Instructors & Staff
Jennie Newman (Studio Director & Artistic Director of the Elite Competition Team/Jazz, Lyrical, and Turns & Leaps Instructor) became the proud owner and Studio Director of Elite Academy of Dance in South Elgin, Illinois on July 2nd, 2007. Under her direction, Elite Academy of Dance has grown to be one of the largest and most sought-after dance programs and competition teams in the Fox Valley. Year after year, Elite continues to win Reader’s Choice Awards from both the Daily Herald and the Kane County Chronicle, along with numerous high point, top placement, and judges’ choice awards for technique, showmanship, and choreography at regional and national competitions in the Midwest. Jennie has more than twenty years dance training and competitive dance experience from various studios in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago. She attended Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management, along with serving as captain of the ISU Competitive Dance Team. Jennie thrives on sharing her passion for dance with her students, encouraging them to work hard, believe in themselves, and dream BIG!
Brittany Gacek (Ballet, Modern, and Pre-Dance Instructor) has been a proud member of the Elite staff since the studio’s opening in 2007. After beginning her dance training as a small child in the Western Suburbs of Chicago, Brittany attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Dance with a Secondary Emphasis in Theatre and Drama. Her pieces have not only won top placements at both regional and national competitions, but have been recognized for her innovative, creative, and imaginative choreography. Brittany’s choreography has also been featured in the American College Dance Festival, at the Perry-Mansfield School of the Performing Arts, and in St. Charles East High School’s productions of The Secret Garden, Curtains, and Once Upon a Mattress. Brittany is devoted to inspiring a love of dance in all of her students, and pushing them to be the best that they can be.
Cara Carper Balcer (Acro Instructor) Originally from Pittsburgh, PA Cara began her professional dance career at age 19. Her performance credits include dancing abroad on the Norwegian cruise line “Pride of Aloha”, at both Walt Disney World and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and in a 10-city tour as a featured performer in Cirque du Magic. In 2009, Cara relocated to Chicago to perform with Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, and later became a faculty member at the Gus Giordano dance school. Additionally, Cara spent 3 years as a company member with Thodos Dance Chicago. Cara is now a freelance-performing artist and continues to share her love for dance through her teaching and choreography. Her style strengths include ballet, jazz, contemporary and acrobatics. Cara is excited to continue her journey in the industry and pass along her passion and knowledge that she has gained throughout her training and professional experiences.