Student Stories: Jazz Dance Classes at Joy of Motion Dance Center

By Marianne Becton

Joy of Motion Dance Center has done something for me that no other place has been able to do. It has coaxed me back into dancing. I took dance classes in my late 20’s at a small, community-oriented studio that was nurturing, welcoming, fun and professional. Even with no previous dance training, I quickly felt like part of the family, and took classes at least twice a week. It has been 30 years since I took dance classes, and though I missed it, I felt I was too busy and active enough in fitness. And you know the story, the longer I waited, the less confident I became of my dance abilities. In addition, my body was yearning for cross training in general and dance specifically. So I took a beginning dance series, which helped light the fire, but it didn’t get me going.

Then, last fall, around my 59th birthday, I took the plunge into first Vanessa Carmichael’s, and then Helen Hayes’ class. The rest is history. I was immediately taken by the camaraderie at JOMDC and the welcoming atmosphere, right in the heart of Friendship Heights. How unlikely a find!! I felt like I had regained an old friend. Just like 30 years ago, I was hooked. I have been attending classes twice a week since. I feel more fit, can’t dance a lick (smile), but I can only get better. I am so grateful for the encouragement I have received at JOMDC and especially the coaching from Helen.

Helen is revered and it is easy to see why. She is the most giving instructor I have ever known. She knows everybody in the class – their strengths and their weaknesses and she brings out the best in me. Trying something new is always hard, but if you want to jump in, Helen’s class is a safe and nurturing place to do it. Dancers are at all levels, but to Helen, everyone there is a dancer and she treats all of us like stars!! You will love the atmosphere, the smart choreography and the workout is terrific!! JOMDC has been a gift to me – a place to dance, meet friends, and support an organization that is committed to making dance accessible to everyone. Thank you JOMDC, Vanessa and Helen for giving me this chance to dance!

Vanessa Carmichael and Helen Hayes both teach adult jazz drop-in classes at Joy of Motion Dance Center. Please click here to view our current schedule of adult jazz drop-in classes.