Inspirational choreography, a focus on technique and a welcoming atmosphere top the list of things dancers will miss about Sue’s Jazz 2-3 on Monday nights.
Sue Casey-Murray taught her last class at the Jeannette Neill Dance Studio (JNDS) on Monday, December 29. This marks the end of a 30-year career as a dancer, choreographer and teacher, and Sue’s many devoted students and colleagues are sad to see her go. At the same time, we want to wish her well and thank her for sharing her many gifts and talents with us. As JNDS Founder and Artistic Director Jeannette Neill and Managing Director Tommy Coye explained in a note announcing her departure: “Sue has been a valued and beloved family member of our studio and an important staple of our institution’s philosophy of dance education. She will be deeply missed, but we wish her all the very best in the future.”
Indeed, we will miss Sue dearly. And although we are sad that it is over, we should smile for the sheer joy it was to dance with her every week. Here are some of the things we love and will miss about Monday nights with Sue (and here’s to the hope that she’ll treat us to a master or class or two sometime down the road):
A warm welcome. Whether you are here for the first time or have been taking class for decades, Sue welcomes you with a smile. Newcomers are introduced and advised that warm-up is set and moves fast. An encouraging “everyone around you knows it, so follow along and do the best you can” sets you at ease.
Preparedness and professionalism. A full 90 minutes of dancing; that’s what you get when you sign in to Sue’s class. From her thorough warm-up to her full-length combos (always more than a minute, but sometimes approaching two), be prepared to move. This carries over into performance, too. If you have ever joined Sue for a JNDS repertory piece, you know that finishing early and having plenty of time to clean and feel confident in the movement is top priority.
Technique and “treats.” Sue’s class is a place to hone your technique. Whether through personalized corrections or class-wide advice, Sue takes the time to make sure you are working properly. She adds to that with a weekly “treat.” This is code for conditioning exercises meant to build a dancer’s strength—lengthy planks, mountain-climbers, and battements exercises that travel around the room are just a few all-time favorites.
A sense of humor. Whether she’s coining a new term (think “familiar friends” and “customize your class”) or stopping to admire a cute purse lined up along the back wall, Sue interjects a lightness that can’t help but enhance your enjoyment of class. Dance is work, but it’s also fun—something we never forget in Jazz 2-3 on Monday nights.
Friendliness and familiarity. Speaking of coining new terms, somewhere along the line Sue’s class became known as “the friendly class.” Dancers in the front always ask if those behind them want to switch spots—this is Boston, not New York, after all; you can leave your ego at the door here. A spirit of camaraderie and support permeates the studio, and has led to the forming of long-lasting friendships. As one long-time student described: “I will miss the dancers in class who are now my friends. It’s a joy to watch them get married, have babies, go away and then come back.”
Weekly inspiration. Sue’s music and choreography is nothing short of inspirational, and it’s the thing that has kept so many coming back to class for 30 years. Her lyrical jazz style “looks good on all of us, from those who are 20 years old to those who are more than twice that,” as one student said. “Flying” and “floating” are words other students have used to describe her fluid, musical steps.
Sue has been an inspiration and support to so many dancers—from the young Boston Youth Moves students she taught for years to the devoted adults who have become her friends. We wish her every success in the future and are forever grateful for the time we had dancing together.
Check the JNDS class schedule online for an updated list of classes. For more information, call the studio at 617-523-1355.