• Kirsten Uttich
  • Jennifer Pfaff Yonally
  • Kurt Schweitz
  • Aimee Chase
  • Isaac Stauffer
  • Chris Matthews
  • Anabel Watson
  • Bailey Caves
Kirsten Uttich

Kirsten Uttich

Company Member, Rehearsal Director

Kirsten began training with the Jensen School of Performing Arts at the age of 3 in her hometown, San Jose, Calif.  She came to Illinois by way of college, receiving a BS in Fitness and Sport and a Minor in Dance at Millikin University.  Since her move to Chicago in 2009, she has danced with Cartier Collective (dir. Julie Cartier) and joined in multiple works with Dance Chance Chicago, Audible Odyssey, and Jump Rhythm Jazz Project (dir. Billy Siegenfeld).  Her favorite part about living in Chicago is the abundance of opportunities to support other dance companies and fine arts organizations on a regular basis.  This is Kirsten’s ninth year as a performing dancer and her fourth year as Rehearsal Director.  Some of her favorite shows include We Will Tap You, Liaison, Tightwire, Changes, and Sweet Tap Chicago.  She has choreographed a number of pieces for CTT over the years, most recently “Superstar” and “Wanna Be Cool” for our 15th anniversary season.  Thanks to my family for never missing show and simply being the best!

Jennifer Pfaff Yonally

Jennifer Pfaff Yonally

Company Member, Business Manager

Jennifer Pfaff Yonally (Woodbridge, VA) fell in love with dance at the age of 7.  Originally aspiring to be a ballet dancer, Jen trained intensively under Ann Boyle at Dance Etc. School of the Arts.  The wealth of the arts in the Washington DC area afforded her the opportunity to take master classes & residencies from many well-known ballet companies that toured through the area.  She even had the opportunity to perform on the Kennedy Center stage!  Fascinated with all aspects of dance, Jen decided to learn the ins and outs of running a dance organization by receiving her B.S. in Dance Management from Oklahoma City University.  This is where Jen discovered the uniquely expressive abilities of tap dance to tell stories, covey emotions, and conjure beautiful rhythms. Upon graduation, Jen moved to Chicago and became a founding dancer of Chicago Tap Theatre, and as Business Manager, has been an integral part of the company’s development.  She was also integral in successfully developing the dance program at the Beverly Arts Center, serving as Dance Coordinator from 2004-2010.  Not content to keep her feet still, Jen recently received her MBA with a Certificate in Accounting from North Park University and is excited to continue pushing CTT to the next level of innovation and excellence.

Kurt Schweitz

Kurt Schweitz

Music Director

Kurt Schweitz has become one of Chicago’s most sought after bassists, “whose handsome tone anchors a billowing technique”, as stated in a recent review by Neil Tesser, author of “The Playboy Guide to Jazz”. While best known as a jazz bassist, Schweitz is a multi-genre multi-instrumentalist and composer having been playing various musical instruments since age 4. After moving to Chicago to pursue a PhD in Mathematics at the University of Chicago, Schweitz quickly become an active member of Chicago’s burgeoning music scene and has also performed internationally on stages in London, Paris, NY, at the Aberdeen Jazz Festival in Scotland, and Beijing, China. Back home, his schedule has included over 2,500 performances at venues such as the Chicago Jazz Festival, the Jay Pritzker Pavillion at Millenium Park, the South Shore Jazz and Heritage Festival, Meet the Composer, Chicago Humanities Festival, Asian-American Jazz Festival, and Milwaukee Jazz in the Park Festival. Locally, he can regularly be found at Chicago’s many jazz clubs and on dozens of local jazz and rock recordings. Schweitz regularly performs with jazz, rock, and classical groups, and his music uses these influences to contemporaneously unfold the deep roots of these musical genres into a cohesive whole. He has received an Individual Artist grant from the Illinois Arts Council and a grant from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events to write, perform, and record original music.

Aimee Chase

Aimee Chase

Company Member

Aimee Chase began dancing at the age of four at Miller’s Dance Studio in Aurora, Colorado. Throughout her years there as a competitive dancer, she had numerous opportunities to perform all over the U.S. and on cruise ships. Miller’s trained her to be a well-rounded dancer, but she was always very passionate about tap. She attended tap intensives learning from some of her biggest inspirations. After high school, Aimee attended the University of Colorado at Boulder and was a member of the CU Express Dance Team for two years. She graduated with a degree in Integrative Physiology to pursue a career in healthcare, and currently works for Athletico Physical Therapy.  Since moving to Chicago, she is incredibly happy to have found her dance family and is thrilled for this opportunity to dance alongside such exceptional talent at CTT!

 

Isaac Stauffer

Isaac Stauffer

Company Member

Isaac Stauffer, from the green fields of Iowa, grew up dancing since the age of 4.  His childhood training took place at Stairway to the Stars, who brought in many guest artists and working with Tyler Haydon of Tap Dogs really solidified his interest in tap for the future. He furthered his education at the University of Iowa where he worked with many award winning choreographers and received his BA in Dance and Elementary Education.  After his time at Iowa and a dance tour to the Dominican Republic, Los Angeles, and Chicago, he fell in love with the city and arrived permanently to pursue his tap dream.  Chicago Tap Theater’s innovative and advanced style really intrigued him as he received the honor to guest artist in CTT’s LoveTaps (2014).  The thrill of performing to live music with CTT’s unique approach to concert tap has brought him back time and time again as he begins his fifth season with Chicago Tap Theatre!

Chris Matthews

Chris Matthews

Touring Apprentice

Chris started his dance career at Talent Forum in Libertyville at the age of 11. Through the past seven years he’s been a part of Footprints Tap Ensemble, a youth professional tap group, where he danced with many artists from around the nation, including Max Pollak, The Syncopated Ladies, and Chicago Tap Theatre. He now studies music education at Vandercook College of Music, while apprenticing with CTT to pursue and connect his passions for tap dance and music making. He has had the pleasure of creating choreography for both himself as solos and also group pieces for Footprints Tap Ensemble, and has performed with the Vandercook Symphonic Band and Choir along with solo performances on clarinet. Chris’ introduction to the full experience of Chicago Tap Theatre was in the reproduction of Changes (2016), where he got to learn and perform many entertaining and emotional pieces as an Alliange and got to work along with an amazing cast and crew. Chris looks forward to continuing to perform on the stage both as a dancer with Chicago Tap Theatre and as a musician at Vandercook, and is excited to see where his first season as an Apprentice at Chicago Tap Theatre takes him! He would like to thank his family for always being the best and most encouraging audience from beginning to end.

Anabel Watson

Anabel Watson

Touring Apprentice

Anabel, originally from the Seattle area, spent her formative years studying tap dance primarily under Josh Scribner, and is a founding member of his company, the Alchemy Tap Project.  She has likewise trained with Seattle’s Becky Bloom, and has performed as a member of Tim Hickey’s 459 Tap Company and Jessie Sawyer’s Seattle Tap Collective. Anabel has been fortunate to perform solo pieces in selective showcases, many self-choreographed, at the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, the Vancouver International Tap Dance Festival, and Tap City: The New York City Tap Festival, and to have been hired as a performer by organizations such as Teatro Zinzanni, Seattle and the Walla Walla Dance Festival, all fulfilling opportunities to engage with and feed off the energy and expertise of the vibrant international dance community. Anabel has shared her expression and love of tap through choreography for group and solo pieces in varied venues and has background studying hip-hop, flamenco, and ballet from well-known Seattle based dancers. Now in Chicago, Anabel is excited to return for her second season with CTT while studying in the DePaul University Honors program.

Bailey Caves

Bailey Caves

Apprentice, Social Media Coordinator

Bailey started her dance career at the age of two at Dancentre South in Woodstock, GA under the direction of Annie Day and Marcus Alford. She trained and performed a variety of styles at DCS such as: tap, jazz, ballet, hip-hop, contemporary, African, and musical theatre.  While training at DCS, she performed at the Nutcracker of Cherokee County, BalletFest, Jazz on Tap Festival, Disney World, the Panoply Festival, and the Piccolo Spoleto Festival. Having found her life passion in dance, she attended Oklahoma City University to pursue dance as a career. Bailey is a 2017 Magna Cum Laude graduate with a B.S. in Dance Management. She performed as a company member of the American Spirit Dance Company, directed by Jo Rowan as well as the OCU Pep Dancers, directed and led by Alana Martin. Bailey is ecstatic to be back with Chicago Tap Theatre as an apprentice and to be a part of our Sweet Sixteen Season!

 

Sterling Harris

Apprentice

Sterling, a Chicago native, fell in love with tap at the age of six after first being introduced to the art form by Fachica Austin-Alderson. At 11-years-old, Sterling joined Studio One Dance Theatre where he was exposed to other styles of dance and acting—all while continuing to tap. After enrolling at Northwestern University in 2014, Sterling joined Tonik Tap, Northwestern’s premier tap group, and remained a member throughout his four years. He had the privilege of serving as Artistic Director of Tonik Tap his senior year under the mentorship of Billy Siegenfeld. Throughout college, Sterling choreographed and performed in shows and concept videos ranging a multitude of styles for Tonik Tap, Refresh Dance Crew, and the dance department at Northwestern. Sterling graduated from Northwestern in June 2018 with a B.A. in Neuroscience and is currently a research assistant for the Center for Community Health in the Feinberg School of Medicine. While he has a wide array of interests in the arts and healthcare, tap has remained at the forefront of his passions. Sterling is excited to have the opportunity to learn and grow with CTT this season as an apprentice and couldn’t be more grateful for the chance to continue doing what he loves.

Heather Latakas

Apprentice

Heather began dancing at Dance Academy of Antioch at the age of four under the direction of Amy Hunter. Her love for dance quickly blossomed into a lifelong passion. Although she trained in a variety of styles, including jazz, ballet, lyrical, contemporary, modern, hip hop, and musical theatre, tap was always her favorite. Heather expanded her tap training by attending Chicago Human Rhythm Project and taking classes through their Youth Tap Ensemble Conference. This is where she first met Mark Yonally, and was immediately drawn to his teaching style and musical approach to tap dance. Heather pursued a career in dance by attending Oklahoma City University, where she attained a BPA in Dance Performance and expanded her knowledge of teaching and choreographing, while performing in several shows with the American Spirit Dance Company. During her collegiate years, she had the incredible opportunity to spend a summer interning for Chicago Tap Theatre and performing as an Evil Henchperson in their reproduction of Changes (2016). Having fallen in love with the company and the work it produced, Heather is extremely thankful and overjoyed to be a part of Chicago Tap Theatre and work alongside of so many talented people!

Case Prime

Apprentice

Case Prime, from Lake George, NY, started taking tap at the young age of 4 years old. Eventually he went on to study ballet, contemporary, and modern dance.  At age 14 he began his career as a teacher and choreographer at Starlet Dance Works in Queensbury NY. Once he turned 15, Case traveled to New York City and was accepted as a member of the American Tap Dance Foundation’s Tap City Youth Ensemble where he had the opportunity to work under amazing artists such as Michelle Dorrance and Brenda Buffalino. Case is currently a freshman at Columbia College Chicago, studying Music Composition and Audio Production, and is very excited to be starting his apprenticeship with Chicago Tap Theatre.

Molly Smith

Apprentice, Company Manager

Molly Smith grew up dancing at Dance Productions in Charlotte, NC, where she trained in various styles including tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical, and hip hop. Molly had the opportunity to attend tap conventions and workshops throughout the country and train with many artists including Mark Goodman, Lisa LaTouche, and Aaron Tolson. She continued her studies at Oklahoma City University, where she earned her Bachelors of Science in Dance Management and performed and stage managed with the American Spirit Dance Company and the Spirit of Grace Dancers, graduating Summa Cum Laude and with Honors. Molly could not be more excited to be joining CTT this season as an apprentice and company manager, and she is so grateful for her family, friends, teachers, fellow dancers, and Mark and Jen for believing in her.