Modern Dance & Jazz 

The Ballet Center of Houston is proud to offer our Modern Dance Program Levels 6-10 taught by JoDee Engle and Level 5 taught by Kristy Nilsson.

JoDee Engle is a native Houstonian and a graduate of the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. She also received her early training from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, where she studied under Lynette Mason-Gregg, Soili Arvola, and Leo Ahonen. After HSPVA, she attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts where she ultimately received her B.F.A. in Modern Dance. While at UNCSA, she had the pleasure of working with choreographers such as Sara Hook, Mary Cochran, Murray Lewis, Bill Young, Lar Lubovitch, and performing the works of renowned choreographers like Jose Limon and Alwin Nikolais. JoDee was also a member of the Pluck Project, a student initiated and student produced project in which the graduating class presents an evening-length concert of their own work in New York City. Since her return to Houston, she has danced with the Sandra Organ Dance Company, Dominic Walsh Dance Theater, Houston Grand Opera, Psophonia, Leslie Scates, and San Diego Opera, among others. For seven years, JoDee danced with Hope Stone Dance Company, where she was rehearsal director and directed their pre-professional company, Hope Stone Dance II (h.s.d. II). She is also a dance consultant at HSPVA and teaches at several other studios in the Houston area. JoDee is a founding member of Houston Dance Collective.

We offer Modern Dance classes for Levels 5 through 10.  These levels coordinate with our ballet levels.  For non-ballet students, an audition for class placement is required. Please see the schedule for class details.

What is Modern Dance?

Modern dance is a dance form that developed in the early twentieth century, partly as a rebellion against the traditional, more highly technical forms of dance such as ballet, as well as a way to express contemporary social concerns. While strongly influenced by classical ballet, the movement of modern dance can be quite different in dynamics and style; many movements are weighted and close to the earth. Modern Dance is typically done barefoot.
Modern Dance is very diverse and generally cannot be categorized as any specific dance style, although many dance styles influence much of the movement. Modern Dance in the twentieth century not only broke free of the constraints of traditional dance forms but provided important social commentary to the upheaval and turmoil of the century's greatest change.

Why Modern Dance?

Many dancers today enjoy Modern Dance because it can allow them to be more expressive and free in their movement. While there definite technical elements, Modern Dance gives the dancer a freedom of expression that Ballet sometimes cannot. Modern Dance offers dancers a chance to explore their creativity through movement. It also builds a lot of strength! From floorwork, to jumps, to partnering and improvisation, a Modern Dancer uses his/her entire body and must learn to go from one level to another quickly and seamlessly.

Is it beneficial to my dancer?

Yes! For any dancer, being exposed to as many different styles of dance as possible is always a good thing. Incorporating Modern Dance into a young dancer’s Ballet training is essential if you are wanting to develop a well-rounded dancer and performer. It is difficult these days to find a Ballet company that isn’t adding contemporary works to their repertoire. The more versatile a dancer can be, the better chance that dancer has of having a sustainable career! Modern also builds a strength in a dancer that you cannot acquire through ballet alone. Just ask Ms. Barbara!



Why Jazz? 

Jazz teaches strength and power very quickly and ballet teaches grace and elegance. When you are able to execute both well, you are a more sought after dancer. The importance of being a well rounded dancer is just as important as being a well rounded academic student. The expectation when you walk into an audition is to be able to perform well in multiple styles so the choreographers know where you work best. Jazz uses the muscles differently. It is more of a contraction of the muscle while ballet is the expanding of the muscle. It is very important to learn how to do both so you can equally work the muscles in both ways. Working in both styles strengthens the muscles which can ultimately reduce the risk for injuries.

This year we will offer Jazz classes for our Level 3 & 4 students taught by Kristy Nilsson.