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Thank you for joining us for AOTA Author! We are grateful for your support and so thankful for our AOTA Family. 


The idea for the theme of this weekend came from a statement that Paralympian, Amy Purdy, shared that pivotally affected her life for the better. Purdy shared that after she lost both her legs she was asked the question “If your life were a book and you were an author, how would you want your story to go?” This idea struck me as a beautiful reminder of a few things. God is the true Author of all things. The Creator of all in existence. And He gives us the choice to have a say in our story, to choose Him as the Author of our lives, to fully give Him our story and ask Him to live and love through us. This weekend we celebrate and honor all different Authors and the books they have shared with the world. Most importantly, we celebrate the true Author. We share His love and truth. In the opening piece of Second Act, our four 2023 Graduates share a piece inspired by Mother Teresa words “I am a little pencil in the hands of a writing God, sending His love letter to the world.” It is a clear example of God loving the world through us. Our ending piece of the performance this weekend, The Author focuses on the idea If we could pick one word to describe our story right now what would that word be? How is God living and loving in our lives? Each dancer picked a word and you will see it used in their piece. We hope you know God as your father and author of your life, the love He has for you and the story of His son, Jesus Christ. 


We are so thankful for 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

2022-2023 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 Khon – Acro Director

Sarah Kilgore- Ballet Director

Instructors & Choreographers – Kate Price, Sarah Kilgore, Natalie Anderson, AnnaMia Rumley, Maria Jacoby, JP Krick, Nicole Khon, Jesyka Vetter, Audrey Bickel, Celia Ebener      


Guest Choreographers- Channing Cooke, Joshua Blake Carter, Maddy Falconer, Mallory Trudell, Tommy Alexander


Costuming and Support Staff – Jennifer Cudworth, Kim Bickel, Penny Buckles, Katie Faley, Pam Williams, Katie Merritt, Richelle Childs, Jennifer Pickford, Megan Mauer, Brianna Hampton  


Studio Maintenance- Chris & Gena Young, Brandi Shattuck, Denise Jordan, Richelle Childs, Katie Talbot

Photography- Carrie Stadelman: Freeland Photography and Suzanne Eller: Kingsley Photography  


Videography- Stu Kail: Redwood Storytelling Company 

Jackson Dance Company Board 2023

President: Nicole McIntosh

Vice President: Alanna Schnell 

Treasurer: Cristi Hammond

Secretary: Casey Allmandinger

Trustees: Kim Bickel, Christyle Broadworth, Sara Grant

Thank you Miss Natalie Anderson!

We want to take a moment to recognize and thank a special person that has blessed so many at AOTA. Miss Natalie has called AOTA her dance family and second home since she was two years old and we are so grateful. From being a student, JDC member, assistant, teacher, to program director - Natalie has been a pivotal part of AOTA for a very long time. She will be heading to the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities where she will be continuing her education in their Philosophy Ph.D. Program. She will be specializing in philosophy of education, the scholarship of teaching and learning, social justice issues in education, and what cognitive science can teach us about best teaching and learning practices. We will miss Miss Natalie greatly, however we are so excited to see all that God has in store for her life on this new adventure. Please join us in thanking Miss Natalie this weekend and showering her in love! We love you Natalie. Thank you for the love, encouragement, kindness, connection and inspiration you have shared with each student. Thank you for being the hands and feet for Christ’s love. Thank you for it all. We shall miss you and we are so grateful. 


Please join us for a come and go Farewell Party for Miss Natalie this summer! 

Sunday August 20 2-4 PM 

AOTA 2023 Graduates

Parker Best

Parker Best is a graduate of Jackson High School. This fall she will be attending Jackson College later transferring to another college majoring in Psychology. She plans to pursue a masters in psychology. While completing her high school education Parker was a member of the Jackson High School Choir and Marching Band Colorguard Team. She has danced at AOTA for six years and has been a member of the Jackson Dance Company for one year. Her dance studies include ballet, contemporary and jazz. 


Parker’s favorite AOTA memory - Joining the Jackson Dance Company for her senior year of high school. 

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Brenna Dumont

Brenna Dumont is a graduate of Lumen Christi Catholic High School. She will be attending Michigan State University, Lyman Briggs College of Math and Science with a major in Biology. After completing her undergraduate degree Brenna hopes to attend dental school and become a Dentist in the future. Brenna graduated Summa Cum Laude and was a member of the National Honors Society, the Jackson Interfaith Shelter Club, the Varsity Golf team and the Varsity Track team. Brenna has danced at AOTA for 13 years and has been a member of the Jackson Dance Company for 8 of those years. Her dance studies include ballet, pointe, jazz, contemporary, lyrical, hip hop, Irish and tap. 

Brenna’s Favorite AOTA memory: The joy of seeing Kate come back to the studio in 2019. 

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Maggie Hands

Maggie Hands is a graduate of Western High School. She will be attending Indiana University in the fall double majoring in Dance and Social Work. Maggie hopes to dance professionally in the future while also working towards a masters degree and becoming a licensed therapist. While completing her school studies Maggie was secretary of the Junior National Honor Society as a middle schooler and part of the National Honor Society through her high school years. She also participated in her high school tutoring program, and was a member of The Arbor Youth Group. Maggie began her dance training at the age of three years old and has danced at AOTA for the last ten years. She has been a member of the Jackson Dance Company for seven years. Her dance studies include ballet, pointe, jazz, contemporary, tap, and hip-hop. While a member of JDC, Maggie has received 3 national scholarships, the Wild Things award and the Giving  Key award from Dancemakers Inc. 

Maggie’s Favorite AOTA memory: Being part of AOTA is all of the fun conversations and laughs that take place in the dressing room!

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Caitlyn Young

Caitlyn Young is a graduate of Western High School. This fall she will be attending Michigan State University, majoring in Psychology with a minor in spanish language or peace, trial, and criminal law. Caitlyn plans to complete her masters degree in Psychology and hopes to become a substance abuse counselor working with patients 18+ in a hospital or court room setting to one day own her own private practice. Caitlyn graduated in the top 10 people of her senior class and was a part of Student Council, Senior Leadership, National Honors Society, Key Club, a tutor, Michigan Girls on the Run, and active in Community Service. Caitlyn has danced at AOTA 14 years and 7 of those years as a member of the Jackson Dance Company Her dance studies include ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, contemporary, lyrical, hip hop and irish. 

Caitlyn’s favorite AOTA memory - Assisting little kids classes and making connections with them. Watching as they grow up and see how they change, but still say Hi and give her hugs.

AOTA 2023 Students

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