Give the Gift of Dance and Song: New Arts Academy Offers Master Classes at CityGate

Academy of the Arts, a new, non-profit educational institution, is launching its programs just in time for the holiday season with a series of performing arts masterclasses led by accomplished performing artists. Classes will serve dancers age 12+ and vocalists age 10+, and be held Dec. 28 and Dec. 30, at the CityGate Centre campus, Rte. 59 & Ferry Rd., Naperville.

Chadaé Nichol
Chadaé Nichol

Broadway performer, arts educator and Joliet native Chadaé Nichol who made her Broadway debut in Mowtown the Musical will lead a 4:30 p.m. contemporary jazz master class and a 6:15 p.m. musical theatre dance master class, both Tuesday, Dec. 28, for ages 12 to adult.


At 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 30, recently retired North Central College Fine Arts Director Brian Lynch who played Les Miserables lead Jean Valjean will present “Les Miserables: Behind the Scenes” – a vocal workshop for ages 10 to adult. All three classes will be held at 2135 CityGate Ln., Naperville, next to Hotel Arista.



Brian Lynch
Brian Lynch

“We are so eager to launch our programming, and so fortunate to have Chadaé and Brian join us for this cornerstone event,” said Academy Co-Founder Dylan Ladd. “Holding these classes during winter break fills a gap for students, and even a lot of local performing arts schools suspend classes during this time, so it allows students to keep up their skills, fill their time and be exposed to accomplished artists.


“This kind or experience can be a great holiday gift for budding performers,” he added.


Regular Academy programming will begin in fall 2022, and the school is projected to fully open serving grade 6 to 12 students by the 2025-26 academic year with a curriculum that provides the core academic areas of math, reading, language arts, social studies and science, along with a range of visual arts and performing arts programs.


“We have a lot of work ahead before we have our state-of-the-art facility and our first class of full-time students,” Ladd said. “Much of that work is fund raising and we will be holding our first Gala event in February.”


The facility Ladd references is a planned world-class arts center: A 1,200-seat auditorium with a proscenium stage, fly loft and orchestra pit, an outdoor amphitheater, a modular black box theater and dance studios, and academic classrooms.


The non-profit Academy’s year-one fundraising goal is $2 million from which it anticipates building momentum toward the $80 million needed to break ground and build the new facility.


“These classes, the gala, and community support all are critical elements toward meeting our goal to fully open in fall 2025,” Ladd said. “It sounds lofty, but we’ve done the research and have the data: This is the right location with the level of community engagement needed to bring this asset to the families of Naperville and surrounding suburbs.”

All three December master classes will be held in a 5th floor studio spaced leased by the Academy at 2135 CityGate Ln., Naperville, next to Hotel Arista. Participation is $100 per class and a select number of need-based scholarships will be available. Enroll at www.illinoisartsacademy.org/enroll

Learn more about the Academy of the Arts, its December masterclasses and February gala, and other opportunities to support its mission at www.illinoisartsacademy.org.

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Master Class Teaching Artists’ Bios


Chadaé Nichol made her Broadway debut in Motown the Musical. She was most recently seen in The Lyric Opera of Chicago’s productions of Oklahoma and Showboat. Regionally Nichol has been part of productions of Little Shop of Horrors, Cabaret, and The Wiz, and she has starred in productions at Disneyland in California. Currently, Nichol is the education manager for The Broadway Collective. She earned her BFA in Musical Theatre from Ball State University.

Brian Lynch was called one of the finest talents in American Musical Theatre during his touring days as Jean Valjean in the Marius Company of Les Miserables. An experienced performer, professor, director, and choreographer, Lynch is recently retired from North Central College where he served as Fine Arts Director. Two of Lynch’s North Central productions were honored selection for performance at the prestigious Region III Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts College Theatre Festival. While at North Central, Lynch led the team to create the Wentz Concert Hall and Fine Arts Center as well as Meiley-Swallow Hall. Now retired from North Central, he serves on the board of directors for the Academy of the Arts.