Teacher/choreographer, The Academy of Performing Arts, Oak Creek, Wisconsin
NOMINATED BY: Dana Farber, a student’s mother: “Brynn has endless energy for her students. She spends weekends working on choreography, rhinestoning costumes, hand-making accessories, and helping her solo students. She wants the best for her students and encourages them with positive and kind words. What I value most as a dance parent is that Brynn takes class, attends conventions, and looks for performing opportunities to further her own dance experience.”
YEARS TEACHING: 4
AGES TAUGHT: 3 to middle school
GENRES TAUGHT: Ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, poms, and contemporary
WHY SHE BECAME A TEACHER: As an assistant teacher working alongside my own dance teachers, I was amazed to watch the competitive dancers learn a dance, perfect it, and bring it to life onstage. I think after my first competition working with dancers I was hooked.
CONTINUING EDUCATION: I recently attended Dance United: The Festival in Andover, Massachusetts, and brought back tap material for my students. If I don’t attend dance conventions and other opportunities to make myself a better dancer, my students will lose out. They cannot be the only ones expected to keep growing as dancers.
ADDICTED TO RHINESTONES: I remember looking at all the costumes at my first big dance competition—they were gorgeous! I enjoy transforming a simple costume into something amazing by adding rhinestones. For the past two years I have transformed Halloween costumes into musical theater and tap competition costumes, saving tons of money.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE: I’m attending the University of Wisconsin–Parkside, showing my dancers that you can attend college and still do what you love, which for me is teach dance. Also, in 2014 I was Miss St. Francis and a member of the Diamond Dancers, the professional dance team of the Milwaukee Brewers. I hope I inspire my dancers to go beyond the classroom and take chances.
NEW TEACHER SURPRISES: I was surprised by how many times the dancers asked to go to the bathroom. As soon as one dancer asks, the whole class has to go!
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: I am double majoring in elementary education and communications with a minor in English and a conflict analysis certificate, and I’m the youngest teacher at my studio and the only one attending college. It’s hard to find the balance between work and school.
IMPORTANT PERSON IN HER DANCE JOURNEY: When I was 8, Mom told me I had to pick between two dance classes, and I was going to try ballet and give up tap. My grandma would not let me give up tap, and she paid for my tap lessons for years. Without her help I would not be sharing my love of tap with my students today.
BEST ADVICE FROM A TEACHER: To love my dancers because they could become my coworkers someday!
FAVORITE CHOREOGRAPHER: Ryan Lohoff. His tap is extremely fun to perform, he holds great classes, and he created color taps—and who doesn’t love those?