The School of Theatrical Dance in Great Falls has been offering instruction in a variety of dance styles for 25 years. The studio has taught thousands of students during that time. Owner Theresa D’Alessandro is credited by students and instructors as the source for the studio’s longevity because of her dedication to those who come through the doors.
Before opening the studio at the Great Falls Village Center, D’Alessandro taught local children at the Grange. The School of Theatrical Dance has now been on the second floor of the Village Center for more than two decades and sees a steady stream of leotard-clad girls dancing up the stairs six days a week.
“The parents in every group are always pitching in and going above and beyond. It’s because of those families, they’re the one’s who keep us going,” said D’Alessandro.
Joanie Vasiliadis, a 13-year-old student at the dance studio, says it is because of the atmosphere generated by the instructors that the students work so hard. “They make you feel like you are at home and make you feel comfortable,” said Vasiliadis. “Each class, each style is different, and they make it fun. It’s not too serious, and everyone is nice.”
“We have a professional mission with a real-life sense of the needs of our students,” said D’Alessandro. “Some have the steel that it takes to be a professional in this field, others just like to move. We respect everyone’s reasons for doing this.”
KRIS BEERY, ONCE A STUDENT at the School of Theatrical Dance and now an instructor for the past 10 years, says that D’Alessandro’s own love of dance is what enables her to transfer that passion to students. “She’s very inspirational and motivational. Her work with the kids is always lending them a hand to make them better at what they are doing,” said Beery.
D’Alessandro has a bachelor’s in dance from Mary Washington College. Many of her students, like Beery, go on to professional careers in dance as a result of her example. “Most who make it through high school and continue dancing use it in their professional careers. A lot of them go on to be dance educators and performers,” said D’Alessandro.
Some students get a taste of being an instructor early. Vasiliadis has the opportunity at the studio to serve as a student assistant, a role she takes seriously. “We work hard here. It’s fun, but we’re here to dance,” said Vasiliadis.
“People just enjoy coming here,” said D’Alessandro. “The arts in general take a lot of self-sacrifice.”
Beery said D’Alessandro is “very driven and really loves her job. She just loves it. She’s talented as both a performer and a teacher. Not every dancer can be a teacher.”
D’Alessandro and her team at the School of Theatrical Dance put on a few shows a year for the public. For example, there’s a showcase in the winter at Northern Virginia Community College and an end-of-the-year recital held at the Alden Theater in McLean.
Beery says that D’Alessandro is constantly updating and re-choreographing the dances for her students. “There’s always something that she’s trying to do to show that they’ve advanced to the next level,” said Beery.
D’Alessandro said that it’s the hard work of all those involved who make the studio and its presentations a success. “Any effort like this really requires support,” said D’Alessandro.