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In Step With DC
Getting to Know You: Miss Ava!
Written by Joe Naftal on September 21, 2018

Today we are featuring Miss Ava in our latest edition of “Getting to Know You”!  The “Getting to Know You” series helps us get to know each of the Dance Connection teachers and staff we get to see at the studio every week and learn a little bit more about them.

What is your hometown? Bay Shore

What’s the story of how you became a dancer? I went to summer camp as a child, and every year there was a Talent Show. Every camp group would perform a dance in the show, and eventually I started performing in my first duos in the show with a good friend of mine (we would choreograph our own dances every year in her backyard!). One summer the camp dance teacher put together a tap dance, and they auditioned anyone with tap dance experience to participate. They rehearsed in the morning during the early camp session. I didn’t have formal dance experience, so I couldn’t audition, but I was in awe and would watch them from the windows in the morning when I could. That summer I asked my mom to sign me up for tap classes, and that September, I started my first dance class at Dance Connection!

What impact has dance had on your life? Dance is a physical, mental, and emotional discipline that has made me the person I am today. I have been fortunate to have a number of invaluable experiences in my life thanks to dance (such as dancing for Make-a-Wish Foundation events, in Disney World, and on a cruise ship, just to name a few) and I wouldn’t change a second of it!

Why did you start working at Dance Connection? I started working at Dance Connection because I had so many positive experiences with the studio, and I wanted to be able to help and be a part of many more positive experiences for other families at Dance Connection. The Dance Connection family is a huge part of my life. I think of the studio as home, so when I’m working it doesn’t really feel like work!

Miss Ava’s coloring ditto from Miss Donna’s jazz class.

What are you passionate about outside dance? Outside of dance I am passionate about teaching. I teach special education students, and it is a huge part of my life. My students mean the world to me, and I do everything I can to help them become more successful each day.

What is one thing you want to tell all of our students and/or parents? One of my favorite quotes that I would share with the students of Dance Connection is from Theodore Roosevelt, who said “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” Dance is an incredible art form, but it can also be incredibly challenging. I have come through the most difficult times when I remembered to believe in myself, and to find what it takes for myself personally to reach my goal. Even if you don’t reach the goal you were striving for, your efforts will strengthen you in more ways than one.

In your opinion, what makes dance such a great activity and art form? I think dance is such a great activity and art form because it is a physical, mental, and emotional activity. Dancers are athletes, artists, story tellers… the list goes on and on. People of all ages and backgrounds, from all places and walks of life can dance for a variety of reasons. Dance is a universal language that can be expressed by anyone. It’s a joy to celebrate, both from the stage and the audience!

College and Major? St. Joseph’s College, Child Study Major

Favorite Color? I have a few! If I had to pick one, I would say pink, but I also love black and silver together!

Favorite Dance Movie? Save the Last Dance

Secret Talent? I don’t think I have a secret talent! One thing that some people may not know about me is that I enjoy running and cycling for fun. I participate in different races (I’ve done numerous 5Ks, 10Ks, and this February I’m planning on my first half marathon!), and I have been riding 10-20 miles for a fundraising event for about 10 years now. I don’t consider myself to be great at either one, but I enjoy them and try to better myself each time!

Joe Naftal

Joe Naftal is the Marketing Director for Dance Connection. When not working at Dance Connection, Joe has a career as a theatrical lighting designer, assistant designer, and production manager. His experience spans the worlds of classical and contemporary theatre, musicals, ballet, modern dance, and opera. In addition to his work at Dance Connection, Joe collaborates with Dance Studio Owners across the country, is a member of the Panel of Experts, has been featured in the business section of Dance Teacher Magazine, and was on the seminar faculty for the 2016 Dance Teacher Summit in New York City. Joe holds a BFA from UNC School of the Arts and is a proud member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).