On their 20th Anniversary, Raue Center looks to the next 20 years and beyond to create a welcoming place where students of all ages can let their creativity soar! Youth and adult classes! Private, semi-private, and group workshops! Masterclasses with industry professionals! Raue Center School For The Arts (RCSA) is poised to be your “one-stop-shop” in arts education!

Modeled as a conservatory program, Raue Cenyer School For The Arts encourages students to build a curriculum that plays to their specific strengths and interests within the ever-changing landscape of theatrical and instrumental arts. Meet the amazing roster of instructors lined up for the inaugural semester.

Meet Aldren Briones, Instructor for Raue Center School for the Arts in a number of disciplines! Aldren is a vital member of the Piano Trends staff and a talented musician in a variety of instruments. He studied Vocal Performance at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb. Aldren has worked as a children’s music director with Children’s Theatre of Elgin, Arts Center of St. Charles, and also works as an accompanist and worship leader for Fil-Am Baptist Church. He is also a frequent guest on “Lifting Spirits Through Music” on Facebook and YouTube. Come “lift your spirits through music” with Aldren as your Instructor through RCSA.

Meet Amy Nelson, our Brass Instructor for Raue Center School for the Arts! Amy graduated with her music degree from Northern Illinois University in Dekalb. Since then, Amy has toured with groups and orchestras both regionally and nationally, including a gig as a member of Adele’s backup orchestra when Adele performed at the United Center in Chicago. She also has a few Broadway tours under her belt, including “Fiddler On the Roof.”

Meet Ashley Beleny, a Piano Instructor for Raue Center School for the Arts!
Ashley has a passion for teaching piano and has been playing since the age of 5. She also grew up singing in professional children’s choirs and started playing the guitar when she went to college (much easier to transport than a piano). She is currently learning to play the cello… a true testament that it’s never too late to learn a new instrument! Ashley plays mostly classical music on piano but has taught a wide range of styles in both one-on-one and group settings for students aged pre-school through adult.
Meet Bruce Waters, our Guitar/Bass/Ukulele Instructor for Raue Center School for the Arts! Bruce is a lifelong resident of the area and a big part of the music scene locally. He has worked with major artists like Ricky Skaggs at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, he is or has been a member of Pirates On 40 and Sweetwater among other bands. Bruce teaches and works with children and adults alike on both acoustic and electric guitars, bass guitar, ukulele, and percussion. Learn from one of the best in the biz with Bruce as your Guitar/Bass/Ukulele Instructor through RCSA.
Education Coordinator and instructor Alayna DeVar is now offering Private Voice Instruction through RCSA, in addition to two exciting Musical Theatre Ensembles: Youth MTE & Adult MTE! Alayna holds a degree in Vocal Performance from Millikin University where she studied Vocal Pedagogy and received excellent ensemble training from her time in the internationally recognized University Choir. She has been teaching private lessons since 2013 and began music directing and conducting for musicals in 2014. She worked as Vocal Director for Celebrity Cruise Lines and occasionally visits Nashville for private coaching with industry professionals.
Realize your full vocal potential with Alayna as your Voice Instructor through RCSA.
Meet John Benedeck, one of our Piano Instructors for Raue Center School for the Arts!
John grew up in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago and has been a pianist since he was six. Since then, he has implemented music in everything he does. Whether he is leading a worship team for his church, accompanying the seventh-inning stretch at Wrigley Field, or creating original music for podcasts and short films, John seeks the joy in music without compromise. Experience that same joy in music firsthand with John as your Piano Instructor through RCSA.

RCSA, your “one-stop-shop” in performing arts education! For enrollment information, please contact rcsa@rauecenter.org or visit our website for more details: https://www.rauecenter.org/education/

About Raue Center For The Arts

Raue Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization dedicated to enriching the lives of all through the arts. For 20 years, they have provided quality programming – striving to make it pertinent, available, and affordable to all. As a painstakingly restored, 1920s regional showcase theatre named for its benefactor—Lucile Raue—Raue Center has attracted the finest stars, Broadway shows, musicians and artists. Named on the League of Historic American Theatres, Raue Center is one of the finest examples of restored art and decor in the nation. The 750-seat theatre, located in historic downtown Crystal Lake, Illinois, is a gathering place for our region’s citizens and has become a true destination. 

For additional information, visit rauecenter.org or call the Box Office at 815.356.9212.

Engage Dance Theatre: Building on Trust and Growing with Optimism

Written by Anne Dyson

Having heard from a few Crystal Lake dance families who were excited about the recent studio expansion of Engage Dance Academy, I decided to stop by 5186 Northwest Highway and check-in with co-owners, Courtney Kramer Petrocci and Marc Petrocci. It was sunny outside and even sunnier inside.


When asked to describe the new space, Marc’s enthusiasm was evident.

“It’s a dream come true for us. The new 1400 sq. foot studio space is huge and bright so our dancers can push themselves to greater heights with improved stamina. As professional ballet dancers and teachers, we knew it was paramount that we install a superior quality floor. Our industry-leading Harlequin floor helps the dancers reach lofty goals while being protected against injury. In addition to the new dance space, we now have two extra bathrooms and a cross-training area. This new studio is a dream dance space for any professional dancer or student.”


Courtney emphasized that it was important for Engage to grow but they wanted to do it in a space that really benefited their students and instructors. When COVID hit, they thought this dream would have to go on the back burner until the distant future. However, that future is now and, not only has the school remained open, it is flourishing and expanding. Courtney described this journey of hard work as – “building on trust and growing with optimism.”  Both Marc and Courtney agree Engage Dance Academy would not be the strong organization it is today without its tremendously talented, flexible, and respectful Staff. 

Piloting through COVID and Zoom classes last year, without canceling a single one, and now back in studio still traversing through the ever-changing environment had to be challenging. Staying up to date with the latest CDC guidelines and providing their dance families with complete transparency about Engage policies has been key to earning and keeping family support. I asked about feedback from their family group.  Marc replied “Our families have trusted us to continue to teach, nurture and inspire their dancers through such an uncertain time, and our whole staff has worked tirelessly to continue to earn that confidence each day. The comment we hear all the time from both dancers and parents are ‘thank you’ for the consistency we have provided. In a time of uncertainty, the dance world remained- regular classes, successful performance and progression in their technical growth and love of dance.” 


With new space comes new opportunities. Courtney explained “With four gorgeous studios Engage has the ability to increase class offerings and still hold strong to our belief of smaller class sizes for maximum one on one attention. We are able to run multiple classes at once starting with a Baby Ballet at 9 am on weekdays & weekends through our most advanced students ending at 9:30 pm seven days a week. We have dance class times that fit different family schedules making us a studio for everyone.”

Engage Dance Academy prides itself on being a triple-track studio focusing on the wants and needs of all lovers of dance. Engage Dance Theatre, their pre-professional dance company performs three dance concerts a year including their enchanting holiday tradition The Nutcracker and features partnering classes with professionals from Milwaukee Ballet. Engage Comp Crew is their award-winning competition team.  Their Open Division Program allows dancers, ages 18month – adults, to pick and choose from many unique offerings including K-Pop and Aerial Silks without a huge time commitment. 


Marc and Courtney expressed how Engage would not be expanding today without the love and support of the Engage Dance Families. It was great to hear about a local business growing with optimism through yet another wave of this pandemic.


Engage is currently taking fall enrollment and will be holding open auditions for their annual Nutcracker held at the Raue Center for the Arts in Crystal Lake. For more information go to engagedanceacademy.com or call (815)477-0033.