Judith Svalander, Artistic Director
Judith Svalander began her professional training with Bently Stone and Walter Camryn in Chicago,continuing in New York at American Ballet Theatre and Joffrey Ballet Schools. Her professional experience in dance began at age 15 in Chicago with Stone-Camryn Ballet, Ruth Page’s Lyric Opera Ballet, and a weekly television series on WGN-TV.
Mrs. Svalander spent more than seven years in Northern Europe dancing in Denmark and Sweden and touring Northern Europe. She trained with Alexander Danilova and Edit Frandsden and with teachers from the Royal Danish Ballet. She was a soloist with the Swedish National Touring Theatre as well as the Swedish Ballet of Gothenburg. A highlight of her career was in Belgium at the Royal Theater filming a dance program that aired internationally under the direction of Maurice Bejart.
In 1972, Mrs. Svalander returned to this area to start her own dance school, and in 1979 she formed the Judith Svalander Dance
Theatre. Mrs. Svalander is a multi-year recipient of the Who’s Who Among American Teachers Award. Her school was, for the third
year, recognized as one of Chicagoland’s finest schools by Dance Chicago. With over 40 JSSB alumni with professional dance careers, Mrs. Svalander continues her devotion to training dancers toward realizing their dreams wherever they may lead them.
Julie Fiore-Hirsch, Faculty, JSDT Assistant Director
A graduate of the JSSB, Mrs. Hirsch has taught at JSSB for 15 years and choreographed for JSDT for 12 years. She has had
choreography featured in Dance Chicago and Best of Dance Chicago. Mrs. Hirsch assists Mrs. Svalander in directing both the children’s ballet and character dance programs and is the Assistant Director/Staging Repetitur of The Nutcracker. She guest teaches throughout the Chicagoland area. Most recently Mrs. Hirsch created and choreographed a new ballet, Gypsy Fire, for Judith Svalander Dance Theatre.
Greg Begley, Resident Guest Artist
Mr. Begley began his professional career as a high school student; he spent four years as a member of the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre while also obtaining a degree in business on a full dance scholarship. Mr. Begley moved to Chicago after being personally solicited by Ruth Page to become a principal dancer with the Chicago Ballet. He has worked with many legendary dancers and choreographers and performed in many of ballet’s classics. His title role of Johnny in Ruth Page’s famed “Frankie and Johnny” was filmed by Chicago’s WTTW bringing universal recognition to his career. By invitation of Lou Conte, founder of the company Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Mr. Begley became an original member, a featured performer, and the company’s ballet master. His background in classical ballet, musical theater, modern, jazz and tap created a natural fit with the company.
Laura Bobowski, Creative Dance Director
Ms. Bobowski has a Master’s Degree in early childhood education, has just retired from teaching the children at SEDOM and is widely known for the wonderful dance programs she has produced for these children. Ms. Bobowski has been teaching at JSSB for over 25 years, and her Creative Dance program stands alone as the premiere training for 4-6 year olds. She has been the first inspiration of many dancers who have gone on to professional careers in dance, theater, and teaching. She first and foremost through a correct and planned technique, fosters the love of dance to all of her students. She continues to perform with the Judith Svalander Dance Theatre; most recently as the Stepmother in Cinderella.
Christina Luzwick, Faculty
Ms. Luzwick began her classical background with Pamela Johnson-Tanis (Joffrey/ABT/NYC) and Richard Ellis and Christine DuBoulay (Saddler’s Wells). Training expanded to include Chicago’s Ruth Page Foundation, Lou Conte Dance Studio, Joel Hall Dance Studio and Ballet Chicago as well as New York’s Joffrey Ballet and Alvin Ailey School. Her career started with the Joel Hall Dancers while guesting with regional companies such as Salt Creek Ballet and Ballet Theatre of Chicago (Ivan Nagy). With a passion for the eclectic, she performed with Radio City Music Hall, jumped into Musical Theatre with venues such as Drury Lane Theatre, Oakbrook and Marriott Theatre, Lincolnshire and worked the industrial circuit with corporations such as McDonald’s and Mandalay Entertainment. Over a 7 year span she consistently was awarded principal and soloist contracts to perform in many of the Lyric Opera of Chicago’s beautiful productions. In 2013 she traveled to New York city to work as a principal dancer for The Met. She has always considered herself a lifelong student of “all things movement” and has supplemented her curiosities with Pilates, Yoga, Aerial Silk and even Boxing. Ms. Luzwick has taught throughout the Chicagoland area for over 20 years at various colleges and establishments and has privately coached and choreographed for college admissions, competitions and independent choreography projects. As a teacher her emphasis is on clean, safe technique as it individually applies to each dancer. As a choreographer she pushes for the artistry & storytelling aspects of dance as it translates into making a connection with the audience and equally important, one’s self.
Chesney Murphy, Faculty
A JSSB graduate, Ms. Murphy has a BA in Dance from Columbia College Chicago with a concentration in Performance & Choreography. She worked with some of the country’s most well-known choreographers & companies, including Joe Goode Performance Group, before changing her focus to teaching and choreography. She has taught throughout the Chicagoland area at both the recreational and pre-professional level and has created programming and curriculum for park district dance programs for children and adults of all ages, specifically for early childhood dance. Her choreography has been seen in productions of Hello, Dolly! Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, Crazy for You, A Chorus Line, Hairspray, Anything Goes, The Little Mermaid and most recently Sister Act.
Lauren Spoehr, Faculty
Ms. Spoehr, a former student of JSSB, graduated with a BS from Northern Michigan University. With a concentration in Community Health Education, she focuses on the importance of health in dancers. While studying, she continued dancing and was given the opportunity to train in a class with principal dancers from The Russian National Ballet Theater. She has also recently participated in dance intensive workshops taught by well-known guest artists such as Devon Perri. Ms. Spoehr’s choreography has been entered, and placed with high scores, in surrounding states’ regional dance competitions. With over 20 years of dance experience, she is excited to share her knowledge and passion for dance with students.
Cassady Wille, Office Manager
Mrs. Wille, a former student of JSSB, graduated with a BA in Theater from Columbia College Chicago with a concentration in Acting. Cassady managed Motion Unlimited Dancewear, in Chicago, and has become an expert at fitting pointe shoes for students and professionals. She has danced for over 20 years and is here to help you with any questions you may have about the school or even your dancer’s pointe shoes.
Nora Kay Pelt, Business Manager
Mrs. Pelt, a graduate of the JSSB, has a BFA in Dance from the University of Illinois (full scholarship) and a Master’s Degree in Arts, Entertainment and Media Management from Columbia College Chicago. She was Artistic Director of the Glen Ellyn Children’s Dance Theatre. Mrs. Pelt worked for the Illinois Arts Council and is on the Andover Cultural Council.
Alex Vucha, Office Assistant/Building Manager
Mr. Vucha has worked for JSSB, in numerous capacities, for over ten years. He has been the technical advisor for the Judith Svalander Dance Theatre for over 8 years.
Mary Kay Lawrence, Costume Designer/Wardrobe Mistress
For over 30 years, Mrs. Lawrence has made the Judith Svalander Dance Theatre look good. Outside of the school, her costume designs have been seen in performances at the University of Illinois and Ithaca College in New York. Mrs. Lawrence studied and worked with talented designers Patti Whitmore and Larry Prospero.
Teacher Training Program: The school has a teacher training program and gives qualified students the opportunity to learn to teach by first assisting in classes and eventually substitute teaching when the occasion warrants. Students are selected by Mrs. Svalander, determined by interest, ability, and dedication.