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West Jordan Journal

Local helps those who haven’t danced in a while

Nov 30, 2023 12:46PM ● By Linda Steele

It’s Been A While Dance Company in 2022. (Photo courtesy Joe Grigg)

Dancers, if it has been a while since you've danced, then It’s Been A While Dance Company is the place for you to get back into it. 

Jackie Nuttall, owner/director of It’s Been A While Dance Company for 19 years,  started dancing when she was a child. She got married and had her first child, and she wanted to keep dancing. But she couldn’t find any opportunities to dance. She started teaching children's classes at South Jordan Recreation Center. There was an adult beginning ballet class that she took over and started teaching a very small class. The classes, however, didn’t have a performance in conjunction with the learning.  “What is the point for people to take lessons if they weren’t performing? If the students were just dancing for themselves and not performing, how were they going to improve? Dance is so you can share your passion, share your artistry, share your technique with others,” Nuttall said.

Nuttall’s philosophy is that adults get busy, and if the classes don’t have a goal to work toward they will stop going to class. She realized what the adult classes needed was a community of dancers working toward a specific performance. Word spread and the classes took off. Her classes started out with six adults, now she has forty adults in her adult class. 

Nuttall started doing performances that had meaning and a storyline with a purpose, with the dancers acting out a true story about someone and what was going on in the person's life through their dance moves. “It becomes therapeutic for everyone in the class because they are dancing a story that might be close to their story,” she said. 

Nuttall teaches children as well as adults. She enjoys watching them grow and become a dancer. “It’s great to know you have an impact on your students and know you have played a role in their dance journey, it’s so rewarding,” she said. She has been teaching some of her students since they were 5 years old.I It is rewarding for her to see how much they improve. 

Nuttall’s students performed a story about Josephine Baker, a civil rights activist and an amazing dancer. Baker left America and went to Paris to dance. When Martin Luther King, Jr. died his wife asked Baker to take over his platform.  The performance by Nuttall’s students was an opportunity for viewers to see beautiful dancing  as well as learn about a prominent woman in dance and civil rights. 

Nuttall’s motivation is to tell women's stories while teaching dance. “As I’ve grown through the years, it is important to me to make sure there is a strong woman character in the story because as I study history nobody tells the women's stories; it's all about men. I’m really interested in telling stories about women we haven't heard before, and especially women dancers. Telling stories through dance is what has become important to me,” she said.

Not only does Nuttall teach and choreograph, she also dances in her performances with her students. “It is very time consuming, but I think it is worth it because I have students who didn’t like to dance, but when they started to understand what the dance is about, they connected with the idea and they started to like dance,” she said. 

Nuttall teaches at South Jordan Recreation Center, 10866 S. Redwood Road. She has considered opening up her own studio and calling it Storytellers or Stories That Dance, because “that is like the most important thing to me is that we are telling stories through dance,” she said. 

Nuttall majored in dance at Snow College.  Her high school dance teacher at Sunwest Art of Dance made her take ballet classes.  Her teacher was a stickler for making sure her students took ballet and learned technique. When she went to Snow College she signed up for a dance class, unaware it was a class only for those majoring in dance and required an audition. The teacher asked her why she was in the class when she hadn’t auditioned. Her response was, “I just want to dance.” The teacher told her that the first class would be her audition. After class the teacher pulled her aside and said, “You have something in you and you need to be a dance major, so change your major right now. And I'm giving you a partial scholarship.”  Nuttall gives credit to her high school ballet teacher for being adamant about proper technique. 

Nuttall was made Vice President in the dance company her first year at Snow College. Her second year the teacher said, “you are going to be President in dance company, you are going to have a full scholarship in dance and you are going to choreograph.” She started doing a lot of choreography for Snow College Dance Company.  The teacher told her, “you have a gift for choreography,” and Nuttall really believed her. “It is impactful how important teachers can be in your life,” Nuttall said.

“The ladies that are taking dance from me always had a dream to dance, now they are dancing as adults and fulfilling their dream,” she said.  It’s Been A While Dance Company is the perfect place for getting adult dancers out to dance class and fulfilling their dream of dancing. Nuttall teaches dance for every level. For more information go to λ