Dance studio in Rochelle, IL and Sycamore, IL

Our Faculty

As our faculty grows and evolves we continue to offer our students the best in dance education, combined with instructors and a faculty who truly enjoy working with children.

Jodi Riley – Artistic Director

Jodi Riley received her BFA with an emphasis on dance performance from Northern Illinois University. She began her training at a young age. She continued her dance education as a teenager attending classes at the Judith Svalander School of Ballet, Milwaukee Ballet School and Northern Illinois University. Jodi is trained extensively in ballet, jazz and modern. She also has training in character, tap and ballroom dancing.

She began teaching in 1993 for Beth Fowler. She continued with this school through 1996 running a location in Marengo. Jodi has taught at several dance schools in the Northern Illinois area including: Moves, Lynn Kalita Dance Center, Pam’s Academy of Dance, Northern Illinois University’s community dance program, and Northern Illinois University’s Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education. She has choreographed pieces for the Beth Fowler Dance Company, Art for Life, Student Choreography Showcases at NIU, Lynn Kalita Dance Center, and Stage Coach Theatre. She has also choreographed several productions for the Performing Arts Academy since opening in 2002.

As well as teaching and choreographing Jodi has had several years of performing experience. She has performed many lead roles including: Cinderella, Firebird, Puss and Boots (“Sleeping Beauty”), Sugar Plum Fairy (“Nutcracker”), Spanish (“Nutcracker”), as well as numerous others. Jodi was fortunate enough to work with Katherine Posin at Milwaukee Ballet on her original piece of “Bauch’s Lunch” which immediately became a part of the company’s repertoire!

Riley continues her education by attending special workshops for teachers and taking classes downtown Chicago. She is now a Stott® Certified Pilates instructor. She received her Pilates training at Elements in Motion in Chicago. She plans to specialize in Athletic Conditioning.

Most recently she completed her teacher training course in aerial silks and is ecstatic to bring it to the Sycamore community! Jodi trained in trapeze at Aloft Circus Arts in Chicago for 3 years and hopes to continue training in the future.  She is thrilled to share her knowledge and passion for dance and now Pilates and aerial arts with her students!

Jodi is a military wife and mother of 2.  She is a substitute teacher in the Genoa and Sycamore school districts. 


Christa McGrath

Christa McGrath has had a passion for the world of dance since she was very young. At the age of 3 Christa was enrolled in her first ballet class and has made dance an important part of her life ever since. A life long resident of DeKalb County, she danced at area schools through junior high. In high school she had the privilege of dancing with several suburban schools such as Moves in Batavia as well as St. Charles School of Dance. She was accepted into both the Salt Creek Ballet School in Westmont, Il and the Peoria Ballet.

After high school Christa enrolled in Northern Illinois University’s dance program. As a member of Northern Dance Theatre she performed in “The Nutcracker” “Sleeping Beauty” and “Give My Regards to Broadway.” She also participated in the Student Choreographic Showcases and “Art for Life.” Christa joined the Performing Arts Academy as a student and teacher upon its opening in 2002. She was named the Operations Manager in 2009 following a partnership with Artistic Director, Jodi Riley.

Christa has an extensive background in business and marketing along with 10 years of management experience. She looks forward to getting to know you and your child and hopes to instill the same passion for dance that she has felt for so many years!




Lydia Carpenter

Lydia Carpenter graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BFA in Dance Performance. Her Classical Vagonava training comes from Faubourg School of Ballet and Plainfield Dance Academy. Lydia has also trained with Ruth Page, BalletMet and Elements Contemporary Ballet. At NYCDA Lydia has competed 3 dances, all recieved platinums and critics choice nominations. Two scholarships were also earned from Hubbard St. Dance and Desmond Richardson of Complexions. Honorable mention was earned at the Carey Rose Competition along with Scholarships to Hubbard Street. At age 12 Lydia Performed with the Joffrey Ballet in The Nutcracker. 

Lydia is looking forward to moving on to a professional dance career.  She has been offered a few different options and will most likely take an offer from Fort Wayne Ballet this fall.  We are very excited for her to continue her dance career.


Rebeca DasNeves




 Rebeca has been dancing with the Performing Arts Academy since the age of 3.  She participates in the Sycamore High School Dance Team as well as the Sycamore Orchesis Troupe.  She is a member of the Performing Arts Academy Competition Team.  Rebeca has been dancing and performing her whole life and has a great passion for dance and teaching children.  She is so excited to join the Performing Arts Academy staff and further her teaching skills.  Rebeca hopes to continue her dance career after she graduates in 2022!


Rachael Rapp

Rachael Rapp has been dancing with the Performing Arts Academy since its opening in 2002. She has graduated through our dance program.  Rachael has been a loyal student and dedicated dancer. She spent several days a week rehearsing and training throughout her childhood at the Performing Arts Academy.

Rachel has beautiful stage presence which pulls the audience into her story while she dances. She has a natural ability to teach children.  She has been teaching at the academy for the past 3 years.  She has a love and passion for teaching students of all ages.

This year Rachael will be attending Northern Illinois University.  Rachael is a blessing to have on our staff and we are excited about her future success in life!




Jillian Riley


               Jillian Riley is a senior at Sycamore High School.  She has been dancing at the Performing Arts Academy since the age of 2.  Jillian is a member of the Sycamore High School Varsity Dance Team as well as an officer with the Sycamore High School Orchesis Troupe.  Jillian is a participant of the Sycamore Performing Arts Academy Competition Team and will also be joining the new found Aerial Troupe the Academy is forming.  Jillian has trained at Aloft Circus Arts in Trapeze and Lyra Hoop, Trapeze LasVegas in Las Vegas Nevada in Silks, Lyra, Aerial Pole, Trapeze and more, and attended the Joffrey Cirque Camp this summer in Las Vegas.  She attended the Dance Teacher Web Conference in the summer of 2021 to expand on her teacher training.  She is excited to share her passion for dance with her students.  Jillian is considering many options upon graduating from Sycamore High School.  She would love to experience more coaching and performing in the Circus Arts in her future! 


Erika Ellis

Erika Ellis is a native of Haiti.  She began dancing upon her move to the United States in 2010 when she was 12 years old.  She has been dancing at the Performing Arts Academy for several years training in ballet, jazz, contemporary and aerial.  Erika aspires to be a profressional aerialist someday soon.  

Erika has trained at Aloft Circus Arts in Trapeze and Lyra Hoop as well as Trapeze LasVegas in Trapeze, Aerial Silks, Lyra Hoop, Aerial Pole and more.  Erika will be attending the next Viva Fest in LasVegas where artists from all over the world share their talents in the Circus Arts.  

Erika will be the director of our new found Aerial Troupe.  She will be working with our Aerial students on solos and duets for public performances.  She hopes to help our program grow and get more exposure with the troupe.

Erika enjoys working with her students and challenging them every step of the way.  She has high expectations and in return gets a lot of hard work from her dancers.  We are excited to see where her future takes her!


Jaedyn Slutz


Jaedyn began dancing at the age of 3.  She joined the Sycamore Performing Arts Academy in Junior High and continued throughout her high school career.  Jaedyn participated on the Performing Arts Academy Competition Team.  She has performed solos, duets and group dances with the team.  She was a member of the Sycamore High School Orchesis all 4 years of high school.  Jaedyn attends Kishwaukee Community College and looks forward to being a nurse upon graduating college.  This fall Jaedyn will attend the college program at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.  She is great with children and is excited to be teaching at her second home continuing her love of dance as an adult.


Melissa Lerohl

Melissa began dancing at the Sycamore Performing Arts Academy at the age of 3.  She is trained extensively in ballet, jazz, contemporary and aerial silks.  Melissa continues as a dance major at Brigham Young University in Utah.  This year she will attend Viva Fest in Las Vegas and compete with a silks solo.  She will be coming home this summer to visit and teach at the Performing Arts Academy.













Performing Arts Academy   |  (815) 901-7653 |
212 West State Street
Sycamore, IL 60178
425 Lincoln Highway
Rochelle, IL 61068

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