Stephanie Clay

Founder & Director


Stephanie Clay began her dance career at the age of four in Aurora Illinois. At age 13, she began her professional training. She studied with Bruce Stegman, Julie Cartier, and Lane Alexander. Stephanie also received training from numerous organizations, i.e. The Chicago Human Rhythm Project, St. Louis Tap Festival, Robert Reed, Savion Glover, Idella Reed, Ted Levy, Tracey Vonder Har, Barbara Swanson, Jimmy Payne, Debbie Dee, Jay Fagan, Sarah Savelli, Al Gilbert and several Chicago land Conventions.

Stephanie has directed many youth groups over the past 30 years. Her choreography for her students has earned several local and national titles along with invitations to perform at events such as The Taste of Chicago, The Orange Bowl Games, Dance Chicago, Chicago Human Rhythm Project, McDonalds Thanksgiving Day Parade, Dance America’s Dancer of the Year, Chicago Bulls Game, and many community events and fundraisers. Several of her students have gone on to dance professionally. Her choreography has been used by professional tap companies and has been featured in the United States, China, and Venezuela. She has choreographed for Sesame Street with Bob McGrath and is sought after for her knowledge and expertise of Tap Technique.

In the spring of 1998, Stephanie became a member of Especially Tap Chicago. The company performed thru out the United States and Europe. “ETC” is hired for many tap festivals not only to perform but also to teach and educate students in tap dance.

In the fall of 2003, Stephanie opened her own studio in the suburbs of Chicago. The teaching staff consists of 12 professional instructors offering all genera’s of dance. It is the academy’s mission is to give the best dance education possible to our youth.

Stephanie began judging for Applause Talent Competitions in 2008.

Stephanie has been a guest instructor at Northern Illinois University teaching tap education.

Stephanie is certified in teaching dance and music to children with special needs. Teaching dance to children with special needs is a true joy for Stephanie

Stephanie donated her time volunteering at GiGi’s Playhouse (a downs syndrome aware ness center for children) teaching dance lessons. Her Ballet students at GiGi’s have had several opportunities to perform their talents on stage with other youth along with Inaside Chicago Dance in their annual Youth Summit for the Performing Arts.

In 2014 Stephanie joined faculty with Haley’s Playground. Together with Occupational Therapist Jackie Olson, they created a Sensory Play and a Dance Therapy Program. In 2016 Stephanie took over Haley’s Playground, re structured it and changed the name to Special Stars. August of 2017 Special Stars became a 501c3 non for profit charity. Special Stars Inc NFP currently offers four special needs dance classes weekly, each a different level of functionality. For more information on Special Stars Inc NFP visit FB page; Special Stars inc

Tania Pope

Speech & Language Pathologist

Brief Bio Coming Soon

Susie Amundsen

Developmental Therapist, BCBA Therapist

Brief Bio Coming Soon