Meet The OTT Family
In 2004, at 21, Jennifer Bought Over The Top Academy of Dance, her childhood dance studio from the owners who helped her develop personally and professionally. Since then, Jennifer has shown the Alger Heights community what the life skills of dance can do. One of the keys for Jennifer in building her business is her abilities as a leader and mentor/ She has an uncanny ability to identify the best talents in her students and coaches them to become champions. Jennifer's love of Tap and musicality, combined with her genuine commitment to bringing the best out her dancers allowed her to create stories. Stories her dancers could feel and would live in each piece because each dance created from a place of understanding the history and presenting it with authenticity. Because Tap dance has given her so much, Jennifer is looking to pay this goodness forward by creating opportunities for young dancers to be inspired, for teachers to find mentors and veterans of the Tap world can continue to grow and enjoy dancing.
Ajamu Bernard is a Community FItness Activist, a TRX master trainer and author of the Kettlebell Samurai Method. He leads education courses and hosts workshops that use storytelling and movement to share his wisdom. As a strength coach and pilates instructor he integrates bodyweight skills, Kettlebell Samurai Method and Classical Pilates to give a comprehensive mobility and strength improvement experience. Ajamu loves to run, play soccer and compete in Kettlebell Juggling Shows.
Phoebe Dawson is brand new to the OTT Dance Family. She has been director for OTT's Summer Theater Camp for both DISNEY'S LION KING JR. and DISNEY'S MOANA JR. She is not only a director but is also a stage manager, choreographer, and performer in West Michigan. Phoebe has been working in educational theater for the past 5 years in the Grand Rapids community. Phoebe is a huge believer in the power of visual and performing arts education and is passionate about making the arts accesible and available to not only young artists but to everyone.
Olivia Kornoelje’s journey with dance started when she was just three years old, at this very studio (formerly Jon T Dance Arts Center). She remembers when Miss Jen first bought the studio and the joy of watching it transform into the Over The Top Academy of Dance that you see now. She has studied all the styles and competed for five years with the studios CRU team & co-taught some classes while completing high school. She then had her own classes and taught preschool, tap, jazz, and hip hop for five years. Outside of the studio, she studied at Grand Rapids Community College and received an Associate of the Arts degree. She also worked in retail management for five years and has been in banking industry for three years. This December, she’ll be graduated from Grand Valley State University with a Bachelors in Communications. Coming back to the studio in her new role as a Director of a Mindful Movers program is a full-circle moment and an exciting venture! Throughout the years, she has always stayed connected to the studio, the kids, and the community. You may have seen her stage manage at the recitals or taken a class from her at the Hotties in Heels GR monthly classes at the studio. This new chapter for her is looking to be the best yet and she can’t wait for all the amazing opportunities & fun things we’ll been able to offer here. If you see her in person, say hi! Let’s connect!
Teachers & Assistants
Miss Bree began her dance training at the Grand Rapids Ballet Company when she was nine years old. She trained there through high school and had the opportunity to take class and perform alongside the professional company. There she received the Award of Excellence Scholarship and also competed in Youth America Grand Prix, placing Top 12 for the Senior Ballet division. Miss Bree furthered her dance training at Grand Valley State University where she majored in both Dance and Clinical Exercise Science. She performed in faculty and guest artists works throughout the four years and was also a member, and later President of the student-run dance organization, Momentum. She was awarded the Rebecca Vogelsang Memorial Scholarship in 2011 and the Alexander Calder Honors Scholarship in 2014. Miss Bree is extremely excited to be teaching at Over the Top and hopes to advance her students technique and inspire passion and artistry through her classes.
Chase has basically grown up at Over the Top Academy of Dance. She has a lot of experience being a dancer. She has danced in numerous dance classes, competed for many years, and has been a student for more years at OTT than she have been a teacher, so she can definitely relate to students in so many ways and understand their struggles and achievements within the realm of this art. She loves teaching the kids the passion and drive of dance. Being a dancer is hard work and every dancer needs a teacher that is enthusiastic, fun, cares about growth, and a role model. She says that she can be all of those for any child who wants to pursue dance at this studio. She loves giving the kids lessons in class, showing them how to be confident in everything they do, and boosting their self esteem. She loves working for this business because we believe it’s way more than dance and she can say she has have learned many things that she will take into her future through OTT and your child will too!
Rainier has been a dancer at Over the Top since she was 4 years old! She is currently 17 years old and is a senior at Grand River Preparatory High School. She also attends the EMT program at Kent Career Tech Center. She just recently got the opportunity to teach her own classes after looking up to her many amazing dance teachers growing up. She loves the community and growth OTT brings. "It’s like one big family! I can’t wait to watch my students grow and also myself as a teacher. It’s gonna be a great season."
Mackenzie is a student at East Kentwood High School. She is a drummer in the school’s symphonic band and jazz band. She has been dancing at Over The Top Academy of dance since she was 3 and has loved it ever since. She also loves theater and has been in two musicals. Her favorite role was Amber Von Tussle in ‘Hairspray’. She enjoys volunteering her time at Grand Rapids Civic Theater as well. She is thrilled to be part of the Over The Top community and beyond excited to be returning for a second year as a teaching assistant. It’s her mission to be an inspiration to the next generation of OTT dancers!
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Rylee is a student at Vanguard Charter Academy! She has been dancing at Over The Top Academy of dance since she was 3. She also loves reading. Her favorite series of book is called ‘Children of Blood and Bone’ and ‘Children of Virtue and Vengeance’ by Tomi Adeyemi. She is eager to be apart of the Over The Top community and is thrilled to be starting as an teaching assistant this year!
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Anna began dancing recreationally at the age of 3 until becoming a student at the School of the Grand Rapids Ballet at age 7. While at the Grand Rapids Ballet, she danced in the junior and senior companies and performed in ballets alongside the professional dancers until graduating high school. Anna furthered her dance education at Western Michigan University where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance and Bachelor of Science in Special Education. At WMU, Anna was trained in ballet, jazz, and modern, and participated/performed under guest artist residencies. She started teaching dance classes while in college and recently began teaching dance again. Anna has taught ballet, contemporary, jazz, recreation dance classes, and was previously a performing arts counselor at a recreational summer camp. Anna's full-time job is at Lowell High School where she is a special education teacher. Additionally, Anna is the choreographer for the school’s musical program and has choreographed two musicals during her three years time at the high school. Anna is passionate about creating an inclusive environment, building relationships, and sharing her diverse knowledge and experience with her students. In her free time, Anna enjoys yoga, reading, and traveling.
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Deavondre Jones, Founder of DanceSpire, has developed a unique and rewarding dance career despite a humble upbringing. Since the inception of DanceSpire in 2013, he has touched thousands of lives as a speaker, performer and instructor throughout the Midwest. In Michigan, he is best known for his commitment and consistency behind the weekly drop-in class: #DropInWednesdays. To stay updated with the work he's doing you can follow his weekly "Consistency Builds Momentum" Vlog on Youtube.
"Ms. Jen and her instructors are the very best at creating a culture and lifestyle focused on love and the pure joy of dance. Bring your son or daughter to Miss Jen's world, your child will benefit in ways which greatly exceed the dollar cost."