Owner/Director Gina DeCroix Russell proudly carries on a long tradition of bringing exceptional dance education to the central Illinois community.
Originally named the Caskey Dance Studio after Mildred Caskey, the business was founded in the 1930’s and flourished under Caskey, a Ted Shawn dancer. Under the direction of Karen Allen Bisch, the business went through a name change in the late 1960’s to become Dance Arts Studio.
Grace Luttrell Nanavati returned to Springfield in 1973 after completing her BA in Dance from Butler University and assumed the role of owner and director of Dance Arts Studio, a title which she held for 45 years. During that time, Grace also co-founded the Springfield Ballet Company, which she directed for more than 20 years.
In January 2018, Grace sold the business to Gina DeCroix Russell, while also remaining an integral part of the day-to-day operations of the studio as a mentor, adviser, and instructor.
Gina grew up dancing at Dance Arts Studio and joined the staff as an instructor and choreographer in 1998. She holds a BA in Dance Performance from Illinois State University (ISU), where she later returned as an Assistant Instructional Professor to teach Classical Ballet II. Gina was the Ballet Mistress / Associate Artistic Director of the Springfield Ballet Company (SBC) for 15 years, under then Artistic Director Julie Ratz. She is now part of the artistic team for Copper Coin Ballet Company (CCBC) as an Associate Artistic Director, with Grace Luttrell Nanavati (CCBC Executive Artistic Director), Julie Ratz (CCBC Artistic Director) and Ronda Brinkman (CCBC Associate Artistic Director).
Gina is certified in the Giordano Technique for jazz dance through the Nan Giordano Certification Program® and has achieved Affiliate Teacher status as an ABT® Certified Teacher in Pre-Primary through Level 5 of American Ballet Theatre’s National Training Curriculum.
In addition to Grace and Gina, Dance Arts Studio’s exceptional instructors include:
Julie Ratz – Artistic Director, Copper Coin Ballet Company; Former Artistic Director, Springfield Ballet Company
Gary Shull – Retired Professor of Dance, Millikin University
Payton Case – Dancer, Kode Redd Dance Company
Autumn Meyer – Dance Program Instructor, Hoogland Kids and Teens
Today, Dance Arts Studio, Inc., continues to be one of the largest and most well-respected dance studios in central Illinois, with classes offered for children ages 20 months through adults and for beginning to advanced technique levels.