"We believe that all children are gifted; it is our mission to find and nurture those gifts to help each child
reach their full potential."
~ Stephanie Clemens
Retired Founder/Director of the Academy
Stephanie Clemens: creating a home for dance in Oak Park.
Stephanie Clemens founded the Academy in 1971 in her Oak Park living room when
she rolled up the rug and began giving dance instruction to neighborhood children. Since
that time the Academy has grown into a real village Institution, home to hundreds of students in the A.R.T.S. early childhood program, dance and music classes. Stephanie was also a founder and the artistic director of MOMENTA from 1983 through 2019.
Stephanie’s parents were both visual artists who took the advice of their neighbor Adolph Bolm, a member of the original Ballets Russes and partner of Pavlova – Bolm suggested early dance training at the Highland Playhouse in Hollywood with Lila Zali; later Stephanie studied dance with Maria Kedrina in Santa Barbara, California. At Juilliard, Stephanie studied with Anthony Tudor and Alfredo Corvino, Lucas Hoving, Martha Graham and members of her company. She eventually took a B.A. in Physical Anthropology at U.C.L.A. where she did research on the evolution of the human locomotor system.
Stephanie's three sons all danced at the Academy; JP Tenuta, her youngest son has taken on the mantle of owner and director of the Academy as well as being the ballet master. Her life partner Mike Dutka worked for almost 30 years at the Academy building cabinets, lighting the stage, taking and editing video and fixing whatever needs fixing. Stephanie is grateful to have lived and worked in Oak Park, a community that has supported her passion for her life’s work – and grateful to her family for putting up with that passion. Stephanie and Mike are now retired and enjoying life in northern New Mexico.