Ms. Christina Hesslau is the Founder, Director and Lead Teacher of Spotlight Dance Academy of Chicago Ltd. She is a dance educator, choreographer and performer. She is also a current member of the NDEO (National Dance Education Organization). Ms. Christina graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance and Business Management. Ms. Christina is qualified in diverse dance forms such as: Ballet, Modern, Lyrical, Jazz, Tap and varied Hip-Hop styles.
Performance and Choreography Experience: Ms. Christina has varied performance experiences. She began her dance journey at a very young age and after being the Dance Team Captain at Ridgewood High School, Christina ventured out to John Robert Powers for dance, acting and singing education. Dancing under the direction of choreographer, Jeri Slaughter, in Las Vegas where she won the Top 10 Dancer Award at the iPOP Talent Convention. Ms. Christina performed in the, “Purple Reign” Performance and also performed as a back up dancer for Athena Jade at The Chicago Theater. She was a part of the UDA (Universal Dance Association) and also performed as an All American Dancer, performing in Chicago and in Rome. Ms. Christina has choreographed and performed in numerous Columbia College Chicago dance productions. She has also choreographed and danced in numerous filmed dance pieces with Iconic Arts and with Director Daniel Zúñiga. Ms. Christina is also a current Company Member of the, Femme Fatale Dance Company. In addition to being the lead dance instructor at SDA, she continues to practice her craft and enrich her professional dance experience with current choreographic and performance opportunities.
Teaching Philosophy: As a dance educator, Ms. Christina believes that in a safe and fun learning environment, dance can reach the many hearts of her young students. With patience, determination, drive, the willingness to grow and of course, a passion for dance, anyone can become the dancer they aspire to be! With the proper training, knowledge, history and right amount of love, her students can soar and develop into beautiful and knowledgable dancers!
Recognizing the individuality, creativity and strengths of each student is a key facilitator to her teachings. Engaging students through the power of dance and movement, she assists her students in becoming their own best teachers and fans. She uses diverse, multi-sensory methods to involve students and encourage their self-expression and self-excellence. She weaves a central theme through each dance technique class, to connect technique and developing their individual and artistic voice. Finding the balance between technical mastery and artistry development is key to a successful class in Ms. Christina's eyes.
She advocates that dance is an outlet that can help students grow and develop confidence both in a outside of the classroom. Ms. Christina believes that Spotlight Dance Academy truly is, "where dance has a home!"
Dance Education: Lexus Karedes from Chicago, Illinois grew up studying dance at a young age. Over the past 19 years, she has trained in ballet, modern, tap, jazz, lyrical, and hip hop, as well as attending multiple master classes in various styles of dance. To further her education, she studied at Columbia College Chicago where she received her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance with a concentration in performance and teaching. As a student, she performed in works by a variety of choreographers including Rennie Harris, Tosha “Ayo” Alston, Peter Carpenter, Pamela McNeil, Jessica Miller Tomlinson and Hope Goldman. Lexus has taught throughout Chicago and is involved with the Chicago dance community and plans to continue practicing her craft in Chicago as a teaching artist, dance maker, and performer.
Teaching Philosophy:In my classes, students become passionate about learning the art of dance. I focus on challenging students to learn from a specific genre of dance in depth while still concentrating on proper form and technique. A successful dance class happens in an environment where students feel comfortable and confident, while also being challenged to step out of their comfort zone. My class makes students think outside the box when creating movement, and I use imagery to help students understand the movement.
An education in dance should be available to all, so recognizing various student learning methods is important. One example is presenting material and then breaking it down step by step so the students can focus on deepening their dance experience and learn more than just the basic choreography.
Concepts in the class should always be approached from a perspective of clarity, form, space, energy, focus, confidence, presentation, and a sense of challenge to push oneself in class. The students gain confidence in dancing and also learn skills that translate well to teamwork.
My students build on technique while also deepening their experiences with dance in the classroom. Students will find their style and artistry through movement. I truly value positive energy from engaged students in the classroom. Having a great attitude and an open mind leads them to have a memorable experience. I help students make their own discoveries in movement and guide them when applying it to technique in class.
Ms. Lauren graduated from Texas A&M University Corpus Christi in 2013 with her Bachelors in Media Communications and a certification in Dance. She is an El Paso, Texas native and has been dancing since the age of 7 and teaching dance since she was 13. She is currently employed full time as an Advertising and Sponsorship Manager for Broadway In Chicago and teaches dance part time on the weekends.
Performing and Teaching Experience: Lauren’s experience with dance started when she was seven with ballet. She joined her high school’s dance team from sophomore year through graduation where she expanded her experience to styles of modern, tap, hip hop, jazz, contemporary, ball room and swing. In college, Lauren minored in dance and taught at her dance professor’s studio for 2 years teaching ballet from 3 years to adult. She found her passion grow from ballet to contemporary and studied under contemporary artist in the area.
In 2011, Lauren co-founded and became president of her University’s organization titled The Stage, allowing students with and without dance experience to enjoy free dance classes on campus with guest chorographers from around the city. The organization eventually formed into a dance troupe and performed around the city of Corpus Christi which included the Bailando Dance Festival, Corpus Christi Art Museum and Dia De Los Muertos Street Festival. She would also perform with both the Universities’ Dance Department and The Stage twice a year in the school’s bi-annual Dance Demonstrations (recitals).
In 2013, the School of Arts, Theatre and Communication awarded her the 2013 award for Outstanding Choreographer.
After moving to Chicago in 2014, Lauren began teaching at A Fairy Tale Ballet in Lakeview where she met Ms. Christina and became friends and colleagues. Her experience teaching at the dance studio includes ballet and tap from ages 18 months to 18 years and choreographing for studio’s annual summer recital. Lauren has taken dance classes at the Joffrey, Hubbard and Visceral in Chicago and is thrilled to be teaching alongside her friend and at Spotlight Dance Studio.
William Harris William Harris is a Chicago-native bboy, dancer and artist. In pursuit earning his B.A. in Dance at Columbia College Chicago, Will has performed with The Happiness Club at venues such as Lollapalooza, Park West, The Harris Theater, Navy Pier, Magnificent Mile Lights Festival and at Dance Chicago. Some performances with dancers include the Danspace Project 2017 in New York, Faculty Concert 2017 at the Dance Center of Columbia College, Jello at Links Hall with Ground Rhythm Dance, and Bravesoul Movement with Bravemonk (Daniel Haywood) and K-Soul (Kelsa Robinson) William has also created dance work with local chicago choreographers and mentors such as J’Sun Howard, Tanji Harper, and Destine Young. He currently focuses as a freelance artist, a member Jus.Be House Collective, audio producer and teacher.