Richard Smith, Executive Director
Richard Smith is the Owner and Director of 360° Dance Festival and the Artistic Director of Inaside Chicago Dance. Smith was on the faculty at The Giordano Dance Center for six years and the Joel Hall Dancers and Center for three years. He has been affiliated with internationally touring Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago, River North Chicago Dance Company, and Cerqua Rivera Dance Theatre. He attended East Carolina University, in North Carolina, where he worked on a BFA in Dance Performance. The university allowed him to work with Mia Michaels, Mark Dendy, Katiti King, Frank Chaves, Alan Arnett and Tomi Overcash-Galaska.
Sarah Ford Hardy, Regional Director
Sarah Ford Hardy is originally from Louisville, Kentucky and is a graduate of the Youth Performing Arts School. While attending YPAS, she received her training in ballet, modern and jazz, as well as lyrical, tap and hip-hop at other local studios.
Sarah trained at the Joel Hall Dance Center and Columbia College in Chicago IL, the Edge Performing Arts Center in Hollywood, CA and Millennium Dance Complex in Los Angeles. She has performed with numerous dance companies such as Inaside Chicago Dance, Midwest Dance Collective, DanceWerks Dance Productions, The Joel Hall Dancers and The JADD Co. Sarah has had the pleasure of sharing the stage with artists such as Wierd Al Yankovic, Soulja Boy, Hannah Ford Welton and Joshua Welton of Counter Culture, 3rd Eye Girl and Prince. Sarah was a member of the Joseph Allen Decker Dance Company where she assisted Mr. Decker for two seasons. She was a featured dancer in the movie Dreams and choreographed for Nick Cannon’s Wild N’ Out Tour in Chicago.
Sarah is currently residing in Illinois where she is teaching and choreographing all over the Chicagoland area. She spent eight years choreographing and performing with Inaside Chicago Dance and just completed her sixth year as the company’s Youth Training Program Director and 9th year as the Summer Intensive Director. She enjoys teaching dancers of all ages, styles and levels and has recently been on the faculty of Dance Olympus, Dance Masters of WI, One Family Festival and 360 Dance Festival.
This past summer, Sarah and her husband Marcus incorporated as Sarcus Entertainment, LLC and created Sarcus Dance Company. She is really excited to embark upon her new adventure as the Assistant Director of 360 Dance Festival and work alongside her good friend and mentor, Richard Smith.
Catie Deitz-Griffith, Contemporary
Catie Deitz-Griffith began her training in Newton, New Jersey where she studied the Royal Academy of Dance, American Academy of Ballet and Vaganova Ballet techniques as well as Jazz, Modern, Tap and Acro. She furthered her training in New York City at the Joffrey Ballet School, American Ballet Theatre, Broadway Dance Center and Alvin Ailey American Dance Center.
In 1999 Catie moved to Chicago to study on scholarship at the Giordano Dance Center. In 2000 she joined Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago II and in 2002 joined Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago where she remained a company member for 5 years. During this time, Catie became the Tour Ballet Mistress for the company and also worked as an independent artist, dancing for Nick Pupillo, Eddy Ocampo, Elijah Gibson and Jon Lehrer. She has had the pleasure of working with choreographers such as Gus Giordano, Randy Duncan, Davis Robertson and Margo Sappington.
Since moving to Chicago, Catie has taught at a number of local dance studios where her choreography has won numerous awards including the 2016 Emerging Choreographer for Regional Dance America and has given her students the opportunity to dance in Dance Chicago, Walt Disney World, Regional Dance America, Youth Summit for the Arts and many other local, national and international venues. She is the Owner and Artistic Director of Elevations Dance Arts and Elevations Studio Company in Elburn, IL as well as the Artistic Director of Forum Dance Theatre in Libertyville, IL. Catie became a certified Progressing Ballet Technique instructor in 2017 and is thrilled to offer this program to her students.
Stephanie Knudson, Ballet Technique
Stephanie was raised in Kankakee, Il and grew up at Paula Aubry School of Dance. We all come from somewhere. 🙂 Stephanie is a graduate of the University of Idaho with a degree in dance. She also has a Master of Science with an emphasis in Recreation Therapy from the University of Florida. Stephanie is a former Miami Heat dancer as well as a dancer for Walt Disney World in Florida and performer in commercial projects. Stephanie is currently the competition director for East County Performing Arts Center. She has been teaching there for 15 years. During that time, she has been a teacher/choreographer for the competition team specializing in technique, private lessons, and cleaning. This includes studying under technique masters such as Denise Wall, Francisco Gella, Lisa Howell and others. She is a co-founder and artistic director for the Ballet Company of East County which puts on, amongst other productions, an elaborate and very successful interpretation of the classic, The Nutcracker. They have just celebrated their 14th anniversary. Before working for the performing arts center, Stephanie taught for Diablo Valley Community College, Arizona State University, and University of Florida in the dance dept. She has 30 years of experience teaching dancers from 2 to 80 modern, tumbling, jazz, contemporary, tap, lyrical and ballet. She has taught master classes on technique to dance and gymnastic studios throughout her 30 year career. She is currently on staff at 360* Dance Festival as a dance technique instructor. Stephanie also judges for Mark of Excellence and Imagine Dance Challenge dacompetitions all over the United States. Her dancers have helped to add to her list of accomplishment winning choreography awards from Hollywood Vibe Dance Convention, Hollywood Connection, Bravo, Rainbow Connection, Spotlight Dance Cup, Imagine, Energy and a Federation of Dance Competitions invitation to Dallas for their end of the year national, Revolution Talent Competition and NRG dance project.
Todd Rhoades, Musical Theater
Todd Rhoades, Chicago-based choreographer, director and performer had a versatile and vast training, which then helped his professional career. A Point Park University graduate, he trained with Boston Ballet, Joffrey Ballet and The Taylor School as well as studying Graham, Hortin, Dunham, Laban-Bartenieff, Yoga and Pilates. Todd began is professional career dancing with Pittsburgh Ballet Theater. He then danced for Ballet Austin, dancing soloist and principal roles by Stephen Mills, Septime Webre, David Parsons, Balanchine, David Nixon. Using his versatility as a dancer, he moved to Chicago where he danced with Luna Negra Dance Theater, The Seldoms, DanszLoop Chicago. Branching out from ballet and contemporary dance, Todd became a principal dancer with Lyric Opera of Chicago and performed in over a dozen productions as well as Chicago Opera Theater, Finger Lakes Opera and New Orleans Opera . Enjoying his experience with a new medium, he migrated into musical theater and theater performing at the Tennessee Williams Theater Festival in Provincetown, MA, The MUNY in St. Louis, The Goodman Theater, Paramount Theater, Marriott Theater and Drury Lane Theater.
Being asked by directors to collaborate, he began choreographing and has choreographed through all mediums: ballet, contemporary dance, opera, musicals, theater. Todd has choreographed for Paramount Theater, Music Theater Works, Lifeline Theater, City Lit Theater, The Savoyaires, Chicago Folks Operetta, Des Moines Metro Opera, Finger Lakes Opera, New Orleans Opera, New York State Ballet, New Orleans Ballet, Project Bound Dance, Inaside Chicago Dance, Nomi Dance Company, Ballet Austin Academy, Dance in the Parks. He has participated in the directing avenue with Finger Lakes Opera, Chicago Opera Theater and New Orleans Opera.
Along with performing, directing and choreographing, Todd also teaches yoga and pilates. He was the resident pilates and yoga teacher for the cast of Cirque du Soleil –Luzia while they were stationed in Chicago. Todd is also on faculty at The Theater School at DePaul University as well as many spas and studios.
Marcus Hardy, Improvisation/Hip-Hop/Contemporary
Marcus Hardy is a multi-disciplined dancer and choreographer who received his BFA in Dance Performance at East Carolina University in 2012. Soon after, he moved to Chicago, IL to dance professionally with Inaside Chicago Dance where he was a company member for 5 years. He has performed as a guest artist for Chicago Dance Crash and SueMo Dance Company in Milwaukee, WI. He has had the opportunity to work with renowned choreographers such as Jennifer Archibald, Frank Chaves, Robert Mckee, Preston Miller, Ricky Ruiz, Mary Jo Irve, August Tye, and many more. In addition to working as a performer, he has taught and choreographed at schools and studios across the Midwest.
Chris Xayarath, Hip-Hop
Born in the suburb of Chicago IL, Chris Xayarath started dancing in 2002. His interest in dance grew over the years as well as learning many different styles to this day; hip hop, jazz, jazz funk, and contemporary. From 2007-2009, he joined Xtreme Dance Force in Naperville, IL where he had the opportunity to work personally with choreographers such as Kevin Maher, Matt Cady, and David Moore. Chris was also given the opportunity to open up for Hip Hop artist Soulja Boy at Northern Illinois University in 2008. He opened up for artist Fat Joe and Bruno Mars at the House of Blues September of 2010. In 2011 and 2012, Chris performed and shared the stage with artists like Lil’ Jon, Ludacris, and Ciara at Chicago’s radio station 103.5 kiss fm’s fantabuloso concert. He recently worked with the Chicago Bulls Luvabulls dance team and was featured in Chicago artist Chance The Rapper in his music video Angels.