Ashley DeForest won't be able to make her tap dance class in Elmhurst tonight.
"I feel guilty that I had to leave them with a substitute,"said DeForest, a dance instructor and 2002 graduate of Willowbrook High School in Villa Park.
But the Lombard native has a bigger class to school in the art of tap -- TV viewers -- when DeForest joins Broadway and film star Savion Glover on "Dancing with the Stars"7 p.m. Wednesday on ABC 7.
DeForest, 23, said students were both understanding and excited about seeing their teacher on TV.
"Some of them thought I was going to be one of the star contestants,"DeForest said during a phone interview between rehearsals in Los Angeles.
But rather than pitting her moves against the likes of Marie Osmond, ex-Spice Girl Melanie "Scary Spice"Brown or would-be Cubs owner Mark Cuban, DeForest will dance with Glover in a special group tap routine during the first results night within the show's three-day season premiere.
DeForest, a 2002 Lombard Lilac Princess, said she knew early on she wanted to devote her life to dance.
At age 2, Deforest was signed up for dance lessons in Lombard by her mom, Patti.
Though the starting age for classes was 3 years old, the studio made an exception, Patti DeForest said.
"And she just took off with it and has been dancing every day of her life,"Patti DeForest said of her daughter.
Getting an early start has enabled DeForest to pack plenty of highlights, including touring nationally with Glover as part of the group, Chapter IV, and performing at New York's famed Apollo Theater.
Recently, she danced on a BBC television program that was aired throughout the United Kingdom.
Still, DeForest said she not only feels great that Glover asked her to perform with him Wednesday, but is especially pleased about the exposure the show will mean for the style of dancing closest to her heart.
"It's great to have tap on TV for however long: five minutes, one hour or 30 seconds,"DeForest said.
DeForest said Glover's routine will pay homage to moves made famous by the late tap dancer and actor Gregory Hines, whose celebrity and dancing skills, she said, kept tap in the public eye.
Lately, DeForest credited Glover, and his work choreographing penguin Mumble's moves in the 2006 animated movie, "Happy Feet,"with helping to introduce young kids to tap.
Beyond her American TV debut, lately there's been even more for DeForest to celebrate.
In June, she opened DeForest Dance Academy in Elmhurst, where people of varying skill levels can take classes in tap, ballet, jazz and hip hop dancing. Already, more than 200 students are enrolled in academy classes.
DeForest said she's hopeful that number will increase following Wednesday night's performance.
Some students, along with family and friends, plan to watch her on large-screen TVs at an Oakbrook Terrace restaurant, DeForest's mom said.
After her night in the spotlight, DeForest said, her younger students can expect to see "Ms. Ashley"back in class Thursday.