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MJ's Team

First row: Isabella Bordelon, Olivia Andrews, Jordan Waldrep, Carly Barton
Second row: Amber Rabu, Hope Davis, Mary Jo Thompson, Grace Spencer, Ashleigh Taggart
Third row: Traci Hill, Heather Davis, Stephanie Davidson, Ashlyn Lambert, Emmy Rabren, Morgan Keel

 

Our Team

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Mary Jo Thompson

Mary Jo Thompson is the owner of MJ's Academy of Dance.  She began the studio in 2005, with the vision of educating young girls and boys about the possibilities that dance can offer them in all aspects of life.  She believes that each child is special and deserves the opportunity to experience the many benefits of dance and baton, and this belief is reflected in how she runs her studio.

Mary Jo has been teaching children for over 40 years, 30 of which were spent in the Tuscaloosa County Public School System. She began teaching dance and baton after she saw there was a need to bring bring these opportunities to South of Town.

Mary Jo began twirling at 13, and participated on the dance team in college. Through her experience both personally and professionally, she realized the impact dance and baton can have on young lives and the importance for children to be exposed to these wonderful forms of art. Thus, her vision for a studio that would be inclusive and affordable became a reality in 1994, when she founded Highsteppers, which would later evolve into MJ's Academy of Dance in 2005.

Through the years, in her capacity as teacher, sponsor, and studio owner, Mary Jo has taught many, many girls (and some boys). In the past several years, her studio has moved toward a focus on competition teams, where she routinely produces State and National Champions. She is proud of the momentum of her studio, likes that no matter how much it grows it remains a staple in the South part of Town, and looks forward to many more successful years to come.

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Stephanie Davidson
Artistic Director

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Ashleigh Taggart

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Jordan Waldrep

My name is Jordan Waldrep and I am currently attending law school at Samford University Cumberland School of Law.  I have taught dance for 8 years and have taught at MJ's for 3 years.  I teach anywhere from 3 year olds to 17 year olds and they're all my babies!  I love all types of dance but, as my students know, I have a true passion for ballet!  Ballet supplies the building blocks for all other styles of dance (including hip hop!) so it is my goal by teaching that I make the essentials look fun and easy! Not only do I have a love for dance, I have a love for my students, who I call my kids.  I don't teach only because I want my kids to learn, but I teach because I want my kids to have an outlet in life as well as someone who is there for them when they need it.

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Olivia Andrews

My name is Olivia Andrews and I am a student at The University of Alabama. I am studying Hospitality Management with a concentration in Meetings/Events. I have been dancing since I was three years old and am trained in ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical, and modern. I have traveled among the SouthEast competing in dance competitions and was on both my high school’s danceline and basketball dance team. For one of the routines I choreographed, we received the Amanda Marks Award at competition which went to the team with the highest score within all categories. Dance has always been my outlet on the hard days and a safe place to come and have people to share the fun days with. I absolutely love teaching and sharing my passion for dance with all my students. With hard work and dedication, no dream is impossible. Even Martha Graham once said “Great dancers are not great because of their technique, they are great because of their passion.”

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Morgan Keel

My name is Morgan Keel and I am a blonde-haired blued eyed girl from Grove Hill, Alabama who loves sweet tea and dance. I danced for fifteen years at my hometown studio, Dynamic Dance, training in tap, jazz, ballet, lyrical and pointe. I continued my dance career at MJ’s for a year and then joined staff the following year.
I currently attend the University of Alabama where I am minoring in human resource management and majoring in public relations with a concentration in graphic design and social media management. I love being able to dance beside my students in class whether that is a dance routine or playing freeze dance to Frozen. My goal with each class is for the students to leave with a smile on their face and ready to come back the next week.

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Emmy Rabren

Whether you’re looking to learn new dance moves or hone in on your existing talent, this class is what you are looking for. The instructors are committed to giving each student attention while also moving the class forward. We’re happy to answer any questions you have about this class or any others - simply contact us or stop by.

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Nealey Sikes

Led by a dedicated team of instructors, this class will have you on your feet in no time. Many of our dancers love taking this class, as it gives them the opportunity to learn new movements and easily showcase their talent. Interested in learning more? Get in contact with a member of our team, we’re happy to answer any questions.

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Hope Davis

Whether you’re looking to learn new dance moves or hone in on your existing talent, this class is what you are looking for. The instructors are committed to giving each student attention while also moving the class forward. We’re happy to answer any questions you have about this class or any others - simply contact us or stop by.

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Amber Rabu

Led by a dedicated team of instructors, this class will have you on your feet in no time. Many of our dancers love taking this class, as it gives them the opportunity to learn new movements and easily showcase their talent. Interested in learning more? Get in contact with a member of our team, we’re happy to answer any questions.

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Grace Spencer

This class is a favorite among many of our students. Everyone loves the opportunity to explore the new dance moves taught in this class, while also mastering the classic moves. Our amazing instructors make sure everyone gets individual attention while keeping the class collaborative. Want to find out more? Get in touch with us today.

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McKay Pettus

My name is McKay Pettus! I am a senior at Tuscaloosa County High School and I’ve been dancing for 10, going onto 11 years at MJs! I am a first year teacher at the studio, but have been a sub for 2 years. I am a part of the National Honor Society, National Technical Honor Society, Beta Club, Tuscaloosa Cameo Guild, VISTA, Student Government Association, and I am currently running to be the Vice President of the senior class at school! While teaching dance, I love to make relationships with each student to know them better, as well as challenge them and help them become better and stronger dancers, all while making class fun and enjoyable. 


Inspirational quote: Live like a wildflower