Faculty 

To view a faculty member's full bio, please click on their name.

Xavaire Bolton received her BFA in Graphic Design from the University of South Carolina. While there she was a part of the USC Dance Team, as well as the USC Hip-Hop Ensemble. After graduating, she joined and performed with numerous dance teams and companies in the Washington D.C./Metro area. In 2008 she began teaching in the styles of jazz, hip-hop, contemporary and modern. Xavaire has taught with the James School of the Dance Arts since 2011.
Maegen Gonska has been dancing since the age of 2, and is trained in classical ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical and contemporary. She is a regionally and nationally recognized award winning dancer, competing since the age of seven. At age thirteen she was accepted into the Nutmeg Ballet where she was under the tutelage of Eleanor D'Antuono of the Joffrey Ballet, Victoria Mazzarelli of the Basel Ballet, Scott Thyberg of Dansereye Productions and Joan Kunsch of the Nutmeg Ballet. Approaching college, Maegen began teaching in Connecticut and decided to pursue a history degree. After a brief break to focus on school in 2010 she went back to her love for dance teaching in Virginia Beach. Her students today have performed in Disney World, been accepted to ballet programs such as the Joffrey Ballet and compete regionally and nationally. This is Maegen's third year with the James School of the Dance Arts.

Connie Hanzel received her BA in Dance and her MA in Dance-Performance/Choreography from UCLA. While in school, Connie studied with the UCLA Dance Company. She was selected as a member of “Who’s Who” among American Teachers in 1996; an honor received by the top 4% of the nation’s high school teachers. During her tenure at JSDA, Connie’s classes have won acclaim at many competitions. Connie has taught with the James School of the Dance Arts since 1986.


Janet Hobson joins us from Norfolk, VA where she trained with The Norfolk State University African and Modern Dance Company. She is one of the co-founding coordinators for Norfolk State University's Marching Spartan Legion Band's Auxiliary/Dance group, Accent and guest choreographer for their dance line, Hot Ice. In addition to her dance work there, she was also the physical fitness coach for the entire marching band. Continuing her education, she traveled to many different states to further her education and enhance her dance ability. While in Ohio, she joined the Dove Project Modern Dance Company where she soon became a principal dancer. As an instructor she taught at the Academy of Urban Dance in Columbus, OH and the Academy of Champions East in Mt. Pleasant, TX. Her most recent position was at Maureen's School of Dance in Norfolk, also coaching their competition team. In her career she has won numerous competition and choreography awards. Janet is currently a youth gymnastic, yoga and dance instructor in the D.C.-Metro area. This is Janet's second year with the James School of the Dance Arts.

April Renee Lawyer has danced for over 17 years, studying with the Towson University Dance Department. At Towson, she worked with several notable dance instructors including: Linda Denise Fisher, Stephanie Powell, and Jayne Bernasconi. She specializes in Modern, but also teaches: Ballet, Tap, Improvisation, and Jazz. In the past, she performed mostly as part of church and religious ensembles. Currently she is a member of Full Circle Dance Company but maintains her roots in Liturgical Dance as part of Revelations. Since 2001, she has taught Modern, Jazz, Hip-Hop, and Musical Theater in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area. This is April's third year with the James School of the Dance Arts.

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 first year with the James School of the Dance Arts.

Candace Turitto 
started, like most do, at a very young age, and covered a wide range of disciplines, including tap, jazz, ballet, pointe, modern, hip-hop and pom.  She has been dancing for over 25 years as part of performing troupes, dance teams, and competition teams, and has been choreographing and instructing for over 10 years. As a teenager, Candace attended the year-long Virginia Governor’s School for the Arts, where she studied Musical Theater and served as the group’s dance captain.  As a member of the group’s select troupe, she traveled to Japan for a performance tour, and participated in dozens of Broadway revues and shows, including Will Roger’s Follies and Chicago.  At the collegiate level, Candace was a member of the James Madison University Dukettes, a very competitive and nationally ranked dance team.  Over the years, she has studied with several notable choreographers, including Bakaari Wilder (Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk, original cast) and Denise Wall (Denise Wall’s Dance Energy), and her own routines have received several awards at both regional and national competitions, for both choreography and high scores. This is Candace's second year with the James School of the Dance Arts.

Libby Wilhoit received a BS degree in Elementary Education and studied Ballet with Kay Knight at Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana. Libby taught preschool and elementary age children for over 25 years in Indiana and Virginia. She has danced with Performing Arts Ministries and Breath of Heaven Theatrical and Dance Company. Libby teaches with James School of the Dance Arts and has been Office Manager since 1999.

 

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