“I used to think that my crowning achievement was dancing at the World Dance Championships. Now I realize that my dancers’ dedication and achievements are what I find truly rewarding. Whether they are entertaining or competing, my dancers give 110% each time they put on their costumes.” Eilis Rochez-McKenna
Eilis Rochez-McKenna is the principle instructor for the Ardán-Rochez Academy of Irish Dance. She began dancing at the age of 6, and has studied with dance teachers from the US, Canada, England, Ireland and Scotland. Her love for Irish dance and Irish culture lead her to begin to teach dance 15 years ago. In 1994, she opened her own school. She is a certified Irish step dance teacher and adjudicator (judge at competitions) through An Coimisiun le Rince Gaelacha and a member of the Irish Dance Teachers Association of North America.
As her students do now, she competed all over the world while dancing, and among her many awards, placed 3rd at the Mid-Atlantic Oireachtas and 6th at the North American Championships. Her experience of that high level of achievement is one of the things that motivates her to push those dancers who express a desire for such success. The Rochez Academy has had dancers compete in the Mid-Atlantic Oireachtas, the North American Irish Dance Championships, the All-Ireland Competition, and the World Irish Dance Championships.
John Heinzman II, A.D.C.R.G.
John Heinzman began dancing at age 5 under the instruction of Breda McGowan and continued with her for five years. He then continued dancing with Ron Plummer for four years and finally with Tim O’Hare for one year. John danced competitively for 10 years reaching the Open Championship level, placing 4th and 3rd at the North American Oireachtas. John received his certification in all forms of Irish Dance with a Teaching Certificate Rince Gelacha- TCRG in 1996, and his adjudication certificate, ADCRG, in 2007. These were gained by passing five difficult exams, a written, step dance teaching, ceili teaching, performance, and music exam. John opened the Heinzman School of Irish Dance with Liz in 1994. The school began with 12 students at St. Pat’s Church in Wyandotte and has grown to over 10 locations throughout Michigan, Ohio, and Ontario, Canada.
Christopher Stefani, TCRG
Christopher Stefani began dancing at the age of 5 with Michael O’Hare and continued with him for one year. He then continued dancing with the Ardán Academy, then the Heinzman School, for 15 years. Chris danced competitively until the age of 20, reaching the Open Championship level, placing 4th at the Mid- American Oireachtas, as well as 18th at the World Championships. Chris began teaching with the Heinzman’s in 2005 and earned his TCRG in 2012.