Lori Heckel began her dance training at the age of five at Lehman Studios in Raleigh, NC under the direction of John & Terry Lehman. While in North Carolina, Lori danced in many children’s works with the Ballet Theatre Company of Raleigh. After 7 years of study in NC, Lori’s family moved west to Oconomowoc, WI where she continued her dance training at many reputable ballet schools, such as Esther Moody School of Dance and Doris Von der Hoff School of Dance. Upon completing high school, she ventured to UW- Stevens Point, where she declared a major in Theatre Arts/Dance.
While at the university she performed in many student and faculty productions of AfterImages and Danstage. She also had the privilege of dancing with Kelly Roth and Dancers who performed at the ACDFA (American College’s of Dance Festival Association) where one of their pieces was given “top” honors and asked to perform at the Festival’s Gala. In May 1991, Lori received her BA in Theatre Arts/Dance and a minor in Psychology.
Lori has always loved teaching and working with people. She loves to share her passion of dance with everyone. Over the years, Lori has had numerous experiences working in her field of passion. She has been teaching for the past 15 plus years and continues to grow as a teacher and dancer by taking workshops and classes from master teachers. She is a member of Dance Masters of Wisconsin. She has been working at To The Pointe for 15 years teaching ballet, pointe, jazz, and contemporary and serves as the Manager of Programs for the school.
Kelsey James began her dance career at the age of four at Nancy Dianne Studio of Dance, Ltd. in Menomonee Falls, WI. After graduating high school, she went on to pursue a BFA in Dance Contemporary Performance & Choreography from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. While at the university she learned from many artists including Daniel Burkholder, Maria Gillespie, Holly Johnston, Molly Shanahan, and various others.
During high school and college, Kelsey has taught ages ranging from 3 years old to adult, and passionately enjoys the art of teaching dance. She is committed to teaching students how to move mindfully and help them understand how their own bodies work through the mediums of contemporary, ballet, tap, jazz, and improvisation.
Kelsey enjoys working closely with other people and is always hungry to learn more about the art of dance. She also enjoys the creative process of choreography and has a curiosity for it that will never be satisfied!
Valerie Czekalski has been dancing since the age of four and a class demonstrator/instructor of dance since the age of twelve. While a student at The Dance Academy Ltd. in Elm Grove,WI Valerie studied Ballet, Pointe, Tap, Jazz, Contemporary, Hip Hop, and Modern dance styles. She also had many opportunities to further her dance education through Dance Masters of Wisconsin and Chicago National Association of Dance Masters workshops. Valerie received the title of Miss DMW in the year 2007 while a student at The Dance Academy Ltd. Valerie is a former member of her Pewaukee High school’s Varsity Dance Team, which won several state titles during her four years as a member and two years as a team Technique Captain.
After high school Valerie continued her dance education at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, receiving the Incoming Freshman in Dance Scholarship and earning her Bachelors of Arts in Dance in May 2012. While in college she performed in many dance program productions working with such renowned artists as Jeannie Hill, Michael Estanich, Joan Karlan, and Eddy Ocampo. Valerie also taught children ages 4 – 18 part-time in various styles at The Dance Education Center in Stevens Point, WI under the direction of Tori Rogowski while studying at the university.
Valerie has also attended and performed for many summer intensives throughout her dance career, including Milwaukee Ballet’s Pre-professional program, Point Park University’s International Summer Dance Intensive in Pittsburgh, PA, UW-Madison’s Millennium Intensive, The Rockette Summer Intensive in NYC, NY, and Point Tap Festival in Stevens Point, WI.
After college Valerie pursued a career teaching dance and coaching competition dance teams for various studios in the Lake Country area including The Dance Academy, Ltd., Brookfield Center of the Arts, BInspired Dance Studio and of course TTP Dance Academy. While teaching in the area she was also offered the opportunity to choreograph for local elementary and middle school musical theater productions.
In the fall of 2015 Valerie went back to school to receive her post-baccalaureate certification in Early Childhood Education at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. She finished off her education with an internship at Franklin Elementary School in West Allis Milwaukee in 2017. She is now licensed to teach children from Birth to Grade 3 and taught Pre-K/4K children in academic settings for four years.
Valerie is also a coach for the Pewaukee High School Dance Team and a current member of the Wisconsin Association of Cheer and Pom Coaches (WACPC).
Valerie loves teaching all age groups but where we really see her energy and passion shine is when she’s inspiring our youngest dancers!