At Mossa Dance Academy on Jericho Turnpike in New Hyde Park, owner Natalie Mossa said she felt she was more than a teacher for her students.
“I just feel like there’s so much to give away,” she said in an interview. “I’ve noticed other teachers just want to win and I love teaching because it’s so much more.”
Mossa, who opened her business in 2007, said she had been dancing all her life. The Queens native taught at age 15 at the studio she was with at the time before dancing, acting and choreographing at Club Med Turkoise in Turks and Caicos before returning to start her own business.
“I used to teach on Long Island, so the opening in New Hyde Park was perfect and we could meet halfway,” Mossa said.
Mossa students range in age from 3 to 18, and there are recreational and competitive classes, which start at age 7.
Of the academy’s 300 students, she said, 65 are on teams that compete at regional and national levels.
Competition times are three and a half hours per day with mixed rehearsals if there is no competition scheduled on the weekend. In the past, Mossa’s teams have traveled to the tri-state area and as far away as Massachusetts, where they will compete in regional tournaments for the American Dance Awards, which hold their national championship in Florida.
Teams must learn all of the dance styles the academy has to offer, including tap, jazz, lyrical, hip hop, ballet, contemporary, and modern. Mossa said she thinks making students more versatile will help them once they leave and apply for programs like Juilliard or try out for varsity teams.
“I try to produce real dancers who are ready for the real world,” Mossa said. “Even if they don’t like tap dancing, they still have to take it because when you audition for a Broadway show, they’re going to ask you to tap whatever you know. I make sure they are all well-rounded and capable of doing anything when they graduate or are ready to audition for the real world.
In 2018, Great Neck’s Ellie Chang won the bronze medal in the solo female children’s division at the International Dance Organization World Dance Championships in Riesa, Germany.
“They love it and they want to be the best,” Mossa said of her students. “It’s the work ethic they have that makes my job easier when everyone is on the same page.”
Mossa values his students’ family and said many of them return after they leave to help with teaching or choreography.
For now, Mossa is preparing his students for regionals in March, where they will eventually find out who will qualify for nationals in July. Thanks to this, she is happy to see them improve in their profession.
“I love seeing the kids improve and feel accomplished,” Mossa said. “I have a connection with children that goes beyond just dancing.”