Yinka Akinlade

JUNIOR
British International School

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4th Season

“When I first moved to Chicago in 2015, GUS was the only studio I wanted to go to. I knew it would be hard to find a studio that wasn’t competition-centered in a big city like Chicago and GUS was exactly what I was looking for. I started off at camp and I was so scared that people wouldn’t be friendly and that I wouldn’t be good enough but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Everyone at GUS was so welcoming, kind, and supportive and I knew: this is where I want to dance. From my first season in the Company to now, GUS has been such a place of positivity for me. No matter what, I can always count on the support of my fellow Company members and that’s what being a GG means to me.”

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Makayla Brown

JUNIOR
Evanston Township High School

8th Season

“I’ve been training at GUS since I was four years old. I love GUS and one of the main reasons I have trained here is because of the wonderful GUS community. Buddies have been a part of the GUS Company program ever since I can remember and having a mentor when I was little was so helpful. I always had someone to look up to and now I love being the older mentor that the younger dancers look up to! The buddy system at GUS creates a wonderful community with GUS Company dancers of all ages and gives everyone the chance to meet each other. My GUS family is always there to support me. All of the teachers and staff make me feel so appreciated and loved.”

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Sofia Damer-Salas

JUNIOR
University of Chicago Lab

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3rd Season

“One of the things I love about GUS is the emphasis on technique, strength and performance. I also love that GUS has a supportive environment but always pushes me to grow in every class. To me, being a GG means having extra responsibilities, learning challenging choreography while being a positive and supportive role model. When I was twelve years old I took my first dance class at GUS and knew it was something I wanted to do all the time so I auditioned for the Company. Best decision ever! All of the faculty helped me to improve and motivated me to work my hardest. This is my first year as a GG and everybody has been so helpful and kind to me.  One of my favorite parts about the GUS Company program is assisting the younger kids' classes! They are so cute and fun to be around and being an assistant has helped me develop leadership skills.”

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Maddie Jednorowicz

JUNIOR
New Trier High School

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10th Season

“To me, dancing at Gus means being a part of a loving community. From my first youth class to today, my ninth consecutive year in the program, I have formed unbreakable bonds with not only my classmates, but my teachers and mentors. I have learned what it means to be strong and persevere, even when life is difficult. Ever since I can remember, I have been best friends with my older sister Sophie. We did everything together; from sleeping in the same room to dancing in the same company. When she went to California for college this year, I had to adjust to life without her. I had to learn how to be responsible for myself. It was a difficult and emotional journey I would not have been able to get through without my dance family. With my peers I have formed friendships that I know will endure through time, and for that I am extremely thankful.”

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Helina McCannon

JUNIOR
Fusion Academy Evanston

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11th Season

“I started dancing at GUS when I was three years old and have grown so much since I first started. Throughout the years I’ve met and become friends with all of my fellow Company members. These friendships have grown from being just dance friends to lifelong friends. As I’ve faced challenges in my life, my GUS friends and the GUS faculty have always been my support system. I know if I am having a bad day, I can lean on my GUS family to build me up! The training at GUS is always challenging and versatile. All of the teachers at GUS have the same goal - they want the dancers to learn and improve. If there are two words that I can use to describe my time at GUS they would be family and passion.”

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Emmett Nevel

SOPHOMORE
Jones College Prep

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5th Season

“Dancing at GUS and being a GG has given me self confidence that I have never had before. I have learned how to carry myself outside of dance because of the training I have experienced while dancing and performing. I love performing because being onstage is unlike any else I have experienced. This has built my confidence level because I now can do public speaking projects at school without getting nervous. As a GG, not only do we get to perform multiple times throughout the year, we also get to mentor the younger dancers and help them find their own self confidence. I love helping the younger dancers and being a mentor to them.”

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Max Silverman

SOPHOMORE
Lane Tech College Prep

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5th Season

"Dancing at GUS has taught me to embrace my uniqueness while also helping me to fit into a Company. I have experienced challenges fitting into other communities and I can always rely on GUS to accept me for who I am. My friends and the faculty at GUS have always embraced my uniqueness and help me with whatever hard decision I face. I have been given many opportunities express myself while performing and while taking class that I am so grateful for. Dancing at GUS has given me an environment where I can fit in and feel accepted.”

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Lucie Sullivan

JUNIOR
Regina High School

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11th Season

“I have been coming to GUS for over half of my life. GUS is as much a part of my life as school and home. I draw strength and energy from dance. This energy drives me to work my hardest at dance and in all of my academic classes. The work ethic I have learned from my teachers and those who have danced before me inspires me to not only be the best performer I can become, but also to mentor the younger dancers to the best my ability. I am thankful for all GUS has given me and I am proud to continue Gus’ legacy of always doing your best.”

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Lily Townsend

JUNIOR
Latin School of Chicago

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6th Season

“Being a GG has changed my life for the better. Beyond learning ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, contemporary, etc., dancing at GUS has given me self confidence. Having a community of supportive, talented, and diverse dancers allowed me to stretch and try things that I never would have attempted without having that support network. Further, my classes at GUS exposed me to a whole new way of communication, allowing me to find my voice through movement. Finally, Gus granted me the opportunity to become a leader in the community. Realizing that I could step up and serve as an example to the younger dancers showed me that I have learned how to be an effective and nurturing leader. I am confident that because of my GUS leadership training I now have the skills I will need for college and beyond.”

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Meghan Vanasco

JUNIOR
Evanston Township High School

10th Season

“I’m seventeen years old and I’ve been dancing at GUS since I was two. I remember my first performance in studio 1 at the Evanston studio and it was “Splish Splash I’m Taking a Bath". The costume was a pink polka dotted swimsuit and I still remember performing the dance! Looking back at how much I have grown and how much GUS has facilitated that growth, amazes me! I have loved performing everywhere as a GUS Company member, from a children’s hospital to Mars headquarters to downtown Chicago at The Daley Center. The opportunities at GUS have been amazing. Walking into performances knowing that I am representing such a wonderful school, gives me the confidence to be my best self. GUS has been my home away from home and has given me a space to grow up and learn from wonderful teachers along the way.”

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