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 or vocal) at various venues including the Patriot Center at George Mason University, 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.
Rachel Stover- Office Manager
Rachel Stover is originally from Dinwiddie, Virginia, and graduated from George Mason University, Summa Cum Laude, with a BFA in dance and a minor in Arts Management. Rachel has been studying various forms of dance for over 21 years. She began her formal training at Chesterfield School of Ballet under the direction of Patricia Dodd and at the Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology, where she specialized in dance, under the direction of Rebecca Hodal, and the Richmond Ballet faculty. While at Appomattox, Rachel was a four year member and captain of the dance team. At George Mason, Rachel was fortunate enough to be cast in works by her fellow peers, Robert Battle, Mark Morris, Nick Pupillo, and in faculty work, Luis Torres and Christopher D’Amboise. Rachel has been privileged to work with esteemed companies such as American Dance Festival and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago as well as train with companies such as Rioult! Upon graduating, Rachel has performed with SeaWorld Entertainment Group as a Dance Captain and Ensemble Dancer and also locally with the American Pops Orchestra. Rachel is excited to be here at JSDA
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 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.