Editor’s Note: The following is a sponsored post brought to you by the Elise Flagg Academy of Dance, but the opinions expressed here are a result of my attending the studio’s “Showcase” in the spring and growing up in a “dance family.” (My mom and sister are dance teachers in central Illinois.)
If you have a child who is interested in dance, you probably already know how overwhelming it can be to choose a program from park districts to private studios that offer everything from ballet to hip-hop, recreational dance to intense “competition” teams.
But one choice is truly unique, and we are fortunate to have it as an option for dancers in Chicago’s far western suburbs. It’s the Elise Flagg Academy of Dance, located in West Chicago, and named for its founder and artistic director. Elise was a 12-year-old growing up in Anchorage, Alaska, when she was chosen by the legendary George Balanchine to study in his School of American Ballet in New York City. She received a four-year full scholarship.
At age 16, Ms. Flagg was invited to join the New York City Ballet, where she danced both solo and principal roles worldwide. She went on to dance principal roles with the Zurich Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet, giving her a total of 30 years as a world-class professional ballerina. She has danced principal roles in such classic ballets as Giselle, Don Quixote (with Rudolf Nureyev!) and Les Sylphid, among many others.
Just two years ago, Ms. Flagg opened up her own dance academy, located off Route 38, just west of Route 59 in West Chicago. There she provides exceptional dance training to young people who are serious about taking their art form to a higher level.
“My mission is to teach the students the same elegance, appreciation of music and movement, precision and energy that George Balanchine taught me,” Ms. Flagg says.
Dancers wanting to embark on a professional career are in good hands with Elise, who can train and support them as they work toward that dream. If students don’t want to pursue dance professionally, she equips them with a work ethic and focus that will help them in any career they choose.
Students of Elise Flagg have been awarded scholarships for “Summer Intensive” programs connected to major ballet schools, including the School of American Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, and American Ballet Theater. One of her students was accepted and studied for four years at the School of American Ballet during the academic year sessions. Ms. Flagg coached her student, Therese Davis, to the prestigious Prix de Lausanne Competition. Therese then went onto to dance professionally with the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam, Grand Rapids Ballet, and is currently dancing in the Corps de ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet.
Classical ballet makes up the core curriculum at the Elise Flagg Academy of Dance. The EFAD offers classes for children from ages 4-18 years. Children who are excited to make progress can dance up to three days a week but younger children can take as little as one class a week. Tweens and teens might spend as many as four to six days a week dancing at the academy.
Classes in Contemporary and Jazz are taught by Jaclyn Allott, a trained dancer and the EFAD’s own in-house choreographer. Jaclyn is a recent graduate from Northern Illinois University’s Dance Performance program, and works closely with Ms. Flagg in relation to the technical training and artistry of the dancers.
Ms. Flagg is also a certified Romanas Pilates instructor at the highest level. Her unique combination of classic ballet and Pilates training enhance her program and give her dancers the ability to achieve maximum strength and grace. In fact, Ms. Flagg feels that her devotion to Pilates is what allowed her to have such a long, injury-free performance career.
Rather than recitals, the EFAD performs an annual “Showcase,” in which the focus is truly on the artistry of the dance. This year’s showcase, Music Made Visible, also included guest dancers from Northern Illinois University and Ballet Chicago.
“At the Elise Flagg Academy of Dance,” Ms. Flagg says, “I want a healthy, cheerful and serious atmosphere dedicated to the principles that I learned from the greatest director and most prolific choreographer of all time, George Balanchine.”
Parents of children who are dancing with Elise say once they found her academy, they knew they were in the right place for their children. They speak of her genuine warmth, support and dedication to developing young dancers.
“When my daughter feels nurtured and supported and loved, she’s going to grow,” says Desiree C., an EFAD parent. “What Elise is teaching here is truly phenomenal. The way I’ve seen Sophia grow since January until now is stunning.”
If you are interested in learning more about the Elise Flagg Academy of Dance, you can visit its wonderful website, take a look at these photos or watch this recent video. You can also call Elizabeth Thompson at 630-779-7331 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Evaluations are required for children ages 9 and up to determine proper class placement, but children younger than that can be immediately registered.
The Fall Session 1 gets underway Sept. 5 and runs through Jan. 20.