Academy Faculty

Mary Brennan established the Barrington Dance Academy in 1984 followed by her founding of the Barrington Dance Ensemble (BDE) in 1989. Her dance training includes the National Academy of Dance, Champaign, Illinois, The Royal Academy of Dance, London, the Ellis DuBoulay School, Chicago and the University of Illinois where she earned a theater education degree. She served as drama department chair for the Champaign School District. Ms. Brennan served as Dance Co-Chair for the Barrington Area Arts Council for many years. She also developed dance curriculum for the State of Illinois Public School System and currently serves on the dance panel for the Illinois Arts Council. Her producing, directorial, and choreographic credits include The Sleeping Beauty, Coppelia, The Nutcracker, Under the Big Top, Graduation Ball, and Peter and the Wolf. Ms. Brennan is an expert in the Royal Academy of Dance training syllabus from pre-school through pre-professional level.


Roberta Pfeil-Begley started her early dance studies in Chicago with Richard Ellils and Christine DuBoulay, performing under their direction with the Illinois Ballet Company. She went on to perform professionally with Ruth Page’s Chicago Ballet, Geneva Ballet of Switzerland, and San Francisco Ballet. Her directing credits include Redwood Empire Ballet Company, and Ballet Theatre North, both accepted members of the Regional Ballet Association. She founded Dancer’s Workshop, her own school and company in California, before returning to Chicago where she continues to teach and choreograph. Her pieces have been featured nationally at Regional Ballet Festivals and throughout the Chicagoland area. Roberta is currently on faculty with the Barrington Dance Academy and Northwest Ballet Academy.


Pamela Johnson Tanis is a former principal dancer with the Joffrey Ballet (New York) and also danced with American Ballet Theatre, Maria Tallchief’s Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Illinois Ballet. She was coached in principal roles by Robert Joffrey, Gerald Arpino, George Balanchine, Leonide Massine, Danilova, Bronislava Nijinska, Todd Bolender, Jerome Robbins and Alvin Ailey, among others. She trained with Richard Ellis & Christine Du Boulay, Robert Joffrey, Hector Zaraspe, and Basil Thompson. She has taught at Dartmouth College, Ballet Folk of Moscow (Idaho), Gus Giordano’s Dance Studio, Joel Hall Dance Center, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and served on the faculties of Northern Illinois University (co-director), Columbia College Dance Center (Chicago) and Barat College Dance Conservatory (Lake Forest). She is a biographer in the Marquis Who’s Who in Entertainment. Pam is also on the faculty of North Shore School of Dance.


Karen Janet joined the BDA faculty in 1997. With an extensive training and performance resume in classical ballet, Ms. Janet possesses a sharp and creative eye for choreography, which is second only to her kind and motivating spirit. She received her early training from Ruby Gaba, Joyce Lang, and in Chicago with Richard Ellis and Christine DuBoulay. While dancing with The Brookfield Ballet she was awarded a scholarship from the George F. Koehnke Foundation of Colorado Springs to study, train and perform throughout Europe with the Talented Teens. While in Germany, the ensemble was invited to perform in Heidelburg for USA Armed Forces and their families. Karen was asked to audition and became a member of the DuPage Ballet Company under the directions of Lloyd Labit, dancing many roles. She also performed in ballets created by Gayle Parmelee Artistic Director of the Louisiana Ballet. After a career halting injury she met the late Patricia Sigurdson, former Founder and Director of the Salt Creek Ballet. Under Ms. Sigurdson’s guidance, Karen again resumed her professional dance career and was asked to join the faculty and assist with the operations of the school. She accepted an invitation to study with Jurgen Schneider and Madame Janina Cunova in a specialized program devoted to the Russian Method. Other credits include Artistic Director of the McCook Ballet Program and Assistant Artistic Director of the Woodstock Ballet.  In addition to teaching classes at BDA, Ms. Janet currently serves as a rehearsal coach for the BDE. Ms. Janet has also shared her choreographic talent with the BDE setting 2 original pieces, “Altering Attitudes” and “Italia”.  She is also sharing her training and teaching knowledge with other ballet programs and as a private coach.


Elizabeth Francesconi began studying dance at the Salt Creek Ballet Company in Westmont, Illinois under the direction of Sergey Kozadeyev and Zhanna Dubrovskya. At Salt Creek, she performed in many classical ballets such as The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Giselle, Alice in Wonderland, and Paquita. Elizabeth graduated from Butler University in May 2010 with a Bachelors of Arts in Dance Pedagogy. At Butler, she had a chance to perform in classical works such as The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Coppelia, Giselle, and Cinderella, along with choreographic works by Marek Cholewa, Cynthia Pratt and Tong Wang. She also traveled with Butler Ballet to St. Petersburg, Russia for a month in 2007, where she performed and took various classes throughout the city. She spent the summer of 2008 at BalletMet’s summer intensive, studying with Gerard Charles and Rebecca Rodriguez while performing Serenade, and as a soloist in Colores de Alma. She is extremely passionate about dancing and teaching, and thoroughly enjoys sharing her knowledge and love for dance with others.


Katelyn Hanna began her dancing career with the Barrington Dance Academy at age 5.  While with BDA she became a BDE company member and performed in several ballets including The Nutcracker and Sleeping Beauty.  Katelyn’s dance career followed her to Harper College where she performed with the Harper Dance Team.  She currently teaches ballet to children at Barrington Dance Academy and serves as a rehearsal coach for BDE.


Jessica Till  has an extensive dance background and was a founding member of the Barrington Dance Ensemble and student of the Barrington Dance Academy. She spent many years training and performing with the company and upon graduation went on to receive her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Iowa with a double major in Dance and Communication Studies. Jessica returned to BDE and took on the position of Executive Director from 2000-2009. After starting her family, Jessica took on the position of BDE Board President from 2012-2022. Jessica has been on the faculty of the Barrington Dance Academy since 2000. She is also a certified group fitness instructor with certifications in a number of fitness formats and member of the Barrington Park District’s Fitness team. Jessica enjoys raising her family and giving back to the community that she grew up in. In addition to her passion for Dance, Fitness and the Performing Arts, Jessica enjoys traveling and spending time with her husband Kevin and her three daughters, Sienna, Isabel and Gianna.

Barrington Dance Academy also hosts Master Classes. Some of our master teachers include:  Randy Duncan, Eddy Ocampo, Winifred Haun, and Wade Schaaf.