Debra Giunta is the Founder and Director of Design Dance. Debra grew up dancing in the south suburbs of Chicago and has over 25 years of dance experience. She became director of her first dance education program in her hometown at the age of 16 and has been teaching, choreographing, directing and mentoring ever since. As a dance educator for over 16 years, Debra has trained students ages 2-70 in a variety of dance disciplines including tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop and creative movement. In 2008, Debra founded Design Dance as a way to bring dance education to children in all communities regardless of age, experience level, background and income through partnership with schools and community centers. Debra is passionate about new ideas and continues to be grateful for the opportunity to explore new ways to collaborate with her peers in the field of arts education.
Gabriella Wiltz is a dancer, writer, videographer, editor and multimedia technology and design artist from the south side of Chicago. She graduated from The Ohio State University in May of 2017 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with Distinction in Dance. In the spring of 2014, Gabriella began her journey as a videographer, director and editor which ultimately lead to her focus of Dance Film and Technology within the Department of Dance her final two years. She has created promotional materials for the Department of Dance, the most notable being a mini-documentary on the traveling repertory company that toured Salvador, Brazil in 2016. As a performing member of that company, her goal was to give viewers the most authentic look into being in a company setting—that authenticity drives her vision as a filmmaker today. Since moving back to Chicago, Gabriella has continued working in the worlds of film and dance while constantly striving to merge the two.
Samantha Witthuhn is a marketing and communications specialist with a unique background in youth education and development. After earning her B.A. in communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012, Sam began her career working with The Coca-Cola Company’s digital marketing team in Atlanta, GA., and eventually with SmithBucklin’s corporate marketing team in downtown Chicago. After three years in the office, Sam made the decision to take her talents overseas. Moving to Thailand in 2015, Sam taught English to middle and high school students for nearly a year in the Thai school system. Here, her drive for engaging and impacting our youth was ignited. After returning to the U.S. in 2016, Sam set out to bring her communications skills to organizations that served Chicago’s youth. She started working with the McGaw YMCA Children’s Center to plan and provide after school programming, oversee summer camp programs and even teach her own class of part-day preschoolers. Sam believes and champions the positive impact that arts education has on kids and couldn't be more excited to bring her communications expertise to Design Dance!
Stephanie Cantelmo is a marketing & design specialist as well as the founder of Project Media. She uses her BA in Digital Arts and MA in Communication Arts to craft visual experiences for Design Dance and The Groove while also assisting in community engagement, web design and office support. Stephanie is delighted to collaborate with the team at Design Dance and The Groove!
Originally from Knoxville TN, Abby Williams earned her BFA in Dance Performance and Choreography, a BA in Arts Administration, and a minor in Communications from Elon University. In addition, she also trained at LehrerDance Summer Intensive, Parsons Choreography Intensive, Hedwig Dance's Intensive and Bates Dance Festival. She has been teaching since 2008 in studios in Tennessee, North Carolina, and now in her new home of Illinois. Her choreography has been featured in Core Project’s Going Dutch 2015, Inaside Chicago Dance’s Choreographic Sponsorship Event 2015, Dance Chicago’s New Moves Series 2014, North Carolina Dance Alliance 2013, Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble Repertoire among other events. Williams has also had the privilege of performing with The Coincidentals as well as performing works by Jon Lehrer, Randy Duncan, Eleo Pomare, Michael Mao, and Regina Klenjoski.Williams is so excited to be a part of the Design Dance family!
Taylor Chwae grew up dancing in Madison, Wisconsin, where she performed with Madison Ballet and was a member of the Madison Contemporary Vision Dance Company. While still in high school, Taylor trained with the Academie Américaine de Danse de Paris and Ballet Chicago. Taylor received her BFA in Dance and a Minor in Arts Management (summa cum laude and valedictorian) from Columbia College Chicago in 2016. At Columbia College, she performed in many student works, including one performed on the Auditorium Theater stage alongside Cirqua Rivera Dance Theatre. She was also selected to perform in pieces by faculty Taisha Paggett, Pam McNeil, and Peter Carpenter, and presented three of her own choreographic works on the Dance Center stage. Taylor is very passionate about providing students all over Chicago with a well-rounded dance education and give them the tools to succeed in many aspects of their lives.
Susanna Hostetter holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Dance from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN, where she was awarded the David Wick Prize for Choreography. Susanna has trained in modern, jazz, and Latin, and studied West African dance forms in Tamale, Ghana. She has led both semester-long residencies and short workshops in over three dozen Chicago Public Schools over the last five years through Chicago's finest dance education organizations. In addition to her work with students as a Teaching Artist, Susanna is a PomSquad Fitness instructor and member of Desueño Dance Company. It is her joy to spread a love for movement within the city!
Mack Oliver began teaching at the ripe old age of 17, when she founded and directed a dance program for the elementary schoolers in her rural Michigan hometown. After attending Southwestern Michigan College as a dance major, Mack moved to the Windy City and performed as an apprentice with Joel Hall Dance Company. A certified Zumba and Music Together Instructor, she is currently completing a 200-hour Hatha yoga certification and is passionate about continuing her education in order to best serve her beloved students. Though Mack enjoys teaching a wide variety of movement disciplines, her first and greatest love will always be classical ballet.
Ariel M Dorsey is a native of Chicago, she began dancing at the age of 7 at Southwest fine Arts Academy now known as Premier One Dance Academy. There she remained for seven years performing in countless recitals and dance competitions. She began her formal training at Chicago Academy for the Arts under the direction of Ana Peskevska and Randy Duncan. Ariel went on to further her studies at SUNY Purchase College in New York where she graduated with a BFA in dance. Throughout her four years of study she worked with choreographers such as Nelly Van Bommel, Pam Tanowitz, Jonathan Alsberry, and Ori Flormen. Miss Dorsey was award the Jules Stone award in 2009 at Dance Olympus National Finals in New York City. Ariel currently resides in Chicago where she teaches Ballet at PDA, Hip Hop at Xilin Arts Academy, Mixed Movement and Hip Hop with Design Dance, while also dancing for Winifred Haun and Dancers.
Christine Reed is an educator, dancer, and choreographer in Chicago, Illinois who believes in the power of arts education and self-directed learning. She has taught in a variety of settings including elementary schools, community programs, and dance organizations for over 10 years. She is on faculty as the Dance Teacher at Ravenswood Elementary in Chicago Public Schools. While responsible for directing the Ravenswood Dance Program, Christine also writes and implements arts integrated curriculum, connecting dance content with learning in mathematics, language arts and reading, science, and social studies; serves on the school’s Instructional Leadership Team to design and present professional development for staff; and writes district-wide performance task assessments for dance programs across CPS. In addition to her work at Ravenswood, Christine is a Mentor Teaching Artist at Design Dance and runs a summer day camp at Steve and Kate’s Camp. Christine holds a Master’s of Art in Teaching with endorsements in Elementary Education, Dance, and Social Studies, and a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration with concentrations in General Business, Dance, and Arts Management.