The Allegro team

We’re more than a dancwear retailer; we are a “by dancers, for dancers” company that finds significance in dance community involvement. We build relationships with teachers, studio owners, students, parents and professional dance companies to support all aspects of Chicagoland’s culture and arts community.

Allegro employees attend area performances, promote local arts events and serve as resources for customers with dance-related inquiries. We are professional dancers, teachers, directors, and choreographers. We currently take class, attend auditions and wear the apparel that hangs in our shop. Collectively we have backgrounds in ballet, pointe, modern, jazz, tap, gymnastics, theater, yoga, Pilates, massage, and more.
You’re crazy about dance;
we’re crazy about dance.
And we’re here to help.

Victoria Lyman

Owner

Victoria Lyman grew up studying ballet one block away from the Evanston boutique at the Evanston School of Ballet with Laura Wade and Miss Kerry. She attended The Joffrey Ballet summer intensives while in high school, spent two summers at the American Dance Festival in college, and also attended the Laban Center in London and the Vienna International Dance Festival in Austria. Victoria spent 3 years as a dance major at the University of Iowa, performing in works by Lar Lubovitch, Alan Sener, and Nicholas Leichter, among others. Victoria finished her undergraduate career at DePaul University, graduating with highest honor with a B.A. in Psychology. While continuing to dance in Chicago, she began working at “Before the Ballet” in Evanston in 2003, and acquired the business from the previous owner in 2007, changing it to Allegro soon after. She is thrilled to share her passion for dance at Allegro and is grateful for her talented team, loyal customers, loving family, and supportive husband. Victoria is an advisory board member for Dance Retailer News, the dance retail industry publication, and is a board member of the Evanston Dance Ensemble.

Favorite dancewear manufacturer?

It's impossible to pick; I love dancewear - it's one of the reasons I own Allegro! My current favorites are Ballet Rosa (made in Portugal), Yumiko (made in Spain), and Ainsliewear (made in Canada).

Must have item for dance classes?

I love peeling off layers as I warm up. I need a long sleeve shirt or hoodie & socks.

What’s in your dance bag?

Bunheads theraband, legwarmers, face wipes, iPad, iPhone, water bottle, ballet shoes, headband

Favorite style of dance?

Ballet, African

Recommendation for product?

I love the Bloch warm-up booties!

Do you have any performance/backstage rituals/superstitions?

I always bring my first pair of ballet shoes with me for good luck.

Favorite Dancer/Choreographer of all time?

Jiří Kylián, Crystal Pite, Ohad Naharin, Nacho Duato

Interest outside of dance?

Yoga, travel, cooking, restaurants, entrepreneurship


Aly Heintz Raddatz

Director of Operations

Aly was the first-ever Sales Associate hired at the Allegro boutique location in Barrington. She was the store manager there for two years before being promoted to Director of Operations, and is now in charge of running both the Evanston and Barrington store locations. She has been studying as many forms of dance possible for over two decades. For almost ten years, Aly was a teaching artist, working at studios around Chicagoland and Wisconsin, as well as teaching nation-wide with Dancewerks Werkshops and co-directing Midwest Dance Collective. Recently, she has taken a brief respite from her teaching career to develop her other creative pursuits. Aly is currently the musical choreographer at Barrington High School and is a dance photographer for Midwest Event Solutions. Aly holds a BA in Dance Teaching with a minor in Performing Arts Management from Columbia College Chicago.

Favorite dancewear manufacturer?

It totally depends on the item...my current obsessions are printed leotards from Ballet Rosa, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes and bra tops/leggings from Honeycut.

Must have item for dance classes?

A tennis ball and these Adidas sport socks I bought in bulk five years ago!

What’s in your dance bag?

Various massage tools, socks, canvas and leather ballet shoes!

Favorite style of dance?

Contemporary Ballet and Modern

Recommendation for product?

THE footstretcher

Do you have any performance/backstage rituals/superstitions?

My teacher and mentor always told us to grab a bean instead of good luck. I say it to everyone now!

Favorite Dancer/Choreographer of all time?

Jiří Kylián and Twyla Tharp

Interest outside of dance?

My dog, McClane, skulls and parody writing


Arianna Lawson

Inventory Manager

Arianna is the inventory manager at Allegro, in charge finding great new products for our customers at both Allegro store locations. Arianna grew up in Las Vegas, NV and currently lives in Chicago, IL. She attended Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, WA and graduated cum laude with a BFA in Dance in 2013. Prior to her higher education, Arianna attended Las Vegas Academy of the Arts where she focused in dance. In 2012, she partook in the José Limón West Coast Residency and also attended La Bella Vita Arts summer dance intensive in 2011. Now, Arianna performs around Chicago and is a cofounder of Jamm'n Honey Dance. She has performed works by Camille A. Brown, Kristen Legg, Jason Olhberg, J. Lindsay Brown, Abby Williams, Iyun Harrison, and José Limón. She also loves teaching small humans throughout the Chicagoland area.

Favorite dancewear manufacturer?

Gaynor Minden, Ainsliewear, Honeycut

Must have item for dance classes?

I tend to ALWAYS be cold, so a long sleeved shirt, jacket, hoodie, and socks!

What’s in your dance bag?

A massage ball, theraband, and an extra pair of socks.

Favorite style of dance?

Modern or Contemporary

Recommendation for product?

I LOVE the Toe Tantra. I don't have bunions, but it is the best part of the week for my feet. Also, I LOVE the Stick. That thing saves my life on a weekly basis. Pretty much any stretch & strengthening product. When they're used right, they are UH-MAZING!

Do you have any performance/backstage rituals/superstitions?

I have a set mini warm up and I like to breath with whoever is in the cast. I know that sounds funny, but I think it helps connect us more before we go on stage.

Favorite Dancer/Choreographer of all time?

This is like asking what my favorite song is.. so hard! Some of my favorites include Camille A. Brown, Twyla Tharp, and Matthew Bourne.

Interest outside of dance?

I have a dog and really love taking her to the beach. If I need to relax, I love curling up with a nice book or movie. Also, I love going to concerts and seeing dance performances!


Anna Amini

Evanston Store Manager

Anna started ballet classes at 6 years old, and has been immersed in the dance world ever since! She started out at Canton Ballet in Ohio, and was a member of their pre-professional company. She danced in performances of The Nutcracker, Cinderella, Dracula (her favorite), Wizard of Oz, Peter and the Wolf, and more. She attended Regional Dance America Festivals each summer, and also performed in the Tanzsommer Dancing Festival in Austria.
Anna studied Writing, Literature, and Publishing at Emerson College in Boston, and minored in Dance. Combining her passion for dance with her writing skills, she landed a dream of an internship at Dance Magazine.
When she moved to Chicago she wrote dance reviews for Time Out, and became the Communications and Relations Coordinator at the Joffrey Academy of Dance, Official School of The Joffrey Ballet.
Anna met her husband on the dance floor at a music club, where he impressed her with his breakdancing skills. It was love at first sight, and now they have an active little daughter, who Anna can't wait to sign up for her first dance class. Now she is happy to be managing Allegro Evanston, where the excitement of getting young ballerinas in their first pair of ballet slippers or their first pair of pointe shoes brings so much joy to her heart!

Favorite dancewear manufacturer?

I think both our Ainsliewear and Ballet Rosa leotards are absolutely beautiful. I also love the quirky sayings on our Sugar and Bruno dancer T's. "Will plié for pizza" for sure.

Must have item for dance classes?

A water bottle and feel-good dance attire. Gotta have the right shoes, too!

What’s in your dance bag?

My ballet slippers and hairbands.

Favorite style of dance?

Ballet!

Recommendation for product?

The footsie roller

Do you have any performance/backstage rituals/superstitions?

"Merde!"

Favorite Dancer/Choreographer of all time?

Mikhail Baryshnikov. We share a birthday, and he's amazing.

Interest outside of dance?

Baking, reading, writing, and going on adventures with my husband and daughter.


Alexa Culclasure

Pointe Specialist

Alexa joined the Allegro team in 2014 as a Sales Associate, and after three years shining brightly as one of our best and brightest pointe shoe fitters, she was promoted to the important role as Allegro's one and only dedicated Pointe Specialist, in charge of all things pointe, including training all the new pointe fitters at both of our store locations! Alexa grew up in Georgia, went to college in Texas, started her professional career in Colorado, and is now working and teaching in the Chicago suburbs! She graduated magna cum laude from Texas Christian University with a BFA in Ballet and Modern Dance in 2013. While there, she worked with renowned artists, such as Susan Jaffe, Carrie Hanson, and Loretta Livingston, among many others. She also served as the Co-Driector of Community Outreach and Public Relations for Chi Tau Epsilon Dance Honor Society. Before fully diving into her passion for teaching, Alexa performed professionally with Kim Robards Dance and Life/Art Dance Ensemble (Denver, CO). She enjoys teaching and choreographing multiple dance disciplines and continuing to learn about all things pointe!

Favorite dancewear manufacturer?

I have always loved and appreciated the quality of Bloch products, from shoes, to tights, to leotards! I also love Sugar and Bruno for the fun stuff!

Must have item for dance classes?

Water bottle!

What’s in your dance bag?

Water, a snack (or three), a pinky ball, Aleve, a jacket/sweatshirt, socks, bobby pins, iPhone, and ballet/pointe shoes!

Favorite style of dance?

To teach: Ballet
To perform: Contemporary Ballet
To choreograph: Lyrical/Contemporary

Recommendation for product?

Pinky Ball! It has so many uses!

Do you have any performance/backstage rituals/superstitions?

I always brush my teeth right before I perform and then do some sautés in first position when I get back stage and/or do a few laps around the stage, if I have that opportunity. I’m not sure when this started, but these have become performance musts for me!

Favorite Dancer/Choreographer of all time?

This is changing constantly. I have immense respect for George Balanchine. I'm also very inspired by Mia Michaels, not just as a choreographer, but as a person.

Interest outside of dance?

My all-time favorite hobby is sleeping. I also love watching a good movie or TV show, working on crafty projects, and spending time with people that I love!


Julie Benirschke

Sales Associate

Julie currently dances professionally with Noumenon Dance Ensemble and the Haymarket Opera Company Ballet. She is also a freelance dancer and guest teacher across the Midwest. Julie received her early classical ballet training at the Washington Academy of Performing Arts in Seattle, WA, as well as at San Francisco Ballet School. She went on to study under Violette Verdy at Indiana University’s School of Music and graduated with highest distinction with a B.S.O.F. in Ballet Performance and Biology. She has also danced with professional ballet companies including Louisville Ballet and Los Angeles Dance Theater. Julie has been working at Allegro Dance Boutique since May 2016 and really enjoys using her knowledge and own experiences of dancing en pointe to help other dancers find their best fitting shoe and troubleshoot anything that comes along.

Favorite dancewear manufacturer?

Mirella

Must have item for dance classes?

Footsie roller

What’s in your dance bag?

Lacrosse ball, footsie roller, flat shoes, 2 pairs of pointe shoes (at least), toe pads/toe tape, bag containing nail clippers/scissors/needle and thread/thimble, extra pair of tights, brush, and extra hairpins

Favorite style of dance?

Ballet!

Recommendation for product?

Try out ToeSavers mini pointe shoes pads inside the tips of pointe shoes to help alleviate discomfort on big toes. I can’t live without mine and the best thing is they last for such a long time!

Do you have any performance/backstage rituals/superstitions?

I like to have a moment of peace and quiet before I perform so I can have a chance to mark through and visualize how all the choreography will look and feel. This really helps to prepare me and calm my nerves! I also have a ritual of keeping any little bits of costumes/headpieces/etc. that have fallen off and would otherwise be thrown away. (Think beads, sequins, lace, petals, fake snow.) I keep them in my performance makeup bag and I think they bring me good luck. I’ve got things in there from over 20 years ago!!

Favorite Dancer/Choreographer of all time?

Julie Kent among many others; and I love so many of Balanchine’s works

Interest outside of dance?

Does eating delicious food count? Also my 5 year old daughter keeps me busy and entertained!


Hannah Briner

Sales Associate

Hannah began dancing in Ohio at age 3 and continued her training after her family moved to Kentucky. Her early training focused on ballet, pointe, tap, and jazz. She decided last minute to persue dance through college and is a 2017 graduate from Indiana University with a B.S. in Contemporary Dance and a Certificate in Arts Administration. While at IU, she was able to perform guest works by Angie Hauser, Andrea Miller, and various faculty. She also served as Co-President of The Movement Cooperative, the university's student dance organization, for 2 years. After graduation she took the dive and moved to Chicago to intern with Hubbard Street's Youth Dance Program. She can't wait to see what happens next!

Favorite dancewear manufacturer?

I have a tub full of Bloch and Capezio, they've always been my go-to's

Must have item for dance classes?

A good pair of socks and a long-sleeve shirt

What’s in your dance bag?

Bobby pins, ponytail holders, Theraband, spare socks, a tennis ball, The Stick, Tiger Balm, phone charger, water bottle, and a few snacks

Favorite style of dance?

Modern

Recommendation for product?

The Stick

Do you have any performance/backstage rituals/superstitions?

After warm-up I get dressed as soon as possible (with socks, pants, and a jacket on top) and take a few minutes to myself to stretch, balance, and do a bit of cardio before finding my castmates and taking a few breaths together sidestage.

Favorite Dancer/Choreographer of all time?

This is a crazy hard question... Alvin Ailey, Ohad Narin, Kate Weare... the list could go on and on

Interest outside of dance?

SCUBA, good books, and eating outisde


Jessica Kovarik

Sales Associate

Jessica is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago with a BFA in dance and a concentration in teaching. Jessica also attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to complete her teacher certification in dance education. After graduation from Columbia, Jessica began her career at the Streamwood Park District rebuilding the dance and theater programs. Jessica also had the opportunity to choreograph for Palatine High School Orchesis and Elgin High School Dance Team. Jessica also choreographed and coached the Buffalo Grove High School Dance Team for six years. Last year, Jessica made the jump from coaching into officiating for IHSA competitive dance becoming a member of the Illinois Spirit Officials Association and the Alliance of Illinois Dance Adjudicators. At the end of the season Jessica was awarded the opportunity to guest judge at the IDTA State Finals in Springfield, IL. Jessica's passion for teaching students also lead her to become a member of Chicago National Association of Dance Masters and for the past two years has greatly enjoyed the opportunity to learn from great teachers in the industry and connect with others who have an equal understanding of the life of a dance teacher. Jessica loves performing in musical theater and her recent credits include Shrek: The Musical where she played The Wicked Witch, Duloc Dancer, and tap dancing rat, and will be performing soon in Crazy For You as Tess, the Follies Dance Captain.

Favorite dancewear manufacturer?

Bloch. All their jazz, character, and tap shoes are all made with super soft leather. I have worn holes in many of my shoes because of how well they break in and I just can't part with how comfy they are! They make good quality items that make me feel I am getting my money's worth without spending my entire paycheck if I don't want to. I can usually get through a year of teaching in a good Bloch shoe which I love! Their leotards are also super soft and fit well on many body types which is important to me as a dancer and as a teacher.

Must have item for dance classes?

My water bottle! Between dancing and yelling over the music, I can't make it through a class without one. It's even better when they have cute sayings or dance designs!

What’s in your dance bag?

Always tap, ballet and jazz shoes because I teach all styles! Water bottle, mini tap screw driver, sweet feet spray, band-aids and liquid band-aid, tennis ball or footsie roller, and a notebook or two with my class notes and choreography. I always look for notebooks with positive sayings because I carry them so much in class I feel it gives a little to my kids too.

Favorite style of dance?

Musical Theater Jazz/Tap. There is a quality and character to it. For myself, it is fun to play someone different for a little bit, even feel like I am back in those classic movie musicals. For my kids, it is often a challenge for them to "act" while they are dancing. They have to embody the story of the song and the character they are becoming. It is a great way to challenge their showmanship!

Recommendation for product?

Footsie Roller. It is a basic staple in my bag. I use it every day. It is something so simple but so effective when it comes to tired feet. I also have plantar fasciitis and rolling my feet out at night keeps me from being in pain all day.

Do you have any performance/backstage rituals/superstitions?

As a teacher/director I have developed a new pre-performance ritual. I absolutely love getting to the theater early before everyone and standing on stage in the empty theater, looking into the audience, and taking a deep breath. It helps me calm down before the craziness of performance/recital. It also reminds me that I love what I do, that I am lucky to get to do it everyday, and that it is a priviledge to perform at a beautiful and fully equipt theater twice a year.

Favorite Dancer/Choreographer of all time?

This is hard to choose for me because I have loves in multiple genres. I am a Bob Fosse fanatic. His style of musical theater dance is iconic and has inspired so many. It's one of those styles I love passing on to my students because they always feel good doing it and are honored when they get the chance to perform a Fosse style piece. My second love is Merce Cunningham. I had the opportunity to study his technique in college and the athleticism of the dancers has always astounded me. It was one of the most difficult styles I studied next to Graham technique, but Cunningham wins for me with the playfulness and avant garde of his choreography. I could honestly go on and on about my favorite choreorgaphers in every style of dance! haha!

Interest outside of dance?

I think this is a hard question for dance teachers because when we have free time we tend to take class or see a performance for our own interest and professional development or even just to feel good! But, when I am not dancing I am doing everything from watching movies to cleaning to working out. Anything that helps me decompress is important to my time outside of dance. You can't go wrong with a good few hours with a friend or two at brunch with a mimosa!


Christine Long

Sales Associate

Christine Long grew up studying ballet and modern dance in Indiana where she was a member of a pre-professional company throughout high school and college. While studying mathematics at the University of Notre Dame, she also had the opportunity to perform and choreograph for a student led dance initiative. After graduating, Christine moved to Chicago where she put her math and education degrees to use professionally while continuing to take ballet classes in her free time. Christine is excited to share her enthusiasm for dance with the Allegro community.

Favorite dancewear manufacturer?

Body Wrappers

Must have item for dance classes?

Ballet shoes

What’s in your dance bag?

Water bottle, stretch canvas ballet shoes, leg warmers and other knitwear

Favorite style of dance?

Ballet

Recommendation for product?

Footsie roller

Do you have any performance/backstage rituals/superstitions?

Reviewing choreography in my head

Favorite Dancer/Choreographer of all time?

Julie Kent

Interest outside of dance?

Reading, knitting, walks with a friend or my dog and a podcast


Maxine Patronik

Sales Associate

Maxine has been working at Allegro since August 2012, starting off as an apprentice and then becoming a seasonal sales associate when she moved to San Francisco to study dance at Alonzo King's LINES Ballet BFA Program at Dominican University of California. Growing up, Maxine trained at Barrington Dance Academy, Faubourg School of Ballet, Visceral Dance Center, and Lou Conte. During her time at Dominican, she has had the opportunity to teach and perform internationally with JUNTOS Collective, traveling to both Mexico and Guatemala. After recently graduating summa cum laude from Dominican in May, she has relocated back to Chicago to pursue her dance career. She is thrilled to be able to continue working at Allegro Dance Boutique!

Favorite dancewear manufacturer?

Yumiko

Must have item for dance classes?

A cozy pair of socks to warm up my feet!

What’s in your dance bag?

Ballet and pointe shoes, The Stick, tennis ball, wrap skirt, water bottle, notebook, theraband

Favorite style of dance?

Contemporary

Recommendation for product?

The Stick

Do you have any performance/backstage rituals/superstitions?

Listening to music and breathing help me to focus

Favorite Dancer/Choreographer of all time?

Crystal Pite

Interest outside of dance?

Reading, hiking, cooking, spending time with friends and family


Amanda Pease

Sales Associate

Originally from Kokomo, Indiana and holding a Bachelor of Arts in Dance from Western Michigan University (WMU), Amanda Peasegrew up dancing with modern company, Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre (GHDT) of Carmel, IN, where she was an apprentice and second company member. While at WMU, Amanda performed in works by George Balanchine, Helen Tamiris, Danah Bella, and Teena Marie Custer. She has been choreographing and freelancing since college performing in pieces created by herself, Gregory Hancock, Meghan Beseth, and Rachel Katz. Amanda Pease is currently a freelance dancer in Chicago, IL. She also is a registered massage therapist in the state of Illinois.

Favorite dancewear manufacturer?

Audition Dancewear, Maldire (I love their leo patterns), Mirella.

Must have item for dance classes?

Warm ups! I love sweatpants and knitwear

What’s in your dance bag?

Other than shoes... athletic tape, sewing kit, ballet skirt, hair pins/clips, lambs wool, a variety of massage balls, water bottle, snacks, theraband, tiger balm, and ibuprofen

Favorite style of dance?

Ballet, Contemporary

Recommendation for product?

Balance boards

Do you have any performance/backstage rituals/superstitions?

Every day is different so I feel like I shouldn't do the exact same thing before each show.

Favorite Dancer/Choreographer of all time?

Christopher Wheldon, Liam Scarlett, Darcy Bussel

Interest outside of dance?

Gardening, knitting, fermented foods, wine, kinesiology/anatomy, crafting


Eliza Weekley

Sales Associate

Eliza joined the Allegro team in 2016 after moving to Chicago to pursue a career in dance. Eliza is originally from Athens, Ohio, and started taking classes in her hometown when she was four. In 2007 she began dancing at BalletMet Columbus, where she trained with Dmitri Suslov and Susan Brooker. In 2013 Eliza was offered a spot in BalletMet’s Trainee Program, where she studied under Susan Dromisky, and Timothy Lynch for two years. During her time at BalletMet Eliza performed in numerous company productions, in both student and company roles, under the direction of Gerard Charles and Edwaard Liang. Some of her favorites include; Young Alice in Gerard Charles’ “Alice in Wonderland”, and Snow and Flower Corps in Charles’ “The Nutcracker”. Upon moving to Chicago in the fall of 2015 Eliza studied at the Joffrey Academy of Dance, and began dancing with Cocodaco Dance Project in their Mezzo Company. She is now an apprentice with Cocodaco Dance Project.

Favorite dancewear manufacturer?

Ainsliewear

Must have item for dance classes?

Tennis Ball

What’s in your dance bag?

Single tennis ball, double tennis ball, theraband, ibuprofen, warm-ups, bobby pins, nail clippers, stitch kit, spray bottle, baby powder, water bottle

Favorite style of dance?

I love them all; it’s too hard to choose!

Recommendation for product?

Bunheads’ “Stitch Kit”

Do you have any performance/backstage rituals/superstitions?

I usually shake out my wrists and ankles. Sometimes I do a couple small jumps before heading out on stage.

Favorite Dancer/Choreographer of all time?

Margot Fonteyn and Bob Fosse

Interest outside of dance?

Making jewelry, photography, reading, history, drawing, and watching movies with my friends.


Karen Yatsko

Sales Associate

Karen Yatsko received her BFA in Dance at Columbia College Chicago. At CCC she has had the privilege to perform works by Peter Carpenter, Hope Goldman, and Tosha Ayo Alston. Professionally, she has performed at the Going Dutch Festival in Chicago. Karen has choreographed and presented work at Chicago Moving Company’s D49 and Dance Shelter, Chicago Danztheatre’s Full Circle Festival and at Harold Washington Library’s Cindy Pritzker Auditorium as a part of Made in Chicago.

Favorite dancewear manufacturer?

Gaynor Minden

Must have item for dance classes?

Pinky Ball

What’s in your dance bag?

About 5 lipsticks

Favorite style of dance?

Modern!

Recommendation for product?

Sweet feet has saved lives! And dance bags.

Do you have any performance/backstage rituals/superstitions?

Cartwheels

Favorite Dancer/Choreographer of all time?

Alexander Ekman

Interest outside of dance?

Going to the beach and playing with my bunny Snaps!


Caleigh Meehan

Apprentice

Caleigh Meehan is senior at Barrington High School and has been dancing since she was 3 years old. Caleigh has spent the majority of her training at Barrington Dance Academy. She is a proud member of my studios company and of BHS Orchesis. I have been working at Allegro since September of 2016.

Favorite dancewear manufacturer?

Yumiko

Must have item for dance classes?

The Stick

What’s in your dance bag?

War and Peace (or whatever I am currently reading)

Favorite style of dance?

Ballet

Recommendation for product?

Bullet Pointe skirts!

Do you have any performance/backstage rituals/superstitions?

Putting too much rosin on my pointe shoes

Favorite Dancer/Choreographer of all time?

Evgenia Obraztsova

Interest outside of dance?

I reread Harry Potter on a daily basis so I suppose that would be an interest


Shannon Brodie

Seasonal Sales Associate

Shannon joined the Allegro team in September 2012 and quickly stood out for her superior and innate merchandising talents. Shannon is now a seasonal sales associate at Allegro, conducting both expert pointe shoe fittings as well as creating many of our lovely window displays and in store merchandising displays. She began dancing at age four with Mim Eichmann at Midwest Ballet Academy in Downers Grove, where she continued through high school. Her passion for dance then took her to Northern Illinois University where she received her B.F.A. in dance performance. During her training at N.I.U. Shannon had the privilege of performing soloist roles in numerous ballets re-staged by Randall Newsom, including “Sleeping Beauty,” “Paquita,” and “Giselle.” She has also performed as a guest artist with Midwest Ballet Academy, Rockford Dance Company, and State Street Dance Studio. Since joining NoMi LaMad as a founding member in 2007, Shannon has had the honor of working with choreographers such as Joshua Blake Carter, Paul Christiano, Lizzie MacKenzie, and Nick Pupillo. Shannon has also been performing with Winifred Haun and Dancers since 2014. Shannon has taught dancers of all ages throughout the Chicago area for over 10 years. Shannon is so excited to add Allegro to her Dance career repertoire and to continue preforming and teaching throughout the Chicago area. Shannon has many to thank for their help and encouragement throughout the years, and she would like to express her deepest appreciation to her friends and family for their unyielding support of her passion for dance.

Favorite dancewear manufacturer?

Bloch

Must have item for dance classes?

My cozy black legwarmers

What’s in your dance bag?

Grishko ballet shoes, foam roller, Tennis ball, Bio-freeze, a theraband or two, Bloch booties, and my favorite water bottle!

Favorite style of dance?

Contemporary Ballet and modern.

Recommendation for product?

Bloch booties are life changing! They​ keep my feet so warm, they've helped me have great performances despite freezing temperatures!

Do you have any performance/backstage rituals/superstitions?

I try to always to the pilates stomach series while listening to some calming music, In college it was the Garden State soundtrack, now it’s Sigur Ros

Favorite Dancer/Choreographer of all time?

Crystal Pite, Jiří Kylián and Nacho Duato

Interest outside of dance?

My dog! I love spending time with my Husky Shepherd mix Prairie! We love going for walks, runs or sometimes the dog beach!


Megan Clement

Seasonal Sales Associate

Megan Clement has danced with Barrington Dance Academy and was a part of their company before graduating from Barrington High School. She has also danced with BHS Orchesis, a performing dance club at the high school. Megan is currently attending University of Pittsburgh where she is majoring in Sociology with a minor in Dance and is planning on applying to an accelerated nursing program. She continues her passion for dance through a club on campus called Pitt Dance Ensemble, where she is a part of the Executive Board. Since freshman year of college, Megan has also become an involved in the dance community in the city of Pittsburgh.

Favorite dancewear manufacturer?

Bloch

Must have item for dance classes?

Nalgene water bottle (I like water)

What’s in your dance bag?

My Nalgene water bottle covered in Jimmy John’s stickers

Favorite style of dance?

Modern, contemporary, and ballet.

Recommendation for product?

Bloch’s Zenith ballet shoes

Do you have any performance/backstage rituals/superstitions?

Back when I was dancing en pointe, no matter how dead the pointe shoes were, I had to wear the shoes that I have worn during tech week on the days of performance.

Favorite Dancer/Choreographer of all time?

Martha Graham and Gus Giordano

Interest outside of dance?

Eating sushi and Jimmy John’s (not together though) and spending a day in Chicago with friends!


Akilah Harris

Seasonal Sales Associate

A native of Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, Akilah began ballet studies at the former Hyde Park School of Ballet. With the inception of the Joffrey Academy of Dance she entered the Pre-Professional ballet program, advancing through to graduation from the Trainee program in June 2016. She has participated in various summer intensive programs including the Joffrey International Summer Dance Intensive, the Ballet Austin Summer Intensive, and Kaatsbaan Extreme Ballet, where she has performed both classical and contemporary works of such choreographers as Gerald Arpino, Steven Mills, Frederick Ashton, and Margo Sappington. As a member of the Visceral Dance scholarship program, Akilah continued to hone her artistry, studying with Laura Wade and Nick Pupillo. She danced with Chicago Repertory Ballet for their 5 year anniversary season and has worked at Allegro since September 2016.

Favorite dancewear manufacturer?

Probably Bloch because the Euro Stretch is the shoe of my dreams

Must have item for dance classes?

Socks! or sweatpants? Both.

What’s in your dance bag?

A Bunheads resistance band, The Stick, socks, ballet shoes, pointe shoes, Pro Pads, a Flexistretcher, a bullet pointe skirt, honestly too many things.

Favorite style of dance?

Ballet, but I also really love Contemporary

Recommendation for product?

Pointe Shoe Glue! My shoes last much longer than they should just because of Pointe Shoe Glue.

Do you have any performance/backstage rituals/superstitions?

I always go over the piece I'm about to perform in my head and then mark through it on stage if possible. I also put on perfume before I go on.

Favorite Dancer/Choreographer of all time?

Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Alexander Ekman, Crystal Pite

Interest outside of dance?

Cooking, taking pictures, going to the gym


Amanda Hickey

Seasonal Sales Associate

Amanda joined the Allegro team in 2014 and discovered an innate talent for pointe shoe fittings. Amanda discovered a passion for dance at the age of ten. She began her serious training at Faubourg School of Ballet under Watmora Casey, Tatyana Mazur, and Ernesto Quenedit. Her other training includes intensives with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, River North Dance Company, Visceral Dance Company, and Orlando Ballet. She graduated from Butler University in 2014, where she studied on both academic and talent scholarships earning her BFA with honors in Dance Performance. While at Butler, she had the opportunity to spend a month studying abroad in Europe where she trained and performed in Warsaw, Krakow, and St. Petersburg. As a senior she was asked to choreograph for the study abroad program, exposing her choreography to The Polish National Ballet, The Polish Dance Theatre, as well as venues in Bratislava. Throughout the years, Amanda has had the pleasure of performing as a guest artist for The Kate Jablonski Statement, State Street Dance Studio, The Dance Factory, Malachi Ballet, and The Schaumburg Dance Ensemble. Upon returning to Chicago after graduation, Amanda began dancing with Nomi Dance Company. Currently one of the veteran dancers in the company, she has also been given the opportunity to choreograph for two of NDC's shows. Besides performing, Amanda also enjoys teaching and choreographing for studios across the Chicago-land area.

Favorite dancewear manufacturer?

Yumiko

Must have item for dance classes?

The Stick and a sweater

What’s in your dance bag?

An extra leotard, tights, ballet shoes, pointe shoes, socks, The Stick, tennis ball, theraband, hair stuff, knee pads, some type of warm up pants and sweater, and a water bottle

Favorite style of dance?

Contemporary and Ballet

Recommendation for product?

The Stick. It is a life saver, and I am addicted.

Do you have any performance/backstage rituals/superstitions?

I always like to retreat into my own little bubble and jam out to music while I do my hair and make-up

Favorite Dancer/Choreographer of all time?

Jiří Kylián and Erica Sobol

Interest outside of dance?

Reading, watching way too many tv shows (also getting way too invested in the fictional characters), walking my dogs, and spending time with friends and family


Mae Hurtig

Seasonal Sales Associate

Mae started dancing when she was three years old and quickly began taking classes at Dance Center Evanston. She has stayed ever since, studying Ballet, Cecchetti ballet, jazz, hip hop, modern, and tap. She was a member of the Evanston Dance Ensemble for six years performing in shows such as The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, Alice in Wonderland, and FAB 2.0! She has attended multiple summer intensive programs at schools including The Kirov Academy of Ballet, the Harid Conservatory, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and Boston Ballet. In the summer of 2016, she attended the Boston Conservatory's Musical Theater Dance Intensive and fell in love with the school. She graduated from Evanston Township High School in 2017 and she will be returning to the Boston Conservatory at Berklee to major in musical theater. She has worked with teachers such as Bea Rashid, Julie Cartier, Victoria Barlow, Mike Gosney, Victoria Schneider, and Deanna Seay. Mae has been shopping at Allegro for years and is thrilled to be an apprentice with Allegro Dance Boutique in Evanston.

Favorite dancewear manufacturer?

Yumiko or Audition Dancewear

Must have item for dance classes?

Jet glue!

What’s in your dance bag?

My bullet pointe skirt, my pointe shoes, an extra pair of tights, an extra leotard, a filled water bottle, roll on perfume, mints, garbage bag shorts, tons of hair pins, and lots of snacks.

Favorite style of dance?

Either ballet or jazz!

Recommendation for product?

The bullet pointe skirt and the Big Tip toe pad.

Do you have any performance/backstage rituals/superstitions?

I always put on some roll on perfume, I brush my teeth, I go over the choreography in my head, and I wish everyone luck!

Favorite Dancer/Choreographer of all time?

My favorite dancer is Tiler Peck and my favorite choreographer is Justin Peck.

Interest outside of dance?

Other than dance or musical theater, I'm interested in Chicago sports, photography, and fashion.


Kathryn Julian

Seasonal Sales Associate

Kathryn became an apprentice at Allegro in 2012. Kathryn has a keen artistic eye and now works at Allegro seasonally as a visual merchandiser, sales associate, and makeup artist for photo shoots and makeup events. Kathryn has been dancing since she was three years old, when she started taking ballet classes at the Barrington Park District. At the age of seven, she was enrolled at Bataille Academie of the Danse. For nine years, Kathryn discovered her passion for dance by taking numerous classes, including ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, and even competed for six years with the company. In 2011, Kathryn went to New York City to study at the Rockettes Summer Intensive and returned again in 2013. In 2012, Kathryn began dancing under the instruction of Ellen Werksman and Allegro’s own Aly Heintz at the Barrington Artz Center. Kathryn is continuing her dance education at Columbia College Chicago by minoring in Dance. Kathryn is excited to share her passion for dance with the customers at both Allegro locations!

Favorite dancewear manufacturer?

Gaynor Minden

Must have item for dance classes?

Bloch booties and a Theraband

What’s in your dance bag?

Tights, extra shoes, a Whirl-a-Style, Bunheads hairpins, a waterbottle and a snack, of course!

Favorite style of dance?

Contemporary and Tap

Recommendation for product?

Capezio’s knit waistband tights

Do you have any performance/backstage rituals/superstitions?

I’ll organize/set up piles of costumes in case of a quick change.

Favorite Dancer/Choreographer of all time?

Martha Graham and Sarah Reich

Interest outside of dance?

Makeup and CATS!


Holly Lehnertz

Seasonal Sales Associate

Holly Lehnertz began her dance training at the age of 13. She attended conventions all around the chicago area. Holly trained with Tiffany Krause, in her company KinRha Dance Company. Holly has attended summer intensives including; Saratoga Summer Ballet, Thodos Dance Chicago, and the Point Park Summer Intensive. Holly is currently seeking her bachelor of fine arts in contemporary dance at the University of North Carolina, School of the Arts. At UNCSA, Holly trains in styles including; Cunninghman, Limon, Graham, Countertechnique and many more. At school Holly has performed in works by Martha Graham, Jose Limon, and Kira Blazek. At college, Holly discovered her love for choreographing. She choreographed a musical theatre/jazz piece titled, "Swing." Swing was performed at UNCSA at a fundraiser event called Project Love. Holly loves coming back for breaks to work for Allegro Dance Boutique and is so excited to see what her future holds.

Favorite dancewear manufacturer?

YUMIKO!

Must have item for dance classes?

The stick

What’s in your dance bag?

Footsie roller and all types of dance shoes

Favorite style of dance?

Contemporary and jazz

Recommendation for product?

Use the footstretcher every night and you will see great results

Do you have any performance/backstage rituals/superstitions?

Going through the dance a million times (I have bad stage fright)

Favorite Dancer/Choreographer of all time?

Merce Cunningham and Bill T Jones

Interest outside of dance?

Photography and hair braiding!


Molly Linder

Seasonal Sales Associate

Molly joined the Allegro team as an Apprentice in June 2013. When she was 9 she started dancing to assist her with her figure skating, but quickly realized she wanted to devote all her time dance. Molly trained at Dance Center Evanston for 9 years, and was a member of the Evanston Dance Ensemble for 5 years. In 2011 she attended the 5-week CPYB summer intensive, and in 2012 the Joffrey Chicago summer intensive. In addition to pursuing a B.S. in biomedical engineering, Molly is pursing a minor in dance at the University of Southern California Glorya Kaufman School of Dance. Molly’s favorite part about working at Allegro is sharing her passion and knowledge for dance with others. One day she hopes to create the Allegro Pointe Shoe.

Favorite dancewear manufacturer?

Yumiko, Ballet Rosa, Wear Moi, and So Dança

Must have item for dance classes?

Body Wrappers black leg warmers and The Stick

What’s in your dance bag?

The Stick, theraband, pinky ball, leg warmers,garbage bag pants, canvas ballet/jazz/pointe shoes, Ouch Pouches, wrap skirts, and extra pins and hair accessories

Favorite style of dance?

Ballet/Pointe and Jazz

Recommendation for product?

The Stick

Do you have any performance/backstage rituals/superstitions?

Jumping up and down and shaking all my nerves out

Favorite Dancer/Choreographer of all time?

George Balanchine

Interest outside of dance?

Baking, photography, and graphic design


Abby Morris

Seasonal Sales Associate

Abby Morris was an apprentice at ADB before becoming a seasonal sales associate. Abby has been dancing for fifteen years. For thirteen years, she danced at Dance Motions Inc. and was a part of Motions Dance Company. She decided to further her training at Talent Forum and become a member of Forum Dance Theatre. Abby is currently a student at Point Park University and is studying to receive a B.F.A. in Jazz dance. Abby aspires to be a professional dancer in a contemporary company or a Broadway show. She is so grateful that she can share her passion for dance with every customer at Allegro!

Favorite dancewear manufacturer?

Ainslewear, Honeycut, Yumiko

Must have item for dance classes?

A sweat towel and new skin to protect my bare feet!

What’s in your dance bag?

All dance shoes (ballet, jazz, character, tap, & hip hop), tons of socks, first aid kid, and extra clothes!

Favorite style of dance?

Contemporary and Musical Theatre

Recommendation for product?

I love my ninja sweatpants from Sugar and Bruno! They're so comfortable and awesome to warm up in!

Do you have any performance/backstage rituals/superstitions?

I have a bunch of lucky bracelets I rub before any performance or audition!

Favorite Dancer/Choreographer of all time?

My favorite dancer would have to be Nick Lazzarini! Some of my fave choreographers are Nick Pupillo, Mia Michaels, Travis Wall, & Mandy Moore!

Interest outside of dance?

I'm really into politics! I think if I didn't dance, I would have a political career!


Alexandra Skopek

Seasonal Sales Associate

Alexandra has been an Apprentice at Allegro since 2015, and became a seasonal staff member in 2017 after going to college. She began dancing at Barrington Dance Academy at the age of three, and was a member of their company from age 12-18. For five teen years, Alexandra took mostly ballet and pointe classes, and later expanded her training to more styles when she became involved in Barrington High School’s Orchesis Dance Company. Alexandra is attending Texas Christian University to study engineering, as well as to become involved in dance performance organizations.

Favorite dancewear manufacturer?

Capezio and Yumiko

Must have item for dance classes?

Booties/ Fuzzy Socks

What’s in your dance bag?

Pointe shoes, Ballet shoes, The Stick, Bullet Pointe skirt, granola bars, spare leotard and tights, hair pins, dance dictionary, theraband, Advil, IcyHot, tennis ball

Favorite style of dance?

Ballet

Recommendation for product?

Bullet Pointe skirts- especially the fun colors!

Do you have any performance/backstage rituals/superstitions?

I don’t like to go into the actual wings too far in advance to actually going on stage or else I psych myself out.

Favorite Dancer/Choreographer of all time?

Svetlana Zakharova

Interest outside of dance?

Anything outdoors, trying new restaurants/coffee shops.


Celine Spinka

Seasonal Sales Associate

Celine graduated cum laude from Butler University with a BA in Dance Pedagogy and a minor in Strategic Communications. She has spent summers training at The Jillana School, Long Beach Ballet, Ballet West, Ballet Met, Alonzo King LINES Ballet, and River North Dance Chicago. She has been fortunate to work with teachers and choreographers such as Patrick Hinson, Derek Reid, Susan McGuire, Frank Chavez, and Lesley Telford among others. In the summer of 2014, she toured with the Butler Ballet to Eastern Europe, performing with the National Schools of ballet Warsaw and Poznan, Poland as well as the National Conservatories of Bratislava, Slovakia and Prague, Czech Republic. In addition to ballet, she has trained extensively in modern, jazz, and contemporary. Celine is currently dancing with Ascendence Dance Chicago and Elements Contemporary Ballet and teaches ballet around the Chicago area.

Favorite dancewear manufacturer?

Ballet Rosa

Must have item for dance classes?

Water bottle

What’s in your dance bag?

Lacrosse ball, leg warmers, pointe shoes + accessories, ballet shoes, socks, sweet feet spray, hairpins, and teaching notebook

Favorite style of dance?

Ballet!

Recommendation for product?

Foam Roller is a must-have for all dancers!

Do you have any performance/backstage rituals/superstitions?

I like to give myself parts of a ballet barre even if I am performing a contemporary piece. That and planks!

Favorite Dancer/Choreographer of all time?

Marianela Nunez. Favorite Choreographer: Mats Ek

Interest outside of dance?

Cooking