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In Step With DC
Getting to Know You: Miss Donna!
Written by Joe Naftal on January 18, 2019

Today we are featuring Miss Donna 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? Grew up in Levittown, currently living in N. Massapequa

What’s the story of how you became a dancer? When I was 10, one of my best friends growing up took Ballet and then a few other girls on the block started to dance. I begged my parents to sign me up and they did! I started with Ballet and the next year I added Jazz. Then a year or 2 later, Tap came into the picture. I was hooked! I danced at that studio for 6 years before moving on to another studio that my former teacher had opened. I am still in touch with and recently visited Miss Liliana, former owner and my teacher, while in Florida.

What impact has dance had on your life? Dance has had a tremendous impact in my life in several ways, but a few that really come to mind are: 1. the fact that I’m able to make a difference in children’s lives motivates me to always be better. I remember how I looked up to my dance teachers and remember the impact they had in my life and hope that I can impact children in the same, positive way. 2. Dance has helped me get through some tough times in my life. It has always been my constant…..my outlet for anger, sadness, happiness, frustration and love. It has given me the opportunity to express myself in ways as a dancer and choreographer that are unexplainable! 3. It has given me a second family, new friendships, confidence and a great sense of pride.  

Why did you start teaching dance? I started teaching babies at age 16 when I was offered the position by a former teacher at her new studio. I was so excited to share my passion and love for dance with these little ones and to bring happiness into their lives. I was hooked and thrilled that she saw something in me and gave me the opportunity. Who knew that 32 years later I’d still be doing it! 

What are you passionate about outside dance? Outside of dance I am passionate about health and wellness….I love going to the gym and working out! (Just not lately, LOL!) And spending time with my family. 

What question do you wish students would ask sooner rather than later? I always wish students would ask about their placement/progress sooner. Sometimes they are unsure about the classes they are in OR not in and they may “assume” or listen to the wrong people. The teachers are the only ones who can give the correct answers and give explanation and clarification to the dancer and/or parent. 

In your opinion, what makes dance such a great activity and art form? I have always felt that dance is an amazing art that helps a student express themselves in ways they may not otherwise be able to. It is a wonderful outlet for getting through stress, sadness, etc. It makes you feel good and has physical, emotional and cognitive benefits! 

College and Major? Unfortunately, I didn’t go to college. I had some rather traumatic school experiences at a young age and I honestly couldn’t wait to get out of HS and be done. All I wanted was to dance. My parents chose not to force me and hoped I’d figure it out on my own.I went into NYC for classes, took many additional classes at my studio, competed constantly, and started perform in and choreograph for local theatre. That is one regret I have. Who knows….maybe one day! It’s never too late. 

Favorite Color? My favorite color has always been yellow! It’s a happy color and makes me feel good. 

Favorite Dance Movie? My favorite dance movie is “A Chorus Line, the Movie” if I can only pick one, LOLD

Secret Talent? Well, I don’t know if it’s really a talent, but I make an amazing meatloaf! I also can do some foreign accents very well! 

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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 DanceStudioOwner.com 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).