Jennifer Picciotti-Graham, of Galloway Township, comes from a long line of actors and dancers — her parents Pam and Tony Picciotti danced on Broadway and around the world, she said. One great-grandfather was a vaudeville contortionist.
She teaches dance at the Absecon Academy of Performing Arts. The academy was started by her mother and has been located in Galloway for the past 25 years.
The first week in August, she and about a dozen of her dance students will be in London to perform ballet en pointe, jazz, lyrical dance and hip-hop for visitors to the 2012 Olympic Games.
“Most of the girls have just graduated from Absegami (High School) this past June,” said Picciotti-Graham, 39. “They are going on to college. It may be the last time they ever dance — who know?”
The studio was invited to London by the American Alliance of Performing Arts Educators, which arranges for students to perform in high-profile places, she said. Picciotti-Graham and her students will put on two, 30-minute shows, one at Warwick Castle and one at Island Gardens on the Thames.
The school has been preparing and fundraising for about two years, said Picciotti-Graham, who must leave Jude, 3, and Zoey, 9 months, at home with her mom. She figures they are too young for the trip. But they’ll get their chance to travel in the future.
“We’re planning on going to the next Olympics in Rio (de Janeiro) in 2016. They should be old enough to go then,” she said.
Dancers going to London with Picciotti-Graham are Galloway’s Heather Silver, 25, a dance teacher; Amanda Quo, 20; Christie Young, 18; Taylor Celenza, 18; Alexa Mayewski, 18; Madison Quo, 16; Samantha Hickman, 15; Morgan Brady, 15; Katie Tilton, 16; Kathleen VanHouten, 15; and Olivia VanHouten, 13; along with Northfield’s Emily Lewis, 17; and Mullica’s Krystina Matos, 16.
Singing in Europe
Marissa Carrafiello, 33, vocal music teacher at Hammonton High School, spent three weeks in Europe as one of the vocal directors of a high school choir organized by American Music Abroad, of Voorhees, and made up of students from as far away as Ohio, said mom Rosemary Carrafiello, of Hammonton. They visited, Austria, Germany, Italy, France and Switzerland, she said.
While in Germany the choir performed for U.S. troops at a base in Ansbach, Rosemary said. Marissa, of Hammonton, took part in the tour when she was a sophomore at Hammonton High School, her mom said.
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