She’s Pirouetting Around Dance’s Setbacks

New dance instructor Lisa Jay leads a class Tuesday at LBHS. Staff photo by Courtenay Nearburg
New dance instructor Lisa Jay leads a class Tuesday at LBHS. Staff photo by Courtenay Nearburg

By Masha Goncharova, Special to the Independent 

Laguna Beach High School’s new dance director, Lisa Jay, aims for a single goal this year: get the dance program back on track, and she’s doing everything she can to achieve it. With a dance show already in rehearsal, Jay is confident that the program will get back on its feet in no time.

“I am committed to excellence in dance education and I am committed to having an excellent dance program here at LBHS,” Jay said.

A native of Honolulu, Jay earned a bachelor’s degree in theatre and dance, and a master’s degree in dance. Her years of teaching experience include stints at Hawaii’s Mid-Pacific Institute, New York’s Broadway Dance Center and North Hollywood’s Millennium Dance Complex.

Jay’s breadth of experience reflects her vision to improve a program that lost ground after the departure of 10-year director Tod Kubo in 2007 and dissatisfaction with his immediate successor during the last school year.

“Miss Jay has pirouetted the dance department around by getting the dancers involved in a fundraising carwash, and I can’t wait to see what she has planned for her upcoming dance show,” said junior dancer Kendall Kleinberg.

Jay is co-choreographing a dance concert, scheduled for Dec. 11-13, with Danielle Pigneri and guest choreographers Tracey Bonner and Jaclyn Butterfield. The show will feature 12 dance pieces, including jazz, ballet, modern, tap, musical theatre, Latin jazz, jazz/funk and lyrical styles. She is also choreographing the fall drama, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, scheduled to open in early October.

In addition to restarting the dance shows, Jay also plans to improve the teaching environment. In late September, she oversaw the Dance Boosters carwash, organized by student Rachel Busic and the dance council, in order to raise money for the dance department. Jay intends to order more ballet barres and offer a pointe class by ballet teacher Danielle Pigneri.

Just as students are happy to have Jay teaching, Jay is also very exited to be at LBHS.

“I especially love that there is a solid performing and visual arts program in place and that it’s a part of the daily curriculum, which I feel is exactly where it should be,” said Jay.

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