Meet the Dance Staff
Kristin Balsamo has over 20 years of experience working with children and adolescents and has trained primarily in modern, contemporary, lyrical, ballet, jazz, improvisation, and partnering. Her passion for dance led her to perform and choreograph in the Eurythmic Dance Company and Youth Dance Company in high school and the Purdue Repertory Dance Company in college, where she had the opportunity to showcase her own choreography at the American College Dance Festival. She graduated with a BA in Psychology and a Dance minor, and went on to complete one year in the MFA dance program, focusing on choreography and teaching. From there Kristin pursued studies in Dance/Movement Therapy, Laban Movement Analysis, and Bartenieff Fundamentals, receiving her Master’s degree. During graduate school, she taught dance and co-founded a modern dance company in Chicago. Recently, Kristin has performed with Freespace Dance in Elgin, and developed a program for dancers addressing performance anxiety and fostering self-esteem and connection through movement. She is a licensed counselor and when she is not working she enjoys watching her daughter dance.
Allison Cole has her degree in Special Ed with an emphasis in visual impairment. Ms. Allison started dancing at a young age here at the St. Charles Dance Academy and competed with the Company Team. Ms. Allison has experience in musical theater, lyrical, ballet, tap, jazz, and hip-hop. Allison is also continually taking dance classes as part of her education. Ms. Allison has been teaching here for many years and is well-loved by her students and parents! Allison is an integral part of our team and she enjoys sharing her passion for dance and education with her students.
Stephanie Cirillo has over 20 years of dancing and coaching experience. She holds a BS degree in Marketing, with a minor in Dance Performance. Stephanie is trained in multiple styles including ballet, modern, jazz and hip hop. Professionally, she has been a member of dance teams including the Chicago Luvabulls, Schaumburg Flyers Dance Team, Chicago Storm Chasers, and McHenry County Pirates Dance team. Stephanie has coached and choreographed for cheer and dance teams for over 20 years including recreational leagues and high school teams; most recently she was the Head Dance Coach for Cheer Illinois Athletics and Illinois Knights Elite. She choreographed for a high school and was a dance coach and team member at Cheer Chicago All Stars. Stephanie is a talented choreographer who is excited to share her passion with her students.
Sheila O'Connor has been involved with Irish Dancing since she was 6 years old. She has been with the Weber School of Irish Dance from the beginning with over 20 years of teaching experience Ms. Sheila frequently visits Ireland and has a deep love and knowledge of the art form and cultural history and significance of Irish dance. She was a school teacher for many years, working with students with learning disabilities. The Weber Dancers have been working with the St. Charles Park District for over 20 years, and Ms. Sheila is looking forward to another exciting year of dance.
Jessica Dirck teaches seasonal and recital classes. She is coming with 10 years of dance experience, which include a background in ballet, tap and modern dance. Jessica has a Bachelor's Degree in Special Education. She has taught for over 15 years as a Special Educator, with 7 of those years being in Early Childhood Education. Jessica has enjoyed working with youth in the community by coaching girls' high school track and field, Special Olympics teams, and being a Girl Scout troop leader. When Ms. Jessica is not teaching she enjoys spending time with her girls and watching them dance.
Lenore McBean is excited to share with students her love of dance and the skills acquired through training that began at age 3, focused on ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical and contemporary genres. Miss Lenore is an honors student and varsity cheerleader, and is passionate about musical theater, which combines her love of singing, dancing and acting. She has assisted in teaching dance choreography to younger fellow cast members and has assisted with summer youth cheer camp for girls age 6-13. Miss Lenore actively trains and competes. In July 2021, her contemporary solo placed first at nationals in the competitive senior category.
Katisha Muhammad has a degree in Early Childhood Education and has worked with children for over 20 years. She currently holds a position as family support specialist and is the Head Poms Coach at a middle school. Katisha knew at a young age that dance was special to her. She danced growing up and was on poms and dance teams throughout her education. She has studied with instructors such as Randy Newsom, Judy Chitwood, Paula Franz and Dr. Charles Carter. She was the choreographer her school Hip Hop team. For the past several years, Katisha has been a dance educator, assistant coach and co-choreographer for Competition Teams and recreational dancers. Her love of dance led her to pursue a certification in Zumba and Yoga. Katisha teaches in the recital program, competition team and performance team, motivating dancers and focusing in on their technique and performance abilities.
Malo Toure has been dancing for over 15 years and began footworking in Chicago. During college he began hip hop choreography with Envy Dance Troupe and his school’s Dance Fraternity. After college he moved to Atlanta, where he joined House Arrest II Championship Dance Team. Through his tenure dancing, he has taught kids and adults alike within the communities he lived in by offering footwork and hip hop beginner-advanced classes. Malo says footwork saved his life as a teenager. Dancing with friends every week is what kept him motivated and out of trouble growing up.
Morgan Hahn has been dancing for over 10 years and competed for four years. She has experience with Ballet, Tap, Hip Hop, Lyrical, Contemporary, Poms, and Jazz. Ms. Morgan has danced with the St. Charles Dance Academy and is enjoys teaching and assisting various dance classes.
Makenna Herman has been dancing for over 10 years. She has trained in ballet, pointe, musical theatre, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, and hip hop. Her favorite styles are contemporary and jazz. She has been competing for over 6 years. She has been a varsity dance team member. She loves to choreograph and feels dance is her passion and always will be.
Eva Bratko has been dancing for over 10 years. She has experience in Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, and Hip Hop. She competed on the St. Charles Dance Academy Competition Team for 4 years and is excited to now be assisting with dance classes.
Tasmin Swinstead Walker’s formative years were spent training in the Performing Arts. Commencing at The Royal Ballet School in Classical Ballet, Character and Free Movement. She further trained in a well-rounded curriculum, in Modern, Jazz, Tap, Flamenco, Contemporary Dance, and Drama, before choosing to focus on her Contemporary Dance studies at Alvin Ailey Dance Center, New York. Becoming fascinated by the possibility of movement being a source of wellbeing across one’s life and beyond high performance activities, she further studied Dance Movement Therapy. This exploration evolved into a degree focusing on the process of artistic expression. Deeply rooted in a foundation of movement, in later years this exploration and study has turned to the internal movement arts. After participating and volunteering in conducting meditation courses at Vipassana Meditation Centers in the Americas and Europe, her movement, meditation and lifestyle for human development and wellbeing has coalesced. Her arts are currently expressed through the instructing and practice of Life YogaTM and her ongoing study of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Taoist Yoga, Longevity practices and Ch’an (Zen) Meditation upon which this complete system of yogic practices, that addresses every aspect of being human and the development of a lifestyle of promoting wellbeing is sourced.