From Ballerina to Ballet Instructor


Dresser-Thorpe with her then-boyfriend and now-husband, Ryan Thorpe (right) and her instructing a ballet student (left). (Photo Courtesy of Alexandra Dresser-Thorpe)

Sofia Senesie, A&E Editor

From studio class, to center stage, to studio director, alumna Alexandra Dresser-Thorpe (2005) channels her passion for dance in a new informative style as co-owner and director of the North Jersey School of Dance Arts (NJSDA) in Hackettstown.

Thorpe graduated from Butler University with a degree in Dance Pedagogy. Now, in addition to her roles at NJSDA, she is also the co-executive and artistic director of the New Jersey Civic Youth Ballet (NJCYB).

As a Warren Hills student, Thorpe was involved in the performance arts programs. Just like performing arts students do today, she ate her lunch in the hallway outside the band, choir and theater rooms.

Dresser-Thorpe was a member of National Honor Society in her junior and senior years. She said she always loved math and that now-retired Geometry teacher Sharon Regora was one of her all-time favorites. Other favorite teachers included English teacher Jesse O’Neill, now-retired Biology teacher Robert Gebbert, Choir teacher Lauren Voight and now-deceased Theater Arts teacher Clifford Platt.

Thorpe said from the time she was four, she knew exactly what she wanted to do.

“Ballet was my passion and I never wanted to do anything else,” she said. “After college, I did have a short career dancing, but I quickly discovered that a professional dancer, with all the constant auditions, was not something that I wanted to be. I had to shift gears quickly and I took on more dance teaching. I was still involved with dance, just in a different way.”

Thorpe purchased the NJSDA studio in 2018 and currently teaches students ages three to adult.

“I danced seriously for my entire childhood,” said Thorpe. “Teaching ballet has always been my passion and it was a dream come true for me when I purchased my childhood studio.”

While Warren Hills does not have a ballet program, Thorpe said her high school experience helped prepare her for owning her own business.

“Homework and studying helped me develop a really good work ethic,” she said. “I took a lot of honors and AP classes and needed to learn how to manage my time. I am always working on something for the business and time management is the key to surviving.”

So what’s Thorpe’s advice for students interested in a similar career?

“Find some way to make your passion your career,” she said. “And be willing to be creative about it.”