Engage Dance Theatre: Building on Trust and Growing with Optimism

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.