The Center for the Arts Dance Department is leaping into Fall with new programs!
- Move With Me: Do you have a future dancer who is not quite ready for a class on their own? Try this class for dancer and parent/guardian participant. Learn to move and express through exploring creative dance together in a fun environment enriched with props, music, and dance along games; all designed to introduce them to this beautiful art form!
- Dance Club: An extension of our extremely popular Dance Camp! This club is designed for dancers who love learning a variety of styles, excited about surprises, and are looking to make friends. Dance Club will incorporate different styles of dance class each week along with fun activities to support team building in a fun and friendly environment.
With the winter season approaching our dance department is all about the Nutcracker!
- Don't miss out on our magical annual Nutcracker production! Tickets are on sale to the public Tuesday, November 19 at 9 a.m. Get your tickets at our registration page!
- Is your dancer a part of our Nutcracker Production? View our handbook here to stay up to date on rehearsals and expectations!
- We have a program for the little ones too! Preschoolers are welcome to join us at our one day Nutcracker Workshop. Click for more details!
Dance Department Staff
Rebecca Van Poucke
Age, Attire and Attendance Requirements
The Dance Department strives to provide high quality training for dancers of all ages and experience levels. To maintain the integrity of the classes, we ask that parents do not request age overrides. All requirements, both attire, attendance and age, are set to benefit the children and make instruction more consistent for the program leaders. In some instances, the requirements have been set for the child's safety.
Required Dance Attire
The attire indicated below are required so instructors may properly observe and teach muscular movement. For all classes, hair must be up and off the neck in a ponytail or bun. Unacceptable attire includes jeans, ripped clothing (including tights), sweatpants, crop or half tops showing the midriff, and jewelry.
- Creative Dance, Pre Ballet: leotard, tights, pink ballet shoes. Skirts or tutus optional.
- Ballet and Pointe Prep classes: solid color leotard, pink tights, pink ballet shoes. Dancers age 9 and higher may also wear black dance shorts-no other cover ups.
- Pre Ballet/Tap and Ballet/Tap classes: leotard, tights, pink ballet shoes, black tap shoes. Skirts, tutus, or black dance shorts optional.
- Tap and Jazz classes ages 7 and higher: leotard, tights, black tap shoes or tan slip on jazz shoes. Skirts or dance shorts optional.
- All Hip Hop classes: comfortable athletic clothing (no jeans), black sneakers
- Clean, fitted tee shirt, athletic shorts or pants, black ballet shoes (ballet), black tap shoes (tap), black slip on jazz shoes (jazz), black sneakers (hip hop).
Dance Camp attire:
- Leotard, tights, ballet shoes, jazz shoes, and tap shoes. Skirts or black dance shorts optional. Hair secured in a ponytail or bun.
For dance class supplies, contact Allegro Dance Boutique in Evanston.
Dance Instructor Bios:
Kelly Clifton-Zajak brings twenty years of experience to Wilmette Park District's dance program. After graduating high school in 1999, Kelly attended Columbia College Chicago, studying Ballet and Modern Techniques. While training, Kelly jumped into choreographer/coach mode for her alma mater's competitive dance team. Under her direction, the Maine East High School Demon Squad, an up-and-coming contender in the precision dance arena, brought home several state and regional championship titles.
Over the course of the next two decades, Kelly amassed a trove of experience and titles--coaching and choreographing for a number of dance teams in the Chicagoland area--including St. Viator, Niles West, and Reavis High School. Her choreographic skills extend into the solo arena as well; her soloists have received much acclaim, earning the highest marks from both Universal Dance Association, Illinois Drill Team Association, and Energy dance competitions. Her work has also been featured in Cirque Dreams Holidaze.
In 2011, Kelly co-founded Expressions Dance Company to provide dancers, young and old alike, a new venue for technical and artistic growth. Under EDC, she has mentored a competitive team, staged several shows, and holds summer workshops. Kelly shares her expertise with other studios in the area as well--she is currently the competitive choreographer for the Elite Ensemble for Kaleidoscope in Evanston, and serves as Artistic Director for their Hip Hop Krew. Kelly is also Director of Glenview Park Center's newest competitive hip hop dance team, Synergy Squad, and Tres Petite Elite, their youngest company dancers ages 5-7.
Kelly is thrilled to be teaching the pre-school dance program at Wilmette Park District. Her goal is to educate her students to become self confident, poised, and passionate dancers!
Katelyn Easter fell in love with ballet at the early age of three while watching a performance of the Nutcracker of Middle Georgia. After 17 years of ballet training from a myriad of teachers - from Macon, Warner Robins, New York City, Nashville, Atlanta, and Orlando - dance still has a hold on her heart.Katelyn studied at Georgia College and State University where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Minor in Dance and Creative Arts Therapy, and she completed her Master of Science in Marriage and Family Therapy at Northwestern University. In addition to being a class assistant for six years at various studios and leading many dance camps, she has been a dance instructor for 2-8 year olds at a dance studio in Milledgeville, Georgia, and a ballet instructor for an adult ballet class implemented at a yoga studio in Georgia. Katelyn incorporates her passion she has developed as a Marriage and Family Therapist to promote character development, fitness, healthy living, and, ultimately, shaping and nurturing the lives of the students as they are taking their dance classes.
Valerie Lober received her early training at Dance Arts Academy in Traverse City, MI. As a member of Company Dance Traverse, she attended the Young Tanzommer Dance Festival performing throughout Austria, German, and Italy. Continuing her education, she attended Western Michigan University on scholarship. Selected for Western Michigan Dance Project, a faculty run company, she performed in various festivals and concerts throughout her collegiate career.
In addition to performing, Val also choreographed and served on the board for Orchesis Dance Society, a student run organization. After graduating in 2010 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance and Choreography, she taught at several dance studios in Kalamazoo, and Chicago.
Val is very grateful to have found a home at the Wilmette Park District and thrives in this inclusive and family friendly environment. When she is not at work, she enjoys taking class and performing professionally with Lucid Banter Project in the city.
Kirsten Markham has been teaching dance for over 20 years here at the Wilmette Park District and other local dance studios. She received her dance training through Ruth Page and Gus Giordano in addition to receiving her degree in Early Childhood Education.
She choreographed a dance team for 10 years with North Shore Dance and Drama which was chosen in 2009 to perform at Disney World. Kirsten was a company member of the Barefoot Hawaiian dance troupe for 4 years as well.
She currently choreographs for the Wilmette Children's Theater and area theater companies with over 100 show credits to date. A veteran performer in the theater circuit, sometimes you can still catch her on stage.
Rebecca Van Poucke began dancing at the age of 3 and never stopped! She trained in ballet, tap, and jazz throughout her childhood, but fell in love with pom and hip hop in high school.
As a member of her high school dance team she led her squad as captain, competing in numerous competitions and placing 1st at the state competition. She continued her dance training as a member of the Northern Illinois University Silverette Dance Team. While dancing in college, Rebecca majored in education and has since worked as a licensed educator for over 10 years.
She has had the opportunity to teach, choreograph, and coach dance during her time in the classroom, and recently decided to focus her teaching abilities solely on dance. Rebecca hopes to spread her love of dance with her students while creating fun, challenging, and rewarding classes.
Anastassia Williams is originally from Gurnee, IL where she attended Warren Township High School. She was on her high school Poms team, and as captain her senior year, led her team to state for TDI in 2009. Williams went on to attend the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to get her Bachelor's degree in English and Secondary Education. While pursuing her degree, she was a member of the Vitality Dance Team, which is a greek-affiliated dance team that performs at a variety of fraternity and sorority-related events and philanthropies, serenades around campus, and their own spring annual show.
Upon graduation, Williams worked as an English teacher at Waukegan High School for three years. During that time, she also coached the Junior Varsity Poms team at Warren Township High School, a program which specializes in hip hop dance. As coach, Williams choreographed the competition routine with her captains each year, and her team had several 1st place finishes at various IHSA competitions in the area. Furthermore, Williams assisted the Varsity coach in earning state qualifications each year.
On the side, Williams worked as a dance teacher for the Gurnee Park District, where she taught hip hop classes for kids ranging from 5 to 13. She moved to Chicago three years ago and began working at Evanston Township High School as an English teacher. Currently, she is also the assistant director of the ETHS Dance Company at school.
She is very excited to be a part of Wilmette Park District dance family and is looking forward to spreading her passion for dance!