Our dance and music instructors are highly trained, positive and enthusiastic individuals. They all love to teach and enjoy passing along their love of dance and music.
Krissie Odegard Geye Owner / Artistic Director / Instructor
Krissie is the Co-Founder/Artistic Director of the Expand Community Arts Alliance; a nationally recognized group of arts organizations dedicated to igniting community dialogue through an artistic lens. The alliance consists of three organizations that she operates; The Dance and Music Academy, The Trifecta Dance Collective, and the Metamorphosis; Fearless Evolution Convention and Showcase. She was selected to be a Conference Presenter at the International Dance Pedagogy Conference and Performance Festival at New Mexico State University. She has also served master class clinician at Peridance in NYC, the Big River Dance Festival WV, the CRU Dance Regionals in Minneapolis, and the US Tournament of Dance National Finals in Atlantic City. Her choreography has been selected for the Spring Choreography Showcase at Peridance in NYC, Jennifer Mueller's "Hatch" series in NYC, the Detroit Dance Festival, the Minnesota Fringe Festival, the Big River Dance Festival, the Exchange Choreography Festival in Tulsa, OK. For the past three years, she has produced a full length work in Anita's Way in Times Square. She was selected as one of 3 National Choreography Competition winners sponsored by Ovation TV. She is the five-time recipient of a space in the Dance Chicago's "Choreographer's Showcase" performance. She is the co-director of three National Youth Companies that offer opportunities to hundreds of students each summer; The CRU Dance Heart and Soul National Company, the United States Tournament of Dance National Contemporary Team, and the Metamorphosis Performance Ensemble. Krissie has also been on staff for Goliard Concerts in New York City, the Ethnic Dance Theatre in St. Paul, MN, as well as clinician at the ATDI “Spirit of Tap” conference and a faculty member for the New York City Public School System.
Allie Boutsikakis Director of GBS Jr Titans Poms
Allie is a graduate of Glenbrook South High School and currently attends Loyola University of Chicago studying Biology and Bioethics. While at Glenbrook South, she was a four-year member of the Titan Poms team. She was a Varsity team member for 3 years and took on the leadership role of Captain her senior year. Allie led the team to place 11th in the Large Pom National competition and 13th in the National Large Jazz competition at the UDA National Dance Team Championship during her time as captain. She received the role of UDA Instructor during her college years. Through UDA, she has travelled throughout Illinois and Wisconsin, teaching and inspiring the youth poms teams in the region. She also served as a staff member at the the 2017 and 2018 UDA National Dance Team Championships. She is currently a second-year member of the Loyola University of Chicago Dance Team. Last year, the team placed 5th at the NDA Collegiate Cheer and Dance National Championship. She will be entering her junior year in the fall as the Loyola University of Chicago Dance Team Captain. She is excited to choreograph and lead the GBS Junior Titan Poms Teams at the Dance and Music Academy for the 2018-2019 season!
Ashley May Coussens Instructor
Ashley currently serves as Director of Programming at Dance & Music Academy, in addition to teaching as part of our faculty. She is a graduate of Northwestern University's School of Communication, where she studied Dance, Theatre, and Business Institutions. Ashley has worked administratively in external relations and fundraising for several arts organizations and educational non-profits, including Youth American Grand Prix, The Joffrey Ballet, The Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Heron Agency, Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago. Since its inception in 2011, Ashley has been a member of the Auditorium Theatre's Auxiliary Board, where she currently serves on the Marketing Committee and previously served as a member of Event Planning Committee and Fundraising Committee, in addition to Secretary of the Executive Committee. Artistically, Ashley has performed with Trifecta Dance Collective, Chicago Human Rhythm Project, Aerial Dance Chicago, Ballet Légere, and Rephrase Dance Collective, as well as the televised McDonald's Thanksgiving Day Parade and Chicago Lights Festival Parade. Ashley has been performing professionally, as well as teaching and choreographing, for over 10 years, and her original choreography has been selected for the Dance Chicago festival. Ashley has trained at Joffrey Academy of Dance, Hubbard Street's Lou Conte Dance Studio, Visceral Dance Chicago, American Rhythm Center, Joel Hall Dance Center, Gus Giordano Dance Center, Aerial Dance Chicago, Aloft Circus Arts, Trapeze School of New York, Actors Gymnasium, River North Dance Chicago, The School of Performing Arts, and Inaside Dance Chicago (Merit Scholarship Recipient). Having worked with several winners of the Joseph Jefferson ("Jeff") Award and Ruth Page Award, Ashley began her career as a performer and Dance Captain at Chicago's former American Girl Place Theater, and she is a graduate of the National High School Institute's "Cherubs" program for theatre arts. Ashley has had extensive teaching experience, having worked for Northwestern University's Center for Talent Development, French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts, and numerous Chicago schools and arts programs. Ashley has a strong passion for encouraging people of all ages and backgrounds to find empowerment through arts education, and she is thrilled to be part of the amazing community at Dance & Music Academy!
Kristi Liciera Instructor
Kristi Licera began training and competing in dance at age 8 in her hometown, Rancho Cucamonga, CA. Kristi ended her competitive career in 2012 with a UDA Collegiate National Title in Division I Jazz with Cal State Fullerton’s Titans Dance Team. In 2014, Kristi graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BA in Dance from California State University, Fullerton. She was a member of the university’s Dance Repertory Theatre, where she the honor of premiering works by choreographers such as Daniel Charon, Colin Connor, Jiří Kylián, and Jonathan Fredrickson. Upon graduation, Kristi joined Keshet Dance Company (Albuquerque, NM), where she had opportunities to create and premiere her own choreographic works and perform abroad in Italy and Switzerland. Since relocating to Chicago in mid-2015, Kristi has created a multi-faceted career in dance that spans from performance and choreography to marketing and press publication. She is the Dance Editor at DancerMusic.com, a press website for discovering the latest in music and dance. Kristi actively teaches youth and adult dance classes throughout the Chicagoland area and dances professionally with Chicago Dance Crash. She is thrilled to join the DMA staff!
Amanda Newman Executive Director of Operations/Instructor
Amanda Newman has danced with companies including From the Hip Dance Project, Tikvah Company of Artists, and RASA Dance Chicago. In 2016, she toured nationally with Letters From Home, a tap-dancing and singing duet of 1940’s music. She has been teaching for over 10 years, working with students of all ages, primarily teaching Ballet, Tap, and Jazz, as well as music classes and vocal coaching. She choreographed Hairspray! and Grease with casts of 100 middle-school students. She earned her BA in Musical Theatre Performance from Columbia College Chicago. She also earned a teaching certification from the Cecchetti Council of America in the Cecchetti Method of Ballet to further her knowledge of instructing classical ballet technique to beginning-level dancers.
Her local theatre credits include shows at the Paramount Theatre, Drury Lane Theatre, Porchlight Theatre, and Pride Films and Plays, as well as choreographing Carnival for Lost Note Theatre Company. She is currently represented by Big Mouth Talent Inc. and continues to professionally perform as a dancer, actor, and singer.
As a teacher Amanda aims for her students to find the courage to try new things, to gain satisfaction through achievement, and to appreciate the life-long joy that dance can bring.
Carrie Patterson Executive Director of Programming and Outreach / Instructor
Carrie Patterson, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, began her training with the Atlanta Ballet, and continued training in the summers with Houston Ballet, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, and Luna Negra Dance Theater. In 2011, Carrie graduated cum laude from Butler University with a BFA in Dance Performance and a minor in Psychology. After graduation, Carrie spent the 2011-2012 season dancing as a trainee with the Louisville Ballet.. In the summer of 2012, Carrie moved to Chicago where she spent 2012-2013 season as a trainee with Thodos Dance Chicago. Carrie has also danced in Chicago with Rephrase Dance Collective and Project606 Dance. She choreographed works for the Louisville Ballet in their New Works show of 2012, Thodos Dance Chicago’s New Dances, and Nomi Dance Company’s Instrumental. She currently is also a dancer with Nomi Dance Company and co-artistic director of Trifecta Dance Collective.
Joanna Paul Director of Community Presence / Instructor
Joanna Paul received degrees in Dance and Kinesiology from Indiana University. After graduating with Highest Distinction, she relocated to Chicago. She has performed with Esoteric Dance Project, Cerqua Rivera Dance Theater, Project606 Dance and is currently the artistic director of Trifecta Dance Collective. Joanna’s work has previously been set on Esoteric Dance Project as part of their Choreographic Mentorship Program, Trifecta Dance Collective and Project606 Dance. She has presented with Dances in the Hall, Going Dutch Dance Festival, and the Awakening Movement Project (NYC). In 2017, she co-produced a multidisciplinary performance, Where Beauty Rises, at Links Hall with the non-profit Photoserve. All proceeds went to the clean water organization Wine to Water. In 2018, she and co-choreographer Colleen Welch received an Independent Artist Grant from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs to create Dance Across Chicago, a series using live music, dance and technology to bring free performances to public spaces and two Chicago public schools. In addition to choreographing, performing and teaching dance, Joanna is also a certified Pilates and Yoga instructor.
Irfan Qurashi Instructor
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. Most recently, in August of 2018, he was invited to train with Cj Salvador and Alexander Chung in the 2018 Panorama Dance Intensive where his own choreography was chosen to be showcased at Kreative Mindz Academy.
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.
Emma Reeves Administrative Director / Instructor
Emma grew up in Bolivar, Missouri, then went on to receive a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a minor in Dance from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee and graduated Cum Laude in 2013. After graduation she moved to Chicago to attend Deeply Rooted Dance Theater's 2013 Pre-Professional Summer Intensive. Since moving to Chicago, she has performed with and choreographed works for J. Lindsay Brown Dance, and performed with Perceptual Motion Inc. Dance Company, Matter of Reaction Movement Project, and Core Project. In 2014 she studied privately with Sam Weber in San Francisco, CA for a five-day tap intensive, and recently gained experience as an administrative intern for Khecari.
Kelsey Reiter Instructor
Kelsey Reiter started dancing near her hometown of Manteno, IL. After graduating high school she moved to Chicago to begin her dancing career, and is now a freelance artist and teacher throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. Kelsey has had the honor of performing nationally and in Canada, including twice in Chicago’s own Dance for Life. She performs regularly with Culture Shock Chicago and is currently a company member with Chicago Dance Crash, with whom she has performed in some capacity for 5 seasons. She now serves as rehearsal director for Moonwater Dance Project and has choreographed, in collaboration with Artistic Director, Mackenzie King, work for their first show and dance on film.
Cayla Roberts Instructor
Originally from Sidney, Ohio began dancing at age five receiving training across Ohio at Dayton Ballet, Ballet Met and Pontecorvo Ballet before continuing to earn her B.F.A in dance from Wright State University. While studying at Wright State Cayla received training in concert dance as well as Musical Theatre. After graduation Cayla began her professional career in Fort Wayne Ballet before moving to Chicago to pursue a life as a Chicago based dancer and choreographer. Since moving to Chicago Cayla has danced with Tapestry Dance, Project 606, Esoteric Dance Project and Trifecta Dance collective. Outside of dancing through Chicago Cayla also enjoys taking aerial silks, yoga, hiking and passing on a love for dance to the next generation. Cayla is excited to continue the artist journey into another season and have the opportunity to dance with other beautiful artists.
Wade Schaaf Instructor
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 landmark works for the company including The Four Seasons, Le Sacre Du Printemps, Bolero, and the company's first full length ballet William Shakespeare's MACBETH. Mr. Schaaf continues to steer the company through his vision of bringing storytelling and choreographic innovation to the stage.
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.
Colleen Welch Instructor
Colleen graduated with a degree in kinesiology as a dance major from Indiana University. After moving to Chicago in 2010, she performed with Zephyr Dance for three years and Dropshift Dance for five years. She has also performed with Ology Dance, Tapestry Dance Company, Project 606, and Trifecta Dance Collective. She has performed and presented her choreography in Chicago and NYC with Awakening Movement Project. Colleen is a collaborator with The Friday Collective, which most recently presented Dance Across Chicago, a series of free dance performances in neighborhoods and schools throughout the city. Colleen has been teaching at the Dance and Music Academy for six years and looks forward to another great year with her students!
Heather Zimny Instructor
Heather Zimny, originally from the suburbs of Chicago, received her BA in dance from Columbia College Chicago. She also holds a 200 hour Power Yoga Certification and a Yoga Sculpt Certification from Corepower Yoga. Heather continues to train and develop her artistry at the Joel Hall Dance Center, Lou Conte Dance Studio and Visceral Dance Center under Betsy Herskind, Birute Barodicaite, Joel Hall, Paul Sanasardo, Kirby Reed, Peff Modelski, William Gill, Pam Tanis, Nancy Teinowitz, Vanessa Truvillion, and Nick Pupillo among many other wonderful teachers sprinkling in some yoga and aerial into the mix for good measure. Heather can currently be seen onstage getting sassy with the Joel Hall Dancers, breaking boundaries with Trifecta Dance Collective and exploring the vertical dance floor with Aerial Dance Chicago. Other dance credits include Rasa Dance Chicago under direction of Van Collins, Paul Sanasardo, Ballet Entre Nous, Lucid Banter Project, Alliance Dance Company, Allure Dance Company (Detroit, Michigan), D.I.A.L and numerous independent choreographers and appearances in music videos. In September 2010 she had the chance to dance overseas in Liverpool with the Joel Hall Dancers as part of a yearlong celebration of their LEAP program's 10th anniversary. Dance has graciously taken her all over the world performing on stages in multiple festivals and concerts across the U.S.(Spring Into Dance St. Louis, Jazz Dance World Congress, Exchange Festival in Tulsa, Minnesota Fringe Festival, Anita’s Way in Times Square NY, Big River Festival in Huntington WV, Dance USA, Fontainebleau in Miami Beach FL) and overseas. Heather is grateful to be directing, teaching and choreographing throughout the city, suburbs and Chicago Public Schools doing what she loves everyday. She is honored to be returning to the Dance and Music Academy faculty this year and is jazzed about the amazing experiences and challenges the new season will bring.