There he was introduced to the classic jazz styles of Gus Giordano, Luigi, and Matt Mattox. He moved to Oregon where he studied at Willamette Ballet Academy 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 Giordano Dance School in Chicago, IL, in 2004 and 2005. From 2006 until 2011, Cesar joined Giordano 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 GDC’s educational outreach program, teaching science and health dance classes to 4th and 5th grade students in under-resourced 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. In 2013, he was 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 toured the world with Royal Caribbean cruise lines as a performer in the Broadway production of Saturday Night Fever as well as an aerialist. In the January 2018 issue of Dance Teacher Magazine, Cesar demonstrates the Giordano Technique alongside Nan Giordano in honor of the company’s 55th Anniversary Season. Cesar is a certified teacher in the Giordano Technique at the Basic, Beginning, Intermediate, Advanced, and Professional Levels of the Nan Giordano Certification Program® (NGCP®). Most recently Cesar returned to the stage at the Auditorium Theatre to perform Gus Giordano’s 1978 iconic solo Wings in honor of Nan Giordano’s 33 years at the helm and 25th Anniversary as Artistic Director for GDC. Lauren Warnecke of See Chicago Dance wrote, “…you could almost imagine Gus himself up there performing the piece he made 40 years ago.” He currently teaches master classes and workshops, as well as choreographs for universities and studios across the country. This is Mr. Cesar’s eighth season with Definition Dance Academy and loves teaching, educating, and pushing his students in jazz.

Sofia Gehbauer


Sofia Gehbauer has always had a passion for all styles of dance but didn’t find her niche until she took a hip hop class from from Suavé, artistic Director of Hip Hop Connxion, when the company taught a class at her high school in 2004. She trained with Hip Hop Force and Hip Hop ConnXion Elite from 2004-2009. While on ConnXion, Sofia had many opportunities and performed all over the nation including Hip Hop International. Some of Sofia’s other credits include: numerous performances for the Chicago SKY, dancing with Lupe Fiasco at the MLS halftime performance, traveling to Orlando to perform for a worldwide McDonald’s convention, and performing at several Dance Chicago’s. In 2009, Sofia was asked to join the up and coming Chicago hip hop company, Design. While dancing with Design, they were named 1st in the Midwest at Prelude Dance competition for 2 consecutive years as well as receiving 2nd & 3rd place at WOD, and 10th in the US at Hip Hop International. Sofia was also a member with The Puzzle League who took 1st place at WOD in 2013.  Sofia teaches at various studios, performs with various groups and choreographers, and has had the opportunity to co-teach a workshop alongside Jillian Meyers.

Alex Neil-Sevier


Alex Neil-Sevier (she/her/hers) is a dance educator and artist based in Chicago, IL. Originally from West Michigan, Alex spent her early years competing in regional competitions, attending theatre workshops in New York and London as well as completing Cecchetti Ballet Method student exams I-IV. Alex holds a Bachelor of Arts in Dance with concentrations in Dancemaking and Pedagogy from Columbia College Chicago, and a Masters of Public Policy from DePaul University. Alex is a YPAD (Youth Protection Advocates in Dance) certified educator and served on their Advisory Panel from 2018-2022. She is a member of the National Dance Education Organization and has attended trainings through Discover Dance and Building Blocks of Dance. Alex is a performer and guest facilitator with Inclusive Dance Chicago/Unfolding Disability’s Futures. Alex’s passion is working with young dancers, helping them experience movement and foster artistry early in their dance education in a safe and healthy way. She is proud to have worked with movers of all ages and abilities in both traditional and non traditional dance settings.

Adam Houston


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.

Zachary Heller


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.

Felicity Nicholson


Felicity Lyon Nicholson began her formal dance training at the Fort Wayne Ballet under the direction of Karen Gibbons-Brown. She went on to receive a BFA in Dance Performance from Butler University, during which time she performed works by Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, Paul Taylor, Susan McGuire, Derek Reid, and Patrick Hinson among others. Upon graduation Felicity moved to Chicago where she studied on scholarship at Visceral Dance Chicago and at the Lou Conte Dance Center. She performed work including Thodos Dance Chicago’s New Dances, Schaumburg Dance Ensemble’s The Nutcracker, and the Moroccan tour of BDE’s Scheherazade. In 2016 Felicity became a member of Project606 Dance and Trifecta Dance Collective, where she was made Rehearsal Director in 2017. After performing Gerald Arpino’s “Light Rain” with the Fort Wayne Ballet in the Fall 2018, Felicity returned to Chicago to join Chicago Repertory Ballet and perform and teach in the Chicagoland area.

Amanda Hickey


Amanda discovered a passion for dance at the age of ten. She began her serious training at Faubourg School of Ballet under Watmora Casey, Tatyana Mazur, and Ernesto Quenedit. She graduated from Butler University in 2014, where she studied on both academic and talent scholarships earning her BFA with honors in Dance Performance. While at Butler, she had the opportunity to spend a month studying abroad in Europe where she trained and performed in Warsaw and Krakow, Poland, and St. Petersburg, Russia. As a senior, she was asked to choreograph for the study abroad program, exposing her choreography to venues across Eastern Europe. Throughout the years, Amanda has had the pleasure of performing as a guest artist for Élan Artists, The Schaumburg Dance Ensemble, and more. Upon returning to Chicago after graduation, Amanda joined Nomi Dance Company, where she danced for four years. Her professional choreography credits include works on Nomi Dance Company, The Ballet Theatre of Indiana, The Ballet INitiative, and Giordano II. In 2018, she joined Giordano II, and is currently dancing in Giordano Dance Chicago’s main company. Besides performing and choreographing, Amanda is passionate about teaching and is certified in all five levels of the Nan Giordano Certification Program®.

Nick Lampson


Nick Lampson grew up in Massachusetts as a competition dancer. He started his training at the age of 3 and he trained at a few different studios in the North East including Steps on Broadway, Dancers Image, ADC and Broadway Dance Center in New York City. He continued his training at the University of Arizona as a scholarship recipient. At the school he had an enormous amount of opportunity to perform and learn pieces from renowned choreographers such as; Darrell Moultrie, Christopher Wheeldon, and Sam Watson just to name a few. After graduating in 3 years with a BFA in dance, he joined Giordano Dance Chicago for a season. Now, Nick has a big presence in the health and fitness industry with Equinox as the Senior Membership Advisor in Chicago. Nick’s choreographic style is an athletic, musical and full-body interpretation of the music.

Joseph Cyranski


Joseph has been trained in dance since the young age of 8 years old. Beginning in jazz, he soon expanded his studies to ballet, tap, hip hop, contemporary, modern, acro, musical theater, and has recently started studying breaking. After deepening his studies for four years in numerous genres of dance, Joseph graduated from Marymount Manhattan College in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in dance with a concentration in ballet. Joseph has joined Giordano Dance Chicago this year as a new member in their second company, Giordano II. Joseph is added to the Cirque du Soleil database and has been contacted for their tours and shows such as the “Beatles LOVE” show in Las Vegas to perform the role of the Crazy Lover soloist and the national tour of “VOLTA” to play the main character and soloist WAZ. He has performed choreography created by a number of well-known choreographers, some being former NUVO faculty member Anthony Morigerato, Joffrey Ballet Schools jazz and contemporary artistic director Angelica Stiskin, REVIVE dance convention faculty member Jenn Freeman, and founder/artistic director of Diversity of Dance Earl Mosley to name a few.

Claire Calloway


Claire Calloway was born and raised in Louisiana. She began her dance training in jazz, ballet, tap & hip hop at a local studio in Baton Rouge. In 2016, Claire relocated to Pittsburgh to pursue her formal training, graduating cum laude with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance from Point Park University. Studying under the direction of Garfield Lemonius, she had the pleasure of performing numerous works by Stephanie Martinez, John Higginbotham, Dan Karasik, and Kiesha Lalama, among others. While studying at Point Park, Claire trained with San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, Eisenhower Dance Detroit, and Movement Invention Project. During this training, she had the honor of dancing with Summer Lee Rhatigan, Alex Ketley, Stefanie Batten Bland, Francesca Harper, Stephanie Pizzo, and Molly McMullen. After graduating in the Spring of 2020, Claire continued her dance career in Pittsburgh as a performer with RCL Entertainment under Susie Gustin and Elisa-Marie Alaio. Claire is ecstatic for her first season with Inaside Chicago Dance and for the opportunity to continue following her performance dreams!!

Sasha Lazarus


Sasha Lazarus, from Delray Beach, Florida, is entering her second year with Giordano Dance Chicago, as a member of Giordano II. Growing up, she trained at Boca Ballet Theatre, under the direction of Jane Tyree and Dan Guin, and at Performance Edge 2, under Ricardo Pena. In 2017, Sasha graduated from The Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts, having performed in worksby Margo Sappington, Christopher Huggins, Jennifer Archibald, Meredith Dincolo, Krista Ellensohn, Jan Hanniford, Jennifer Kronenberg, and more. Sasha completed Complexions Contemporary Ballet’s Pre-Professional Program in 2018, then kicked off her professional career by joining Menlowe Ballet. There she performed principal roles in creations by Michael Lowe, Dennis Nahat, and Donald McKayle. Sasha has been recognized as a National Young Arts Winner in Ballet and Modern Dance. She is very passionate about teaching and is certified to the Advanced Level of the Nan Giordano Certification Program®. She looks forward to sharing her knowledge with her students at Definition Dance Academy for the second year in a row!

Dani Kfoury


Originally from the Western Suburbs of Chicago, Dani began her dance training at the age of 5. Dani went on to pursue a B.F.A. in Dance and Minor in Education from The Ohio State University, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude with Distinction in Dance. While at Ohio State, she performed in works by Susan Petry, Ann Sofie Clemmensen, Crystal Michelle Perkins, and Edward Taketa. Additionally, Dani has spent two summers studying contemporary and hip hop at American Dance Festival where she performed in work by Ronald K. Brown. In 2017, Dani travelled to Denmark where she taught at various Danish youth programs and performed at Landsstævne and Gerlev Idrætshøjskole.

After leaving Ohio State, Dani spent three seasons as a Company Dancer for Hixon Dance Company in Columbus, OH. She was the recipient of the Artists in the Community Resource Grant and the Margaret Noell Kindberg Award for her artistic endeavors in Columbus. Since moving back to Chicago, she has performed in New Dances with DanceWorks Chicago and Thodos Dance Chicago. Currently, Dani works with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and South Chicago Dance Theatre, where she teaches dance in over nine Chicago Public Schools. On top of creating dance residencies in public schools, Dani shares her love of dance with hundreds of students in various Chicagoland studios.

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