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Spotlight is on: Dance group makes it debut at Ridgewood High School in Norridge

Years ago, when Harwood Heights resident Christina Hesslau dreamed of opening a dance academy, she knew she wanted to create a home away from home for dancers.

Now, after one year in business, her vision is being realized.

“I created my business, Spotlight Dance Chicago,” Hesslau said. “This was six years in the making. I’ve been dancing since I was 3 years old. … I decided to start a business after graduating from Columbia College Chicago.”

Spotlight Dance Chicago recently hosted its inaugural dance recital at Ridgewood High School.

This year’s theme, “Billboards greatest hits of all time”, provided an opportunity for the dancers to showcase a collection of dances. From the rock’ N’ roll tunes of Elvis to the Pop hits of Madonna, spectators enjoyed an array of music that spanned the decades.

“It was so much and fun,” Hesslau said. “It was so cute.”

The recital featured 70 dancers. Among them was Alyssa Gruia-Fregoso, 10, who said her favorite dance number was a “contemporary piece for ‘All You Need is Love.’”

“It was a duet, and my partner was Sofia [Schell],” she said. “We had a connection, and we can read each other.”

Harwood Heights Mayor Arlene Jezierny was among those in attendance. She said she was impressed by the attendance, the costumes and the performances.

“It looked like a professional recital,” Jezierny said. “They followed the leader. They did a ballet; they did a belly dance. They danced to different songs. They did all of this in one year. … It was a homerun for me. We were impressed.”

The bottom line, Hesslau said, is she wanted to encourage the dancers to strive for self-excellence, be self-disciplined and build on their love for dance.

Hesslau opened Spotlight Dance Academy in April 2017.

Growing up in Hardwood Heights, Hesslau said she took lessons at some of the studios in the area, but she said they “were too cut-throat, and I never felt comfortable.”

“You don’t just teach dance,” she said. “There are life skills to be learned, as well.”

Spotlight Dance Chicago is currently running its summer camps. For more information on program offerings, visit

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