Toni-Joy having a Masters in Corporate Communications from Weissman School of Arts and Sciences and undergrad Bachelors of Science in Elementary and Special Education from Dowling College brings many years of teaching and professional performance experience from various studios in Long Island to children from ages two to adult in multiple types of dance at Dance Pointe. Toni establishes an encouraging and nurturing environment that promotes fundamental learning practice for beginners to advance students. She provides clear communication with students and parents regarding their progression as students move through skill levels and growth in their dance art form. Toni motivates students to achieve their goals, become successful well-rounded performers and individuals and most of all have fun. Toni possesses a natural talent to choreograph with the understanding of each performer’s strengths to bring them to the stage, and how different forms of movement in all genres best fits a student’s ability to successfully convey their strengths as performers. Her teachings of the all dance forms build confidence in students that experience her classes, and follows through for her students as they obtain succes not only in class and stage presence, but in everyday life.
What’s the story of how you became a dancer and teacher?
I started to take dance lessons at the age of three. I have an older brother so, being the first girl, my mom and grandma were excited to put me in a tutu and into a dance class. At the time, I started dancing with 4 other girls my age, and out of all of us, I was the one who stuck with it. And since then, dance has been a HUGE part of my life and helped shape me into the person I am today.
Starting at ten years old I was given the opportunity to student teach at the studio where I took lessons. I loved helping the little ones, and so I was very excited by the chance to work with them and also learn from my teacher on how she led the class. At thirteen, I was given my own ballet class to teach. I grew up with a passion for ballet and most of my dance career was focused on ballet technique. There was a new studio that opened up the road from where I lived. Since the studio was so close, I thought it would be good experience to take an additional class or two so that I could keep developing my skills. After going to a few classes, the owner was very impressed with my ballet technique and was looking for a ballet teacher so I was offered a position and I have been teaching dance ever since.
What impact has dance had on your life?
Dance has helped me in countless ways. As a student, dance helped me learn time management by finding a balance between school, dance, and family/friends, how to persevere through challenges, how to be confident, how to strive for more/self-improvement and most importantly how to be passionate and dedicated to something I enjoyed. Dance has taught me how to be a life-long learner so that I am always growing and trying to improve.
Why did you start teaching dance?
I started teaching dance because I loved the idea that I could help pass along my knowledge and experience to others who had the same interest or passion for dance as I did. I knew I loved to help others, and I wanted to develop my teaching skills because I planned to pursue a career as a school teacher one day.
What are you passionate about outside dance?
Outside of dance, I am passionate about my family. Family is so important and special to me.
What was the defining moment when you decided to pursue dance as a career?
I don’t know if I can say there was a specific moment when I decided to pursue dance. I started dance at the age of three and I never entertained any other activity or sport because I really enjoyed dance and I stayed with it throughout the years.
If you weren’t a dancer and teacher, what do you think you would be doing now?
If I wasn’t a dancer and teacher, I probably would be an elementary school teacher. I always had an interest in teaching from a young age which is what caused me to pursue a degree as a school teacher. Since being a dance teacher provides me with the opportunity to teach something I am passionate about, I explored other career professions outside of being a school teacher.
What question do you wish students would ask sooner rather than later?
I think a student needs to ask themself if they enjoy dance (or whatever sport/activity he/she is doing)? It might sound silly but we can often get caught up in a routine and can lose that spark of interest. If the answer to the question is yes, then the passion, commitment, and determination will follow suit.
Do you have a favorite quote you like to tell your students?
“Just try it.” I find that students are sometimes fearful of the unknown of performing a new skill or landing that double turn. The worst thing you can do, is nothing, so my best advice is to try it, go for it, and almost every time the student finds out that she/he can do it. It is a proud moment for me as a teacher to see them take that leap of faith!
In your opinion, what makes dance such a great activity and art form?
Dance is a great way to express yourself and showcase your creativity. It helps develop important fundamental skills such as leadership and teamwork. There is always something new to learn, a new dance genre to try, or a skill you can improve on.
What locations and classes do you teach?
I have taught at various dance studios in Long Island – I currently teach at Dance Pointe’s Selden and Miller Place location Ballet, Pointe, Tap, Jazz, Lyrical, Contemporary, Hip Hop and Acrobats.