Faculty & Staff

Click on the thumbnails for each teacher for full biography & details.



Executive Director

Cathy Rosenberg, proud owner of Steps Dance Center, started as an educator.  She received an MSEd. from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana.  Cathy has taught preschool, kindergarten, 3rd grade, and college courses.  She also was the assistant director of the Child Development Lab at U of I and a parent facilitator for an at risk preschool program.Her passion for working with children headed in a very different direction thanks to her family.  Cathy’s three daughters led her to the world of dance.  She feels very fortunate to continue working with children and families.  Cathy is proud to provide a well-rounded dance education, taught by an amazing faculty of dance professionals, for all of her Steps family.


Artistic Director

Rebecca Rosenberg has been training and teaching at Steps since its opening in 2000. While in high school, Rebecca committed herself to her training in jazz, tap, ballet, hip-hop, lyrical, and pointe. She attended Neuqua Valley and assumed leadership roles as the president of the Orchesis Dance Troupe as well as captain of the Varsity Poms Team. Rebecca received her Bachelors of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of Illinois in 2008. During her time at the University of Illinois, Rebecca was a member of the nationally ranked Illini Dance Team and served as the choreographer of their hip-hop routines competed at the National UDA Competition for three years. She also was a member of the University of Illinois branch of the international hip-hop company Dance2XS during her four years at U of I, and served as Artistic Director. Amongst her performances with Dance2XS, Rebecca opened for hip-hop artist Chingy, and had the chance to perform and train amongst such hip-hop crews/choreographers as the Jabbawockeez, Marty Kudelka, Sky Hoffman, and Gigi Torres. Recently, Rebecca choreographed for a Chevrolet commercial under the direction of Joel Kapity. Rebecca continues to train regularly through classes and conventions in order to bring new styles and inspiration to her students. She loves finding ways to enrich the dance program at Steps and provide opportunities for the Steps dancers. She feels lucky to teach amongst such an accomplished faculty and to be able to share her passion for dance with the students at Steps.



Cara Carper, originally from Pittsburgh PA, grew up in a family-owned studio. Being born into the art of movement she started her professional dance career at an early age. After several years in the commercial industry working with corporations such as the Walt Disney Company, Jean Ann Ryan Productions and affiliations of Cirque du Soleil, she relocated to Chicago to join the second company of Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago. While there, Cara founded an Acrobatics Program at the Giordano Dance School.


 ANGELINA FAMILARA and KARLO FAMILARA, are an adventurous and creative choreographic duo now residing in Chicago, IL. Prior to living in Chicago, Angelina and Karlo lived in Los Angeles where they pursued their professional dance careers. Their credits as dancers include video games and commercials as well as dancing for artists such as The Black Eyed Peas, Kanye West, Beyonce, and Justin Bieber. Through these experiences they realized that their true calling is teaching, creating and inspiring young dancers. Their teaching credits include Debbie Reynolds Dance Studio, Movement Lifestyle and International Dance Academy in Los Angeles. They currently set works at various studios throughout the Midwest and co-direct the award-winning hip hop program here at Steps Dance Center. Their eclectic dance backgrounds and their true love for instilling hip hop technique gives them the unique ability to communicate to classically trained dancers and street dancers alike.


Studio Manager


Sophie Flinchum grew up in Madison, WI where she trained at local studios. Throughout high school she competed with Spotlight Dance Academy and the Waunakee High School Dance Team. She has won several standout awards, overall high scores, and placements at competitions throughout the Midwest. Upon graduating high school, she began teaching both recreational and competitive groups. She also coached the Waunakee High School Junior Varsity dance team. As a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she received a Bachelors Degree in Management and Human Resources. While at Madison she was the Head Coordinator, Marketing Director, dancer and choreographer for Hypnotiq, a hip hop dance crew through the university. After graduating from UW-Madison, she took a full time job at Spotlight Dance Academy working as the Business Manager and teacher of several competitive teams of various styles. Her hip hop teams have placed as the top scoring hip hop routines at competitions and received numerous overall high scores. Now residing in Chicago, Sophie is ecstatic about joining the Steps team and cannot wait to share her experience and knowledge in and outside of the classroom!



Julia began dancing at the young age of four in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She studied ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, lyrical, contemporary, gymnastics and en pointe for 14 years at Dance Time Studios Inc and under instructors from Point Park University. Julia competed with Dance Time Studios Inc in several large scale competitions including NYCDA, I Love Dance and more. She began as an assistant teacher at the age of 15 and was teaching on her own at 18.While studying dance, Julia also began performing in musical theater, starring as a lead dancer in the musicals My One And Only, The Wiz, Mack & Mabel and Cinderella. Many of these received awards through the Gene Kelley Awards High School Musical Competitions. Julia moved to Chicago in 1999 where she majored in Dance Education from Columbia College Chicago. In 2001, Julia became the Head Dance Coach for the Jones College Prep Dance Team, taking the team to the State Finals for ten years. During this time, she also began teaching children classes in tap, jazz and ballet for FFC Gym in the South Loop.In 2005, Julia formed her own Hip Hop Dance company, GraffitiDancers. The company performed all over the city of Chicago and Midwest. It was the first Hip Hop Company in Chicago to host its own large scale production in 2006. Julia has choreographed for DJ Flipside for the B96 Bash, MMA Champion Jason Miller, and Coyote Ugly Themed bar in Highland, Indiana. She later became a judge for Illinois Dance Team Association. After selling her company in 2012, Julia began coaching dance at Saint Ignatius College Prep and teaching Hip Hop at Daystar School. This led her to taking a position with Steps, where she will be teaching Acro.


Creative Director


Renee is the friendly face who will greet you at the front desk when you first walk into the studio.  Renee has two children, Chloe and Joey, who have grown up dancing at Steps, making Renee a great resource for fellow dance parents.  If you have a question, Renee is sure to have the answer.
Mike Gosney



Mike Gosney, Artistic Director and co-founder of Elements Contemporary Ballet, has been teaching and privately coaching ballet for 20 years. His students have been accepted into prestigious programs and schools such as the School of American Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet School, The Juilliard School, Pacific Northwest Ballet School, Houston Ballet, Boston Ballet, North Carolina School of the Arts, Milwaukee Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, The Joffrey Academy, LINES Ballet, Tisch School of the Arts, and many others.As a choreographer, Mr. Gosney’s work has appeared in The A.W.A.R.D. Show! 2010, The Best of Dance Chicago, Looptopia, Around the Coyote Arts Festival, The Atlas Agenda, Joel Hall’s Dances from the Halls, Evanston Arts Week, productions with the Evanston Dance Ensemble and Evanston Symphony, and in many other Chicago area festivals and dance performances. In addition to his work with Elements, Mike is on faculty at Steps Dance Center, Dance Center Evanston, Visceral Dance Center, and Dance Center Evanston, and has previously taught at Lou Conte Dance Center, Gus Giordano Dance Center, Joel Hall Dance Center, DancenterNorth, Eastern Illinois University, and College of Lake County.


Kelsey Lauren is a native of Naperville, IL. She graduated from Marquette University with a double BA degree in Theatre Arts and Public Relations. She studied Acting Fundamentals, Characterization, Scene Study, Shakespeare, and Career Preparation. She also took Directing, Costume Technology, Theatre History, Stagecraft, Tap Dance, and Musical Theatre Dance classes.While at Marquette, she performed in numerous student and mainstage productions, including Kate Sullen in The Beaux’ Stratagem, Elizabeth Langley in Censored on Final Approach, Rona in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Betty in Defying Gravity, and Ellen Van Oss in Two Rooms. Kelsey finished her career at Marquette playing Courtesan/Abbess in A Comedy of Errors. She was also seen in a short independent film, Heaven Help Us All. Kelsey also had the opportunity to produce, direct, choreograph, and perform in her own dance capstone entitled, Dancing Through the Decades of Musicals featuring Marquette University dancers, School of Performing Arts-Naperville, Illinois and STEPS Dance Center-Aurora, Illinois dancers.Kelsey has worked with professionals such as, Tony Clements, Jack Forbes Wilson, C. Michael Wright, Brian Lynch, and Susan Craig-Olsen to name a few.Kelsey currently resides in Naperville, IL and is working at STEPS Dance Center in Aurora, Illinois as well as Mudlark Children’s Theatre in Evanston, Illinois.


Caitlin been dancing since the age of 3 and is trained in ballet, jazz, lyrical, modern, pointe, tap, poms, and hip hop. She has competed and performed throughout the Chicago area. Caitlin was the captain of her Varsity Poms team and an Officer for the Orchesis Dance Troupe in high school. She then went on to dance for The Dance Team at Miami University. She has also danced for Lana Kay Rosenberg in Dance Theatre at Miami University. Completing undergrad in three short years, Caitlin also danced and choreographed with the Miami Shakerettes where she performed in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Caitlin is a graduate of Miami University with a B.S. in Kinesiology and Health majoring in Dietetics. She currently is attending graduate school at University of Illinois Chicago to earn a Masters of Public Health. Although this is her first year teaching at Steps, Caitlin is very familiar with the amazing atmosphere here as she danced at Steps for 7 years before college. She is so happy to have Steps as a second home!
Ashley Michalek Headshot




Ashley Michalek recently graduated from The University of Iowa with a B.F.A. in Dance and a B.A. in Elementary Education. Originally from Aurora, IL her training background was based heavily in classical ballet as she trained with Kenneth von Heidecke and many dancers from the Joffrey (a student of Maria Tallchief) at Chicago Festival Ballet. At the University of Iowa she was priveleged to work with George De la Pena, Charlotte Adams, Eloy Barragan, Deanna Carter, Armando Duarte, Jennifer Kayle, Alan Sener, Julie Bour, Jennifer Muller, and Melinda Myers (restaging a Trisha Brown work). She recently attended the Hubbard Street Summer Intensive and was chosen to be an intern/apprentice with Thodos Dance Chicago for the 2013-14 season. Hoping to incorporate her love for children and education, she has aspirations of getting involved with outreach programs in the city and suburbs to make a difference and increase accessibility and awareness of the arts for underprivileged individuals in struggling communities as well as just trying to spread the art form.



Carrie Nicastro Ruiz, originally from Northbrook, IL, received her initial training under Cheri Rose, studying the Cecchetti Method of Ballet. Carrie continued her education at the University of Iowa, a program with heavy emphasis on Ballet and Modern dance training. Carrie had the opportunity to perform and tour with her Professors Deanna Carter, Armando Duarte and Jennifer Kayle and was honored to work with guest artists David Dorfman and Toni Pimble. Carrie also had the opportunity to develop her Improvisation and Choreographic skills and her choreography was selected for numerous Dance Department showcases. Carrie graduated from the U of Iowa with honors in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in both Dance and Psychology.After graduation, Carrie moved back to Chicago to accept a Company member position with Same Planet Different World Dance Theatre. While Carrie danced with the company, she was also a guest artist with Hedwig Dances and she continued to further her training on full scholarship at the Lou Conte Dance Studio, home of Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. Carrie performed and toured Nationally with Same Planet Different World for two seasons and was privileged to perform the works of many talented artists including Paige Cunningham Caldarella, Ashleigh Leite, Molly Shanahan, and Artistic Director Joanna Rosenthal. Carrie also had the honor of performing Shapiro and Smith’s ‘To Have an to Hold’ at Chicago’s annual Dance For Life AIDS Benefit. After her time with SPDW, Carrie moved on to train with Thodos Dance Chicago for one season and has enjoyed performing in their ‘New Dances Choreography Series’ for the past 5 years. Carrie was most recently a member of Giordano II, Giordano Dance Chicago’s second company. Carrie now enjoys dancing as a Freelance artist and has worked with many independent choreographers including Autumn Eckman, Becca Lemme, Lizzie Mackenzie, Jessica Miller-Tomlinson and her husband Ricky Ruiz.In addition to performing, one of Carrie’s biggest passions is teaching and choreographing for children and young adults. For the past 5 years, Carrie has been a main Coach, Choreographer and Instructor for the competing and performing companies of Trilogy School of Performing Arts in Lake Zurich and On Your Toes Academy of Dance in Buffalo Grove. At Trilogy, Carrie also developed Pom Connection, a competing All-Star Pom program, where she led her team to a Team Dance Illinois State Title and top rankings at UDA Nationals in Disney World. Carrie is also the main Modern instructor at The Academy of Dance Arts in Downers Grove and she helped develop a second company program that was added to the already established main competing and performing company. Carrie has been recognized for and has received numerous awards for her choreography, including her work being selected as the ‘Judge’s Pick’ for the 2011 Dance Chicago Dance Slam.Carrie is very excited to join the Steps family as a Company Director and the Director of the Contemporary/Modern program. She can’t wait to continue sharing her passion for moving and creating!



Wade Schaaf hails from the Chicago area and graduated Cum Laude from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theater arts (emphasis dance performance). During his professional career Wade has danced for such companies as the Ohio Ballet, State Street Ballet Santa Barbara, The Omaha Theater Ballet, and Thodos Dance Chicago, and River North Chicago Dance Company. He has worked with choreographers Septime Weber, Stephen Mills, Kennet Oberly, Bill Soleau, Frank Chaves, Laurie Stallings, Ron DeJesus and the Tony Award winning choreographer Ann Reinking. Wade has been privileged to dance such roles as Tybalt in Robin Welche’s “Romeo and Juliet”, Snow Pas in Welche’s “The Nutcracker”, and Jonathan in Oberly’s “Dracula” as well, had the role of Mayor Carter Harrision set on him in the Thodos/Reinking collaboration, “The White City”. Wade has set his own work on the Omaha Theater Ballet, Groundwork Dance Company and Thodos Dance Chicago.After retiring from the stage, Mr. Schaaf went on to open Chicago Repertory Ballet in November of 2011. The company premiered to the headline review, “A Bright Debut for Chicago Repertory Ballet.” (Sid Smith, The Chicago Tribune). Since the debut of CRB Wade has gone on to create such exceptional works as Shostakovich Piano Concerto, Peoplescape:Juxtaposition, and his first one-act story ballet, The Rite of Spring. Mr. Schaaf continues to steer the company through his vision of presenting the contemporary choreographic voice, and presenting familiar stories in a new or different way.Outside of the studio, Mr. Schaaf has a variety of interests ranging from visual art to health and wellness. Wade is a certified in both the Pilates method (Through Power Pilates) and RedCord, and is happy to enrich the lives of many through fitness.



Karen J. Smith-English began her dance training at Northern Illinois University studying ballet and modern dance, receiving a BA in Theater Dance Performance.  Upon receipt of her degree, she was offered a scholarship to study with the Joseph Holmes Dance Company in Chicago.  Her professional career took off while dancing principle roles with Emergence Dance Theater, under direction of Sandra Schramel.  As a soloist with the Lynda Martha Dance Company of Chicago, she toured the U.S. and performed in Amsterdam.  Other performance credits include dancing with Fuego Espanol, and creating and performing in The Passage of Time: Fair System Project, a joint choreography project with Andy Taylor-Blenis at Eastern Illinois University.  Ms. English has been teaching dance for over 25 years.  Her most recent teaching credits include eight years at the Madison Professional Dance Center, five years with the Milwaukee Ballet School, and seven years at the Monona Academy of Dance.  She was a guest teacher at the Rockford Ballet School Summer Intensive.  Her choreographic works have been commissioned by Dance Wisconsin for three consecutive seasons, as well as the Connolly Dance Company.  In 2004, she choreographed and performed in a duet with co-director Pat Connolly and was on the Board of Directors of the Connolly Dance Company.  Currently, she is teaching at the Chicago Multi-Cultural Dance Center for the renowned ballet teacher, Homer Hans Bryant.  Karen has been working at Steps for the past three years.  She loves it so much that her heart sings each time she walks into the studio.  The sun shining faces and positive attitudes of the students as well as the faculty makes her hour-long commute from Chicago very worth it!


 Deanna Wozniak began dancing when she was 3 years old. She has taken ballet, jazz, tap and pointe. She trained at The School of Performing Arts competing and performing throughout the Chicago Land Area. She was President of Waubonsie Valley High School’s Orchesis Troupe in 2006 and has had the opportunity to work with many professionals such as Jon Lehrer, Randy Duncan, Jeff Hancock and Jessie Young. During her college undergrad she studied under Eloy Barragan and Armando Duarte at the University of Iowa and Sandra Kaufmann and Mari Jo Irbe at Loyola University Chicago. She is proud to call Steps her home!