Jennifer Cafarella is passionate about her life: As a dancer, teacher, mother and business owner. When speaking with her, you can hear that passion for her school, the Ballet Theatre of Phoenix, and her professional company and for showing others how to include the art in their own lives.
“I started my formal ballet training with the Nina Marlow School of Ballet and The School of Ballet Arizona. I graduated from the prestigious Walnut Hill School for the Arts in Massachusetts. From there, I spent a year at SUNY Purchase before joining Ballet de Cali in Colombia. I have since danced with Northern Ballet Theater [in New Hampshire], Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre [in Massachusetts] and Portland Ballet [in Maine]. I used my evenings to obtain a BS in business administration from Rivier College, an MFA in dance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Along the way, I also acquired a power Pilates certification and American Ballet Theatre teacher certifications, which empowered and educated me to develop my own teaching methods,” says Jennifer.
Jennifer has also been on the faculties of Scottsdale School of Ballet, Paula Carr Dance Academy, Arizona School for the Arts, Mesa Community College and The School of Ballet Arizona. Her work life is about seeking constant education for herself and her faculty to better develop her student dancers from the inside out.
As artistic director for the Convergence Ballet Company, Jennifer is proud to relate that this is a professional contemporary ballet company that has a paid summer season.
“Dancers from all over the country come to participate in the five-week season. As part of our Jewish heritage promotes, we donate (a mitzvah) each season, $2 of every ticket sale to a worthy organization. This year’s benefactor was Ballet Program for School Children, a nonprofit that brings free ballet classes to Title One schools. Some of our past recipients were Crisis Nursery, St. Mary’s Food Bank and Phoenix Children’s Hospital,” says Jennifer.
For Jennifer, pride comes with the fact that “we are the only other professional, paid ballet company besides Ballet Arizona, in Phoenix.”
“Our mission is to provide excellent classical ballet instruction that trains the whole dancer in order to help students understand themselves, not only as an artist and performer, but also as a person. We individually nurture each student, helping them reach their utmost potential as a dancer – that is based on each student’s individual physical, intellectual and emotional needs,” she explains.
Jennifer doesn’t just “talk the talk.” Her 12-year-old twins, who are currently preparing for their b’not mitzvah at Temple Kol Ami, take dance classes at least twice a week at her school. “For them, it’s what we all do. I still take class with my adult students. It’s another way for us to spend time together.”
Those interested in enrolling in the Ballet Theatre of Phoenix need to call and set up a placement class time. “Everyone over three is encouraged to join us. Ideally we like to keep class size at about 10. The placement class is to make sure we have the right fit for you and/or your child,” says Jennifer.
While Jennifer seems to deftly glide from home to dance life, she does admit that “There is some mom guilt. Trying to organize school drop-offs, pick-ups, doing my administration time and teaching classes. Some days are a bit of a challenge. But, this is the life I love. It’s okay that we have a very untraditional schedule. I have a wonderful nanny that helps me a lot. I think most women carry some guilt about having it all. This is what I love, so it makes me happy and if mom’s happy, we all have a good life.”
For more information on Ballet Theatre of Phoenix, or to sign up for classes, call 602-957-3364 or visit ballettheatreofphx.org.