Our Story

The Dance Center was founded to serve as a professional training center.  Professional backgrounds, meticulous attention, and methodical analysis of technique help students achieve their highest potential.  The program includes preballet, classical ballet, adult/teen beginning ballet, and our Pre-Professional program.  Classes are also offered in Character, Contemporary, Jazz and Hip Hop, as well as Ballet for Figure Skaters, to provide a well-rounded dance education.  Fitness classes are also offered, and include Zumba, Strong by Zumba, and WERQ fitness.  Instruction is provided by professional artists who have performed nationally and internationally. Students have the opportunity to participate in several performances every year, including a professional production of The Nutcracker, with Von Heidecke’s Chicago Festival Ballet.  Kenneth von Heidecke is chief choreographer for VH Dance Center, and founder and choreographer of Von Heidecke’s Chicago Festival Ballet.  He is also an internationally renowned choreographer for opera and ballet companies around the world, having choreographed over 60 operas and 80 ballets.  He was hand-chosen by legendary Prima Ballerina Assoluta Maria Tallchief to appear in the 1975 world premiere of George Balanchine’s Orfeo ed Euridice, and she referred to him as her protégé.

Artistic Merit, Leadership and Academic Achievement

The National Honor Society for Dance Arts™ (NHSDA) is a program of the National Dance Education Organization, created to recognize outstanding artistic merit, leadership, and academic achievement in students studying dance. The NHSDA offers three levels of the Honor Society: The Junior Program for grades 6-8, The Secondary Program for grades 9-12, and The Collegiate Program for students in college or university dance programs.  At VH Dance Center, we are proud to sponsor both a Junior Chapter and a Secondary Chapter. 



What are the benefits of the NHSDA?

The Honor Society helps advance the field of dance education, while celebrating the artistic and academic achievements of dance students. Dance students deserve the honor and prestige that comes from their achievements in dance. Many are working hard on academics and leadership while perfecting their dance craft not only at school but also outside of school. The personal gratification that students receive from being inducted into the NHSDA is a boost to their self-esteem. It is a win-win for all; the student, the school, and VH Dance Center.

All student inductees will receive an official certificate of induction. Inducted students are eligible to wear the NHSDA honor cord and gold pin during graduation ceremonies (with approval from their school administration). Students are encouraged to cite their NHSDA induction in scholarship applications and/or resumes for college or dance employment.

Who may apply for induction?

The National Honor Society for Dance Arts is run on an institutional basis. Only students who are enrolled at VH Dance Center may apply for induction. Students in grades 6 – 8 may apply for the Junior Program, and students in grades 9 – 12 may apply for the Secondary Program.


NHSDA Program Goals:

1. To promote a desire for lifelong

learning in the field of dance.

2. To encourage an understanding of, and an appreciation for, dance as an art form and develop knowledgeable audiences for tomorrow.



NHSDA Secondary Program also seeks to identify honor students (grades 11 & 12) for nomination to the NDEO Artistic Merit, Leadership and Academic Achievement Award, one of the highest honor programs for dance in the United States


Induction Criteria

Induction into the NHSDA is earned through the accumulation of points awarded for dance activities such as rehearsals, performances, research, workshops, or community service activities, a GPA of at least 3.0.  Additionally, students must demonstrate character and leadership as shown through collaborative teamwork, motivation, and leadership manifested during classes, rehearsals and other dance program activities.  


  • To qualify for induction in the Junior Program, a student must earn 15 points, at least 10 of which must be earned while participating in dance activities at VH Dance Center.


  • To qualify for induction in the Secondary Program, a student must earn 30 points, at least 20 of which must be earned while participating in dance activities at VH Dance Center.


Please see below for a description of the NSHDA point system and a Point Tracking Worksheet.


Induction Costs

There is a one-time fee of $43 for induction into the NHSDA.  This fee includes:

  • The Official Certificate of Induction

  • Gold Honor Pin

  • Blue and White Honor Cord


Our Chapter inductions are held every Spring at our Spring performance.  Students who meet the induction criteria earlier in the year will receive their membership materials at that time but will still be acknowledged at the Spring program.

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Kenneth von Heidecke

Kenneth von Heidecke is founder and chief choreographer of the Chicago Festival Ballet.  He is also a renowned choreographer for opera and ballet companies around the world having choreographed over 60 operas and 80 ballets. Recently he choreographed Aida with rave reviews for Lyric Opera of Chicago. He choreographed a new production of Giselle in June, 2012 and Coppelia in June, 2013, two different productions of Aida for both Dallas Opera and San Diego Opera and another Samson & Delilah.
Von Heidecke began his career as a dancer, working his way through the ranks of many prominent companies such as La Scala in Milan, Rome Opera, San Francisco Ballet, Ballet Met and Chicago City Ballet. Most significantly, he was hand-chosen by legendary Prima Ballerina Assoluta Maria Tallchief to appear in the 1975 world premiere of George Balanchine’s Orfeo ed Euridice, a ground-breaking moment in his career. Over the years, Tallchief continued to coach Von Heidecke in the Balanchine repertoire and referred to him as her protégé.
His choreography has been presented at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Alaska Dance Theatre, Scotland’s Edinburgh Festival, Washington DC’s Kennedy Center, Los Angeles Music Center, New York City’s Lincoln Center, Dallas Opera, San Francisco Opera, San Diego Opera, Ballet Nacional de Panama, Germany’s Badisches Staatstheater and countless others. In 1989, he opened the doors to his school of ballet in Naperville, Illinois. In 1990 he founded his company, Chicago Festival Ballet, which performs a repertoire of classical, romantic and neoclassical works in venues around the United States.
The company also began producing an annual touring Nutcracker, which is now a staple in the Chicago area and a much-requested production in cities across the country. In 1996, Von Heidecke had the unique opportunity to serve as Ballet Master to the U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team.  Former students of Kenneth von Heidecke include American Figure Skater, Evan Lycecek (2010 Figure Skating Champion Gold Medalist and 2009 World Figure Skating Champion),  Joanna Wozniak (principal dancer with Joffrey and featured in the film Save the Last Dance), Christina Salerno (former Royal Ballet dancer, San Francisco Ballet, Boston Ballet, Zurich Ballet), and Victoria Born (dancer for American Ballet Theatre, principal role in the film Center Stage, Ballerina in the Broadway production of Phantom of the Opera).
Mr. von Heidecke’s works have been on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight news program, WTTW’s “Arts Across Illinois” entertainment special, PBS’ “Making of an Opera” and a PBS documentary on Maria Tallchief’s life.  In 2008 he was inducted into the Fox Valley Hall of Fame. He has appeared on ABC, WGN, and NBC, and currently, film maker and composer, Filmmaker Stuart Meyer recently completed a documentary on Mr. Von Heidecke’s life, and a sneak preview of the film was viewed to a standing ovation.

Maria Tallchief

Maria Tallchief is universally known as America’s first great Prima Ballerina.  She is among six women in the history of ballet to have received the title “Prima Ballerina Assoluta.”  Miss Tallchief is listed in the encyclopedia and is the topic of many books.  She was the recipient of the Kennedy Center Award for the Arts in 1998 and recipient of the Presidential Award in 1952 and 1999.  She was the highest paid dancer of the world during her career. She is recognized by the world as the greatest interpretess of Stravinsky’s ballet, The Firebird. She has been on the cover of many magazines including Time, Life, Newsweek and many more. Once married to the legendary choreographer, Balanchine, she was Prima Ballerina of the New York City Ballet and performed all over the world. Many times, she was featured on the Ed Sullivan Show, and the Bell Telephone Hour. A 2 hour documentary of her life and legendary career was filmed for PBS.

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