ELIZABETH, NJ – The lights dimmed in the theater at Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy, the red curtains opened, and the dancers glided onto the stage Friday night, May 1. Some were soft and wistful, like an emerging butterfly, others had a hard, athletic rhythm. The hoots and hollers from the audience signaled their approval.

The event was Jefferson Senior Dance Showcase that featured the students, not only as dancers, but choreographers as well. Some dancers plan to continue their dance studies in college, others will take the lessons learned into the fields of their choice.

Explained Jefferson dance teacher Nicole LeMoine, “Dance fosters creativity, builds a sense of community because they have to work together, and enhances workplace skills.

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“So much of what they do in the dance studio translates into the workforce,” LeMoine continued. “They become stronger, more responsible. They learn to work together toward a common goal. All these are great life skills.”

Thomas Jefferson Arts Academy has a college preparatory academic curriculum, as well as a studio program in the visual, performing or media arts, geared toward preparing students in grades nine through twelve for postsecondary education and developing their creative talents. The Academy was named a Model School in the Arts by the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership in 2013.