Elaine McLaurin, a native of Chicago, performed at The Goodman Theatre with Congo Square Production in “Black Nativity” and The Production “Purlie”. A former member of the Joel Hall Dancer with whom she toured for eight years performing and teaching Master Classes throughout the United Kingdom and The Soviet Union. She also taught Master Classes in Mexico City and Japan. A hip-hop wonderment called “The Murk Groove”, created for the Hubbard Street Dancers, showcased her choreographic abilities to the delight of the Shubert Theater, Dance for Life at Navy Pier, and at the 1996 & 1997 Chicago Bulls half-time Championship Game Ceremony. Theater: Sophisticated Lady, Hot Mikado, Aladdin, (Drury Lane). “Who Ya Wit Tour” starring Comedian/Actor Bernie Mac, Jennifer Holiday “One Night Only” at the Orchestra Hall Choreographed by Kirby Reed, The Musical Bible Stories Directed by Donald Lawrence and Choreographed by Kirby Reed. Film: Principle Dancer for Hoodlum and Just Visiting. Television: HBO special “Midnight Mac”, starring Bernie Mac, 2001 Stellar Awards with Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers Choreographed by Kirby Reed, Jenny Jones show. In 2012, Douglas Park Dancers Performed at The Gospel Festival. She is currently teaching Hip Hop at Mayfair Academy-Peggy Sutton – Director, and Dance Director for Douglas Park Cultural & Community Center.
ERIN BARNETT, Artistic Director - Ballet/Jazz/Contemporary
Dancer, Choreographer Erin D. Barnett is a native of Chicago, IL. She began her formal training at age 6 at Mayfair Academy, and then continued her training at Joel Hall and with Homer Bryant. By age 9, Erin focused her attention of classical ballet under the tutelage of Larry Long at the Ruth Page Foundation School of Dance. In 1987, Erin was selected as the first African American “Clara” in the Chicago Tribune Charities Production of the Nutcracker at McCormick Place. Ms. Barnett received a B.F.A. of Theater Arts from Howard University in Washington D.C. Upon graduation, she performed and toured internationally with Garth Fagan Dance and Philadanco, and Armitage Gone Dance! After a three year run as “Sarafina” in Disney’s The Lion King in Las Vegas, Erin returned to Chicago to teach and share experiences with young dancers.
FARAH DIORO - TUNKS, Combination/Jazz
“Miss Farah” Dioro-Tunks was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and moved to Chicago in 1985. She has been dancing at Mayfair Academy of Fine Arts since 1988 where she studied Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Modern, Lyrical, Pointe, African and Tumbling and started teaching in 1994. A Mayfair Performing Company Alumna, she has choreographed for the company for several years and continues to for competitions, showcases and recitals. This year she celebrates her 20th year teaching at Mayfair Academy. “Miss Farah” studied at the University of Illinois-Chicago receiving her Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology in 2003 and Masters in Education in Instructional Leadership/Urban Youth Development in 2005. She has choreographed and performed with UIC Dance Troupe: PRIMO, Flawless Dancers and Graffiti Dancers. “Miss Farah” is currently an Area Manager with the Chicago Park District. She is a proud mother of one, Samirah Ania, who will be starting college in the Fall of 2019.
RUNAKO JAHI, Drama
Teaching artist (drama), actor, playwright, director, acting coach, poet, and graphic artist whose objective is to interpret the African American experience authentically, with all of its soulful complexities. Recent work includes Words & Passion: An Evening With Runako Jahi, at the Greenhouse Theater Center, produced by MPAACT Theater; Happy Birthday, Langston Hughes, a celebratory musical revue featuring the poetry of Mr. Hughes at City Winery — Chicago; South Shore Opera Company’s production of Harriet Tubman: When I Crossed That Line To Freedom; After School Matters; Urban Gateways; Upward Bound; Chicago Youth Center; Joan Collaso’s Timeless Gifts youth mentoring program; PraiZe Productions performing arts program; Madhi Theatre Company’s Chicago’s Bronzeville the Musical; Court Theater’s Arts in the Schools program, and the National Center For Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, Georgia’s Rialto Theatre. Actively involved in the theater from 1972 to date, beginning primarily as an actor, developed into a playwright, and later, an award-winning stage director. As a teaching artist, he has inspired and trained many performers and arts practitioners. He coached singer/actor, Jennifer Hudson, for her audition for the film, “Dreamgirls,” and has over thirty years experience developing youth and adult talent. Runako Jahi served as Artistic Director of eta Creative Arts Foundation from September 1990 to July 2014, developing the acting skills of novice actors as well as experienced ones.
JUNIOR WHITE, Hip-Hop
A Native of Chicago, Junior White has been performing since the tender age of 9 years old. Junior attended Collins High School, majoring in Performance Arts, Theatre and Music. He has studied intensely with Elaine Mclaurin and many other choreographers and dancers in the Chicagoland area. He is a former three-year member of the Perfect Tymin Performance Company where Ms. Mclaurin was the lead Director. Taking his experiences and all that he had learned, he created his very own hip-hop dance ensemble called Stereophonix. Mr. White’s choreographic and performance efforts were also prevalent in all five Dance Extravaganza’s, 2001-2005. His predominant pieces were “The Symphony & Game Over. In addition, he worked in conjunction with Harrison McEldowney at the Dance for Life benefit 2008 at the Harris Theater Chicago as well as several local musical artists. Junior is also a member of the Black Ensemble Theater. He is known for his role as (Jason) in the original production, The Last Dancer Standing. He is currently teaching at Mayfair Dance Academy, Beidler Elementary, Jones College Prep and a teaching artist for Columbia College CCAP Program. Junior has developed a beautiful and loving relationship with the youth, teens, and adults in which he works with. His goal is to inspire as well as help open eyes to different dance styles and cultures. The students learn many different Hip Hop techniques and have incorporated these with a touch of his own personal style to develop a unique and exquisite dance ensemble. Junior not only uses his dance techniques to better himself but to better other’s as well.
KELLY MCCORD SHADE, Combination/Jazz/Tap
Dance has been apart of Kelly’s life for the last 30 years. At the age of three, Kelly began her dance career at Mayfair Academy of Fine Arts where she was classically trained for 15 years in ballet, pointe, tap, and jazz. During her time at Mayfair, she was a dedicated member of the Performing Company. Kelly was also hired by Peggy Sutton to teach various dance combination classes prior to leaving home for college. Kelly attended Whitney M. Young High School where she was a member of the dance program, the Pom Pon team and Guys N Dolls. Upon graduating from high school, Kelly attended Hampton University where she joined the Terpsichorean Dance Company and served as the parliamentarian, vice-president, and president. Kelly was a Luvabull, a professional cheerleader for the Chicago Bulls, for two NBA seasons. She also joined the Chicago based Christian dance, Endure Productions. Kelly returns to Mayfair to share her love and passion of performing arts because she recognizes the positive impact that dance and Mayfair has had on her life.
SONIA RUSSELL, Tap/Combination
Sonia Russell was born and raised on the South side of Chicago. She started dancing at the age of 5 at Mayfair Academy. Sonia studied dance at Mayfair Academy for 14 years. She was a member of The Mayfair Performing Company for 10 years. Sonia has received numerous awards and scholarships including two Tap Scholarships at Mayfair Academy; several Joel Hall Dance Camp scholarships; five scholarships from the Chicago Human Rhythm Project for its dance festival featuring many popular dance choreographers. Sonia has competed in many dance competitions and has won Ultimate Gold dance awards, first place awards and the 2008 Student Choreographer’s award from the American Dance Awards Competition. Sonia has performed with M.A.D.D Rhythms Dance Company. She was elected by Hubbard Street Dance Company founder Lou Conte to perform his award winning choreography honoring Bill “Bojangles” Robinson to name a few. Sonia was featured on Channel 7’s “Someone You Should Know”, who honored Bril Barrett for his M.A.D.D. Rhythms Tap Dance Academy. Sonia also acted in plays in high school where she received awards for her performance and choreography. Sonia went off to study Theatre at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. There she had the opportunity to dance for P. Diddy’s sidekick Fonzworth Bentley. Not long after that, Sonia won first place in the Miss Black Beauty Pageant where she also showed off her skills in tap dancing. Sonia played a character named “Naomi” in a student film at SIU-C. Dancing and acting have been a part of Sonia’s life since she was a little girl. She focuses most of her time honing her dance and acting skills; her love for dance makes her strive for perfection in herself and when instructing others.
NINA COOPER, Managing Director
Nina, born and raised on the south side of Chicago, began dancing at the age of 3 at Carie Scott School of Modeling and Dance. Her passion for tap dancing and performing was recognized quickly and nurtured by her family. She trained under Millie Cruzat, studying ballet and jazz. In middle school and high school, she was a cheerleader and on the pom’s dance team.
Nina joined our staff in 2007, with the first Mommy & Me class. She fostered young children’s creativity while teaching the stages of movement and cognitive development to pre-combo students. In the most recent years, her career catapulted to which she credits as her most rewarding career as an elementary school teacher and arts infusion specialist/coordinator.
Nina is dedicated to keeping the legacy of Mayfair alive with a new level of energy and creative direction. Her experience developing engaging arts curriculum, implementing programs, coordinating events, recruiting art partners, and managing the daily operations of a business is what taking it to the next level looks like. As Managing Director she will work to oversee the day to day operations, implement programs and assist the Artistic Director. Her priority is serving community residents of all ages and diverse ethnicities, enhancing programming and making Mayfair a place to always call home.