Kenneth von Heidecke is founder & director of the Chicago Festival Ballet and founder & Co-Director of the Von Heidecke Dance Center. 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.

Randy Herrera is currently the Co-Director of the Von Heidecke Dance Center. Randy began his studies at the Chicago Academy for the Arts in 1994-98, where he studied under the direction of Anna Paskevska, Claire Bataille and Randy Duncan. He was also trained at the School of American Ballet and San Francisco Ballet School. Mr. Herrera has been in several competitions and has received many awards including the prestigious Princess Grace award. He was a member of the Joffrey ballet from 1999-01 and danced with Houston ballet as a Principal dancer for nine years. He has recently performed Mr. von Heidecke's choreography of Aida for the Dallas Opera and in productions of Sampson and Delilah, another Aida, and The Masked Ball for the San Diego Opera. Currently, Mr. Herrera dances as a guest artist both nationally and internationally.

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.

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.

Elizabeth Gustas has been studying at Von Heidecke's Dance Center for the past year. Before coming to Von Heidecke's, Elizabeth studied at Contempo Dance Academy, Hubbard Street Dance, Academy of Dance Arts, and Elite Academy of Dance since the age of three. She has performed in Von Heidecke's Nutcracker as a Party Child, Italian, Snow, and Russian, and in Cinderella as a Summer Fairy, Ball Guest, and Harem. In addition, she has performed in the opera Strudel and Torte and other musical performances for flute in the Fox River Youth Symphony Orchestra. She is greatly honored to become an instructor at Von Heidecke's after being an assistant instructor for three years.

Rachel Mytnik has been studying ballet at Von Heidecke's School of the Chicago Festival Ballet for 15 years. In the 11 years, she has danced in Von Heidecke's Nutcracker, she has performed many roles, including Demi-Soloist in Snow, Reed Flutes, and Waltz of the Flowers, Party Parent, Snow, Italian, and Russian. She has also performed in Chicago Festival Ballet's productions of Giselle, Coppelia, and Sleeping Beauty, and performs the role of the Wicked Stepmother in the 2015 production of Cinderella. She has studied musical theater, and has appeared in North Central College's musical productions of Brigadoon and Oliver. She has a degree in Culinary Arts, and after having been an assistant instructor for 7 years, is currently an instructor at Von Heidecke's Dance Center.