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Midwest Dance Collective Artisitic Staff

Artistic Director: Ellen Werksman
Ellen Werksman is the founder and artistic director of Dancewerks. Ms. Werkman’s years of experience in the commercial and artistic communities inspired her to create MDC with the goal of nurturing young dancers as they explore their potential as performing artists. She utilizes her extensive knowledge, education, and experience in dance to provide opportunities for dancers to realize success through their art.
She has worked and trained with Robert Joffrey, Lou Conte (Hubbard Street Dance Company), Gus Giordano, Rosemary Doolas, Nana Shineflug, Leona Bataille, and the American Ballet Theater. She was a company member of Chicago Dance Medium for eight years, and a frequent guest artist of the Chicago Repertory Dance Ensemble. She has choreographed and produced for Dancewerks Production Company for over twenty years, and has choreographed extensively for the Chicago dance community. Ms. Werksman has taught across the country for the National Association of Dance Masters, the Illinois Dance Festival, Michigan Youth Arts Fest, Dance for Life Dance Workshops, and Footloose Dance Competitions in Canada. Ms. Werksman has been recognized four times in “Who’s Who Among American Teachers” for her dedication and outstanding commitment to the art of dance. She has been featured in “Dance Spirit” and “Dance Teacher Now” for her innovative choreography and creative teaching formats. Ms. Werksman also founded and directed Applause Talent Presentations Scholarship and Workshop Program, where she was a National Adjudicator and Director of the Workshop series across the United States.

Assistant Director: Heather Goldman
Heather Goldman has been involved in the dance community for over 25 years. She has studied with some of the finest teachers and choreographers in Chicago in all forms of dance movement. For the past 15 years her passion has been instructing and shaping developing dancers. Heather has taught for numerous dance studios throughout the Northwest suburbs. She has experience in teaching all ages and all genres specializing in advanced tap, ballet technique, modern movement, jazz, lyrical, pointe, and musical theater. Heather is a past company member and current Assistant Director for Midwest Dance Collective where she conceptualizes and choreographs MDC’s concerts and performances. Ms. Goldman has choreographed four years of successful productions for Elgin Summer Theater and is currently on staff at Barrington Park District, Barrington Artz Center, and Dixon Dance Academy in West Dundee where her choreography continues to earn awards on the competition circuit and accolades from fellow professionals. 

Company Coordinator: Alyssa Heintz
Alyssa Heintz has performed in and around the Chicago community, including appearances at: McCormick Place, Chicago's Holiday Extravaganza, Sears Center Holiday Concert, Dance Chicago (2007-2009) and the Art Institute Chicago’s Grand Opening of the French Exhibit. She has worked with Chicago teachers and choreographers Nana Shineflug, Margi Cole, Richard Smith, Alberto Arias, Rosemary Doolas and Dardi McGinley-Gallivan. She has conducted master classes for Applause Talent Presentations National Workshops, Dancewerks Regional Werkshops, and Michigan Youtharts Festival as well as guest teaching for several area studios. She has a BA in Dance Teaching with a minor in Performing Arts Management from Columbia College Chicago.

Zachary Heller: Resident Choreographer
Zachary Heller (Alexandria, VA) graduated with a BFA in Dance from the University of Arizona, where he performed works by Susan Quinn, Sam Watson, Michael Williams, Douglas Nielsen, Frank Chavez and George Balanchine. He attended the Giordano Dance School Summer Scholarship Program in 2005 and 2006. This will be Zachary’s fourth season with GJDC. Zach is a resident choreographer for Midwest Dance Collective and featured instructor at the Dancewerks National Werkshop.

Rehearsal Director: Christine Franklin