Meet The Teachers
Sterling Harris (he/him), a Chicago native, fell in love with tap dance at the age of seven and hasn’t stopped dancing since. He began training under Lee Howard and Martin “Tre” Dumas at age 11 and began studying jazz trombone and improvisation at age 14. He is currently the Artistic Associate of Chicago Tap Theatre, a Company Member of MADD Rhythms, and began the honor of working with Dorrance Dance in Spring 2023. Sterling has also performed as a guest artist with Music From The Sole, and 333, and collaborates on personal projects under the name YellowShed. Sterling is an alumnus of the Tap Program at The School at Jacob’s Pillow and the recipient of the 2021 Lorna Strassler Award for Student Excellence.
Brandy started her dance training at Studio One Dance Theatre, on the south side of Chicago. There she studied a variety of styles that led her to meet her mentor Tanji Harper. Through Tanji, Brandy met a variety of choreographers and dancers that led her to more lucrative opportunities in dance. Brandy was on tour with Hiplet Ballerinas and is currently a dancer for the R&B artist Tink, while still living and teaching in Chicago.
Rylie Ann Taylor is a Chicago-based actor, singer, dancer, and teaching artist. Originally hailing from Indianapolis, IN, she began her collegiate career at Ball State University as a Theater and Dance major. She eventually transferred to North Central College in Naperville, IL where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Musical Theater. Her most recent credits include The Christians (Citadel Theatre), A Midsummer Night's Dream (NCC), and she is currently a writer and performer on Onward and Off...My Parents' Health Insurance, a sketch revue debuting at Newport Theatre and soon transferring to The Second City in January. She works as the Music and Theater Manager at Forevermore Dance and Theater Arts in Elmwood Park. She is the resident director and choreographer of all theatrical productions while also teaching acro, jazz, and musical theater styles. She is also a teaching artist at Momentum Performing Arts in Park Ridge, teaching acro and hip hop styles. Past teaching venues include Soul 2 Sole Inc., Indie Media Studios, and Chicago Music and Acting Academy. Rylie is a member of Bang Bang! Dance Company under the direction of Trae Turner and Krista Ellensohn. The company recently placed 3rd at World of Dance Chicago."
Born and raised on the Southside of Chicago, Ayanna London is a multi-disciplinary artist who utilizes dance, music, and visual art as spiritual devotion and cultural education. Ayanna began her dance education at the age of four with Studio One Dance Conservatory and continued via Gallery 37, Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center, Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, Howard University, and The Ailey School. Ayanna is trained in ballet, jazz, modern, salsa, West African drum and dance techniques and she continues to train in a wide variety of dance styles from vogue to dancehall. Ayanna has danced professionally with Momentum Dance Theatre, The Willingham Project, Flo Fiyah, and Ayodele Drum and Dance. She is currently a performing artist with MOYA Cultural Arts Collective and a company member of Muntu Dance Theatre.
Tracey Franklin is a native of Chicago. She began her training at the age of 16 at Joseph Holmes Dance Theater. In 1999, Ms. Franklin graduated from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Certificate Program. In 2000, Ms. Franklin was a company member of Dallas Black Dance Theater for four years. In 2004, she returned to Chicago as a company member with Deeply Rooted Dance Theater for 12 years. Ms. Franklin has been a teaching artist in the Dance Conservatory for the past nine years, assistant to the department head for five years, and one Assistant Dean of Students.
Jessica St. Vil
Jessica St. Vil is a graduate of Lehman College, where she received her B.A. in Mass Communications and Dance. She thus continued her training with a partial scholarship from the Alvin Ailey School's professional division with the independent study program. She has worked with many choreographers such as Christopher Huggins, Martial Roumain, Marcea Daiter, Sean Curran, and Dyane Harvey. She has also performed with several dance theater companies, such as Feet of Rhythm, Joan Peter’s Dance Company, Vissi Dance Theater, Opus Dance Theater, Rod Rodgers dance Company, and National Ballet Folkloric of Haiti. Jessica worked in collaboration with Unimix films; choreographing a short film titled “One More Try” and their award-winning feature film "Forever Yours". She was honored in Washington DC by the National Museum of Women and the Haitian Embassy for her accomplishments in dance and continued dedication to Haitian art and culture.
Jessica is the artistic director of KaNu Dance Theater and one of the co-founders of Danse Xpressions ”center for the arts”. Jessica is part of an ongoing exhibit and interactive Dance Portal giving instruction in traditional Haitian dance at the Children’s museum of Manhattan titled “Let’s Dance”. She recently choreographed an original dance drama “Zatrap” written by playwright Jean Claude Eugene. Miss St. Vil is enrolled as a certification candidate with the Institute for Dunham Technique and Certification. Currently, Jessica is on the faculty of the Alvin Ailey School’s Professional Division, teaching Dunham based technique and is also a Teaching Artist with “Ailey Arts in Education and community program”.
Imani English, a native of Madison, WI, credits her early dance training to Jean Adams, Karen Smith-English, and the Madison Professional Dance Center. She has received scholarships from The Wisconsin Dance Council, The Anthony Quinn Foundation, Dance Chicago and was also awarded the Rahm Emmanuel Scholarship to attend intensive programs with River North Dance Chicago. Ms. English is a 2014 graduate and Valedictorian of the Chicago High School for the Arts. There, she performed repertoire from Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, Muntu Dance Theater, the Joffrey Ballet and performed with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater in Memoria. Imani has performed works by renowned choreographers such as Harrison McEldowney, Kristofer Storey, Demis Volpi, Christopher Huggins, Jennifer Archibald, Tahehiro Ueyama, Kevin Iega Jeff, Nicole Clarke Springer, among others. Imani joined DanceWorks Chicago in 2014 and in 2016 joined Dallas Black Dance Theatre's DBDT: Encore! where she spent two seasons. During that time, she also performed with the Dallas Opera in Samson and Dalila and most recently with Tony Award winning Dallas Theater Center in their production of Hairspray. Ms. Imani and has been on the faculty of the Dallas Black Dance Academy, The Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center, and Steps Dance Center, and has been a part of the faculty of summer intensives presented by Chicago dance companies, including River North Chicago’s summer program, DanceWorks Chicago's Dance360 program, and Deeply Rooted Dance Theater’s youth training program. Most recently, Imani has joined the faculty of the dance department at The Chicago High School for the Arts. In addition to teaching dance, Imani also serves as a pilates apprentice as oneBody studio.
Devin Neal is a professional movement artist, choreographer, model and multi talented creative based in Los Angeles. He began dancing at the age of two, learning Hip-Hop, Jazz, Tap, Ballet, Afro-Caribbean, and Contemporary at his family owned dance school in New York. His diverse background has contributed to his success in the dance industry. Devin recently performed for Rihanna’s Super Bowl HalfTime Show, Lil Nas X “Long Live Montero” world tour, Normani,
Mariah Carey, and Karol G. You can also find him on Nickelodeon as a winner of Lip Sync Battle Shorties, Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty Show, Reebok, Macy’s, Yves Saint Laurent Beauty campaigns and more. Devin is an experienced and self-sufficient talent in multiple fields of entertainment.This year, Devin debuted a groundbreaking documentary "KICK OFF”, which he himself produced, directed, filmed, and edited. The film reveals his experience on his first world
tour with Lil Nas X, life on a tour bus, traveling the world, stepping into stardom, making memories, and his road to self discovery. Devin’s mission with the film is to inspire anyone who has hopes and dreams of someday showcasing their talent to the world.
Jazz & Hip Hop
Florence "MzFlo" Harris
Florence Walker-Harris, better known as Mz.Flo, is an entrepreneur that encourages, motivates, and inspires artists through two main organizations: FloFiyah LLC and the nonprofit organization F.E.E.D, which stands for “Fiyah. Edifying. Empowering. Developing.” A descendant of Haiti by way of Queens, New York, Mz. Flo has been taking the Chicago arts scene by storm for the last twenty-five years. She holds a B.S. in Sociology from the State University College at Oneonta in New York and a Master’s Degree in Human Service Administration of Program Development from National Louis University. She has been a professor for nine years at Chicago State University and is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., the Chicago Alumnae Chapter. With her extensive training in Ballet, Horton, Jazz, traditional Haitian Folklore, Tap, and Hip Hop, Mz. Flo has worked as the Artistic Director of Studio One Dance Theatre (15 years); choreographer with Dance with Me Productions (18 years), and with the Chicago Park District (10 years). In 2015 and 2016, she taught at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan and was a Master Class instructor for Black Dance College Exchange. She was a featured choreographer in Deeply Rooted Dance Theater’s 2013 Emerging Choreographers Showcase and has since choreographed “More Than A Miracle: The Nativity Story,”; “Magic Tree House: A Magical Night in New Orleans;” “The Scottsboro Boys;” and “Women of the Year.” Mz. Flo debuted as co-director/choreographer of the iconic “Sophisticated Ladies'' during her third season at PorchLight Music Theater, and in July 2021 she choreographed “The Color Purple '' at Maine State Music Theater, in Brunswick, Maine, followed by “The Wiz” as Associate Director and Choreographer at the Fulton Theater, Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Mz. Flo most recently served as Choreographer for the renowned “5 Guys Named Moe” at Chicago’s Beverly Arts Center, and served as Assistant Director on the production of “Marie and Rosetta” at Northlight Theater in Skokie IL. Through her current positions as the Hip Hop Instructor at ChiArts High School and the Dance Director for Francis W. Parker Performing Arts Department, Mz. Flo continues to work as a multi-ethnic interdisciplinary artistic change agent; promoting collaborative and transformational leadership and pushing the boundaries of art beyond the dance floor.
Donielle Richmond is a professional dancer and choreographer currently under contract with Rize Pro Elite Company of Chicago and formerly with Ascension Performing Arts Hip Hop Company, Outlet Contemporary Dance Company and DLD Professional Hip Hop Company for four consecutive seasons. Some of Donielle’s proudest performance and choreographic achievements include Dance Chicago: Urban Movement, Prelude Midwest, Freespace Dance Festival, ABC’s Extreme Make-Over, Tales of Herror Art Festival, Charles Jenkins, and choreographing the
Calvin Harris Concert Opener for KISS FM radio.
In addition to her choreographic and performance credits, Donielle has over 19 years of teaching experience both recreationally and competitively. Donielle is currently a certified judge with Impact Adjudicators, Shine Your Light Dance Competition and Inferno Dance Competition.
Donielle is the owner of ACTIVATE YOUR ARTISTRY National
Dance Convention. Donielle is so excited for AYA’s fifth national tour season and the opportunity to impact the careers of ambitious dancers. Donielle holds a BFA in Dance Performance from NIU. Donielle was also a three-time scholarship recipient in Musical Theatre Dance while completing her studies at Elgin Community College.