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  • Writer's pictureLouise Alving

Reflections from the Front Desk

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

The studio is in full swing as we begin our 2022/2023 season. What is a bit different this year is being able to welcome more students, see their faces, and experience full classrooms and hallways again after 2+ years of COVID.

We’ve seen returning students, parents, new faces, and alums over the summer and into the new season. Speaking of alums…. We have two new faculty members this season! Miss Rachel Moran and Miss Angela Lutz (visit our faculty page for complete bios) return to impart their teaching and ADA wisdom to the next generation of dancers.

The smiles and laughter have been abundant, from our littlest dancers in Creative Dance to our seniors in high school. Sitting at the front desk, I can hear the happy chatter of students. Overflowing backpacks, lunch boxes, chrome books, homework, and shoes remind me of what our kids' rooms might look like at home.

Although your students come to the Academy to dance, the precious “moments between classes,” from the comfort of sharing a meal, and talking about their school day, to the academic support of homework buddies, make the studio pretty magical.

“It’s where you have the fun of friends and a support system. You never have to ask them to be there for you. They are just always there cheering you on”, says Shannon Moran. Shannon is the last of three sisters who have danced at the academy; between the three, this family has been a part of ADA for over 25 years!

I asked students what they missed about “studio life” due to Covid, or even the short two weeks between the end of summer and the start of Fall. Many commented on “the feeling of belonging.” A few quotes:

  • “It’s a relationship unlike any other you will experience because you essentially grow up with them.”

  • “It's easier to be yourself at dance and be who you want to be, unlike school, where you try to fit in.”

  • “I can be myself here.”

  • “Everyone has a shared passion and is easy to relate to.”

  • “You feel most like yourself here, and don’t feel judged.”

  • “You can make mistakes with your dance friends without judgment.”

What is beautiful about ADA is witnessing the friendships that started at our studio and have extended into the next phases of life. Several of our students are now at the University of Illinois including 7-year duet partners Lily Freebery and Olivia Papa, Paige Sawatsky, Jackie O’Brochta, Moira Friant, and Cassidy Murphy (University of Illinois Dance Team). Olivia helped Lily move in on campus and showed her the ropes while bestie parents Sandi and Pansy reunited and recalled all the years of friendship, competitions, and performances.

Another wonderful part of ADA is our alumni who visit, guest teach, and inspire. This summer, a few of our returning alumni included: Autumn Steed who guest taught Pilates and ballet (Kansas City Ballet artist, Pandora in “Pandora’s Box” - The Lesson), Bella Mittenthal who taught modern for our upper theatre ballet intensive while choreographing solos for our YAGP participants (senior at Marymount Manhattan), Clara Morna Freitas (adjunct faculty) who taught classes while on a break from performing with Norwegian Creative Studios, and Gianna Corgiat who took a couple of classes before returning to her senior year at the National Ballet School of Canada. We love seeing our alums return each year, as do our students! Our faculty is beaming with pride as we watch you spread your wings.

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