Instructor Spotlight: Courtney Joel

Aug 13, 2015 | Instructor Spotlight

This month we’re happy to feature Courtney Joel for our instructor spotlight. Courtney graduated from McMinnville High School in June, where she was very involved in choir, acting, and volunteer projects in addition to dance. She’s worn the hats of dance student and dance instructor for a year now. In fact, she even got to dance in the Faculty Showcase in May. Currently enrolled at Portland Community College, Courtney will soon transfer to Mount Hood Community College for their physical therapy assistant program. Let’s get to know CVDA’s youngest instructor.

Chehalem Valley Dance Academy: What is your dance background?

Courtney Joel: I started dancing when I was about 3. I danced at VanDerVeere initially and moved to CVDA in 2007. I danced at CVDA Mac for about 4 years, gradually adding classes in Newberg. I joined PC in 6th or 7th grade, then transitioned fully to the Newberg studio as a freshman. I competed and danced about 16 hours/week all through high school! My senior year I competed on four PC teams plus my solo.

CVDA: What is your best CVDA memory?

CJ: Oh, that’s hard – there are so many. Probably my favorite memory was Seaside Nationals this year. Since it was the last time competing with my teams it was really special. After we competed on Friday with My iPhone (Holly’s production )and Strong (Kristen’s production) I realized “this is it.” We went on the rides afterward and we were laughing and having so much fun. I realized it was all coming to an end.

2015 National Champions “My iPhone” Choreographed by Holly Derville-Teer

CVDA: What’s your biggest takeaway from being a part of CVDA all these years?

CJ: I do believe that CVDA really taught me “Dance Skills Are Life Skills.” When you put forth enough hard work, it pays off. What it means to be dedicated, be a good teammate, balance school, and put my all into everything.

CVDA: What are your favorite genres?

CJ: That’s easy! Jazz and musical theater. I really like to entertain and connect with the audience; being happy, spunky and, sassy through dancing.

I’ve performed in lots of plays over the years: Gallery Kids camp for years as a camper and choreographer, Tom Sawyer, Oliver, Seussical, Peter Pan, The Sound of Music, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat (assistant choreographer.)

CVDA: What classes are you teaching now?

CJ: Creative movement, pre ballet, beginning tap/jazz this summer at Newberg and Mac. In the fall I’m teaching Showtime, a new program we’re starting where we sing, dance, and act in class, and a competition group – Minis, and the same classes I taught in the summer.

Miss Courtney teaching at CVDA McMinnville

CVDA: Describe the transition from being a dancer to instructor.

CJ: It was a pretty seamless transition for me. I treat my teachers as teachers when I’m in class, I don’t think of them as co-workers. Teaching has always a goal of mine. It’s been a gradual thing – first at Gallery, then the McMinnville Christian Academy, now CVDA. I learned a lot being an assistant, too. I learned a lot from observing Holly when I assisted in her classes.

CVDA: What are the challenges and rewards of teaching dance?

CJ: Learning the right balance of structure and rules and the students’ ability to listen and apply what they’re learning. Digging in and finding creative ways to teach a variety of personalities. Knowing each child well enough so they can be comfortable and help the concept make sense to them.

I enjoy teaching because I love sharing my love of dance. When I see it “click” with a child, knowing that I impacted someone positively, it makes me feel good!

Miss Courtney competing her senior solo

CVDA: What would you say to a dancer who’s discouraged?

CJ: Keep focusing on your goals. Remember nothing is out of reach. You can always work to get there.
My happy place is Holly’s jazz class. She always encourages us to leave our problems at the door and just focus on dancing. She makes you feel okay even if you’re having an off day.

CVDA: What do you like to do outside of dance?

CJ: I love to travel. Disneyland is my favorite place ever. I like all things Disney, honestly! I also like going to Hawaii. I like hiking, movies, hanging out with friends.

Miss Courtney with one of her favorites!

CVDA: What are your long-term goals?

CJ: I plan to graduate and work as a Physical Therapy Assistant with a focus in dance and gymnastics rehabilitation. I see myself teaching dance forever! And I hope to be a wife and a mom, too.


To register for one of Miss Courtney’s McMinnville classes, click here. To register for one of Miss Courtney’s Newberg classes, click here.