The beginning of a dream
The story of James School of Dance Arts began with passion for the arts that was shared by James Loizou and his wife Jane. An immigrant from Greece, James met Jane and found they shared a common love of art and dance. They both felt that since dance had brought them together that they should start sharing this love with the world. It was then that the dream of teaching others to dance began to grow, and in 1957, they founded the James School of Dance Arts.
Starting their Legacy
James and Jane began small, teaching ballroom dancing in their own home. They were well known for their weekly ballroom and social etiquette classes, and their house began to fill up with students. Over the years, they continued to outgrow as they became the number one place to receive dance training in McLean, Virginia. They began adding to their curriculum, including ballet and tap. They established a Ballet Corps and a boys tap troupe, both of which performed on children’s television shows. Jane also had a spot in her heart for dancers with special needs, understanding that dance was a form of therapy. As an advocate for people with disabilities, she was invited to speak as a panelist alongside dancer Gene Kelly at his “Adventures in Movement” seminar. She was regularly selected to be on the President’s Committee for the Employment of the Handicapped during the Carter and Reagan administrations.
A bright future for JSDA
It’s been over 61 years since then, and the James School of Dance Arts has maintained their reputation for quality dance instruction, while adding styles like competition dance, lyrical, modern, contemporary, hip-hop,and acro to their repertoire. The school is respected in the community for its longevity, technical training, award winning instructors and choreographers, and for its inclusivity. At JSDA, there is training for every dancer’s path. The JSDA Companies consistently win awards in performance and choreography at regional, national and international competitions.
meet our staff
James Loizou Jr. - Director
James is the son of the founder of JSDA James Loizou. Growing up in a dance family, there was never a question of whether or not to dance, but what to dance, and tap was the early winner. He tapped at the James School from the age of 4 through 14 and performed at local venues and television shows. When he shifted to sports in high school, he discovered that his dance training was a great asset in soccer and football. However, the years of dance really solidified his love of performance and throughout high school, college and graduate school he had opportunities to tour and perform (violin and/or vocal) at various venues including a performance with the North Carolina Symphony in Raleigh, the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, Carnegie Hall in New York and the Mozarteum in Salzburg. He became Director of JSDA upon his father’s retirement in 2000. He holds an Economics degree from Duke University and Masters of Business Administration from Vanderbilt University. James is excited to continue his father’s legacy, training the art of dance to future generations.
Mikayla McKee - Office Manager
Mikayla McKee graduated magna cum laude from George Mason University with a B.F.A in Dance in 2017. There, she choreographed and performed many modern works for her fellow peers and she performed in works by department head, Susan Shields. Mikayla also received a George Mason University School of Dance scholarship, The Provost Achievement Award, was consistently on the University’s Dean’s List, and a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society. When Mikayla is not dancing or choreographing, she may be found using her six years of experience as a Social Media Specialist doing head shots and other photography. Mikayla has also spent a lot of time in Arts Administration doing internships and work study including, her notable time working for the world renowned dance company, RIOULT Dance NY. Mikayla spent 2017/18 dancing with Metropolitan Ballet Ensemble and Company Danzante. In 2019 she had received the first ever sponsorship award from RawArts Dance company. She performed with the company and choreographed a new work that the company performed in July 2019. Mikayla continues to perform and choreograph for multiple companies
in the DMV area today. Finally, she is excited to join JSDA in 2020 and further her career in the
Xavaire Bolton - Company Director, Instructor
Xavaire Bolton is from Alexandria, VA. She began dancing at the age of three and at the age of ten she trained and competed regionally and nationally in jazz, tap, ballet and lyrical with Terry’s School of Dance and Gymnastics under the direction of Terry and Jack Peyton. Xavaire attended the University of South Carolina where she received her BFA in Graphic Design. While there, she was a part of the USC Dance Team, and the USC Hip Hop Ensemble. After graduating she pursued her career as a Graphic Designer, but found she couldn’t let go of her passion for dance. She began her professional dancing career by joining numerous dance teams and companies in the Washington, D.C/Metro area such as The Alexandria Avengers, The Maryland Nighthawks, The Maryland Blackbirds and ARAS Dance Company. Her teaching career started at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia in 2008. She taught students in various styles and techniques and choreographed for competitive teams. She has been teaching at JSDA since 2011 and is the Co-Director of the JSDA Company which began in 2012. She has travelled regionally and nationally with the JSDA Dance Company and has been recognized every year for her choreography..
Connie Hanzel - Company Director, Instructor
Connie Hanzel has been dancing since the age of 5 and a member of the JSDA dance faculty since 1986. With over 32 years of experience, Connie has taught a wide range of ages from pre-school through adult in various styles and techniques. Connie attended UCLA where she obtained a BA in Dance and her Masters in Dance: Performance/ Choreography. While there, she worked with notable faculty, and her education was enhanced by numerous guest artists and intensive opportunities such as Alwin Nikolais and the Alvin Ailey Dance Company which included performing with the company in “Memoria”. In addition to her movement and choreography skills, she also brings a breath of knowledge in Kinesiology for Dancers, Dance History, Dance Philosophy, and Music. Connie is the Co-Director of the JSDA Company, and her choreography has won numerous awards, including regional award recognition, five invitations to world competitions and a national championship within the past three years. Her most recent choreographic acknowledgement was Star Dance Alliance Power Ranking Champion awarded for the 2018 spring season.
Ellen Abood - Instructor
Ellen Abood grew up in northern Virginia where she found her passion for not only dance but musical theatre and performance as a whole. She is a 2018 graduate of The Catholic University of America where she spent four years earning her Bachelor of Music in Musical Theatre. During her years at CUA, she worked as the head choreographer at Gonzaga College High School in DC for their theatre department. While there, Ellen was able to hone her skills as a teacher rather than a student and gain an even stronger love of movement and performance. Ellen holds fast to the ideology that a good dancer is made up of not just flawless technique, but an added understanding that storytelling, passion, and musicality is what truly puts an audience on the edge of their seat. As a second year staff member at JSDA, Ellen looks forward to sharing her love of performance with her students.
Megan Stutesman - Instructor
Megan Stutesman began her dance training at Northwest Classical Ballet in Vancouver, WA and has spent summers training at Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet, Boston Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, and Bates Dance Festival. Megan holds a BA in Dance and a BS in Psychology from the University of Washington, and a MSEd in Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Development from the University of Pennsylvania. Before returning to graduate school, she spent two years dancing professionally and teaching dance in the Seattle area. While at the University of Pennsylvania, she choreographed, danced, and taught for Penn Dance Company. She is currently a PhD student in Applied Developmental Psychology at George Mason University where her research examines the impacts of art education and embodiment on cognition. Megan has taught Ballet, Modern, Jazz, and Adaptive Dance for children with special needs. She is excited to continue deepening her knowledge of dance alongside the students and teachers at JSDA!
Kate Conklin - Instructor
Ms. Kate is a McLean, Va local. She has been dancing with JSDA for several years. Kate has studied various forms of dance at professional summer programs including Cleo Parker Robinson. Kate is excited to be teaching PreBallet this year!
Madelyn Staley - Instructor
Madelyn was born and raised in rural Maryland, where she grew up training in various styles from a very young age. She continued her training at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and she earned her BFA in dance in 2018. There, she had the privilege of studying under numerous notable choreographers and the opportunity to present her own choreography on the university stage as well. Not only does Madelyn love to share her passion for dance on stage, but she also loves to watch that passion spark in young people. Madelyn looks forward to her first year with James School of Dance Arts.
Shelby Wade - Instructor
Shelby was born and raised in Northern Virginia where her love for ballet began at the age of three. She is a James School of Dance alumnus. There she expanded her training to include hip-hop, contemporary, jazz, and lyrical. She then moved on to study ballet in a pre-professional program with a curriculum that included elements from RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) and American Ballet Theatre. She was the captain of her high school dance team for three years, participated in numerous summer intensive programs, continued her dance education in college, and competed in New York City. Shelby has a passion for classical ballet that she hopes to pass on to her students.
Giselle Heitger - Instructor
Giselle Heitger came to Virginia by way of San Diego, California. She began her dance education at New West Ballet School in San Marcos, CA under the tutelage of Ms. Eugenia Keefer in 1984. Her classical ballet training earned her many roles in the annual production of The Nutcracker. Giselle was a lemon drop, party child and soldier until she worked her way up to the corps de ballet with parts in Snow, Waltz of the Flowers and The Variations. She made her high school dance team, Maroon Magic, as a freshman and became a four-year letterman in Dance. They participated in two recitals per school year and held various performances at local community centers and theaters. Giselle’s most recent stage performance was a 2014 production of Peter and the Wolf, but has been teaching since 2007. Giselle wants her students to learn a strong and solid ballet foundation so that they may continue in any area of dance they choose. This is Giselle’s fitfth year with the James School of the Dance Arts.
Jamie Solomon - Instructor
Jamie Solomon graduated from the College of Charleston where she received a B.A. in Dance. She grew up in Montgomery County where she began her training to become a professional dancer at the age of 3. She has since studied a variety of genres including modern, contemporary, ballet, hip-hop, and jazz. She has taken accredited master classes with Netherland Danse Theater and Bill T. Jones. Since graduating in 2018, Jamie has been pursuing performance opportunities as well as instructing at several studios. Jamie was a key dancer with the Dance ICONS Choreographic Institute in Washington D.C and freelances in the DMV area.
Hannah Reedy - Instructor
Hannah Reedy is originally from Lititz, Pennsylvania where she was born and raised. She began dancing at age 3 and has been trained in a variety of styles including ballet, jazz, contemporary, acro, tap and even baton twirling. Throughout her childhood and high school years, she was a member of her studio’s competition company, earning top awards as a soloist and group member in local, regional, and national competitions. She then went on to receive her B.A. in Political Science and International Relations from Lebanon Valley College. While studying, Hannah was a four-year member and served as vice-president of the Lebanon Valley College Dance Team. Also, while in college, she was a teacher at Palmyra Academy of Dance in Annville, PA. Upon graduation, Hannah moved to Washington, DC to pursue her master’s degree and begin her career. In May 2018, Hannah received her M.A. in International Education from the George Washington University. She looks forward to continuing to share her passion, excitement, and energy for dance during her 3rd year of teaching at the James School of the Dance Arts.
AnnaMarie Tiss - Instructor
Anna was born and raised in the Northern Virginia area where she began dance classes in 5th grade and hasn’t stopped since. Anna is a recent graduate from Shenandoah University where she obtained a BA in Dance in 2018. While at Shenandoah, Anna had the opportunity to study under Maurice Fraga, Shylo Martinez, and Katie Vickers. Anna is so excited to be teaching at the James School of Dance Arts