FACULTY

Industry trailblazers dedicated to exploration and mentorship.
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JANA BENNETT

Founder | Director

Jana Bennett (Skokie, IL) is a vibrant redhead and a prominent Chicagoland director, instructor, professional dancer and choreographer. In 2018, Jana founded the groundbreaking dance studio pioneering a new method of pre-professional training, Skunkworks Dance! Delivering innovative training, exceptional choreography and bold performance has been a passion of Jana’s for many years. As a Chicagoland North Shore native, Jana is thrilled to bring Skunkworks to her home.

Prior to Skunkworks, Jana was one of the most sought-after dance teachers and directors. After a successful period as a main faculty member, Jana was named Artistic Director of Foster Dance Studios (Evanston, IL) in 2017. Throughout her teaching and directing career, Jana’s students have continued on to top programs and collegiate universities including:  The Julliard School, Boston Conservatory, San Francisco Conservatory, Hubbard Street Professional Program, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Texas Christian University and Columbia College Chicago. Jana has also founded three successful dance curriculums at grade schools and park districts within Chicago’s northern suburbs.

Professionally, Jana was a founding member of Cocodaco Dance Project’s Professional Company where she captivated audiences for 5 years in lead roles such as her powerful revival of the iconic “Dress Shirt Solo” in See Oh Too Saturation. In addition, Jana has freelanced professionally, choreographing and performing in many of Chicago’s most notable theaters which include the Auditorium Theater, Athenaeum Theater, Stage 773, iO Theater, and the Josephine Lewis Theater at Northwestern University.

 

In the summer of 2019, Jana was received one of the coveted NEW Dances 2019 choreographer positions where she was commissioned to create her new work "ANIMUS" on Thodos Dance Chicago and Danceworks Chicago. Jana's professional work "ANIMUS" premiered to four sold-out shows, and she was compared to the likes of choreographer greats, Marie Chouinard, Shannon Gillen and Andrea Miller by renown dance writer, Zachary Whittenburg. Her 2017 choreographic collaboration with John Sabine and Claudia Wallace of Chicago’s famed The Second City engaged audiences through intensity and laughter. Currently, Jana is in the process of creating a new professional work and dance film for SkunkWorks Dance.

Jana is a graduate of the School for Classical & Contemporary Dance at Texas Christian University, where she earned her B.F.A in Dance. During her senior year at TCU, she was awarded the prestigious title of “Senior Scholar” for graduating top of her department. Jana also completed departmental honors to earn her spot as a John V. Roach Honors Laureate.

 
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DIAMOND BURDINE

Funk & Groove, Hip Hop Foundations, Breakdance, Contemporary Fusion, Freestyle

Diamond’s love for dance began in Elkhart, Indiana where he trained in hip hop at Concord Dance Studio. During this time, Diamond also trained with Tremaine Dance Company under Joe Tremaine’s company teachers Megan Sanett, Marty dew and Tony Bellissimo among others as a company member, later earning his BFA in contemporary dance at Indiana University. Mr. Burdine joined Chicago Dance Crash as the 2019 performing apprentice and was promoted to the full company in 2020. 

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MICHELLE MELTZER

Ballet, Dance Strength & Flexibility, Pilates

Michelle Meltzer (Indianapolis, IN) received her training from the Jordan College Academy of Dance and the Indianapolis School of Ballet with summer training from LINES Ballet, Ballet Chicago and Post:Ballet. Michelle graduated with honors from the Jacob's School of Music at Indiana University and holds a B.S. in Ballet with an Outside Field in Education. 

 

Michelle has danced professionally with Nevada Ballet Theatre, Aerial Dance Chicago, Chicago Repertory Ballet, Symbiosis, Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre II, and in New Dances- a collaboration between Danceworks and Thodos Dance Chicago. She currently dances with Visceral Dance Chicago.

 

As a teacher, Michelle has taught for the Indianapolis School of Ballet and for the Pre-college Department of Indiana University. She holds a fully comprehensive Pilates certification including an additional pre and post natal certificate, GYROTONIC® license, and is Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certified.

 

Headshot: Michelle Reid 

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DANIEL WILLIAMS

Y.A.W. & Pre-Y.A.W. Film, Editing, Choreography

Daniel is the founder of Motus Cinema, Mad With No Reason crew and co-founder of Purus Motus. Currently his film career has skyrocketed with the premiere of his dance for camera's including "Killing Marilyn", "The Rulers" and many others featuring dancers from all across the Chicago.  Daniel's unique artistic lens comes from his background in professional dance, which he brings immensely into his film work. As a dancer, Daniel was the in top 8 World of Dance (WOD) finalists two years running. He is well versed in bboying, popping, house and locking. Daniel's passion is teaching students to become everything they already are and more. Daniel has collaborate with Skunkworks Founder on many projects including Skunkworks' "Minimum Wage" and "Helen & Edward" dance videos.

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KRISTI LICERA

Follow Along Jazz & Studio Consultant

Kristi graduated Summa Cum Laude with her BA in Dance in 2014 from Cal State Fullerton. Upon graduation, she danced with Keshet Dance Company (Albuquerque, NM), then moved to Chicago in 2015 to apprentice with Thodos Dance Chicago. In addition, Kristi has also performed with Noumenon Dance Ensemble, South Chicago Dance Theater, and in gigs and performance across Chicago. Kristi is currently dancing her fourth season with Chicago Dance Crash and is the Dance Editor at the online magazine, DancerMusic.com. 

W SKUNKWORKSDANCE.COM

E INFO@SKUNKWORKSDANCE.COM

P (847)787-7200

1111 Central Ave (Village Center)

Wilmette, IL 60091

All main photos unless otherwise credited, were taken and edited by Chloe Hamilton. 

© 2023 By SkunkWorks Dance