Much of formal teaching happens in traditional classrooms, but, for Amy Wudel, teaching occurs on the dance floor.
Wudel has been a dance teacher for the past 12 years. She graduated from BYU in 2000 with a bachelor of arts in dance education. As a dual major, she earned her degree through the McKay School and the College of Health and Human Performance.
Wudel started teaching dance at American Fork High School. She then moved to Houston, Texas, and, because of her newborn twins, decided to leave public school to work in a private ballet studio called Payne Academy of Ballet. When her husband’s work relocated the family to Arizona, Amy started teaching contemporary dance at Ballet Etudes. Wherever she goes, she applies what she learned at the McKay School to her classes. “The McKay School taught me everyone deserves a chance,” Wudel said. “Sometimes people just want to teach people who are easy to teach, but I feel like it is really important to teach everyone who wants to learn. Everyone deserves a chance to learn and be the best they can be, especially in dance where it can become competitive quickly.”
Dance is certainly a competitive field. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics, only 18 percent of people who desire to become choreographers or dancers actually end up being able to do so professionally. However, Wudel does not focus on the competition because she believes dance can be a valuable skill to learn regardless if you make it your profession. “Dance is art, passion, and discipline,” Wudel said. “It helps to bring all the parts of your brain together because you have to be artistic and creative while learning how to be disciplined and technical. It is exercise for your heart, mind, and spirit.”
Because of her passion for what she teaches, Wudel has been able to look past certain stereotypes and watch her students progress. “There are certain students who you wouldn’t initially think would be dancers,” Wudel said. “I remember one of my students in particular didn’t seem like she would be a great dancer, but now she gets the lead roles in her ballet company. She really turned out to be naturally gifted.”
By applying the lesson she learned at the McKay School to give every student a chance, Wudel has not only helped her students grow, but has also grown herself. “My students have really taught me the value in each person,” Wudel said. “Because of them I have learned to be more selfless and to give of myself more freely. Each student has so much potential, so they all deserve the opportunity to learn what to do with it.”
Amy Wudel, her husband, David Wudel, and their four children currently live in Gilbert, Arizona, where Amy has been teaching at Ballet Etudes for the last two and a half years.