Upcoming Alumni Events:
Alumni Dance Class
Saturday, Nov 30 2013
The Decade after JLDC!
By Annie Ellertsen, Class of 2003
I graduated from JLDC in 2003. At the time, if you had told me I would someday be guest teaching in one of the most respected studios in the world, or that I would book a national tour portraying some of the most recognized child icons, I would have smiled politely and not given it a second thought. I already had a plan for myself. I was to obtain my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in dance performance from Montclair State University. From there, I would move back to Boston and teach for Joanne. I was already working on getting my foot in the door, assisting as many fundamentals classes that my already hectic high school schedule would allow, and coming back to help with recital week when I was home from college…but that was preparing me for something else.
At college, Broadway Dance Center became my second home. Saturday mornings I would take the early bus from Upper Montclair New Jersey to Midtown New York and throw myself into every drop-in class I could. Very surprisingly, theater dance became my absolute favorite class. Lainie Munro’s was not to be missed. She took me under her wing from the very start. Fast forward to the summer of 2006, I became a summer intern at BDC, and to my delight and surprise, was asked personally to be Lainie’s classroom assistant. Trusting my instincts, I accepted. It quickly became apparent that teaching adults was, in ways, similar to teaching children. They love good music, appreciate a fun, supportive atmosphere, and love creative approaches to class. Sometimes by the end of the 90 minute class, we were staging a full-blown Broadway production number, or simulating a mock audition. While some of the dancers in class were already working professionals, others were actors and singers looking to brush up their technical chops, and some, just there to have a good time dancing to show tunes.
I treated this assistant position as if it were a full-fledged, paid job, on top of working (at least) two other jobs and auditioning. Unless I told Lainie otherwise, every class she taught, I would be there assisting. As our partnership grew, she gave me more responsibility. I would start class for her on days when she was running back across town from an audition. I became her dance captain for her Broadway Big Brother Big Sister performance mentorship program. I would assist her at conventions, (side note, years ago, I gleefully ran into some twelve-year-old JLDC nuggets who took our workshop…they are now about to be Senior Grads…time flies!!!) Finally, one day, she called me up: “Hey, it’s Lainie, listen, none of the teachers can sub my class at BDC today, so you’re on.” After I caught my breath, it occurred to me, I know exactly how to do this. I walked in with confidence, lead the warmup, did some across the floor for technique and style, and finished by teaching them Michael Bennett’s ”One” from A Chorus Line. From there, Lainie began requesting that I sub more of her classes, theater dance and theater tap. From word of mouth, I was asked to sub for other teachers on the BDC faculty, Crystal Chapman, Justin Boccitto, Lane Napper, and Mister Mistoffelees, also known as Jacob Brent.
Sometimes I wonder how this all happened. It all comes back to JLDC and creating that opportunity to cultivate my love of teaching. Not only did it turn into a life in New York, it’s taking me on the road for a year! After years of auditions, a few small gigs here and there, callbacks and cuts, I have secured my first long-term job as a performer! I will be playing Bert and Oscar the Grouch in the touring company of Sesame Street Live: Elmo Makes Music in the fall!
If I can offer any advice to the dancers at JLDC now, it is this: If you are given an opportunity, or are making one for yourself, hold tight to it. If it starts to go down an unexpected path, go with it. Change is good. Fear is too, but face it, full force. Don’t ever let it stop you from being amazing.
“If you can dream it, you can do it.” ~Walt Disney
JLDC On Broadway! Big Fish
Hitting the Broadway stage this fall is a musical version of Tim Burton’s sensational film, Big Fish, with direction and choreography by Tony winner Susan Stroman featuring JLDC’s own Robin Campbell. What Robin remembers most from JLDC apart from the well rounded training is that she was taught to “never, ever give up on something you love to do.” The training and the “never give up” attitude of current JLDC students remains as true today as it was when Robin claimed JLDC as “her second home.
Boston University’s all female Hip Hop group VIBES! Directed by JLDC alumni
I hope everything is great back at the studio! Right now I’m on my semester abroad in Sydney, Australia. Hopefully in a few weeks I’m going to start going to master classes with the Sydney Dance Company. Back at Boston University, I dance with a hip-hop dance team called Vibes, along with Roni Shani and Julie Gratz, two other JLDC alums! It’s so cool to be able to have danced with them through high school and now in college. We perform at a ton of different venues around the Boston area, particularly at other colleges and universities. Also, every spring we go to the Main Event Competition hosted by Fr3sh, a hip hop crew that was on ABDC last season! There were some incredible teams there, and it was awesome to be able to share the stage with them! I included a video of us performing at the Main Event, and the poster from our own annual show that we had last March. I hope to see all of you soon, best of luck! -Mina Vahedi
JLDC alumni join Israeli Dance Company!
JLDC alumni Shir Inbar and Julia Planine-Troiani are spending the semester studying with an Israeli Contemporary Dance Company. We have 4 performances so far and one of them is for the president of Israel which is really exciting! We are also opening for the company and performing a piece with them in their opening show of the year in their BEAUTIFUL theater which is so exciting. -Shir & Julia
Quotes & photos from former alumni:
“I truly have loved this dance experience.”
“It is the feeling of being refreshed while drenched with sweat and sense of becoming more of myself through my friends and teachers here that continues to transform me into the person I want to be.”
“The people I have met through dance have grown to be some of the most important people in my life.”