Nicole Giordano Lemoine
Since the age of 5, Nicole Giordano Lemoine has been drawn to dance since her best friend next door started taking dance. It didn't take long to her to realize it was her passion which was at around age 8. Nicole started taking private lessons, get chosen to be in older and more advanced classes. Everything just went upward from there.
Dance has allowed Nicole to be creative which to her you cannot do without being open-minded. Parenting has also influenced her open-mindedness in and outside of dance. Dance, more importantly, allows you to open up your emotions and internal creativity. Its the greatest thing dance has given Nicole, it's her therapy.
While being a dance teacher in Elizabeth, N.J., teaching has taught Nicole that you don't have to scream or be negative to get the results you want. You can use positive reinforcements, encouragement, give constructive criticism in a positive beautiful way that will enhance a student's technique but also enhance their confidence.
While Nicole studied at West Virginia University, she also was the only freshman to get into their dance company at the time. While being such an achievement for a dancer, this experience was both an amazing and awful one for her. This was such a big accomplishment for her, confidence boost, but since she was the only freshman she did receive a bit of tough love from the upper-class dancers.
It was hard for her to continue being confident in herself as she was when she first got in throughout the rest of her first year. Once she gained her confidence back and people started to embrace her, it was amazing and wonderful.
She got to learn a lot more about being really abstract in dance. To being weird in a great way and out there, conceptual, modern, and not just about doing a routine to a song. It really opened up the world of professional dance to her. It was only awful since she injured her ankle during college in dance and had to take a year off from dance.
These experiences with modern and abstract dance have helped shape her into a better performer by pulling more emotions out of herself. It has also helped make her a better dance teacher because you learn more about what you want to pull out of your dancers. Being a professional dancer after college and living the dance dream in NYC, Nicole's early dance career was both amazing and exciting because she danced on TV for shows like BET, MTV and others. With these dance opportunities, she was able to live this fun fabulous life while meeting famous people. It was fun in that way but also humbling.
While having been the president of the dance company in high school, head choreographer of everything, the only one to get in the dance company as a college freshman, she was confident in her dance abilities. Although never being arrogant about it, but when you live in NYC, being in the professional dance mecca of the country, you see the best of the best dancers. Taking classes with professional dancers, that is a very humbling experience that will grow and shape you into a whole new person. That will let you know that no matter how good you get, there is always somewhere you can go and more you can achieve.
This experience of hers is what she tries to share with her students. As a dance trip, Nicole has been able to take her dance students to go to Broadway Dance Center to take a professional class. This is really a gift to Nicole. The opportunity to be able to take these students to NYC and work with the best choreographers in the business, on Broadway, and working professionally.
She feels so fortunate that she can do that for them since they are right next to the city but it also lets her know that the experience will stick to them. In terms of motivation, when you get to take dance in NYC, there's nothing like it. Nicole feels like that experience alone makes you become this dancer, you become this whole new person and it stays with you. You go home and are floating on a cloud, that dance lives with you.
Out of all her years of teaching, no experience is as memorable as her first year teaching. Started teaching in September of 2001, the tragedies of 9/11 impacted that first teaching experience. Having lost the man that she was dating from the tragedy and her students had parents and relatives who were Port Authority cops and firefighters helping on the scene.
It all made them a close-knit family. They created a fundraiser show, United We Dance, to raise money for the survivors of 9/11 and donate to the fire departments. This was an emotional experience for Nicole, they all united through dance and it was an amazing warm loving feeling during a time that was so hard. Bring something beautiful out of art during a dark time.
Nicole believes dance is important to women in many ways. We live in a culture where women are constantly objectified, specifically in terms of their bodies. If dance or dance fitness is taught in the right way, that Nicole believes it's a way that celebrates your body, your emotions, confidence, and pride. This allows you to grow larger than life during a dance class, this is a way to empower women as opposed to making feel smaller or bad about themselves. To Nicole, dance can allow women to express themselves and really uplift themselves and to celebrate femininity.
Nicole notices that she tends to cling more to female artists than male artists which are a lot to do with that she can relate to the issues that they are singing about. Not that there aren't phenomenal male artists, but Nicole can relate to female artist songs in a feminist way, there are certain songs by women that just bring out this amazing feminine girly quality that you can just have fun with.
Sometimes women flip flop, they go from "don't make me feel like this small little girl and that's all I'm good for" to having to be this strong bold presence. You can be strong and bold and also be girly and amazing, Nicole believes that's why she relates to a female artist and why she is inspired to choreograph to their music.
Nicole recently got into her fitness journey as a fitness instructor. As a dancer, your shelf life is pretty short, dance is not natural to the body. You're turning out your hips, opening the chest, elongating the neck, doing all these things for your art that are not necessarily great for your body long term. It is the same as a football player or a boxer, you are putting your body through things that are not necessarily healthy for it.
One Nicole had a child, she realized she really needed to take care of the body that she is in the long term, this led her to fitness. Nicole went ahead to be strong, train her body in a way it needs so she can stay as young as possible. Train her body for health and also to just enjoy the feeling of being strong through fitness, it's a different feeling. Dance is expressive, emotional, and wonderful.
Just feeling strong, there is an accomplishment, there's this high that she really loves. Nicole uses dance to impact the community through dance with an event with Athleta, a fitness wear store, where she did a dance event at certain gyms and fitness studios where they do fundraiser events to bring people together to dance.
Its more than just a hustle or to make money, its to sort of to build a community. That's what she loves about dance class, it is like group fitness when she can combine the two, that group experience to her is so much more fun than dancing on your own in a mirror or working out on your own in a gym. There is something to it that is really empowering and that is really supportive.
When teaching, Nicole hopes she can teach her students to grow outside of dance, she wants them to grow as people. If they grow as a dancer that's amazing but it's not even the goal. If they can grow into the person that they're supposed to be, they can discover things about themselves through dance or through the things that they accomplish in dance. That's the end goal.
Nicole recently taught a women's history month dance workshop at William Paterson University, her Alma Mater where her parents both studies and met at. She was invited by one of her past students, Leslie Campos, and taught for Leslie's club, the Pioneer Dancers.
Nicole has taught for the club before but this was to celebrate women's history in dance which Nicole was extremely flattered and excited to do. Nicole is always happy to come and to share, especially with Leslie because she is so proud of her and what she has done. She believes people create their own happiness, so if there is something missing, you have the power to create it. Leslie did that for herself by creating this dance club and Nicole finds that to be beautiful. To Nicole, to know the club was student-created, not something that was handed down, and do you want to be a part of it, it makes her even happier to come and teach for their events.
The dance community as a whole to Nicole is such a beautiful place because we currently live in a society where social media can create a lot of negative energy. She feels like the dance community is one of the only places left that is so positive and beautiful, that is warm, that does not embrace hater culture. It is there to uplift each other, that to say "I'll meet you where you're at and we'll do something together". Nicole believes the arts are a phenomenal place for the LGBTQ+ community, she thinks the dance community is an all-encompassing bubble of love. Certainly, in the political climate that we live in today, Nicole believes dance is kind of one of the last few places where people can go and feel accepted.
One goal Nicole has is to be able to insert a form of dance therapy into the things that she does. This year alone she has started a mindful moment at the beginning of every lesson. Before she starts every class everyone centers themselves and it can be something really simple like teaching her students a certain way breathing like a meditative breathing exercise.
It can also be a quote that she gives them like one she did that was "stop watering dead plants" and her students had to sit and think about it and what it means. Inserting that mindfulness, making therapy, and movement therapy a part of that experience.
That is where Nicole thinks the dance community is going, where fitness is going, and even where corporate America is going. Working on their mindful interactions so she thinks this is a huge one where she wants to grow as a dance teacher. Nicole is working on completing through the American Council of Exercise, where she has her group fitness and personal trainer certification from, a behavioral change certification that ties in with the mindfulness. It's about teaching people a healthier lifestyle, about exercising people it feels good or dancing because you enjoy it and not because it's going to help you fit in your skinny jeans.
Nicole really looks forward to that because a lot of people cannot get into that mind over matter, they're so concerned about all of these things that really don't matter. When you can get them to sort of love themselves enough to get into the movement, they realize that they love the movement and it's not a punishment to get something that they desire, something superficial that they desire. They are enjoying the movement for the sake of enjoying the movement, this is how Nicole is hoping to reach the community.
This year Nicole's goal is to expose her students to a professional dance company in performance as well as a master workshop to learn. It is important for them to know just because they get to see her every day, there's a variety of teachers, of styles and teaching styles which is important for them to learn that they can get so much so many different people and not to sort of be loyal to one dance teacher, that's not going to help you grow. They can grow you in certain ways but there are always going to be other things that we can get. Exposing her students to professional dance is also a reason she ants to just blow their minds and see that the sky is the limit with things they can do if they want to with dance.