Stories from university students, adults, teens, and community members

"Challenged me and my classmates to make more purposeful decisions... Constantly going above and beyond to improve dance at our university."

"Not only did Jason improve my technique, he expanded my ideas about dance during the four years I had the privilege of studying under his supervision. Jason had a positive, enthusiastic attitude about dance and he encouraged his students to better themselves by growing beyond what they knew and was comfortable. He had a professional demeanor but took a personal interest in all of his students, no matter their skill level.

"Jason’s thought-provoking questions challenged me and my classmates to make more purposeful decisions as dancers and choreographers. He encouraged individual movement exploration that resulted in unique compositions. In his technique classes, Jason used his knowledge of the science behind movement to promote safety in dance, including teaching us anatomically sound techniques for the healthy use and care of a dancer’s body. In addition to his deep understanding of dance kinesiology, Jason had a vast knowledge of dance icons of the past and enjoyed showing us the connections between motions we were performing and their historical significance.

"Jason promoted all aspects of the dance program. He was constantly going above and beyond to improve dance at our university, in the classroom and on stage. He was an advocate for our free community movement classes at UNI and took on roles that weren’t assumed nor asked of him for the betterment of the students. Jason has continued to assist me in my dance career as well as my professional career since my graduation from UNI. I am extremely grateful for all Jason has done for me and I have the utmost respect for him."

- Mariah Lyle, University of Northern Iowa student, dance company member for four years.

"Truly cares about his students... Jason taught me self-awareness."

"Jason is an excellent instructor that truly cares about his students. He has a depth of knowledge in ballet and modern technique and also understands the anatomy and physiology of the dancer's body. Jason taught me self-awareness and how to be kind to my body as I danced. Dancing for four years under the direction of Jason Schadt I grew more than I did in the previous 15 years of my dance career."

- Mary Rose Shelley, University of Northern Iowa student, dance company member for four years, plus two technique courses over two semesters.

"Truly a life-changing experience... Had a boundless impact on the way I viewed myself and the person I wanted to be."

"I will always treasure my time spent with Jason as my teacher. He transformed me not only as a dancer, but as a person. I owe part of who I am today to his constant dedication as a phenomenal teacher and even better role model.

"Before I joined the university dance company under his direction, I had the pleasure of taking technique class with Jason. Previously, I viewed dance as a way to show off “cool” tricks in front of a crowd. After guidance from Jason in this class, I began to realize dance is so much more than that. As an avid supporter of our creativity, Jason helped me to realize the process of creating movement, rather than the product, is what matters most. Through this process, you are not only able to discover yourself, but become better acquainted with your body through the movement you create.

"After this small amount of time with Jason, I had a drastic switch in the way I viewed dance as an audience member. Instead of viewing dance as a competitive sport, I viewed it as a way to explore myself and tell a meaningful story to others. Dance became a way to discover cultural values and what I could take away from the movement I saw. What could this piece teach me? What was it trying to say? This, in turn, had an effect on the way I created movement in the pieces I choreographed. It became more about what I could share with the audience, rather than what I could show off to them.

"After this first class with Jason, I knew I wanted to experience this type of guidance and environment more. I decided to audition for the company he directs and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. My time in this company, with Jason as my mentor, was truly a life-changing experience. I grew not only a profound appreciation of dance because of Jason, but also became a better person. As a member of this company, you spend many hours in the studio and, therefore, many hours with Jason. Jason was a positive, encouraging, and constant support system, which had a boundless impact on the way I viewed myself and the person I wanted to be. I owe many thanks to him for the person I am today. "

 - Montana Smith, University of Northern Iowa student, dance company member for seven semesters, after one technique course.

"Absolutely transformed my training and experience as a dancer."

"Being a student in Jason’s class, I was able to become acutely aware of my mind and body. In nearly every class, I experienced moments of complete control; I would cue my body to awaken a specific muscle, and the muscle would willingly engage. This was something I had never before experienced in a ballet class. To have complete awareness and control over my own body is a unique sensation, and it has absolutely transformed my training and experience as a dancer. Additionally, I was able to develop a very explorative approach to ballet. Dancing became less about judging my body or its lines and more about experimenting with muscles and the movements they could potentially produce. Most importantly, Jason inspired me to see the beauty in the slow, methodical process of ballet. Because of this, I can appreciate the development that is occurring within myself everyday."

- Alexandra Smith, University of Iowa Youth Ballet student, upper-level ballet classes over three semesters

"Transformed the way I understood movement with my body... His attention to detail is impressive."

"When I registered for Jason’s Adult Beginning Ballet class I had no idea how amazing the experience was going to be. That was my second semester of Ballet in my life and I was afraid of the instructor change. As a 46-year-old adult learner and having a passion for Ballet I was looking for a class that would continue captivating my interest in Ballet and movement. I love dance.

"Jason’s class went beyond my expectation. His class transformed the way I understood movement with my body. Jason’s teaching technique is positively transformative. I bring his lessons home with me. Even during work time I can relate to the knowledge he shares. His attention to detail is impressive. I really appreciate all the time he spends making sure we understand the movement and how it impacts the entire body and mind. His classes are peaceful and a great relaxing experience for my mind.

"Jason made me appreciate Ballet and dance even more. I had Jason for a year now and I plan to continue taking his classes in the future. I love his class! He is absolutely a great teacher!"

- Monica Correia, Associate Professor of 3D Design, 3D Design Program Head, School of Art & Art History, University of Iowa

"Opened a world of physical awareness... I'll be forever grateful."

"As a returning adult student, I have found my classes with Jason over the past four years to be transformative. In the years that I was actively dancing, I received training across the country and around the world.  Yet, Jason is the only instructor who has helped me understand, in great detail, the underlying anatomy behind effective dance technique.  While many instructors teach 'how,' Jason has taught me 'why.'  This change in understanding has opened a world of physical awareness that I apply in the studio and in my daily life. I'll be forever grateful we crossed paths."

- Adult student and "Jason devotee" for four years after 12 years of prior ballet training.

"Creates thoughtful, collaborative, creative, athletic dancers... Strives to create critical thinkers."

"I had Jason as a teacher for a three years. In that time I grew as a dancer, performer, and an audience member. Jason brought so much insight into the art of dance that I had not been exposed to before. He breaks down each movement to the very muscles a dancer will use. This greatly helped me to gain control of my movements; by knowing which muscles to engage and which to relax. He does not just create strong technical dancers. He also creates thoughtful, collaborative, creative, athletic dancers.

"One of my favorite things about Jason’s teaching is his use of metaphors and similes in relationship to his movements. He would explain a movement in a way that painted a picture in my mind. For instance, we often did a combination where we would sweep our hand in an arching motion. For this, he would describe the movement as painting an arch with our fingertips or feeling the resistance of water against our hand. Having this imagery helped me bring strength and purpose to my movements. I was not just bending my arm at the elbow; I was giving someone my bus pass.

"Jason strives to create critical thinkers of his dancers. He would often ask questions that did not have a simple yes or no answer. He educated us on how to properly form questions and responses for feedback sessions. He helped us to look deeper than the surface of a dance to find the choreographer’s meaning of the piece. Before, dance was a way to relieve stress, tell a story, and stay fit. Since working with Jason, I view dance as a way of life. I find myself paying attention to how someone walks or performs a simple action and I envision that as a movement in a piece. I envision the stories that can be expressed through dance. Seeing dancers add in the element of strength, like I experience through imagery, I am able to connect more to the piece. Jason has expanded my horizons of dance physically and mentally. I am so grateful for the time I got to work with him and learn from him. He has a lot of knowledge to pass on."

- Jennifer Hampton, University of Northern Iowa student, company member for six semesters

"I deeply value his emphasis on the internal process.... Patient and compassionate... He has high but attainable expectations and doesn't give up on us."

"Jason’s teaching has been transformative for me. I have changed my perception of myself as a person in that he has led me to get in touch with my strengths and develop an open but flexible posture. These changes have transformed how I function in my world, allowing me to lead with an open hearted yet strong self. I am truly grateful.

"Jason is a rare teacher because he notices the tiniest details and yet focuses on one improvement at a time so that it is not overwhelming. He exudes a sense of belief in us as students despite our age and condition and treats everyone equally. He is a gem!

"Jason focuses on the basic building blocks tempered with achievable dances for us beginners. He puts the emphasis where it needs to be—setting us up for success—by teaching us to strengthen key muscle groups and to become aware of what muscles we are using to achieve certain poses. I deeply value his emphasis on the internal process of dance and that is why his teaching is so transformative for me. He lets us know when he sees us grasp a concept and distributes his comments among the class members. He is always watching and improving his techniques and approaches to teaching. He is a perpetual learner, refining his craft while never losing sight of his loftier goals. Much like the storied bricklayer who never loses sight that he is helping to build a cathedral or temple to God, Jason has a similar high calling and inspires us with that vision.

"Jason is very patient and compassionate which translates into my being the same with myself. He has high but attainable expectations and doesn’t give up on us. These tenets of his teaching inspire me in my life. He uses vivid and memorable images to help us understand the movements and uses humor lightly. He is not “our pal” but instead our guide, he is always kind and thoughtful choosing his words carefully.  He also challenges us to grow and reach so that our classes are not static or staid. He is careful to prevent injuries by again having us use our muscles correctly and this is very important in our adult beginner’s class."

- Adult student, University of Iowa Youth Ballet and School of Dance for four years of ballet with one semester of modern.

"Mastery of anatomical analogies... unabashed delight, humor, honest vulnerability."

"The thrilling anticipation as one approaches a revolving door parallels the propulsive fascination of not only the physical body, but the excited brain to body connection when Jason articulates his mastery of anatomical analogies... bridging his intelligent flavors of teaching to all levels stepping foot onto the terrain of exquisite wonderment. Jason's artistry as a teacher greets the adult dance student's soul with unabashed delight, humor, honest vulnerability. As a teacher he respectfully shifts the lines of grace verbally and physically that embrace sophisticated joy... ageless internal dialogue ignite the raw sensation of awkwardness to a refined outward expression of one's body revealing the stories that lie within."

- Dr. Jane F. Bourgeois, adult dance student of several years studying modern and ballet

"Provoked thought and action in me... Taught me to engage in and enjoy the choreographic process."

"My experience with Jason as my teacher was exceptional, and I am a better dancer because his teaching provoked thought and action within me. Jason teaches his students to apply principles of technique to their movement. He challenged me to apply what we learned in class to my choreography. He also taught me to engage in and enjoy the choreographic process and to not dwell on the outcome at the outset. This helped me gain perspective and break through choreographer's block.

"Learning from Jason expanded my understanding of dance. The information he helped me discover initiated my passion for the art of dance and has led me to continue studying dance since I graduated."

- Phillip Bowie, University of Northern Iowa student, four technique courses over two years and dance company member for one year

"Exceptionally tuned in to each student's individual needs."

"Jason brings a sensitivity and compassion to teaching I have not found in any other ballet teacher in my 19+ years of dance studies. He helped me develop neuromuscular awareness to address key alignment issues that had gone unnoticed or unmentioned by many teachers. He also helped me release unnecessary tension during technique class and — in doing so — helped me remember why I love to dance.

"Jason is exceptionally tuned in to each student’s individual needs. Though his open ballet classes attracted dancers ages 12 through older adults, he created exercises that all of us found useful. I enjoy Jason’s classes because of his enthusiasm, his precise verbal cues, and his willingness to meet dancers where they are. His passion for dance and his thoughtful approach to pedagogy shine through regardless of the age of dancer he is teaching."

-Ali Ordman, B.A. in Dance, University of Iowa, summer and interim classes with Jason over three years.


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