Toya Renee Ambrose
Hip Hop Director/Instructor/Choreographer
Toya Renee Ambrose is a former NBA dancer, for both the Chicago Luvabulls and the Memphis Grizzlies. She is a graduate from the University of Memphis, and was a scholarship member of the 14-time national champion University of Memphis Pom Squad. Toya is the former Head Coach of the University of Connecticut (UCONN) Dance, Cheerleading, and Mascot Teams, and also the former Head Coach of the 2-time National Champion University of Illinois at Chicago Dancing Flames.
In addition, through her company T.R.A. Choreography LLC, she choreographs for competitive dance teams, studios, and all-star teams throughout the world, recently teaching master classes in Japan and Finland. Her choreography has won numerous state and national titles, most notably winning back-to-back UDA hip hop titles for both Hofstra University and Lindenwood University in 2013. She is also a seasoned judge for national and state organizations. Toya currently resides in Chicago, IL and is married to Garvin G. Ambrose.
Anastasia has been training in different styles such as: ballet, pointe, jazz, modern, hip hop, lyrical, gymnastics, tap, and improvisation since the age of three. Growing up in northwest Indiana she was a part of the national and state winning team Lake Central Centralettes as well as being part of the national winning team, Indiana Danzforce.
Anastasia has a Bachelors of Arts in dance and a minor in marketing. In her classes as a child and now into her professional studies she has been trained extensively in the Vaganova and Cecchetti disciplines of ballet; Horton, Graham, Barteneiff, Cunningham, and Release techniques of modern; Contemporary, Lyrical, Musical Theater, and Classical techniques of jazz; and Competition as well as other styles of hip hop. In addition to her movement experience, Anastasia is also educated in anatomy, music composition, dance history, and teaching courses.
Along with performances for the Lake Central Centralettes and Indiana Danzforce she has performed on the Columbia College stage and has become a featured choreographer. She has also trained underneath some amazing choreographers. Starting with the amazing staff from M2; Bri Lakomy, Kristen Maurer, Kelly McCarthy, Lyndsey Schaap, Jessica Kiszka, and Leah Shaffer. Also working with Mia Michaels, Dave Scott, Wade Robson, Sonya Tayeh, Tabitha and Napoleon D’umo. Continuing with amazing faculty from Columbia College Chicago, Lisa Gonzales, Darrell Jones, Mary McGinley-Gallivan (Dardi), Allen Desterhaft, Jeff Hancock, and Carrie Hanson.
Kristin started training at the age of four. Her passion to study, compete and learn the principles of dance evolved at a very young age. She trained with the Indiana Youth Ballet from ages 5 to 10, competitive studio training in jazz, modern, lyrical, and tap from ages 10 to 14, and competitive high school and college training in jazz, pom and hip hop from ages 15 to 21. She was also a competitive acrobat for ten years. Beyond her training, Kristin studied dance at Purdue University. Within the dance minor program she mastered jazz, modern, improvisation, ballet, dance history, and the fundamental principles of dance. She was also a member of the competitive Purdue Dance Team all four years, holding the spot of captain her senior year.
Kristin choreographs for a number of high school and all-star dance teams. Her choreography has won over nine IHSDTA state titles, and has repeatedly placed in the top five at NDA/UDA Nationals. Kristin currently choreographs for the nationally recognized Indiana Danzforce All Stars. She’s also currently working with the Lake Central middle school programs, Griffith High School, Pike High School and Mt Vernon High School.
Kristin graduated from Purdue University in 2012 with her Bachelor of Arts in mass communication. She is currently living in Chicago and working at a content marketing firm as a Senior Web Producer.
Guest Choreographer/BFA Dance
Melanie Dalaly fell in love with dance at a young age. Originally from Naperville, IL, she left in 2014 to pursue her B.F.A degree at Point Park University and Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA. Since graduating in 2018, she has moved back to the Chicago area.
During her years at Point Park, she worked with master teachers that have done work all over the country such as Kiesha Lalama, Kiki Lucas, Stephanie Martinez, Josh Manculich, Mark Burrell, and others. Prior to Point Park, she had the privilege of studying under the direction of Lizzie MacKenzie at Extensions Dance Company in Chicago where there was a strong focus on contemporary, jazz, ballet, partnering, improvisational work, and pointe. While there, she got the opportunity to work with various choreographers such as Ahmad Simmons and Sean Rozanski. To further her training in the summers, Melanie participated in the the River North Dance Chicago College/Pro intensive. She also received scholarships to attend other intensives as well as various competitions during this time.
Melanie enjoys working with students and spreading her love of dance through teaching and choreographing. Teaching at multiple studios across the Chicagoland area, she likes to focus on a strong foundation of technique with an equal emphasis on exploration of movement in her classes. She has set pieces on youth students along with pre-professional college conservatory students. Since her start in choreography in 2016, Melanie has received multiple choreography awards and has had her work accepted into shows such as Dance Chicago.
Katie DiCianni has been training in dance for 18 years. Although she has been trained in ballet, jazz, modern, and lyrical, her passion is hip hop. In high school, Katie danced on the State Champion Lake Park Lancette Dance Team and went on to dance on the nationally ranked University of Illinois Chicago Dance Team. Katie has been assistant coaching the UIC Dance Team since 2009. They most recently placed top 3 at the NDA College Nationals in 2014.
Katie trains and choreographs in the collegiate, high school, middle school, and all-star levels of dance both locally and nationally. Locally, she works with Lake Central High School, Lake Central middle school programs, Hanover High School, Logansport High School, Mt. Vernon High School, and South Vermillion High School. Katie’s passion is teaching hip hop to new and experienced dancers and seeing them grow as hip hop performers. Katie is also a trained judge in the State of Illinois with Team Dance Illinois and Illinois High School Association.
Katie has her Master’s Degree from the University of Illinois Chicago in Special Education. When she’s not dancing, she’s teaching special education for Chicago Public Schools. She lives in Chicago with her husband Nick and her dog Charlie.
Hannah has danced aboard the Norwegian Sky in “Rock You Tonight” and “Showdown”. Her love for dance originated at a young age in her hometown of Frankfort, IL, located right outside of Chicago. Her passion grew stronger after participating in several River North Dance Chicago intensives. For college, she attended Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA where she earned a BA in dance and a minor in Business Management in just three short years. While there she and the privilege of working with Ernest Tolentino, Kiki Lucas, and performed in “Chairman Dances” by Lucinda Childs. After her sophomore year, she received her first professional contract through RWS Entertainment Group dancing at Kings Dominion in Richmond, VA. Hannah created and presented three original works of her own during her time at Point Park and has continued to choreograph specialty numbers while onboard the Sky.
Lindsey Lococo is a native of the Chicagoland area. She started her training at the age of 4 and is well versed in all styles of dance. She graduated with a B.S. in Kinesiology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. While at UIC, Lindsey began dancing with the
Nationally competitive Dancing Flames, active as captain her senior year. While in college she began her extensive training in hip hop and worked as a UDA Instructor. She is a former director and captain for Hip Hop Connxion, dancer with Design Dance Company and Work In Progress. She has competed at Hip Hop International with several US finals appearances.
After college, she spent ten years working as an industrial and commercial dancer. She has had the opportunity to appear opening for several artists including Chris Brown, Carly Rae Jepson, Olly Murs and the Sprite Remix tour featuring The Roots & N.E.R.D. She has made several appearances as a featured dancer on “Oprah,” including the 24th Season Premiere featuring the “Black Eyed Peas,” and the “Country Stars Show” featuring Carrie Underwood and Kenny Chesney. Her favorite by far was in 2011, when she was seen performing on stage with Beyoncé for the Oprah Farewell Spectacular.
Her choreography and dancing experience within the professional athletics industry includes stints with the Chicago Storm, Storm Chasers Dance Team (MISL), Rockford Rampage, Crash Dancers (MISL) , Rock River Raptors, Dynamites Dancers, (CFL) McHenry County Pirates and the Swashbuckler Cheerleaders. Lindsey spent three
seasons working on field promotions for the Chicago Fire Soccer Club (MLS). She also had the opportunity to spend a month traveling India as part of the IPL Cricket Championships with the Varsity Spirit Corporation.
As a choreographer, she has won many state titles and top placements locally and nationally with Starpower Nationals, NDA College Nationals, UDA-High School and
College Nationals, TDI, IDTA, IHSA and IHSDTA. She has worked with the dance teams at Highland High School (IL), Eisenhower High School (IL), Lake Forest High School (IL), Libertyville High School (IL), University of Illinois – Champaign Urbana, Robert Morris University, St. Xavier University, North Central College, among others. In Indiana, she has worked with Grimmer M.S. and Clark M.S.
Currently, Lindsey is entering her 5th year as the Head Coach and the Spirit Coordinator of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Dancing Flames. She is also an official with the IHSA, and regional representative for the ISOA. Lindsey has been married to her husband Joe for 3 years. They have one dog, a boxer puppy named Roscoe and reside in the Chicagoland area.
Curriculum Director/Instructor/Choreographer/BFA Dance
Bri has been training in the art of movement since she was four years old. She is well versed in the many aspects of dance that makes Northwest Indiana a truly unique and diverse place to teach and train the next generation of artists. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance with a concentration in choreography from Columbia College Chicago. In her studies as a child through professional, she has been trained extensively in the Vaganova and Cecchetti disciplines of ballet; Horton, Graham, Barteneiff, Cunningham, and Release techniques of modern; Contemporary, Lyrical, Musical Theater, and Classical techniques of jazz; and Competition style of hip hop. In addition to her movement experience, Bri is also educated in anatomy, kinesiology, concert production, technical theater, music composition, music/sound editing, dance history, and teaching courses directed at young children through adults as well as special needs.
As a free lance professional performer, she has performed works for Chicago artists Margi Cole, Dardi McGinley-Gallivan, Colleen Halloran, and New York artists Reggie Wilson and Julie Mayer. She has also had her own choreography on the Chicago stage.
In the competitive studio world, Bri trains and choreographs for the dancers of the M2 Dance Company. Her dancers have gone on to win National and Regional Championship titles for solos, duets/trios, and groups; prestigious solo awards as Dancer of the Year, multiple judges and technique awards; as well as numerous choreography awards in the lyrical, jazz, and contemporary categories. Her dancers have also been awarded multiple scholarships and offered performance opportunities for their work with the M2 Dance Company.
In the collegiate, high school, and all-star world of dance team, Bri trains and choreographs for local and national programs. Her choreography and teams have won over 60 Indiana IHSDTA state titles, state titles in Utah and Illinois, and over 25 National Championship NDA/UDA titles. In addition, her dance teams have won regional and national Best Choreography titles for NDA/UDA as well as Best Technique and Best Showmanship. Bri currently choreographs for the nationally recognized programs of Lake Central High School, Indiana Danzforce All Stars, Purdue University, and Grand Valley State University. Locally, she works with the Lake Central middle school programs, Hanover High School, Logansport High School, Buffalo Grove High School, and Wilbur Wright Middle School. She is also a former UDA Head Instructor.
In her private life, Bri married her high school sweetheart Luke. They have a beautiful son named Oliver and two dogs, beagles Layla and Marty. She enjoys all other forms of art and shares her husband’s passion for film and photography. Bri is also active in raising awareness and funds for breast cancer research as well as supports charities for diabetes and heart disease. Besides home and the studio, her third favorite place to be is Disney World.
Kevin Mathis is the owner and artistic director of M2 Dance Center. He has been instructing since 1980. He began his career as a choreographer for many championship high school programs throughout Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Texas. His choreography has won numerous state and national titles. In 1989 he began teaching the dance team at Lake Central High School. Under his leadership, Lake Central has won 25 consecutive Indiana State Championships and 12 national titles.
In 2000, he founded Indiana Danzforce Allstars whose teams have gone on to win over 20 national dance titles. In 2011 he began coaching Purdue University’s Dance Team in West Lafayette. PDT quickly rose to become a national contender and has been national runner up since 2012 at the National Dance Association Collegiate Championships. In 1994 he founded the Indiana High School Dance Team Association where he has been President since its inception. Kevin has served on NDA National Advisory Board and served as judge for multiple high school and collegiate national championships appearing on Fox and USA Sports. Mr. Mathis is currently Executive Board President of the National Dance Coaches Association.
Kevin feels blessed to have found his passion in dance and wishes to express his gratitude to the many dancers, parents and instructors who have become part of his extended family. Kevin is married to his best friend of over 20 years Dana Mathis and has 2 wonderful children in Miles and Jessica.
Lyndsey holds a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Dance with a concentration in teaching from Columbia College Chicago. Lyndsey has trained extensively in the Cecchetti discipline of ballet; Graham, Cunningham, Horton and Release techniques of modern; Classic techniques of jazz; Contemporary and Lyrical. While in her studies, she trained and was mentored by acclaimed dance masters including Eduardo Vilaro, founder of Luna Negra Dance Company; Shirley Mordine, founder of Mordine and Company; Ron Hutchins, Broadway choreographer and Malik Camaro, principle dancer with Muntu. In addition to her dance training, Lyndsey studied all aspects of anatomy, kinesiology, dance history and music composition. Most importantly, Lyndsey is educated in teaching courses directed at toddlers through adults.
Lyndsey has been an instructor at M2 Dance Center since it first opened in 2001. She is trained in instructing toddlers through adults in the disciplines of ballet and jazz. Lyndsey has choreographed for numerous state and national championship middle school, high school, collegiate and all-star teams including Lake Central High School, Portage High School, Munster High School, Marion High School, Wheeler Middle School, Wilbur Wright High Middle School, Grimmer Middle School and many others. Lyndsey also was a performer and choreographer for the NDA National Champion Indiana Danzforce Pro Team All-Stars. In addition, she has instructed and choreographed for NDA National Champion Indiana Danzforce Junior and Senior All-Star teams. Lyndsey received numerous choreography awards including the NDA National Innovative Choreography Award.
Lyndsey currently works for Indiana Wesleyan University as a Re-Entry Specialist. Lyndsey is married to her high school sweet heart, Grant. They live in Crown Point, IN with their two children, Harper and Hudson.
Dance has been the central passion of Leah’s life since the age of 2. She has trained in a variety of disciplines including ballet, pointe, jazz, modern, and hip hop. Competing since the age of 8, she has achieved multiple awards at the regional, state and national levels in studio, high school and all-star dance team circuits. She is a dancer for the Indiana Danzforce All Stars Pro team, and is an alumni and former captain of the Munster High School Dance Team. Leah has also performed in several musicals incorporating singing, dancing and acting techniques.
At M2, Leah is an instructor for ballet, jazz, turns and leaps, and middle school team classes, working with toddlers through adults. She works on staff with the Lake Central Centralette’s in jazz and hip hop pieces, who have won numerous state and national championships. Leah has instructed and choreographed for several middle school and high school dance teams throughout the area. She also works with the Indiana Danzforce All Stars as an instructor and choreographer, achieving numerous national championships in the NDA All Star division. Leah has choreographed numerous solo, trio and group pieces in the competitive studio circuit. Her company dancers have traveled to Las Vegas and Orlando, achieving awards in regional and national levels, as well as scholarship, choreography and various special judges’ awards. Leah has also worked with the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, leading ballet and jazz technique instruction for several performing arts intensive seminars over the summers.
Outside of the studio, Leah works as a registered nurse in the child and adolescent mental health field. She earned her first bachelor’s degree in psychology, with a certificate program in neuroscience, from Indiana University in Bloomington. She then went on to pursue her nursing degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she graduated in 2010. Leah is currently pursuing her degree in Master of Science in Nursing, and is anticipating graduation in May 2015 from the University of Illinois at Chicago. After graduation, Leah hopes to land a new position as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, working with children and adolescents. She is currently certified in CPR and therapeutic crisis intervention. Leah is also active in raising awareness and fundraising for breast cancer research.
In her personal life, Leah enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She is an animal lover to the core and is passionate about dog rescue. Leah loves to travel and spend time outdoors. Her favorite place to be is Italy, other than the studio of course!
Deanna Stetsura trained at Russia’s Perm Ballet School under Professor Ludmila Saharova. After graduating with honors, she was accepted as a soloist into the Kremlin Ballet Theatre in Moscow where she was coached by the world-class ballerina, Ekaterina Maximova. Ms. Stetsura was a principal dancer for the Bolshoi Theatre of Belarus and Columbia Classical Ballet in South Carolina, and also danced as Soloist with Ballet Internationale in Indianapolis, where she was coached by Irina Kolpakova, ABT’s Ballet Mistress. Deanna was a Principal dancer for the Milwaukee Ballet for six years.
Ms. Stetsura has performed lead roles in productions such as Don Quixote, Carmen, La Sylphide, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Allegro Brillante, Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty, Romeo and Juliet, La Bayadere, Raymonda, Scheherazade, Cinderella, and Le Corsaire among others. She earned the prestigious Diaghilev Prize at the first international competition in Moldavia. She also received the highest award in the country of Belarus for the best stage debut for her performance of the title role in Giselle. She also appeared in three films in Belarus, filmed while dancing with the company, on Belorussian television. Deanna earned a Silver medal at the prestigious ballet competition, “Arabesque” for her contemporary piece, which was created on her by the same choreographer who choreographed all of the dancing for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Ms. Stetsura was the lead dancer in Samson et Delila at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, performing a role that was created on her by world-renowned choreographer, Ken Von Heidecke. He also created the title role in Cinderella for her, which she performed with the Chicago Festival Ballet. She also had the privilege of a lifetime to work with the only living Prima Ballerina Assoulta, Maria Tallchief, on these roles. While performing with the Milwaukee Ballet, Ms. Stetsura danced leading roles such as Odette in Michael Pink’s Swan Lake, Marie in The Nutcracker, Gertrude in Hamlet, Dulcinea in Don Quixote, Lilac Fariy in Sleeping Beauty, and the leads in La Bayadere, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Raymonda and Agon. She also worked with choreographers, such as Val Caniparoli, Stephen Mills, Bruce Wells, Kathryn Posin, and Margo Sappington, who created a piece for Ms. Stetsura in her world-premiere ballet, Common People, a project started by William Shatner. Deanna was a three-time participant in the International Gala, “The Evening of Stars”, in Denver, Colorado. She shared the stage with stars from English National Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Houston Ballet, and many others. Deanna performed many leading roles around the world, in countries such as Germany, Switzerland, Spain, China, Japan, Ireland, France, Poland, Taiwan, Canada, Ukraine, and others. She has made many guest appearances both teaching and dancing, all over the United States. Since she moved to Chicago, after giving birth to a baby girl, she became a Principal dancer with the Lyric Opera of Chicago. She is also a Ballet Mistress/Choreographer for the M2 Dance Center, ballet teacher at Hinsdale Dance Academy, ballet coach at YAGA Rhythmic Gymnastic Academy, and ballet teacher for Chicago Festival Ballet.
In addition to her dancing accomplishments, Deanna is very proud of having earned her law degree from Kuban State University in Russia.