A decade is a long time. It is a period marked by growth, transformation, and moments of pure magic.
For Lisa Giancola, the Director of Early Childhood Dance at the Joanne Langione Dance Center, the past ten years have been a journey filled with dance, joy, and the immense impact she has had on countless young dancers.
After 10 incredible years with the dance center, Miss Lisa, as she is lovingly known as at JLDC, reflects on her favorite moments, her path to becoming a dance teacher, and all of the magical “in betweens” that have become part of her JLDC story.
The Journey to Becoming a Dance Teacher
Miss Lisa’s journey into teaching dance is a testament to her lifelong passion for inspiring others through movement.
“My childhood dance teachers and college dance professors are some of my biggest role models. I realized soon after I began teaching that I was becoming a role model for my own students.”
While recitals and performances bring excitement, it is the weekly classroom interactions that hold a special place in her heart. Getting to know each child and their unique qualities through dance is a privilege that she deeply values, even ten years down the road!
“Learning about each child and their unique qualities through a dance class isn’t something that everyone can do and I am lucky to be their teacher.”
“JLDC is the place to be!”
She credits the talented and creative faculty as a significant reason. Collaboration and support among teachers create a positive and nurturing environment. The strong sense of community at JLDC, where every student, from the youngest Playdance dancer to the graduating seniors, has a place, resonates deeply with her.
Team work makes the dream work at JLDC and that is evident with the faculty at the dance center.
Favorite part of being the Director of Early Childhood Dance at JLDC?
When asked about her favorite part about her role at JLDC, Miss Lisa’s eyes lit up with enthusiasm.
She shared about the privilege of witnessing students’ growth over time, from the early days in JLDC’s award winning Playdance program for babies and toddlers, to their transition into the more advanced Danceworks and Prepatory program as they get older.
“There was one day when a students thanked me for showing them their first, first position and it just warmed my heart.” – Lisa shared.
Another important role that Lisa has taken on during her time at the dance center has been to bring dance into the community through outreach programs.
She has been able to open the world of dance to individuals that might not have considered dance classes or have not been given the opportunity to explore all there is to uncover inside the Dance Center.
“While I love a good stage moment, I have always been a believer that you can dance anywhere, the world’s a stage! I meet many people who maybe would not have sought out dance classes if they didn’t stumble upon a Playdance Pop Up or Dance Me a Story at local libraries or farms and I think that is very special.”
Biggest Takeaways from Teaching?
“As with anything, being a teacher has ups and downs. But at the end of the day we all have one major thing in common, dancing!”
Miss Lisa recalls how her early love for dance shaped her life’s path. She sees shy children, much like she once was, and relishes the opportunity to help them gain confidence. Her teaching philosophy is all about “fun on purpose” using the joy of dance to provide valuable life lessons such as listening, communication, self-expression, and compassion.
Learning is a two-way street, and Miss Lisa learns as much from her students as they do from her.
“I love that being a dance teacher encompasses all of those things and more!”
Core Values and Lessons for Students?
For Lisa, teaching dance is about more than just dance moves. Her ultimate goal is for students to leave her class or the stage with joy and confidence. She wants them to feel proud of their growth, both as dancers and as people.
“I hope that they can feel proud of their peers, too. I hope that they can learn that in our dance classrooms and then show their schoolmates that as well. And to know that you can keep learning and growing at any age!”
Best Memory from 10 years at JLDC?
Lisa’s favorite memory encapsulates the essence of what makes JLDC special. It takes us back to her first recital with the dance center. She vividly recalls the nervousness of her 3- and 4-year-old students backstage.
“Once we got backstage, my students in their wings, I took my position to run to the “secret signal” spot. The blackout happened, I knelt in front of the stage and the lights and music came on…and they did it! I honestly cannot even describe the feeling I had. Not only was I proud of my students but I was proud of myself and the commitment I had to them in the classroom throughout the year to help them feel confident and happy on stage.”
Advice to Share?
“If I could share any advice, it would be to find what makes you happy. While all-things dance is my joy, everyone is different! As long as you are uniquely YOU, you can do anything.”
As Miss Lisa celebrates her remarkable journey of a decade at JLDC, her love for dance and her dedication to nurturing the next generation continues to shine brightly each day. Her story is a testament to the power of passion, community, and the transformative influence of a dedicated dance teacher. Here’s to many more decades of dance, growth, and magic at JLDC.