At Mossa Dance Academy on Jericho Turnpike in New Hyde Park, owner Natalie Mossa said she believes she’s more than a teacher for her students.
“I just feel like there’s just so much to give,” she said in an interview. “I noticed that other teachers are all about just wanting to win and I like teaching because It’s so much more.”
Mossa, who opened her business in 2007, said she has been dancing her whole life. The Queens native taught at 15 years old at the studio she was with at the time before she danced, performed and choreographed at Club Med Turkoise in Turks and Caicos before returning to start her own venture.
“I used to teach in Long Island so opening up in New Hyde Park was perfect and we could meet each other halfway,” Mossa said.
Students at Mossa range from 3 to 18, and there are recreational and competitive classes, which start at age 7.
Of the 300 students at the academy, she said, 65 are on teams which compete regionally and nationally.
Competitive schedules are three and a half hours a day with rehearsals mixed in if there is not a competition scheduled for the weekend. In the past, Mossa’s teams have traveled around the tristate area and up to Massachusetts, where they will compete in regional tournaments for the American Dance Awards, which holds its national championship in Florida.
Teams are required to learn all styles of dance the academy has to offer, which include tap, jazz, lyrical, hip hop, ballet, contemporary and modern. Mossa said she believes making students more versatile will help them once they leave and either apply to programs such as Juilliard or try out for college teams.
“I’m trying to produce actual dancers that are ready for the real world,” Mossa said. “Even if they don’t love tap, they still have to take it because when you audition for a Broadway show, they’re gonna ask you to tap no matter what you know. I make sure that they’re all well rounded and that they’re able to do anything when they graduate or are ready to audition for the real world.”
In 2018, Great Neck’s Ellie Chang won bronze in the solo female children’s division at the International Dance Organization’s World Dancing Championships in Riesa, Germany.
“They love it and they want to be the best,” Mossa said about her students. “It’s the work ethic they have that makes my job easier when everybody is on the same page.”
Mossa considers her students family and said many of them come back after they leave to help with teaching or choreography.
For now, Mossa is preparing her students for regionals in March, where they will eventually find out who qualifies in July for nationals. Through it, she’s happy to see them getting better at their craft.
“I love to see the kids improving and feeling accomplished,” Mossa said. “I have a connection with the kids that’s more than just dance.”