Stephanie Clay, Studio Owner
Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Acrobatics
Stephanie Clay began her dance career at the age of four in Aurora Illinois. At age 13, she began her professional training. She studied with Bruce Stegman, Julie Cartier, and Lane Alexander. Stephanie also received training from numerous organizations, i.e. The Chicago Human Rhythm Project, St. Louis Tap Festival, Robert Reed, Savion Glover, Idella Reed, Ted Levy, Tracey Vonder Har, Barbara Swanson, Jimmy Payne, Debbie Dee, Jay Fagan, Sarah Savelli, Al Gilbert and several Chicago land Conventions.
Stephanie has directed many youth groups over the past 30 years. Her choreography for her students has earned several local and national titles along with invitations to perform at events such as The Taste of Chicago, The Orange Bowl Games, Dance Chicago, Chicago Human Rhythm Project, McDonalds Thanksgiving Day Parade, Dance America’s Dancer of the Year, Chicago Bulls Game, and many community events and fundraisers. Several of her students have gone on to dance professionally. Her choreography has been used by professional tap companies and has been featured in the United States, China, and Venezuela. She has choreographed for Sesame Street with Bob McGrath and is sought after for her knowledge and expertise of Tap Technique.
In the spring of 1998, Stephanie became a member of Especially Tap Chicago. The company performed thru out the United States and Europe. “ETC” is hired for many tap festivals not only to perform but also to teach and educate students in tap dance.
In the fall of 2003, Stephanie opened her own studio in the suburbs of Chicago. The teaching staff consists of 12 professional instructors offering all genera’s of dance. It is the academy’s mission is to give the best dance education possible to our youth.
Stephanie began judging for Applause Talent Competitions in 2008.
Stephanie has been a guest instructor at Northern Illinois University teaching tap education.
Stephanie is certified in teaching dance and music to children with special needs. Teaching dance to children with special needs is a true joy for Stephanie
Stephanie donated her time volunteering at GiGi’s Playhouse (a downs syndrome aware ness center for children) teaching dance lessons. Her Ballet students at GiGi’s have had several opportunities to perform their talents on stage with other youth along with Inaside Chicago Dance in their annual Youth Summit for the Performing Arts.
In 2014 Stephanie joined faculty with Haley’s Playground. Together with Occupational Therapist Jackie Olson, they created a Sensory Play and a Dance Therapy Program. In 2016 Stephanie took over Haley’s Playground, re structured it and changed the name to Special Stars. August of 2017 Special Stars became a 501c3 non for profit charity. Special Stars Inc NFP currently offers four special needs dance classes weekly, each a different level of functionality. For more information on Special Stars Inc NFP visit www.specialstarsdance.org FB page; Special Stars Inc NFP
Joe Musiel, Company Director
Jazz & Modern
Joe was born in Buffalo, NY and later moved to Indiana where he studied Contemporary Dance at Indiana University. During his time at IU he has had the opportunity to work with a variety of renowned artists and companies such as Larry Keigwin and Nicole Wolcott, Parsons Dance Company, Eisenhower Dance Ensemble, American Dance Festival, Ballet Chicago, and Deeply Rooted Dance. In 2013, Joe moved to Chicago to accept a second company position dancing with Giordano Dance Chicago allowing him to learn and further his artistry from artists such as Brock Clawson, Ronnie Koresh, and Autumn Eckman. Recently he was a dancer with Dance in the Parks, West Side Story at the Paramount Theater (Aurora), as well as was a principle dancer at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Joe is currently in his first season as a company member with Cerqua Rivera Dance theater and going into his second year as a company dancer with South Chicago Dance Theater. These companies have given him the opportunity to perform works by Nejla Yatkin, Kia Smith, Christian Denice, Monique Haley, Joshua Ishmon, and Sherry Zunker.
In addition to performing on stage he has found a knack for choreography and has put those skills to the test by winning various choreography competitions put on by Chicago dance companies, setting work on professional companies, as well as receiving recognition for his choreography in showcases and studio dance competitions. He would like to thank God, his family, and friends, for their love and support throughout his dance career.
Originally from Wichita, KS, Jordan is a dance teacher and choreographer based in the Chicagoland area. Her professional performance credits include Deeply Rooted Dance Theater, Cirqua Rivera Dance Theatre, Carnival Choreographer's Ball Chicago, Inaside Chicago Dance Choreographic Sponsorship, Jayson Tisa Dance Company and Visceral Dance Chicago WITHIN. When not in the studio, Jordan is a judge for Applause Talent Competition and Dancewerks Chicago. She majored in Dance at Columbia College Chicago along with training in the Framework Pre-Professional Dance Program under the direction of Pia Hamilton. Recently, Jordan made her musical theater debut with Norwegian Creative Studios onboard the Oceania Riviera!
Sammy Gonzalez began his dance journey once he entered high school in where he joined his school’s hip hop team. Through out his high school career he trained in various styles while also being a member of RMHS Orchesis and RMHS Hypno. After vigorous training, taking classes, and winning scholarships for the Pulse Dance Convention, Sammy decided to focus solely on Hip Hop. Upon graduating in 2012, he began teaching at various studios in the northwest suburb area. In 2014, Sammy began his training with BoomCrack! Dance Company, an award winning professional company based in the West Loop of Chicago. When he's not training with BoomCrack, Sammy has gotten numerous opportunities to perform with Benny the Bull, The Luvabulls, and the Break-a-Bulls from the Chicago Bulls and is currently an active member of the Chicago Bulls 312 Crew . Sammy always looks forward to share his passion for dance and all his knowledge with the students and not only looking to inspire students but to have them inspire him as well.
Originally from Dundee, Michigan, Tiffany attended Columbia Chicago College, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance Teaching and Public Relations. After graduation, she received an internship with Thodos Dance Chicago and made her professional debut performance at the Harris Theater in "A Light In The Dark” choreographed by Ann Reinking and Melissa Thodos. After her experience working with Reinking, Tiffany realized her passion for musical theater. Her regional credits include On The Town (Marriott Theater), West Side Story (Paramount Theater), and Wonderful Town (Goodman Theater) where she became a member of the Actor’s Equity Association. As for commercial work, Tiffany was a featured dancer in the Indian Bollywood film Dhoom 3, and has performed with global brands, such as T Mobile and McDonalds. Throughout her training experience, she was fortunate to attend many remarkable programs with Hubbard Street Dance Company, River North Dance Chicago, The Joffrey Ballet, Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, and American Ballet Theater. She has received many awards and scholarships from various dance conventions and toured as an assistant with LA Dance Magic Convention at the age of 17. Along with being an active performer, Tiffany has been noted as an up and coming choreographer of the Chicago area. She was nominated twice as a featured artist for InAside Dance Chicago's Choreographic Sponsorship Event, where she presented her works "Embrace Against Time” (2014) and "Those Left Behind" (2015). Last year, she was chosen as the Featured Bravo Choreographer for the Dancewerks National Werkshop, where she presented her work “Read Between the Lines.” Tiffany has choreographed many award-winning pieces within the competitive dance scene. As a performer, choreographer, and instructor, Tiffany is driven to craft, mentor, and inspire the next generation of dancers with the knowledge that she has gained throughout her diverse dance career and help them lead a healthy and enthusiastic passion for dance artistry.
Debra grew up dancing and training in gymnastics in Buffalo New York. She trained in all forms of dance and toured Germany competing in gymnastics in which she qualified for the Jr. Olympics. A broken arm changed that route and she focused on dance. She won a Canadian American Dance Competition where Gus Giordano gave her a scholarship to study with him. Her professional career started at Gus Giordano's Jazz Dance Chicago. She took classes with all Master Teachers in Chicago. While auditioning in Chicago for a movie, she met Michael Peters and Sydney Poitier, whom offered her work in Los Angeles. She also performed on Star Search with other local Chicago Dancers, in which Ellen Werksman was the Choreographer. Deciding to make Chicago her home, she found a love for contemporary ballet and modern. She was a privileged soloist with Chicago Dance Medium as well as an independent performer with many affluent dancers from companies such as Hubbard Street, River North and Chicago Repertoire Dance Ensemble and many more. She enjoyed her professional performing career in modern, contemporary ballet, jazz, lyrical and production companies. Debra then decided to focus on teaching. She was the Owner of Progressive Movement Academy where her competitive teams enjoyed many top national 1st placements along with choreographic awards.After fives years, she knew she was a better artistic director, teacher and choreographer rather than a business owner. Currently, she teaches and choreographs at various private studios, park districts and high school Orchesis ensembles throughout the Chicago area and suburbs. Training dancers from all different aspects of life from Dancers with Special needs to young aspiring performers. She also works with professional companies such as Inaside Chicago Dance, Meraki Dance Company and various small independent ensembles. She loves teaching master classes nationally with professional dance workshops, conventions and independent studios. Debra is in her 12th year of teaching classes and workshops in Austria and Italy with Balletshule Zechner and choreographed two international works on a Vaganova ballet company- F.V.G Neu Space in Udine Italy. Which has been seen on international television. She was the first American teacher to work with this company. She has been also invited to teach for a premiere Italian dance studio, Axis Dance, that teaches all styles of dance. With her extensive knowledge in all areas of dance, Debra is in her 23rd year as an adjudicator for various national dance and talent competitions. Through Debra’s teachings, her students have received many college scholarships, employment in the entertainment and television industry, professional companies and performances with nationally and internationally known recording artists.
Kaitlyn, an Aurora native and alumni of Stephanie's Academy of Dance, trained and competed in various styles of dance under the direction of: Stephanie Clay, Craig Miller, Joe Muisel, Richard Smith, Catie Dietz, Cassandra Porter, and Julianne Dietz. She has had the privilege of being apart of a their competitive team throughout the years, receiving various regional and national awards. Through this she has also had the opportunity to perform works by choreographers such as Autumn Eckman, Kim Fletcher-Stibal, and Chris Xayrath, as well as performing at various venues and events such as Dance Chicago, Inaside Youth Summit, and Carnival's Choreographers Ball. Kaitlyn recently has completed and received her certification from the American Acrobatics Arts Inc. and is appreciative of the discipline dance had taught her through out her life. She is very excited to pass her knowledge of acro dance to her students this season.