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FACULTY SPOTLIGHT: Jessica Azenberg

There are several important people at SHUFFLES that make the magic happen in the classroom. One of them is Jessica Azenberg who teaches Ballet, Tap, and Theatre Jazz, and she even started off as a SHUFFLES student herself!! We caught up with her to find out some fun facts and tips to share with the rest of our SHUFFLES family! Jessica spent her summer at Arkansas Repertory Theatre as the Associate Choreographer for Spamalot.

JessA_Headshot

Role at SHUFFLES: Tap, Ballet, Jazz, and Musical Theatre Instructor

Career Highlights: My favorite shows that I have performed in professionally are West Side Story, The Will Rogers Follies, Alan Menken’s: A Christmas Carol, and Spamalot!

How long have you been at SHUFFLES? As a teacher I have been at SHUFFLES since 2011. I was a student at SHUFFLES in 2003 and 2004!!

What’s your song & dance journey in through the arts? What’s your story? I was born and raised in Manhattan and I believe that I have had some of the best dance training growing up. I was a very serious ballet dancer and attended ballet class 6 days a week. I loved it! I also studied tap at Steps on Broadway before moving to SHUFFLES! I attended the Boston Conservatory receiving a BFA in dance and then after graduating went on to pursue my professional career.

Who inspired you growing up? My parents inspire me. I admired them growing up and I admire them today. They both have had very successful careers on Broadway but a lot of that is due to the fact that they have always been hard-working and ambitious people. They have taught me that discipline and perseverance can get you anywhere. More importantly, I have always admired the way that they behave in and outside of the business. A large part of my father’s success is based upon the way that he treats and respects everyone that he has worked with. I thank my parents for my success in life and for the built-in value systems that I learned growing up. They have shaped the dancer, teacher, and person that I am today.

Who inspires you today? My favorite choreographer is Jerome Robbins. I think he is an absolute genius. I love to dance his work and I also love to teach his work. Many of my students know how much I love Jerome Robbins, as I teach his choreography quite a lot! His work really speaks to me and I also believe his work transcends generations.

What’s your favorite thing about teaching at SHUFFLES? SHUFFLES is such a unique place. I believe there is no other school like it in the city. Theatre is such an important part of my life and I love that all classes at SHUFFLES are taught with a theatrical base.

What’s an interesting fact about you that no one knows? I come from a theatrical family! My mother was a dancer and a stage manager on Broadway and my father is a Broadway producer. Both of my parents worked with Gail when she danced in Little Me on Broadway.

(Wow! Small world!!)

Jessica "In Action" as Associate Choreographer of "Spamalot"
Jessica “In Action” as Associate Choreographer of “Spamalot”

What excites you about theatre today? A show like Hamilton makes me excited about theatre and for the future of theatre! I was fortunate enough to see a workshop of it. The first act was staged and the second act had not been staged yet. They were all sitting in chairs for the second act, like it was a reading. After the first act, I remember turning to my father and saying “Wow! This is really good. For the first time in a while, I feel like I’m in the room with a genius!” (referring to Lin Manuel Miranda of course). Hamilton makes me hopeful for the future of the theatre!

What’s your #1 piece of advice you hope to pass along to your students? Hard work, discipline, and perseverance always pay off! If you want something, go for it with everything you have. Believe in yourself and also have fun! I love to dance and I try to share that passion in all of my classes at SHUFFLES.