Engage Dance Theatre, a year-round pre-professional dance company in Crystal Lake for ages 5-18 produces three performances a year including a full-length co-production of The Nutcracker with Raue Center For The Arts. The Nutcracker will appear at Raue Center for a limited engagement on November 18 & 19 with performances at 1 pm and 5 pm. 

Join Clara at her annual Christmas Eve party at the Staulbaum house enjoying a night full of celebration, dancing and magic! As the party comes to a close Clara sneaks downstairs to find her precious new Nutcracker doll and falls asleep dreaming of her wonderful evening. She is startled awake by a group of mischievous mice and taken on an exciting journey with Drosselmeyer and her precious Nutcracker. Battling a life-size mouse Queen, slipping & sliding with snowmen & dazzling Snow Queen, and then flying off on an enchanted crystal sleigh to meet the Queen of the Angels and her herald of Angles at the gates of the Land of Sweets. Spanish Chocolate, Arabian Coffee, Chinese Tea, Russian Taffy, Marzipan Candy, Merry & her sweet Mini Mints, Dew Drop with her carousel of flowers, and the elegant Sugar Plum Fairy & her Cavalier all dance for Clara in an adventure not to be missed this holiday season!

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to be the new dance company in residence with this cornerstone nonprofit. The Raue Center for the Arts provides for our Engage Dance Academy young artists a state of art performance space and access to industry professionals whose expertise has benefited our performances in the past,” says co-owner Courtney Petrocci. “Looking to the future we see this as an opportunity for both organizations to grow & produce great theatre & dance for the local & greater northern Illinois arts community.”

Engage Dance Academy is a premier dance academy owned & operated by Courtney & Marc Petrocci, former professional dancers at the Milwaukee Ballet. Bringing professional caliber dance training to Mchenry County for dancers ages 18 months-Adult. Engage is a triple-track dance studio offering dance classes for all levels. Engage Dance Theatre also hosts an award-winning competition team for those dancers looking to compete in Chicago-based competitions; and an Open Division for dancers looking for a wide variety of weekly classes ranging from baby ballet, jazz, hip hop, and Aerial Silks & Tumbling.  

For more information visit engagedanceacademy.com 

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.