Kenneth von Heidecke is founder & director of the Chicago Festival Ballet and School. He is also a renowned choreographer for opera and ballet companies around the world. As a young dancer, he danced throughout Europe & the US. In 1975, he was hand chosen by the legendary Prima Ballerina Assoluta Maria Tallchief to appear in the world premier of George Balanchine's Orfeo ed Euridice.

Here in Chicago, he has choreographed more productions at the Lyric Opera of Chicago than any choreographer in its history. Recent productions of Samson & Delilah, Carmen and La Gioconda to name a few. His work has been seen at Alaska Dance Theatre, Scotland's Edinburgh Festival, Washington DC's Kennedy Center, Los Angeles Music Center, New York City's Lincoln Center, Dallas Opera, San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, Ballet Nacional de Panama, Germany's Badisches Staatstheater and countless others.

In 1989, he opened the doors to his school of ballet in Naperville, IL. Among his many students who have gone on to major careers is the Gold Medalist, Evan Lysacek. In 1996, he was choreographer to the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team. In 2008, he was invited to choreograph The Merry Widow for the English National Opera in London but was already obligated under contract for an Aida in the US.

Mr. von Heidecke's works have been featured on WTTW's "Chicago Tonight" news program, WTTW's "Arts Across Illinois" entertainment special, PBS' "Making of an Opera" and a PBS documentary on Maria Tallchief's life. In 2008 he was inducted into the Fox Valley Hall of Fame. He has made numerous appearances on ABC, WGN, NBC, etc. and currently, the film maker and composer, Stuart Meyer is filming a documentary on his life and career. In January of 2012, he will choreograph Aida for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Later, he will choreograph Aida for the opening of the Dallas Opera season in October. In 2013, he is scheduled to choreograph both Samson & Delilah and Aida for the San Diego Opera.

Janice Augustine has danced for Chicago Festival Ballet, SSPA Ballet, Lyric Opera of Chicago and DuPage Opera Theater. She has danced as a principal dancer, soloist and in the corps de ballet in various operas including La Traviata, Carmen, and The Merry Widow. She has also choreographed Amahl & the Night Visitors and Cosi Fan Tutte for DuPage Opera Theater. In addition to ballet and opera, Jan danced as a soloist for Broadway Dances and Franklin Avenue Dance Company. She has performed in more than 30 musicals, including West Side Story for Theater at the Center, Chicago for Buffalo Theater Ensemble and as Charity in Sweet Charity. For Wheaton College's Opera Music Theater she has choreographed numerous productions, most recently Rodgers & Hart, a Celebration. In addition to teaching ballet at Von Heidecke Dance Center, Jan is the instructor and choreographer of our newest class addition - Musical Theater/Jazz.

Patricia Kohl Michalowski began ballet training in New Jersey at the age of six under the direction of Gloria and Yaro York, principal soloists with the National Hungarian Ballet. In 1975, at the age of seventeen, she auditioned for the Lyric Opera Ballet Company and was chosen to become a member by renowned Prima Ballerina Maria Tallchief. Pat had the unequalled opportunity of being personally trained daily by Miss Tallchief, learning from her vast knowledge of the many intricacies of body movement and expression. She and Kenneth von Heidecke were often partnered together and they became long time friends. During her three years there, she also worked with and studied under George Balanchine, Jacques d'Amboise, Marjorie Tallchief, George Skibine, John Tarras and Coleen Neary gaining a wealth of knowledge from each. She danced in numerous Lyric Opera productions including the world premier of George Balanchine's Orfeo ed Euridice, Othello, Rigoletto, La Traviata, Un Ballo en Maschera, Khovanshchina, The Love for Three Oranges, Lucia Di Lammermoor, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg and the re-staging of Orfeo two years after its premiere. She also was one of six girls chosen to dance in the opening night gala of the King Tut Exhibit at the Chicago Field Museum.

In 1980, after leaving Lyric Opera, Patricia was responsible for forming and teaching a ballet program at North Central College in Naperville, being sponsored by their Center for Continuing Education. One of her young students was subsequently accepted into the Chicago City Ballet School.

She married in Copenhagen, Denmark and became a professional runway model for the Miss Bayern Mannequin Studio International, modeling in both Germany and Austria. After returning to the United States and starting a family, Patricia began teaching again. In all, she has had over eighteen years of teaching experience, both in studio and in private lessons. She enjoys bringing her wealth of ballet knowledge to her students, stressing careful technique, musicality, stage presence and overall enjoyment of dance. Patricia lives in Naperville with her husband Gary. They have three grown children.

Katie McLaughlin studied ballet, pointe, modern, and jazz for 13 years. Katie began her classical ballet training at Faubourg School of Ballet under the direction of Watmora Casey and Tatianna Mazura. She also spent three years studying at the San Francisco Ballet on full scholarship. In 2005 and 2006, Katie was invited to train at the Stiefel and Stars performance project in Martha's Vineyard, where she performed with Ethan Stiefel, Gillian Murphy, David Hallberg, Marcelo Gomes', Alina Cojocaru and other ABT stars. At the age of sixteen, she was offered an apprenticeship with the Houston Ballet Company by the director Stanton Welch. Katie's professional performances include: Marcleo Gomes' world premiere Loving, Christopher Weldon's Carnival of the Animals, Stanton Welch's Chairman and Long and Winding Road, "Lilac Fairy" in Sleeping Beauty for Houston Ballet, and Katrina Killian's "Who Cares" solo Stairway to Paradise. Her other soloist roles consist of Black Swan, Paquita, Swanilda, Esmeralda, Aurora, Aegina, Snow Queen, Ballerina Doll, and Wendy in Peter Pan. More recently, Katie has been teaching ballet, pointe, variations, stretch and strengthen, and jazz technique for the last 5 years at four different dance studios. She choreographed and co-directed a competition company.

Some of Katie's awards consist of taking first place in the Chicago regional Youth America Grand Prix and then going on to the New York finals to place in the top ten dancers in the world in 2007. She has won first place scholarships, two years in a row, for the Carey Rose Winski competition. In 2001, Katie won a gold medal for power tumbling in the AAU USA Junior Olympics in Virginia Beach, VA.

Darrell Dautrieve is a native of Texas and received his BFA in dance from Southern Methodist University. He began his professional years with the Dallas Black Dance Theater, Dallas Ballet and Dallas Metropolitan Ballet after receiving numerous scholarships to both the Joffrey School and the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Before moving to the Midwest, Darrell received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Porgy in the Dallas Black Dance Theater production of Porgy and Bess. After moving to the Midwest in 1991, Darrell joined the Joel Hall Dancers with great success, studying extensively with Pamela Johnson-Tanis, Homer Bryant, and Joel Hall. Darrell has appeared as a guest artist in Von Heidecke's Chicago Festival Ballet productions of The Nutcracker, Classical Symphony, Cinderella, and Giselle. Darrell has also guested with Salt Creek Ballet as well as Kalamazoo Ballet appearing in Cinderella and receiving accolades for his portrayal as Siegfried in Swan Lake. Other accomplishments include touring with Bryant Ballet of Chicago to the Caribbean Islands; The Lyric Opera of Chicago's production of Ghost of Versailles, Un Re In Ascoloto and Mesfestofoles; Chicago City Opera's production of Four Saints in Three Acts; and the Drury Lane Oakbrook production of Guys and Dolls which toured the east coast for eight weeks. Darrell also appeared in the Untouchables and a made for TV movie The All American Cowboy. Darrell's international debut includes a six week tour of Europe, visiting nine countries and forty cities appearing as Joseph in the off Broadway musical Black Nativity. In addition to Chicago, Darrell returned to Dallas to appear in the Dallas Opera's production of Die Fledermaus and just recently completed the Lyric Opera production of The Great Gatsby. Darrell worked at the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center (official school of Bryant Ballet) for eight years as the school administrator and was Director of Special Programs for Dancing off The Streets, a program designed for inner city children in the Chicago land area. Darrell is extremely pleased to be invited as a guest teacher for Von Heidecke Dance Center and would like to thank Mr. von Heidecke for being an integral part of his career. Darrell currently works in real estate in the Chicago land area.

Lauren Kanady has developed a true love for classical ballet while studying under Kenneth Von Heidecke. Six years ago she joined the Chicago Festival Ballet and has danced and toured with the Nutcracker, as well as dancing in Coppelia, Giselle, Cinderella, and excerpts from Rachmaninoff, Sylvia, and Variations to Rossini. She has been a demi-soloist the last four years participating in such numbers as Reed Flutes, Italian, and Spanish as well as the principal for the Spanish variation. During the summer of 2012, Lauren had the opportunity to attend the American Ballet Theater summer intensive where she danced with Wes Chapman, Roger Van Fleteren, David Justin, Grace Holmes, and Christine Spizzo focusing on ballet, character, and expressive movement. Lauren is a Freshman at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, where she is in the Honors College double majoring in Radiation Therapy and German. In addition to dance, Lauren enjoys musical theater. For three years, she had the privilege of being a part of the American Girl Revue at Chicago's American Girl Place, as well as community productions of Little Shop of Horrors and Hairspray. After being named to the 2012 Illinois All District IX Choir, Lauren decided to continue singing in college and is a part of the North Central Cardinal Choir.

Kendra Lady began dancing at Von Heidecke's School of the Chicago Festival Ballet in June, 2011. She has been dancing for about 10 years and previously trained at Barton and Williams School of Dance, Avery Ballet, Stafford Ballet Academy, and the Fredericksburg Ballet Centre. She has performed in several different ballets, such as Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake, Nutcracker, and A Midsummer's Night Dream. She was thrilled and honored to join Mr. Von Heidecke's studio and has since performed in three summer workshop performances, Nutcracker, Giselle, and Coppelia as well as appearing on the WGN morning news with Von Heidecke. She deeply appreciates everything that Mr. Von Heidecke has taught her about classical ballet and has learned a great deal about technique, artistry, and performing skills. Teaching classes at the studio has been a wonderful experience for her, and she has greatly enjoyed sharing her love of ballet with the students. She is in her second year at College of DuPage.

Rachel Mytnik has been studying ballet at Von Heidecke's School of the Chicago Festival Ballet for 14 years. In the 10 years she has danced in Von Heidecke's Nutcracker, she has performed many roles, including Demi-Soloist in Waltz of the Flowers, Party Parent, Snow, Italian, and Russian. She has danced the roles of a Ball Guest, Summer Fairy, Harem, and Tarantella in Von Heidecke's production of Cinderella. In Giselle, she performed the roles of a Villager and a Wili, and in Von Heidecke's recent production of Coppelia, she performed the role of a friend of Swanhilda. She has appeared on WGN morning news with Von Heidecke multiple times and has also appeared several times on the Von Heidecke's Chicago Festival Ballet float in the Chicago Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Naperville Labor Day Parade. She has studied Musical Theater under Ms. Janice Augustine and has performed dance roles in North Central College's musical productions of Brigadoon and Oliver. Before becoming an instructor at Von Heidecke's School of Dance she was an assistant instructor for 7 years.

Sarah Peterson is from Orland Park, Illinois and is a homeschooled high school Senior. She began studying ballet when she was 5 and has studied under the tutelage of Mr. von Heidecke since 2006. She has performed many different roles in Von Heidecke's annual production of the Nutcracker. In 2009 she was chosen by Mr. von Heidecke to dance the role of Clara and once again in 2010. Since 2011, she has performed as a principal in Act I Dolls, demi-soloist in Snow, Reed Flutes, and soloist in Waltz of the Flowers. More recently she was honored to perform as the principal in the Italian divertissement in addition to her other roles. She has also performed roles in Mr. von Heidecke's original choreography of Cinderella, Giselle, and Coppelia and had the honor of being the soloist at the 2013 Summer Workshop performance in a piece choreographed by Mr. von Heidecke and composed by Stuart Meyer for the documentary being filmed about Mr. von Heidecke. She teaches younger ballet students and enjoys sharing what she has learned from Mr. von Heidecke. Outside of the studio Sarah works a part-time job at a dancewear store, studies piano, enjoys relaxing with her family, and participating in water sports during the summer. She continues her studies with Mr. von Heidecke as she looks forward to a professional ballet career.