Thank you so much! I have been choreographing and teaching for nine years now, since I was a senior in high school. I have been dancing since the age of three, graduated from our Senior Company at Chez Dance Studio, where I still work today, and went to the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA where I received my BFA in Jazz Dance in 2011.
Jillian Wright (the dancer in my video) is one of our Senior Company members, and a junior in high school. She is extremely talented and always ready for my (sometimes) crazy ideas! Jillian’s dance “No Trace,” which won all Platinum Awards during our competition season, also won many Judges awards. She also received invitations to the competitions’ Nationals to perform her solo.
My mother, Roseann Mastrogiacomo Gatto, is the owner and director of Chez Dance Studio. I have learned pretty much everything I know, from learning dance to teaching choreography, from her. My younger sister, Brielle, is also a dance teacher at our studio and an inspiration to me. She gives me more courage than a younger sister probably should (isn’t that my job?) and pushes me to better myself as a teacher and person, daily.
My advice for younger dancers about preparing for a performance is that your nerves will always be your downfall. It prevents dancers from doing their best. I always got nervous as a performer and I used to have to talk myself down. “Is this life or death?” “If I mess up, will it be the worst thing in the world?” I’d ask myself these sorts of questions, and it always showed me the bigger picture. Then, I would go out and feel so great about my performance.
Everything inspires me to choreograph. From my dancers, to my teachers, to a brilliant piece of music. A book, a movie, a poem I’ve read, all help to create my choreography.
My future plans are to eventually become a co-director at Chez Dance Studio. I also plan on continuing to teach and choreograph and hopefully inspire some up-and-coming teachers/choreographers like I have been inspired throughout my life.