We have assembled a faculty of highly-educated and caring teachers that are dedicated to providing your dancer with the highest level of training in classical ballet techniques. All classes are taught by professional, adult instructors highly trained in their field.
Tressa Mohler, MDE (Owner/Director)
Tressa Mohler, Owner and Director, is an accomplished educator in all forms of dance including ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, modern and creative movement. With over 30 years of teaching experience, she is able to instill the necessary foundation in children to better equip them for their future in dance, school and life. Her educational expertise spans all ages and ability levels.
While earning her degrees (BA in Dance and BA in Business Management), she studied under Rory Foster (ABT and author of Ballet Pedagogy: The Art of Teaching), Eileen Cropley (Paul Taylor Company), Harriet Ross, Randy Duncan, Julie Cartier, Joel Hall and more. From 1995-1998, she was Dance Department Head at the Valparaiso Conservatory of Performing Arts, developing the dance curriculum and organizing many outreach programs and performances.
Tressa believes in the importance of continuing her own business and dance education. She regularly attends teacher seminars, conferences and movement workshops throughout the country and has been certified as a Master Dance Educator (MDE) through the Chicago National Association of Dance Masters, where she now serves on the Board of Directors.
Beyond owning and operating Mohler Dance Academy for over 14 years, she has founded and is director of M3 Dance, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit dance company offering additional performance opportunities for young dancers and sharing the art of dance through community outreach initiatives.
Anna Spelman began training in ballet at the early age of three in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She received scholarships to the School of American Ballet in New York, where she started studying at age eleven under George Balanchine. She began her performing career at the age of nine with the San Diego Ballet Company. At the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, Anna performed in August Bournonville’s The Flower Festival in Genzano pas de deux and a leading role in Michel Fokine’s Les Sylphides which prompted her to win an obelisk award for best female dancer. Later, while on scholarship at American Ballet Theatre School, Anna had the opportunity to perform Richard England’s Vivaldi pas de deux on the Metropolitan Opera House stage and was asked to join American Ballet Theatre to perform in the The Nutcracker, which marked the beginning of her career with ABT.
During her ten-year professional career with ABT, Anna toured the major cities of the US as well as France, Italy, Japan, and Israel. In Israel, Anna performed Michel Fokine’s Le Spectre de la Rose, Emilia in Moor’s Pavane by Jose Limon and Paquita under the direction of Elena Tchernichova. Anna danced and acted in the films Hair, directed by Milos Forman and choreographed by Twyla Tharp, and Dancers, directed by Herbert Ross and filmed in Livorno, Italy. Her television credits include: Live from Lincoln Center, PBS special Twyla Tharp with ABT, and American Ballet Theatre in San Francisco, and Don Quixote ABT with Mikhail Baryshnikov at the Met, and the David Gordon television special Dance in America. She has worked closely with choreographers in both ballet and modern dance including George Balanchine, Kenneth MacMillan, Jerome Robbins, Antony Tudor, Frederick Ashton, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Merce Cunningham, David Gordon, Paul Taylor, and Twyla Tharp. Anna continues to fuel her passion for dance by teaching her craft. Anna has completed intensive training in the American Ballet Theatre National Training Curriculum and is ABT certified to teach Primary thru Level 7.
Ludmila Lupu is a graduate of the Ballet Academy of Moldova. She has completed 9 years of classical ballet training in the following disciplines: Classical Ballet, Pointe, Variations, Pas-de-Deux, Historical Court Dance, Character Dance, History of World Theater, History of Ballet, Ballet, and Piano Classes, along with general education classes. As a student, Ludmila participated in a number of ballet performances at The National Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet of Republic of Moldova, as well as traveled with the ballet company of the theater throughout the Soviet Union. The training program at the Ballet Academy of Moldova was based on the Vaganova Syllabus. Ludmila’s first ballet teacher was Tatyana Petuhova, a reknown ballet pedagogue and graduate of Kiev Ballet Academy. Ludmila was also taught by Sophia Horisova, a graduate of the Vaganova Academy of Ballet, St. Petersburg, Russia.
Upon graduation, Ludmila was employed as a soloist for 15 years by the leading ballet company of Moldova - The National Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet of Republic of Moldova. Throughout these years, she participated in the following ballet performances: Don Quixote, Pakita, Swan Lake, Spartacus, Giselle, Coppelia, Sculptures of Roden, Romeo and Juliet, La Bayadera, Sleeping Beauty, Shopeniana, and Serenades by Balanchine. Ludmila traveled to numerous European countries with the theater. Ludmila has started her pedagogical career in ballet at The University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, and, after emigrating to the United States, she has taught at Joffrey Ballet School, Salt Creek Ballet School, Faubourg School of Ballet, Dance West Ballet School, and Chicago Ballet Conservatory of Mohler Dance Academy.
Among the staged works are: excerpts from Paquita (Regional Dance America Competition, 2008), excerpts from Don Quixote (Regional Dance America Competition, 2010), The Waltz of the Flowers, The Russian Dance , and Final Waltz and Apotheosis from The Nutcracker (performance directed by Linda Cunningham, Chicago Ballet Conservatory, 2017, 2018, 2019). Ludmila prepares dancers for participation in dance competitions, including Youth America Grand Prix, where her students placed in the top three in 2018 and 2019, as well as numerously in the top twelve. She is currently employed as a teacher of character dance at the Trainee Program, as well as at Pre-Professional Division of the Joffrey Ballet School of Chicago. She also teaches Ballet, Pointe, Variations, Repertoire, and Character Dance at Chicago Ballet Conservatory.
JP Tenuta grew up dancing at the Academy of Movement and Music and with MOMENTA. He completed his BFA in Dance at Northern Illinois University in 1999, where he studied with Randall Newsom and Judith Chitwood. He performed for two years with the Nashville Ballet and two years with Luna Negra. He has also performed in the Chicago area with Lyric Opera, The Civic Ballet, Von Heidecke's Chicago Festival Ballet and with the Salt Creek Ballet.
JP continues to perform and choreograph for MOMENTA and toured Austria with them in 2003 and 2010. He has taught in a number of Chicago area schools and is a regular faculty member at the Academy of Movement and Music; he has also taught on the Dance Masters circuit and recently served as assistant director for MOMENTA as it toured for Tanzsommer International in Austria.
Robin Gayle is a professional dancer and an established dance instructor. As a Soloist with the Columbia City Ballet, Robin performed numerous principal roles for nine seasons. Before her career with CCB, Robin apprenticed with the Colorado Ballet, trained privately under Sherry Moray and Alla Osipenko and attended the Académie de Danse Classique Princesse Grace in Monte Carlo and the Ruth Page School of Dance. Her summer intensive training included the schools of American Ballet Theatre, San Francisco Ballet, and Joffrey Ballet, under scholarship.
Robin was a top finalist at the Youth America Grand Prix competition, and was chosen to perform at YAGP Galas in 2000 and 2001. As a frequent guest artist, Robin's reviews include Dance Magazine's late Ann Barzel, who praised Robin as a "uniquely talented dancer," and the Chicago Sun-Times' Hedy Weiss, who characterized Robin's dancing as "brilliant." Some of Robin's film and television credits include appearing in the movie "Save the Last Dance" and the TV show "Sabado Gigante." In addition to dancing, Robin has modeled for Capezio and Leo's Dancewear, and is a certified Pilates instructor.
Robin is also on faculty at The Chicago High School for the Arts.
Renee Heitman brings a diverse background that includes the performing arts and business. She holds a B.S. in Arts Administration (dance emphasis) from Butler University and an MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management. For nearly 30 years, Renee has worked in a variety of corporate, agency and non-profit environments. She currently serves as faculty member and Office Manager for both Mohler Dance Academy and Chicago Ballet Conservatory.
Renee’s early training began at the Lisa Boehm School of Ballet in Elgin, IL. It is through this studio environment that she developed a love of ballet and a passion for dance education. In addition to training and performing in the studio’s annual productions the The Nutcracker Suite, Renee served as a teaching assistant and demonstrator for pre-ballet and children’s classes. Renee’s education continued at Butler University where she participated in daily classical dance technique classes as well as courses in business and arts management.
In addition to dance, Renee grew up playing the piano and cello and was involved in choral music. She has performed in numerous recitals and concerts as an ensemble member and accompanist. Renee's teaching style seeks to encourage a heightened awareness of the relationship between music and movement. She hopes to inspire both a love of ballet and a life-long connection to the performing arts.