Jeanne Sok, Studio Owner/Director, began her dance training at The Dance Academy when she was three years old. In 1995 she purchased the studio from her first teacher, Mary Lou, and has been running it strong ever since. In addition to her valuable dance education that started at The Dance Academy, she has studied at Lou Conte Dance Studio (home of the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago) and has taken workshops and master classes with Savion Glover, Tommy Sutton, Jimmy Payne, and Bruce Stegmann to name a few. Ms. Jeanne has been teaching in the Chicago area for more than 20 years! Her specialties are in children’s combination classes as well as teen/adult tap classes. You can always see her smiling face around the studio — probably with one of her three beautiful children in tow!
Kathy Decker was born and raised in Chicago. Her love for movement began at age four at The Dance Academy and grew with cheerleading at Portage Park and gymnastics at Merrimac Park. Her true passion was for tap, and she began her teaching career as an assistant at The Dance Academy with Mary Lou Tromanhauser – officially joining the staff in 1991. It was from Mary Lou that she learned how to balance discipline, fun, classic techniques and creativity to make the best learning experience for all ages and levels of dance. After graduating from Notre Dame H.S., Kathy continued her dance training at Northeastern Illinois University where she received a dance scholarship studying with Dame Libby Komiako and Venitia Stifler. In 1998 she traveled with the studio to New York performing and taking master classes in the Autumn Dance Festival at Carnegie Hall. Her specialties are tap and combination classes for children. Over the years, in addition to taking continuing classes at The Dance Academy, she has taken master classes with some of the most talented dancers in the Chicagoland area such as Kirby Reed of The Kirby Reed Project and Bril Barrett and Lane Alexander of the Chicago Human Rhythm Project.
Kylie Nieves has been dancing for 24 years at The Dance Academy. Over the years, she has studied Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop, Lyrical, Modern, and Contemporary. At age 8 she was in Ballet Legere’s production of “The Nutcracker”, and a few years later studied at Joel Hall Dancer’s & Center. When she was 13, Kylie became a Teacher’s Assistant at The Dance Academy and few years later became a substitute teacher. Kylie has performed at Dance Chicago and has also competed & choreographed in several dance competitions in the Chicagoland area. In the past Kylie has danced as an Advanced Apprentice Artist at Gallery37, which is part of After School Matters, a City of Chicago program. She has had the privilage of taking several Master classes with professional dancers from Columbia College, Deeply Rooted Productions and Dance Works Chicago. She is a graduate of Walter Payton College Prep High School and has attend Northeastern Illinois University. She is thrilled to be a part of The Dance Academy staff & share her love of dance with her students. Kylie currently is teaching our Tiny-tots class as well as combination and mini hip-hop. Also she is currently one of our Jazz and Lyrical competition coach. She is looking forward to all of the exciting opportunities now and in the future.
“India Monae” Smith was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan; where she realized her love for dance at a young age. As Smith grew older, her styles in dance increased. Soon she fell in love with the culture of Hip-Hop and all it represents. Smith started her Modern dance training under choreographer and dance instructor, Miss Deborah Wilson in 2004. Smith instructed and performed solo and collaborative works at this time and shortly thereafter premiered her on stage choreography in 2007. Smith then, continued her dance training at Columbia College of Chicago to pursue her degree in dance and early childhood education. While in Chicago, Smith has had the pleasure of training under a wide variety of highly respected choreographers in and out of the Chicago dance community. Smith has had the joy of repaying the respect by teaching masterclasses all throughout the Midwest and Southern states
with Precision Arts Dance Competition; as well as judging competitions. She has performed in various dance events such as “The O Project: featuring Black Eyed Peas”, World of Dance, Carnival Choreographer’s Ball, Urbanite: Red Bull Dance Showcase, and Chicago Summer Dance Celebration; just to name a few. Smith featured as a dancer on Style Network’s 2012 season Premiere of Chicagolicious. Smith is currently an active member of Movement Revolution
Dance Company and is instructing many genres of dance across the city of Chicago. She strives to reach for her goals and to push others to do the same. She believes that dance is love, light, and life.
Teia Podgorny has trained at The Dance Academy since the age of three. She joined the competition team at the age of nine and was on the Dance Academy’s competition team for 9 years. Teia is trained in Tap, lyrical, modern, hip-hop, jazz and ballet. She is currently studying dance at Columbia College of Chicago with some of Chicago’s top five dance company members. Teia has trained with companies across Chicago in intensives and other open classes. Teia started as a teachers assistant at the Dance academy at the age of 14. She has been teaching since the age of 16. Teia is also one of our Jazz and Lyrical competition coach and co-teaches Lil’ Starz.
Alyssa Sok has been dancing since the age of 2. She is the daughter of Jeanne Sok and has been raised in a world filled with dance. Alyssa first joined the Lil’ Starz performing group before officially joined The Dance Academy Competition team at the age of 8. She has attended John Hersey High School where she learned from Christine Widell on the high schools orchiesis team. She has trained in workshops with Chris Xayarath, Matt Punanes, Rachael Berube and Zach Heller. She is trained in Tap, Ballet, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Lyrical and Contemporary. Alyssa is currently studying at The University of Kentucky, where she studies Kinesiology and Dance. She is very excited for the new year and to meet new students!!
Breane Bowling has trained at the Dance Academy since the age of 3. She joined The Dance Academy’s Lil Starz performance group at the age of 6. Breane danced for The Dance Academy’s competition team for 11 years; she joined the competition team at the age of 8. Breane is trained in Ballet, Lyrical, Hip-Hop, Tap and Jazz. Breane attended East Leyden High School where she was the president of the orchesis team, her senior year. She started as a teachers assistant at the age of 15. She took on teaching her first combination class at the age of 16. Breane is the Co-teacher for TDA’s Lil Startz performing group.
Katie Stevan has been a dancer since the age of 3. As a teenager she started assisting classes here at The Dance Academy and eventually moved up to teaching her own classes. Katie has also taught children’s classes at Soul2Sole in Highland Park and currently teaches for Dance to EvOLvE in Chicago. Katie was a captain of Dance Club at the University of Iowa where she taught adult tap classes. She has studied Tap, Jazz, Modern, Lyrical, and Ballet at different studios throughout high school, college, and adulthood. She also took an interest in Ballroom Dance in College. Katie loves to teach and she has worked with all age groups from 2 – adult. Katie is excited to share her passion for dance with the students of The Dance Academy.
Megan Szajna is a recent graduate of Columbia College Chicago where she completed a double major in Dance and Business. While at Columbia, Megan took dance courses in ballet, modern, West African, tap, improvisation, anatomy, choreography, pedagogy, and more. She trained under the instruction of teachers such as Margi Cole, Onye Ozuzu, Paige Cunningham-Caldarella, Darrell Jones, Carrie Hanson, Dardi McGinley-Gallivan, and Emily Stein. She also performed in numerous works on Columbia’s Dance Center stage, including those by Erin Kilmurray, Rachel Bunting, Rachel Damon, and Keesha Beckford. While at Columbia, she became invested in dance education and has been teaching creative movement and technique classes to communities throughout the city of Chicago. She is so excited to come back to her roots and teach at TDA, where she took her very first dance classes ten years ago!