JNDS Student Q&A with: Tana Chandler

Friendship, fun, and a passion for Jazz have kept this dancer coming back to JNDS for 34 years

Longtime JNDS dancer Tana Chandler credits Jeannette Neill’s “infectious exuberance” and her classic Jazz style as key reasons she keeps coming back to the Jeannette Neill Dance Studio. These days, Chandler is a regular in Jeannette’s Saturday 9 a.m. Jazz class, which she describes as a welcoming place full of friends and fun. In the newest installment of our Q&A series celebrating the studio’s 35th anniversary, she talks about what makes the studio so special and why she’s been hooked on Jazz since taking her first class with Jeannette 34 years ago.

JNDS: When did you start taking class at JNDS and what keeps you coming back?

Tana Chandler: I started in 1980! I was hooked from the beginning. Jeannette’s exuberance towards dance and her style are infectious. Plus, there are all my dancer friends—you know when you walk through that door, you are home.

JNDS: Jeannette’s 9 a.m. Jazz class on Saturdays is a particularly popular class. It’s full of regulars, but is also a welcoming place for newcomers. Why do you think it appeals to such a broad range of dancers?

Chandler: We all love to dance. We help each other out. There are no DIVAS among us!

JNDS: Jeannette’s style is classic Jazz—something it seems is becoming increasingly difficult to find elsewhere. How important is this to you in your study of dance?

Chandler: It’s very important. Her warm-up and style just feel right for my body. I have never been injured in her class.

JNDS: What advice would you give to someone taking Jeannette’s class for the first time?

Chandler: Take it one “step” at a time. Relax and have fun. If you stick with it, all will become clear!

JNDS: So many JNDS students talk about the studio as their dance home and point to the lasting friendships they have made here. How has this aspect of JNDS and the 9 a.m. class affected you?

Chandler: The studio and the 9 a.m. dance class have been a constant in my life for over 34 years. Jeannette has been such an inspiration and friend to me. At times it probably saved my sanity, if not my life, through some difficult times. Not to mention that my training at JNDS gave me the tools to teach for over 12 years, and to perform. I also met one of my best friends, Lorrie Wilkins, at the studio, along with many other fabulous people. We have gone through marriages, divorces, illnesses, childbirth—and no matter if happy or sad, we felt supported, loved and excited to dance.

JNDS: Do you have a fun fact about yourself or the 9 a.m. class you’d like to share?

Chandler: Tough question! There are so many good times and memories. Hmmm … when the old studio wouldn’t have heat first thing in the morning and Jeannette would have us walk then run around in a circle before the warm-up … when I took so many classes, I actually had a “spot” … when Dwight and Desmond from Ailey would come to teach master classes … the Rick Atwell warm-up (to this day if I hear that music I start doing grande plies in the supermarket) … leg warmers, giant scrunchies, bandanas, thong leotards with dance belts … I could go on and on!

JNDS Celebrates 35 Years of Performance

Spring Repertory Concert honors the 35th Anniversary of the Jeannette Neill Dance Studio and pays tribute to the legacy of the studio’s late co-owner and artistic director J. Allen Collier

Students, faculty, and staff of the Jeannette Neill Dance Studio recently presented their Spring Repertory Concert, this year honoring JNDS’ 35th Anniversary. The annual showcase of Jazz, Contemporary, and Hip Hop dance featured performances by new and longtime JNDS students and faculty, Boston Youth Moves, BYM alumni, and special guests from the Boston Community Dance Project.

In addition to honoring JNDS’ 35th anniversary, the concert was dedicated to the memory of J. Allen Collier, co-owner and co-artistic director of JNDS, who lost his two-year battle with melanoma on April 22. Allen will be honored with a memorial service at Boston University’s Tsai Performance Center (longtime home of the JNDS Repertory Concerts) on June 21. The Spring Repertory Concert offered an early tribute to Allen’s life by continuing the JNDS tradition of enriching Boston’s dance community with vibrant and diverse choreography from some of the region’s most talented dance professionals.

Here are some highlights, in pictures, from this year’s show:

PreShowWarmupDancers gather onstage and in the house for Jeannette’s pre-show warm-up—a body/mind ritual for Repertory Concert performers.

JeannetteRepJeannette Neill’s Tuesday evening Jazz class opened the show with “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” Jeannette created the piece in 1987 and reprised it in honor of the 35th Anniversary Spring Concert.  (photo courtesy of Liz Martin)

NikkiBYMIVIn one of the most intense pieces of the evening, BYM Level 4 presented Nikki Sell’s “Under Pressure.” Nikki is on faculty at BYM and JNDS, teaching her Modern-influenced Jazz style.

Saturday9amThe fabulous ladies of Jeannette Neill’s Saturday 9 a.m. Jazz class made a special appearance at the Spring Repertory Concert, performing a Tango piece representing classic “Jeannette” style. The Saturday 9 a.m. class is one of the studio’s longest-running classes.

IMAG2357Lorrie Wilkins and Leslie Beyer are both longtime students and friends of JNDS.  Lorrie came all the way from Florida to perform in the 35th anniversary show!

BYMIIBYM Artistic Director Jim Viera presented “Noonday Sun,” performed by BYM Level 2. This was a debut Repertory Concert performance for many of these young dancers.

ElenaGroupElena Greenspan (second from back right) with the cast of her Modern-influenced Contemporary piece, “It’s Written in the Air.”

JimmyGroupJim Viera’s fabulous Friday night Jazz class presented “Don’t Stop The Dance,” an ‘80s-inspired Jazz piece set to music by Bryan Ferry.

SkoojContemporarySkooJ CorE-O’s Contemporary dancers presented the fluid and physically demanding “Liberation.”

SueGroupSue Casey-Murray presented a cast of 14 dancers in “Every Moment,” a lyrical Jazz piece set to music by Avril Lavigne and Joy Williams. Sue retired from JNDS Repertory choreography two years ago—presenting her last piece at Not! The Nutcracker 2012—but was persuaded to come back with this special piece in honor of the studio’s 35th anniversary.

JimmyBYMIVBYM Level 4 danced Artistic Director Jim Viera’s “Sound of Invisible Waters,” a final performance for the group’s graduating seniors.

1stTimersFirst-time Repertory performers Ju Hyun Lee and Kate Brandel danced in Brittany Alexis’  “Upgrade U.”

AlexisGroupBrittany Alexis with the full cast of her upbeat, energetic “Upgrade U” jazz funk piece.

BYMIIIThe BYM Level 3/Intensive dancers were mesmerizing in Elena Greenspan’s “Love and Purity.” Elena teaches Modern dance in the BYM program and offers Contemporary dance in the JNDS adult program.

NikkiGroupNikki Sell (center, front) stepped in for an injured dancer in her Modern Jazz  2 group.  They performed “The Wing and the Wheel,” a piece that celebrated love and friendship.

LilGroupLil Carter’s Jazz dancers performed with characteristic high energy in “That’s Clutch,” set to music by George Michael. Lil is a longtime JNDS faculty member, teaching Jazz on Wednesday evenings.

BCDPGuest Performers from Boston Community Dance Project offered a moving performance in “Sinking Desperation.” BCDP was created in 2011 by JNDS faculty member Sarah-Katrina Jerome (SKooJ CorE-O).

BoysIIKit Pang, the show’s assistant to the director, and dancer Corey Baker offer a glimpse of the energy and excitement backstage during Saturday evening’s performance.

BoysIJohn Messina and Mckhelan Alcindor get ready to perform “Onward March,” a crowd-pleasing, military-inspired Hip Hop piece choreographed by SKooJ CorE-O.

SkoojHipHopThe cast of SKooJ CorE-O’s “Onward March” offer a pose straight after performing onstage.

BYMAlumniA handful of young and talented BYM alumni made their way back to the Tsai to perform Jim Viera’s “Wack Wack!” in honor of the 35th anniversary.

MostRepsEmily Paquin celebrated the 35th anniversary by performing in four pieces – the most performed by a single dancer in the whole show: Stephanie Heroux’s “Surrender” and “Thank You,” Brittany Alexis’ “Upgrade U,” and SKooJ CorE-O’s “Onward March.”

StephanieGroupBYM, JNDS, and JNCDP faculty member Stephanie Heroux (center, front) presented two pieces in the show, “Surrender” and “Thank You,” pictured here. “Thank You” closed the show and paid tribute to Allen Collier, JNDS, and the gift of dance.

Calling All Teens: JNDS Powered by Dance Summer Dance Intensive

Summer program at the Jeannette Neill Dance Studio immerses young dancers in ballet, modern, jazz, and more

Designed for teenagers, the Jeannette Neill Dance Studio’s Powered by Dance Summer Intensive is a rewarding and enriching dance program featuring some of the nation’s most gifted dance educators, many of whom are on the faculty of the renowned Boston Youth Moves [BYM] program. It’s a great way for young dancers to work on improving their technique, challenging their skills, and expanding their scope of styles. The program is open to teen dancers ages 13-17.

Additionally, should your teen discover that he or she is ready for the next step in their dance education they may want to consider inquiring about the BYM pre-professional training program that runs concurrently with the school year.  BYM offers early placement in the program for students attending the Powered by Dance intensive.

Below is a sample of the schedule for Powered by Dance. Registration is still open, so don’t miss your chance to dance with us at JNDS this summer.

July 21st – August 8th, Monday – Friday

BEGINNING/INTERMEDIATE

9:30 -11:15 Ballet

11:30 -1:15 Modern

2:00 – 4:00 Styles

INTERMEDIATE

9:30 – 11:15 Modern

11:30 – 1:15 Ballet

2:00 – 4:00 Styles

INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED

9:30 – 11:15 Ballet

11:30 – 1:15 Modern

2:00 – 4:00 Styles

Styles class may include Jazz, Theatre Dance, and Hip Hop. Tuition is $405/week or all three weeks for $1100, plus a $35 non-refundable registration fee.

JNDS Dancer Q&A with: Christine Hamersley

It’s never too late to begin studying dance—and Jeannette Neill’s Jazz 1 is the perfect place to start, says longtime JNDS student and performer Christine Hamersley

In our ongoing effort to celebrate the 35th Anniversary of the Jeannette Neill Dance Studio, we asked some longtime students to talk about one of the studio’s longest running classes: Jeannette Neill’s Jazz 1 on Saturdays at 9 a.m. This class has served as the starting point for many adult students looking to begin or expand their dance studies, and it also is a place where many longtime dancers come to refresh their technique.

Christine Hamersley took her first JNDS class on Saturday at 9 a.m. 24 years ago, and she keeps coming back for Jeannette’s best-in-the-business warm-up, fun music, and classic jazz combinations. Here are Christine’s insights on how this classic jazz class led to an in-depth study of dance that she continues today.

JNDS: When did you start taking Jeannette’s 9 a.m. Jazz 1 on Saturdays, and what keeps you coming back?

Hamersley: I took my first Saturday 9 a.m. with Jeannette class in 1990.  That’s 24 yrs ago! Soon after, I took her Level 2 at 11a.m., 2 hour classes on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday for as many years as she had these classes until and including today.

I danced in Marblehead for 10 years and was looking to improve my technique and to try different styles and teachers. I kept coming back for Jeannette’s consistently excellent warm up, her fantastic music (Aretha Franklin, Oleta Adams, Tina Turner, Patti LaBelle, M People, and more), her challenging combinations and wonderful style. With Jeannette’s guidance, I was building dance strength, increasing my stretch and range of motion, having a fabulous opportunity to perform in 13 Repertory Shows, dancing three jazz and musical theater pieces in a show. I was having fun and making terrific, lifelong friends along the way.

I also keep coming back because JNDS always keeps me challenged. I’ve gone on to study with Jimmy Viera (jazz and musical theater for 10 years), Sue Casey Murray, Carlton Jones, Adrienne Mincz, Jimmy Raye, Lisa Simon, Andy Taylor Blenis, Tommy Coye, Lillian Carter, Billy McLaughlin and Nikki Sell. I’ve taken the JNDS Summer Festival Intensives and Master Classes with Lynn Simonson, Michael Owens, Betsy Haug, Ailey dancers, and more. I’ve taken open classes at Steps and BDC in NYC. All of this would never have happened without Jeannette’s teaching and guidance…and it all began with her Saturday 9a.m. class.

JNDS: This is a class that’s full of regulars, but is also a welcoming place for newcomers. Why do you think it appeals to such a broad range of dancers?

Hamersley: Jeannette has a wonderful way of making everyone feel welcome. She’s a Master teacher and a beautiful dancer. We’re so fortunate to learn from her. She keeps everyone safe with her warm up, by watching students carefully and making appropriate corrections. The exercises follow an easy pattern so a newcomer can learn the dance vocabulary and work on their technique. Jeannette’s terrific music makes it fun.

JNDS: Jeannette’s style is classic jazz – something it seems is becoming increasingly difficult to find elsewhere.  How important is this to you in your study of dance?

Hamersley: Jazz style has taught me to carefully observe lines, syncopated rhythms, isolations, a low center of gravity, and parallel feet. It’s taught me to use plie to full effect to move correctly. This can be helpful in modern dance and in dancing to any current popular music. Jazz is so important to anyone who wants to be a well-trained dancer. The roots of jazz are in African and Indian dance, combined with famous jazz choreographers such as Bob Fosse, Jack Cole, Gwen Verdon, Gus Giordano, Jerome Robbins and many others. Jazz is required for dancers on Broadway, in musical theater, dance companies, competitions, and dance reality shows. It’s a very important style and vocabulary that will always be classic.

JNDS: What advice would you give to someone taking Jeannette’s class for the first time?

Hamersley: I would reassure them that the warm-up faces front and repeats. It’s easy to follow. Jeannette drills you on jazz basics and builds your core strength and stretch. Jeannette’s class would prepare any newcomer to eventually go on to other teachers and styles. The Saturday 9a.m. class is a great place to begin. Your dance technique will build over time. There are advanced dancers at this class, but a newcomer is welcomed too. Your single pirouette is just as appreciated as other’s doubles and triples. I tell them everyone is very friendly and nice. We all make mistakes you just have to keep trying.

JNDS: So many JNDS students talk about the studio as their dance home and point to the lasting friendships they have made here. How has this aspect of JNDS and the 9 a.m. class affected you?

Hamersley: JNDS is my dance “home” and the dancers I have met here are kindred spirits. We all love the studio and teachers, the movement, music, discipline, and challenge. The Rep shows brought us together too.  After losing my husband of 20 years to cancer, I got to know three of the BYM students by giving them rides from Duxbury. One was Haley Bobseine, who began BYM at age 14. I drove her to class two to three times a week for four years while she advanced to BYM level 4. We stayed in touch through her college years and after too while she has lived abroad.

I wanted to get to know other adult dancers, too. I organized a group (Dance Affinity) to support the “Celebrity Dance Series of Boston.” We each bought a six-show subscription and met before the concert at a restaurant nearby. We started with four people, and seven years later we had 14…all dancers from Jeannette’s wanting to support the arts. It was so much fun. The “Dance Affinity” group has now become a Facebook Group of 115 dance friends, mostly from Jeannette’s.

JNDS: Do you have a fun fact about yourself or the 9 a.m. class you’d like to share?

Hamersley: I knew at a very young age that I loved to dance, but didn’t have the opportunity to study dance. I danced some in high school and college, but it wasn’t until I came to JNDS in my 30s that I was able to immerse myself (while working full time at Swissair) in serious dance training. I even studied ballet with Leo Gerard at Jose Mateo’s studio for five years. But, it was Jeannette’s teaching and encouragement made this all possible.

JNDS Dancer Q&A with: Anne Marie Cuozzo

After 22 years and 44 Rep Shows, dancer Anne Marie Cuozzo calls the Jeannette Neill Dance Studio “the best find ever”

There are not many dancers at the Jeannette Neill Dance Studio who can claim to have performed in more than 40 of the studio’s twice yearly Repertory Concerts—Not! The Nutcracker! in December and the Spring Repertory Concert each May. Aside from faculty, there probably aren’t any at all, come to think of it. But at 44 shows and counting, longtime student and performer Anne Marie Cuozzo likely holds the title of longest-running rep performer.  She has danced a variety of styles in that time, but is probably most recognizable as a core member of Jim Viera’s jazz group that rehearses on Friday nights during rep season.

We asked Cuozzo to share some of her thoughts about the studio and what it’s like to perform in a rep show, in honor of JNDS’ upcoming 35th Anniversary Concert, to be held May 23 and 24 at Boston University’s Tsai Performance Center. She recalls some of her favorite theater dance performances and some classic pieces from Not!The Nutcraker!

Cuozzo’s insights offer a look at something that is much more than a performance for the serious students that call JNDS their dance home.

JNDS: How many JNDS Repertory Concerts have you participated in?

Anne Marie Cuozzo: I came to Jeannette’s quite by accident. I had never danced at a studio before—disco clubs back in the ‘70s and ‘80s were fabulous though, loved to dance. A friend of mine wanted to start taking classes at Jeannette’s so she asked me to go to the rep show with her so she could check out the choreographers. Then she asked me to go try a class with her. I figured what the heck, give it a try. She hurt her back and didn’t show up, but 22 years and 44 rep shows later, I am still dancing and thankfully going strong! I love to dance, and as a beginner Jeannette’s studio was so welcoming. I always felt so encouraged to keep trying and learn more.

JNDS: What years, seasons, and choreographers have you performed with?

Cuozzo: My first class at the studio was in 1992 with a very pregnant Andy Taylor. She was a fantastic teacher, but once she had the baby I had to find another class. A friend suggested Jimmy [Jim Viera]; she said I’d love it. I took Jimmy’s jazz class and six months later I was signing up for the rep show. And I have been performing ever since. Once Jimmy started teaching musical theater, I HAD to do those reps, too. I tried other classes and reps, including Billy McLaughlin, Jeannette, and Sue Casey—all amazing. The rep shows are so much fun and always challenging. Everyone is welcome, encouraged to do their best and to just have fun. That’s what I love about the studio; everyone can be a part of this great show.

JNDS: Do you have a favorite year, season, choreographer?

Cuozzo: Oh, that’s hard. There have been so many. I absolutely loved the 15th Anniversary show. It was amazing, and so long it took two tapes (yes, tapes) to record the show. Jimmy did a jazz piece where we were all dressed up to go to a cocktail party, pink champagne glasses and all. Well, on Friday night that pink champagne glass popped right out of my hand and landed somewhere on stage. The audience laughed, and luckily someone kicked if off stage. I hung on to it for dear life on Saturday night.

Jimmy’s musical theater reps were always a treat, especially when [JNDS faculty members] Tommy Coye and Michelle Chasse were part of it. There was a rep where we even had to sing and one where we were nurses operating on teacher Lil Carter.  Musical theater reps were always so creative and loved by the audience.

I forget which Not! the Nutcracker it was, but Jeannette did a piece to a Christmas song called “Santa Baby” with pink wigs and all! She needs to reprise that piece. OMG, I don’t want to give away the ending but I will: those wigs lit up with Christmas lights! And at the end of many a Not the Nutcracker, we loved when Jeannette came out dressed as a Christmas tree, red pointe shoes and all!

JNDS: What brings you back to perform year after year? Is it the process, the performance, or something else?

Cuozzo: It is the process, the performance, and so much more. I have had the chance to work with so many amazing people and have made the most incredible friendships through the years. The dancers are from all different ages, backgrounds and stages in life, but the thread that pulls us all together is dance. Through performance, Jeannette has given us a chance to learn more about ourselves and bond with fellow dancers. The teachers and choreographers are amazing; they challenge us to be our best, to make mistakes and shake them off, to get on stage and forget about the steps and just perform and have fun. The best compliments I have heard after performing are, “you all look like you are having so much fun.” And we are.

JNDS: How would you describe the show itself, in terms of professionalism and the quality of the choreography and dancing?

Cuozzo: Through the years, I have invited people to the show and have heard them say, “Oh, you have a dance recital.” I usually nod and just tell them they will enjoy it. After the show I always hear, “that was amazing!”  People love the show because of its professionalism, the quality of the choreography, dancing, lighting and staging.

JNDS: What about the level of commitment involved in the show. How much time should a dancer expect to give to the process?

Cuozzo: It is a commitment, but if you love to dance it doesn’t feel like a commitment at all. It is the joy of just getting to dance more, getting deeper into the heart of a song and exploring the choreography that the teacher has asked you to bring to life. It’s just a couple of hours more a week. The week of the show is a bit more intense, but it’s the excitement leading up to the show: getting on stage to mark the piece, then rehearsing with lights, then the show! Everyone is excited downstairs in the dressing rooms knowing there is a packed house. Dancers run around getting dressed, putting on make-up, practicing in the hallways and then hearing “places everyone!” Your heart skips a beat as you wait in the wings to go on, but you look at your fellow dancers and without any words you know you are all ready, the audience is going to love it.

JNDS: What advice would you give to a dancer who’s thinking about joining his or her first Rep cast?

Cuozzo: If you love to dance, RUN to sign up!

JNDS: This year is the 35th anniversary show. How do you feel about that?

Cuozzo: Wow, I am so honored to be a part of it. I just have to say to Jeannette, Jimmy, Allen and Tommy—I know it hasn’t been easy, but you have given so many people a chance to dance and be happy. That can never be captured in a simple thank you, but THANK YOU!

JNDS: Do you have a fun fact about yourself that you would like to share with others?

Cuozzo: Oh gosh, I didn’t start dancing at the studio until I was 35 years old and it was the best find ever! Shh, don’t tell anyone how old I am.

More information on the Jeannette Neill Dance Studio’s Repertory Concerts is available on the JNDS website.

Don’t Miss Out on Summertime Fun at JNCDP

Fun workshops for kids ages 3 to 12 and a week-long dance camp for 9- to 12-year-olds are on the agenda at the Jeannette Neill Children’s Dance Program this summer

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Parents, it is almost that time of year again: summer vacation. Not sure what to do to keep your little ones entertained? JNCDP offers special workshops throughout the summer so that your child may continue to learn, grow, and explore with us throughout the year.  And because these classes are open to the general public, it is a great time to invite friends and family to share the nurturing experience that you and your child have enjoyed this year in JNCDP.  Each workshop fills up quickly, so register early to reserve your spot. Here is a quick peek at what we’re offering in summer 2014:

June

Oh, The Places You’ll Go! (creative movement & arts and crafts): Ages 3-4; Mondays: June 2, 9, 16, from 4pm-5pm

Jazz It Up! (jazz & street funk): Ages 5-7; Mondays: June 2, 9, 16, from 5pm-6pm

Hip Hop: Ages 8-12; Mondays: June 2, 9, 16, from 4pm-5pm

On Broadway! (musical theatre dance styles culminating in a performance): Ages 9-12; Thursdays: June 5, 12, 19, from 4pm-6pm

JNDS 330August

Oh, The Places You’ll Go! (creative movement & arts and crafts): Ages 3-4; Monday, Wednesday, Friday: August 11, 13, 15, from 9:30 am -10:30am

Jazz It Up! (jazz & street funk): Ages 5-7; Monday, Wednesday, Friday: August 11, 13, 15, from 10:30 am-11:30am

Summer Dance Camp (week-long, half day camp offering various styles): Ages 9-12; Monday-Friday: August 11-15, 9:00am-12:30pm

Please contact JNCDP Director Stephanie Heroux with any questions or for more information.  We encourage you to spread the word about these summer workshops to friends, family, and communities outside of JNCDP.  They are a great way for your children to continue dancing throughout the year, and for new and prospective students to try our program before registering for the 2014-2015 school year.  All forms and schedules are available online at http://jndance.com/jeannette-neill-childrens-dance-program/jncdp-workshops/.

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Happy Spring! See you in June!

JNDS Dancer Q&A with: Chrissy Fetterer

Plan to be impressed when you attend a Jeannette Neill Dance Studio Rep Show says one longtime performer and studio regular

Dancers and choreographers are busy working on their pieces for the studio’s 35th Anniversary Repertory Concert, to be held at BU’s Tsai Performance Center May 23 and 24. As part of our ongoing effort to highlight some of the Jeannette Neill Dance Studio’s talented dancers, we asked veteran rep performer Chrissy Fetterer what brings her back to perform year after year. The chance to be onstage and the joy of costume shopping are just the trick for this versatile dancer who has more than 20 rep shows to her credit.

JNDS: You have performed in 20 JNDS Repertory Concerts. Can you tell us what years, seasons, and choreographers—if you can remember?

Fetterer: The first one was in May 1999. The most recent was in December 2013.  Jeannette, Jimmy, Tommy, Nikki, Adrienne, Michelle, Didi.

JNDS: Do you have a favorite year, season, choreographer?

Fetterer: The 25th Anniversary show when I was in five pieces!

JNDS: What got you interested in performing in the Repertory Concerts?

Fetterer: I love performing, and the Rep Shows are a fantastic opportunity allowing a non-professional dancer to be onstage while working a 9-5 job.

JNDS: What brings you back to perform year after year?  Is it the process, the performance, or something else?

Fetterer: Definitely the performance!

JNDS: How would you describe the show itself, in terms of professionalism and the quality of the choreography and dancing?

Fetterer: A+. My family and friends who come to see me are always impressed.

JNDS: What about the level of commitment involved in the show. How much time should a dancer expect to give to the process?

Fetterer: The time of the posted rehearsals plus some time to costume-shop!

JNDS: What advice would you give to a dancer who’s thinking about joining his or her first Rep cast?

Fetterer: Make sure you can commit to the schedule before you sign up and take care of yourself during the rehearsal season.

JNDS: This year is the 35th anniversary show. How do you feel about that?

Fetterer: Very proud of the studio!

More information on the Jeannette Neill Dance Studio’s Repertory Concerts is available on the JNDS website.

Photo caption: Chrissy Fetterer backstage at a JNDS Rep Show, ready to perform a piece by choreographer Tommy Coye set to Lady Gaga’s “Teeth.”

JNCDP Workshops Focus on Fitness, Fun

Get your little ones moving with two new workshops in the Jeannette Neill Children’s Dance Program!

Beginning in just two weeks, the Jeannette Neill Children’s Dance Program (JNCDP) will enhance its regular class offering with two six-week workshops designed to introduce children to music, movement and urban dance. The programs offer existing JNCDP families the opportunity to expand their dance education and are a great way for prospective families to learn about all JNCDP has to offer. So don’t miss out!

Hip Hop with McKersin Previlus is for children ages 7 to 12. This high-energy class will introduce students to a variety of urban dance forms, based on McKersin’s extensive training in hip hop, modern and various cultural dance styles. McKersin teaches dance throughout greater Boston and is a lead dancer and choreographer for Anna Meyer and Dancers. His workshop will be held at JNDS on Mondays from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. beginning February 24 and running through March 31.

For the littlest dancers out there, JNCDP will offer Mommy & Me with JNCDP faculty member Miss Rachal Aronson. Designed for parents and their two-year-old children, Miss Rachal’s class introduces children to creative movement and musicality while promoting physical strengthening and bonding with mom or dad. This class is a terrific way to introduce toddlers to dance—and a great way to get them ready for regular JNCDP classes, which start at age 3. Mommy & Me will run Wednesday mornings from 10:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. from February 26 through April 2.

More information on the workshops is available at the JNDS website. Don’t miss out on these new dance opportunities at JNCDP!

By Victoria Kickham

JNDS Dancer Q&A with: Alyssa Funk

As JNDS prepares for Spring Repertory Concert rehearsals to begin in March, we asked one longtime student what drives her to perform year after year

We recently caught up with longtime Jeannette Neill Dance Studio (JNDS) student Alyssa Funk to find out what inspires her to perform in the studio’s annual repertory concerts. Alyssa is the first of many JNDS “rep” performers we’ll interview here as a way to highlight the incredible talent and dedication that goes into the twice yearly performances. Read on to learn more about Alyssa and why she encourages all open-class students to “just do it!” when it comes to the rep show.

JNDS: How many JNDS Repertory Concerts have you participated in?

Alyssa Funk: Including the upcoming May 2014 performance this will be my 16th rep concert.

JNDS: What years, seasons, and choreographers (if you can remember)?

Funk: I have been performing both the winter and spring repertory concerts since about 2006 (with the exception of winter rep 2012 when I underwent a surgery due to blowing out my hamstring in a previous rep dress rehearsal—but the show must go on!) I have worked with the following choreographers: Jeannette Neill, Nikki Sell, and Jimmy Viera.

JNDS: Favorite year, season, choreographer?

Funk: Quite honestly I just cannot choose my favorite season, particular rep show, or choreographer. All the performances and rehearsals leading up to the big night have all been amazing experiences that have allowed me to perform quite an array of dance styles as well as allow me to dance on stage with some of the most amazing people in the process!

JNDS: What got you interested in performing in the JNDS Repertory Concerts?

Funk: My professional dance career unfortunately came to a close (due to more reasons that I can possibly list) and I was looking for a professional type of outlet to continue my passion. I was born to be on stage; however, earning a buck for it was proving quite challenging. I was taking classes at JNDS for quite some time and never considered participating in a rep show until I actually went to a performance and was thoroughly impressed! Being able to continue to attend classes and rehearsals and participate in performances are the sole motivators that get me through my hours spent at my boring office job!

JNDS: What brings you back to perform year after year?  Is it the process, the performance, or something else?

Funk: Like I said, I was born to be on the stage. No place else can you escape and become someone other than who you really are. Dancing and performing are my oxygen, and there is no other place I would rather be than in the dance studio having the opportunity to work with great choreographers in a non-competitive setting and dancing great pieces of work that challenge me technically and emotionally. And not to mention the fact that I have formed amazing friendships with my fellow rep participants. Not only are rehearsals filled with dancing, but they are filled with laughter and joy!

JNDS: How would you describe the show itself, in terms of professionalism and the quality of the choreography and dancing?

Funk: You get to perform in a well-known theater in Boston, with creative lighting, fun costumes, and sometimes props (if you’re lucky!). As for the choreography, it truly speaks for itself—it is a result of the talented and creative staff at JNDS. Not only are the pieces infused with challenging technique that is always evolving, but also inspirational, danced to some of the greatest music, with pieces choreographed from the heart.

JNDS: What about the level of commitment involved in the show. How much time should a dancer expect to give to the process?

Funk: It really all depends on an individual’s schedule and how many reps they choose to be in. That’s the glory of a rep show: YOU get to choose what choreographers you want to work with and how many pieces you want to be in—anywhere from an extra 1 ½ hours to your week or 6 hours!

JNDS: What advice would you give to a dancer who’s thinking about joining his or her first rep cast?

Funk: Just do it! I can’t think of any reasons why you shouldn’t …

JNDS: This year is the 35th anniversary show. How do you feel about that?

Funk: First and foremost, I am so proud of JNDS’ staying power and the reputation that the studio has in Boston and beyond. I admire the staff at JNDS for their breadth of  dance knowledge and their commitment to students—striving to produce talented dancers in a safe, non-competitive, welcoming environment. So it’s no surprise really that the studio is celebrating 35 years. Cheers to celebrating 35+ more!

JNDS: Do you have a fun fact about yourself that you would like to share with others?

Funk: I love to dance! Oh wait … we already knew that. Doesn’t that suffice as a fun fact?

 

 More information on the Jeannette Neill Dance Studio’s Repertory Concerts is available on the JNDS website. Rehearsals for the 35th Anniversary Spring Repertory Concert begin the week of March 10th. Details will be available online and in the studio later this month.

JNDS Celebrates 35 Years

JNDS Celebrates 35 Years as Boston’s Premier Center for Jazz Dance

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the Jeannette Neill Dance Studio (JNDS). We hope you will help us celebrate by trying a new class and joining us for one of our upcoming performances. Whether you have been taking class with us for years or have just discovered us, we thank you for your support and look forward to sharing the love of dance as we mark this studio milestone.

Since 1979, JNDS has served as Boston’s premier center for jazz dance. Countless recreational and professional dancers have passed through the studio’s doors to take class with the best dance educators in New England as well as world-renowned guest artists from across the dance world.  The studio’s rich 35-year history has seen it expand to offer a wide range of styles, programs, and performance opportunities. Today, JNDS is home to one of New England’s best pre-professional teen dance programs, Boston Youth Moves, and also offers a non-competitive dance education program for children ages 3 to 12. Combined with ongoing adult classes and workshops for all ages, this makes JNDS one of the city’s premier arts organizations.

Please take a minute to read more about the studio’s history on the JNDS website.

And don’t forget about our upcoming performances. In March, BYM will take to the stage for its annual Boston Youth Moves Dance Company Concert at Boston University’s Dance Theater. We hope you will join us for this night of top-notch dancing and choreography from BYM faculty and guest artists. Saturday evening’s performance will be followed by BYM’s annual Champagne Reception Fundraiser—a great opportunity to support BYM and socialize with fellow dancers and dance enthusiasts.

Later this spring, we will host the children’s program’s Demonstration Day and the studio’s 35th Anniversary Repertory Concert, both held at BU’s Tsai Performance Center in May. Plan now to be a part of the Repertory Concert, which is open to all adult-class students—it’s a great way to celebrate dance and JNDS. Rehearsals are slated to begin the week of March 10th.

Check back here and on the JNDS website for updates on all of our programs. And thank you again for helping us keep Boston moving for 35 years!

By Victoria Kickham