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Dance Instructors

Oswegoland Park District dance instructors have extensive training in many forms of dance. Many have gone through our Assistant Training Program to become lead instructors.

Sarah Parikh is an assistant teacher for the Park District. She has been dancing since she was 3 years old in a variety of styles, ballet, pointe, contemporary, and even Bollywood. She is hoping to share her passion of dance with fellow dancers and create a fun, creative, environment for the students. She is currently a junior at Oswego High School. When she’s not dancing she is working on schoolwork or participating in her school’s french club. Last summer Sarah was given the opportunity to dance in Switzerland for a charity performance and loved every second of it. She adores children and helping them grow as individuals. Assisting is the perfect chance to show young dancers the expressive and artistic benefits dancing could bring to their lives.

Aleyah Baker is a ballet, hip-hop, jazz, and poms instructor. Before working at the Park District, She worked with children K-8 for her high school dance team’s youth camps. Aleyah began dancing at 3 years old and has trained in lyrical, contemporary, poms, ballet, jazz, and hip-hop for 15 years. She is currently attending Aurora University and majoring in Nursing. Additionally, Aleyah was an Oswego High School Pantherette, where she had taken the role as the Athletic Leader. She also qualified for IHSA Dance State in 2017. Overall, Aleyah believes dance should be fun, a passion, and a safe place for all dancers to embrace. 

Brittany Garcia is a baby ballerinas, pre ballet, and pre tap instructor. She began as a dance assistant in 2010 and began teaching her own classes shortly after. She has danced since she was eight years old and has been trained in ballet, jazz, tap and poms, and is currently continuing her tap education by taking an adult tap class through the Park District. She attends Aurora University majoring in Social Work. After graduation she plans to continue her education by obtaining her Master’s Degree. Brittany loves teaching dance and being able to see each child not only grow as a dancer, but also as an individual.

Ally Gorecki is a dance instructor teaching all ages at both recreational and competitive levels. While she has trained in jazz, ballet, lyrical, hip hop, and poms throughout her dance career, tap and musical theater have always been her passions. In college, she choreographed and performed for a company affiliated with Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI for 5 years. Upon moving back to the Chicagoland area, began teaching with the Park District and has been happily doing so for the last 4 years. She has two bachelor degrees from Marquette University and currently works in education. Miss Ally is a proud founding member of A Step Above Dance Company, where she coaches Dream. Their team has won awards locally and has taken home various judge’s choice awards over the years. Miss Ally strives to instill pride and self-confidence in all of her dancers. She hopes each child walks away from her classes with a passion for dance and an appreciation for all of the hard work they have put in.

Melissa Gray is a dance instructor teaching various ages and levels recreationally and competitively. She began dancing at the age of four, studying several styles of dance including ballet, lyrical, contemporary, jazz, tap and hip hop. In high school she was captain of the West Aurora Dance Team. She has a bachelor’s degree in Art from Aurora University, where she was also captain of the cheer and dance team. She has been teaching dance locally for over 10 years and has been part of the Park District dance staff since 2010. She is a founding member of A Step Above Dance Company, where she coaches Inspire. Their group has received numerous awards at local dance competitions. Melissa’s favorite styles to teach are ballet and lyrical, but her favorite style to perform is tap.

Carly Lucas instructs summer dance classes. She began her dance training at Gold Star Academy of Dance, where she danced both recreationally and competitively for ten years. During her last two years of high school, she was a member of the Aurora Central Catholic Varsity Dance Team, placing 4th at IHSA State in 2016, and 8th in 2017. Additionally, her choreography has been featured in three Aurora Central Catholic Drama Club productions. Carly has just recently completed her first year at Ball State University, where she is pursuing a double major in Dance and Human Resources Management. Through the university, she has participated in master classes with artists such as Channing Cooke, performed in three dance concerts, and volunteered for Prism Project, a fine arts program for special needs children. As an instructor, Carly intends to inspire young artists with her passion for dance and choreography.

Bella Mahoney teaches various styles and ages and assists with A Step Above Dance Company’s, Believe group. She has been dancing since she was two years old, and began competing at the age of four. She has been trained in various dance styles including but not limited to, ballet, pointe, lyrical, contemporary, modern, and musical theater. She has been named an ISHA All Conference Dancer in 2017 as well as 2018. Isabella has choreographed for numerous musicals around the Oswegoland area at many different levels of experience. Her goal as an instructor is to help students grow in their creativity, confidence, strength, and broaden their dance spectrum in a lighthearted environment.

Gianna Maniates has been a dance assistant, assisting various ages and genres for two years. She has been trained in many styles, but has kept her focus on ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical and musical theatre. At age 3, she began dancing at her family owned dance studio and then moved on to the Park District. She was a member of the Assistant in Training Program for four years and was a founding member of  A Step Above Dance Company’s, Inspire group. She is currently on the Oswego High School’s dance team and is a member of the school’s show choir. She has a passion for dancing and teaching and loves creating bonds with the students. She is excited to begin teaching her own classes in summer of 2018. 

Ceci Minder is a dance assistant and pre ballet instructor trained in many genres of dance including ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, poms, and hip hop, among many others. She began taking dance classes at the Park District at four years old, is a former founding member of A Step Above Dance Company’s Inspire group, and was in the Assistant in Training Program for four years. Currently, she is member of the Oswego High School Varsity Dance Team. Her overall goal as an instructor is to provide students with a fun and challenging way to express themselves. 

Liv Neitzel instructs weekly classes and assists A Step Above Dance Company’s Inspire group. She has focused her training in the genres of ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and contemporary. She has competed both locally and nationally, and danced for Oswego High School Varsity Dance Team. When competing, Olivia placed first individually and was awarded scholarships to train over summers. She will be attending Grand Canyon University in the fall to major in Dance Education. Aside from her own training and competitions, Olivia has choreographed for local youth theater. Olivia wants her students to never limit themselves or think they can’t do something. She believes the “can do” attitude sets them up for success not only as dancers but in life.

Rachel Moffett is a preschool dance and pre ballet instructor. Previously, she has taught jazz, pom, and hip hop to dancers at various ages and levels. Rachel attended Oakland University and Macomb Community College, where she was a member of the show choir, The Macombers. Her dance training began in elementary school and has continued since then. She has studied styles varying from ballet to ballroom to hip hop. Rachel believes that you are never too old or too young to begin to dance. To her, dance is a fun way to be active and to express yourself in ways that you never expected.

Breda Murphy is an Irish dance teacher. She began Irish dancing when she was 4-years-old with the Foy School of Irish dance in Chicago where she earned championship rank. Breda is an English teacher at Oswego East and Oswego High School. She graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor’s and master’s degree in journalism and earned a Master of Arts in teaching from Dominican University. At U of I, Breda taught Irish dance through the YMCA and Champaign Park District. Outside of dance classes, Breda enjoys singing, reading, and playing with her beagle, Chloe. She has travelled the U.S. and Ireland to compete winning numerous awards, and she has performed at countless community events; the most memorable was a performance with the Irish Rovers. Breda loves teaching younger students about the history of Irish dance and bridging modern and traditional steps to showcase at recitals.  

Sheila Paulino is pre ballet, ballroom, swing, Latin, and wedding dance instructor. She has been teaching for the past 12 years. In those 12 years she has taught all ages at three different studios. In 2005, she received her professional certification with DVIDA in ballroom and Latin dance and re-certifies every year. Her ballroom and Latin dance students have received numerous awards in multiple competitions. Sheila enjoys taking the pressure off brides and grooms on their big day and strongly believes anyone can dance. 

McKenna Potter has been dancing for the past 14 years, nine of those being at Gold Star The Academy. She has experience in the following styles: Jazz, Poms, Ballet, Hip Hop, Lyrical/Contemporary, and Tap, with both Contemporary and Hip Hop being her favorites. McKenna has competed for four years with Jazz, Lyrical/Contemporary, and Hip Hop style dances and was a part of the Performance Troupe for three years. Throughout her dance path, she has performed at various places and events including the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. She has attended many dance conventions, including Monsters, where she took a class with Phi from the Jabbawockeez. As a child, McKenna loved theatre and took part in several plays and musicals. McKenna helped initiate a dance team at her school where she held a Captain position. She participated in the dance team for two years where they advanced to State Finals placing top twelve. Her focus on teaching will be Hip Hop, however she hopes she can branch out and teach more styles of dance. McKenna will be attending Aurora University where she will be studying Health Sciences. After she graduates, she will transfer to obtain her Doctorate of Physical Therapy. She hopes that dance will always be a part of her busy life.

Alex Shields is a ballet, jazz, tap, poms, and jr. hip hop instructor. She has been dancing for 15+ years and has been teaching recreationally for 4+ years to dancers of all ages. She is currently the head coach for A Step Above Dance Company’s newest group, Strive. Alex is currently obtaining her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Aurora University. Most importantly, Alex believes that dancing is a unique way for all participants to express their feelings and emotions within choreography.

Alex Strahanokski is a jazz, ballet, lyrical, and contemporary teacher for Oswegoland Park District. She is also a high school English teacher and a dance coach. For 20 years (and counting), Alex has studied all types of dance and for the past 5 years has taught dance to all ages. Alex has her BA in English and Secondary Education from the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign and is currently getting her Masters in English at Northern Illinois University. Alex was on her high school dance team for 4 years, her college dance team for 2 years, UDA instructor for 3 years, and has been a dance coach for the past 2 years. Above all, Alex believes that dance is an art form and a sport that allows the participant to express his/her feelings, athletic ability, and connect with audiences.

Monika Sziron teaches a variety of dance classes and is the head coach for A Step Above Dance Company’s group, Believe. For 3 years, she has been training dancers at recreational and competitive levels. Before joining the Park District staff, she was head junior varsity coach and assistant varsity coach for the Superior High School dance team in Wisconsin. As a dancer, she trained at the School of the Minnesota Ballet and graduated from the school in 2011. She was also a varsity member of her high school dance team and gymnastics team. After high school she was a member of the University of North Dakota dance team. Aside from dance, Monika has a BA in communicating arts, a MA in digital communication and media arts, and is currently a PhD student at Illinois Institute of Technology. She has Placed in the top 10 in Division 1 at the 2012 UDA College Dance Team National Championship. She has danced in the corps de ballet at The Minnesota Ballet for several seasons and touring with the company. Her philosophy in dance, but also with all that she does, she aims for inclusivity.

Marissa Trevino is a jazz, hip hop, ballet instructor and a former founding coach for A Step Above Dance Company’s, Believe group. For three years she has trained dancers in ballet, jazz, hip hop, and lyrical. She has worked with all ages at various levels. Marissa is currently attending Northern Illinois University where she is majoring in biology. Her dance training began at age ten, where she studied at Moves Dance Studio. Above all, Marissa believes that dance is a way to have fun and be creative at all ages. 

Rockie Veverka is the Recreation Supervisor who oversees the dance department for the District and currently teaches hip hop classes. For the past 12 years she has taught ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop and poms to various ages. In 2015, she began A Step Above Dance Company, the District’s competitive dance team. She began her dance training at La Danse Academie in Crest Hill, IL., and in 2007, travelled to Italy to perform in various cities with the school. She has received a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Aurora University where she was captain of the University cheer and dance team. She is currently a member of IPRA and is a part of the Cultural Arts committee. Essentially, Rockie believes that students should have the opportunity to learn and express themselves through dance regardless of age or experience level.