Jacqueline Ostermueller has been dancing since she was 4 years old. Now at the age of 17, she was recently accepted into the American Musical and Dramatic Academy this past season and given a $40,000 scholarship as a high school junior after winning Nationals in Atlantic City in late June.
Ostermueller, a student at the Gloucester County Institute of Technology in Deptford, is also a member of Cedar Brook Dance Academy of Berlin. Having started competing in dance competitions at the age of 7, she’s competed in several different styles over the years, however she says her favorite is contemporary solos.
While at the Artists Simply Human Dance Competition in Atlantic City earlier this year, Ostermueller took place in a competition where AMDA administrators watch participating dancers’ form, style and technique during a two-day event to offer scholarships to worthy students. Ostermueller, obviously, says she is ecstatic to have won the competition.
While she loves dancing and competing now, she says she actually disliked it at first, only doing it because both of her sisters danced before her. Her first two years doing dance, she remembers being too scared to compete. Fast forward to today, and she says she can’t remember why she didn’t enjoy dance during that time, because now she can’t get enough of it.
“It’s just something that I like to do,” said Ostermueller.
After doing dance over the years at such a young age, the importance of conventions and competitions began to take a major role in her life.
“I think that the dance program itself took on more meaning once they started to compete and do the larger numbers with larger groups,” said Richard Ostermueller, Jacqueline’s father. “I think it kind of drew them in that this can be fun, and not just the discipline of dance to perform a recital at the end of the year. It’s something that they were working hard to perfect because it gave them some drive because they had to compete.”
Over the past school year, Ostermueller says she competed in at least 10 competitions, both on her own and with Cedar Brook Dance Academy.
Ostermueller has worked closely with multiple dance instructors at Cedar Brook Dance Academy. Jen Radkowski, one of her instructors, works closely with Ostermueller on her private lessons and choreographs her solos for competitions. However, much of the work also comes after private lessons while Ostermueller is on her own to learn solos and practice to perfection.
Radkowski has worked with Ostermueller for nearly 10 years now, leading the two to have a good connection with one another while having a great understanding of how Ostermueller’s body moves.
“I think after working with a teacher for so long, that we have such a trust in one another that it comes easier each year, where I can come with a piece of music and she just trusts my vision and I know her body and how it moves so well,” said Radkowski.
Radkowski also says that Ostermueller has served as a part-time assistant teacher to many of the younger dancers at the academy over the years, with many looking up to her.
“With a lot of our younger classes, we like to include the older girls to help the teachers and the girls, and they just love when she’s helping,” said Radkowski.