Thank you so much for joining us for an AOTA Adventure! We are grateful for your support and so thankful for our AOTA Family. This year has been a beautiful Adventure for us at AOTA and we have loved it all.
The idea for the theme of this weekend's performances came from an interview I listened to of Lauren Daigle sharing wisdom and encouragement she received from the Author, Bob Goff. He encouraged her to daily return to a child-like faith. Each day is a new adventure with our God. We are blessed to be on this adventure. Embrace the day and moments as we would have as a child, with wonder, curiosity, bravery, joy and playfulness. This idea of returning to a playful heart stuck with me and inspired this weekend’s performances. From adventure stories like Up, Peter Pan and Pinocchio to games like Dominos, Candyland and Chess each piece embodies this theme. We hope you will join us on this adventure and that you know the wonder and love of Jesus Christ!
We wish to recognize the commitments and support of our dancers and their families, helpers, volunteers, donors, and every individual that has been a part of the AOTA team. Thank you Heavenly Father for the Academy of the Arts. Our lives are enriched and blessed by each of you and we are truly grateful.
Kate Price and Elizabeth Shaffer
Co-owners and Directors of the Academy of the Arts
2021-2022 AOTA Faculty, Staff, and Acknowledgements
Kate Price – Owner & Artistic Director for AOTA & JDC
Elizabeth Shaffer – Owner & Costume Director, Public Relations & Event Manager
Jesyka Vetter – Studio Manager & Irish Director
Natalie Anderson – Early Childhood Program Director
JP Krick – Tap Director, Hip Hop Director
Nicole Kohn – Acro Director
Instructors & Choreographers – Kate Price, Sarah Kilgore, Natalie Anderson, AnnaMia Rumley, JP Krick, Nicole Kohn, Jesyka Vetter, Makenzie Overweg, Tyrone Cobham, Audrey Bickel, Kennedy Maynard, Ryan Grant
Guest Choreographers- Channing Cooke, Joshua Blake Carter, Maddy Falconer, Mallory Trudell
Jackson Dance Company Board: Nicole McIntosh, Christyle Broadworth, Cristi Hammond, Kendi Synder, Alanna Schnell, Kim Bickel, Sara Grant, Casey Allmandinger
Support Staff – Jennifer Cudworth, Kim Bickel, Penny Buckles, Katie Faley, Pam Williams, Katie Merritt, Brianna Hampton
Studio Maintenance- Chris & Gena Young, Brandi Shattuck, Denise Jordan, Scott & Misty Pangborn, Jennifer Bennett
Website & T-Shirt Design- Maury Page, Mevo Creative Studios
Photography- Carrie Stadelman; Freeland Photography, Suzanne Eller; Kingsley Photography
Videography- Stu Kail; Redwood Storytelling
AOTA 2022 Graduates
Kate Bennett is a graduate of Jackson Christian High School. She will attend Indiana Wesleyan University this fall and will begin in their exploratory program to later finalize her major. While in High School, Kate enjoyed being a member of the National Honor Society. Her dance studies include ballet, pointe, contemporary, jazz, tap, and acro. Kate has danced for nine years. Seven of those years at AOTA and the last four years as a member of the Jackson Dance Company.
Kate’s Favorite AOTA memory was performing the All JDC dances in each Spring Recital.
Audrey Bickel is a Homeschool graduate. While working to achieve a high school diploma, Audrey also attended Jackson College, working towards an associates degree. Next fall she will continue her education at Jackson College and later transfer to a university to major in psychology and minor in dance. Audrey hopes to continue with dance, specifically as a choreographer. During her high school years, Audrey enjoyed studying Piano and Latin. Her dance studies include ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, hiphop, contemporary, irish, acro, and gymnastics. Audrey was the 1st member of the SPARK gymnastics team. She has danced at AOTA for 15+ years and the last eight of those years as a member of the Jackson Dance Company.
Audrey’s two favorite AOTA memories: “Getting to perform dance-agains twice for "If Thoughts were Flowers" at DanceMakers Inc. It was an honor to be a part of something healing. It wasn't a performance; it was real and that made all the difference. Second, the privilege of choreographing this year fulfilled a goal for me. I feel honored to watch the pieces I create come to life and to watch the dancers I have worked with grow as they build confidence, character, and turn the dances into their own.”
Tabatha Boody is a graduate of Jackson Preparatory and Early College. While working to achieve her High School diploma Tabatha has also been working towards an associates degree at Jackson College. She will graduate from Jackson College in 2023 with an Associate in Art degree. Tabatha plans to pursue psychology and hopes to become a psychologist. Her dance styles include ballet, pointe, jazz, contemporary and hip hop. Tabatha has danced for ten years at Academy of the Arts and the last six of those years as a member of the Jackson Dance Company.
Tabatha’s favorite AOTA memory was returning to stage again after the pandemic.
Britney Brigham is a graduate of Jackson High School. In addition to dance and academics Britney is a member of the Jackson High School Choir and works at Arbor Hills Veterinary Clinic. Next fall she will be attending Michigan State University, double majoring in psychology and criminal justice. Britney hopes to become a forensic psychologist. Her dance studies include tap, jazz, contemporary, hip hop, ballet pointe and Irish. Britney has danced at AOTA for 14 years and the last five of those years as a member of the Jackson Dance Company.
Britney’s favorite AOTA memory: “One of Tyrone’s classes we all started crying while dancing to the combo for no particular reason. It just felt like a really special space.”
Carli Hammond is a graduate of Northwest High School. Carli is graduating as Valedictorian of her class. While in high school, she was a member of the National Honor Society, as well as a member of the yearbook staff for all four years. In addition, she was yearbook editor during her Senior year. This fall, she will attend Taylor University, majoring in Multimedia Journalism and minoring in Christian Ministries. Carli’s dance studies include tap, ballet, pointe, jazz, contemporary, acro, and hip hop. She has danced for fifteen years and the last nine of those years as a member of the Jackson Dance Company.
Carli’s favorite AOTA memory: “All the ways JDC surrounds one another when they are walking through a tough season. Like Kate’s accident when we came in and wrote cards for her and wore “Kate Strong” bracelets, and when I went through surgery, I always had my JDC family to surround me in love and encouragement. JDC is all about love and that’s what I love about it!!”
Kennedy Maynard is a graduate of Northwest High School. During high school she was an active member of the Northwest Band Program. While in this program Kennedy participated in Marching Band for 4 years, Concert Band for 7 years playing Alto Sax, and Jazz Band for 5 years playing Tenor/Alto Sax. She was also Secretary of the National Honor Society. Next fall Kennedy will be attending Grand Valley State University majoring in Kinesiology and Exercise Science. She plans to become a physical therapist or work in sports medicine. Her dance studies include tap, ballet, jazz, contemporary, acro, and hip hop. Kennedy has danced for 15 years, ten of those years at AOTA and the last six years as a member of the Jackson Dance Company.
Kennedy’s favorite AOTA memory was getting the honor to teach for the past two years at AOTA.
Jahmon Miller is a graduate of Northwest High School. While attending high school Jahmon was a member of the National Honor Society, Soccer Club, taught Hip Hop at Jackson School of the Arts and was a founding member of the first Northwest High School Boys Volleyball team. Jahmon’s future plans are to pursue a career in Acting. His dance studies include jazz, tap, hip hop, acro, contemporary, and ballet. Jahmon has danced for five years, the last four years at AOTA and participated in the Jackson Dance Company for three of those years.
Jahmon’s favorite AOTA memory was his first duet in JDC’s piece, Overcome and every hip hop class he has attended.
Brooke Pangborn is a graduate of Western High School. She is graduating with highest honors and was a member of the National Honor Society and Select Choir. Next fall Brooke will be attending Grand Valley State University, dual majoring in speech pathology and in dance. She was accepted into the Grand Valley’s dance program and is the recipient of multiple academic scholarships. Brooke’s dance studies include ballet, pointe, jazz, contemporary, Irish, Hip-Hop, and tap. Brooke has danced for 15 years. Fourteen of those years at AOTA and the last seven years as a member of the Jackson Dance Company.
Brooke’s favorite AOTA memory: “Getting to be a part of and perform ‘If My Thoughts Were Flowers’ multiple times, for many audiences. It was such a special moment each and every time we got to share that piece and it’s story. It’s a feeling unlike any other I’ve had before. It was also a wonderful group of girls and we all got to grow really close that year and we created such a special bond! A memory I will never ever forget.
Jocee Snyder is a graduate of Northwest High School. Her dance, school, and academic accolades include: Two Giving Key Awards with Scholarships, Three Overall Solo High Score Awards with Scholarships, and Regional Scholarship all from DanceMakers Inc. Laker’s Merit Scholarship, Laker’s Dance Program Scholarship, Snowfest Court and a member of the National Honor Society. Next fall Jocee will be attending Grand Valley State University and dual majoring in Dance and Exercise Science. Her dance studies include jazz, ballet, contemporary, pointe, modern, hip hop, irish, and acro. Jocess has danced for 13 years, the last nine of those years as a member of the Jackson Dance Company.
Jocee’s favorite AOTA memory’s: Being a part of the original Mini Company group. And Dance Improvisation in the studio and connect with others through dancing.
Cecily Watterson is a graduate of Western High School. She is graduating as one of the Top Ten of her class and has been the Secretary of the National Honor Society. In addition to academics and dance Cecily is the co-owner and a swim instructor of the Watterson Pool School as well as an active member in the JaxNaz Youth Group. Next fall she will be attending Taylor University, studying Human Physiology and Preventive Medicine with a minor in business and entrepreneurship. Cecily has been selected in the Taylor University Honors Guild. She hopes that college will prepare her to become a business owner, possibly an orthodontist, but overall, a well rounded individual who is equipped to make an earthly impact for the Lord. Cecily’s dance studies include ballet, pointe, jazz, contemporary, and tap. She has danced at AOTA for 15 years and the last six of those years as a member of the Jackson Dance Company. Cecily’s dance achievements include receiving the role as Clara in The Academy of the Arts’ The Nutcracker and placing in the top 10 soloist at every DanceMakers Inc. regional competition she attended this past dance year.
Cecily’s favorite AOTA memory: “I believe my favorite dance memory is simply time in the dressing room with all of my friends. The stories, tears, laughs, and smells which occur in the senior company dressing room are unmatched. I began to understand the real impact this room has when it was taken away from us during COVID-19. I am pretty sure I speak for every one of us when I say that our close-knit family really struggled when our dressing room was taken away. Thankfully, we have gained it back, and it remains a central part of our dance existence. I want to thank the dressing room, its food, and all the people who fill it because it is truly one of my favorite places.”