After traveling to New York City for dance instruction, Levittown native Jennifer Levine knew she wanted to share her knowledge and expertise with young dancers in her hometown.
Levine opened up 5 6 7 8 Dance with her mother in 1999 and has strived to provide up-and-coming dancers with a top-notch education. This year, the Long Island Arts Council in Freeport has selected Levine and her dance company as a recipient at the Top 25 Advocates for the Arts Awards.
"It's really an honor," said Levine, a graduate of Levittown's Division Avenue High School. "I was so excited and extremely proud. We've been doing this for a while and these kids we teach mean the world to me. It's amazing that people are recognizing what we're doing."
Levine's dance career started when she was three years old. By age 11, she was training with world-renowned instructors, such as Frank Hatchett, Henry Le Tang and Madame Darvash, in Manhattan.
She continued her training all throughout college and soon began working with inner-city children in various fields of dance. She feels that this inspired her most to chase her dreams.
"Giving back to the community like that made me want to teach," said Levine. "I decided I wanted to open my own studio in 1999 and my mother was supportive from the start."
To her, Levittown was the perfect place to open. "It's my hometown," she said. I wanted to give children the same opportunities I've had. I always reflect and talk about my experience and I want my students to have that."
Marilyn Levine has stood by her daughter's side through her entire career. As a retired school teacher, Marilyn has always taken pride in working with children. She carries that into her daughter's business.
Marilyn has worked hard to bring extraordinary experiences to those at 5 6 7 8 Dance, including the privilege of guest teachers like Horace Turnbull (who's worked closely with Danny Daniels and choreographed at Radio City Music Hall), Jeffrey Gerodias from Alvin Ailey and Courtney Galiano of "So You Think You Can Dance" and "Glee".
"She always made sure I had a strong foundation in my life when I was learning," said Jennifer. "She knows how important bringing my love for dance and the arts to my students is to me."
The mother-daughter duo will be honored Wednesday evening at the Bellmore Theatre at 6 p.m.