Marja Finnigan, Director
Marja studied ballet, tap and jazz at Marilyn's School of Dance in Tomah, Wisconsin for 15 years. While there she was a member of Vision Dance Company, which toured internationally in France. At this time she also began participation with the Monroe-Jackson Dance Theatre (MJDT) performing various roles and solos in the Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and Thumbelina.
Continuing her performance career, Marja performed with The Limited Edition Show Choir which toured internationally in Austria, Germany and Italy. Additionally, while persuing her Bachelor's degree in Mass Communications, she expanded her dance education at UW-Milwaukee training primarily in Ballet and Jazz. She also danced for the UWM Dance Team for four years and was named captain her final year. While on the team they won the Division I National Hip-Hop Championship.
Marja has had various choreography opportunities working with MJDT's The Cracked Nut-A Nutcracker Satire, UWM Dance Team, Seven Rivers Skating Club and high school show choirs and dance teams. After teaching a variety of classes in the Milwaukee area for more than five years, Marja became the owner of Elation in 2009. She teaches Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Tap, and Contemporary as well as directing the Student Performance Company. She is certified instructor and member of the Dance Masters of Wisconsin and the Chicago National Association of Dance Masters (CNADM). Marja considers teaching the opportunity to give back the best gift she's ever been given.
Mackenzie Ausprung, Instructor
Mackenzie started dancing at the age of three and has studied ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, and hip hop. Starting her dance career at ACROS, a competitive studio in Indiana, Mackenzie then moved to Oconomowoc, Wisconsin where she continued dancing at Elation for the next 11 years. She joined Elation's dance company and had the opportunity to perform at Wave soccer games, Bucks games, and at local festivals. She also joined in traveling to competitions in the Wisconsin Dells and Illinois to compete dances with her peers and also participate in conventions to strengthen her skills, working alongside highly trained dancers. She enjoyed performing in several student showcases at Elation where she got to show off her own choreography. Mackenzie's last three years at Elation were spent taking several classes, helping in the dance store and assisting Ms. Marja in classes including Preschool and Elementary levels. One of Mackenzie's favorite parts of dance was performing in 15 recitals where she got to show her love and joy of dance to a big crowd including close friends and family.
Mackenzie graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and holds a dual license in Early Childhood and Special Education. Utilizing Mackenzie's expertise, our introductory classes integrate not just dance education principles, but child developement and learning! She has been on staff at Elation since 2016 and is also the director of our new Junior Company starting in 2020. She hopes to share her love and passion of dance with all the children she will be working with.
Amie Ferrante, Instructor
Over the span of a 30-year performing career, Amie has performed with Oak Park Civic Ballet, Beverly Ballet of Chicago, Dance Odyssey, Jazz Dance Chicago, Factory Dance Company, Dance Spectrum, Liturgical Dance Company, and on numerous television programs in Chicago and Milwaukee. Her teaching credits include certification by Dance Educators of America, certification as an Associate Member of the Fred Astaire National Dance Board, and invitations to teach ballet for Milwaukee Dance Connection under the direction of Allyne D. Gartrell, MTSU in Nashville, Tenn., and various other dance studios, universities, and companies across the U.S. She also holds teaching certifications from Dance Masters of Wisconsin as well as Chicago National Association of Dance Masters.
Ms. Ferrante has provided dancers and choreography for Bob McGrath of Seasame Street over a 7-year span during his performances ad Kid's Fest at the Marcus Amphitheater. She has been a resident consultant at Milwaukee High School of the Art since November 2004, teaching classes in ballet, pointe, jazz, modern, theater dance, tap, and ballroom. In addition, she choreographs musical productions for the West Allis Players.
Ms. Amie has been on staff at Elation since 2008. Outside of her classes, she also works with our Company and has choreographed several award-winning pieces in ballet and tap.
Christopher Gilbert, Instructor
Growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin Christopher Gilbert was inspired by the work ethic of his Mother Shirley Gilbert. The showmanship of Michael Jackson and the timeless talent of James Brown. In his years of coming up in a dance oriented environment he only displayed his movement in church. Also at Washington high school's dance studio (where his mother worked)...plus in the convenience of his own home. Now while his mother worked at Washington high school...he was able to dance with the high schools dance team (Kinetic Energy) only at the age of 8! Until he entered the arts department in high school at Wisconsin Lutheran high school where he amplified the talent that he once only displayed in selective places! Then shortly after that doors begin to open up in his life and for his future! Now during that year he had became a member of Rhema Dance a (liturgical, African dance company)! Plus over the years he spent at Wisconsin Lutheran...he landed his 1st teaching job at Pat Keller's Dance Studio in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin as their 1st Hip Hop instructor ever. Then he eventually chose to branch out and teach more so that he could expand his dance vocabulary and perfect his craft! Then later on he decided to attend the auditions of one of thee biggest dance shows that's known to mankind! So You Think You Can Dance...where he ended up making it as a contestant in the Las Vegas round to represent on behalf of Milwaukee and the whole state of Wisconsin! Now since departing from the show he has learned ballroom and has even taught at Fred Astaire in (Downtown Milwaukee)! He has also traveled the country often with the intent to inspire other dancers! Plus promote individuality one day at a time and as long as he can! He has also danced acted, toured with the Nickelodeon dance based show "Yo Gabba Gabba" since 2010. Plus has been choreographing for the Milwaukee based artistic company founded by Terry Spears called Visual Artsz!
Credits: Kinetic Energy (Washington High School Dance Team) Ko Thi (African Dance Company) Rhema Dance (Liturgical Dance Company) Fred Astaire (Ballroom Franchise) So You Think You Can Dance- Season 7 (Vegas Week Contestant) Yo Gabba Gabba (Dancer/Actor/Main Character)
Watch Christopher in Action:
So You Think You Can Dance Audition (Season 7): http://youtu.be/XPLQhxvj4w4
Brewers Promo Video: http://youtu.be/lyi677lwdnE
Teri Linder, Instructor
Beginning at age 3, Teri studied ballet, tap, pointe, lyrical and jazz at Anita's Dance Center in Muskego, WI for 15 continuous years. She was a member of the Midwest Connection Dance Company where she traveled and performed all over the US including Disneyland and Carnival Cruise. She was also a member of the Splash Dance Team, which was the professional dance team for Milwaukee Wave Soccer Team from 2000-2002. She competed in numerous nation-wide dance competitions including Tremaine, Dance Revolution and Dance Masters of Wisconsin. In addition, she performed locally at lakefront festivals, fairs, Bucks games, Marquette games and many more.
In 2008, Teri received a Dance Minor from University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where she studied ballet, modern, improvisation and contemporary. She choreographed contemporary and hip hop pieces for the Emerging Choreographer Concert and Dancescapes productions. She also was a member of the UWW Dance Team for four years and has organized and instructed Dance and Pom Clinics for young children.
Teri has eight years of teaching experience in the Milwaukee area covering all grade levels and has taught at Elation since 2015. Outside of teaching her classes at Elation, Teri has provided award-winning choreography for our Company. She loves sharing her life-long passion of dance with her students and watching them grow and develop their abilities into confident and beautiful dancers!