SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Jo-Ann’s Dance Studio – The Performing Arts Centre on South Clinton Avenue will celebrate its 40th anniversary this year. In-person registration and open house for the 2017-2018 season will run from Monday, Aug. 14 through Thursday, Aug. 18.

“I am very excited about celebrating our 40th year in South Plainfield,” said owner Jo-Ann Faulkner. “Over the years, the studio has expanded to include many new programs. We are more just dance; we are a full-performing arts studio.”

Jo-Ann’s offers classes in every form of dance from beginner through advanced for children age 3 through adult, including but not limited to ballet, pointe, tap, jazz, moderne, and hip hop along with musical theatre. Each June, students perform in a recital at the State Theatre in New Brunswick. Additionally, Jo-Ann’s also offers private piano and vocal lessons.

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This past year Jo-Ann's Dance Studio expanded to include the unique Vertical Freedom fitness program. One of their dance rooms has been converted into a state-of-the-art fitness studio featuring six platinum ceiling to floor poles, a Pilates reformer for private lessons, and several hanging lyra for hoop classes. The program is run by Tessa Browne and Faulkner’s daughter, Tara Faulkner-Catalina and weekly class offerings include, but are not limited to, Pole, Flexibility, Vertical Conditioning, and Pole Choreography as well as two signature classes offered only at Jo-Ann’s – Vertical Barre (based on Pilates and ballet) and Pole-Ates (a Pilates mat class using the pole as a stabilizer). More information on the Vertical Freedom fitness program is available online at verticalfreedom.com.

“Many times, parents will bring a child to a dance class and attend a fitness class going on at the same time,” said Faulkner. “Our programs compliment each other and offer parents the opportunity to take a class right in the same place.”

Each year, Jo-Ann’s welcomes close to 400 students of all ages, including children and grandchildren of former students. “I have generations coming back to me and it’s a great feeling to know I must be doing something right all these years,” Faulkner said, adding, “No mother or grandmother is going to bring their child to a place that they themselves did not have happy memories of.”

Faulkner also prides herself on running a studio where the focus is more on the technique and art form of dance rather than the competitive aspect of it. Programs, said Faulkner, are designed for students to discover and develop their unique talents while also helping to build on important life skills.

“Little girls will always love dancing, wearing tutus and standing in front of a mirror, but dance also helps instill some pretty valuable life qualities,” she said, “It is a wonderful self-esteem booster and the things learned in a dance class – discipline, the ability to perform on stage and learning how to feel and move to music in a certain ways – stay with you forever.”

The daughter of marathon dancers, Faulkner took her first dance class when she was just three years old. At age six, she moved from Newark to South Plainfield and, as she got older, found herself taking classes five days a week. To offset the cost, Faulkner began assisting her teachers and after high school studied with some of the master dance instructors in New York.

When it was time for her own daughter to take lessons, Faulkner said she wasn’t happy with the dance schools available and decided to start teaching herself. In 1977, she began renting space at the Italian American Club and taught 30 to 40 kids basic ballet, tap and jazz twice a week. As enrollment grew, Faulkner sought larger venues throughout South Plainfield before settling into her current studio at 4475 South Clinton Avenue a little over 25 years ago.

Faulkner remains a constant presence at the studio. She is on site six days a week and personally oversees all business aspects. Her daughter, Tara Faulkner-Catalina, serves as assistant director as well as artistic director, and her son, Kenneth Faulkner-Alexander, teaches all vocal and music lessons. Together, the Faulkner family works alongside a team of seven talented teachers, several who personally attended the studio themselves, including Faulkner’s grandson, Alexander Catalina, 20.

“I never thought 40 years ago my children and now my grandson would be involved and here they are,” said Faulkner. “Their love of dance and the performing arts is just as strong and has always been.”

Jo-Ann’s Dance Studio – The Performing Arts Center will hold in-person registration and open house from Monday, Aug. 14 through Thursday, Aug. 18 from 6 to 9 p.m. Classes begin Sept. 11 and are held Monday through Friday evenings and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For information, visit http://joannsdancestudionj.com or call (908) 561-5094. Additional information is also available on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Jo-Anns-Dance-Studio-The-Performing-Arts-Centre-146403545377259/).

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