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Since I was 5 and first entered Madame Makkai’s studio on Elm Street, dance has been an incredibly important and formative part of my life. While I could write here about the endless joy and precious memories that my years at Ballet Makkai brought me --- how I would be excited all week for our Special Friday Night class with Lilla, how I will never forget my first solo in Sleeping Beauty, the strong friendships I formed, how I would count down the weeks until our costumes for the Spring showcase would arrive, and how truly my ballet and jazz classes were the shining highlight of my youth…--- I want to focus this note on the far-reaching impact that Madame Makkai has had on me because of the depth of her character, the dedication and care she puts into each student, and how the school she has built, regardless of where it is located, has always been founded on strong values and a commitment to excellence that results in incredibly powerful bonds between the teachers, the teachers and students, and the students with the school and the art of dance and the life lessons it instills. Madame Makkai, Lilla, and Miss Sara’s teachings extend far beyond the four walls of the classroom and are an essential part of who I am today; it is thanks to them that I understand and appreciate every day the value of hard work, collaboration, creativity, respect, and the ultimate joy of artistic and emotional expression. In many ways, every success I have had in life can be somehow traced back to my time at Madame Makkai’s ballet barre! Thank you for everything Madame Makkai and Congratulations on 30 truly amazing Years!
- Cristina Connor (Student: 1990-2003, Current City: New York, NY)
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Madam Makkai fostered my love for dance, and I still remember doing Chaines across the floor in her first studio in Ravinia. I didn’t know it during my years in the late 80s and 90s as her student, but I learned many life lessons like the importance of discipline, and I appreciate how growing up performing on stage instilled a sense of confidence in me.
- Nicole Pearl, The Beauty Girl, 1991 Chicago, Illinois
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Ballet Makkai was more than just a ballet school for me, it was a family which I was so grateful to be a part of for the time I was there.
- Gracie Barnett 2011, Sydney Australia
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I am so grateful I had the opportunity to dance at Irina Makkai's Ballet Studio. The experience I gained performing, and auditioning for intensive summer programs, has given me the confidence I need to present to a large audience at the corporate office I work in today.
-Samantha Kane, 2010 Chicago, Illinois
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I owe so much of who I am today to Madame Makkai. During the fifteen years I studied with her not only did she teach me how to be a strong dancer, but she also instilled discipline, poise, and a constant drive for perfection.
-Linden Hill, 2009, New York City
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The discipline and dedication that I learned through ballet has been used throughout my life. Remembering to sit up straight while I'm at my desk everyday is a direct result of the lessons on posture that were instilled in me through Madame Makkai.
- Sarah Blears, 2006, Nashville, Tennessee
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The Makkai studio trains their students with a tremendous amount of passion. They see potential in everyone and will push you until you see it in yourself as well. After spending over ten years at the studio, I learned what it means to be dedicated and acquired a great love for the arts. The Makkai’s foster a family-like environment, and I will always have fond memories from the years I spent dancing with the studio.
- Emma Blackman, 2008 Chicago
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With love and discipline, Maddam Makkai taught me to appreciate the grace of my body and the beauty of hard work. These values colored my adolescence, speaking loudly over media and cultural messages that so often blind girls to their power and strength. The physical and personal challenges I seek today are held up by the lessons I learned from dancing.
- Elizabeth Bollinger Kline 2003 Pittsburgh, PA
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I grew up at the studio and couldn’t have asked for a better home or family. I spend the majority of my time with Madame Makkai, Ms. Lilla, Ms. Suzanne, Ms. Sarah, and Guillermo. They taught me not only the beauty of dance but also the importance of friendship, passion, and discipline. I spent almost eleven years growing up with the Makkai dance family and I miss it everyday.
- Kellie Konitzer, 2012, Wilmington, NC
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Going to Irina Makkai's Classical Ballet School helped me come to the realization that I wanted to become a dancer. Madame Makkai taught me the discipline I needed in order to make it as a professional ballerina.
- Lizzie Cohen, 2003, Madison, WI.
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The Irina Makkai Classical Ballet and Dance School gave me the experience of a lifetime: in friends, in mentors, and in performance. Still to this day, there is not a single achievement in my entire life that has felt more alive and free than my final dance as the Dying Swan while a senior trainee at this school. Irina Makkai Classical Ballet and Dance School and all the people I've known in it are a part of who I am, and will always be.
- Melanie Neilan, 2012 Las Angeles, California
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The Irina Makkai Classical Ballet School is where we met some of our best friends! The teachers are so nice and fun and we loved going to all of our classes. We are so sad that we are no longer there and we miss everyone so much!
- Ella and Julia, 2014, Singapore
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I danced with Madame Makkai about 25 years ago, and I continue to use the lessons I learned from her to this day. My current passion for yoga stems from the fact that it gives me the same fluidity and freedom of expression that ballet did. In fact, it is because of her that I opened Shri Yoga Center in Highland Park. In addition to increasing my appreciation for classical music and my passion for movement, Madame Makkai also taught me discipline, strength, and grace, and I seek to pass those traits on to those in my studio whenever I can.
- Marcia Bort Tazioli, 1994 Wilmette, Illinois
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From age 4 to 18 I danced at Madam Makkai's dance studio. For fourteen years she positively influenced my life, and molded me into a beautiful dancer. The discipline and grace she taught me is apart of my everyday life, and for that I am so thankful!
- Alex Havlick, 2007 Chicago, Illinois
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I can vividly remember leaping over little tutus in the middle of the floor and watching the older girls at the rehearsals. I wanted to be them someday because they were all so good and before I knew it I was an older girl! I watch the recital videos a lot and miss the excitement of getting our costumes, standing back stage, and having so much fun with all my friends.
- Maia Skalrov, 2012 Boston College
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Ballet Makkai Youth Company & The Ballet Makkai Nutcracker

 2126 First Street, Highland Park Illinois 60035 (847) 433-1449  www.balletmakkai.com