By Kayla Kuper
Janelle Mitnick is the current director of the Marin School of the Arts Dance program. Mitnick joined the program last year as a substitute for the full-time teacher. Janelle ended up taking the program into further success, and without any instruction, she began to transform the dance program while substituting.
Retired MSA director Annie Hartjie recognized Mitnick’s dedication to the program. With the help of a few others and Hartjie, Mitnick was soon placed into the position of full-time MSA dance director because it was the right fit and the right time. There was tension, drama, and uncertainty within the dance program while the officials decided if Mitnick were to take over the position full time, or part time. While some students were nervous about the switch, other students in the dance program were exhilarated to find out that the cheerful, loving, and kind substitute would be permanently taking over.
“When our old teacher told us about having a substitute while she took a leave for her pregnancy, I was honestly skeptical because you never know which type of substitute you will end up getting. I mean you could end up getting an old lady who doesn’t know a thing about dancing,” said junior Alex Cupples.
Many students felt like Mitnick definitely deserved the position and were overjoyed when it came true.
“After having Janelle as a dance teacher for a whole year, I could never imagine her leaving, because she just fits here,” said junior Sam Loder. “I was happy and surprised she would be our permanent teacher, but wasn’t really shocked because she is literally the coolest person ever and of course the school would offer her this position.”
Mitnick’s appreciation, effort, and dedication to the MSA program really shows through her teaching ability. Mitnick was born and raised in Ventura, California and there she trained in ballet, and competed as a gymnast. Mitnick graduated Humboldt State University with a BA in interdisciplinary dance studies. Shortly after, she attended Sonoma State University, receiving her Elementary School Multiple-Subject Teaching Credential.
The dance students adore Mitnick and are appreciative of her teaching style and how she incorporates the student’s movements into each group dance. She gives many opportunities for students to learn and succeed.
“I think it is really awesome that Ms. M lets us choreograph our own individual movement in a group dance to highlight our strong points in dance, and everyone’s individuality comes together to make a creative piece,” said sophomore Angela Asprer.
“Ms. M is more like a mom than a teacher,” said junior Polina Myers.
Mitnick is loved throughout the program and the students appreciate all the hard work and long hours she puts into the program.
“I really like to incorporate all styles of dance into the school year to broaden the student’s knowledge of dance and its culture,” said Mitnick. “Aside from dancing, in the class we also learn about where the style’s we are learning derived from, so history is also a contributing factor in the class.”
Mitnick shows her dedication to the program by being there one hundred percent of the time.
“I try to give the dancers as much love and support they need because they are like my children, and if someone is having a bad day we will all talk and comfort one another,” Mitnick added. “One of the things I love most about this dance program is that we are all close and we are all family.”