The Academy of Ballet Wauconda also has Jazz and Tap Company teams that perform publicly throughout the year.

The state of the art facility is located in the heart of downtown Wauconda. Please stop by or contact us for class schedules and registration information.

Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Hip Hop and Pointe classes are offered for ages 3 and up.  The Academy of Ballet also performs a Nutcracker every December (featuring students) as well as a studio wide recital every June.

Whether you are looking for dance classes for your young dancer, adult classes, or more advanced Pointe classes, the Academy of Ballet can suit your needs.  Studio dancers have been accepted into the Fort Wayne Ballet Program, The Milwaukee Ballet Program and accepted college scholarships to pursue their dance careers.

Our professional instructors have over 50 years of teaching experience. Their extensive training and true love for the arts is displayed through their compassion for every student.

Artistic Director:  Melissa Hayden (owner/artistic director)

Melissa began dancing at the age of three with The Boston School of Ballet (the official School of the Boston Ballet Company). She went on to attend Walnut Hill School for Performing Arts. Melissa earned her Dance Performance With a Teaching Emphasis degree from the University of Utah Fine Arts Department. While living in Utah, Melissa taught at the Ballet West Conservatory (the official school of Ballet West). Since moving to the Chicago area 22 years ago, she has continued to share her love of the performing arts through teaching and opening The Academy of Ballet Wauconda. Melissa currently lives in Wauconda with her husband and two adult children.

Michelle Lemm

Michelle has been involved in the dance world as an instructor, choreographer, coach, technical and artistic adjudicator as well as a technical advisor since 1995. She has coached and choreographed for award winning teams in both the studio and the school team circuit. She is Co-Founder of the TEAMDance Illinois, a non-profit organization which quickly became Illinois’ premiere high school dance team competition circuit. She also co-founded and directed TEAMDance Youth, and TDI Summer Technical Intensives. Her passion lies in developing and advancing students movement, skill and performance aspects. Some of her experience includes: Varsity Dance Coach at St. Edward High School, Stevenson High School and Wauconda High School as well as holding positions with The Illinois Drill Team Association, TEAMDance Illinois and currently is part of IHSA Dance Program.

Samantha Lesher

Samantha Lesher was student of the Academy of Ballet Wauconda and went on to receive a Bachelor’s of Science, Cum Laude in Dance Pedagogy from Oklahoma City University. While attending college, she worked with the American Spirit Dance Company as both a company member and on the wardrobe crew. Miss Sam performed in their annual Home of the Holidays performance for multiple seasons. She has also performed as a lead dancer in shows such as Hit the Lights, Applause, and One Night Only. Over the course of her time in school, Miss Sam taught with Dance Masters of America, American Dance Training Camps, and the Academy of Ballet Wauconda. She develops classes that challenge her student’s technique and classroom etiquette in a fun and creative environment.

Sara Swenson

Sara has been teaching dance since 2001. Miss Sara trained at Lou Conte Dance Studio in Chicago as a member of their scholarship program. She had the honor of studying ballet and contemporary with artists Birute Barodicaite, Frankie Avina and Claire Bataille. Miss Sara’s training includes summers with The Joffrey Ballet, Orlando Ballet, Carolina Ballet as well as BalletMet (participating in the BalletMet Pre-Professional Program). While performing with The Big Muddy Dance Company in St. Louis; she was able to work with world renowned choreographers Lou Conte, Laurie Stallings and Harrison McEldowney. Sara has danced as a back up dancer for Beyonce and is currently performing as a Company Member with Nomi Dance Company in Chicago.

Eric Otto

Eric began dancing at age seven with the School of American Ballet in New York City. He has danced with the New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Metropolitan Opera Ballet as well as being a cast member of Twyla Tharp’s “Come Fly Away.” In addition, Eric most recently appeared on Broadway in The Phantom of the Opera. Eric will be joining us for The Nutcracker and he will also be teaching Master Classes at the studio.

Lauren Mackey

Lauren was a member of the Lake Zurich High School Orchesis Group. Ms. Lauren went on to earn a Physical Education with a minor in Dance and Theatre from Luther College. She was a member of the Luther College Dance Team as well as the Eklipse Hip Hop Group. Lauren has also had the opportunity to study under Joel Hall.  Ms. Lauren currently teaches physical education in the Woodstock school district.  She is also involved in their Orchesis program and coaches the Varsity Competitive Dance Team.