Chair - Dance
Randy Duncan, a native Chicagoan, has the unique privilege to be a three-time recipient of Chicago’s prestigious Ruth Page Award for Outstanding Choreographer of the year. He teaches worldwide and for the past twenty-two years has been on the Academy faculty.
Chair - Theatre
Ben Dicke holds a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance from the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Education from Sterling College. He has worked as a professional actor for twenty years in regional markets throughout the country.
Chair - Media Arts
Jessi Meliza has taught animation at The Academy since 2013 and was named Chair of the Department in the summer of 2017. She works in Chicago as an analogue and digital animator and has experience working in 16mm film production including both stop-motion animation and the DOS-controlled Oxberry animation stand for 2D filming.
Chair - Musical Theatre
Andrew Robinson earned his Bachelor of Arts in English and Religion from Rhodes College, his Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary at Columbia University, and his Master of Arts in Educational Theatre from New York University. he has been a creative associate with the Wagon Wheel Theatre for ten years where he has performed in and directed dozens of shows.
Chair - Music Department
Jazz vocalist Rose Colella currently performs regularly at Chicago's top jazz clubs and hotels, including The Jazz Showcase and The Green Mill, alongside the city's finest jazz musicians. Colella received her Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies from Roosevelt University in Chicago and owns the entertainment agency, Lola Bard Productions. She has been teaching jazz voice and piano at The Academy since 2006.
Patricia Rusk, musical director, pianist, arranger, and coach for both musical theatre and cabaret, has been performing professionally since age thirteen and teaching since age sixteen. She received a Bachelor of Arts with distinction from the Eastman School of Music and a Master of Arts from Northwestern University, with additional musical study at Villa Schifanoia, Florence, Italy.Patricia Rusk has been an integral part of The Academy since 1997.
Jesse Langen is a guitarist who specializes in new music. He works with living composers regularly and premieres dozens of pieces every season. Equally comfortable on classical and electric guitar, he seeks to push both the technical boundaries and the conceptual functions of the instrument. He has taught at The Academy since 2002.
Saren Nofs-Snyder is an accomplished, Jeff Nominated, Chicago-based actress who teaches acting in the Musical Theatre Department. She earned her BFA in Acting from the University of Utah, and her MFA in Acting and Directing from the University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC).
Deborah Goodman began her dance training at Northern Illinois University. She began teaching dance at The Academy in 2006. Goodman has served on the faculty of the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, New York University, Long Island University, The Connecticut Conservatory of the Performing Arts, and Usdan Center for the Creative and Performing Arts.
Liam O’Connor is a Chicago based visual artist who has taught at The Academy since the fall of 2015. He grew up on a small suburban island near San Francisco, and received his BA from Lewis & Clark College and his MFA in Sculpture + Expanded Practice from The Ohio State University.
Jake Hinkson is the author of several books, including the novels Hell On Church Street, The Posthumous Man, and No Tomorrow, the short story collection The Deepening Shade, and the essay collection The Blind Alley: Exploring Film Noir’s Forgotten Corners. He was a a guest lecturer at The Academy in early 2016 and later joined the faculty.
Rachel Brown is an active chamber musician, soloist, orchestral performer, and educator. After three years as a regular member of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, she is now the Associate Principal Second Violin of the South Bend Symphony Orchestra and also performs with the Illinois Symphony Orchestra, Rockford Symphony Orchestra, and Fort Wayne Philharmonic.
Jon earned his formal music education at the esteemed University of North Texas, where he studied with Lynn Seaton, Stefan Karlsson, and the legendary drummer Ed Soph. An extended workshop at the Banff Centre for the Arts afforded him the opportunity to work alongside Clarence Penn, Dave Douglas, and Jason Moran while developing his unique brand of drumming and composition.
A native of Gadsden , Alabama , Roderick Ferguson holds a Bachelor of Music Degree from Birmingham-Southern College (magna cum laude). Mr. Ferguson later earned a Master of Music Degree from the University of Houston where he studied with world-renowned concert artist Abbey Simon. His studies have also taken him to the Longy School of Music in Cambridge , MA and Northwestern University , where he undertook post-graduate study. He teaches piano at The Academy.
A native of Naperville, Illinois, Jack Murray began training in classical piano at the age of four. For the past four years, Jack has led an impressive career in the audio industry. Before joining the faculty at The Chicago Academy for the Arts, Jack was involved in numerous recording, live sound, and televised productions during which he worked alongside local stars, national touring acts, and seasoned music legends.
Andrew Bukowinski grew up in Oklahoma, where he began playing cello in the public school system and quickly grew attached to it. He earned his Bachelor of Music, summa cum laude from Arizona State University, and his Master of Music with distinction from DePaul University.
Katie Ernst is a bassist, vocalist, and educator from Naperville, IL. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media and a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. Ms. Ernst has performed at jazz festivals throughout the country including the Chicago Jazz Festival, Rochester International Jazz Festival, and Hyde Park Jazz Festival.