The beginning of a dream
The story of James School of Dance Arts began with passion for the arts that was shared by James Loizou and his wife Jane. An immigrant from Greece, James met Jane and found they shared a common love of art and dance. They both felt that since dance had brought them together that they should start sharing this love with the world. It was then that the dream of teaching others to dance began to grow, and in 1957, they founded the James School of Dance Arts.
Starting their Legacy
James and Jane began small, teaching ballroom dancing in their own home. They were well known for their weekly ballroom and social etiquette classes, and their house began to fill up with students. Over the years, they continued to outgrow as they became the number one place to receive dance training in McLean, Virginia. They began adding to their curriculum, including ballet and tap. They established a Ballet Corps and a boys tap troupe, both of which performed on children’s television shows. Jane also had a spot in her heart for dancers with special needs, understanding that dance was a form of therapy. As an advocate for people with disabilities, she was invited to speak as a panelist alongside dancer Gene Kelly at his “Adventures in Movement” seminar. She was regularly selected to be on the President’s Committee for the Employment of the Handicapped during the Carter and Reagan administrations.
A bright future for JSDA
It’s been over 61 years since then, and the James School of Dance Arts has maintained their reputation for quality dance instruction, while adding styles like competition dance, lyrical, modern, contemporary, hip-hop,and acro to their repertoire. The school is respected in the community for its longevity, technical training, award winning instructors and choreographers, and for its inclusivity. At JSDA, there is training for every dancer’s path. The JSDA Companies consistently win awards in performance and choreography at regional, national and international competitions.
meet our staff
Xavaire Bolton - Owner, Company Director, Instructor
Xavaire Bolton is from Alexandria, VA. She began dancing at the age of three and at the age of ten she trained and competed regionally and nationally in jazz, tap, ballet and lyrical with Terry’s School of Dance and Gymnastics under the direction of Terry and Jack Peyton. Xavaire attended the University of South Carolina where she received her BFA in Graphic Design. While there, she was a part of the USC Dance Team, and the USC Hip Hop Ensemble. After graduating she pursued her career as a Graphic Designer, but found she couldn’t let go of her passion for dance. She began her professional dancing career by joining numerous dance teams and companies in the Washington, D.C/Metro area such as The Alexandria Avengers, The Maryland Nighthawks, The Maryland Blackbirds and ARAS Dance Company. Her teaching career started at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia in 2008. She taught students in various styles and techniques and choreographed for competitive teams. She has been teaching at JSDA since 2011 and is the Co-Director of the JSDA Company which began in 2012. She has travelled regionally and nationally with the JSDA Dance Company and has been recognized every year for her choreography. Xavaire recently took on the role as owner of the studio. She is excited to move the studio forward while maintaining JSDA’s community values and love of dance.
Madelyn Staley - Office Manager, Instructor
Madelyn was born and raised in rural Maryland, where she grew up training in various styles from a very young age. She continued her training at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and she earned her BFA in dance in 2018. There, she had the privilege of studying under numerous notable choreographers and the opportunity to present her own choreography on the university stage as well. Not only does Madelyn love to share her passion for dance on stage, but she also loves to watch that passion spark in young people. Madelyn looks forward to her 4th year teaching at James School of Dance Arts and her first full year as office manager.
Connie Hanzel - Company Director, Instructor
Connie Hanzel has been dancing since the age of 5 and a member of the JSDA dance faculty since 1986. With over 33 years of experience, Connie has taught a wide range of ages from pre-school through adult in various styles and techniques. Connie attended UCLA where she obtained a BA in Dance and her Masters in Dance: Performance/ Choreography. While there, she worked with notable faculty, and her education was enhanced by numerous guest artists and intensive opportunities such as Alwin Nikolais and the Alvin Ailey Dance Company which included performing with the company in “Memoria”. In addition to her movement and choreography skills, she also brings a breath of knowledge in Kinesiology for Dancers, Dance History, Dance Philosophy, and Music. Connie is the Co-Director of the JSDA Company, and her choreography has won numerous awards, including regional award recognition, five invitations to world competitions and a national championship within the past three years. Her most recent choreographic acknowledgement was Star Dance Alliance Power Ranking Champion awarded for the 2018 spring season.
Hannah Reedy - Instructor
Hannah Reedy is originally from Lititz, Pennsylvania where she was born and raised. She began dancing at age 3 and has been trained in a variety of styles including ballet, jazz, contemporary, acro, tap and even baton twirling. Throughout her childhood and high school years, she was a member of her studio’s competition company, earning top awards as a soloist and group member in local, regional, and national competitions. She then went on to receive her B.A. in Political Science and International Relations from Lebanon Valley College. While studying, Hannah was a four-year member and served as vice-president of the Lebanon Valley College Dance Team. Also, while in college, she was a teacher at Palmyra Academy of Dance in Annville, PA. Upon graduation, Hannah moved to Washington, DC to pursue her master’s degree and begin her career. In May 2018, Hannah received her M.A. in International Education from the George Washington University. She looks forward to continuing to share her passion, excitement, and energy for dance during her 5th year of teaching at the James School of the Dance Arts.
Megan Stutesman - Instructor
Megan Stutesman began her dance training at Northwest Classical Ballet in Vancouver, WA and has spent summers training at Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet, Boston Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, the San Francisco Conservatory of Dance, and Bates Dance Festival. Megan holds a BA in Dance and a BS in Psychology from the University of Washington, and a MSEd in Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Development from the University of Pennsylvania. Before returning to graduate school, she spent two years dancing professionally and teaching dance in the Seattle area. While at the University of Pennsylvania, she choreographed, danced, and taught for Penn Dance Company. She is currently a PhD Candidate in Applied Developmental Psychology at George Mason University where her research examines the impacts of art education and embodiment on cognition. Megan has taught Ballet, Modern, Jazz, and Adaptive Dance for children with special needs. She is returning for her 4th year of teaching at JSDA and is happy to be able to continue sharing her love of dance alongside JSDA’s students and teachers!
Shelby Tucker - Instructor
Shelby was born and raised in the Nova area. She graduated in 2018 with a BFA in dance from The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA, under the direction of Donna Faye-Burchfield. She studied modern, lyrical, contemporary, hip hop, african, jazz and improvisation. Over her years in college she continued her studies and has performed in Israel, Paris, Brussels, and Lille. Shelby was also selected to represent the school at the Camping international dance festival at the Centre National de la Danse in Pantin, France. She has created and shown work in Philadelphia and New York as well as danced in a movie and independent dance shows. She is currently based in the Nova area, and this is her first year teaching at James School of Dance Arts.
Shelby Wade - Instructor
Shelby was born and raised in Northern Virginia where her love for ballet began at the age of three. She is a James School of Dance alumnus. There she expanded her training to include hip-hop, contemporary, jazz, and lyrical. She then moved on to study ballet in a pre-professional program with a curriculum that included elements from RAD (Royal Academy of Dance) and American Ballet Theatre. She was the captain of her high school dance team for three years, participated in numerous summer intensive programs, continued her dance education in college, and competed in New York City. Shelby has a passion for classical ballet that she hopes to pass on to her students.
Giselle Heitger - Instructor
Giselle Heitger came to Virginia by way of San Diego, California. She began her dance education at New West Ballet School in San Marcos, CA under the tutelage of Ms. Eugenia Keefer in 1984. Her classical ballet training earned her many roles in the annual production of The Nutcracker. Giselle was a lemon drop, party child and soldier until she worked her way up to the corps de ballet with parts in Snow, Waltz of the Flowers and The Variations. She made her high school dance team, Maroon Magic, as a freshman and became a four-year letterman in Dance. They participated in two recitals per school year and held various performances at local community centers and theaters. Giselle’s most recent stage performance was a 2014 production of Peter and the Wolf, but has been teaching since 2007. Giselle wants her students to learn a strong and solid ballet foundation so that they may continue in any area of dance they choose. This is Giselle’s 7th year with the James School of the Dance Arts.