Co-Founder and President

Maria S. Gebhard was born and raised in Evanston, Illinois, where she attended the Evanston Public Schools through graduation from Evanston Township High School.  Her early experience in dance was as a student at the Stone-Camryn School of Ballet in Chicago and the Gus Giordano Dance School in Evanston.  After doctoral studies in Classical Languages and Literature at the University of Chicago, she taught undergraduate and adult education at Loyola University of Chicago and the University of Chicago.   Ms. Gebhard has served on numerous not-for-profit boards and is well versed in organizational management and fund raising.  In September of 2000 she co-founded, with professional dancer Jorge Niedas, DanceArt, an Illinois not-for-profit corporation devoted to dance and art education. Ms. Gebhard is President and CEO of DanceArt.  Ms. Gebhard’s concept of the DanceArt program is focused on children particularly in at-risk communities where her company creates programs customized to the needs and curricula of the academic and other communities it serves. Ms. Gebhard’s mission includes committing concert-level artists to the needs of each community of students DanceArt serves.  Currently, her mission is fulfilled through work in the Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Park District, Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, and with the Chicago Police Department.  Ms. Gebhard was the recipient of the 2006 Cook County Unsung Heroine Award

Co-Founder and Director of Artistic Programs

Jorge Niedas was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he received his early dance training at Instituto Superior de Arte del Teatro Colon de Buenos Aires with Enrique Lommi, Olga Ferri and Rada Eichenbaum.  Before completing his studies, he was offered his first professional position with the Ballet del Teatro Colon, Argentina’s premier ballet company.  Mr. Niedas performed in all the major theatres of Argentina, incuding the Teatro San Martin.  In Brazil, Mr. Niedas performed as soloist with the Teatro Municipal de Rio de Janeiro.  At the invitation of Enrique Martinez, artistic director of the Teatro Carreno de Caracas in Venezuela, he joined the company as principal dancer and excelled in both classical and contemporary roles. He performed in Venezuela with Ballet-Ballet and the Jose Parez company.  In the United States, Mr. Niedas performed with Tucson Ortiz Dancescapes, the Arizona Dance Gallery and the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  Mr. Niedas began his career as choreographer with numerous dance companies of Venezuela. In the United States, he was choreographer for the Western Ballet Theater in Tucson, Arizona, and in Chicago for the Opera Factory and the Lynda Martha Dance Company.  Mr. Niedas’ teaching career began in Caracas where he was Ballet Master of the Escuela Municipal de Danza y Ballet.  Mr. Niedas’ interest in Argentine tango began during his early years in Buenos Aires.  He combined his knowledge of the indigenous dance form with his formal dance training to create a distinctive new tango style.  Mr. Niedas has choreographed and performed tango throughout the United States and abroad.  In Chicagoland, venues include Orchestra Hall and Ravinia.  In the Chicago area, he taught at the Chicago City Ballet under Maria Tallchief and was Co-founder and Artistic Director of the Dance Academy of Libertyville.  In September 2000, he co-founded DanceArt with Maria Gebhard, and served as Chief Artistic Consultant from 2000-2003 and 2007-2014.

Director of Musical Programs

Georgia Frances (Rest in peace) is a graduate of the American Conservatory where she majored in piano and violin. Her time was equally divided between serious classical performances and ever increasingly, popular music groups. The natural progression for her creativity was to develop The Georgia Frances Orchestra after collaborating with guitarist and late husband John Bishop. Bishop’s career began in the blues and pop fields but he soon embraced jazz as his focus after jamming with Wes Montgomery’s organist, Mel Rhyne. John’s formative jazz years were spent in San Francisco. After signing on as an artist with Ray Charles, Bishop’s group began touring coast-to-coast. John has also performed with Donny Hathaway and Ramsey Lewis.


Visual Arts Consultant

Clare Rosean is a native of Wilmette, IL. She received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2010, with an emphasis in drawing and painting. In 2012 she received her MFA from the University of Chicago, and happily joined DanceArt the following year. She exhibits at the ZG Gallery in Chicago, and the Moberg Gallery in Des Moines, IA.



Musical Consultant

Jeremy Kahn is one of Chicago’s busiest pianists, dividing his time between jazz venues, pit orchestras, and recording and teaching studios. He graduated from New England Conservatory of Music, where he studied with Jaki Byard. Jeremy then spent twelve years in New York, where he was a member of Vince Giordano’s Nighthawks. He has performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Joni Mitchell, Aretha Franklin, Branford Marsalis, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and countless others, and has played fat many of Chicago’s theaters, including the Oriental, Cadillac Palace, Shubert, Auditorium, Chicago, Aurora Paramount, Drury Lane Oakbrook, Lincolnshire Marriott, Porchlight and Royal George for shows like Wicked, Spamalot, The Lion King, Les Miserables, Aida and Louis & Keely Live at the Sahara. Jeremy was also the pianist/conductor for productions of Hot Mikado and Pal Joey. Jeremy is currently a faculty member of Northwestern University and the Music Institute of Chicago. He has been a featured performer at the Chicago and Hyde Park Jazz Festivals and on the radio shows of Studs Terkel and Marian McPartland. Jeremy is a 2014 honoree of the Chicago Musicians Union Dal Sagno Club.

“New York’s loss has been Chicago’s gain in the case of Jeremy Kahn, the splendid jazz pianist who (has) moved back to his hometown . . .”

Howard Reich; Chicago Tribune

Information about Jeremy’s recordings and schedule can be found at

Photos for Ms. Gebhard and Mr. Niedas by John Reilly Photography,