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Our March Teacher of the Month!

by the allegro team

in teacher of the month

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An interview with Heather Jackson

Owner of Kaleidoscope Dance & Movement Center in Skokie, IL

Just for fun quick facts on Heather Jackson
Years of dance training? 30 total
Years teaching dance? Just over 15
Styles of dance studied?
Ballet, pointe, modern, character, jazz, tap and musical theater. Attended Millikin University as a Dance and Musical Theater Major.
What styles do you teach now? Ballet, jazz, creative movement, Dance Ensemble [Kaleidoscope’s performance-based company that incorporates every style.]
What body part do you love to stretch? Legs
Pick one: Teach a smaller class or a larger class? Smaller. I love private lessons, getting into the nitty gritty and really helping.
Make corrections during an exercise or after an exercise? All the time, both. I just yell them out constantly. I make sure I correct every student and say “good job” to every student at least once [per class].
Favorite form of hydration? Vitamin Water, the purply-pink one
Pick one: CDs or iPods? I use them both equally. The great thing about CD’s is that you can slow them down and speed them up, which is essential in tap.
Dance/teaching bag essentials? My choreography notebook, leg warmers, ballet and jazz shoes.

Allegro Dance Boutique: If a student walks away having learned just one thing from you, what would you want that one thing to be?

Heather Jackson: To believe in yourself and follow your dreams.

 

ADB: What’s the biggest “no-no” for a student to do in your class?

HJ: To not lift up through their “puppet string”, to stand with a sway back and stomach out.

 

ADB: What type of music “moves” you?

HJ: Adele, Sarah Bareilles, Ingrid Michaelson. Contemporary/lyrical [music] tugs at me, and I also love musical theater. I saw Billy Elliott here in Chicago for my birthday, 2nd row!

 

ADB: How would you describe your teaching method/philosophy?

HJ: Passionate, exuberant. I step into the studio and I’m the kids’ biggest cheerleader, their biggest fan. I like to push them extremely hard and really challenge them, but at the same time motivate them. I think it’s important that dancers understand their bodies, and I explain things using imagery. I want them to understand where their muscles are, [understand] this is what it means to squeeze your muscles, to pointe your toes. I’m joyful, loud, I have fun!

 

ADB: Do you have a favorite age group to teach?

HJ: My favorite is choreographing for the older kids. I also love the 2 1/2 and 3 year olds. They’re so adorable, they look up at you with those big eyes, they still give me hugs. I love teaching them how to gallop.

 

ADB: Is there a choreographer that enthuses and inspires you?

HJ: Mia Michaels

 

ADB: Fill in the blank, mad libs- style: When I dance I feel ___________ HJ: Joyful. ADB: Teaching is ____________. HJ: In my soul. ADB: A good class is when ____________. HJ: There’s that vibe in the room, a collective energy. ADB: My love for ____________ is almost as strong as my love for the performing arts! HJ: My dog Kallie, named after the studio.

 

ADB: What is the most sentimental dance item that you own?

HJ: My mom has this tradition where she gets us ornaments every year for christmas. All of my dance ornaments are the most sentimental.

 

ADB: Teachers often say that they learn just as much from their students as their students learn from them. What is something valuable that your students have taught you over the years?

HJ: Patience and to laugh. To laugh things off.

 

ADB: What is the best thing about owning Kaleidoscope?

HJ: I opened a dance studio because I wanted to inspire children and young adults to be the best individuals they can be. I believe my students can go out and dance with the best of them, but more importantly I aim to instill them with self confidence and they are taught to believe that they can do whatever they set their minds to. The best part of owning Kaleidoscope is feeling that incredible vibe when you walk in the door! I truly believe Kaleidoscope is more than just a dance studio!


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