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Faculty

Nick Pupillo

Faculty Members
Kristina Ancil
Autumn Eckman
Mike Gosney
Leila Henry
Anna Long
Gil Mata
Brian McGinnis
Melinda Jean Myers
Peff Modelski
Kris Rhodes
Evelyn Rice
Michael Rioux
Valerie Robin
Sarah Robinson
Joanna Rosenthal
Sean Rozanski
Laura Wade
Ben Wardell
Karl Watson

Visceral Master Teachers

Nick Pupillo
Founder/Artistic Director

After an accomplished career as a dancer, teacher and choreographer, Nick Pupillo decided that his main priority would be to nurture young talent by developing Visceral Studio Company. In 2007, he founded Visceral Dance Center to provide the Chicago community with a new venue for artistic and technical growth. In 2013, Pupillo takes on the role as Artistic Director of Visceral Dance Chicago. This new contemporary company is dedicated to provide a comprehensive environment designed to cultivate dance education, creation and performance for choreographers, dancers and audiences.

Pupillo graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor of Science in Ballet, In 2001, Pupillo joined the acclaimed Giordano Dance Chicago where he toured with the company throughout the United States and internationally for three years. Additional performance credits include various roles with the Ruth Page Foundation Nutcracker, Brass Theater featuring the Star of Indiana, Dance Chicago, Schaumburg Dance Ensemble, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Stars of Dance Chicago, and Dance for Life.

Pupillo has worked with the Pride of Cincinnati, a world class winter guard, and The Cavaliers, an award-winning DCI champion drum corps, as a choreographer and instructor. He has set pieces for Chicago Dance Crash, Inaside Chicago Dance, Nomi Dance Company, Webster University, University of North Carolina, Greenville, and The Chicago Academy of the Arts. He has received various awards for his choreography, including "The Dance Chicago 2005 Outstanding Choreography Award", "The Dance Chicago 2012 Outstanding Choreographer Award, Body of Work" and "The Cliff Dwellers 2013 Choreographer of the Year. Pupillo teaches across the country, providing master classes for studios, university programs, and companies. He has taught for the Jazz Dance World Congress, Chicago Dance Connection and Chicago National Association of Dance Masters. Pupillo is currently a continuing artist in residence at Culver Military Academy.

  Kristina Ancil

Kristina Ancil
Ballet

Kristina began her formal training with Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School under the direction of David Holladay and training of Colleen Pratt, Kimmary Williams, and Janet Popeleski. She completed both the Schenley High School and Graduate Programs, during which time she danced such works as “Concerto Barrocco,” “Serenade,” and “Paquita”. Upon completion of these programs, Kristina performed in “Who Cares,” “Les Sylphides,” and “La Sylphide” with Louisville Ballet, working with Bruce Simpson, Helen Starr and Patrick Hinson. She has danced with American National Ballet in Duluth, MN, where she had the honor of dancing Fernando Bujones’ “Jazz Swing,” Twyla Tharpe’s “Little Ballet” as well as numerous contemporary works by director Armando Maldonado. Kristina initially fell in love with the Windy City when she moved to be a member of Chicago Ballet. She has since worked with the Lyric Opera of Chicago and been a guest artist with Albany Berkshire Ballet, Peoria Ballet, Duluth Festival Opera, and Ballet Legere. Kristina has been a member of NoMi LaMad Dance Inc since 2009 and in addition to teaching in the Chicagoland area she has enjoyed the opportunities to choreograph for Vampeero Productions at Donny Skybox, Second City and NoMi LaMad. 

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  Autumn Eckman

Autumn Eckman
Ballet, Pointe and Modern

Autumn Eckman, originally from Atlanta, GA received her classical ballet training from Susan Bebee and Tom Pazik of the Atlanta Ballet, and from the Houston Ballet Academy under Steve Brulee and Clara Cravey. At age 14, she made her professional debut in the Atlanta Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet as one of Juliet’s six friends. From 1996 to 2000, she danced in the Kris Cangelosi Dance Project, a contemporary modern and jazz company. In 2000, upon receiving an apprenticeship to Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, Autumn moved to Chicago. She joined the main company one year later. Autumn has also danced with Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, State Street Ballet (Santa Barbara) as a principal, Luna Negra Dance Theater, and Lucky Plush Productions.

Autumn has worked with many Chicagoland companies choreographically including: Instruments of Movement, Inaside Chicago Dance, Northwest Ballet Ensemble, Terpsichore Dance Company, Indiana Ballet Theater, and Schaumburg Dance Ensemble, where she also dances regularly as a guest artist. Other works include pieces for Hubbard Street’s “Inside/Out”, Duets For My Valentine, and State Street Evenings. She has presented several pieces at the Regional Dance Festival in both the emerging artist and professional divisions. 

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  Mike Gosney

Mike Gosney
Ballet

Mike Gosney, Artistic Director and co-founder of Elements Contemporary Ballet, has been teaching and privately coaching ballet for 20 years. In addition to training many of the dancers in Elements Contemporary Ballet, his students have been accepted into prestigious programs and schools such as the School of American Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet School, The Juilliard School, Pacific Northwest Ballet School, Houston Ballet, Boston Ballet, North Carolina School of the Arts, Milwaukee Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, The Joffrey Academy, LINES Ballet, Tisch School of the Arts, and many others.

As a choreographer, Mr. Gosney's work has appeared in The A.W.A.R.D. Show! 2010, The Best of Dance Chicago, Looptopia, Around the Coyote Arts Festival, The Atlas Agenda, Joel Hall's Dances from the Halls, Evanston Arts Week, productions with the Evanston Dance Ensemble and Evanston Symphony, and in many other Chicago area festivals and dance performances. In addition to his work with Elements, Mike is on faculty at Visceral Dance Center and Dance Center Evanston, and has previously taught at Lou Conte Dance Center, Gus Giordano Dance Center, Joel Hall Dance Center, DancenterNorth, Eastern Illinois University, and College of Lake County.

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  Leila Henry

Leila Henry
Hip Hop

Leila Henry has been dancing since the age of 10, and specializes in hip hop, street jazz, and jazz funk. Henry has begun to develop her personal style, which is a quirky fusion of hip hop, jazz and contemporary dance. Henry is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana with a BFA in dance. Throughout her college career, she has choreographed for numerous dance groups on campus such as Dance2XS UIUC and Omnimov Dance Troupe, and has had the pleasure of working with numerous choreographers. Leila Henry has also showcased her choreography in the University of Illinois’ dance departmental show Studio Dance II, earning her the Emerging Choreographic Voice award for her hip hop solo Wake Up. Henry has been an active member of dance companies including Design Company and Puzzle League. Leila Henry believes it is important for dancers to understand that dance is not just a series of steps, but a powerful form of artistic expression, an emotional outlet, and a universal language.

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  Anna Long

Anna Long
Gaga

Anna Long, born in Boston MA, is a freelance dancer, choreographer, and Gaga teacher based in the United States. Long began dancing at age three at the New England Dance Academy, continuing her studies with the Festival Ballet (Providence, RI) and Spindle City Ballet (Fall River, MA). She completed her BA degree in dance and biology at Skidmore College Saratoga Springs, NY and continues to perform and teach contemporary dance in the U.S. and abroad. Long was first exposed to Gaga technique in 2010 and, the following year, was chosen to participate in the pilot Gaga Teachers Training Program, completing her certification in 2012. Long has since taught Gaga classes regularly around New York City, at Dance New Amsterdam, the Mark Morris Dance Center, the Jewish Community Center of Manhattan and the 92nd Street Y, in addition to guest-teaching the cast of acclaimed theater production Sleep No More. She is currently a frequent collaborator with CircuitDebris. founded by Mersiha Mesihovic, and has premiered choreography ar InSight Dance's Summer Suites, the Undertoe Dance Festival and Bushwick Open Studios. Long appears in two dance films by Victoria Sendra and is currently collaborating with Samantha Shay on a dance-theater adaption of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler.

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  Gil Mata

Gil Mata
Jazz Funk and Contemporary Jazz

Gilbert began his intense, professional training at the young age of 14 under Xtreme Dance Force (XDF). Originally from Aurora, IL, Gil has studied all styles of dance from a variety of top industry teachers and choreographers from around the world. Without any previous technical training, Gil made a reputation for himself in the Jazz Division of XDF by pushing himself past the norm. He grasped the concept of dance through his hard work and determination to be better then most on the Performance and Competition Stage. Under the direction of Samuel Renzetti (MTV MADE Choreographer) and after training at Columbia College Chicago, Gil has learned to teach a style all his own. He began his choreography career at XDF in 2006, setting pieces of work and teaching countless classes while also setting choreography at studios across the nation. Some of Gil's credits include opening acts for top recording artists Ciara, Bow Wow, Tyrese, Mims and Lupe Fiasco's 2007 MLS half-time show on ESPN. In 2009, Gil choreographed Noble Fool Theatricals "Altar Boyz". He has also choreographed for many high school/college dance teams, Industrials and the Kevin Murphy Hair Show. Gil's latest choreography has been featured in Chicago's Carnival Choreographers Ball 2013.

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  Brian McGinnis

Brian McGinnis
Modern

Brian relocates to Chicago after dancing professionally for twenty years in NYC. He proudly began his training at the age of seven in Worcester, Massachusetts with Jo Ann Warren. He has danced with Lar Lubovitch Dance Company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Elisa Monte Dance, Parsons Dance Company and Buglisi Dance Theatre. He is a Guest Choreographer and Teacher at The Fine Arts Center in Greenville, South Carolina, and continues to conduct Master Classes and workshops along side his National and International touring. Brian has had the opportunity to perform at Jacob's Pillow, Lincoln Center, Cultural Center of the Philippines, The Bolshoi Theatre, American Dance Festival, The Joyce Theatre, NYC CIty Center, Spoleto Festival, Italy and The Kennedy Center. In 2009, Brian co-created and presented a commissioned evening length work of Romeo and Juliet-a death marked love at The Peace Center in Greenville, South Carolina. He holds his Bachelor of Fine Arts from The Juilliard School under the directorship of Benjamin Harkarvy and an Associates Degree in Occupational Science for Massage Therapy.

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  Melinda Jean Myers

Melinda Jean Myers
Modern

Melinda Jean Myers grew up in Stevens Point, Wisconsin where she trained in dance and music from a young age. She received her MFA from University of Iowa in 2012 and BFA from New York University in 2005. Melinda was a member of Trisha Brown Dance Company (NYC) from 2006-2010 and performed throughout Europe, South America and the U.S. She has re-staged Trisha Brown's repertory at BARD College and University of Iowa. Melinda is currently working with Lucky Plush Productions, teaching and creating choreographic works in Chicago. Her choreography has been presented throughout the Midwest, NYC, Germany and South Korea.

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  Peff Modelski

Peff Modelski
Ballet

Peff Modelski was a former professional dancer with the Royal Ballet, Berlin Opera Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet and Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Mme Modelski has Broadway performance credits which include the original company of Fiddler On The Roof, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever and Camelot. She is now a Master Teacher of Classical Ballet. As a Nationally Registered Dance Educator and Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner (Feldenkrais Method ®), she teaches professional performers in pure classical ballet technique and style and conducts Teacher Trainings, and public Awareness Through Movement workshops. She taught ballet at Steps NYC for 30 years. Recently relocating to Chicago she has been at Visceral for two years. Peff is a published author on Pointe work and ballet teaching, and will be the Teacher Trainer at the 2010 International Ballet Competition including competitor’s daily class. As author of teaching materials on teaching pointe work, Mme Modelski, in association with David Howard has written a series of notebooks entitled PeffPointe to accompany her CD’s for Roper records. www.movementprocessforliving.com

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  Kris Rhodes

Kris Rhodes
Hip Hop

A Chicago native Kris Rhodes has been dancing for 17 years. Starting with a strong base of classical ballet at the age of 4, it wasn't until he joined Nonstop Dance Productions (2005) that he began to take hip-hop seriously. Choreographing and teaching since the age of 16 he began to artistically direct Dance2xs Chicago (2009-2010) alongside Nikki Stanek. His choreography has been featured in: So you think you can dance China, X-Factor China, Avril Lavigne, ABDC Live Tour (Chicago), "The Revolution" (Akira Fashion Show), and The Carnival "Choreographers Ball" LA. Kris continues to dance and teach his style of movement worldwide.

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  Evelyn Rice

Evelyn Rice
Hip Hop

Evelyn Rice is the founder and co-director of The Exposure Movement, Inc., an artist development company that exposes and educates young artists though media and performing arts. She has been working on-scene and behind-the-scenes in the entertainment industry for over 10 years. Evelyn has been fortunate to learn and grow through many arrangements of multimedia events, from leading and choreographing for UIC dance team, modeling, choreographing and performing with the CHB Dance Company, then venturing onto dance stages with recording artists including, Universal's Alfonso Hunter, Twista, and native Chicago artists, such as Endiskize, Javante Monet, Kim Keller, and Drew Sidora. Her passion is constantly being fed from the talented people she has the honor of training with and working alongside. She has performed at convention centers and sports arenas nationwide. Evelyn completed the Future Vision Tour in 2008, which was a traveling production featuring the talents of Nick Arrojo, Kimberly Locke, and Jennifer Holiday, along with many others. As a freelance choreographer, she works with many studios, high schools and colleges that compete at Regional, State, and National competitions. This past summer, Evelyn became part of the faculty for the 2011 Chicago National Association of Dance Masters (CNADM), as an educator for hip hop. She is also an instructor/choreographer for the Cheer and Dance Association (CDA). Other recent credits include: Vicious, Dance 2XS, UDA, Varsity.com, America’s Beauty Show, Pivot Point International 2010, The Chicago Confidential, Glamour Magazine April 2007 issue, NIKE Rockstar Workout Winner 2006, and she was also featured in Atlantic recording artist, Bayje’s “Jealous of Your Whip” music video. Evelyn currently coaches at Soul2Sole Dance Studio and teaches at Visceral Dance Center.

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  Michael Rioux

Michael Rioux
Contemporary

Michael Rioux (Chicago, Seattle) is a performance and visual artist. The long list of companies Michael has performed with includes River North Chicago, Luna Negra Dance Theater, Mordine & Co., Lucky Plush Productions, Same Planet Different World, Scott/Powell Performance, and Salt Horse. In 2001 Michael formed Impetus Dance Theater and served as Artistic Director until 2005 when he picked up and moved to Seattle. While in Seattle Michael received his BFA in printmaking and video from Cornish College of the Arts, and formed The Sho. The Sho is a vehicle for Michaels solo performance and dance film work. The Sho has been presented by PICA’s TBA Festival, Ten Tiny Dances Seattle, and the Northwest Film Forum. Michaels choreography has been performed by Mordine & Co., Instruments of Movement, Lehua Dance Theater, Cornish Dance Theater, Chicago Dance Crash, and Giordano’s Jazz Dance. Michael has been a faculty member at Lou Conte Dance Studio, Velocity Dance Center, and the Spectrum Dance Theater School.

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  Valerie Robin

Valerie Robin
Adv/Pro Ballet

Born in St. Jerome, Canada and raised in Tulsa, Oklahoma, she began her ballet training as an apprentice with the Tulsa Ballet Theatre, became a corps member, and danced with the company for two years. Ms. Robin then joined the Milwaukee Ballet, under the direction of Basil Thompson. She was also a soloist with the Leipziger Ballett in Leipzig, Germany, where she worked with choreographer/director Uwe Scholz. Ms. Robin spent one year with the Keiler Ballett dancing modern works before returning to the states as a principal dancer for Ballet Wisconsin. In 1990, Ms. Robin won a bronze medal at the New York International Ballet Competition. In 1992, she competed in the Varna International Ballet Competition and became one of the first American dancers to reach the final round in ten years. During her time with The Joffrey, Ms. Robin has performed in many ballets, including Apollo, Giselle, Italian Suite, Les Noces, Les Patinuers, Light Rain, Montones II, The Nutcracker, Pas Des Deesses, Reflections, Return to a Strange Land, Romeo & Juliet, Le Sacre Du Printemps, Suite Saint Saëns, The Taming of the Shrew, Viva Vivaldi, and A Wedding Bouquet, In the Night, After the Rain, Othello, Cinderella, PRETTY Ballet, Crossed, and Stravinsky Violin Concerto.

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Sarah

Sarah Robinson
Studio Manager

Sarah Robinson began her training in Baltimore, Maryland at the Ballet Royale Institute of Maryland. She received her BA in dance and a minor in performing arts management from Columbia College Chicago. While in Chicago, she has studied on scholarship with Deeply Rooted Productions and Thodos Dance Chicago. Sarah has performed in works by Twyla Tharp, Kevin Iega Jeff, Garry Abbott, Paige Cunningham, Kirby Reed, Against the Grain Dance Project and is also a member of Winifred Haun & Dancers and NoMi LaMad Dance Inc.. She is currently studio manager at Visceral Dance Center under the direction of Nick Pupillo, fulfilling her dual love for arts administration.


  Joanna Rosenthal

Joanna Rosenthal
Modern

Joanna Rosenthal is the Artistic Director and Dancer of Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre. Performing credits include Lucky Plush Productions, Mordine and Company Dance Theatre, Hedwig Dances, The Chicago Moving Company and work with other independent choreographers. While dancing with Mordine and Company Dance Theatre, she was Associate Artistic Director and director of the Youth Dance Company. Joanna teaches at the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago, Visceral Dance Chicago and has taught at The Chicago
Academy for the Arts and other recently completed her MFA in choreography at the University of Iowa.

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  Sean Rozanski

Sean Rozanski
Jazz

Sean Rozanski began his training in Queens, New York. He went on to study ballet and modern dance at LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts in New York City. Later, Sean received his BFA in Jazz Dance Performance at the University of the Arts, in Philadelphia, PA. He received the Outstanding in All Dance Styles and Outstanding Jazz Dance Performance awards. Sean is going on his second season with Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago. Being with the company has brought many teaching opportunities such as the Barrington high school choreography project and Giordano Health and Science Outreach program which brings dance to underprivileged students in inner city schools. Since being in Chicago, Sean has had the opportunity to perform at benefits such as Dance for Life and The Chicago House Fashion Show which included choreography by Randy Duncan, Keith Elliot and Harrison McLedowney.

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  Laura Wade

Laura Wade
Ballet and Pointe

Laura Wade was the Artistic Director of AKASHA Dance Company, commissioning original contemporary works from choreographers such as Claire Bataille & Ginger Farley (both of Hubbard Street), Austin Hartel (Pilobolus), Martin Kravitz (Batsheva), and Nora Reynolds (Lar Lubovitch). AKASHA toured the Midwest, England, danced at the Edinburgh Festival and performed their popular outreach programs for over 100,000 children through Urban Gateways. Ms. Wade was a soloist in Ruth Page’s The Nutcracker for fifteen years, and performed both ballet and modern works with David Dorfman, Scott Putman, Robin Lakes/ Rough Dance, Ballet Chicago, and Ballet Theatre of Chicago. Ms. Wade is on faculty at Northwestern University, the Lou Conte Dance Studio, and Visceral Dance Center; and teaches company class for River North Dance Company. For many years, she taught at the Ruth Page School of Dance and has been a frequent guest teacher of co. class for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, as well as a sought after teacher for workshops at Stephens College, University of Wisconsin-Madison and others throughout the country. As Assistant Artistic director for Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago for 4 years, Ms. Wade rehearsed the co., taught co. class, and led the co. on tours of the US, Germany, & Austria. Velta Cernonok and Marie Vogt were her early teachers in Toledo, Ohio. She received a Bachelor’s degree from Indiana University, studying under Marina Svetlova and Nicolas Beriosov, before coming to Chicago to train with Larry Long.

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  Ben Wardell

Ben Wardell
Ballet

Benjamin Wardell began dancing at age ten in Memphis, TN. His professional career began with the Cincinnati Ballet, where he achieved the rank of soloist. From there he joined Alonzo King's LINES Ballet in San Francisco. Ben began to explore photography and videography, as well as the administrative aspects of art management with a non-profit organization named Urban Art Farm. In 2007, he joined Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. He danced there until September of 2011, when he left to pursue life as a freelance multimedia artist. He is currently a member of Aszure Barton and Artists, in addition to teaching, photographing, filming and performing all over Chicago. He most recently performed in "Punk Yankees" with Lucky Plush Productions.

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  Karl Watson

Karl Watson
Ballet

Karl Watson began dancing in Cleveland, Ohio. After training at local schools, he attended Butler University. In addition to his training at Butler, Karl attended summer programs at Houston Ballet and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. He also worked with guest artists Kevin Irving, Christopher Roman, and Donald Mahler. Karl graduated in 2012 with a B.F.A. cum laude in Dance Performance and a History Minor. Upon graduation, Karl began dancing with Luna Negra Dance Theater in Chicago, under the direction of Gustavo Ramirez Sansano. Karl performed with the company in Chicago, as well as on national and international tours. Grateful to have danced in the company's final season, Karl is now a founding member of Visceral Dance Chicago. He has also performed with Pursuit Productions in their production of "Blood Wedding," by Federico Garcia Lorca. Karl has had the honor of performing the works of Gustavo Ramirez Sansano, Nacho Duato, Monica Cervantes, Fernando Melo, Fernando Hernando Magadan, Sidra Bell, and Nick Pupillo, among others.

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Visceral Master Teachers

Randy DuncanRandy Duncan


AleksAleks Wojda


Christian DeniceChristian Denice

FanciscoFrancisco Avina

Wes
Wes Veldink


Ray Mercer
Ray Mercer


Kate
Kate Jablonski

Tokyo
Tokyo


Jeff
Jeff Hancock

EddieEddy Ocampo

MiguelMiguel Perez

Sidra BellSidra Bell

Jon
Jon Lehrer

Elijah
Elijah Gibson


Erica SobolErica Sobol


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