Connie O’Reel

Owner & Director


Miss Connie O’Reel, the director of Southwest Synergy Dance, has 35 years of extensive dance training in jazz, hip hop, ballet, lyrical, and drill team technique. Her mission is to develop the natural creativity, expression, and confidence in youth today through the art of dance. Under the instruction of her mentor, Denise Gurley, she began her dance training at Susan’s School of Dance where her fierce determination, skill, and leadership propelled her from student to assistant instructor at the age of twelve. She continued her passion as a student at Lockport High School where she led her dance team to four years of excellence ending with a state title. At 19, Miss Connie became a principle instructor at Southwest School of Dance in Orland Hills and helped transition the studio into the competitive world of dance. Beginning in 2007, she has used her experience and talents to choreograph competition pieces for the Orland Hills Wolves, Carl Sandburg High School and Providence Catholic High School. In 2006, Miss Connie took on the role of Director and has since transitioned the school, now known as Southwest Synergy Dance, to neighboring Tinley Park. Mrs. O’Reel credits her success to her amazingly supportive family, her loving husband Todd, her four children, Deegan, Micaela, Everleigh and Gavin, and to her mentor, Miss Denny. She also attributes her success to her students and staff who give her the strength and confidence to keep going every day. Mrs. O’Reel strives to provide an experience that will inspire each and every student to love and appreciate dance and music. She enjoys the opportunity to impact the lives of youth through her passion for excellence through dance.

Kayla Bekermeier



Miss Kayla started dancing at a young age, and her passion continued to grow from there. She trained at Elite Dance Academy in all styles of dance – Modern, Jazz, Hip Hop, Ballet, Pointe, and Tap – and she danced for the Lockport Porterettes for four years in high school where she led the team as captain for two years. Miss Kayla graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and an endorsement in Dance. While acquiring her degree, she was both a member and a choreographer for the Illini N Motion Dance Team. Currently, she's on staff as the Ballet teacher here at Synergy Dance and she feels blessed to be a part of this dance family! Aside from dance, she is a 5th grade teacher at Trinity Christian School in Shorewood, IL.


Caitlin Hamilton



Miss Caitlin has danced for 16 years -- (10 of those being competitive). She started teaching at Synergy two years ago, and she has been a part of the competitive program ever since! She recently became Acrobatic Arts Certified, and she loves seeing how even our youngest dancers push themselves to learn new skills. Miss Caitlin started her training at Dance FX in 2010 when the studio opened, and she is so grateful to have been involved there since it led to opportunities here! Miss Caitlin helps choreograph for the Synergy FX Dance Company, and can't wait to further her teaching career with us. Currently, she is attending North Central college to study Psychology and Spanish. In her free time she watches every sitcom on Netflix!

Summer Thurmond



Miss Summer took her first dance class when she was five years old, and has participated in many performances and competitions ever since! She competed with Legacy Dance Ensemble for many years while studying Ballet, Tap, Musical Theatre, Lyrical, and Jazz. While in high school, Miss Summer danced with the Tinley Park Varsity Dance Team for four years, and she led the team as captain for two. As a captain, she had the opportunity to choreograph all the team's routines for games, assemblies, and other school related events. In the fall, she will be attending Governors State University to study elementary education. In her spare time she loves to cook and listen to music!


Rachael Shewmake


Miss Rachael has been dancing since she was 3. She enjoyed taking all forms of dance as a child and began dancing competitively at the age of 10. She danced at Dance Avenue and The Dance Workshop in Orland Park. In high school she was apart of Carl Sandburg Orchesis. Her love of dance has never stopped growing and she enjoys helping her students foster their love for dance. She especially loves that she gets to watch her daughter grow as a dancer here at Southwest Synergy. 


Rachel Vassar


Miss Rae started dancing as a young child, and she has not stopped learning since. She danced competitively for 10 years and went on to earn her Bachelor’s degree in Dance Studies and Performance from Middle Tennessee State University. While at MTSU, Miss Rae performed with the Dance Theatre, as well as choreographed and directed the Student Gala Performances on campus. She has studied Ballet, Tap, Jazz, Modern, Lyrical, and has recently been certified by Acrobatic Arts. This is Miss Rae’s third year with Synergy and her second year choreographing for the Synergy FX Company. She loves being in class with her students and watching each one progress their artistry. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and reading!



Erica Barnhardt


Miss Erica discovered her love for dance after her first class at the age of 4A few years later when she started training and competing with Dance Repertoire in Milwaukee, WI. She attended Milwaukee High School of the Arts where she majored in dance and trained in all styles. While there, the choreographed routines for the student and faculty dance concerts. She had the opportunity to compete at the UDA National Championship with the West Allis Allegro Dance Team where she was captian. Miss Erica graduated from he University of Wisconsin Whitewater with a Bachelor of Science and minor in dance. At UWW her choreography was chosen by faculty to perform at the American College Dance Conference. This is Miss Erica's third year with synergy! 


Grace Blando


Miss Grace grew up dancing in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. Through her training at Youth Dance Ensemble, Marius Andahazy Ballet, and Saint Paul City Ballet, she studied ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, contemporary, modern, musical theater, hip-hop, and partnering. Last May, Miss Grace graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ballet and a Minor in Strategic Communication. During her time in Utah, she was fortunate to train at Millennium Dance Complex Salt Lake City in addition to the School of Dance at the University of Utah. Throughout high school and college, Miss Grace spent her summers attending dance intensives around the country and even one in Moscow, Russia. Miss Grace is now dancing as a Company Trainee with Ballet 5:8 in Orland Park, and she is so excited to be teaching the wonderful students at Synergy!


Nathan Mattix


Nathan began his dance training seven years ago. However, with his grandma being a former dance instructor and his mom coaching the varsity poms team at Andrew High School, dance has been a part of his life for as long as he can remember. He has consistently trained in a wide variety of styles including Contemporary, Modern, Lyrical, Ballet and Jazz. Along with competing at his studio, Nathan was also a member of the varsity dance team at Andrew High School where he had the opportunity to choreograph their competitive routines which performed at both the local as well as national level. Since beginning his teaching career three years ago, his work has received several regional and national titles. Nathan is currently studying Public Relations at Moraine Valley Community College while he continues sharing his passion for dance with his students. He can not wait to begin his first year at Synergy! In his spare time, he loves reading and trying new coffee shops!

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Abigail Slusinski



Abbey Slusinski was born in Oak Lawn, Illinois in 2003, and began her passion for dance at the age of 9. She has also danced competitively for 6 years. Prior to her dance career she competed in gymnastics for two years, and excelled in the program quickly. Other than dancing, Abbey loves to choreograph, and takes other classes to gain the experience of many different styles of dance. She currently trains in jazz, hip hop, and contemporary. She has also won multiple titles throughout her dance career, along with choreographing contemporary and hiphop pieces that have placed highly at various competitions. Abbey has also received other achievements such as becoming a HEAT Assistant for the 2022-2023 dance season and gaining multiple scholarships to Joffrey, and AMDA in Los Angeles. Abbey really loves to push individuals out of their comfort zone, and help them gain exposure to other styles of dance. Some of the main talents Abbey has mastered is being able to story tell with her creative movement, and captivating an audience. Since being a part of the dance community, Abbey has appreciated the opportunities dance has given her, and wants to share her passion with others.


Bonnie Cogan

Administrative Support


Miss Bonnie is the Event/Birthday Party Coordinator for Synergy. You can contact her for all of your party needs -- she will take care of it all! You can also catch her working the front desk! Miss Bonnie has been at Synergy for a few years, and she's so proud of her daughter, Connie, for making Synergy what is is today! 

Nicole Bowden

Administrative Support

This is her second year behind the desk, but she's been committed to Synergy ever since her and her daughters came a few years ago! She has one daughter on the competitive dance team, and one who loves taking her favorite classes just for fun! She is also involved in the Company Spirit Club, and is super happy she has found a home for her dancers.


Dasia Hinkle

Administrative Support

Bio Coming Soon

Thank you for trusting us with your dancer!