Lizzie Mackenzie Pontarelli
Originally from Ontario, Canada, Lizzie MacKenzie is a graduate of Interlochen Arts Academy and is the founder and director of Extensions Dance Company and Extensions Dance Center in Chicago, Illinois. In addition to teaching at Extensions, she is on the advanced professional faculty at the Hubbard Street Dance Center. Her professional career included six years with Rivernorth Dance Company, where she enjoyed touring and sharing the works of many great choreographers with audiences around the world, following five years of doing the same with Gus Giordano Jazz Dance Chicago. She has worked with some of the biggest names in contemporary dance including Mia Michaels, Liz Imperio, Randy Duncan, Ron De Jesus, Davis Robertson, Tony Powell, Frank Chaves, Lauri Stallings, Kevin Iega Jeff, Harrison Mceldowny, Sidra Bell, and Robert Battle. In addition to her time touring with concert dance companies, she is a member of AGMA and has enjoyed 15 years dancing with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra during their annual “Welcome Yule!” holiday show. Lizzie has also appeared with Lehrer Dance, LEVELdance, Chicago Repertory Ballet and Ron De Jesus Dance.
She has attended Springboard Danse Montreal where she studied under Alexandra Wells, Amy Shullman, Andrea Miller, Margi Gillis, and Laurence Lemieux. Most recently, Lizzie appeared as “Victoria” (The White Cat) in the Paramount Theater’s production of CATS under the direction of Shawn Stengel and choreography by Harrison McEldowney.
She has also worked as assistant to the choreographer for Drury Lane Oakbrook’s production of West Side Story. She has taught all over the world with various organizations including the Jazz Dance World Congress, DMA (Dance Masters of America), and Chicago Dance Connection. In addition, she has recently joined the faculty of RDA (Regional Dance America), and she has enjoyed teaching and choreographing at Northwestern University, East Carolina University, Western Michigan University, Illinois State University, Webster University, and Grand Valley State University. Her jazz class was listed in Dance Spirit Magazine as one of the top three dance classes to take in Chicago. She has been featured and quoted on various occasions in Dance Teacher Magazine, and in August of 2002 she was featured on the cover of DANCE magazine. Her choreography can be seen on various professional companies, collegiate dance programs, and youth dance companies across the country. She has received countless awards for her choreography including the “New Voice” honor from Dance Chicago in 2006, the “Choreographer Of The Year” from Dance Chicago, and the Cliff Dwellers Foundation in 2007. Lizzie was a finalist in the “AWARD Show” for the Chicago region. Her choreography has been recognized and awarded by various competitive organizations including Youth America Grand Prix, New York City Dance Alliance, American Dance Awards, International Dance Challenge, Headliners, Hall of Fame Dance Challenge, Showbiz Dance Competition and Co Dance, among others. She has been a teacher and judge for Chicago Dance Connection, DanceFest Canada, and VIP productions. Her students have gone on to various professional careers in dance including collegiate dance programs such as The Juilliard School, USC (University of Southern California), Ailey Fordham BFA, New York University (Tisch School of the Arts), Boston Conservatory, University of Arizona and Point Park University among others. Most recently Lizzie co-founded Zilliewear; a line of dance wear conceived, designed, and produced locally in Chicago.