LIZZIE MACKENZIE: Ballet, Pointe, Contemporary
Lizzie MacKenzie is the Artistic Director of Extensions Dance Company and founder of Extensions Dance Center. She enjoyed 6 years dancing and touring internationally with Rivernorth Dance Company following 5 years doing the same with Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago. She has been seen most recently dancing with Ron De Jesus Dance Company and Chicago Repertory Ballet, as well as continuing her work with various independent choreographers, Dance For Life and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The year 2012 marks her 13th season dancing under the direction of Harrison Mceldowny with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in their annual "Welcome Yule" Christmas spectacular. She has worked closely with various choreographers, some of the most influential being Laurie Stallings, Sidra Bell, Harrison Mceldowney, Kevin Iega Jeff, Robert Battle, Frank Chaves, Mia Michaels and Ron De Jesus. She has studied under Alexandra Wells and Amy Shullman at Springboard Danse Montreal, where she also had the opportunity to work with Coleman Lemieux Dance Company, performing the work of resident choreographer, James Kudelka.
Her Choreography has been seen in numerous festivals and University’s around the country and also on Chicago’s own Inaside Chicago Dance and Nomi Lamad Dance Company. She has been given various awards for her choreography, including the “New Voice” honor from Dance Chicago in 2006, the “Choreographer of The Year” from Dance Chicago in 2008 and she was a finalist in the A.W.A.R.D show for her piece entitled “Altered Interactions” on Nomi Lamad Dance Company. She has been honored for her contemporary choreography at Youth America Grand Prix and has had numerous finalists in the NFAA Young Arts competition, including a Presidential Scholar in the Arts in 2011.
In August of 2002, Lizzie was featured on the cover of DANCE magazine and has since been featured in various magazines as a model for Leo’s Dancewear and Illinois Theatrical. Lizzie spends most of her free time teaching and choreographing all over the U.S and her contemporary class has been listed in Dancespirit magazine as one of the top 3 dance classes to take in Chicago. She is currently on faculty at Extensions Dance Center, ChiArts and Steps Dance Center in Naperville.
MIKE GOSNEY: Ballet, Pointe
Mike Gosney, Artistic Director and co-founder of Elements Contemporary Ballet, has been teaching and privately coaching ballet for 20 years. In addition to training many of the dancers in Elements Contemporary Ballet, his students have been accepted into prestigious programs and schools such as the School of American Ballet, 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 The A.W.A.R.D. Show! 2010, The Best of Dance Chicago, Looptopia, Around the Coyote Arts Festival, The Atlas Agenda, Joel Hall's Dances from the Halls, Evanston Arts Week, productions with the Evanston Dance Ensemble and Evanston Symphony, and in many other Chicago area festivals and dance performances. In addition to his work with Elements, Mike is on faculty at Visceral Dance Center and Dance Center Evanston, and has previously taught at Lou Conte Dance Center, Gus Giordano Dance Center, Joel Hall Dance Center, DancenterNorth, Eastern Illinois University, and College of Lake County.
MELANIE HORTIN: Pilates
Melanie Manale-Hortin (Oswego, NY) attended S.U.N.Y. Buffalo where she received her B.A. in Dance and was a member of the Zodiaque Dance Company. In addition to university, Melanie has also trained with the José Limón Dance Company. Her professional credits include performances with Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago as well as Disney on stage and screen in the movie Just Visiting starring Christina Applegate. Melanie has taught for Dance Masters and Giordano Dance Center and currently teaches throughout the Chicagoland area. In addition to teaching dance, Melanie has been a certified Pilates instructor since 2002. She is currently on faculty at Chicago Ballet Arts teaching mat class and at the Pilates Center of the North Shore, a full-equipment training facility. This is Melanie’s 10th season with River North Chicago. Thank you to Marilyn and Aggie from Art Science Salon fro Keeping my hair looking Stellar! A very special thank you to
my husband and parents for their unwavering love and support over the years.
AUBREY KLINGER: Extensions Too! rehearsal assistant
Aubrey A. Klinger began her dance training under the tutelage of her grandmother Nan Klinger, and performed with the Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet for ten seasons. Aubrey then spent three year at Point Park University graduating magna cum laude, earning her B.A. in dance performance. There she performed Myrta in Giselle, Rodeo and original works choreographed by Francis Patrelle, Jay Kirk, Nicholas Petrov, Ron Tassone, Melissa Barak, Erin Halloran, Peter Merz, and worked with Ballet Blight for its inaugural season. Upon graduation she began dancing in Denver for both Davis Contemporary Dance Company under Terrell Davis and Apex Contemporary Dance Theater under David Reuille for two season. In her second season with Davis, Aubrey was given the opportunity to make her professional choreographic debut with The Influences We Carry. After relocating to Chicago,
Aubrey has worked in both the concert and commercial scene including Renegade Performance Group (NYC), Carnival! Choreographer’s Ball, Dance Chance, The Dayton Arts Project where she also premiered another new work Foiled, and The Chicago Symphony Orchestra: Welcome Yule!. Along with her dance career Aubrey has taught and choreographed through out the country at Visceral Dance Center, Extensions Dance Company, Steps Dance Center, Impact Dance Center, Lisa’s School of Dance, Dance Motions, The Edge Dance Academy, Denver School of the Arts, Dance Kaleidoscope, The Cuyahoga Valley Youth Ballet, and Rosie’s Theater Kids.
KATIE McCANN: Ballet, Pointe
Katie McCann graduated Summa cum Laude from Butler University's Dance Department with a Bachelor of Science in Arts Administration. While at Butler, she performed soloist and principal roles with the university performance company including Myrtha in Giselle and Odile in Swan Lake. She also performed in original contemporary ballet and modern-dance works by choreographers Donald Byrd and former Martha Graham company member Larry White. After graduation, Katie danced with Kentucky Ballet Theatre in Lexington, Kentucky. She performed soloist roles in Giselle, Paquita, Dracula, The Nutcracker, and various repertory pieces. Now in Chicago, she is director of Dance in the Parks, a non-profit dance initiative that brings free, professional, outdoor, concert-dance performances to neighborhood parks. She teaches student and professional-level ballet classes throughout the Chicago area. www.danceintheparks.com
REBECCA McLINDON: Jazz, Extensions Too! Rehearsal assistant
Rebecca McLindon, originally from Baton Rouge, LA, began her training with Donna Blanchard and Stacie Mellor. She went on to study dance at Marymount Manhattan College under direction of Katie Langan, where she performed with MMC’s Dance Company. Honored to have had the opportunity worked alongside David Parsons, Edwaard Liang, Anthony Ferro & Geoffrey Doig-Marx on original choreographies, she ultimately graduated Magna Cum Laude, earning a BFA in Dance with a modern concentration. Rebecca completed two seasons with Michigan’s Eisenhower Dance Ensemble, described by critic Mark Stryker as “a beacon of self-expression and humanity” after her final performance with the company. While dancing with EDE, Ms. McLindon had the privilege of performing works by Laurie Eisenhower, Stephanie Pizzo, Lar Lubovitch, Harrison McEldowney and Brock Clawson, to name a few. She was also chosen to perform the principal dance role in Michigan Opera Theater’s production of “The Pearl Fishers” choreographed by John Malashock. Rebecca has taught master classes and set choreography at many high schools and universities across the country, including Hope College, Oakland Dance Theater and Wester Illinois University. Prior to her time with Eisenhower, Rebecca danced with Giordano Dance Chicago II and apprenticed with River North Dance Chicago. Currently working with Chicago Repertory Ballet, LEVELdance and several independent choreographers, Rebecca is thrilled to once again be a part of Chicago's beautiful dance community.
SEAN ROZANSKI: Jazz
Sean Rozanski began his training in Queens, New York. He went on to study ballet and modern dance at LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts in New York City. Later, Sean received his BFA in Jazz Dance Performance at the University of the Arts, in Philadelphia, PA where he received the Outstanding in All Dance Styles and Outstanding Jazz Dance Performance awards. While at UArts Sean had the privilege to work with choreographers such as Roni Koresh, Molly Misgalla, Wayne St. David, Donald Lunsford, Christine Cox, Scott Jovovich, and Gary Jeter. Sean is on his second season with Giordano Dance Chicago. Being with the company has brought many teaching opportunities such as the Barrington high school choreography project, Jazz Dance World Congress, and Giordano Health and Science Outreach program which brings dance to underprivileged students in inner city schools. Since being in Chicago, Sean has had the opportunity to perform at benefits such as Dance for Life and The Chicago House Fashion Show which included choreography by Randy Duncan, Keith Elliot and Harrison McLedowney.
AHMAD SIMMONS: Contemporary
Ahmad Simmons is native of Fort Worth, Texas where he began his training at the Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts. While in Texas, he trained extensively through the Dallas Black Dance Theater, the Debbie Allen Dance Institute and the Dian Clough West Dance Center. Additional training includes the Broadway Theatre Project in Florida and Montreal’s Springboard Danse program. Holding a BFA in Dance from Point Park University, under the direction of Susan Stowe, he has performed works by Bill T. Jones, Robert Battle, David Parsons, Lar Lubovitch, Daniel Ezralow, Aszure Barton, Martha Graham, Heidi Latsky, and Kate Skarpetowska. He is currently touring nationally and internationally as a dancer with River North Dance Chicago performing in such countries as Germany and Switzerland.
In addition to concert dance work, he is a proud member of the Actors’ Equity Association and has performed with the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera in a number of shows including Cats, West Side Story, Oklahoma with Shirley Jones, Peter Pan with Cathy Rigby, Hairspray, The Producers, and Oliver. Locally, he can be found teaching classes at Steps Dance Center, Dimensions of Dance, and Visceral Dance Center. His choreographic work has been featured and awarded in many festivals, galas, and competitions.
BEN WARDELL: Ballet, Pointe
Benjamin Holliday Wardell started dancing at age ten in Memphis, TN. His professional career began with The Cincinnati Ballet, where he achieved the rank of soloist. From there he joined Alonzo King's LINES Ballet in San Francisco, where he remained for two years. While in San Francisco, Benjamin began to explore photography and videography, as well as the administrative aspects of art management with a non-profit organization named Urban Art Farm. In 2007 he joined Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. He danced there until September of 2011, when he left to pursue life as a freelance multimedia artist.
In addition to being an ensemble member with Lucky Plush Productions, Ben is a member of Aszure Barton and Artists, and an independent teacher, photographer, videographer, and performer. Benjamin is also a répétiteur for Alejandro Cerrudo, resident choreographer for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and was recently approved by Jiri Kylian to set excerpts of his work 27'52" on Juilliard in May of 2012.