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Faculty & Staff


Vikki Vaughan Vigna

V. VignaArtistic Director - Vikki Vigna has been teaching for Vaughan Dance Academy since 1983. In 1995, Vikki and a fellow teacher formed what is now the INNOVATION Dance Company for students who wanted to take their dance to the next level. The first year 12 girls competed. INNOVATION now boasts over 100 girls and boys, and continues to grow.

Vikki began her dance training at the age of 3 with Virginia Kelly. In 1972, when mom opened her own studio, Vikki went with her. She has also studied with Claudette Soltis (Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo), of the Joliet Ballet Society, which allowed her the opportunity to perform with the Indianapolis and Butler Ballets, under the direction of George Verdak and Dace Dindonis. Vikki has also been lucky enough to study with Joel Hall, Lois Aquino, Christine Duboulay, Mimi Rozak, Pascual Olivera and Angela Del Moral, Richard Arve, Claire Bataille and many others.

Vikki is honored to be able to say that not only was she instrumental in the education of most of Vaughan Dance Academy's instructors, she was also responsible for the education of many of the area's studio owners, as well as many of their faculty.


Samantha Vaughan

Samantha VaughanBusiness Manager - Samantha has been a manager for the Vaughan Dance Academy since 2004. She received her BA in Dance from Columbia College Chicago, graduating with honors May 2008. At Columbia, she performed in many restaged works along with student choreography. Samantha also showcased adjudicated choreography on Columbia’s stage for Student Performance Nights (SPN). Samantha attended the American College Dance Festival Association (ACDFA) Northwestern Regional Conference in Spring 2007, representing Columbia College Chicago. Nominated for 2007-2008, Samantha served as Treasurer for the Student Dance Organization. She has also studied dance at the University of Arizona. In 2003, Samantha received her BS in Accounting from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Samantha also has her certification in Pilates through Power Pilates, and is currently certified to teach mat Pilates. She has choreographed musicals for NightBlue Theater. Samantha has also taught technique for PCHS and PEHS pom squads.

Samantha, the youngest daughter of Sandra Vaughan - owner of the Vaughan Dance Academy, is proud to carry on the legacy of her mother alongside her sister. Born and raised in Plainfield, Samantha began her training from her mother at the age of 4. During her youth, she also studied under Claudette Soltis, who was Artistic Director for the Joliet Ballet Society, Vikki Vigna (VDA), Dina Meier (Boston Conservatory), and Julie Primiano (Milwaukee Ballet Theater). Samantha feels blessed to be part of the family business, which continues to nurture both her love of dance and business.


Emily Cruver

Emily VignaEmily Cruver is the granddaughter of Sandra Vaughan. She is the lead Lyrical director for Dance Troupe and co-director for Tap Troupe for INNOVATION Dance Company. However, her choreography skills span all genres of dance.  She has many awards and wins under her belt in her many years of teaching competitive dances. 

She continues to push herself and educate herself to bring new styles and innovative choreography to the students of INNOVATION.



Blair Burkhalter

Blair BurkhalterBlair Burkhalter was born in Houston, Texas. Her training began at the Houston Ballet Academy and later continued her studies with the Dallas Metropolitan Ballet School and the Atlanta School of Ballet. She was invited to attend ballet class at Northern Illinois University, at the age of 14, while training and performing with the Rockford Dance Company. She studied ballet at the University throughout her high school years and went on to receive her B.F.A in Dance Performance there after graduation. Professionally, Blair has worked with Ballet Nouveau (Colorado), Ballet Deviare (NYC), the Sarasota Ballet of Florida, and guested with the Civic Ballet of the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, the Faubourg Ballet, and State Street Dance Studio.

She currently lives in Chicago and has been teaching and choreographing for over 15 years. Most recently she worked as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Northern Illinois University.


Richard Woods/Tiger Ball Z

Tiger Ball ZBorn and raised in St. Louis, MO, Richard aka Tiger Ball Z had a love for music for as long as he can remember. Growing up in a very musical family, Tiger was exposed to all kinds of music, instruments, and dance. Tiger started dancing at the young age of six. Tiger was inspired by watching his first Michael Jackson video. With other influences such as movies like Breakin, and Beat Street, Tiger was able to teach himself how to dance. When he got older, Tiger began entering talent shows, dancing anywhere and everywhere he could. He won numerous dance battles all over the country. Tiger booked his first dance job at age 19, when R&B singing group Naturally Smooth noticed him while he was dancing in a club. From there, Tiger went on tour for 2 years with Naturally Smooth across the country; including the 1999 Superbowl in Atlanta, Georgia and the 2002 All Star Game in Philadelphia. After touring, Tiger came home and joined the dance crew, "The Flyboyz" in St. Louis, where they performed all over the city. At age 29, Tiger was discovered by artistic director, Ashley Tate of the Ashleyliane Dance Company (ADC), dancing in a club where she asked him to come and study under her direction. Tiger had 9 years with ADC where he studied Ballet, Jazz, Contemporary, Modern, and other forms of dance. At the same time, he also started teaching and coaching competition teams. Tiger would take his teams to many dance conventions all over the country such as The Pulse, Monsters of Hip Hop, Jump and many more. He also trained up close and personal with Chris Judd, Tabitha and Napoleon D'umo, Brain Friedman, and Ian Eastwood. With being a national award winning choreographer, his dancers have also received invitations to be apart of special performance groups with the Pulse on Tour and Monsters of Hip Hop. Tiger has performed with Morris Day and the Time, Raven Simon, 311, Sonique, Black Eyed Peas and Kirk Franklin. When Tiger is not dancing, he enjoys cooking and traveling. Tiger's goals are to travel the world teaching his love for hip hop, dance and life.

Marcus Hardy

Marcus HardyMarcus Hardy is a multi-disciplined dancer/choreographer from North Carolina, who began his training at the age of 19. His passion for dance erupted after witnessing a local hip-hop group perform at his alma mater, East Carolina University. Marcus spent many hours honing his skills as a hip hop dancer, joining the local Hip Hop Crew, Nubiance Dance Team, and eventually starting up his own Dance Crew, Untitled, with a few of his peers. Driven to further his skills as a dancer, at 21, Marcus auditioned for ECU's dance program, and was accepted in 2010, where he had the opportunity to work with many world renowned choreographers such as John Magnus, Jennifer Archibald, Mark Hines, and Frank Chaves.

During his time in the program, he cultivated his skills not only as a dancer, but as a choreographer as well, where his choreography was seen at various professional venues. After graduating in 2012, with a BFA in Dance Performance, Marcus moved to Chicago to dance professionally with Inaside Chicago Dance under the direction of Richard Smith, as a performing apprentice. This is Marcus's 4th season with the company and his 2nd year as a Company Member.


Gabriella Vigna

Gabby VignaGabby is the granddaughter of Sandra Vaughan.  She has been teaching and choreographing dance since the age of 15. She danced for 14 years at Vaughan Dance Academy, where she competed in dance competitions for 10 years with the competitive troupe, INNOVATION Dance Company.

Gabby is assistant director of the Hip Hop Troupe of INNOVATION Dance Company, however she is an accomplished choreographer in many styles.  She has many awards and overalls due to her creative outlook of what dance can be.  She hopes to continue to bring a love of all dance styles to her students.   Besides teaching dance, she is currently studying to become a pharmaceutical technician.


Paige Jacobus 

Paige Jacobus Paige grew up in Joliet, Illinois and began dancing at Vaughan Dance Academy at the age of three. At age seven, she joined INNOVATION Dance Company and competed with them for eleven years earning high scores, choreography awards, and scholarship opportunities. She has recently been selected to  dance on scholarship at Visceral Dance Center in Chicago, Illinois under the guidance of Nick Pupillo. Paige is a graduate of Northern Illinois University where she  earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Dance Performance. There, she had the opportunity to train under Autumn Eckman, Judy Chitwood, and Paula Frasz.  She is thrilled to  be a part of Vaughan's faculty and is looking forward to furthering the growth of her students! 


Jennifer Senders

Jennifer SendersJennifer grew up in Plainfield, Illinois and started dancing with Vaughan Dance Academy at the age of seven. She competed with INNOVATION Dance Company from the age of nine through eighteen earning numerous high scores with the troupe and her solos. She also had the opportunity to train under the Joffrey Ballet in New York City as part of a scholarship won at one of the regional competitions. She began assisting with Mrs. Vaughan when she was fourteen until she went to college.

After pursuing her degree in mathematics and secondary education, she became a wife and mother. She is ecstatic to be back in the studio and to share her love of this art with her students.


Katherine Tasa

Kat Tasa
Katherine grew up in Plainfield, Illinois and has been dancing with Vaughan Dance Academy since she was four years old, she began dancing with INNOVATION Dance Company when she was nine.  When she competed with Innovation Dance Company she received several high scores, awards, and scholarships.  

She is currently studying education but her passion and love for dance has never faded and she is thrilled to continue sharing that love with Vaughan Dance Academy.



Reception Staff:

Monday:  4pm-9pm - Katherine
Tuesday:  4pm-9pm - Katherine
Wednesday: 4pm-9pm - Riley
Thursday: 4pm-9pm - Gabby
Friday: CLOSED
Saturday: 9am-3pm - Riley
Sunday: CLOSED
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Guest Teachers:

Missy Ridgway
Alvin Ramirez
Emily Stein
Sergio Lopez
Anthony Fett
Robert McKee
Richard Smith
Sarah Hardy