Cathy Rosenberg, proud owner of Steps Dance Center, started as an educator. She received an MSEd. from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana. Cathy has taught preschool, kindergarten, 3rd grade, and college courses. She also was the assistant director of the Child Development Lab at U of I and a parent facilitator for an at risk preschool program.Her passion for working with children headed in a very different direction thanks to her family. Cathy’s three daughters led her to the world of dance. She feels very fortunate to continue working with children and families. Cathy is proud to provide a well-rounded dance education, taught by an amazing faculty of dance professionals, for all of her Steps family.
Rebecca Rosenberg Rebecca Rosenberg has been teaching and training dancers of all ages for 20 years. She serves as the Artistic Director at Steps Dance Center where she is able to share her passion for helping young dancers build confidence as well as a foundation of technique. Growing up training in all styles, she promotes a well-rounded dance education and infuses a blend of styles into her enthusiastic classes. While pursuing her degree in Chemistry at the University of Illinois, she served as choreographer for the nationally ranked Illini Dance Team, and as the Artistic Director of the International Hip Hop Company, Dance2XS. She enjoys helping high school dancers find their artistic voice through her leadership of the Neuqua Valley Orchesis Dance Company. Rebecca continues to train regularly through classes and conventions in order to bring new styles and inspiration to her students, including her recent certification in Progressing Ballet Technique. She loves finding ways to enrich the dance program at Steps and provide opportunities for the Steps dancers. She feels lucky to teach alongside such an accomplished faculty and to be able to share her passion for dance with the students at Steps.
Braeden Barnes, a native from Chicago, Illinois, received his training from Faubourg Ballet and San Francisco Ballet school. Braeden was then accepted into the Joffrey Ballet training program under the directors Alexei Kremnev and Anna Reznik.
Braeden has worked professionally with Balletmet, Joffrey Ballet Chicago, Ron de Jesus Dance, Billy Elliot the Musical, Cocodaco Dance Project, C5, Nevada Ballet Theatre and Visceral Dance Chicago. Braeden has performed both nationally and internationally. He has worked with choreographers such as James Canfield, Paul Vasterling, Danielle Agami, Kevin O’Day, Mónica Cervantes, Marguerite Donlon, Matthew Neenan, Lucas Crandall, Nick Pupillo, and Yoshito Sakuraba.
Braeden is an award-winning choreographer. His choreography has been featured in such cities as Chicago, Las Vegas, New York City, and Atlanta. Among these places, his work has won the first place audience choice award at REVERBDance Festival in New York, as well as first place for best choreography at YAGP. He has choreographed on various companies such as Nevada Ballet Theatre, Cirque Du Soleil, Visceral Dance Chicago, Peoria Ballet, Waterstreet Dance Milwaukee, A&A Ballet, Common Conservatory, Indiana University Contemporary Department and for New Dances: a collaboration between Danceworks and Thodos Dance Chicago.
In 2020, he started his own nonprofit company, Symbiosis Arts, which is based in Chicago. Symbiosis has produced full evening shows in Chicago and Denver and has commissioned choreographers such as Anna Long, Francisco Aviva, Shannan Alvis, Jason Parsons, and Noelle Kayser. For more information, visit symbiosisarts.org.
Photo Katie Miller
Angelina Familara and Karlo Familara are an adventurous and creative choreographic duo now residing in Chicago, IL. Prior to living in Chicago, Angelina and Karlo lived in Los Angeles where they pursued their professional dance careers. Their credits as dancers include video games and commercials as well as dancing for artists such as The Black Eyed Peas, Kanye West, Beyonce, and Justin Bieber. Through these experiences they realized that their true calling is teaching, creating and inspiring young dancers. Their teaching credits include Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio, Movement Lifestyle and International Dance Academy in Los Angeles. They currently set works at various studios throughout the Midwest and co-direct the award-winning hip hop program here at Steps Dance Center. Their eclectic dance backgrounds and their true love for instilling hip hop technique gives them the unique ability to communicate to classically trained dancers and street dancers alike.
Mike Gosney, co-founder of Elements Ballet, has been teaching and privately coaching ballet for over 20 years. In addition to training many of the dancers in Elements Ballet, his students have been accepted into prestigious programs and schools such as American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet School, The Juilliard School, Pacific Northwest Ballet School, Houston Ballet, Boston Ballet, North Carolina School of the Arts, Milwaukee Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, The Joffrey Academy, LINES Ballet, Tisch School of the Arts, and many others. As a choreographer, Mr. Gosney’s work has appeared in St. Louis Spring to Dance, The A.W.A.R.D. Show! 2010 at Dance Center of Columbia College, The Best of Dance Chicago, Looptopia, Around the Coyote Arts Festival, The Atlas Agenda, Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival, Evanston Arts Week, On the Prairie at the Chicago Cultural Center, productions with the Evanston Dance Ensemble and Evanston Symphony, and in many other Chicago area festivals and dance performances. In 2015 and 2016 Gosney co-conceptualized and co-choreographed Surge, and AYA, An Aerial Balletwith Elements’ Joseph Caruana and Chloe Jensen and Karen Fisher Doyle of Aerial Dance Chicago. Mike is on faculty at Extensions Dance Center, Dance Center Evanston, and Steps Dance Center, and has previously taught at Visceral Dance Center, Chicago Dance Academy, Joel Hall Dance Center, Lou Conte Dance Center, Gus Giordano Dance Center, DancenterNorth, Eastern Illinois University, and College of Lake County. Mr. Gosney has orchestrated events for Evanston Arts Week and DanceArt Outreach Program, and formerly served as Artistic Director of Koslynn Dance Academy and SASS Productions.
Lorie Holtey is originally from Yakima, Washington where she owned a successful studio for 16 years. Not only herself, but her students have won numerous awards and scholarships thru the years. Now living in the Chicago area, she is enjoying continuing teaching and training. Dancing since the age of 6 she is trained in all areas of dance such as Tap, Ballet, Jazz, Hip Hop, Lyrical, Musical Theater, Baton, and Gymnastics – she is a diverse and well rounded dancer. Lorie has traveled all over the country as well as Internationally, working for dance competitions and conventions sharing her love, passion and knowledge for dance. She toured with Hoctor’s Dance Caravan for 6yrs, working with, assisting, instructing and performing with some of the greats in the dance world! Lorie has since been with Starpower National & International Talent Competition for over 20yrs. She has seen thousands of dancers grow up on the stage into the professional work place. Lorie was on staff for All American Cheer and Dance, working the Pro Bowl Pre game and Halftime shows in Hawaii for 18 yrs as a Field Coordinator and Featured Dancer . She has choreographed, coached, and worked with several high school cheer squads, dance teams, and Colorguards. Lorie also does judging and choreography for opening numbers and individual routines for pageants. She has been a featured dancer with such artists like Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, Sugar Ray, Lifehouse, Goo Goo Dolls, Enrique Iglesias, Cierra, & Jennifer Love Hewitt, just to name a few.
Ashley Michalek recently graduated from The University of Iowa with a B.F.A. in Dance and a B.A. in Elementary Education. Originally from Aurora, IL her training background was based heavily in classical ballet as she trained with Kenneth von Heidecke and many dancers from the Joffrey (a student of Maria Tallchief) at Chicago Festival Ballet. At the University of Iowa she was priveleged to work with George De la Pena, Charlotte Adams, Eloy Barragan, Deanna Carter, Armando Duarte, Jennifer Kayle, Alan Sener, Julie Bour, Jennifer Muller, and Melinda Myers (restaging a Trisha Brown work). She recently attended the Hubbard Street Summer Intensive and was chosen to be an intern/apprentice with Thodos Dance Chicago for the 2013-14 season. Hoping to incorporate her love for children and education, she has aspirations of getting involved with outreach programs in the city and suburbs to make a difference and increase accessibility and awareness of the arts for underprivileged individuals in struggling communities as well as just trying to spread the art form.
Taylor Mitchell is a Chicago-based choreographer, performance artist, and dance educator. He earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts from The University of Arizona (2014) where he received the Creative Achievement Award for numerous works of choreography presented by the UA Dance Ensemble and also worked with the Department of Theater.
Taylor has performed with Thodos Dance Chicago, Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, Cocodaco Dance Project, C5 Create with No Limits, AJA Talents, and other national and international projects. His professional choreography credits include DanceWorks Chicago, Visceral Dance Chicago, The Big Muddy Dance Company, Thodos Dance Chicago, Houston METdance, Aerial Dance Chicago, Chicago Repertory Ballet, Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre, Cocodaco Dance Project, New Dances (Chicago), Symbiosis Arts, Dance in the Parks, Level Dance, Houston Contemporary 2, Chicago House, and The Baton Rouge Ballet Theatre.
He has presented work at the Kieler Woche Festival (2017) - one of the largest summer festivals in Northern Germany and the Harvest Contemporary Dance Festival in Chicago (2018, 2019, 2022). He has also served as an Artist in Residence with Washington and Lee University (2019), Southeast Missouri State University (2018, 2021), The University of Louisiana Lafayette (2019), and Keshet Center for the Arts (2018).
He currently serves as Artistic Director/Choreographer/Collaborator of the MitchellMovement Collective, his own project, while fusing his unique voice of contemporary dance with aspects of physical theatre/clowning technique. Also, Taylor is a newly certified teacher from the New England Feldenkrais® (ATM®) Program and is looking forward to bringing the method further into his educational and creative services.
photo credit: Chloe Hamilton
Jackie Nowicki originates from Chicago, Illinois. She received her BFA in Dance from Western Michigan University, where she graduated summa cum laude and was named Presidential Scholar in April 2008, and she was chosen as the Department of Dance's Distinguished Alumni for the 2016 school year. She danced for Pilobolus Dance Theater in their PCS company, performing for them all over the world, and is certified to teach for their Educational Outreach Program. Her professional credits also include dancing for Mike Esperanza's BARE Dance Company, Calen Kurka's :pushing progress, and Marlena Wolfe's The Wolfe Project. Jackie worked as a part-time faculty member at Western Michigan University's Department of Dance, and for ten years taught all over the New York dance scene including being on faculty at Peridance Capezio Center, and guesting at Steps on Broadway and Broadway Dance Center. In Chicago, she is currently on faculty at Visceral Dance Center, COMMON Conservatory, The Rooted Space, Steps Dance Center, Exhibit Three Dance Company, and is the Assistant Company Director at Extensions Dance Center. Jackie’s athletic, daring, and unique approach to movement has also landed her numerous master classes and conventions throughout the United States and even internationally in Rome, Italy. She is on faculty for Celebrity Dance Conventions, Dance Device Lab, Turn it Up Dance Challenge, and Stage Door Workshops, specializing in Contemporary and Improv classes. Jackie is the artistic director of her own contemporary dance company based out of New York and Chicago, NOW Dance Project. Her choreography has been commissioned by numerous dance companies, studios, and universities including The Ailey School, Dancing in the Parks, Elon University, The HARTT School, Salve Regina University, Western Michigan University, Urbanity, the Peridance Certificate Program, Wayne State University, Visceral Dance Chicago, and many more. Jackie’s work has received numerous acclamations and awards and was even selected to perform at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, for the American College Dance Association's 2016 National Festival.
Matt Pospeshil grew up dancing, singing & performing theater in the northern suburbs of Chicago, and got his start dancing professionally in high school with Especially Tap Chicago (dir. Julie Cartier). He furthered his education at Western Michigan University; received a degree in Dance, and performed Musical Theater. After college Matt returned home to dance with Inaside Chicago Dance (dir. Richard Smith), Chicago Tap Theatre (dir. Mark Yonally), Chicago Human Rhythm Project - BAM! (dir. Lane Alexander), Gus Giordano Jazz Legacy Company (dir. Amy Giordano) and Chicago Human Rhythm Project - Stone Soup Rhythms (dir. Dani Borak). Some memorable performances for him have been Dance for Life (2015, 2017, 2019), Dance in the Parks (2017), The Fly Honey Show (2017), Audible Odyssey (2015, 2016), and The Green Mill Poetry Slams (2013-2019). Matt also Judges for Starpower Talent Competition & Edge Talent Competition, has previously adjudicated for Dance Masters of America & Dance Educators of America, and teaches for the Wild Dance Intensive - National Touring Convention. Two passionate pursuits of his are exploring rhythmic collaboration with other musicians, and creating dance for film.
Carrie Nicastro Ruiz, originally from Northbrook, IL, received her initial training under Cheri Rose, studying the Cecchetti Method of Ballet. Carrie continued her education at the University of Iowa and graduated with honors in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in both Dance and Psychology. After graduation, Carrie moved back to Chicago to accept a Company position with Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre, while also accepting a full scholarship to train at the Lou Conte Dance Studio, under the tutelage of Claire Bataille. After dancing with SPDW, Carrie participated in the work/study program at Visceral Dance Center, and continued on to hold positions with Hedwig Dances, Thodos Dance Chicago, Giordano II, LeveL Dance, and Hanna Brictson and Dancers. Carrie has also enjoyed dancing as a freelance artist and has had the honor of performing numerous times in Dance For Life, Thodos Dance Chicago New Dances, Dance Chicago, Harvest Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival, Danceworks Chicago’s Dance Chance, Carnival Choreographer’s Ball Chicago, and for many independent choreographers including Autumn Eckman, Becca Lemme, Lizzie Mackenzie, Jessica Miller-Tomlinson, and her husband, Ricky Ruiz. Additionally, Carrie is featured in the New York Times Bestseller, “Dancers Among Us” by Jordan Matter Photography. Carrie still performs when she can and is extremely grateful for every opportunity she has received in the Chicago dance community, and is especially grateful to Claire Bataille, Joanna Rosenthal, and Nick Pupillo for opening the door to her professional career.
In addition to performing, Carrie enjoys working with the next generation of dancers, and has been teaching, coaching, and choreographing all over the Chicagoland area for over a decade. Carrie has received numerous awards for her choreography, including her work being selected as the 'Judge's Pick' for the 2011 Dance Chicago Dance Slam. She has also been recognized by the Industry Dance Awards twice- once as a finalist for her piece “All We Have” in 2015, and again in 2019 for winning Best Convention Performance for her piece “Life”. Additionally, Carrie was featured and interviewed in the article, “Poetry in Motion” in the October 2018 issue of Dance Spirit Magazine. She has been on faculty at The Academy of Dance Arts in Warrenville for 10 years, and has been the Contemporary/Modern Program Director, as well as a Company Director, at Steps Dance Center for the past 7 years. Carrie absolutely loves sharing her passion for dance with her students, and is thrilled to be a part of the Steps family!
Payal Parida is a dancer, choreographer and teacher, who is a graduate from the University of Michigan where she received her BFA in Dance, Certification in Sales and Minor in Entrepreneurship. She has performed at various venues, such as, Gibney in New York City to the Konark Music & Dance Festival in Orissa, India. As a Steps Alumni, Payal is ecstatic to bring her passion and drive for dance to her home studio. Payal's goal as an artist is to make a positive impact with her work, while also fighting for more diversity in the arts as a South Asian woman.
Brian Rabenda was the Owner/Artistic Director of Award winning and nationally recognized B-Discovered Dance Company in Chicago IL, as well as a freelance teacher/choreographer. With well over a decade of teaching experience Brian strives to share his knowledge and experience with his students-providing not only exceptional technique but also to develop a strong work ethic. His choreography/training has won dancers countless awards, including top scores, and national titles. His students have gone on to the countries top Universities and Conservatories such as USC, Juilliard Summer Program and University of Arizona. Along with training dancers Brian is a master adjudicator for top conventions and competitions around the country. Brian is known for pushing his students to their ultimate potential, allowing them to discover the talent within. His movement comes from his heart, creating, and refining works of art to share with his audience.
Angela Williams started dancing at the age of 3. She began her training in Chicago at Mayfair Academy of Fine Arts where she studied tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, modern, hip hop and African dancing. She later continued studying at Joel Hall Dance Center. As a teenager, Angela performed in a number of performances throughout the Chicago area, some which include: Dance Chicago at the Athenaeum Theatre, “The Wiz” at Northwestern University in conjunction with the Make a Wish Foundation, the Opening Ceremonies of World Cup ’94 at Soldiers Field and “We Can Be Ballerina’s Too” at the Regal Theatre. Angela attended Illinois State University on a Track & Field scholarship and minored in dance where she performed with the Illinois State Dance Theatre and Noir Dance Troupe. After earning a B.A. in Special Education in 2003 at ISU, she furthered her education by earning a M.A. in Special Education in 2006 and a M.Ed in 2014 in Educational Leadership from Lewis University. Angela taught for 15 years at Mayfair Academy of Fine Arts in tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop, combination and contemporary as well as choreographing for the Mayfair Performing Company. Angela is currently a Special Education teacher at Metea Valley High School in Aurora. At MVHS, she has served as the Artistic Director of Orchesis Dance Company since the doors opened in 2009 and prior to that was the Assistant Artistic Director at Waubonsie Valley High School. Angela is thrilled to a part of this amazing Steps dance family!
LisaMarie Woody is a seasoned performer and educator, specializing in children's and adult dance techniques: Acro, Tap, Jazz, Modern, Contemporary, Lyrical, Hip Hop, Musical Theatre, and Salsa, to name a few. LisaMarie began dancing as a child in the San Francisco Bay area, with Studio S Broadway, under the direction of Shari McLeod. As a youth, LM was privileged to be a member (and later Assistant Director and Choreographer) of the nationally acclaimed Dance Connection of Palo Alto's performing company. Through DCPA, she competed often and claimed many regional and national titles, as well as received numerous recognitions for her choreography.
At fourteen years old, LisaMarie auditioned for the Foothill Repertory Company under the award-winning direction of Bubba Gong, where she earned her spot as the youngest member in the history of the company. In following years, she would continue her dance studies with many renowned institutions and instructors including: The San Francisco School of Ballet, the Julliard School, San Francisco State University, The Edge School of Performing Arts, Debbie Allen, Joan Walton, Savion Glover, Mia Michaels, Joe Tremaine, and Jackie Sleight. Having the opportunity to be featured in music videos, live performances, television, and film, LisaMarie's professional career now spans three decades. Even through a total hip replacement, her motivation and dedication to dance arts continues to expand exponentially. Her journey back to dance, post-op, gave her a new perspective on the perseverance and dedication dance had taught her and how those powerful skills aided in her healing. Enlightened, LM now shares her experience of "Positive Passion." She teaches how the skills learned through dance may be applied to one's life outside the studio, especially during times of struggle and self-doubt.
In addition to her love of dance, LisaMarie studied Early Childhood Education and Development in school, driving her to create dance and creative arts programs for children age three and under. After launching her Parent & Me programs for the City of San Francisco's Parks and Recreation department, she has continued to expand her programs for the very young and is excited for the opportunity to work with a new generation of young dancers and their families nationwide.