Jan Erkert is a choreographer, teacher, author and Head of the Department of Dance at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. As the artistic director of Jan Erkert and Dancers from 1979 to 2000, she created over 70 works, critically acclaimed for their lush, evocative imagery. Erkert's work has been seen throughout the United States as well as in Germany, Mexico, Taiwan, Japan, Uruguay, and Israel. Erkert and the company were honored with numerous awards, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council and Ruth Page Awards for choreography and performance. She has received a Fulbright Scholar Award and is currently serving on the Fulbright Peer Review Panel. She has been a strong spokesperson for innovative and interdisciplinary education, speaking at numerous national and international conferences, including the Academic Chairperson Conference, the National Association of Schools of Dance conferences, and the international conference Performing Arts Training Today. Throughout her career, she has devoted much of her energy to advancing teaching and learning about dance. She authored Harnessing the Wind: The Art of Teaching Modern Dance, which was published in 2003 by Human Kinetics, and she has been a master teacher at universities and colleges throughout the United States, Mexico, Europe, and Asia. As a professor of dance at Columbia College Chicago from 1990 to 2006, she garnered many awards, including the 1999 Excellence in Teaching Award and a nomination for the U.S. Professor of the Year sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation. Her political and community work includes partnerships with the Kovler Center for Survivors of Torture, the Peace Museum, and Amnesty International. In her role as head of the Department of Dance, she has spearheaded numerous collaborative projects, including the construction of the Graduate Dance Center with student and faculty architects and environmentalists.
Laura Wade has taught company ballet classes for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, River North Dance Chicago, Visceral Dance Chicago, Giordano Dance Chicago, Thodos Dance Chicago, and Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, among others; and she has taught and choreographed at Intensives and Summer Workshops at University of Wisconsin-Madison, Stephens College, Columbus Dance Theatre, Ruth Page School of Dance, River North Summer Training, and Visceral Dance Chicago. Ms. Wade has been the Children’s Director for the Ruth Page Nutcracker since 2011.
Ms. Wade had her early training at the Toledo Ballet with Marie Vogt and Velta Cernonok, where she danced in works by Fokine, Balanchine, and Ashton. She then earned a BS in Dance from Indiana University, dancing for Nicolas Beriosov, Marina Svetlova, and Colin Russell. Moving to Chicago to train with Larry Long, Ms. Wade was a soloist in The Chicago Tribune Charities’ Nutcracker Ballet Theatre of Chicago for 18 years, and danced with Ballet Chicago, The Moose Project, Scott Putman, and Robin Lakes/Rough Dance. For 14 years Ms. Wade directed and danced for Akasha Dance Company, which commissioned original work from Claire Bataille, Ginger Farley, Jan Bartoszek, Shirley Mordine, Austin Hartel, Martin Kravitz and toured the Midwest, Scotland and England. Akasha was a leader in outreach programs, performing for over 100,000 students in the Chicago area under the auspices of Urban Gateways.
Stella Hiatt Kane has been a member of the Otterbein faculty since 1989 and Director of Dance since 1996, a member of the BalletMet Academy faculty, and the founding Artistic Director of JazzMet. Ms. Kane has been a member of the national companies of “Sugar” and Bob Fosses’ “Dancin’” and a member of the national and international companies of The American Dance Machine. She has made television appearances in productions such as PBS’ “Dance In America” and “The Ann Reinking Special” with Ann Reinking, Chita Rivera and Ben Vereen. Ms. Kane has taught for New York’s American Dance Machine/Harkness House and the Actors’ and Directors’ Lab. She has given master classes at The Ohio State University, New York University and has been a master teacher in residence at the Northern Ballet Theatre in Leeds, England. Ms. Kane has also been a guest choreographer for Columbus Dance Theatre and BalletMet.
Following a performing and touring career based in New York City with Sara Rudner, Risa Jaroslow, Gloria McLean, and Tony Stafford, Susan spent a decade running her own company, Van Pelt Dance Ensemble, based in Columbus, Ohio presenting several premieres a year, conducting school residencies, tours through the Midwest and to New York City, and commissioning composers and visual artists for collaborative works. She was also a freelance choreographer, teacher, and performer, receiving grants, fellowships, and residencies from the Ohio Arts Council, Greater Columbus Arts Council, the Astral Foundation, and the Headlands Center for the Arts. In addition to US tours with her company and her solo program “Just Susan”, in the mid-90’s she taught at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and the Taiwan National University of the Arts, as well as serving as company teacher and rehearsal director for the Cloud Gate Dance Company based in Taiwan.
Susan Van Pelt Petry is currently a Professor in the Department of Dance at The Ohio State University (OSU), teaching contemporary technique, composition, pedagogy, professional practices, and improvisation, bringing her background in Erik Hawkins technique, Iyengar Yoga, Contact Improv, Bartenieff Fundamentals and Alexander Technique. From 2006-2015 she was Chair of the Department. Prior to that appointment, she was Assistant Dean in the College of the Arts at OSU. Other positions held were Associate Professor at Ohio University, Assistant Professor at OSU, and visiting artist at numerous colleges and universities.
She co-founded the Alliance for Dance and Movement Arts in Columbus, Ohio in the 80’s and helped to develop the Third Avenue Performance Space in Columbus’ Short North. She has served as President of OhioDance, Ohio’s statewide service organization, and has been treasurer of the national Council of Dance Administrators. She is currently serving as secretary on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Schools of Dance. Susan serves as a consultant and panelist for local, state, and national schools and organizations, and was on the advisory board of the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP).
Jaime Kotrba has danced with Columbus Dance Theatre for the past 9 years and has been the company’s Co-Managing Director for the last year and a half. At CDT, Jaime has enjoyed dancing many works by various choreographers in and around Columbus.
Jaime received her primary dance training at Company Dance Traverse in Traverse City, Michigan. She later graduated from Interlochen Arts Academy where she was a dance major under the direction of Sharon Randolph. She then attended the Dance Theatre of Harlem School, before joining the Ensemble and later the professional company. With DTH she toured nationally and internationally, dancing works by George Balanchine, John Taras, Michael Smuin and Geoffrey Holder. She has had the pleasure of performing in many theaters around the world including State Theatre in New York City, Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, England, in Bermuda’s Art Festival and in 2006, at the White House for President George W. Bush, honoring Dance Theatre of Harlem’s late Artistic Director, Arthur Mitchell. Jaime also helped found the Janusphere dance Company in New York City, where she choreographed a work that premiered with the company in Santa Barbara, California. In 2007 she joined BalletMet Columbus and enjoyed dancing works by Gerard Charles, David Nixon and many others. She has been a guest artist with Les Grands Ballet Canadiens' production of The Nutcracker, Viewpoint Dance in New York City, and Collage Dance Collective in Memphis, Tennesee where she had the pleasure of working with choreographers such as Kevin Iega Jeff, Thaddeus Davis and Artistic Director Kevin Thomas. With Collage, she also had the joy of performing in Port Au Prince, Haiti in collaboration with Ballet Folklorique D’Haiti.
In Columbus, she has been the recipient of the Greater Columbus Arts Council’s Choreography Fellowship and has set works on CDT’s company and school.