Instructor Spotlight – Jeannine Matyi

Meet Jeannine, Our Instructor Spotlight!

We are thrilled to introduce Jeannine, an incredibly talented Dance Teacher and Movement Therapist based in Philadelphia. Jeannine’s dedication to the art of dance has been an invaluable part of our team, and we couldn’t be more grateful for her contributions.

With her knowledge and expertise in both teaching and therapy, Jeannine has touched the lives of countless students, helping them explore and express themselves through movement. We feel lucky to have Jeannine on our team, and it’s an honor to be a part of her inspiring journey.

Jeannine’s Journey into the Performing Arts

Growing up, music has always filled Jeannine’s home as well as her parents’ interests in theater and attending live concerts whenever possible. An average Saturday morning household chores were coupled with an array of any kind of album playing in the background and Jeannine and her sister gladly dancing and singing along.

At the young age of 3 Jeannine and her sister got enrolled in a local dancing studio. They would end up taking classes with their neighborhood friends for years and years to follow. Eventually, a close friend opened up her own dance studio and at approximately 14 years old Jeannine became an instructor with the youngest of classes. It was a wonderful opportunity that she wanted to continue for years to come.

During her school-age years, Jeannine was always involved in some kind of school play or musical, mostly related to dancing. In a way, dance had become somewhat a part of her identity. She would choreograph shows with the help of her sister and dance friends and together they would be a big part of these productions.

Jeannine loved every minute of being on stage with friends and giving a performance to all in attendance. The sense of joy and exhilaration on show days and the prep for it were always some of her best memories. She knew then the profound effect that movement, dance, and performance had on her happiness.

Jeannine feels fortunate to have grown up in New York with New York City being so accessible. She was lucky to have an opportunity to see Broadway Shows and concerts from a young age further igniting and supporting her passion for dance and the performing arts.

Today Jeannine finds great joy in being able to share these experiences with her own children who have taken their own interests in dance and music. It’s a thrill to witness their passions unfold and the dedication they have to their craft and most importantly, the joy they find in it.

Q: What is your favorite time of year?

Fall is my favorite time of year, especially here in Pennsylvania. I love the colors, the chill in the air that elicits cozy nights by a fire or relaxing under a blanket. There’s something so cozy about “sweater weather”. There’s a beauty in this transition that I feel that can be easily taken for granted.

The shorter days with less light are almost a sense of permission to slow down when you can and add more stillness to your days (under a nice blanket of course lol). It’s also such a fun precursor to what lies ahead with the festive season of Thanksgiving and Christmas (My favorite holidays).

Q: What did you want to be when growing up?

I always wanted to do something with children and psychology. I have always felt a special connection to children even from a young age myself and although I never had younger siblings (I have an identical twin sister), I would always find such a thrill being around babies and children younger them me. I felt it was fascinating that we can understand babies and toddlers even before they had words to speak.

Flash forward some years and always having an interest and joy in attending local dance classes with my sister and friends, while in High School, the profession of Dance Movement Therapy was presented to me. I had never heard of Dance Movement Therapy before this moment and as a Junior in High School, I took an immediate interest. It was then that I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I vividly remember the school counselor asking me about my interests and I said a career with children, dance perhaps, and psychology. It’s as if the role of a Dance Movement Therapist was made specifically for me and I knew that I would follow this path and all the curriculums and education it would take to earn this title.

Q: Do Dancing and Acting run in your family?

Although formal dance training does not run in my immediate family, my relatives have always enjoyed being on the dance floor. I have beautiful memories of my grandparents gracing the floor with a fox trot and some of my Papa’s moves will stay in my heart forever.

My Parents as well as my Mom and Aunt (her sister) were known to be the best dancers at any party/celebration with the way they would do the Lindy. It was always such fun to see and be present for.

My sister also loves to dance and together we will always make time for Hustle whenever a disco song comes on, something I think we are known for now lol. Fun Fun!

My cousin and her daughter have both performed in a Broadway Show and the first Broadway show I ever saw when I was about 7 was to see my cousin in Annie. I vividly remember how thrilling it was to see her perform as a young child and then as an adult to be in the audience with my own daughter watching her daughter portray the same role.

My daughter is 14 and has been dancing since she was 3 with the Pennsylvania School of the Performing Arts. She attends classes for all styles of dance and also sings and plays piano/Keyboard.

My older Son is 17 and when he was about 8 began acting with local theater companies eventually connecting with an agent in NYC. He would go on many auditions and we had great fun traveling to NY for these moments. He would then turn his interests to music and now is a highly skilled musician-playing guitar, piano, bass, and drums and can most certainly hold a tune as well.
My youngest son (8) is also taking an interest in music and is learning the keyboard. He attends classes with a local program called School of Rock where he learns keyboard 1:1 and gets some time practicing being with “the band”. Music and Dance live strong in our home.

Q: What is your favourite thing to do in your free time?

On my days off I find great happiness in not setting an alarm clock. I enjoy peaceful mornings sipping coffee, catching up around my home, and indulging in time without a sense of urgency to commitments, schedules, and the hustle that some days can bring. I enjoy cooking in my free time, listening to music, and spending time with my children and if I can entice them to a game of Scrabble, that’s truly my favorite!

In my free time, my happiest place is when my family including all of my 3 children are home, under one roof where we can enjoy our time together either sharing a meal, watching a movie, listening to music, and more recently creating music of our own with instruments we have set up in our basement. An extra perk would be my sister there to join and share time with us as well.

I also thoroughly enjoy an impromptu dance party as dancing is always a good idea!

Jeannine Matyi - Teacher Spotlight

Q: Who or what inspires you?

People who endure hardship and greet each day with a grateful heart, appreciation for the blessings around them, and move through their day with purpose despite any hardship truly inspire me.

I have witnessed family and friends experience indescribable loss. I have seen people I love endure cancer and yet have the strength of a complete warrior. I have seen family support each other in the hardest of times knowing that love is really all you need to get through some challenging moments. These people inspire me daily.

More specifically my Grandmother is one of my biggest inspirations. She is now 102 years old and has the most loving joyful heart. She shares her gratitude for life daily; she acknowledges the love around her even when so many have gone ahead of her. She has the ability to see the positive nature of any given day, is able to omit negativity, and she’s so genuinely thankful for the people and love she has in her life. She is the biggest inspiration for me and for the many who know and love her.

Lastly, I have worked with many young children who have disabilities as well as older adults with cognitive impairments. They all have been a source of inspiration to me. They remind me that no matter the challenge there are ways to connect, to be present, and to engage in meaningful ways where shared moments can mean so much for healing and growth. They give me hope that joy is possible no matter the ailment and that it can truly make a difference. These wonderful folks also inspire me.

Q: What advice do you have for kids who are struggling in school?

My hope for any child struggling in school is that they know with confidence they have a safe place to go for support, to express their feelings, and most importantly to feel validated in their concerns. Sometimes just another ear to listen empathetically can go a long way. I would remind them that no tough time lasts forever, look for the light of love, look for the helpers; they most certainly don’t have to ride the storm out alone.

I would encourage children that all feelings are acceptable and they are ok for owning them. I also would encourage a child who is struggling to be patient with themselves and the process. I would ask them to envision an ocean. Sometimes the water is rough yet eventually, there comes a sense of calm in the waters. Just like the tides of the oceans, our emotions are a never-ending flow of waves constantly moving, and constantly changing.

I would remind a child that is struggling to tap into their personal power. They have the ability to discover and utilize coping skills that could be of value. Paired with help and support from others I would hope this would elicit hope for better days.
Ultimately I would remind the child they are loved, even through the hard times they are loved. I would remind them of their strengths, and their power and help them to see how they can best overcome any challenge.

Q: What has your experience been with our company culture?

It has been wonderful to work with Playocity and be provided with the opportunity to lead groups for children throughout Philadelphia. It’s encouraging to be entrusted with my ideas, skills, thoughts, and planning for class as it helps expand my creativity having the support system so well in place.

I have enjoyed reviewing and utilizing the lesson plans provided and It’s nice to feel inspired and well-prepared for any kind of lesson. I’ve appreciated how everyone I have met through Playocity has truly cared about uniqueness and my own personal teaching style. I appreciate how the team values the instructor that I am and the background that I come with that makes me ME.

To be part of a team as a contractor yet feel so connected is so important to me and even though there is a great distance in miles, I truly feel part of the Playocity family, and the opportunities that continue to arise only help my personal growth as an instructor and leader. It’s wonderful to feel so valued by all at Playocity who truly take the time to understand who we are, what we stand for, and how we can best represent this wonderful team and support their mission.

Q: What parts of our mission do you connect with?

“Educate, empower, and inspire learners through the spirit of play, creativity, and social collaboration!”

I strongly believe in the mind-body connection and we have a commitment to keep our children moving, exploring themes of feelings, self-control, sense of self, and relation to others through movement and play. In a society where we are moving less, children may be enduring more hours of screens than ever before. It’s imperative we play, we connect, and we move for fun and the overall well-being of our minds and bodies. Children deserve the space to explore all of the stated above in a playful manner where learning is fun and engaging. Motivation is the key to insight and learning. I strongly believe in and stand by the mission with Playocity.

Q: Dream Vacation?

If I could travel anywhere right now it would be somewhere with warm comfortable sunshine, a calm beach, something all-inclusive with the options of the outdoors and natures beauty easily available for me and my family, outdoor activities, good meals, enjoyable music and of course the option to be moved and dance 24/7.

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