As the elevator doors open on the third floor of the Old Town School of Folk Music, you notice there is a charge in the air. There is a mixture of chatter and movement. It is generated from the community of young dancers that have come to call Old Town School their dance home. Dance instructor, Nancy Teinowitz, likens it to the party scene from the beloved Nutcracker ballet. “It’s the same feeling of warmth and of community. It makes me happy to be here and do this.”
Miss Nancy, as the students affectionately call her, started at Old Town School in June 2008 in a very part time position: 2 pre-ballet classes and one Adult Jazz. She now teaches Pre-Ballet through Ballet 4, and Jazz 1-4. “I teach 20 children’s ballet and jazz and 2 adult classes per week.”
A young piano student peers into the dance studio and watches class intently. She came upon this bustling dance community while waiting for her piano classes to begin. Wanting to be a part of the scene, she is waiting patiently on the waiting list for an opening in one of Nancy’s dance classes.
Kim Wallace, Dance and Movement Manager, is proud of Nancy’s dedication. She notes that among the faculty at Old Town School, which includes music, visual arts and musical theatre instructors, Nancy is the first member of the dance department to receive an invitation to join Frank’s Faculty, a small group of highly regarded instructors. Kim credits Nancy for her contributions and ideas that have helped to elevate and develop the dance program. “Dance has been a presence at here for 22 years,” says Kim. Since 1994, Old Town School has offered a variety of dance classes including tap, hip hop and creative movement. Kim recognizes that some may feel Nancy’s teaching philosophy is a bit more disciplined than other youth dance classes at Old Town School. But keeping the parents abreast of the expectations seems to be the key. “Nancy keeps parents involved at all times and that communication in itself has helped the classes to thrive.” Building on that success, another instructor was recently added to help support the expansion.
Since 2008, the youth dance program has grown by leaps and bounds. Nancy currently has 175 registrations with 160 children and 15 adult. “I have 127 children who come to my class once a week, (either ballet or jazz,) 26 who do one ballet and one jazz, and 7 who do 2 ballet and one jazz.”
One student from the Jazz 2 class tells me why she likes jazz dance: “The best part is that it’s a challenge. I really don’t like easy stuff! This really gives me a reason to think….it’s very good for your brain. It makes you think about the rhythm.” Another chimes in: “My favorite thing about jazz is our teacher, Miss Nancy!”
Another student tells me that her favorite thing about jazz class is the other dancers. “We spend a lot of time together. I really like my friends.”
Nancy believes that the bonds the young dancers make in dance class can last a lifetime.
Dance classes are capped to allow for personal attention. Building a committed community is as important to Nancy as developing individual artistic expression. Says Nancy: “I know where all of my students attend school and how many siblings they have.”
“I have had 26 of these students for at least 4 years. I’ve known most of them for at least half of their lives!”
For more information on the Dance and Movement Program at Old Town School of Folk Music and to register for Miss Nancy’s dance classes, visit https://www.oldtownschool.org/classes/kids/dance/ or call 773.728.6000