Jason Schadt is the most skillful, knowledgeable, and compassionate teacher I've ever worked with. He approaches his students with kindness and grace, and I have never, in my many
yoga/movement/dance/meditation classes, worked with an instructor who combines such deep knowledge of anatomy with the ability to translate that knowledge into instructions, gestures, and movements that transform my internal awareness.
In his adult ballet classes, I have felt welcomed and respected. Age, weight, physical limitations--in Jason's class these are not barriers to balletic movement. In my years of dancing with Jason I have both achieved movement I never thought I could do and come to a deeper sense of beauty and confidence that have nothing to do with how I look or how old I am, but with how I experience my own body in motion.
He teaches movement safely, and his work is inclusive. Yet I have also seen "real dancers" perform in his class and find even greater nuance and clarity in their work, too. He meets his dancers where they are. Working with Jason has reconnected me to my love of dance and helped me work through a lot of early ballet trauma.
His teaching and somatic awareness are so nuanced, and so smart, that even though I am working with a limited ability, I feel, after every class, as though I've danced. Before I came to Iowa I studied Soto Zen meditation for 10 years, lived 4 of them in a monastery, but have come nearer, in his class, to the state of mindfulness and no-self than all those years sitting on a cushion staring at a wall were attempting.
Ballet movement adds the element of beauty, as well, so that regardless of what's going on in the mirror, on the inside, there's a sense of grace and discovery. With every class, I feel more aware, more intelligent, more in touch with the world, myself, and with a sense of aliveness. I feel very lucky to work with him. I am grateful to Jason for continuing to teach through the pandemic, and for working with amateurs.
Amy P. via Google Review
Jason's ballet classes are the most positive and nurturing learning environment I've ever had. He is so skilled at describing movements in a way that makes sense, even to someone like me who started learning ballet as an adult.
In every class, Jason provides constructive feedback to every student in such a kind and gentle way that I always feel so supported and motivated to learn. He always welcomes questions and does an excellent job explaining concepts and giving advice. His exercises, from floor barre to the barre to center, are well thought out so that they flow seamlessly together and reinforce concepts that are taught in class. I love my fellow classmates as well. They are wonderfully kind, warm, and supportive.
I've been taking classes with Jason consistently 2-3 times a week for the last 2.5 years, and I have really noticed an improvement in my dancing. I appreciate how Jason teaches us to dance with an understanding of the human body's anatomy, so we could learn to work our bodies from the inside out. Taking consistent classes with Jason has made me happier and healthier. When I look back at pictures of myself 3-4 years ago versus now, I'm struck by how much my posture has improved after taking Jason's classes.
When I come to Jason's classes, I feel welcome, supported, and valued. His classes are the type that I hope my best friends and family members could experience. When my children go to school, I hope they will have teachers like Jason. We need more teachers like Jason, not just in ballet, but in every discipline that needs teachers!
- Giang R. via Google Review
I am a trained modern dancer, not a ballerina, but the depth of experience that Jason Schadt brings to his classes draws me into the serious study of ballet. Jason's classes provide access to an encyclopedic knowledge and lineage of excellent ballet pedagogy that is exhilarating and informative beyond the confines of ballet. When I learn how to perform a dance phrase from Jason I am learning, at my level, to move the way professional ballerinas move, from the inside out. This connection to a high level of proficiency through Jason allows me to experience a sense of artistic authenticity and moments of joyful dancing, an essential joy for me, as I gradually acquire basic skills associated with the rarified way of being/dancing that is ballet.
- Lou B. via Google Review
"I have taken a lot of dance classes, both as a child and as an adult. I have never had a teacher like Jason (and I have had great teachers). His commitment to teaching students from the ground up is an exceptional approach, especially for adult dancers.
"From floor barre, to barre work, to center floor work, Jason's class is an accelerated crash course in the body and its mechanics. I love focusing on, and feeling, the work of the muscles essential for ballet. They are muscles we don't use very much in our normal daily lives so it is always a pleasure to check-in with them and be reminded they exist.
"Jason's enthusiasm for teaching and his commitment to his method make the class addictive. I have been taking ballet from him for almost two years and there are quite a few of us who will take class from Jason as long as he is willing to teach us. It's difficult to put into words how amazing his class is but I promise you will be hooked."
- Greta S., Iowa City student
"Jason's approach to dance is precise and thoughtful, but also supportive and laced with gentle humor. My balance has improved and I am more flexible than I have been for many years. In movement sequences, he doesn't just tell what we need to do, but shows how and why exercises are important and what muscles they develop.
"I appreciate that he calls us all 'dancers'. This helps me shed the other identities (and distractions!) I bring to the class and shows that he takes me seriously as a dancer, enabling me to focus my energies squarely on the work at hand and stay motivated. Ones surprise bonus from the class was meeting lots of wonderful people.
"It's been two years since I enrolled in my first adult class with Jason after a 'little' 30-year pause from ballet. I'm so glad I took the plunge. If I could take ballet with him every day of the week, I would."
- Katina L., Iowa City student
"Jason's class has been a phenomenal and empowering experience. To begin knowing nothing about ballet and still feel safe, engaged, and energized speaks to his ability—no, his prodigiousness—to meet dancers where they are with kindness, with thoughtful instruction, with enthusiasm. He is a gem."
- Christine R., Iowa City student
"What separates this class from other movement classes I have taken is that I have developed a fine-grained and deep sense of how my body works—muscles and subtle alignments I had no clue about before this class. This is due to Jason's incredible finesse as a teacher: he uses his deep knowledge of ballet and kinesiology in a gentle and humorous way.
"Even though we are a diverse group, we feel like a community of dance-learners. It's a wonderful part of my week."
- Dina B., Iowa City student
"Jason's ballet class is as glorious as people said it would be. Though I still struggle to tell left from right or count to eight, each class leaves me filled with joy, soul aglow. I am grateful for his beautifully illuminating the divine physics of movement. This community is so lucky to have his gifts."
- Amber A., Iowa City student
"I had spent most of my teens and twenties over-exercising and training intensely for challenging sports and physical feats as a way to distract from and manage the stressful circumstances of my life. I loathed my body and tried to get my body to obey my mind in hopes that I would one day achieve this thin ideal that I had constantly looming over me. These were not healthy habits.
"Looking for something different, and knowing how much I loved classical music, I signed up for adult ballet. I didn’t really know what to expect. In some ways it took a leap of faith just to show up, because popular culture would have you believe that ballet is all about anorexia, body-shaming, and nearing on foot-binding to meet an impossible physical ideal. But from the first day of class with Jason, I knew that ballet class was my antidote to an unhealthy relationship with my body.
"Jason is a visionary. He is not only a talented artist, but he is also a skilled communicator and passionate teacher. He sets an unparalleled tone of professionalism, focus, and respect. His classes are accessible to the beginner dancer of any age, and yet valuable also to the experienced dancer as a result of his thorough knowledge of anatomy, physics, and technique. He knows everyone by name, and somehow manages to get you so focused on technique and enjoying classical music that you don’t even realize the transformation that you are going through.
"There is a moment for each dancer when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and see yourself as graceful for the first time that words cannot fully describe. As you continue to show up for dance class, you start to actually think of yourself as a dancer and your body image begins to shift. Gradually you begin to see yourself are graceful, both inside and outside of the studio–you become the art–and an ease and joy begin to permeate your life.
"I have learned so many valuable lessons through Jason’s ballet class that translate into both my personal and professional life. Discipline and strength come easy to me, but patience and ease have been much more challenging. Working towards the pirouette has really pushed me to learn not only balance, but also the value of patience and the importance of ease in mastering new challenges."
- Rebecca A., Iowa City student
"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
"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.
"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 many years studying modern and ballet
"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, four years of ballet with one semester of modern.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"Prior to having Jason for a teacher I had fallen out of love with dance after eight years of study. With Jason's careful attention, I was not only able to get back to the level of technique I had been prior to my year hiatus, but I was able to reach new levels of technical ability and composition. He constantly encouraged me to strive for improvement not only in abilities, but also my understanding of dance as an art form. I appreciate his inclusion of kinesthetic awareness and usage of correct anatomical terminology. Jason has become a treasured mentor. He has taught me so much and has helped me realize my potential has a performer, choreographer, teacher, and an artist."
- Aaron Malec, University of Northern Iowa student, dance company member.
"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
"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
"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
"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.