Dance Academies

Little Stars and Inspire Dance Academies

Little Stars and Inspire Dance Academies provide skill building techniques through various dance forms. Equal attention is given to provide a pleasant atmosphere essential to learning. Good poise and self-confidence is gained while experiencing the joy of movement which carries through to all parts of the dancer’s life. The goal is to provide every student with a solid dance foundation, while leaving room for individual creativity and fun! Little Stars and Inspire Dance Academies have three dance studios at the Community Recreation Center (CRC) and one at the Meineke Recreation Center (MRC). All dance studios feature sprung wood floors, mirrors and ballet barres. 

Classes include ballet, jazz, tap, pointe, modern, lyrical and hip hop.

Registration Information

New Dancers

Registration will open to new dancers once pre-registration is completed.

  • Class Registration: The fall dance session runs through the following spring. Classes may be paid in full in the fall or broken into two payments (charge card required). The first payment is due at the time of fall registration and the second payment will be deducted automatically from the credit card in January. Please call 847-490-7015 for payment details.
  • Class Level Placement: For placement questions, call the dance coordinator at 847-490-7015, ext. 2024.
  • Visiting Days - Parents/guests are invited to attend class on visiting days only.
  • Age Requirements: Dancers must meet the class age requirement by the first class.

Little Stars Dance Academy (3-5y)

Begins in September and runs until a recital in April. Dancers remain at the same level the entire fall/spring session.

Inspire Dance Academy (Beg.-Adv.)

Begins in September and runs until a recital in May. Dancers remain at the same level the entire fall/spring session.

For more information, call 847-490-7015 or view the latest program guide.

How to Make a Bun for Recital or Class Video


Gina began studying dance at the age of 4 and has been trained in ballet, pointe, tap, jazz and lyrical dance. She has studied at Faubourg School of Ballet, Dorothy’s Dancing Unlimited and summer programs with Ballet Chicago. She has performed in many ballets which include “The Nutcracker” with Schaumburg Dance Ensemble for 4 years, “Alice in Wonderland” and “Snow White.” In high school, she was on the Orchesis Dance Team and Varsity Pom Pon Squad all four years. She won many 1st place awards while at Dance Camp for Poms. Also while in high school she performed dance roles in many community theatre musicals with H.O.T.T. Productions. She has 6 years of dance teaching experience and loves teaching children the joy of dance.

Kari is from Schaumburg, IL and has been dancing since the age of 3. She is the former owner of Goldens School of Dance and director of Work of ART Dance Company named by Dance Teacher Magazine as one of the “50 Studios on the Move”. Kari grew up studying with top instructors in the Chicagoland area in Ballet, Jazz, Lyrical, Modern, Tap and Acrobatics. She furthered her education at Jacksonville University in Florida, receiving her BFA in dance. There, she had an extensive program of ballet, modern, jazz, and tap technique, instruction, choreography and performance. Larsen was a member of the Dean’s list and was awarded for excellence in Jazz Dance Technique. Her professional career began as a member of the Chicago Honeybear Dancers. She traveled locally and nationally, performing for festivals, live industrial, and corporate events, modeling for promotional brochures and videos, and teaching master classes. Kari worked as Asst. Choreographer and Dancer in the Las Vegas Revue, “The Dream King” starring Trent Carlini, traveling throughout the US and Canada. For many years, she was the lead choreographer and a dancer for Chicago White Sox special events. Kari has been teaching dance to all ages for over 20 years. She has won choreography, entertainment, top teacher and top studio achievements. Kari has been judged in Star Systems National Talent Competition. She loves working with children of all ages and enjoys watching them express themselves through the art of dance!

Keri began her dancing career at the age of 4 at the Hanover Park Park District where she studied ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical and hip hop with Monica Noble-Lawson. She continued her education through dance conventions and competitions as she outgrew her Park District dance programs, where she has taken classes with top instructors and choreographers throughout the U.S. including Travis Wall, Sonya Tayeh, Ted Jackson and Avnun Yakubov. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and a minor in dance from Western Illinois University. Her extracurricular activities at WIU included the University Dance Theatre, a student based organization for three and a half years where she was able to choreograph, participate with many guest artists and put on performances after each semester. While Keri was in UDT she held the position of clinic chair on the executive board and planned and organized a dance camp that involved the surrounding school of Macomb for children in 1st through 12th grade. She has also choreographed for the winner of Miss Macomb 2010 and was a member of the Chicago Honey Bear Dancers Keri loves working with kids and seeing them have fun while learning.

Margaret has been teaching in the Chicagoland area for 26 years. She has performed with Dancewerks, Second City Ballet, River North Dance Company, Kaye and Dow Productions and Cerqua/Rivera Art Experience. Margaret appeared in the WTTW Channel 11 special Reality of a Dreamer, the first documentary about the River North Dance Company. She enjoyed an apprenticeship with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago in the early 90s. Recently, she was able to perform with Mature Dancer's Project under the direction of Sherry Zunker at the Harris Theatre in Chicago. Margaret has been co-directing Larkin High School's Visual and Performing Arts Academy for dance for the past 11 years She enjoys teaching and choreographing at many local private dance studios. She loves to share her passion for dance with her students and family.

Victoria began dancing 16 years ago at Dorothy’s Dancing Unlimited, studying ballet and tap. As the years went on, she realized how much she loved performing and wanted to compete in dance. Victoria continued her training at Golden’s School of Dance, studying ballet, tap, jazz, modern, lyrical, and hip hop. Victoria competed with Golden’s Work of Art Dance Company for several years, achieving national and regional awards. During high school, Victoria performed with the Giordano Dance Company, as well as, danced and choreographed at Barrington High School. She was a member of the Poms and Orchesis teams. Additionally, Victoria studied with the Inspire Dance Studio, winning numerous awards with the Expression competition troupe through high school and college. Victoria is a graduate of The Second City Improv program, and has appeared in a commercial and short films. As a musical theatre actress, she has appeared in dozens of plays. Some of Victoria’s favorite roles were: Mrs. Corry in Mary Poppins, Cinderella in Cinderella's Glass Slipper, Ann Reilly in 42nd Street and Mrs. Darling in Peter Pan.

Terry started dancing at the age of 3. She grew up studying with top instructors from the Chicagoland area in Tap, Jazz, Ballet, Pointe, Lyrica and Tumbling. Terry started assisting dance classes at the age of 12 at Golden’s School of Dance and began her own classes at the age of 15. She performed and competed, winning high scores, overalls and judges awards both as a soloist and group performer. Terry was the Assistant director of Golden’s School of Dance for 12 years before opening her own, Ambition Dance and Performing Arts Studio, for 16 years. She has continued her dance education in California, taking classes from top instructors as well as attending local dance competitions and conventions. Terry loves dance and hopes to pass her passion on to her students.

Thara was a dancer for 36 years and the Artistic Director of Ambition Dance Company for 16 years.  She trained under the direction of Ted Jackson and Golden’s School of Dance in Jazz, Lyrical, Ballet and Tap.  Thara has worked with Choreographers Brian Friedman, Ray Leaper and Tina Caspary where she danced alongside Cher’s choreographer and Janet Jackson’s dancers Kevin and Marcel Wilson. Thara attended yearly classes at the Edge Performing Arts. Thara was a runner up to perform on So You Think You Can Dance Season 1and was picked out of hundreds for a Los Angeles talent agent. Thara knew at a young age that she had a passion for choreography.  She won numerous overall, special, and high score awards including the People’s Choice Award, sending her dance “Virus” to Dallas for an awards ceremony. After obtaining her BA in psychology at Roosevelt University, she found that her love for dance was not just for the art, but also in caring for young dancers in mind, body and soul.

Sadie (Mercedes) Patete started dancing in 2002 under Ambition Dance & Performing Arts. Sadie trained in jazz, lyrical, contemporary, tap, hip hop, musical theater, ballet and modern. Sadie also spent many years competing with the company, winning many high awards during that time. Sadie has also taken classes from professional choreographers like Mia Michaels, Blake McGrath, Wade Robinson, Travis Wall and Mandy Moore, attending many dance conventions such as West Coast Dance Explosion, Pulse and Jump. Sadie was given the opportunity to then be a backup dancer in a music video called Show Girl in the Clown. She started teaching and choreographing in 2008, where she then won many choreography awards and has had dancers that have trained under her now performing/training with Joffrey Ballet. Sadie’s passion for dance shows through her teaching. She loves to watch young dancers work hard to accomplish their goals.

Alecia began her dance training at the age of 3 at the Mount Prospect Park District. She was trained in Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, Lyrical and Modern. During her time at the park district she was a part of The Impulse Dance Ensemble and Ballet Expressions under the direction of Amy Hubert and Kimberly Klinger. In high school she continued dancing on her high school dance team as well as her Orchesis Company. Alecia graduated from Carthage College in 2022 with a B.A in Choral Music Education and a minor in Dance. During her time in college, she had many opportunities to perform as a part of her dance minor program as well as her college’s dance team. She had the chance to choreograph with her college groups as well as a local studio. She looks forward to getting to continuing her dance career and sharing her passion with future dancers. 

Cheri began her dance journey in the Chicago suburbs at the age of 2. She studied a variety of genres such as jazz, ballet tap, clogging, hip hop, contemporary, partnering and musical theater. Cheri entered a highly competitive level of training under Perseverance Dance Company later in her youth. She has danced with choreographers such as Sonia Tayeh, Dee Caspary, Michelle Elkin, Lizzie Mackenzie and David Moore.  Cheri also used dance training as a competitor on her high school gymnastics team. Her background in dance and gymnastics helped fuel her interest in fitness and wellbeing. Over the past 2 years, she has put her passion to heal and guide others at the forefront as a reiki practitioner and aerial yoga instructor. Cheri brings her knowledge of dance, gymnastics, reiki, aerial yoga and fitness together to serve the community as a well-rounded, mindful leader of this next generation.

Shannan Pelayo graduated from the University of Iowa with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance. She started teaching shortly after graduating at various private studios and park districts. After taking a few years off to be at home with her three children, she went back to teaching dance. While at this employer, an opportunity to substitute for preschool classes was available. She subbed for two years when she decided this is something she would like to do on a more permanent basis. Shannan is a preschool teacher here at the Schaumburg Park District as well as a dance instructor.

Sydney has been dancing at Schaumburg Park District since the age of 4 and was part of the Expressions Dance Company for 10 years. Throughout her years as a dancer, Sydney was instructed by Kari Larsen and Keri Dahm. After high school, Sydney joined the dance staff and has been teaching here ever since! Sydney has an associates degree in Early Childhood Education. Her favorite part about working with children is seeing them grow and how proud they are when they learn something new.