Where are JPDC Alumni now?
Located in south Overland Park, Jody Phillips Dance Company strives to maintain the "Rhythm of Excellence" in all aspects of life. At JPDC, our students are instructed in the highest quality dance technique, community outreach; including performances for Operation Break Through, Leukemia Lymphoma Society, and Juvenile Diabetes; and are also expected to maintain a healthy balance with school work to keep grades up. After nearly 30 years, this approach has produced outstanding alumni, several of whom have gone on to be doctors, lawyers, pharmacists, nurses, professional dancers, dance instructors, wonderful parents, and many other successful career paths.
I started dancing at JPDC when I was 13 and fell in love with the studio. It shaped me into a more confident and comfortable teenager, which can be difficult when you're going through so many changes as an adolescent. I honestly don't know how I would have broken out of my shell if it weren't for dance.
JPDC allowed me to become an extrovert and a socialite both in the company and in my personal and high school life. Through dance, I became more involved and active in extracurricular activities and had higher standards and became more ambitious. The dance conventions and guest choreographers were the most eye-opening experience that pushed me out of my comfort zone and pushed me into the spotlight. Everyday was an amazing experience with the students and teachers at JPDC, they were my family, (how could you not be when you're together for 30 hours a week), and they taught me valuable life lessons that I used in everyday situations.
Following high school graduation I continued dance classes through the rec center at K-State and through my sorority at Kansas State. In some ways I found my sorority to be very similar to the studio because it was a bunch of girls I called my sisters and they helped me through thick and thin. Through my sorority, I found another passion in the hospitality industry and majored in event management and business administrations. I also held leadership positions in my sorority and on campus and graduated on the dean's honor roll in May of 2014.
Throughout college I held three internships all of which included planning various events. I worked at Indian Hills Country Club helping with weddings, golf tournaments, banquets, camps and more. I then moved onto Manhattan Country Club doing much of the same events but focused more on the food & beverage side of things. My final internship was at the Overland Park Convention Center as an event coordinator where I oversaw many conventions, expos, trade shows, galas and more. I also entirely planned the Touch-a-Truck event for the City of Overland Park.
I then accepted an incredible job offer as an event coordinator at Lawing Financial, Inc. My day-to-days are always different and some of my duties include planning meetings, conferences and client appreciation events. I oversee employee recognition initiatives and work hand-in-hand with the marketing department in developing consistent branding and communications throughout our financial firm.
I'm so honored to say that I was given the wonderful opportunity to dance through the majority of my life. They were the best years of my life and formed me into the person I am today. Dancers are hard workers who are dedicated to everything they do in life. They find passion where others do not see it and are loyal to what they believe in. I firmly believe I would not be where I am today without the love of all of the people at JPDC. They were a GIANT influence on my life and will always be a strong support system in my many years to come.
My advice to other dancers - just because you don't make a dance team or didn't make first place in a competition, never give up! Everything happens for a reason and you will ALWAYS find there is more room in your heart to become passionate about other things.
JPDC was a HUGE part of my life for over 13 years! I started at the Pittsburg, KS studio when I was 7 years old and I can remember back to that first dance recital with blue and silver sequined leotards dancing to Robert Palmer's Simply Irresistible! The teachers were such positive role models and it really was my home away from home every Saturday. In middle school, I started teaching for Jody and my mom, who was one of Jody's head teachers, all the way through college while I was at the University of Kansas. I made so many friends and great memories, especially at Tremaine, Dance Olympus, The Edge, and all the other summer camps we attended. I also learned the importance of hard work in order to achieve success, because let's face it, dancing is hard! The opportunity to teach, paired with the dedication, motivation, sweat and tears I put forth during my time with JPDC has led me to where I am now with my successful career as a Yoga Instructor, Personal Trainer, and Nutrition Coach in Los Angeles.
Prior to moving to LA, I received a degree in Journalism and a minor in English from the University of Kansas. Upon moving to LA nine years ago, I worked in Entertainment Public Relations for 4 1/2 years before pursuing my passion for health and fitness, starting my own company, Kaleigh Walker Yoga + Fitness. In in addition to teaching at Corepower Yoga and Maha Yoga, I have an extensive private clientele. Some of my past celebrity clients include: Jeremy Piven, Meg Ryan, Alessandra Ambrosio, Rick Fox, & Eliza Dushku, to name a few. I've been featured several times in InTouch Weekly as a fitness contributor, and am a brand ambassador for Lululemon, Style Firm LA, Burn This, & NEVA. Currently, I am pursuing my Nutrition Coach Certification through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition.
I started with Jody at Jody Phillips Dance Company when I was eight years old at her studio in the Ranch mart shopping center. My friends and I adored our weekly dance classes with Jody and to this day we can remember every song Jody played on cassette tape at Ranch mart. When she decided to change locations, we asked our moms if she could please, please continue teaching us. Knowing what a positive influence not only dance was in our lives, but specifically Jody, they devised a plan to make this happen by utilizing the workout room at our local country club in Prairie Village, Homestead. My group of friends and I continued dance with Jody at Homestead through high school, I getting much more involved and taking on separate classes outside at every studio Jody suggested. I danced before school every day with drill team and after every day with Jody at multiple studios. I treasured every minute of it. JPDC is and was my favorite place to create, grow, and live.
The best way to explain what Jody has meant to me is that I consider her my second mom. She took me under her wing and guided me to every opportunity that could better me as a dancer and growing woman. Even allowing me to design my own costumes, as I showed an equal passion for fashion design. I replay her saying that my “Smile brightened her day and gave her energy.” And “That I was her star.” She allowed me to visit every studio, every class I was willing to try including early Saturday morning road trips to Pittsburg, KS for all day intensive studies. She pushed me, but knew my limits. She encouraged me and never doubted me for a minute. She thought enough of me to allow me to teach her own students and her criticism was always constructive. One of my favorite qualities of Jody and her studios is her consistent positive attitude and outlook. Every day she was the same: happy, positive, exuding love, confident, and hopeful. Everything Jody touches gets better.
It’s hard to put into words what JPDC means to me, but I can tell you this. I stopped dancing when I left for art school to pursue a fashion degree, and every single day since then I’ve felt like something, someone was missing. I had a dance teacher tell me one day that would happen and I never believed her. Taking for granted my endless hours spent at a bar, in front of a mirror, until I didn’t have a dance studio as a weekly refuge anymore. Here I am, at 28 years old with two toddler boys, and I still think about dance every single day. Songs on the radio I choreograph routines in my head, I think of emailing Jody with song or costume ideas, and I dream of moving back to KS and teaching in her studio. The common thread being that Jody made dance an essential part of my life and story. Jody was and is the most outstanding women and mentor I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing. I am beyond grateful for the technique she engraved in me, the life lessons she taught me, and the patience she had watching me grow up in her studio. From encouraging me to get my first blonde highlights to telling me with certainty I’d be famous and she’d be buying my brand of clothing one day – thank you Jody for being part of my growing up story every step of the way. I graduated in 2008 from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a BFA in fashion design. I reside now in Corinth, Texas primarily as a stay-at-home mom and part-time stylist for Stella & Dot jewelry and accessories.