Passionate dancer passes on life lessons

By Chloe Tagan

Dancing is an art form.

While most college kids take advantage of sleeping in on Saturday mornings. Not Amanda Zorzonello, a special education major at Fitchburg State University, who at 9 a.m., is just arriving to her job at Dance Etc. dance studio in Middleton, MA.
Zorzonello, who has been dancing since age 5, and now teaches classes, says that she has found a positive mentor in the studio owner, Jody Shea, who has been running her successful business since 1982. But it is more than Shea’s business prowess that has inspired Zorzonello.
“To Jody, it’s fun first, competition second,” says Zorzonello. “It’s way more important to Jody for someone to make a friend, than to be competitive.”
Zorzonello, who took regular classes, also participated in Dance Etc. Performance Troupe (DEPT) for 7 years. Though the troupe competes with studios in Boston, Lowell, and North Andover, Zorzonello and the rest of the girls on the team have learned from Shea’s influence that competing is not just about winning, but rather that they enjoy what they are doing in the process.
“The competition team is built on having a team experience rather than being the best,” says Zorzonello. This is an important lesson that Zorzonello incorporates into her own teaching methods at the studio. Recently, she has been offered a position to teach recreational hip-hop classes, which unlike the other classes, do not participate in the recital and are just for fun.
Zorzonello plans to stay at the studio and work for Shea as long as she is in school, and has even thought about opening her own dance studio one day. No matter what her plans are, it is clear that she will take the lessons she has learned from Shea and use them in the future. “Positive mentors are never forgotten, and their lessons stick with you for the rest of your life,” says Zorzonello.