Lynn Kuti of Aurora has studied ballet and dance under masters from the Russian Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet, and even the June Taylor Dancers, but her passion focuses on teaching youngsters, including those whose families cannot afford lessons.
That's why Kuti opened The Front Street Dance Center in Wheaton with the idea that all children should achieve their dreams in dance. About 85 students, ages 3 to 17, take lessons from her each week.
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Now, she's aiming to franchise the studio or partner with other studios to keep that mission going beyond Wheaton.
"When I was growing up, my parents couldn't afford private studio lessons for me, so I went to the park district," said Kuti. "And later I took a job to help pay for my own dance lessons. Park districts are wonderful for when you're small and just learning, but they can only take you so far. They don't help you when you've reached a certain level and are heading to college."
Kuti, who grew up in Addison, credits the local park district with helping to fuel her dream starting at age 9. But when her mother died suddenly, she found herself at age 18 helping her dad raise her siblings. Later in life, she lost her husband to cancer, sold her Lynn's Academy of Dance, and ended up giving their home to the bank with a deed in lieu, which bypasses foreclosure and a damaged credit history. In fact, she was able to later own a home again.
Despite the sadness in her life, dance still offered her hope and she continued with Broadway Bound, a dance company she founded that became a not-for-profit in 1998. The group has donated thousands of pounds of food to food pantries and was involved in various charitable events.
Over the years, she's also garnered choreography awards from Disney World's Magic Music Program, Chicago Dance Connection, Footloose International Dance Competition, the Hall of Fame Dance Competition and others.
Throughout her work in competition, dance programs and teaching youngsters, she has learned that interest in dance starts early and she wants to continue to nurture that in others.
"There's always a community where kids need help," she said.
House hunting on the small screen
Gary Miller, a real estate agent with Re/Max Destiny in Elk Grove Village, and two of his clients will appear on an episode of HGTV's House Hunters in May. Filming is set to start later this month. The show follows homebuyers and their real estate agents as they search for new homes. Miller and his clients had to download their three-minute audition video on YouTube and House Hunters' producers reviewed those videos.
Losing pounds beat by beat
Constance Contursi Barker and Kevin Barker have opened an exercise boutique called Hit It Fitness Studio in Roselle. It fuses night life culture and fitness and offers Kevin Barker as a DJ playing the hits to get the blood pumping. The studio offers state-of-the-art sound and lighting along with a lounge-like reception area, chandeliers and, of course, an exercise studio.
She said yes
A Lake County couple had their magical moment on Valentine's Day photographed by a former celebrity photographer. Ernie Vole and Sarah Willner of Vernon Hills had their marriage proposal photographed by James Ambler, founder of Pap the Question, a paparazzi-styled photography service that will secretly photograph marriage proposals. Burdeen's Jewelers in Buffalo Grove, where Vole purchased the engagement ring, tipped Pap The Question to the proposal along the Chicago River in downtown Chicago. Vole works at Ernie's Towing and Willner is a personal banker.
Channel 2 news anchor Bill Kurtis, who is also Tallgrass Beef Co. founder, will be at 2Toots Train Whistle Grill, 203 S. Main St., Bartlett, from noon to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25. 2Toots uses Tallgrass products for its hamburgers and hot dogs. ... Ron Bullock, chairman of St. Charles-based Bison Gear and Engineering, has joined the National Workforce Solutions advisory board as a founding member. He attended the board's inaugural meeting in Washington on Jan. 23. ... Laurence Brueck of Naperville has been appointed regional vice president of operations for Everest's region one schools, including new campuses in Melrose Park and elsewhere. Everest is a career training company.
Barbara J. Martin, president and CEO of Vista Health System in Waukegan, has been appointed to the board of trustees of Romeoville-based Lewis University, her alma mater. ... Bill Lange of Naperville has joined the DuPage Children's Museum board of directors. He's the senior vice president at Morgan Stanley in Lisle and has been with the company for about 35 years. ... Jim and Marlene Krick, owners of Signs Now Downers Grove, are offering a $2,000 graphic arts scholarship for a student at the College of DuPage. ... Paul Lee was recently named first vice president, senior audit manager at MB Financial Bank in Rosemont. ... John Crowley of Schaumburg has been named senior vice president of Comcast's Greater Chicago Region and based in Schaumburg.
Frank A. Sommario of Bloomingdale, an attorney at the Chicago personal injury law firm of Romanucci & Blandin LLC, has been named a 2012 SuperLawyers Rising Star, SuperLawyers is a nationwide rating service of lawyers. ... Joyce Brennan, owner of Invisible Fence of Dundee-McHenry, earned Regional Dealer of the Year for the Midwest region from Invisible Fence. ... Anthony Annibale of Kenilworth has been appointed managing director of the Chicago studio of Radius Product Development, a global product development firm. He and his wife, Julia, travel the world to assist with medical missions and relief efforts to communities with people in distressed situations.
Audrey Wancket of Spring Grove-based Wancket Studios, has joined the board of directors for the Professional Photographers of America. ... Derek Robinson of Chicago starts March 1 as executive director of Illinois Hospital Association's Quality Care Institute in Naperville. He replaces Pat Merryweather, who went to Telligen, the Illinois Medicare Quality Improvement Organization. ... Dr. Kristina Sargent of Restor Healing Centre in Wheaton has assumed the professional duties of Dr. Frank Strehl of Strehl Natural Health. He died last October. ... Dr. Tariq Butt of Chicago, Michael Cooper of Bloomingdale, Richard Roehr of Oswego and Dr. Marie Schlund of Itasca are new board members of the GlenOaks Hospital Foundation in Glendale Heights.
Dr. Felise Zollman of Chicago will treat patients with brain injuries and neurological disorders as the new lead physician for memory disorders at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Evanston. She also will colead the head injury program with Julian Bailes, chairman of neurosurgery. ... Tracie Morris of Plainfield is the new vice president of human resources at ComEd. ... Chicago Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts' keynoter with the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce has been postponed to a special luncheon on March 19 at the Hilton Lisle/Naperville. ... And a special thank you to readers who extended their condolences to me and my family on the death of my mother-in-law.
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