Meet LAHS Dance Director – RIKKI JONES

-by Donna Chinn, Los Alamitos Alliance for Arts Education

Mrs. Rikki Jones is the founding artistic director of Los Al Dance, where she oversees 5 levels of dance ranging from beginners to advanced.  Mrs. Jones has led the dance program for all of its 15 years. She specializes in jazz technique, but includes ballet, hip hop, character and lyrical styles.  
 
She conceives two full-length themed dance shows annually, for which she is in charge of the narrative, original choreography, choice of music, costumes, and lighting, Some of her past shows have been “America’s Favorite Dancer”, a reality show in the style of American Idol; “Happily Ever After” a fairy tale mash-up; and “The Piano”, which followed the “life” of a grand piano in its various homes over the years.  The shows are so popular that they usually sell out.
 
She arranges additional performance opportunities for her most advanced students, such as Back to School Night, Homecoming, Open House, the CSULB Pyramid and a local invitational. The school Dance Team takes part in two convention - competition events each year, where the students participate in master classes.  Mrs. Jones recently added a Student Choreography Showcase at end of the year.

BACKGROUND AS AN ARTIST-EDUCATOR
She gravitated to performing early in life, writing and directing plays and participating in school talent shows while still in elementary school.  She has always liked the arts and being a leader, and says that being an educator “feels natural to me.”  
 
Mrs. Jones studied and has taught dance at several studios in the Long Beach – Orange County area for many years.  She performed professionally for 8 years in jazz, lap, lyrical, character, and hip hop.  She graduated from CSU Long Beach, with a degree in English and Dance.  She began at LAHS as an English teacher, but established a new dance program for Los Al when OCHSA departed for a new campus.  She received PTSA Honorary Service Awards in 2014 and in 2007, and she was named as an Outstanding Arts Educator by the Orange County Music and Arts Administrators of the OC Department of Education in 2011.
 
WHAT INSPIRES HER
Choreographing is a creative process that is not commonly understood.  For Mrs. Jones, it starts with the music.  She listens for music that affects her emotionally, and is interesting in its complexity.  The music inspires the movement, which she can then set on the dancers. Gradually, the dance takes shape.
 
Mrs. Jones is most proud of the success of the dance program, which has grown to more than 300 students. She enjoys working with high school students, and she takes pride in their development. Some students choose to stay in Dance for all of their high school years.   This “4 Year Club” is where she can best see students improve in technique as well as emotional expressiveness and self-confidence.  
 
Some of her personal goals include other artistic pursuits such as acting, painting, piano, and creative writing.
 
You can see photos of past shows and learn more about the Los Al Dance program by visiting the website at:  losaldance.com.