Ballroom Dance Chicago's Management Team

Matthew Sove

 Ballroom Dance Chicago owner, Matthew Sove

When he was a kid, Matthew's mother told him that dance has a power to communicate, beyond that of spoken and written languages, and he believed her. With pots boiling on the stove and music streaming from the under-the-counter radio, she’d sweep him onto the kitchen floor and teach him about the playfulness of partner dancing and the joy of moving with another person. Since those formative years, Matthew never stopped dancing and has formally studied ballroom, Latin and modern dance.

In addition to dance, Matthew has studied aerospace engineering and English literature and he holds an MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His teachers would tell him to focus on one subject, but his mother (like any good mother) always said: “you can do whatever you put your mind to,” and he believed her. In fact, what has defined Matthew’s academic path is his ability to connect seemingly disparate topics and fields of study.

Matthew is an FAA certified pilot, writer, visual artist, lighting designer and rock climber. He fills his weekends with dining out and he defines a good meal more by the quality of wine than the food.

Matthew is the founder of BDC and a Master Dance Instructor. For more information about his teaching, writing, visual art and lighting design, visit:

Lydia Feuerhelm

 Ballroom Dance Chicago manager, Lydia Feuerhelm

Ever since Lydia was young, dance has been a mainstay in her life. Starting ballet at age 4 and having her first ballet recital in her living room, she began her lifelong passion for movement and performance. All throughout high school, she studied ballet, jazz, tap and modern dance. It wasn’t until she choreographed her first dance that she realized she wanted dance to remain a focus in her life. She decided to move to Chicago and study dance full time at Columbia College Chicago. During her time at Columbia, she focused primarily on modern dance, but she also enjoys exploring all kinds of movement, whether it be ballroom, contact improvisation or aerial silks.

When Lydia isn’t dancing, she might be crocheting scarves, working backstage for other productions, or searching Chicago for a great slice of pie.

Cathy Gilpin

 Ballroom Dance Chicago Manager, Cathy Gilpin

Born to move, Cathy started walking at the early age of nine months, and at the age of two, started her first ballet class. She continued to study a wide variety of dance styles from tap to lyrical to African, and the more she learned, the more dance and movement became a source of inspiration and an outlet for creativity in her life. In high school, Cathy quickly became the assistant choreography for all of the musical productions and went on to achieve a Bachelor’s degree in Theatre from Columbia College Chicago with a minor in dance. It was in these years, through her experiences coaching others, that she discovered her joy for inspiring others to express themselves creatively and to connect with the world around them.

When she’s not dancing, which is rare, you can find Cathy exploring new places to enjoy live music (where she’s probably dancing), writing music and poetry, braiding friendship bracelets, or saluting the sun.

Annamarie Penning

 A woman sitting and smiling on stairs.

Annamarie is a natural-born performer. Her love of music was apparent from the time she could speak. She sang all day, everyday, spreading music wherever she went. In first grade she begged her mother for dance lessons as a way of taking her love of music to the next level. It didn't take much convincing, and from there she embarked on her life-long dance journey. Through dancing, she would meet new people and eventually travel from small town Iowa to the Windy City to further her dance education at Columbia College Chicago. 

When Annamarie isn't dancing, you can most likely find her cuddling with her cat Bess, going out to eat with her friends, or sipping a nice cup of tea. 

John Jandernoa

 Latin dance instructor smiling

When John was in middle school, he would watch Michael Jackson videos as a way to pick up some sweet dance moves.  Throughout high school, he expanded his horizons and began learning from “Step Up” movies and Youtube videos as well.  He would often practice dance moves in the kitchen of his father’s house, using his reflection in the window of the back door to evaluate his form and technique.  When high school graduation rolled around and it was time to focus on a career path, John remembered the advice given to him by his mother—that he could achieve anything if he put his mind to it.  Deciding to commit not only his mind but his body as well, John decided to attend Columbia College Chicago in pursuit of a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance.  Since graduating, he has had the pleasure of performing with local modern dance companies Khecari and Mordine & Company.  In addition, he teaches dance to children and performs at Studio Jump.  

In his free time, John loves to practice flips, kicks, and twists, in pursuit of gaining recognition as a true ninja.  He also enjoys walking through nature and writing poetry, and is currently trying to teach himself Japanese online.

Shanna VanDerWerker

 A woman smiling

Growing up in Maryland and studying at a competitive dance studio, Shanna knew when she was 3 years old she wanted to be a dancer. After graduating from Point Park University in Pittsburgh, PA with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance, that dream first came true in front of Cinderella's Castle in Walt Disney World as a Kid of the Kingdom. Shanna was dancing and sharing the stage with Mickey, Minnie and all the gang. From there, she moved to NYC and after several years of auditions, free concerts, and regional theater she made her Broadway debut in the musical Wicked. Shanna went on to teach the show over 150 times as the dance captain of the First National Tour of Wicked. While on tour, Shanna and her husband decided to relocate to Chicago to start the next chapter of their journey.  

 When she isn't teaching dance or choreographing a show, Shanna can be found snuggling her dog, practicing mindfulness on her yoga mat, or enjoying a really yummy meal with her husband.


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