Ms. Paulina Pietras grew up in Chicago where she studied at the University of Illinois at Chicago graduating with her BA in Secondary Education in English. Ms. Paulina is also a member of the St. Benedict Preparatory School community where she teaches the Middle School Dance Electives. She continues to be an active member of the Chicago dance community as an 11th generation member of Chicago’s BOOM CRACK DANCE COMPANY under Trae Turner’s artistic direction. This year marks Ms. Paulina’s eighth year teaching with YDA.
YDA Mission Statement
Yvonne’s Dance Academy exists to educate and inspire children in a loving, safe, and nurturing manner. Our structured environment teaches developmentally appropriate skills while simultaneously encouraging creative expression. Our YDA staff uses dance as a tool to build self-esteem and good character while cultivating an appreciation for the art that is dance.
Why Yvonne’s Dance Academy?
YDA is currently home to dancers from 20 Chicago-area schools. This vast range of children reminds us that dance is a universal language that teaches multi-cultural understanding and appreciation. From our reception area with live video feed into our studios, to our homework/kitchenette area, there is always a place for dancers and their families to feel at home.
Healthy Body & Mind
At YDA we believe dance is a form of physical education which allows children to explore their own physical and creative potential in a safe, non-competitive environment. We have no doubt that dance provides children with an understanding and appreciation of the body that will translate into a long-range commitment to fitness, good nutrition, and health. Dancers at YDA are taught to love their bodies and themselves through dance. This powerful message resonates with our dancers and helps them to build confidence.
Our dedicated instructors are known for utilizing a wide array of creative methods and teaching styles to educate their dancers. YDA teachers not only model complete ownership of their craft, but are also experienced in differentiation. Our teachers use a variety of manipulatives during instruction to help each child reach their full potential: ballet barres, scarves, stability balls, floor ladders, resistance bands, BOSU, stepping stones, hand and ankle weights, etc.
Ms. Yvonne Grabe-Liddell
Ms. Yvonne Grabe-Liddell is the founder and artistic director of Yvonne’s Dance Academy (YDA), established in 2008. For many years, she has managed the creative vision of her studio from the front lines.
Ms. Yvonne has instructed everything from Mom and Tot classes to Adults Over Fifty classes in most genres of dance.
YDA was created twelve years ago to educate students about dance in a healthy, positive, and innovative manner. While traditional rules exist within a dance environment, Ms. Yvonne’s solid classroom management style allows her to personally understand the limitations of each student, allowing for differentiated learning with a focus on fun, yet, requiring that all students be engaged and progressing. A delicate balance is easily seen in all of Ms. Yvonne’s classes.
Ms. Yvonne regards dance as an incredibly special and unique art form. The structured environment allows each dancer to progress individually, while simultaneously learning how to work as a collective member of the group. This important developmental skill can easily be translated into many other aspects of the child’s life outside of dance.
Ms. Yvonne firmly believes that dance offers children a chance to express creativity, allows time to be introspective, and contributes to the overall shaping of the child. Her goal is to provide a loving and safe atmosphere for students to take dance to whatever level they desire.
Ms. Yvonne’s early dance training began at the age of three in her hometown of Chicago, Illinois where she studied classical ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, gymnastics, and modern at various studios throughout the city. Her dance teaching experience began in 1989 as a teaching assistant under founder and artistic director, Kathleen Katsoudas, at Kathleen’s Dance Asylum. Upon completing her teacher training with Ms. Kathleen in 1993, Ms. Yvonne began teaching her own classes of three-to-five year old students. Soon after, Ms. Yvonne was teaching the art of dance to a wide variety of levels and in most genres. She continued teaching for Kathleen until 2000 when she left to focus on college. Yvonne credits Ms. Kathleen for guiding her to her life’s passion and work.
In 2006 Ms. Grabe-Liddell completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education with a concentration in Developmental Psychology and Social Sciences at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. While at DePaul University, Ms. Yvonne danced as a Demonette for the DePaul University Dance Team.
Upon graduation, she joined St. Benedict Preparatory School (SBPS) community and has been on staff for the past twelve years. During her tenure at SBPS her accomplishments have included:
- third grade teacher in the Elementary School (ES) (2006-2011)
- Secondary School (SS) Language Arts teacher (2011-2013)
- creator and director of the SS Dance Program (2013-current)
- director and choreographer for spring musicals (2006-2008)
- director and choreographer for ES Christmas musicals (2006-2011)
- choreographer for SS Christmas Celebrations (2011-current)
Ms. Yvonne is an active member of the dance community and holds memberships with the following organizations:
- Youth Protection Advocates in Dance (YPAD)
- International Dance Entrepreneurs Association (IDEA)
- Unity of America’s Dance Organizations, Inc. (UNITY)
- National Dance Education Organization (NDEO)
- Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE)
Mrs. Sarah Lammie, a Chicago native, began her training on the south side at Kathleen’s Dance Asylum. She studied tap, ballet, jazz, and pointe, and was a competitive dancer through high school with Ms. Yvonne as one of her teachers! She continued her dance training at Knox College, focusing on modern. In high school and after college, Sarah taught at Linda’s Dance Studio, where she learned ballroom, Latin dance, and Mexican Folkloric. She now studies tap with Reggio “The Hoofer” McLaughlin, and preforms with Hōkūleʻa Academy of Polynesian Arts. Sarah currently teaches Kindergarten at Peterson, and choreographs the spring musicals.
Melody Kay Paul is an artist who enjoys many disciplines and exploring new physical challenges. She graduated magna cum laude from Columbia College Chicago with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance and a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing. Melody actively trains as an investment in her education and betterment growing a larger resource base. She is an active member of Chicago National Association of Dance Masters (CNADM) and Dance Masters of Wisconsin (DMW). Melody is certified in all levels of the Nan Giordano Certification Program (NGCP®). In her 2nd year at YDA she continues spreading the joy of dance.
Elyse Dakin is from Columbus, Ohio. She trained in ballet, tap, jazz, modern, and pointe, at Marjorie Jones Schools and went on to pursue her BFA in Dance from The Ohio State University. Elyse grew up competing around Ohio and has since trained with world-renowned instructors in all styles, most recently on scholarship at Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Elyse began teaching in 2013 after completing her BFA in 2017. Elyse is an active member of Dance Masters of America, Ohio Dance Masters Chapter 16. She is excited to be teaching her second year at YDA!
Callie Luckenbach grew up in Columbus, Ohio, where she received her most formative dance training at Marjorie Jones School of Dance. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with a BFA in Dance and a minor in Nonprofit Management from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA. Callie has performed a solo work in Ten Tiny Dances Columbus and her choreography has been commissioned by New Vision Dance Company. As an educator, she believes in the power of dance to foster confidence, community, and creativity. Callie’s excited to begin her second year with YDA!