2014 Fall Faculty
Bril Barrett is a creative tap dancer, whose mission is to preserve and promote tap dance as a percussive art form, foster respect and admiration for the history and creators of tap, and continuously create opportunities for the art form and its practitioners. Bril is the founder of M.A.D.D. (Making A Difference Dancing) Rhythms, Co-founder of M.A.D.D. Rhythms Canada, director of The Chicago Tap Summit and founder of The M.A.D.D. Rhythms Tap Academy. Performance opportunities include Riverdance, Tap Dance Kid, The St. Louis Tap Festival, The Calgary Tap Summit and many others. Bril has taught and/or performed in Canada, Germany, Finland, Turkey, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Albania, Amsterdam, and across the U.S. He has started many outreach programs in Chicago’s public schools, park districts and a performing arts high school in Gary, Indiana.
Valentina Barsukova received her Vaganova ballet training in the Ukraine beginning with the Kharkov Ballet School and graduating from Kiev Academy of Ballet. She danced professionally with the Kharkov Ballet Theatre performing in productionsincluding Sleeping Beauty, La Sylphide, Sone of the Forest, Carmen, Don Quixote, and Nutcracker. During her time as a professional dancer, Valentina furthered her studies receiving a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Choreography and a Master’s Degree in engineering. In 1994, Valentina moved to the United States and taught for Geiger Classical Ballet Academy, and Big City Dance Center. She then taught for Juliana’s Academy of Dance staging and choreographing ballet productions including Chipollino, Doctor Dolittle and Cinderella. Her students have been accepted into residential programs—Bolshoi Ballet Academy; Kirov Academy of Ballet of Washington, DC; Joffrey Academy of Dance and Canada’s National Ballet School. Valentina is extremely proud of the students she’s fostered and who have gone on to work professionally in companies including Stanislavsky Theatre (Moscow), Miami City Ballet (Miami), and Complexions Contemporary Ballet (New York).
Kelly Beamish is a graduate from the prestigious Oklahoma City University where she earned her Bachelor of Performing Arts in dance performance. Upon graduation from OCU, Kelly worked in Los Angeles pursuing her career as a professional dancer. While in LA, she performed in Disney's "The High School Musical" and was a member of the Los Angeles Lakers Summer Pro League Dance Team. Kelly has also toured nationwide with the "Curtis Adams Magic that Rocks Show" and was featured in a NASCAR California Speedway commercial. Kelly travels around the US choreographing and teaching and is a current faculty member for Dance Olympus and Platinum Dance Experience Tour. She now teaches at one of the top studios in Georgia and loves being able to share her passion for dance through choreographing and teaching.
Joshua Blake Carter, originally from Atlanta, GA, received his early dance training from the Cobb County Center for Excellence in the Performing Arts in Mableton, GA. He continued his studies at the University of Arizona under the direction of Jory Hancock, where he received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Cum Laude as well as the Outstanding Senior Award from the School of Dance. While living in Arizona, Joshua founded dance in the RED – an evening of dance, music and art to benefit the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation. Since 2010, Joshua has been a company member of Giordano Dance Chicago where he has had the opportunity to tour nationally and abroad performing works by Brock Clawson, Autumn Eckman, Nan Giordano, Jon Lehrer, Mia Michaels and more. He also serves as the Director to GDC’s second company, Giordano II, and he is a member of the Dance For Life Chicago Ambassador Committee.
Sherry Gilpin began her professional career with the Louisville Ballet under the direction of Alun Jones and Helen Starr, dancing soloist roles and quickly rising to principal dancer. She performed as a principal and soloist for Ohio Ballet under the direction of Heinz Poll, as the American Beauty Rose in Chicago Tribune's Nutcracker, and has been featured as a dancer and choreographer for several seasons for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She has had the privilege of sharing the stage with great stars such as Mikhail Baryshnikov, Galina and Valery Panov, Jean-Pierre Bonnefoux, Merrill Ashely, Sean Lavery, Jean-Paul Comelin and Maria Tallchief. She has created works for the Louisville Ballet, Stephens College/ Perry Mansfield, University of Louisville, Derby Dinner Playhouse, Actors Theatre, Stage One, St. Louis Ballet Theatre and Youth Performing Arts School. Ms. Gilpin is the recipient of the Monticello Fellowship Award for Outstanding Choreography.
Julie Nakagawa is the Artistic Director and Co-founder of DanceWorks Chicago. At the invitation of Lou Conte, Julie joined the staff of Lou Conte Dance Studio in January 1994 and rose to the position of Associate Director. In addition, she led Hubbard Street 2 from its inception in 1997 through February 2007 as the artistic director of the second company of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, nurturing young dancers and establishing the National Choreographic Competition to provide creative opportunities for emerging dance makers. A sought-after teacher, Julie has taught classes for dance studios, university programs, and companies, nationally and internationally. She has served as a co-chair of the Artists Council for Dance/USA, has been a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, and is a member of the Citizens Committee for Chicago High School for the Arts. The Chicago Foundation for Women’s Asian American Leadership Council has honored Julie for her work in the creative arts. Julie is proud to be a member of the Board of Trustees of Dance/USA, the national service organization for professional dance.
Tyne Shillingford began her dance training in Tulsa, OK and has studied on scholarship at The Ailey School and Broadway Dance Center in New York City. In 2007, Ms. Shillingford graduated with departmental honors from Webster University in St. Louis, MO with a BFA in Dance. She resides in Chicago, IL and has performed with Inaside Chicago Dance, Nicole Gifford Dance, Matter Dance Company. Currently, Tyne serves as the Assistant Artistic Director/ choreographer/ company member of Chicago Verge Dance Theatre. Her professional choreography has been featured at Chicago Freelance Dance and EXCHANGE Festival in Tulsa, OK where her piece Mind of Darkness received an Honorable Mention as one of the “Best of the Festival.” As an educator, Ms. Shillingford has over ten years of teaching experience, training dancers and creating award-winning choreography in ballet, jazz, modern, tap and hip-hop.
Phil Wackerfuss grew up in Palatine, IL where he studied Jazz, Tap, and Ballroom at Dorene’s DancExpress. He received his BA in Theatre arts from Illinois Wesleyan University; studying ballet, modern and theatrical movement under Jean Kerr. While there, he also enjoyed working with guest artists Otis Cook of Pilobolous and Li Chiao-Ping of the University of Madison, WI. He has performed in Chicago with the Valerie Alpert Dance Company (VADCO) and Inaside Chicago Jazz, and acted with First Folio Shakespeare Festival. Phil now lives, teaches, and pursues all performance styles in Buffalo, NY where he was a company member of LehrerDance and currently performs fire dance with Pyromancy. Through LehrerDance, he travelled to Germany and Vladivostok, Russia to spread good will through cultural exchange, and continues to be interested in the idea of dance as healing. He has also been a licensed massage therapist for 8 years.