Teaching Artist Community

The Chicago Children’s Theatre Teaching Artist Community is comprised of professional, Chicago-based artists, actors, filmmakers, storytellers, dancers, singers, painters, sculptors, designers, and costumers devoted to theatre making, creative education, and courageous play. Register for Classes.


Kiah Amara originally from the cornfields of Illinois, Kiah began teaching in 2009, working with students of all ages and abilities.  She has taught a wide variety of subjects from meditation and yoga to theatre dance and acting the song. A recent graduate of the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point, BFA performance/psychology/education, Kiah values teaching from a well-rounded perspective. Her passion lies in her artistic IDEA – inclusion, discovery, exploration, and accessibility – creating learning environments that foster growth and community in a safe, loving space!


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Dana Anderson is a Chicago-based theatre artist who has taught all ages and ability levels. After she graduated with a BA in Theatre from Millikin University, she continued her work in Decatur through the prison program Shakespeare Corrected, for which she now serves as Associate Artistic Director. She believes that making theatre with the incarcerated provides them the same tools and benefits that theatre provides to those on the outside: compassion, collaboration, creativity, and confidence. She has also taught with a number of companies in Chicago including Mudlark Theater Company, American Theater Company, and Improv Playhouse.


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Shannon Barnes is an artist, illustrator, and educator best known for her detailed paintings and illustrations. She can be quick with a brush but is equally happy diving into the minute characteristics of any person, place, or thing she creates. Among her greatest inspirations are the short stories of Jorge Luis Borges, folklore from around the globe, and the natural world. Shannon holds a BFA, Painting and MA, Art Education from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She also completed an Illustration residency at the School of Visual Arts, New York in 2013, and an English teaching (TEFL) certification in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She has a cool pen and loves to travel.


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Katy Boza is thrilled to be part of the amazing teaching team at The Station. She received her BA in Theatre from Missouri State University and is the Co-Artistic Director of Neverbird Project: a Chicago based Deaf/hearing youth theatre company. She is also a teaching artist with Raven Theatre, Adventure Stage, and Lookingglass Theatre.


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Time Brickey is a tap dancer, singer, and entertainer from Chicago. He is a graduate of Millikin University’s School of Music and an Apprentice Member of M.A.D.D. Rhythms. Time received his initial tap and theatrical training from Studio BE, under the direction of Tamara Drew. From there he received training from Reggio McLaughlin, and then Tristan Bruns of M.A.D.D. Rhythms, where Time is now finishing his professional training. Additionally, Time has performed with the Chicago Human Rhythm Project in Dance for Life Chicago, and as a soloist at the Billy Strayhorn centennial, where he was described by the Chicago Tribune as a “Literal Loose Cannon.” As well as performing, Time has composed, arranged, and choreographed for his own various projects and productions.


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Emily Briggs is a teacher and performing artist originally from Davenport, Iowa. She is a graduate of Millikin University’s BFA Musical Theatre Program. During her time at Millikin she had the opportunity to work with composers such as Adam Gwon and writing duo Salzman and Cunningham on new works. Her favorite credits include Eleemosynary, Wizard of Oz, and String. After graduating, Emily joined Missoula Children’s Theatre as a tour actor/director. While with MCT she traveled the United States, as well as 4 countries overseas, teaching children a musical in one week. Through this experience she was able to work with more than 2,500 kids in 49 towns, and discovered a passion for helping children find their voice through performance and artistic expression.


Liz Chidester is a multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter and actor from Virginia. Liz teaches at the Old Town School of Folk Music as a summer camp songwriting teacher for 7-11yrs and teens, and as an adult ukulele teacher. She worked with the Youth Guidance program at Ravenswood Elementary, and continues to work with Ravenswood Elementary as a ukulele teacher to K-2nd through the Columbia College Community Arts Partnerships Program. She also teaches private ukulele, piano, and a 4-5yr old “Uku-lala” class at Sherwood Music School. She is so excited to sing Campfire Songs with CCT!


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Diana Corral attended her first yoga class for a physical workout. She was instantly drawn to the physical demands of yoga unlike any other workout. As her yoga practice deepened, she began to notice both physical and mental benefits. Diana found calmness in her mind during her yoga practice and was eager to share her love of yoga to others. She quickly signed up for teacher training and received her 200 hr certificate in the Summer of 2012 through CorePower Yoga.

Diana hopes her students find the same happiness and stress release that she finds during her yoga practice. She loves bringing laughter and playfulness to her classes. It is really important to offer a class where students of all ages can feel comfortable, challenged, and have fun! Outside of teaching yoga and dance, Diana is a dancer for a contemporary dance in the Chicago suburbs. Diana feels incredibly grateful to live a life where she can dedicate her time to both yoga and dance.


Thom Cox has been teaching theatre and storytelling to students ranging in age from tots to teachers for over thirty years. He also acts with theatre companies like Lookingglass, Court, Northlight, Gift, House, and others. He is an ensemble member and the Master Teacher at Lookingglass Theatre.


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Chicago native, Tre Daniels, has crafted his dynamic and energetic dancing & teaching style from working with numerous crews and organizations throughout Chicago, including FIA Modern and Movement Revolution, and is an alumnus of After School Matters HiDef Dance Ensemble as well as The Happiness Club. He possesses a wide array of street and commercial training, as well as an extensive résumé of battle victories and music video cameos. Tre has worked for Chance the Rapper, Common, and Apres (the UK house artist) and has performed at numerous music and art festivals, including AAHH! Fest, Lollapalooza, and the Wells Street Art Festival.


Nick Davio is a Chicago-based music director, multi-instrumentalist, teaching artist and songwriter who holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Millikin University, with an emphasis in Vocal Performance.  He currently holds teaching artist positions at The Old Town School of Folk Music. Nicholas also served as the rehearsal guitarist for the Chicago production of Million Dollar Quartet for 5 years, and has been nominated twice in the “Musical Direction” category by the Jeff Awards committee.


Kasey Foster is a Chicago-based actor, singer, choreographer, and producer. She sings for local bands: Grood, Babe-alon 5, Old Timey, and This Must be the Band.


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Amanda Giles is an educator, teaching artist and actor in the Chicago area and she is absolutely thrilled to be joining the Chicago Children’s Theatre Teaching Artist Community! Since moving to Chicago eight years ago, she has been an active participant within the theatre community, and is looking forward for exciting projects to come. Amanda graduated with a BFA in Musical Theatre and Psychology (childhood adolescence) from the Chicago College of Performing Arts of Roosevelt University and has since worked professionally as a teaching artist, director, actor, and piano teacher, inspiring and mentoring kids in the arts along the way. Amanda enjoys singing, dancing, laughing, climbing trees and cooking. She can usually be found on her yoga mat, in the classroom or enjoying a long walk with her goldendoodle, Toby.


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Allison Grischow is a Chicago based actor, improviser, musician, and teaching artist. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre and Music from Valparaiso University, and she continued her training with the Moscow Art Theatre School studying acting, movement, and Russian History. In addition to teaching musical improvisation, Allison has taught and led students to create fully devised musicals at Valparaiso University. She is also a teaching artist with Emerald City Theatre and House Call Music where she teaches piano and voice lessons privately.


Sarah Rose Goldberg is a freelance dancer/choreographer/teacher who has worked with students of all ages and abilities. She is going to be graduating from the Alexander Teacher Training  in Chicago in 2017 with a certification to teach Alexander Technique. She also enjoys theater and making music with anyone who knows how to play an instrument.


Tanji Harper is a Chicago native who has been dancing with the youth in the city for the last 16 years. Currently serving as the Artistic Director of The Happiness Club and the director for the After School Matters HiDef Dance Ensemble, Tanji has served as a dance educator to hundreds of Chicago’s teens that are now professionals in the field. Ms. Harper has worked nationally and internationally as a dancer and choreographer for major label recording artists, theater houses, conventions, corporate events, and non-profits centered on Chicago’s youth.


Straight out of Chicago, William Harris is a dancer with a background in Breaking, Modern, and House dance. Harris recently completed his undergraduate degree at Columbia College Chicago with a Bachelor’s in Dance. As an alumnus of The Happiness Club, William provides mentorship and guidance to Chicago youth in pursuit of studying forms of dance.



Levi Holloway has been an actor, director, playwright and teaching artist in Chicago for over a decade. As an actor, he has worked most recently with Steppenwolf, Northlight, Aboutface, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Silk Road Rising, Shattered Globe, Provision, and Hell in a Handbag Theatre companies. As a teacher, he works for Lookingglass Theatre company, Adventure Stage, The Actor’s Gymnasium, and Silk Road Rising. He is the co-founder and co-artistic director of Neverbird Project, a Deaf and hearing youth theatre company.


Ayesha Jaco (Founder and Co-Director of Move Me Soul) is a youth development advocate/program manager, dancer and poet.  Ayesha holds a Bachelor of Science in Dance and Mass Communication from Illinois State and Master of Arts Management from Columbia College.  She has taught African, Modern, Jazz and Hip Hop dance to over 200 youth in Chicago.


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Elnaz Javani is an Iranian artist who creates sculpture, drawings, and installations that explore themes of body and identity. Her artwork embraces conceptual strategies and handwork using everyday materials mostly fabric and thread. She received her BFA from the University of Arts in Tehran, and she also recently received her MFA in Fiber Materials studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


Yuri Lane is a world renown human beatbox and harmonica player living in Chicago since 2003.  He’s been a professional actor, musician and teaching artist for over 20 years and is excited to bring Hip-Hop for Tots to Chicago Children’s Theater in 2017.


Nicole Laurenzi is a professional actress, teacher and private vocal coach. She received her degree from NYU’s TISCH School of the Arts where she studied musical theater performance at CAP 21 Studios. After graduation she went on to perform in the Broadway National Tour of the musical Mamma Mia! Since moving to Chicago she has had the good fortune to work at The Goodman as well as The Marriott Theater, understudying the role of Cinderella in their new musical for young audiences Cinderella After the Ball. You may have also recently seen her on your television screens in an episode of Chicago PD. Her recent work with Chicago Children’s Theater includes coaching the song performance portion of their Musical Theater Audition Workshop and serving as artistic director and lead teaching artist for The Musical Theater Initiative program at John B Murphy Elementary School.


Patrick Martin is a Chicago based actor, musician, and teaching artist. He’s been seen on stage with Chicago Children’s Theatre, Writers Theatre, the Marriott Theatre, Theatre at the Center, Porchlight Music Theatre, American Theater Company, Stages St. Louis, and others. He’s a proud teaching artist for CCT’s Red Kite Program, as well as a cast member of Red Kite, Blue Sky. As a guitarist and vocalist he’s performed at The Green Mill, City Winery, Ravinia’s Bennett Gordon Hall, and dozens of other venues throughout the Chicago area.


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Chauncey Alexander Davis Mauney began his work with Chicago Children’s Theatre as an Artistic/Education Intern shortly after moving to Chicago in 2012. Since then, he’s worked for CCT as an actor and teaching artist for The Red Kite Project, teaching music during Camp Red Kite, traveling to CPS classrooms for Red Kite Drama Time and performing in Red Kite By The Sea. He’s had the privilege to work with Chicago Symphony Orchestra, The Ruckus, Promethean Theatre Ensemble, Chicago Opera Theatre, Midsommer Flight and Two Lights Theatre Company.


Diana Muhammad (Co-Director of Move Me Soul) is a professional dancer/choreographer and educator in Chicago.  Diana earned a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and is endorsed in Dance and Physical Education from Northeastern Illinois University.  In addition to training in Ballet, African/Caribbean, Modern, Jazz and Tap dance, she is also a trained vocal coach and musician.


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Jordyn Prince is a director, filmmaker, collaborator and actor in Chicago. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, she graduated from The Theatre School at DePaul University with a BFA in Theatre Arts (Concentration in Theatre for Young Audiences) and a minor in Media and Cultural Studies. Her passion is to create artistic expression with children through different media lenses, hoping to spark imagination and inspiration for action in today’s world. She has most recently worked with Theater Unspeakable, Redtwist Theatre, Otherworld Theatre, Chicago Fringe Festival, DePaul Educational Theatre Company and Paonessa Talent Agency.


Symphony Sanders graduated from Bradley University with a degree in Theatre Performance and has been a professional actor in Chicago since 2003. As a dancer and gymnast she always loved to express herself through movement, creating a narrative instead of just executing tricks. She began her circus journey in 2010 taking a aerial arts class at The Actors Gymnasium and found that she could both express herself creatively and do challenging stunts in a perfect marriage of her skills. Since then she has gone on to teach and perform, and most recently graduated from the inaugural class of the Professional Circus Training Program. She also continues to perform professionally regionally at theaters such as Chicago Shakespeare, The Goodman, and Raven Theatre and worldwide with the critically acclaimed podcast Welcome To Nightvale!


Cassandra Schiano is an actor and aerialist in the Chicagoland area. She received her BA in Theatre Arts from The University of Iowa and continued her training at the Stella Adler Studio in New York City. A long time lover of all things circus, she began her studies at Aloft Loft and is a proud graduate of Actors Gymnasium’s Professional Circus Training Program. Her aerial work is part of the Always “Like a Girl” campaign. She is very excited to help foster the next generation of circus artists, and looks forward to learning as much as she teaches.


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Richie Schiraldi is a man of many hats, with a BFA in Physical Theater from Accademia dell’Arte, in conjunction with Coastal Caroline University. Such hats include those of an actor, clown, technician, and teacher. He specializes in Clown, physical comedy and character work, Comedia, escaping from a straight-jacket, and performed stunts and stage combat as a knight for two years with Medieval Times. Richie has performed with Operamatic, Creative Wellness, and Ghostlight Ensemble, among several self-produced projects in Chicago, South Carolina, and Italy. He is excited to share his passion for showmanship, character work, comedy, and athleticism in the world of theater with the Actors Gymnasium.


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Michele Stine has been a theater maker and educator in Chicago for over three years, after graduating with a B.S. in Acting and Political Science from Illinois State University.  She co-wrote Collaboraction Theatre Company’s Forgotten Future: The Education Project, developed Hidden Resistance with The New Colony, and coming in 2017, Options developed with Broken Nose Theatre Company.  She has taught with American Theater Company, Emerald City Theater Company, Chicago Children’s Theatre Company, and Dream Big Theatre Workshop.


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Ellie Terrell is a Chicago-based teaching artist, prop and object builder, and painter. Her work has been seen in productions with Albany Park Theater Project, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Porchlight Music Theatre, The House Theatre, Halcyon Theatre, and Redmoon. In addition to her work with theater companies around Chicago, Ellie taught at Gallery 37’s After School Matters program and ran the After School Art and Tutoring programs at San Miguel Gary Comer School and St. Angela School with St. Joseph Services. Ellie holds a BA in Literary and Cultural Studies from the College of William and Mary.


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Anthony Whitaker grew up in Greenville, SC, where, he began performing at age 10. Since leaving South Carolina, he has performed at numerous theatres throughout the country, including those in Chicago, Atlanta, North Carolina, Florida.

In addition to performing, Anthony teaches elementary and junior high music in the public and Catholic School systems, and directs productions for various south side schools and the Beverly Arts Center.

Anthony wrote, directed, and performed in New American Folk Theatre’s debut production, Two from the Trailer Court: Dirty Girl and Salome Goes All the Way!, wrote and directed the musical, The Marvelous Land of Oz, music directed Dark of the Moon, and directed Witches Among Us.

Most recently, he appeared in the role of Erroneous in Porchlight Theatre’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum,

Jinx Malibu in Trash by Johnny Drago and directed the Jeff Recommended, The Summer of Daisy Fay, based on Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man by Fannie Flagg.

Register for Classes.