PAA Faculty

Performing Arts Academy Faculty

As our faculty grows and evolves we continue to offer our students the best in dance education, combined with instructors and a faculty who truly enjoy working with children.

Sofia DasNeves

Shauna Havener

Jodi Riley – Owner & Artistic Director

Jodi Riley received her BFA with an emphasis on dance performance from Northern Illinois University. She began her training at a young age. She continued her dance education as a teenager attending classes at the Judith Svalander School of Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet School and Northern Illinois University. Jodi is trained extensively in ballet, jazz and modern. She also has training in character, tap and ballroom dancing.

She began teaching in 1993 for Beth Fowler. She continued with this school through 1996 running a location in Marengo. Jodi has taught at several dance schools in the Northern Illinois area including: Moves, Lynn Kalita Dance Center, Pam’s Academy of Dance, Northern Illinois University’s community dance program, and Northern Illinois University’s Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education. She has choreographed pieces for the Beth Fowler Dance Company, Art for Life, Student Choreography Showcases at NIU, Lynn Kalita Dance Center, and Stage Coach Theatre. She has also choreographed several productions for the Performing Arts Academy since opening in 2002.

As well as teaching and choreographing Jodi has had several years of performing experience. She has performed many lead roles including: Cinderella, Firebird, Puss and Boots (“Sleeping Beauty”), Sugar Plum Fairy (“Nutcracker”), Spanish (“Nutcracker”), as well as numerous others. Jodi was fortunate enough to work with Katherine Posin at Milwaukee Ballet on her original piece of “Bauch’s Lunch” which immediately became a part of the company’s repertoire!

Riley continues her education by attending special workshops for teachers and taking classes downtown Chicago. She is now a Stott® Certified Pilates instructor. She received her Pilates training at Elements in Motion in Chicago. She plans to specialize in Athletic Conditioning.

Most recently she completed her teacher training course in aerial silks and is ecstatic to bring it to the Sycamore community! Jodi trained in trapeze at Aloft Circus Arts in Chicago for 3 years and hopes to continue training in he future.  She is thrilled to share her knowledge and passion for dance and now Pilates and aerial arts with her students!

Jodi is a military wife and mother of 2.  She is a substitute teacher in the Genoa and Sycamore school districts.

Lydia Carpenter – Instructor

Lydia Carpenter received her BFA with an emphasis in dance performance from Northern Illinois University under the direction of Judith Chitwood, Autumn Eckman, Paula Frasz and Richard Grund.

Prior to graduating, she had extensive training in ballet, pointe, contemporary, modern, jazz and other various styles. Lydia trained at numerous dance schools and intensives, including Faubourg School of Ballet, State Street Dance, The Art of Classical Ballet, BalletMet, Ruth Page Center for the Arts, and several others. She also performed as a company member with Elements Contemporary Ballet in Chicago for a season and enjoyed the performing aspects and connections made throughout the process.

Lydia has always had a passion for teaching and admires watching the exponential growth in the students throughout the years since 2013 when she first started to teach at the Performing Arts Academy.

Rebeca DasNeves – Substitute

Rebeca has been dancing with the Performing Arts Academy since the age of 3. She was a member of the Sycamore High School Dance Team as well as the Sycamore Orchesis Troupe. She was also a member of the Performing Arts Academy Competition Team.

Rebeca has been dancing and performing her whole life and has a great passion for dance and teaching children. She is so excited to join the Performing Arts Academy staff and further her teaching skills. Rebeca graduated from Sycamore High School this May and will be attending Illinois State University as a Dance Major. She is also a member of the Red Bird Competitive Dance team at ISU. She looks forward to returning and subbing at the studio on occasion.

Ana Amaya – Dance Instruction and Choreography

Ana is a graduate student at Northern Illinois University getting her MS. Ed in Sport and Exercise Psychology. In 2021 she obtained her B.A in Psychology in Monterrey, Mexico. She’s working toward a graduate certificate in Eating Disorders and Obesity through the NIU School of Nutrition and Dietetics. She’s in process of becoming a Certified Mental Performance Consultant by the Association for Applied Sport Psychology.
She’s a former competitive dancer and figure skater. Her favorite dance styles to teach and choreograph are lyrical, tap, and jazz. She’s been to multiple dance competitions and conventions such as Starpower International, Sheer Elite Dance Competition, Adrenaline Dance Convention and Jump Dance Convention. She has taken classes from world-renowned instructors like Gianna Martello, Abby Lee Miller, Travis Wall, and others.
She is a member of the CLI studios Teacher Training Program in which she continues her education and training. She is First Aid/AED/CPR certified by the American Heart Association.
Her goal as a professional is to promote a positive environment for incoming dancers, where values such as teamwork, positivity, trust, perseverance, and enthusiasm are encouraged.

Rachael Rapp

My name is Rachael and I have been dancing with the Performing Arts Academy since I was 3 years old and have spent the last 10 years as a teacher. During those years teaching, I have taught almost every age and style of dance that is offered at the studio, with the majority being the ballet and jazz 3/4 group.

As a dancer at the performing arts academy, I was a member of the competition team and competed in solos and group dances for a number of years. While in high school, I was also a member of the Dekalb High School competitive dance team. In college, I took 1 year of ballet with the Northern Illinois University dance program until having to give it up due to conflicts with my major classes.

Outside of teaching, I am a Registered Nurse and over the last 4 years have worked at Kishwaukee Hospital and the Kishwaukee Cancer Center, where I still am currently working. I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to continue to share my passion for dancing with younger students and see them grow and improve each week. I hope to keep dance as a part of my life for many years to come. 

Jillian Riley – Competition Choreographer & Substitute

Jillian Riley is a graduate of Sycamore High School. She has been dancing at the Performing Arts Academy since the age of 2. Jillian was a member of the Sycamore High School Varsity Dance Team as well as an officer with the Sycamore High School Orchesis Troupe. Jillian was a member of the Sycamore Performing Arts Academy Competition Team and is a member of the “Artists in Air” Aerial Troupe the Academy formed last fall. Jillian has trained at Aloft Circus Arts in Trapeze and Lyra Hoop, Trapeze LasVegas in Las Vegas Nevada in Silks, Lyra, Aerial Pole, Trapeze and more, and attended the Joffrey Cirque Camp last summer in Las Vegas.

She attended the Dance Teacher Web Conference in the summer of 2021 and 2022 to expand on her teacher training. She is excited to share her passion for dance with her students. Jillian is attending Illinois State University and will be a member of the Gamma Phi Circus. She would love to experience more coaching and performing in the Circus Arts in her future! Jillian will be choreographing and subbing for the Performing Arts Academy on occassion as her schedule allows.

Raegan Tiggelaar – Instructor

Raegan trained at the Performing Arts Academy from a young age through high school. She is now a resident of Sycamore and is excited to be teaching at the Performing Arts Academy. She is great with children!

Elissa Roose – Instructor

Elissa danced at the Performing Arts Academy from age 3 through her senior year of high school. She was a member of the DeKalb High School Dance Team and the Performing Arts Academy Sycamore Competition Team. She is known for her clean technique and ability to pick up choreography. We are excited for Elissa to be joining us this season!

Vicky Vosburgh – Administrative Assistant

Vicky recently retired from NIU’s department of Kenesiology and Physical Education. She has been involved with the dance industry for many years. She was a dance mom, a dance grandma and now a dance great grandma! She is excited to be working at the Performing Arts Academy!

Jaedyn Slutz

Jaedyn began dancing at the age of 3. She joined the Sycamore Performing Arts Academy in Junior High and continued throughout her high school career. Jaedyn participated on the Performing Arts Academy Competition Team. She has performed solos, duets and group dances with the team. She was a member of the Sycamore High School Orchesis all 4 years of high school. This fall Jaedyn will attend the college program at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Jaedyn will be back to teach classes next year. She is great with children and is excited to be teaching at her second home continuing her love of dance as an adult.

Melissa Lerohl

Melissa began dancing at the Sycamore Performing Arts Academy at the age of 3. She is trained extensively in ballet, jazz, contemporary and aerial silks. Melissa continues as a dance major at Brigham Young University in Utah. This year she competed in Viva Fest in Las Vegas with a silks solo and placed 3rd. Melissa will be going on her Mission in Brazil for 18 months. We wish her the best in her adventure.

The Performing Arts Academy of Sycamore

Performing Arts Academy - Sycamore

212 West State Street, Sycamore, IL 60178

Located in downtown Sycamore next to PJ's Courthouse.