Life-long dancer fosters skills at GV

GVL/Amalia Heichelbech
Judi Jaekel dancing

Amalia Heichelbech

GVL/Amalia Heichelbech Judi Jaekel dancing

Chris LaFoy

Judi Jaekel has been dancing since she was three and has no intentions of stopping anytime soon. Her life in dance has brought her to multiple teachers and studios, but for the past four years she has worked to improve her craft here at Grand Valley State University.

Jaekel grew up in Montague, Mich., and traveled to Grand Haven, Mich., to attend various dance studios. Before coming to GVSU, Jaekel had completed nine years of dance training. Once Jaekel entered the GVSU dance program she was quickly recognized as a great talent.

Shawn Bible, professor of dance at GVSU, said Jaekel has been picked to perform with almost every guest choreographer since her freshman year.

Her talents we recognized officially last semester when she received the Marlene Kenneway Love of Dance Scholarship for an outstanding upperclassman dancer.

“I was really honored because my professor recommended me for this scholarship,” Jaekel said.

Jaekel’s professors aren’t the only people on campus that acknowledge her impressive skills. Her fellow dance students value her as both a great dancer and friend.

“Judi is a beautiful dancer and she can adapt to any style of dance,” said GVSU senior dancer Melissa Ludke. “She wouldn’t agree with me but she has been amazing in every show she has been in, both shows I have watched and shows I have performed in with her.”

Ludke’s relationship with Jaekel goes beyond sharing universities. The two dancers met their freshman year in their ballet class. The daily commute from their dorm building to the dance studio facilitated a bond that would eventually turn into a very close friendship.

“At first we didn’t talk to each other on the walks to and from class,” Ludke said. “But the more we walked with each other the more we started to converse. Once we were both in ensemble and modern dance together we became friends. Now we are best friends and can’t be separated for more than a few weeks without talking.”

As Jaekel progresses through her final year at GVSU, her thoughts are naturally focused on the future. Jaekel will leave GVSU with a dance major and broadcasting minor.

“After college I would love to move to Chicago and audition for modern dance companies and improve my choreographing skills so that I can choreograph for dance studios and artists in the future,” Jaekel said. “As for broadcasting, I want to continue to improve in this field so I can work at a TV news station.”

Although she is preparing to leave GVSU, Jaekel will look back on her college years with a prideful smile.

“I feel that the dance program here is amazing and that I cannot put into words how much I have learned,” Jaekel said. “I know that since I’ve been here, every year has been different so it’s never boring and always changing for the better.”

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