Légere Dance Centre’s Faculty

Gina Baumgarten Gina Baumgarten

Ms. Baumgarten is the proud owner of the Légere Dance Centre.  Gina has been a professional dancer, choreographer and dance instructor for the past 22 years.  Gina is a guest choreographer for Ballet Légere’s production of the Nutcracker.  Gina was an original Ballet Légere Company member, and has danced many of the prinicpal roles.  Ms Baumgarten formerly directed Cheek to Cheek ballroom dance company that provided entertainment at corporate parties, galas and special events.

Ms. Baumgarten has taught master classes for the National Association of Dance both locally and out of state.  Gina has experience in teaching all levels of Ballet, Jazz and Ballroom dance.  Her professional company credits include ZZAZZ, Michigan Classic Ballet, Dancewerks, Contemporary Dance of Chicago, Tango 21, Airflow Deluxe and The Entertainers.  Ms. Baumgarten’s film credits include the MTV video "Shadows of Your Love", and Gina portrayed John Travolta’s wife in "Eyes of an Angel".  Gina will be teaching Jr. Ballet I, Jr. Ballet II, Ballet I, Ballet II, Jr. Jazz and Jazz 1.

  Donna Vittorio Donna Vittorio

Ms. Vittorio is the proud owner of the Légere Dance, as well as the Artistic Director of Ballet Légere.

For the past 26 years, Donna has produced, directed and choreographed the Nutcracker at Dominican University and Morton East High School.

Donna’s Ballet training began in Chicago with Edna McRae, and extended with Keith Allison, Lou Conte and Luigi. Mrs. Vittorio’s professional credits include various trade show and dinner theatres in the Midwest, The Apollo Opera Company and the St. Louis Municipal Opera. Donna has taught all levels of Ballet, Pointe and Jazz for the past 22 years. Donna will be teaching Ballet III through Advanced Ballet, Pointe.

Alberto Arias Alberto Arias

Alberto Arias is a freelance professional dancer and choreographer from Chicago who has performed with several renowned dance companies in that region, including Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and River North Dance Chicago. Alberto has worked with many choreographers including; Margo Sappington, Twyla Tharp, Lynn Taylor-Corbett, Daniel Czralow and Lou Conte, among others.

Other professional activities include choreography for MTV video, Assistant Choreographer to Harrison McEldowney on the musical version of Fame performance in various industrials, television commercials and films. Alberto received a Ruth Page nomination for Outstanding Dancer and was voted Best Dancer 1992 by Chicago Dance Magazine. Alberto set the choreography for two first place winners in the Miss Continental Pageant 2005-06. He was the former Ballet Master/Rehearsal /Director for Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago and is currently a fitness instructor for Equinox Health Clubs.

  Allen Desterhaft Allen Desterhaft

Allen Desterhaft holds a BFA in dance from The Ohio State University. He has danced professionally with Chi-Town Jazz Dance Chicago, and Winifred Haun and Dancers. He has also performed as a guest artist with Dance for Life, Dance Theater North, Schaumburg Dance Ensemble, Evanston Dance Ensemble, Barrington Youth Dance Ensemble, and The Chicago Festival Ballet.

He was also a guest choreographer and performer for the Jofffrey Ballet in the production of “Salute to Vienna”. Allen is a Fellow of the Cecchetti Council of America, and holds The Maestro Cecchetti Diploma Certification. In addition, he has extensive formal training in competitive and social Dancesport and currently competes professionally in the American Smooth and Showdance categories. His award winning choreography is seen in both amateur and professional dancesport competitions throughout the United States. He is currently a faculty member of the Dance Center of Columbia College Chicago where he teaches ballet to BA and BFA candidates.

Ariel Dorsey Ariel Dorsey

Ariel M Dorsey is a native of Chicago, she began dancing at age of 7 at Southwest fine Arts Academy now known as Premier One Dance Academy.

She began her formal training at Chicago Academy for the Arts under the direction of Ana Peskevska and Randy Duncan.

Ariel went on to further her studies at SUNY Purchase College in New York where she graduated with a BFA in dance.

Throughout her four years of study she work with choreographers such as Nelly Van Bommel, Pam Tanowitz Jonathan Alsberry, and Ori Flormen. Mrs. Dorsey is currently dancing with Winifred Haun and Dancers and teaching in various schools in the chicago area under Design Dance and dance workshops for Danza Dance Competition.

  Indira Espin

Indira grew up in Guatemala, where she began dancing at the age of 6. She progressed to become a member of the National Classical Ballet of Guatemala, where she was a soloist and played multiple roles in different classical ballets such as Swan Lake, Gissele, Don Quixote, Romeo and Juliet, Carmina Burana, Coppelia, The Nutcracker and many others. For more than 20 years Indira traveled with the National Ballet of Guatemala throughout Central America and had the opportunity to participate as an actress in the “Silence of Neto”, the first Guatemalan movie, her extensive career also included theater, TV commercials and her participation in beauty pageants that took her to Miss Universe representing Guatemala.

Indira had 6 years of classical ballet instruction following Cuban and Russian techniques and 8 years of contemporary ballet followed by additional instruction in Mexico and California. She later obtained an associate degree in arts with a concentration in psychology and had the opportunity to teach little dancers before joining Legere, where she is now following her passion to work with the younger generation of dancers and make ballet a fun and meaningful experience for them. She believes that a dancer needs to fall in love with Ballet to put in the work that it takes to be a dancer.

Winifred Haun Winifred Haun

Winifred Haun began her formal dance training at the Ellis-DuBoulay School of Ballet in Chicago. She attended Southern Illinois University at Carbondale from 1981 to 1984 graduating with a B.A. in Theatre/Dance.

Ms. Haun was a member of the Joseph Holmes Chicago Dance Theatre (JHCDT) while on tour in the US, Canada, Mexico and the Middle East. During her tenure with JHCDT, Ms. Haun danced several solos and received great critical acclaim for her dancing. In 1991, she won a Ruth Page Award Nomination for Dancer of the Year.

Ms. Haun's dancing and choreography have been presented and commissioned by several Chicago and Midwest dance companies, including AMEBA Dance, Zephyr Dance, Irreverence Dance + Theatre, David Puszh Dance Company, MOMENTA, Barrington Youth Dance Ensemble and others. Her dances have appeared at the Athenaeum Theatre, Dance Center of Columbia College, Link’s Hall, Iowa Dance Festival, St. Mary's College, Vaudeville Underground, Cheney Mansion and in many non-traditional performing spaces.

Chicago's NEXT Dance Festival, which grew to become the top producer of new and emerging Chicago dance artists, was the brain child of Ms. Haun. She spearheaded this annual event from 1994 to 2001. Ms. Haun won a Ruth Page Award in 1999 for Outstanding Contribution to the Dance Community for her work in the NEXT Dance Festival. Currently, Ms. Haun co-produces "Circle in the Square: new works in dance theatre," a bi-annual event that presents the work of a collective of choreographers.

Ms. Haun has taught modern dance and dance composition at the Beijing Dance Academy in China, Chicago Academy for the Arts, Dance Center of Columbia College, University of Nevada, Wesleyan University and at numerous festivals and workshops worldwide. She currently teaches modern dance at Hubbard St. Dance Chicago and Legere Dance Centre.

  Rebecca Ludwick Rebecca Ludwick

Born with the joy of dance in her heart, Rebecca Ludwick had lived and breathed a dancer’s life from a young age. She trained formally at Faubourg School of Ballet in Hanover Park. On a full scholarship till the age of 19, dancing many lead roles in the school’s ballets.

After graduating, she worked with the Chicago Lyric Opera and the Washington National Opera in DC. She also performed in local dance productions, including Ballet Légere’s Nutcracker. Rebecca has taught many styles of dance for the past 13 years, from Beginner Adults, Advanced Teens, to preschool aged toddlers.

While teaching, Rebecca likes to encourage a disciplined and creative atmosphere. She is passionate about developing each student’s personal strengths, and enjoys helping them build a confidence that will last a lifetime. Most recently her new passion is West Coast Swing, which she travels the country teaching and competing with her dance partner. Rebecca enjoys teaching all ages including her 3 year old daughter ILyana, who loves to dance at home with her mommy!

Nico S. Rubio Nico S. Rubio

Nico Rubio, a Chicago native, is one of the leading Tap Dancers of his generation. He is the founder and director of Shuffle Liiife Productions and Tap company 333 (Three Thirty Three). Nico is a 2018 recipient of the Chicago Dancemakers Forum’s Lab Artist Award. In 2019, he choreographed and produced By Way Of Taps: A J Dilla Tribute, which was performed at Columbia College Chicago’s Dance Center and at the American Tap Festival in Long Beach, California. The show premiered in full at Thalia Hall in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, marking the historic venue’s first-ever evening-length Tap performance.

Nico has traveled the world, teaching, performing and choreographing everywhere from Europe to Asia, Central America to South America. His dancing has been featured locally on news program Windy City Live and at halftime for the Chicago Bulls, as well as abroad at UCLA’s Jazz Reggae Fest and the Beijing Contemporary Dance Festival. Nico is currently developing a new show, By Way Of Taps: A TS Monk Tribute. This show features 333 on Taps and a quartet of musicians, led by Rajiv Halim. Among classes and other events, this show will take place at Nico’s annual end-of-the-year experience, The Last Shuffles.

With everything he does, Nico’s mission is not just to expose the majesty and humanity of Tap Dancing and other art forms, but also highlight everyone’s infinite individual incandescence (light), via Shuffle Liiife Productions.

  Summer Smith Summer Smith

Summer Smith grew up in South Jersey, where she began dancing at a young age. Having an arts focused family, she received exposure to all types of art throughout her childhood and studied painting and drawing under her mentor, Patricia Witt.

In high school, Summer decided to begin her serious training at The Rock School for Dance Education in Philadelphia. During this time, she received scholarships to study at Orlando Ballet, and in New York, at American Ballet Theatre.

Following high school, Summer attended The University of the Arts for Dance and Painting. At Uarts, she was selected to perform works by Ronen Koresh, Christine Cox and Anastasia Babeyeva. She also worked with Douglas Becker, of the original Frankfurt Ballet, for his staging of “The Vile Parody of Address” by William Forsythe.

While in school, she also had the opportunity to study dance pedagogy and the Vaganova syllabus under Connie Michaels and Eva Szabo. Following college, she went on to dance with Ballet 5:8 where she is a Company Artist, and the production designer. At Ballet 5;8, she has performed original works by Julianna Slager and Preston Miller, and has devoted a lot of time to choreographing for the Ballet 5:8 conservatory. She is also passionate about coaching young dancers, and has aided four young dancers in becoming finalists at YAGP NY with her original works.

Kathryn Williams Kathryn Williams

Kathryn began dancing at the age of 6 under the direction of Donna Vittorio. In her 12 years as a student at Légere Dance Centre, she had the opportunity to study with many great teachers, including Gina Baumgarten, Allen Desterhaft, Alberto Arias, and Winifred Haun.

She also had the pleasure of performing in Ballet Légere’s The Nutcracker, dancing various roles throughout her 12 years.

Kathryn went on to attend the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, earning a BFA in Dance with High Honors. While at U of I, she was privileged to study under Jan Erkert, Linda Lehovec, Cynthia Oliver, Sara Hook, and Rebecca Nettl-Fiol, among others. During college, Kathryn received the Talented Student Award scholarship and was also selected to study with and shadow the Mark Morris Dance Group in New York. She had the opportunity to dance in original works with former Batsheva dancer Sahar Azimi, and Bessie award winner Darrell Jones. Kathryn has also studied at the American Dance Festival in North Carolina on scholarship, performing in Robert Battle’s Primate.

Kathryn is very excited to join the Légere Dance Centre faculty where she has been a substitute for various levels since graduating high school. Her teaching not only encompasses a lifetime study of the various styles of dance, but also includes training in anatomy, pedagogy, and creative dance for children. Kathryn not only wants to impart to her students her love of dance, but also strives to inspire each student to discover their unique and personal creativity and ability.

Légere Dance Centre’s Guest Instructors

Terri Louis Konley
Debbi Nanni
Ellen Werksman
Elizabeth Gumz
Julie SanFilippo
Andrea Deline
Nicole Kawell