Julie Haller-SimonArtistic Director, Pure Vibe Dance Center & Dance Company
Julie has an extensive dance background in a variety of dance forms and has worked in a wide variety of dance education centers including dance studios, colleges and has taught master classes and workshops throughout the US. She graduated from Point Park University, Pittsburgh, PA, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Dance Performance; double-concentration in Ballet and Jazz and continued her dance education as a Scholarship Dancer at Visceral Dance Center in Chicago. Previous collegiate instruction experience includes teaching dance technique and choreography at Harper College, Robert Morris University, Northern Illinois University, and Point Park University and in the Chicago Public School system as a Ballroom Dance Instructor through the “Having A Ball” program. Julie’s choreography has won regional and national awards and has been highlighted in the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade in Chicago, IL, at various halftime shows for the WNBA Chicago Sky, in Dance Chicago at the Athenaeum Theatre in Chicago, IL, as well as various musicals, recitals and regional and national competitions for various dance companies and studios. Her performance experience includes performing at the Super Bowl opening the Pre-Show Party for Katy Perry, as well as with various professional dance teams, contemporary dance companies including B.I.S.I. Chicago Dance Company under the direction of Lynn Arevalo and Deeply Rooted Dance Theater under the direction of Kevin Iega Jeff and Gary Abbott, musical theatre companies, and commercial/corporate events in Chicago, IL including McDonalds, Party City, Swedish Covenant Hospital, Pivot Point and KMS California. Julie is grateful to continue to share her passion for dance with the dancers at Pure Vibe and the opportunity to create a well-rounded dance education center in the Western Suburbs!
Marcella DucsayArtistic Director, Illinois Ballet Academy
Ms Ducsay was accepted in the prestigious Hungarian dance Academy. During her school years,She was chosen to participate in an exchange to the Vaganova school in Snt Petersburg, Received fullScholarship to NCSA and financial award for advancement. She won 1st place among the girls in the competition organized by the school. Toured in Germany and Israel.She finished with a B.A. in Fine Arts. Her diploma work was based on kinesiology and dancer’s body.She has received her first job from the Hungarian National ballet. First year she has performed demi soloist and soloist roles.She has joined the Texas Ballet Theater for 7 years, from the directorship of Paul Mejia to Ben Stevenson. During this time she has performed principal roles in : Romeo and Juliet, Nutcracker, Giselle, Cinderella, Serenade, Who cares, Violin Concerto, Slaughter on 10th ave, Midsummer nights dream.Trey McIntyre has choreographed Aliss in Wonderland on her.Has been the Director of Illinois Ballet Academy for the past 2.5 years.
Marley SchmidtAssistant Director, Pure Vibe Dance Company
Marley Schmidt is a Michigan native and has been dancing since the age of three. In April 2012 she graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance from Western Michigan University. In her years at Western she had the opportunity to work with guest artists such as Harrison McEldowney, Autumn Eckman, Lauren Edson, and Nelly Van Bommel. She was also part of the touring company Western Dance Project and performed in several student works. These pieces provided Marley with opportunities to perform at events such as Dance Chicago Festival, Oakland Dance Festival, Eat to the Beat, and ACDFA nationals in Washington, D.C. Her additional training includes a semester abroad studying dance at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London, England. In 2012 Marley moved to Chicago, and trained on scholarship at the Lou Conte Dance Studio. She began her performing career as a freelance artist and worked with choreographers including Kalin Morrow, Autumn Eckman, and Rebecca Lemme, performing in several local shows and festivals. Marley has also worked as a company member for Kristina Isabelle Dance Company and Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre. During her time with Kristina Isabelle Dance Company, she danced in two Chicago premieres Non:Op's f(H2T) from here to there and The Floating City, the latter of which was also performed regionally in Columbus, OH. As a company member with Same Planet Different World, Marley performed works by artistic director Joanna Rosenthal Read, Shapiro and Smith, and Israeli choreographers Niv Sheinfeld and Oren Laor. With SPDW she had the opportunity to perform at the Dance For Life fundraiser in 2015 and Chicago's Museum of Contemporary Art, as well as travel regionally for a residency at the University of Iowa, and internationally to Israel. In addition to her performing career, Marley has also developed her skills as a dance instructor since moving to Chicago. She has taught students from ages 4-18 at many studios throughout the city and suburbs.
Mariterese AltosinoDance Company Choreographer
Mariterese Altosino received her early dance training from local studios, Academy of Dance Arts and Xtreme Dance Force. She graduated with honors from Columbia College Chicago with a dual Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance and Business/Entrepreneurship. Mariterese is a veteran instructor with Universal Dance Association (UDA) where she teaches high school and college dance camps throughout the summer and works National and International championships throughout the year. Through UDA, she has traveled to Bottrop, Germany, Guayaquil, Ecuador, and Maribor, Slovenia to judge competitions and instruct local dance teams. Mariterese teaches at various studios around the Chicagoland area and has performed in events such as Carnival Choreographer’s Ball, World of Dance, Dance Chicago, and Chicago Contemporary Dance Festival. She is also in her first year of coaching the Junior Varsity Dance Team at Downers Grove South. This year also marks Mariterese's second season with Giordano Dance Chicago as a Giordano II company member.
Taylor CraverTap Dance Instructor & Dance Company Choreographer
Taylor began dancing in Cleveland, Ohio at the age of four. She grew up in a studio dancing competitively and continued her education at Ohio State University. She graduated with a Bachelor in Fine Arts cum laude in Dance Performance and Pedagogy. While at Ohio State, she performed and trained with industry professionals from around the world such as Bebe Miller, Susan Hadley, Sofie Clemmenson, Joshua Manculich and Tine Saling. Participating in both faculty and student choreographed pieces, Taylor has performed across the mid-Ohio region as well as traveled to Costa Rica. In 2016, Taylor moved to Chicago to pursue her professional dance career, and has performed as a company member of Ascendence Dance Chicago and as a guest artist with Alluvion Dance Chicago. Taylor’s work has been showcased in several festivals in Chicago including Noumenon’s “New Moves” Choreographic Competition and Celebration of Chicago Art presented by Simantikos. She is currently studying at Visceral Dance Center as a work study student to further her education and is so grateful to spread her knowledge with young dancers.
Jen IsaacsonInstructor & Dance Company Choreographer
Jennifer, a native to Downers Grove, began her training at the age of four. Shortly after high school, she began a professional career which began with dancing for the Chicago Rush. She performed with the team for 4 years and served as a captain her fourth season.During her professional career, she danced and performed in numerous live events and commercial work. Additionally and most proudly, she had the opportunity to travel overseas to perform for our troops. Jennifer has been instructing and coaching dance teams for the past 10 years. A passion for teaching helped her earn her bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She uses her education background in her instruction and classroom management.In addition to teaching at Pure Vibe, Jennifer is the head varsity coach for the Downers Grove North Athenas Dance Team. Coaching and mentoring high school age students at her alma matter is her passion. She feels very fortunate to be able to influence and share a love of dance with her students.
Irfan QurashiHip-Hop Instructor & Hip-Hop Crew/Dance Company Choreographer
Born in India, raised in New York and dancing in Chicago Irfan Qurashi, found his passion for dance at 13 years old, discovering Popping & B-boying and training himself in those styles through his younger years, resorting to watching battles & cyphers on YouTube.After high school, he then went on to join dance companies throughout Chicago. Starting with Nonstop Dance Production directed by Sonya Bunges and went on compete with The Puzzle League, training underneath Davina Pasiewicz, Matt Pumanes & Andrew Phan and also C.O.D.A. directed by Teddy Chavez, Dee More, and Andre Patterson at the time. He also started his training at the Young Lions Workshop in 2010, with every YL workshop in Chicago and continues to train under Ian Eastwood to this day along with various choreographers/instructors they’ve brought to Chicago, awarded with scholarships to The Pulse Dance Convention and Broadway Dance Center in New York.He trained in the Chicago Urban Dance Collective that further expanded his dance experience with free-styling, performance execution, and creative movement. Most recently, he’s trained with Kris Rhodes through the Vicious Intensive.Irfan Qurashi continues to train his free-styling, fundamentals, & choreography though classes, workshops, battles, cyphers and many other outlets in Chicago, LA, and New York to provide the best class experience for anyone willing to learn from him, whether they be kids, professionals or friends of his own. Irfan believes in nothing more than hard work, focus, discipline and dedication that will get you through dance in order to achieve your goals.
Summer SmithContemporary Ballet Instructor & Dance Company Choreographer
Summer Smith grew up in South Jersey, where she began dancing at a young age. Having an arts focused family, she received exposure to all types of art throughout her childhood and studied painting and drawing alongside dance. In high school, Summer began her serious dance training at The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia. During this time, she received scholarships to study at Orlando Ballet, Ballet Met, and in New York, at American Ballet Theatre. Following high school, Summer attended The University of the Arts where she received her BFA in Dance and Painting with honors. At Uarts, she was selected to perform works by Ronen Koresh, Christine Cox and Anastasia Babeyeva. She also worked with Douglas Becker, of the original Frankfurt Ballet, for his staging of "The Vile Parody of Address" by William Forsythe. While in school, she had the opportunity to study dance pedagogy and the Vaganova syllabus under Connie Michaels and Eva Szabo. After college, she went on to dance with Ballet 5:8 where she served as a Company Artist, and the production designer. At Ballet 5;8, she had the opportunity to perform original works by Julianna Slager, Caleb Mitchell, and Preston Miller. She also devoted a lot of time to choreographing for the Ballet 5:8 conservatory. Summer is in her first season dancing with Ascendence Dance Chicago, where she looks forward to expanding beyond classical ballet. Summer is passionate about coaching young dancers, and has aided many students in becoming finalists at YAGP NY with her original choreography, and commitment to strong technique. She greatly looks forward to joining the Pure Vibe family.
Shanna VanDerwerkerDance Company Choreographer
Shanna VanDerwerker grew up dancing in Ft. Washington, MD and received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance from Point Park University. She most recently choreographed Singin’ In The Rain at The Fireside Theatre in Fort Atkinson, WI, where she also performed Lady in Green. Shanna was the Associate Choreographer of Broadway’s Amazing Grace at the Nederlander Theater, following a Chicago premier in 2014. After over four years as the Dance Captain of the First National Tour of Wicked, Shanna has relocated to Chicago. Some of her other credits include Assistant Choreographer of High Fidelity on Broadway and a swing in the Broadway company of Wicked. Regional credits include Kiss Me, Kate at TUTS in Houston, TX, company member of dre.dance with directors Andrew Palermo and Taye Diggs, several shows at the Fireside Dinner Theater in Fort Atkinson, WI including How To Succeed in Business…, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and A Fireside Christmas. Shanna had her professional debut performing in Kids of the Kingdom at Walt Disney World. As an educator, Shanna has taught at the 2014 International Thespian Festival in Lincoln, NE and was the choreographer of the opening celebration of the 2015 International Thespian Festival, The Music of Alan Menken. She has taught master classes at dance studios and conventions all over the country, at Millennium Dance Complex and Lou Conte Dance Center in Chicago, and has been a guest teacher at Roosevelt University, Columbia College of Chicago and Point Park University. Shanna is currently on faculty at Dovetail Studios in Chicago and adjunct faculty in the Chicago Conservatory of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University.