Founder | Director
Jana Bennett (Skokie, IL) is a vibrant redhead and a prominent Chicagoland director, instructor, professional dancer and choreographer. Most recently, Jana founded the new and ground-breaking dance studio disrupting the industry’s archaic norms, SkunkWorks Dance! Delivering the highest quality of training alongside current dance ideology and pedagogy techniques 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 serving as a lead faculty member, creating the ever-popular “Jr. Crew” and musical theater programs, 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.
Youth Urban Dance Crew | Urban Dance | Commercial Dance
Alex Salgado commenced his dance career at the age of 15 with Carl Schurz High School’s dance ensemble. During his high school education, Alex founded and directed the LGBT Dance Company, which created a community for youth to dance and perform. Alex has trained under the direction of Miguel Antonio, Kris Rhodes, Lee Daniel, Domé Lorusso, DionnaPridgeon, and Gary Beuford. Throughout his professional career, Alex has danced for two Chicago based hip-hop companies, CODA and The Puzzle League. He held the position of “work-study” at The Lab and instructed Jazz Funk classes at the studio. Furthermore, Alex had the experience to perform at the MTV 3 Viva Chicago in Grant Park, as well as the 103.5 Kiss FM Summer Bash at the All State Arena. Alex has worked as a youth dance instructor for the Forward Movement Chicago, directed by Pierre Lockett. Currently, Alex is continuing his professional dance career while instructing dance education to youth and adults in the Midwest.
Contemporary Breakdance | Contemporary Fusion | Adult Hip Hop
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.
JULIE KAPLAN BURMAN
Julie Burman is a native Chicagoan who, after graduating from the University of Colorado with a degree in Dance and Arts Administration went to work for the Illinois Arts Council. While working at the IAC, Julie took dance classes from legendary choreographer, dancer and teacher Lou Conte. When Lou asked Julie to join his dance company, it took her one second to quit her job, cut her hair and say yes! She has been charming her audiences and students ever since.
Julie went on to perform professionally with Lou’s company, the renowned Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, was the Owner/Director of River North Dance Studio and a founding member of River North Dance Chicago. Currently Julie is on the board of Chicago Dancers United/Dance For Life and teaches adult intermediate and advanced classes at Ruth Page Center for the Arts and other venues. She is an inspiring teacher who infuses her students with the joy of dance.
Pre-Soma Ballet | Explore Dance | Pre-Flux Jazz
Alisha Potter has taught dance and drama to all ages for 20 plus years. She has a BA in Education, with minors in Dance and Drama from NIU and a MS in Fine Arts Curriculum from National Louis University. Alisha has studied with Gus Giordano, Ruth Page, and trained in Laban and Graham Methods. Alisha owned a dance and theater studio for 21 years. She is still involved with community and children's theater. She has produced, directed, acted, costumed and choreographed numerous community theater shows in the Chicago-land area. In her 'day job' she is a K-2 librarian. Alisha has taught for—and been published by—Pearson-Scott Foresman Skylight Lesson Lab, presented at dance, theater and library conferences in the Chicagoland area. Alisha resides in Glenview with her husband, her twin 17 year old boys, her 12 year old daughter and 2 cats.
WHAT MAKES US DIFFERENT
SkunkWorks is setting the curve.
At SkunkWorks, we feel strongly about providing all of our employees with equal opportunity and fair wages reflective of the amount of time, effort and energy that goes into their work. We value our staff and believe that compensation for their hard work is essential.
We see our growth as a direct reflection of the extensive work our artists put into our business daily, and we look forward to continually sharing our success with our extraordinary SkunkWorks team!