Lifelong Lovers of Dance!
Alumni Spotlight: Annie Ellertsen Reflects on Life as a Dancer After JLDC

Throughout four decades of providing dance education to the greater Boston community, the students at Joanne Langione Dance Center consistently curate a life-long love of dance, whether they choose to dance professionally or simply for the joy of it. JLDC alum Annie Ellertsen shares her story with us in our alumni spotlight, curating a life-long love of dance.

“JLDC is still my second home. It’s where I got my voice and where I discovered who I really am…what makes me tick… and what my passion is and for that I am eternally grateful.” – Shir Inbar, JLDC Alum

The alumni that have walked through the doors of JLDC are proof of exactly how much the joy of dance transcends past their time at the dance center. Most JLDC graduates continue to dance in college and beyond. Some continue even further and pursue careers in dance, teaching and choreography. 

From dancing at prestigious colleges around the country, appearing with professional dance companies, national tours, TV and film appearances, even Broadway, to creating and founding their own dance programs or projects, JLDC alumni always remember where their love for dance started.

“I truly fell in love with dance at JLDC. I was so inspired by my teachers – it was truly like a second home to me. And now I have a career in dance and looking back I feel so lucky that my training was at JLDC.” – Robin Campbell, JLDC Alum and Professional Dancer

Alumni Spotlight Annie Ellertsen - group photo with hugh jackman
JLDC Alum Robin Campbell posing backstage with Hugh Jackman after her Broadway debut in “Hugh Jackman on Broadway”

In fact, many JLDC alumni, come back to where it all began each August at JLDC’s annual Un.Convention master class workshop! 

“Since starting this workshop many years ago, it has become the perfect opportunity for JLDC graduates to return home and inspire the next generation of dancers.” says Jaime Endreny, JLDC Alum and Executive Director.

By having students take class with world renowned teachers, choreographers, and JLDC alumni, it creates an ever-flowing sense of community that translates amongst generations of JLDC dancers. 

“Un.Convention is another example of the benefits of a JLDC dance education.” JLDC Director, Meli Currie continues, “we are not only teaching technique and choreography to be presented on stage but we are also training our dancers how to take any dance class. Whether it’s with a teacher you have had for years or a someone completely new, JLDC students can enjoy and excel in dance class and continue their love of dance far beyond the walls of our West Newton studio.” 

JLDC alum turned professional dancer, Annie Ellertsen captures how her time at JLDC set her up for success when entering the professional dance world in a blog she wrote a few years ago.

“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.” Annie Ellertsen, JLDC Alum and Professional Dancer

The Decade after JLDC! Alumni Spotlight 

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 dance 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.

 

JLDC Alum Robin CampbellI 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, led 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

To find out more about our alumni spotlight Annie and what’s she doing now, follow her: @annie_r_u_ok

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Shawn Mahoney

Shawn Mahoney began his ballet, tap, and jazz training at the Joanne Langione Dance Center and his early performing career with Jose Mateo’s Ballet Theatre in Boston, MA. As an apprentice, Shawn danced for American Ballet Theatre before joining Boston Ballet. At Boston Ballet, Shawn performed in Petipa, Balanchine, Kylian, Forsythe, Bejart and others. Shawn performed as a chosen member of “Tharp!”, a national and international touring company directed by Twyla Tharp. Ms. Tharp invited Shawn to be part of the creative and choreographic process for her Broadway hit “Movin’ Out” and performed in Tharp’s “Red, White, and Blues”. Shawn performed with the Suzanne Farrell/Balanchine Project, Sean Curran Company, Washington Ballet, and Bale Estado de Goias. As an educator, Shawn has taught internationally for Festa de Danca in Sao Paulo and Bermuda Civic Ballet. Currently, Shawn is on faculty at Emerson College, instructing dance classes to actors and musical theatre students and is a teacher and lecturer at Days in the Arts. Shawn founded Mahoney Agency, representing dancers for national engagements for the Nutcracker Ballet. Shawn is a sought out mentor for emerging artists and choreographers in ballet and contemporary dance.