Dance Lessons: SeniorSPEAK Sentiments from the JLDC Class of 2023

May is an extremely fun and exciting month at Joanne Langione Dance Center. May at JLDC means costumes, rehearsals, and lots of recital prep! But for the Senior Graduates, May can feel a tad bittersweet. Because with all of the recital preparation as well as the end of year excitement, also comes the reminder that this will be their last time performing as students at their home away from home. 

Most of the graduating seniors started dancing at JLDC as toddlers. And while it may feel like the end, the lessons learned in the classroom, the memories made on the stage, and the friendship forged over formative years will last a lifetime.  

One of the many reasons why Joanne Langione Dance Center is unique comes from the family-like atmosphere present in each dance class, rehearsal, and performance. JLDC’s SeniorSPEAK tradition is an example of what makes this dance school so special. 

At the opening of the school year, each senior is asked to think about the special presentation they will give on the eve of their final weekend as JLDC dancers. A solo performance and ceremony called SeniorSPEAK. After so many years on the JLDC stage, and so many dances accomplished with style and grace each senior will be given one last opportunity to show what dance has meant to them – a chance to express the totality of their dance experience in an intimate setting with teachers, parents, family, and fellow dancers. Seniors become alumni in one short weekend leaving the stage that they “grew up” on knowing that they’re dancing alongside friends that they won’t see in class next week – a lot to process in a short amount of time. SeniorSPEAK is a way to give JLDC dancer’s a unique and special “until we see you again.”

As seniors are putting their final touches on their SeniorSPEAK performances, we asked them to reflect on their time at the dance center. Some chose to share a favorite memory, others decided to share a favorite quote, but no matter what they decided to share, there is a clear theme in each sentiment: 

 

The love they have for their JLDC experience is the common denominator.

 

Abby: “The best part of growing up at JLDC was getting to learn about so many different aspects of dance. Splits were never my thing, but I discovered I loved jumping in ballet class and learning combinations in tap class!”

 

Cai Lin: “Have faith in your skills. Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will”

– Suzy Kassem

 

Emma: “My senior sentiment is the time between shows when I was younger playing “crocodilly oh my” in the gallery and sometimes getting to stretch onstage with the older kids.”

 

Gwen: “A piece of advice I’d give is when you’re dancing pretend like no one else is there. Everyone is focused on themselves and nobody is judging you like you think they are. You will never look bad dancing to your fullest potential! Don’t just do the steps, perform and really feel it!

 

Louise: “My favorite memory is when I competed my senior solo for the last time. I felt extremely accomplished leaving all of my emotion out on the floor and going out with a bang.” 

 

Louissa: “My favorite JLDC memory is doing the “HA”s before a recital or competition and then performing our dances on stage together.”

 

Mariel: “My favorite memory of dance is probably the first class back after being online for months. It was amazing to be able to dance in the same place and see each other after so long!!”

 

Maya R.: “The in-studio rehearsals right before winter concert are always one of my favorite things that happen at JLDC. I love getting to see all of the dances for the first time and the supportive environment provided by everyone. It’s one of the only times that the whole prep program is in the same place, and it really gets everyone excited for the year.” 

 

Maya S.: “I have so many amazing memories at JLDC, but my favorite memory would have to be before the last show of Winter Concert this year when we led ‘HAs’ for the first time as an age group! Standing in the circle hugging my best friends and seeing the younger dancers all huddled up, facing us, got everyone so excited for the last show and showed me the impact we can have on the overall vibe of the show.”

 

Natasha: “Dance is the hidden language of the soul” –  Martha Graham

 

Naomi: “And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance. I hope you dance… I hope you dance…” – Lee Ann Womack 

 

Renee: “One of my favorite dance memories is being on stage right before the curtain opens. I love the rush of excitement after HAs, and dancing with each other right before we open the show!”

 

Skyler: “Enjoy the process: Dancing is not just about the end result, it’s also about enjoying the process as a whole. Cherish each and every day you have here, it goes a lot quicker than you think!!”

 

Bravo to the class of 2023! You have become part of the JLDC forever family and no matter where you go or what you do…we hope you always manage to find your way back “home.”

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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.