Instructors

Grace Luttrell Nanavati
grace-athena-awardGrace is the owner/director of Dance Arts Studio, Inc. She has a B.A. in Dance from Butler University and a M.A. in Community Arts Management from UIS. She was the founder and Artistic Director for the Springfield Ballet Company (1975-1997) and prior to that was the artistic director for the Copper Coin Ballet Company (1973-1975). She is presently the Director Emeritus for the Springfield Ballet Company. She has choreographed many productions for the Muni Opera, the Springfield Theatre Centre, and the Springfield Opera Theatre, as well as Sacred Heart Academy and Springfield High School. She also choreographed for Medical Madness and Health First Clinic. She has received many awards in the Springfield Community, including the 1990 Illinois Times Best of Springfield – Outstanding Dancer and Outstanding Dance Studio. She is the Master Teacher for Artist In Residence, working with over 8,000 students a year. Grace is very active in the arts in Springfield, she is past president of the Springfield Art Association and the Hoogland Center for the Arts.

Julie Ratz
JulieJulie Ratz is an instructor/choreographer at Dance Arts Studio, Inc., is the Artistic Director of the Springfield Ballet Company, and was an adjunct professor in dance at Millikin University. She has performed with SBC; ISU Dance Theatre; Twin Cities Ballet Company; Scottish American Ballet in Edinburgh, Scotland; and Harvard University Summer Dance. Julie holds a B.S. in Dance Performance/Choreography from Illinois State University (ISU); and she has studied dance in Chicago at Lou Conte and Joseph Holmes dance studios, and the Ruth Page Foundation. She has received the Springfield Area Arts Council choreography award, and is a member of the Illinois Arts Council Dance Panel. Julie has performed in, choreographed and directed many productions for Over the Moon Productions (OTM), Springfield Theatre Centre (STC), Muni and the Hoogland Center for the Arts (HCFTA).

Gina DeCroix Russell
GinaGina DeCroix Russell is an instructor/choreographer at Dance Arts Studio, Inc., is the Ballet Mistress for the Springfield Ballet Company, and was an assistant instructional professor (Classical Ballet II) at Illinois State University’s School of Theatre & Dance for four years. She holds an M.A. and a B.A. in Communication from the University at Illinois at Springfield (UIS) and a B.A. in Dance Performance from ISU. Gina has performed in and choreographed for countless SBC productions and performed with the Scottish American Ballet in the Edinburgh Arts Festival Fringe. Gina is actively involved in community theatre, having performed in CATS, Urinetown: The Musical, Shakespeare Shorts, Sylvia and Man of La Mancha for OTM; A Chorus Line, Miss Saigon, The Producers and Guys & Dolls for Muni, Chicago for HCFTA; and Thoroughly Modern Millie at The Legacy Theatre for Roxy Theatricals.

Gary Shull
GaryShullGary is an instructor/choreographer at Dance Arts Studio. He began his early dance training in central Illinois and was a charter member of The Copper Coin Ballet. Gary studied dance in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles – where he studied with Paul Petroff and Nana Gollner, later joining their ballet company. While in L.A. his interests shifted more into directing and choreographing musicals. Gary’s work has been seen in many professional and community theatres in this area. He recently retired after 32 years of teaching in the Department of Theatre and Dance at Millikin University, and he continues to choreograph for local theatre and the Springfield Ballet Company.

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