MEET YOUR 2022-2023 ILLINETTES DANCE TEAM

Meet the talented women who make Illinettes what it is today. As the official dance team of the University of Illinois, we are well aware that we couldn’t have gotten to where we are today if it weren’t for our disciplined and motivated team members and everything we have accomplished in the past. Read on to learn more about the dancers who love representing the University and where they are from and where they are going!

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Emma Connelly

*Co-Captain
Senior

4th Year Member
Major: Business
Hometown: Naperville, IL

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*Co-CaptainJ
Junior
4th Year Member
Major: Kinesiology
Hometown: Lake Villa, IL

Danielle Fuller

Danielle has been dancing since she was eight years old. She trained and competed with Shine Bright Dance Studio in Antioch, IL in a variety of styles under the direction of Courtney Kozlowski. She won many titles, awards, and scholarships during her competition career at the regional and national level. At the age of eleven, she was chosen to be a part of Inaside Chicago Dance’s youth training program directed by Sarah Ford-Hardy. Throughout Danielle’s dance career she has had opportunities to train in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Louisville. She has been a hip hop teaching assistant for Marcus Hardy at several

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Bella Gallina

Bella has been dancing since she was three years old. She was a member of Lake Park High School’s varsity dance team. She was named captain her senior year and led her team to a third place finish in the 2019 IHSA state finals. She was awarded All-Conference her junior and senior year. She also danced and choreographed for her high school’s dance ensemble. After high school, she trained at Visceral Dance studio while teaching dance classes at a local studio. Bella is a second year member on the team and is so excited for another season!

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Kelly Higgason

Prior to dance, Kelly began her gymnastics training at the age of five and started dancing at the age of eleven. Her dance training took place at the Dance Academy of Libertyville where she was a part of the Jazz Theater of Illinois. Kelly was a three-year member of the Libertyville Varsity Dance Team and qualified for the IHSA state competition each of those years. Her senior year she was a captain of the varsity team and received the MVP award of that year.

Senior
2nd Year Member
Major: Elementary Education
Hometown: Medinah, IL

Senior
3rd Year Member
Minor: Kinesiology
Hometown: Libertyville, IL

Emma has been dancing since the age of three and at the age of ten began dancing competitively for the School of Performing Arts Dance Ensemble. Emma was a four-year member of the Naperville North High School Varsity Dance Team, which qualified for the IHSA state competition all four years. Her senior year, as a captain, she helped lead the team to win the 2019 State Championship. Emma was also a member of Naperville North’s Orchesis Dance club for three years, performing and choreographing for the Orchesis showcase. She cannot wait for another year on Illinettes!

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Senior
2nd Year Member
Major: Media and Cinema Studies
Minor: Business

Hometown: Ottawa, IL

Madison Lindenbaum

Madison began dancing at Adagio School of Performing Arts at the age of three, training in various styles throughout the years. While dancing at her home studio, she performed in many shows and competitions which led to her love of performing. She has performed in WeDay, London's New Years Day Parade, and others. During her time at Ottawa Township High School, she joined the pom team her junior and senior year. Madison is so excited for the year and can't wait for all the new memories while on the team

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*Co-Captain
Senior

4th Year Member
Major: Finance
Hometown: Naperville, IL

Calle Mennecke

Calle has been dancing since she was three years old. She spent many of her years with Inspire School of Dance traveling to various conventions and competitions around the country. Throughout her dance career she attended LADM Nationals in Los Angeles and then multiple years in NYC as part of the NYCDA Outstanding Dancer Experience. She was a member of Neuqua Valley High School's Orchesis Dance Company her junior year and choreographed her senior year. She was a member of Studio 8 Dance Company her senior year working with many talented choreographers.

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Senior
4th Year Member
Major: Advertising
Minor: Business

Hometown: Barrington, IL

Bri Pietrzak

Bri has been dancing since she was three years old. She trained and competed with Denise Sabala Dance Studio and The Dance Loft. In high school, she was a four-year member of Barrington High School’s Dance Team and competed in the IHSA state competition twice. She also participated in and choreographed multiple dances for her school's Orchesis Dance Company serving as their executive director.

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Senior
4th Year Member

Major: Dance
Hometown: Auburn, IL

Hannah Tharp

Hannah is from Auburn, IL and grew up training at Jan’s Dance Studio. She is a dance major at the University where she gets the opportunity to perform in shows at the Krannert Center for Performing Arts. She also choreographs for local studios and will be running rehearsals for her upcoming senior thesis this year. Hannah is a fourth year member of the Illinettes and is so excited for her final year at the U of I.

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Junior
3rd Year Member
Major: Advertising
Minor: RST

Hometown: Libertyville, IL

Megan Graham

Megan has been dancing since she was three years old. She danced with Dancenter North her entire life. She also was on her Varsity Dance Team at Carmel Catholic High School, as well as a Co-Captain her senior year. She also was the President of Carmel Catholic High School’s Orchesis Dance Company her senior. Megan is so excited for her third season as an Illinette!

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Junior
3rd Year Member
Major: Finance
Hometown: Cary, IL

Eva Hahnfeld

Eva has been dancing since she was two years old, training in multiple styles at CGPAC dance studio. Through CGPAC, she has won numerous awards and received a scholarship from the Dance Masters of Wisconsin convention. She has also been a four-year member of the Cary-Grove High School dance team and has competed in the IHSA state competition twice. Eva is super excited to continue her third year dancing in college with the Illinettes!

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Junior
3rd Year Member
Major: Human Development and Family Studies
Hometown: Arlington Heights, IL

Cassidy Murphy

Cassidy has been dancing since the age of two. She grew up competing in many different competitions, such as NYCDA, and received many different awards and scholarships. She spent 8 years dancing at the Academy of Dance Arts under the training of Sherry Moray and Ricky Ruiz. Cassidy is so excited for the new season!

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Junior
1st Year Member
Major: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Hometown: Aurora, IL

Lynnea Njoya

Lynnea started her dance career through the Fox Valley Park District when she was three years old. She started competing with A-Factor Dance Company at eight years old, then followed her teachers to their new studio AKA Dance in downtown Aurora. At age 16, she branched out to different dance programs in the Chicagoland area including Youth Training Program (YTP) through Inaside Chicago Dance and a hip hop group called Boom Box! Dance Company. The pandemic sort of halted her dance training for a bit, but she is so excited for her first season with the Illinettes!

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Sophomore
2nd Year Member
Major: Speech and Hearing Sciences
Hometown: Naperville, IL

Caroline Corcoran

Caroline has been dancing since she was three years old at various studios, but ultimately danced and competed at Steps Dance Center for four years before entering high school. All of high school, she was a part of the Orchesis dance club at her school, choreographing her sophomore, junior, and senior year. Caroline was also a member of her high school's varsity dance team, qualifying for IHSA State prelims and finals all four years and even winning the state title her sophomore year. While on the team, she was a DVC All-Conference Athlete her junior and senior year and choreographed their competitive dances her senior year. She is so excited for another year on Illinettes!

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Sophomore
2nd Year Member

Major: Communications
Hometown: Naperville, IL

Allie Demay

Allie has been dancing since she was three years old. She danced at Steps Dance Center for fifteen years, and competed on their jazz and hip hop companies. Allie was also a four-year member of Neuqua Valley’s Orchesis Dance Company. She choreographed on Orchesis for three years and was one of the student directors for her junior and senior year. Allie is so excited to continue dancing with the Illinettes for her second year!

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Sophomore
2nd Year Member
Major: Social Work
Hometown: Arcola, IL

Mae Gentry

Mae started dancing at the age of three. She trained at the Mattoon Academy in various styles including jazz, lyrical, contemporary, poms, musical theater, and hip hop. As a seven-year member of the competitive team, Mae and her teammates earned national titles, awards, and scholarships. Her solo numbers earned top place finishes as well. During her senior year, Mae was a Dancer of the Year finalist in three competitions, and she was named the regional Senior Dancer of the Year in St. Louis. She was also selected to participate in a showcase of stars and an exhibition performance with dancers from around the country. Mae cannot wait for another year on Illinettes!

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Sophomore
1st Year Member
Major: Marketing
Hometown: Arlington Heights, IL

Hannah Hautzinger

Hannah has been dancing since she was four years old. She trained at the Arlington Heights Park District for twelve years and was on the company team for two years prior to high school. Hannah attended Prospect High School where she was a member of Orchesis, Poms, and the Competitive Dance Team. She choreographed multiple dances throughout her time on Orchesis and competed at IHSA state twice with the Competitive Dance Team. Hannah is beyond excited to continue her dance career with the Illinettes!

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Sophomore
1st Year Member
Major: Kinesiology
Hometown: Glenview, IL

Kathleen Hensing

Kathleen started dancing at Driven to Dance studio when she was 3 years old. She trained in various styles of dance throughout the years and joined a company team for 2 years. When she reached High School, she joined the Glenbrook South Poms Team under the direction of Julie Smith. On the team, she competed all over the state of Illinois, and even placed in both Jazz and Pom at UDA nationals in 2020. She was captain her sophmore year, and her senior year she was named All American and also received the sportsmanship award. Kathleen is so excited for the upcoming year on the Illinettes!

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Sophomore
2nd Year Member
Major: Communications
Minor: Spanish

Hometown: Naperville, IL

Brenna Hill

Brenna started dancing when she was nine years old. She trained at her local studio Steps Dance Center for five years. She then danced on her high school's varsity dance team serving as Captain her junior and senior year! She got to experience dancing at a Citrus Bowl in Orlando, qualifying for state every year, and ultimately winning state her sophomore year! Brenna cannot wait to dance on the Illinettes! Go Illini!

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Sophomore

2nd Year Member

Major: Biology

Hometown: Plainfield, IL

Gabriella Manriquez

Gabriella began dancing at the age of three and danced competitively for twelve years at BDA Dance Company. With BDA, she has won many titles, scholarships, and overall placements for group dances, and as a soloist nationally and regionally. She was on her high school's dance team for four years and was captain her senior year. She was also named All-Conference athlete her junior and senior year and qualified for IHSA state both of those years.

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Sophomore

2nd Year Member

Major: Marketing

Hometown: Wood Dale, IL

Rosalie Moraga

Rosalie has been dancing since the age of three. She started her dance career at a local park district, but soon moved to a competitive studio, Dance Xplosion, at the age of seven. During her time there, she competed at several dance competitions and conventions. At conventions such as Nuvo and Radix, she received recognition and several scholarships. After her freshman year of high school, she decided to transition from the competitive dance studio to her high school dance team at Montini Catholic High School. Her team achieved state titles in 1A during both her freshman and sophomore year. Two years later, moving up to 2A, her team received first runner-up, which Rosalie considers a huge accomplishment for both herself and her team. Although she no longer competed with her studio, she still took conventions and traveled to other states, such as California, to take classes with well-known teachers.

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Freshman

1st Year Member

Major: Business Undeclared

Hometown: Elmhurst, IL

Katelin Doughty

Katelin has been dancing since the age of three. Throughout high school, she was a four year member of York Competitive Dance Team and qualified for the IHSA state competition her sophomore year. Her senior year she was captain of the varsity team during football season. She trained and competed at the Difference Dance Company, attending conventions across the Midwest and nationals in Las Vegas. As a three year member of the team, she and her teammates earned national titles and scholarships. Her senior year she received the Hardest Worker award. She is beyond grateful for the opportunity to be apart of this incredible team!

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Freshman

1st Year Member

Major: Engineering Undeclared

Hometown: Long Grove, IL

Erin Edwards

Erin started dancing when she was three years old. She joined Reverie Dance Academy their opening year, at age 6. She continued to train and compete with her studio for the next 12 years until graduating from Saint Viator High School. Her team was awarded many overall placement at various regional and National competitions. Erin is beyond excited to be living out a life long dream by dancing with the Illinettes.

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Freshman

1st Year Member

Major: Mathematics

Minor: Teacher Education

Hometown: Bolingbrook, IL

Emma Geiger

Emma began her dance training at age 9, training in many styles of dance. At age 12, she began competing and training in ballet and modern at Arts Ballet Conservatory. She was a 2 year member of the Plainfield East Dance Team, where she qualified for state in 2021 and attended UDA Nationals in 2022. Her senior year she was an SPC All-Conference Athlete. She received additional training in styles such as jazz, hip hop, and contemporary, and continued to compete at Freedom Of Movement Dance Company her senior year. While competing, she won a regional title and many high group dance placements. She can’t wait to continue dancing on the Illinettes Dance Team!

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Freshman

1st Year Member

Major: I-Health

Hometown: East Peoria, IL

Alex Hinshaw

Alex started dancing at Debby’s School of Dance when she was nine years old. In 8th grade she joined her junior high dance team and then continued on to the high school dance team. Her senior year she became captain of her high school team and now is continuing her dance career with the Illinettes!

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Freshman

1st Year Member

Major: Economics

Hometown: Algonquin, IL

Macy Jemmi

Macy has been dancing for 15 years and when she entered high school, she danced on her Varsity dance team for all 4 years. For her senior year she was voted captain. She also competed at a highly competitive studio called Dance Xplosion for 6 years and she decided she wanted to continue dancing and keep doing what she loved on the Illinettes dance team.

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Freshman

1st Year Member

Major: Elementary Education

Hometown: Arlington Heights, IL 

Kelly McCall

Kelly began dancing at a young age. She studied at various studios before finding her home at On Your Toes academy of dance under the direction of Louise Taitz. She competed there for 7 years and received many awards and scholarships. Kelly represented the USA at the Youth America Grand Prix (YAGP) finals 3 times and had the opportunity to choreograph and teach as well. In addition to her studio dance she was a part of Orchesis club and a member of the Varsity Dance Team at her high school.

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Freshman
1st Year Member
Major: Journalism
Hometown: Naperville, IL

Kendall O'Keefe

Kendall has been dancing since she was 3 years old, but started dancing competitively at the age of 7. She competed until her senior year of high school, training with Steps Dance Center for 9 years in Aurora, Illinois. She was also part of the Neuqua Valley Orchesis Dance Company at her high school for 4 years where she helped choreograph for 3 of those years. She also served as a student director her junior and senior year. Kendall is so excited to start this season with the Illinettes!

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Freshman
1st Year Member
Major: Social Work
Hometown: Pekin, IL

Grace Spanos

Grace started dancing when she was only three years old. She grew up dancing at Classical Dance Academy and at the age of 11 joined the Expressions competitive team at her studio. She trained in a variety of styles to learn and grow as a dancer. At Pekin Community High School Grace was a four year member of the half time and competitive team. She served as a captain her senior year and was a state qualifier for two years in IHSA finals. She am looking forward to the new opportunities coming her way this year as an Illinette!