From Our Founder
Thank you for your interest in Skunkworks Dance! Skunkworks began as an idea in my head to revolutionize the world of youth training and dance studios. To see how our organization has grown in the past few years into the inclusive and innovative pre-professional dance community that I had dreamed about has been the joy of my career. I'm proud to say that each teacher we hire at Skunkworks shares in these values and has a true passion for training dancers.
Our staff consists of some of Chicagoland's leading professional artists. Additionally, each member of our staff undergoes extensive training within our proprietary The Skunkworks Method curriculum that makes our programming completely unique and extraordinarily . Get to know the team at the heART of our home below, and come join the fun!
Founder and Director
Jana Bennett (Skokie, IL) is 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.
Skunkworks Dance is proud to be celebrating 3 years and is Chicagoland's most innovative dance studio where pre-professional dance meets an engagement-forward practices and a community-driven approach. Each dancer's individual artistic voice is celebrated and developed. Within Skunkworks, Jana has created many groundbreaking programs including THRIVE, a Skunkworks only dance anatomy, injury prevention and cross-training practice that truly empowers dancers to reach their goals!
Prior to Skunkworks, Jana held the roles of Main Faculty and Artistic Director (Foster Dance Studios). She also founded three successful dance curriculums at grade schools and park districts within Chicago’s northern suburbs. Throughout her career, Jana’s students have continued on to top programs and collegiate universities including: The Juilliard School, Boston Conservatory, San Francisco Conservatory, Hubbard Street Professional Program, NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Interlochen Center for the Arts and Texas Christian University, among others.
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, Throughout her career Jana has worked with many incredible choreographers such as Francisco Avina (Hubbard Street Dance, River North), Kanji Segawa (Alvin Ailey), Ronn Stewart (Cocodaco), Susan Douglas Roberts (Wild Goose Chase) and David Maurice (Alex Ketley, Ate9).
In the summer of 2019, Jana was commissioned to create a work on Thodos Dance Chicago and Danceworks Chicago as part of their NEW Dances concert. In Zachary Whittenburg's NEW Dances review for DancerMusic, Jana was compared to the likes of choreographer greats, Marie Chouinard, Shannon Gillen and Andrea Miller. Other choreographic highlights include her choreographic collaboration with John Sabine and Claudia Wallace of Chicago’s famed The Second City, choreographic residency for the Dance Department at Loyola University and the crafting of two new works for Skunkworks Dance Chicago - The Professional Company. This past December, Jana collaborative dance film work In The Wind with Susan Douglas Roberts was selected to premiere at the World Dance Alliance Asia Pacific Conference in Taiwan!
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.
Outside of dance, Jana enjoys supporting local businesses volunteering with The Women's Business Development Center, SCORE Chicago and the Wilmette / Kenilworth Chamber. Jana also loves to her family time with her husband, Brad, and parents Hank and Linda.