BETHEL — The Christmas spirit was alive and well at the Toe Tappin’ Jazz Dance Studio’s 16th annual winter recital Monday night at Telstar Regional High School.

Friends and families of the dancers filled the auditorium, cheering as holiday music played and laughing as the younger dancers swayed and jumped enthusiastically onstage.

The recital included 23 dance numbers, in which dancers went through routines they had learned in eight lessons. Maryanne Jordan, owner of Toe Tappin’ Jazz, said the hardest part of running a studio is making sure recitals run smoothly. It’s all worth it, though, she said.

“What I love most about running a dance studio is watching the dancers grow each year and seeing their self-confidence shine through,” she said. “For many, dance is an outlet for students to express themselves and to feel good about who they are. Music and dance can be very healing, stress-relieving and therapeutic. It is also great exercise and teaches balance and coordination skills.”

Jordan runs the studio with her three daughters, Amanda, Heather and Tiffany, considered crucial to the studio’s success.

They are ”very talented” instructors and choreographers, their mother said.

Amanda is also the director, and has a bachelor’s degree in theater.

Jordan’s husband, Troy, is the artist who paints the scenery, and their friend Josh Oliver designs sets, props, posters and tickets. Amanda, Josh and Troy have all written shows for the productions.

“We all work very well together and it takes all of us, with each of our different talents, to make it happen,” Maryanne Jordan said. “I am very fortunate to have them all work with me. We all love what we do and love our dancers and their families.”

Their hard work, dedication and love of dance spills over into their dancers. Tia Jeselskis, whose daughter Ayva dances at the studio, said she’s noticed her daughter’s confidence skyrocket since joining.

“(Ayva) looks forward to dance class every Wednesday and has an amazing relationship with her dance instructor,” Jeselskis said. “Her confidence in her dancing continues to climb after every class, and her enthusiasm about dancing in general is inspiring. She plans on dancing for as long as she can. Even though she is only 5, my husband and I try to instill commitment and dedication in our children, and having Ayva participating in something she loves so very much does just that.”

Tonya Lewis’ daughters, Madeline and Lily, are involved in dancing, and their mother said the program has really helped her oldest, Lily, come out of her shell.

“This is Lily’s second year,” her mother said. “She’s naturally shy, but she shines on stage. Madeline watched Lily’s class last year and they would let her participate some. So when asked if she wanted to dance this year, the answer was a resounding yes!

“Last week she was given the choice of going to dance class or going to the Festival of Trees to see Santa, and she insisted on dance class,” Tonya Lewis said. “They both will continue next year. The teachers and Maryanne really make the students feel loved.”

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