Meet a Mom: Meet Lilla Daniels! | Chicago North Shore Moms


Hello friendly faces! It’s that time of the week, time for CNSMoms’ Meet a Mom spotlight brought to you in part by Mary Gifford of Gifford Law*. This week’s Meet a Mom feature is the lovely Highland Park mom of two teens and the Creative Director at the North Shore’s premier ballet and dance studio, Ballet Makkai, Lilla Daniels. Lilla chats about her favorite Highland Park stomping grounds, her wonderful kids and her longtime career as the Creative Director at Ballet Makkai! Welcome, Lilla!

p.s. Save the date for the return of Ballet Makkai’s coveted Nutcracker performance at Gorton Community Center’s John & Nancy Hughes Theater December 10-12, 2021.


Hi Lilla! Please introduce yourself. 

My name is Lilla Makkai Daniels, I’m originally from Transylvania/Romania but grew up in Highland Park. I currently live in Highland Park and love the City’s commitment to the arts and the Downtown Highland Park area.


How many kids do you have and how old are they? Feel free to brag here!

I have two boys, one Junior at HPHS and one Freshmen at HPHS. They are both on the swim team and I’m obsessed with them. While they aren’t students at the ballet school, they inherited some pretty good dance moves.



What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

I used to be a Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney.


What are your favorite local places to spend with the family?

We absolutely love Ravinia Brewing for their tacos and Country Kitchen for breakfast after the early morning practices. My son Dylan lives for the Lettuce Wraps at Yummy Bowl and pizza at Lefty’s. My other son David loves Happi Sushi and BWB Rocks.


Please introduce Ballet Makkai

The Irina Makkai Classical Ballet and Dance studio has been the North Shore’s Premier Dance School for over 38 years. It was founded in 1984 by my mom Irina Makkai. We offer classes in Ballet, Pointe, Jazz, Modern, Tap and Pre-Dance. We are the recipient of the Mayor’s Award for the Arts for our instruction and contribution to the arts in Highland Park. Home of the Ballet Makkai Nutcracker and Ballet Makkai Youth Company, we have something to offer every dancer. Specializing in the Russian based Vaganova Method; we offer individualized attention to each of our dancers. Our award-winning staff of professional dancers includes dancers and directors from the Joffrey Ballet, Ballet Chicago, Lyric Opera, River North Dance Company, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago and more.



What is your role at Ballet Makkai? When and how did you become involved with this dance school?

I am the Creative Director of the school and teach ballet to dancers in third grade through high school. I am also the director of the Ballet Makkai Nutcracker and Ballet Makkai Youth Company. My mom is Irina Makkai so I was pretty much born involved with the school, first as a student and now as a teacher/director.



What’s on the horizon for you personally? Any big milestones coming up or any that have just passed?

The high school swim season is coming up so I’m getting ready to completely embarrass my two sons in the stands with my amazing homemade signs. Other than that I’m just working hard to keep things as positive and normal for all our students at the ballet school.


And what’s on the horizon for Ballet Makkai?

We are working on our annual production of The Nutcracker which will take place December 11 & 12 at the Gorton Community House in Lake Forest. Our dancers can’t wait to get on that stage and perform again, it’s their favorite part of the year.



Can prospective students enroll in your school anytime?

Ballet Makkai has ongoing enrollment throughout the year so you can join at any time. Call (847) 433-1449 or email [email protected] to see which classes work best for your dancer. And come see us during the Nutcracker!



About CNSMoms’ Meet a Mom Sponsor

A very heartfelt thank you to CNSMoms’ Meet a Mom sponsor, Lake Forest mom of three and owner of Gifford Law, a solo Estate Planning Firm. Mary, we appreciate your support of local moms in our North Shore communities! Learn more about Mary by visiting her Meet a Mom spotlight here!


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