Kenneth von Heidecke is founder & director of the Chicago Festival Ballet and founder & director of the Von Heidecke Dance Center. He is also a renowned choreographer for opera and ballet companies around the world. As a young dancer, he danced throughout Europe & the US. In 1975, he was hand chosen by the legendary Prima Ballerina Assoluta Maria Tallchief to appear in the world premier of George Balanchine's Orfeo ed Euridice.

Here in Chicago, he has choreographed more productions at the Lyric Opera of Chicago than any choreographer in its history. Recent productions of Samson & Delilah, Carmen and La Gioconda to name a few. His work has been seen at Alaska Dance Theatre, Scotland's Edinburgh Festival, Washington DC's Kennedy Center, Los Angeles Music Center, New York City's Lincoln Center, Dallas Opera, San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, Ballet Nacional de Panama, Germany's Badisches Staatstheater and countless others.

In 1989, he opened the doors to his school of ballet in Naperville, IL. Among his many students who have gone on to major careers is the Gold Medalist, Evan Lysacek. In 1996, he was choreographer to the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team. In 2008, he was invited to choreograph The Merry Widow for the English National Opera in London but was already obligated under contract for an Aida in the US.

Mr. von Heidecke's works have been featured on WTTW's "Chicago Tonight" news program, WTTW's "Arts Across Illinois" entertainment special, PBS' "Making of an Opera" and a PBS documentary on Maria Tallchief's life. In 2008 he was inducted into the Fox Valley Hall of Fame. He has made numerous appearances on ABC, WGN, NBC, etc. and currently, the film maker and composer, Stuart Meyer is filming a documentary on his life and career. In January of 2012, he will choreograph Aida for the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Later, he will choreograph Aida for the opening of the Dallas Opera season in October. In 2013, he is scheduled to choreograph both Samson & Delilah and Aida for the San Diego Opera.

Janice Augustine has danced for Chicago Festival Ballet, SSPA Ballet, Lyric Opera of Chicago and DuPage Opera Theater. She has danced as a principal dancer, soloist and in the corps de ballet in various operas including La Traviata, Carmen, and The Merry Widow. She has also choreographed Amahl & the Night Visitors and Cosi Fan Tutte for DuPage Opera Theater. In addition to ballet and opera, Jan danced as a soloist for Broadway Dances and Franklin Avenue Dance Company. She has performed in more than 30 musicals, including West Side Story for Theater at the Center, Chicago for Buffalo Theater Ensemble and as Charity in Sweet Charity. For Wheaton College's Opera Music Theater she has choreographed numerous productions, most recently Rodgers & Hart, a Celebration. In addition to teaching ballet at Von Heidecke Dance Center, Jan is the instructor and choreographer of our newest class addition - Musical Theater/Jazz.

Patricia Kohl Michalowski began ballet training in New Jersey at the age of six under the direction of Gloria and Yaro York, principal soloists with the National Hungarian Ballet. In 1975, at the age of seventeen, she auditioned for the Lyric Opera Ballet Company and was chosen to become a member by renowned Prima Ballerina Maria Tallchief. Pat had the unequalled opportunity of being personally trained daily by Miss Tallchief, learning from her vast knowledge of the many intricacies of body movement and expression. She and Kenneth von Heidecke were often partnered together and they became long time friends. During her three years there, she also worked with and studied under George Balanchine, Jacques d'Amboise, Marjorie Tallchief, George Skibine, John Tarras and Coleen Neary gaining a wealth of knowledge from each. She danced in numerous Lyric Opera productions including the world premier of George Balanchine's Orfeo ed Euridice, Othello, Rigoletto, La Traviata, Un Ballo en Maschera, Khovanshchina, The Love for Three Oranges, Lucia Di Lammermoor, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg and the re-staging of Orfeo two years after its premiere. She also was one of six girls chosen to dance in the opening night gala of the King Tut Exhibit at the Chicago Field Museum.

In 1980, after leaving Lyric Opera, Patricia was responsible for forming and teaching a ballet program at North Central College in Naperville, being sponsored by their Center for Continuing Education. One of her young students was subsequently accepted into the Chicago City Ballet School.

She married in Copenhagen, Denmark and became a professional runway model for the Miss Bayern Mannequin Studio International, modeling in both Germany and Austria. After returning to the United States and starting a family, Patricia began teaching again. In all, she has had over eighteen years of teaching experience, both in studio and in private lessons. She enjoys bringing her wealth of ballet knowledge to her students, stressing careful technique, musicality, stage presence and overall enjoyment of dance. Patricia lives in Naperville with her husband Gary. They have three grown children.

Darrell Dautrieve is a native of Texas and received his BFA in dance from Southern Methodist University. He began his professional years with the Dallas Black Dance Theater, Dallas Ballet and Dallas Metropolitan Ballet after receiving numerous scholarships to both the Joffrey School and the Dance Theatre of Harlem. Before moving to the Midwest, Darrell received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Porgy in the Dallas Black Dance Theater production of Porgy and Bess. After moving to the Midwest in 1991, Darrell joined the Joel Hall Dancers with great success, studying extensively with Pamela Johnson-Tanis, Homer Bryant, and Joel Hall. Darrell has appeared as a guest artist in Von Heidecke's Chicago Festival Ballet productions of The Nutcracker, Classical Symphony, Cinderella, and Giselle. Darrell has also guested with Salt Creek Ballet as well as Kalamazoo Ballet appearing in Cinderella and receiving accolades for his portrayal as Siegfried in Swan Lake. Other accomplishments include touring with Bryant Ballet of Chicago to the Caribbean Islands; The Lyric Opera of Chicago's production of Ghost of Versailles, Un Re In Ascoloto and Mesfestofoles; Chicago City Opera's production of Four Saints in Three Acts; and the Drury Lane Oakbrook production of Guys and Dolls which toured the east coast for eight weeks. Darrell also appeared in the Untouchables and a made for TV movie The All American Cowboy. Darrell's international debut includes a six week tour of Europe, visiting nine countries and forty cities appearing as Joseph in the off Broadway musical Black Nativity. In addition to Chicago, Darrell returned to Dallas to appear in the Dallas Opera's production of Die Fledermaus and just recently completed the Lyric Opera production of The Great Gatsby. Darrell worked at the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center (official school of Bryant Ballet) for eight years as the school administrator and was Director of Special Programs for Dancing off The Streets, a program designed for inner city children in the Chicago land area. Darrell is extremely pleased to be invited as a guest teacher for Von Heidecke Dance Center and would like to thank Mr. von Heidecke for being an integral part of his career. Darrell currently works in real estate in the Chicago land area.

Jepharya Badie teaches WERQ cardio dance fitness, Zumba, and Beginning Modern Dance at Von Heidecke. She also teaches Modern Stretch, Modern Strong, an adult class she developed that combines fitness with modern dance techniques to improve flexibility, core and overall strength for those with and without any prior dance training. Jepharya has over 13 years of experience in kickboxing aerobics, and also enjoys boot camping, strength training, karate and ballet. She received her training in Modern Dance under Touchstone Award recipient, Deborah Kirkland and was a member of the All City Dance Company in Detroit under the direction of Touchstone Award recipient Gina Ellis. Jepharya has performed at the Interlochen Center for the Arts, the New World School of the Arts in Miami Florida, at Detroit's historic Fox Theater in An Evening of Fine Arts and has served as Co-Leader of Liturgical Dance at Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church of Lansing, Michigan. Additionally, she has also performed in the Michigan Youth Arts Festival and in the Chicago Festival Ballet's 2017 The Nutcracker.

Rachel Mytnik studied ballet at Von Heidecke's School of the Chicago Festival Ballet for 16 years. In the 11 years she danced in Von Heidecke's Nutcracker, she performed many roles, including Demi-Soloist in Snow, Reed Flutes, and Waltz of the Flowers, Party Parent, Snow, Italian, and Russian. She has also performed in Chicago Festival Ballet's productions of Giselle, Coppelia, and Sleeping Beauty, and performed the role of the Wicked Stepmother in the 2015 production of Cinderella. She has studied musical theater, and has appeared in North Central College's musical productions of Brigadoon and Oliver. She recently completed an apprenticeship with Metro Arts/Ballet Quad Cities, and has taught all levels of ballet in the Quad Cities. She has a degree in Culinary Arts, is currently an instructor and Children's Director at VH Dance Center.