Our Faculty

Cathy Rosenberg, Executive Director

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, Artistic Director

Rebecca Rosenberg has been training and teaching at Steps since its opening in 2000. While in high school, Rebecca committed herself to her training in jazz, tap, ballet, hip-hop, lyrical, and pointe. She attended Neuqua Valley and assumed leadership roles as the president of the Orchesis Dance Troupe as well as captain of the Varsity Poms Team. Rebecca received her Bachelors of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of Illinois in 2008. During her time at the University of Illinois, Rebecca was a member of the nationally ranked Illini Dance Team and served as the choreographer of their hip-hop routines competed at the National UDA Competition for three years. She also was a member of the University of Illinois branch of the international hip-hop company Dance2XS during her four years at U of I, and served as Artistic Director. Amongst her performances with Dance2XS, Rebecca opened for hip-hop artist Chingy, and had the chance to perform and train amongst such hip-hop crews/choreographers as the Jabbawockeez, Marty Kudelka, Sky Hoffman, and Gigi Torres. Recently, Rebecca choreographed for a Chevrolet commercial under the direction of Joel Kapity. Rebecca continues to train regularly through classes and conventions in order to bring new styles and inspiration to her students. She loves finding ways to enrich the dance program at Steps and provide opportunities for the Steps dancers. She feels lucky to teach amongst such an accomplished faculty and to be able to share her passion for dance with the students at Steps.

Diane Cheeseman

Diane Cheeseman began her classical ballet training in Seattle, Washington, under the tutelage of Magali Messac, Ronald Tice, and Vera Altunina. She studied at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C. before attending Butler University where she completed a B.F.A. in Dance Performance.  Diane has toured and performed internationally with organizations ranging from the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the Polish National Ballet to Feld Entertainment and Walt Disney Entertainment.  Committed to the art of dance education, Diane has spent the past six years teaching students in California, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia.  She recently completed an M.A. in Dance Education at New York University and is an ABT® Certified Teacher in Pre-Primary through Level 7 and Partnering.  Also on faculty at the Joffrey Academy of Dance, Diane is thrilled to join the Steps Dance Center family!

Angelina and Karlo Familara

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.

Becky Cooper

 

Becky Cooper graduated in 1996 with a Dance Performance degree from Oklahoma City University. A dance instructor since 1989, Becky has been a master teacher in tap, jazz, and musical theater for conventions, workshops, and repertory intensives across the country and internationally. She has appeared in several musical productions throughout her pre-professional career, was featured in shows such as Annie, Gypsy, and The Sound of Music. During her college years, Becky performed various roles in OCU musicals alongside Kristin Chenoweth and Kelli O'Hara, was the first dancer and the first freshman to win Miss OCU, placed top 6 and won the talent competition in Miss Oklahoma, performed a tap solo at the American Legacy in Dance Awards honoring Peg Leg Bates, appeared on national TV in Ed McMahon's Star Search, and was the featured soloist in Mickey's Starland Show at Walt Disney World, where she sang and danced for thousands of children every day. She has danced professionally with Mark Yonally's Chicago Tap Theatre, Especially Tap Chicago with Lane Alexander, and is privileged to be a founding member of Billy Siegenfeld’s Jump Rhythm Jazz Project. Throughout the years, Becky's choreography has been consistently acknowledged for its creativity, storytelling, and entertainment value. Her Chicagoland theatre choreography credits include Crazy For You, My One and Only, Peter Pan, Guys and Dolls, Anything Goes, Children of Eden, Hairspray, Seussical Jr, Mary Poppins, Wizard of Oz, Lion King, Jr, and Chicagoland holiday favorite Let It Be Christmas. In 2007, Dance Chicago honored her with the New Voice in Choreography award for her outstanding children's work.  

Caitlin Mazurek

Caitlin been dancing since the age of 3 and is trained in ballet, jazz, lyrical, modern, pointe, tap, poms, and hip hop. She has competed and performed throughout the Chicago area. Caitlin was the captain of her Varsity Poms team and an Officer for the Orchesis Dance Troupe in high school. She then went on to dance for The Dance Team at Miami University. She has also danced for Lana Kay Rosenberg in Dance Theatre at Miami University. Completing undergrad in three short years, Caitlin also danced and choreographed with the Miami Shakerettes where she performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Caitlin is a graduate of Miami University with a B.S. in Kinesiology and Health majoring in Dietetics. She currently is attending graduate school at University of Illinois Chicago to earn a Masters of Public Health. Although this is her first year teaching at Steps, Caitlin is very familiar with the amazing atmosphere here as she danced at Steps for 7 years before college. She is so happy to have Steps as a second home!

Ashley Michalek

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.

Carrie Nicastro Ruiz

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, a program with heavy emphasis on Ballet and Modern dance training. Carrie had the opportunity to perform and tour with her Professors Deanna Carter, Armando Duarte and Jennifer Kayle and was honored to work with guest artists David Dorfman and Toni Pimble. Carrie also had the opportunity to develop her Improvisation and Choreographic skills and her choreography was selected for numerous Dance Department showcases. Carrie graduated from the U of Iowa 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 member position with Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre. While Carrie danced with the company, she was also a guest artist with Hedwig Dances and she continued to further her training on full scholarship at the Lou Conte Dance Studio, home of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Carrie performed and toured Nationally with Same Planet Different World for two seasons and was privileged to perform the works of many talented artists including Paige Cunningham Caldarella, Ashleigh Leite, Molly Shanahan, and Artistic Director Joanna Rosenthal. Carrie also had the honor of performing Shapiro and Smith’s ‘To Have an to Hold’ at Chicago’s annual Dance For Life AIDS Benefit. After her time with SPDW, Carrie moved on to train with Thodos Dance Chicago for one season and has enjoyed performing in their ‘New Dances Choreography Series’ for the past 5 years. Carrie was most recently a member of Giordano II, Giordano Dance Chicago’s second company. Carrie now enjoys dancing as a Freelance artist and has worked with many independent choreographers including Autumn Eckman, Becca Lemme, Lizzie Mackenzie, Jessica Miller-Tomlinson and her husband Ricky Ruiz.In addition to performing, one of Carrie’s biggest passions is teaching and choreographing for children and young adults. For the past 5 years, Carrie has been a main Coach, Choreographer and Instructor for the competing and performing companies of Trilogy School of Performing Arts in Lake Zurich and On Your Toes Academy of Dance in Buffalo Grove. At Trilogy, Carrie also developed Pom Connection, a competing All-Star Pom program, where she led her team to a Team Dance Illinois State Title and top rankings at UDA Nationals in Disney World. Carrie is also the main Modern instructor at The Academy of Dance Arts in Downers Grove and she helped develop a second company program that was added to the already established main competing and performing company. Carrie has been recognized for and has received numerous awards for her choreography, including her work being selected as the ‘Judge’s Pick’ for the 2011 Dance Chicago Dance Slam.Carrie is very excited to join the Steps family as a Company Director and the Director of the Contemporary/Modern program. She can’t wait to continue sharing her passion for moving and creating!

Brian Rabenda

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. 

Wade Schaaf

Wade Schaaf hails from the Chicago area and graduated Cum Laude from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theater arts (emphasis dance performance). During his professional career Wade has danced for such companies as the Ohio Ballet, State Street Ballet Santa Barbara, The Omaha Theater Ballet, and Thodos Dance Chicago, and River North Chicago Dance Company. He has worked with choreographers Septime Weber, Stephen Mills, Kennet Oberly, Bill Soleau, Frank Chaves, Laurie Stallings, Ron DeJesus and the Tony Award winning choreographer Ann Reinking. Wade has been privileged to dance such roles as Tybalt in Robin Welche’s “Romeo and Juliet”, Snow Pas in Welche’s “The Nutcracker”, and Jonathan in Oberly’s “Dracula” as well, had the role of Mayor Carter Harrision set on him in the Thodos/Reinking collaboration, “The White City”. Wade has set his own work on the Omaha Theater Ballet, Groundwork Dance Company and Thodos Dance Chicago.After retiring from the stage, Mr. Schaaf went on to open Chicago Repertory Ballet in November of 2011. The company premiered to the headline review, “A Bright Debut for Chicago Repertory Ballet.” (Sid Smith, The Chicago Tribune). Since the debut of CRB Wade has gone on to create such exceptional works as Shostakovich Piano Concerto, Peoplescape:Juxtaposition, and his first one-act story ballet, The Rite of Spring. Mr. Schaaf continues to steer the company through his vision of presenting the contemporary choreographic voice, and presenting familiar stories in a new or different way.Outside of the studio, Mr. Schaaf has a variety of interests ranging from visual art to health and wellness. Wade is a certified in both the Pilates method (Through Power Pilates) and RedCord, and is happy to enrich the lives of many through fitness.

Alvin Ramirez

 Alvin Ramirez was born in the Philippines and lived there for his first ten years. He now resides in the Chicagoland area where he teaches and mentors the youths of today. Alvin trained in hip hop, contemporary and breaking since the age of 17. Through his performing/competition and training years, Alvin lived in the competition world winning numerous overall first place awards and earning scholarships throughout the country. He has performed and opened up for several top recording artists such as Ciara, Ludacris, Soulja Boy, Twista, Mims, Tyrese and many more. Alvin has also been showcased in a top Las Vegas show and was a choreographer for the internationally broadcasted MLS All Star Game Half-time Show, featuring top recording artist Lupe Fiasco on ESPN. He has also choreographed for the NBA Detroit Pistons dance team Automotion, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, University of Michigan and as well as University of North Carolina. Two of his greatest accomplishments were being able to compete on Randy Jackson’s Americas Best Dance Crew Season 2 on MTV and also being an assistant coach on MTV’s Made Show. But his all time favorite was being able to perform with the Black Eyed Peas for Opra Winfrey’s Favorite Things for Thanksgiving. 

Alvin continues teaching all over the country while he sets award winning hip hop routines for numerous dance studios and companies. He is also a faculty member of Center Stage Dance Academy in Huntley, Illinois and Revolution Dance Studio in Shorewood, Illinois. When he is not focusing on his dance career, he continues to focus on his passion for fitness and stock trading. Alvin is currently self-training through different arts and disciplines and continues to search for more knowledge.

Deanna Starke

Deanna Starke began dancing when she was 3 years old. She has taken ballet, jazz, lyrical, tap and pointe. She trained at The School of Performing Arts competing and performing throughout the Chicago Land Area. She was President of Waubonsie Valley High School’s Orchesis Troupe in 2006 and has had the opportunity to work with many professionals such as Jon Lehrer, Randy Duncan, Jeff Hancock and Jessie Young. During her college undergrad she studied under Eloy Barragan and Armando Duarte at the University of Iowa and Sandra Kaufmann and Mari Jo Irbe at Loyola University Chicago. With over 10 years experience teaching dance and choreographing for Steps and local High School Orchesis Troupes, Deanna’s choreography has won numerous overall high scores and specialty awards in multiple styles of dance.  Deanna will bring her versatile background, positive energy and enthusiasm to every class, and hopes to inspire dancers to grow, flourish and exude confidence as artists and people!