College Dance Team Central

Monday, January 14, 2008

Dancing Her Way To The Top

Maple Avenue Dance student makes Hofstra squad

Harald Online

Samantha Jannotte has always enjoyed dancing, ever since she attended Maple Avenue Dance in Rockville Centre and then captained the Oceanside High School dance team her junior and senior years. Now she is competing with one of the top college teams in the country.

The Hofstra sophomore, who transferred from Towson University, was one of only three to make the Hofstra University dance team in September tryouts, and two months later was one of a select few members to be named to the competition squad, which will attempt to capture a national title competing at the nationals at Disney World this month. Jannotte said she was surprised to make the competition team so early in her Hofstra dance career since the program traditionally finishes among the top 10 dance teams in the country and won a national title in 2006. Jannotte, a 2006 OHS graduate, decided to transfer to Hofstra from Towson after her first year of college due to the close proximity to her family and the strong theater program the university offered.

Jannotte was shocked she was selected in September tryouts since 16 members had already been picked in May and there was only room for two or three more dancers out of the more than 20 vying for a spot on the team. "I was jumping up and down," Jannotte said of her reaction when she found out she had made the team.

Kim Alberti taught Jannotte for the 14 years she attended Maple Avenue Dance in Rockville Centre, and said she improved each year, danced with much "personality and passion," and added classes and a variety of new techniques each year. "Maple Avenue Dance became like a second home to her, as she was there every day of the week, striving to perfect her techniques," said Alberti. "It was my pleasure to work with such a talented and driven dancer and I feel that the Hofstra Dance Team is very lucky that Samantha is dancing with them."

Jennifer Fransca, Janotte's Oceanside High School dance coach for her junior and senior years, said, "Sam is an absolute delight to watch perform, because her love of dance comes through in every performance. I think that there are big things in store for Sam and look forward to seeing her succeed in the future."

Since she was selected to the Hofstra dance team, Jannotte has performed at halftime during Hofstra football and basketball games, as well as other special events like the Italian Festival held in September. Being a part of the Hofstra dance team is a major commitment requiring three-hour practices held four times a week, making a rigorous academic schedule even more challenging. But thus far Jannotte has been up to the challenge, pulling in a 3.5 grade-point average. "You just have to know what to focus on," said Jannotte, of how she is able to balance school and dance her first semester at Hofstra. "You can't let your mind drift."

Jannotte also hopes to juggle performing for the Hofstra dance team with pursuing her passion for theater. The fine arts major took part in plays at OHS her sophomore, junior and senior years, including the lead role in "Oklahoma" in 2005. She aspires to be on a Broadway stage someday. The 2006 Oceanside graduate said Hofstra has a rich tradition of offering its theater majors top-notch performances such as the annual Shakespeare Festival held every March, and she hopes to take part in as many as possible. In addition to the valuable dance experience Jannotte is getting at Hofstra, she has made many good friends on the team. She said the older members of the team lead by example and motivate everybody to work hard. "Everyone is really committed," she said.


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