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Broadway Comes to Ankeny Dance and Performing Arts Academy!


It’s not every day a dance student in Iowa gets the opportunity to meet a performer who sings and dances on Broadway. But students at Ankeny Dance and Performing Arts Academy not only met a cast member of the Broadway touring production of West Side Story, they also had the chance to learn from him in a master’s class at the Ankeny dance studio.

Thayne Jasperson, who dances in the touring production of the musical West Side Story, gave students an inside look at Broadway choreography as a guest instructor at Ankeny Dance and Performing Arts Academy.

In addition to appearing in West Side Story, which just wrapped up a performance run at the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines, Jasperson just landed a role in Disney’s Broadway production of the musical, Newsies. He has also appeared in movies and on television. Jasperson’s film credits include roles in the Disney movies High School Musical and High School Musical 2, the movie Handcart, on NBC television’s hit show Smash, and on MTV’s American Mall. He also starred throughout the fourth season of So You Think You Can Dance, before heading on the road with the touring production of the show. The students at Ankeny Dance were thrilled to learn some of the actual choreography from West Side Story, and also get the chance to ask questions and talk with Thayne about what it takes to succeed on Broadway and in movies and television.

“This is such an incredible opportunity for our students!” said Ankeny Dance and Performing Arts Academy Owner and Director Sarah Ferree. “They can learn from someone who is actually living the dream of performing on Broadway and in the movies. I’m so glad that Thayne was able to come and share his knowledge of dance and what it takes to succeed in performance with our young people!”

Jasperson said he was impressed with the students and with the interest and dedication to dance here in Ankeny, and that he’d enjoy coming back again to teach another class or seminar. The two-hour-long master’s class was followed up with a question and answer session where the students were able to get insights from Thayne about what it takes to excel in on stage and on film.

Ankeny Dance and Performing Arts Academy will also host an upcoming master’s class on March 4th featuring a cast member from the touring Broadway production of Bring It On, which will perform at the Des Moines Civic Center February 28th through March 4th. The class will cover the fusion of contemporary jazz and hip hop featured in the show, and will also have the cast member teaching some of the choreography from the musical. For more information on the master’s class or if you’re interested in attending, you can register now by calling Ankeny Dance and Performing Arts Academy at 515-964-5048 or going to the studio website at and selecting the “contact us” page. Ankeny Dance and Performing Arts Academy is a member of the Ankeny Chamber of Commerce and is located at 515 N. Ankeny Blvd in Northside Plaza.

For more information on this story, please contact Mark Ferree at .

Star Dancers last visit to Disneyland back in 2009

Ankeny Dance Students Featured in Disneyland Performance

Not every young person gets a chance to visit Disneyland; even fewer have had the chance to perform there. But nearly two dozen Ankeny Dance students are back in Iowa following their feature performance at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

The Ankeny Dance Star Dancers traveled to Southern California's Disneyland in June to perform a half-hour-long showcase performance on the Carnation Plaza Garden Stage near Sleeping Beauty's Castle on Main Street.

This also marks the first time a large group of dancers from Ankeny has earned the honor of performing for Disneyland visitors. Ankeny Dance owner/director Sarah Ferree, who used to work as a dancer and performing cast member at Disneyland, sent in the audition DVD of her students knowing it would be an incredible opportunity for them to perform at the “Happiest Place on Earth”. “I was so excited for our students to have the experience of performing on stage at Disneyland.” says Ferree. “The spirit of Walt Disney's creativity and imagination is alive there, it's something I could literally feel when I performed there as a cast member and I know this will serve as an inspiration to our dancers both on stage and in their lives and careers.”

In addition, the Ankeny Dance Star Dancers were invited to the backstage area at Disneyland to take part in a two-hour-long master's class with a professional show director/choreographer. “Going behind the scenes at Disneyland is something that most people never see,” says Ferree. “Our students took part in a simulated audition to become a Disney cast member. Not only did they learn what it takes to succeed if they ever choose to perform for a career, they received precious insight into what Disneyland Performing Arts looks for when they hire for a position at the park, on one of their cruise ships, or even in a Disney movie or stage performance.”

In all, 22 Ankeny Dance Star Dancers and their families traveled to Anaheim to take part in the Disney performance and master's class workshop. But it wasn't all work and no play; most of the students and their families enjoyed an extra day or two just having fun at Walt Disney's original theme park, the beach, and just seeing the sights of sunny southern California.

Ankeny Dance has been a locally-owned studio for more than thirty years, offering professional instruction in tap, ballet, pointe, jazz, lyrical, hip-hop, tumbling, and boys and adult dance classes. For more information, call Ankeny Dance at 515-964-5048 or visit their website at: . Ankeny Dance is located at 515 N. Ankeny Blvd. in Ankeny.