40th Anniversary Blog Series: No 9. Adriane Whalen


No. 9: 40 Never Looked So Good: An interview with Adriane Whalen, JOMDC faculty since 1997, 40th Anniversary Faculty Honoree, and performing with Nomad Dancers at the Gala


It wasn’t just yesterday that JOMDC opened its doors – it was 40 years ago! We’ve held thousands of classes and taught hundreds of thousands of students. We’ve met some remarkable people over the years, one of whom is Adriane Whalen. Adriane is a DC native who has danced professionally in the area with the Greg Reynolds Dance Quintet and Tapestry. She has performed on television and in many prestigious venues, including Lincoln Center, the Smithsonian, Trinity Theater and Silvian Theater. Adriane has also worked with many of the all-time great tap dancers, including Savion Glover, Karl Du Hoffman, Fred Kelley, Diane Walker and Rusty Frank. Adriane is a co-director of the JOMDC Resident Arts Partner company, Nomad Dancers, who perform traditional dances of Middle Eastern and Central Asian Countries. Adriane dances regularly throughout the community and up and down the East Coast! And on top of all that, she teaches many adult and youth students at JOMDC every week. Adriane’s classes at Joy of Motion Dance Center range from Belly Dance to Jazz and Tap dance!

1. At what point did you realize that JOMDC would be a second home for you and for your teaching career?

I started dancing at JOMDC in Dupont Circle in 1984. I had just returned from attending UC Berkeley for Dance and Political Science and wanted to dance. JOMDC became a home for me when I started taking classes at the studios daily and when I joined the workstudy team. I then became even more invested and danced in several shows with JOMDC. Soon, I began subbing for Doug Yeuell, former JOMDC Executive Director, and the rest is history!

2. Our mission is very clear: Dance is for Everyone. How has your life changed over the years while teaching to this mission? Personal changes? Professional changes?

I’ve been a very LUCKY dance teacher working for JOMDC. Doug Yeuell knew I enjoyed teaching youth students and asked me to become a faculty member in 1997. My daughter, Lizzie, was 5 years old at the time and this changed our lives forever. Lizzie wanted to take dance classes at JOMDC too! This was the beginning of her love of dance and today she is in New York City Tap dancing! I now teach Youth and Adult students weekly at JOMDC and each class I teach enriches my personal life experiences. My students continue to teach me things every day.

3. JOMDC is all about education and opportunity. As we’ve gotten older, we’ve gotten more opportunities–after 40 years in the business, the White House calls us now! What is the greatest opportunity you’ve received through JOMDC?

I was so blessed to create Raqs Jameel, the JOMDC Youth World Dance Company. Raqs Jameel offered its first company class in September 2007. Through this company, I am given the opportunity to teach 6-12th graders Belly Dance . It is such a privilege for young students to experience one of the oldest dance forms in the world, and I feel privileged to teach them. Raqs Jameel was honored to perform at the 2010 White House Easter Egg Roll. I will never forget that wonderful day dancing and teaching a belly dance class at the White House. What an experience!

4. Describe what free dance classes mean to a person with a passion for dance but without the means. Do you teach in our outreach concerts? Have you performed in an outreach concert?

I have performed and taught in JOMDC outreach programs many times. During the Step Ahead summer program, I have been privileged to teach belly dance to the wonderful students participating. I have also performed my Middle Eastern Solos during JOMDC Outreach Shows. I’m so happy to perform the dances I love from far away countries to students who attend these shows.

5. What is the greatest lesson getting older has taught you? About life? About dance?

I have learned the value of inclusion and I strive to be more understanding. I have also learned the importance of having a lot of patience!  My life has been all about my LOVE of dance, and while getting older, one lesson I’ve learned is how very fulfilled I have been by my teaching career at JOMDC! I’ve learned to cherish the opportunities that I have had dancing at JOMDC. For instance, I had the honor of dancing with Jack Guidone, whom the fabulous Jack Guidone Theatre is named after, as well as many other wonderful directors over the years. I also cherish that JOMDC gave me the freedom to be creative and the platform to develop a youth and professional dance company!

Don’t miss Adriane Whalen’s performance with Nomad Dancers and the Faculty Honors featuring Adriane on stage at the 40th Anniversary Gala Concert and Disco Dance Party on Friday, March 11, 2016, 7:30pm!

Join us on March 11, 2016, as we honor Adriane Whalen.

What is your favorite class you have taken with Adriane? Leave her a comment below!