The Waterford Dance Department’s mission is to inspire dance artists and movement thinkers. We foster growth of dance as an artform, through study, practice, improvisation, and performance. We strive to maintain a caring and challenging environment that allows for each student’s learning and individual expression.
For dancers interested in expanding and continuing their study outside of the classroom, please visit our Waterford Dance Academy Website for classes, rehearsal schedules, and more information.
The Upper School dance classes offer opportunities for students at the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels.
Our Dance and Culture class is open to all students, and is designed as an introduction to dance. This class explores and contextualizes dance in all its forms. This exploration takes dance from the mind to the body, from the studio to the stage, while exploring different styles, cultures and time periods.
The Dance Technique class is for students with some previous dance training. This class continues to build on the primary principles of ballet, jazz, modern dance, and improvisation. Students learn to expand on personal expression by creating their own choreographic work.
The Upper School Performance class is for intermediate/advanced dance student who has previously trained in ballet, pointe, and modern dance technique. This course is rooted in technique, but is a performance-based class, with several performing opportunities throughout the school year.
Middle School dance classes offer an introduction to Ballet, Modern, and Jazz dance techniques, using a variety of training methods to develop proper alignment, strength, flexibility, and coordination. Students learn vocabulary, technical skills, choreography, and dance history. Students have the opportunity to explore their own creative ideas through dance composition. Students are provided opportunities to perform on stage which helps to further their creativity and confidence as they broaden their knowledge of steps.
Students learn to understand their body as an instrument, and dance as a form of communication. Through games, choreography, and improvisations they explore themes of body, energy, space, time, and relationship. They learn the muscles and bones of the body that are important to dance and the alignment of the body. Poetry, creative writing and discussions about verbs, adverbs, and adjectives help deepen their understanding about dance. Noticing deeply, making connections, embodying through art making, and recognizing patterns allow students to work on their own or in groups to create dance compositions. Posture, focus and respect are ongoing foundational values of dance class.
Meet the Dance Department:
Annie Breneman, Dance Department Chair
Annie Breneman, Chair of the Dance Department, received most of her early ballet training from Joan Miller’s Palm Beach Ballet Center. She graduated from Alexander Dreyfoos School of the Arts High School. She received a scholarship to attend the University of Utah, and later graduated with a BFA in Ballet, with a Performing and Teaching emphasis. After her freshman year, she was hired by Ballet West as an Apprentice and danced her way up the ranks to Soloist in 2005. Annie retired from her professional dancing career after thirteen years with Ballet West and found her true passion in teaching. She has taught over the last 18 years years at various local dance studios in Utah. She was a Guest Artist for the Department of Dance at Utah Valley University, and spent the last four years teaching in the School of Dance at the University of Utah. She received her Master's degree in Exercise Physiology in 2015. She is constantly inspired by students wanting to learn about dance and how their body moves.
Emmy Thomson, Class III-V Dance, Dance and Culture Teacher
Emmy Thomson has been teaching at the Waterford School for 15 years. Emmy teaches Lower School dance classes III – V and Middle and Upper School fundamentals, technique, and independent study. She teaches modern dance for the Waterford Dance Academy and is involved in choreographing the annual spring shows. Teaching students dance at the Waterford School is one of her greatest joys in life. Emmy’s dancing and acting career began at the Children’s Theatre Company (CTC) as a child. After graduation from high school, she was hired as faculty by CTC and taught ballet, modern dance and was a house manager and counselor. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Fine Arts from the Modern Dance Department at the University of Utah where she graduated Magna Cum Laude, was President of Orchesis, on the Dean’s List, and received the Elizabeth Hayes Scholarship and the Dee R. Winterton Award. Emmy danced with the Ririe-Woodbury Dance Company for seven years and was Associate Artistic Director for two years. During this time, The Salt Lake City Tribune nominated her as ‘Best addition to the Salt Lake City dance scene’ in 2001 and called her dance, Invocation, ‘best of the year.’ She was the department chair of dance at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota for several years where she directed the Macalester Dance Ensemble. Her choreography was adjudicated into the final gala performance at the Midwest ACDF. She also was head of the dance department at Apple Valley High School and took the dance program from 30 students to 170 students in five years. Her students were adjudicated into the gala performance at the International High School Dance Festival in Miami five years in a row. Emmy’s choreography has been set on professional dance companies, universities, and high schools throughout the US. Her educational film, ‘There is Strength in Diversity,’ funded by Camille Cosby, is used throughout the United States as a teaching tool for compassion, empathy, and equality in the schools. She spent a summer in India teaching dance and English at the Rising Star Academy for 190 children from 10 leprosy colonies in Tamil Nadu. She also travelled with a medical team caring for the leprosy-affected adults in the colonies of Southern India. Emmy volunteers at the state prison, teaching classes about addiction and recovery.
Brenda Butcher, Class K-II Dance, Dance and Culture Teacher
Brenda completed her BFA Modern Dance, University of Utah. She is certified in American Ballet Theatre's National Training Curriculum, Pre-Primary-Level 3. She is also certified in Progressing Ballet Technique an innovative program for students to understand the depth of training muscle memory. Brenda is a certified Pilates, yoga, fitness instructor. Currently she teaches as Assistant Professor, Ballet Department, University of Utah, and for Ballet West Academy, Park City. She performed as a member of Mountain West Ballet company and was a Children’s Rehearsal Assistant for Ballet West’s Nutcracker for 3 years. Brenda recently completed her ballet MFA at the University of Utah with research interests in dancer wellness and injury prevention.