Elaine Luks is the Director of The Dance Academy of North Jersey, one of the leading schools for dance education in North America. Elaine saw the opportunity to give Performing Hearts a permanent home at her studio (DANJ), where children with special needs could take weekly dance classes for free. Her vision included providing a volunteer platform for young adults, and giving the parents of Performing Hearts children some time to relax and observe their children in classes. Prior to launching DANJ, Elaine was an executive at Newsweek, Flexi-Van, and Nanny Care Solutions. She is a graduate of Boston College. Elaine's children, Jason, Jordyn (pictured), and Lauren are active supporters of Performing Hearts programs as artistic, process and technology advisors.
John Cowles is currently the CEO of TruGreen, the national lawn care firm. Prior to joining TruGreen, John was President and CEO at FXI, a leading foam producer for the Home, Healthcare, Electronics, Industrial, Personal Care and Transportation markets. John is a 30-year business veteran who has held senior leadership positions at major companies such as Touchstone Wireless (CEO), Kraft Foods (Executive Vice President and General Manager, Beverages Division), Campbell Soup Company (VP), and George Weston Bakeries (CEO). John graduated from Cornell University in 1985 and Harvard Business School in 1989.
Steven Crystal is currently the Board Chairman and President of Automated Cashless Systems, a company providing innovative products to the gaming industry. He is also President & CEO of Crystal Ball Services specializing in metals, energies and stock indexes, providing advisory services to floor traders, institutions and banks. Steven has been a Director of Village Super Market, Inc. since 2001, while owning and managing companies in the residential and commercial real estate and automotive industries. He is a registered floor broker with the New York Mercantile Exchange and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Steven received his Bachelors degree from Rutgers College and Masters from George Washington University.
Dr. Patricia Krapels is the educational director of the Performing Hearts Program. She is a chiropractic physician specializing in pediatrics. As her children began to demonstrate a love for dance, "Miss Patti" became actively involved in a program specializing in children’s dance education -- starting at the beginner level with rhythmic movement, and thereafter, developing skills in ballet, tap, lyrical and jazz. Since then, Patricia has become a children’s dance program director at several NJ-based dance studios and preschools. Patricia earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Physiology at Michigan State University and her Doctor of Chiropractic from Life University.
Jason Luks is a professional performer, choreographer and teacher. He is currently on faculty at the Joffrey Ballet School. He was a member of the "Falsettos" Broadway choreography team and assisted Josh Prince and Pulitzer Prize winner, Director James Lapine, on the choreography for "Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing." Jason's performance credits include “On The Town", “My One And Only”, “White Christmas”, Tap Stars international tour, Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, The Late Late Show with James Corden, and MTV’s Video Music Awards. Jason performed at the Kennedy Center for Presidents Obama and Bush. He was the Adult World Tap Dance Solo Champion at the World Tap Dance Championships in 2003. Jason’s choreography has been presented on Broadway's Walter Kerr Theater, the Kennedy Center, and Symphony Space NYC. Jason graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA in Dance.
“We started Performing Hearts as a tzedakah (doing good things) project in 2000 with our goal to spend time with, and brighten the days of, the people who we sometimes might, unintentionally, be forgetting. We chose to focus on children stricken with terrible illnesses and disabilities. We spent several months planning our first major event - dance workshops and performances at Camp Happy Times, a camp for children battling cancer and blood disorders. From our experiences, we have learned that helping other people might take a lot of time, but it is not hard to do, and it is fun and rewarding."