Photography by Jennifer Bodnar
Last year, Jacquelyn McDonough decided to throw her hat into the ring. Up against the heavy hitters of Southie veteran dance schools like Miss Linda’s School of Dance and the Woods School of Irish Dance, Jacquelyn opened up another choice for local boys and girls to learn the art dance at the Jacquelyn’s Dance Academy. 40 students enrolled. Her studio is at the Curley Recreation center a.k.a the L and on Saturdays from morning until afternoon, it is busy with eager students coming and going. With one season of teaching under her belt, her student enrollment has doubled and a new season is underway. Her reputation of being a talented, energetic and hands on teacher has spread throughout town. This year she has a total of 80 students.
Jacquelyn has proven she is a dance force to be reckoned with. Parents praise of her dance instruction and interaction with her students include words such as sweet, generous, professional and amazing. According to some of the dads, they appreciate Jacquelyn’s performances at the end of the year recital. Jacquelyn thinks of being a dance teacher as not only teaching children but being a role model too. “I looked up to all my dance teachers very much, and now as a teacher I can see how important it is to be there for each child, set a good example, and always have a positive attitude,” says Jacquelyn.
In addition to her passion for teaching dance, she also a Financial Analyst for State Street. Jacquelyn is the whole package – beauty, brains, and a generous spirit dedicated to the children of South Boston.
Just the facts:
- She is the daughter of the legendary Bill “Touchie” McDonough of Touchie’s Shamrock Pub and Denise as in “Miss Denise” highly praised daycare provider.
- She has a sister Erin
- She’s been dancing since the age of 2 and hasn’t stopped yet.
- Graduated from Boston Latin School and was captain of the varsity cheerleading team. (Go Wolfpack!)
- Former member of the Boston Blazers Dancers, The Sparks. (The Boston Blazers have suspended operations until they find a new home.)
- Lives on G Street
- She has a boyfriend of four years Eric
Favorite part about living in Southie? My favorite part about living in Southie is that you are in the city so close to downtown, but you also get that small town feel, having such a tight community where everyone knows each other, helps each other out and takes pride in giving back. My closest friends are the friends I have had all my life – I have known them and their families since I was little, and we all are just as close as we were when we were young.
Favorite place in Southie? Touchie’s Shamrock pub, of course!
Best night at the Shamrock? Saturday nights are always a great time! There is entertainment, either live music or karaoke, which always makes for a fun night with friends and family.
Favorite childhood memory in Southie? It’s hard to choose…I have so many great memories from The Harry McDonough Sailing program, where I went every summer from age 8-18. My other favorite memories come from when my friends, sister and I were younger we would Irish Step Dance for the crowds on St. Patrick’s Day at every restaurant and bar in Southie.
Why is it important for kids to learn to dance? It is important for a child to learn to dance because it gives them an opportunity to express themselves in a way that no other activity can. Dance is extremely helpful in developing a child’s self-confidence, creativity, discipline, and learning skills. Dance teaches you how you carry yourself, improves posture, and above all it is fun way to exercise.
What’s your favorite part about teaching? My favorite part about teaching is being able to watch the growth of the students. Seeing the kids make progress and come so far in 9 months is incredibly rewarding. Week after week, I am amazed and encouraged by the improvement they make and the excitement they have for learning. I get so proud when a child meets a goal and masters a step they have been working on. I also love choreographing. I really try to make the dances fun and pick songs the children will like and be excited about. I have 15 dances to create this year, and I already want to jump right in and get going!
Jacquelyn is a go-getter. She is devoted to her pupils and her students adore her as seen in the way they run to class excited to learn. Her energy and ambition is infectious. With hopes to grow her dance studio even bigger, we have a feeling that after her 80 students shuffle-ball-change and pirouette across the stage at this year’s recital, Jacquelyn’s Dance Academy enrollment will double once again.
If you are interested in learning more about Jacquelyn’s Dance Academy, drop Jacquelyn an email [email protected]