Dance School Principal Announcement

By Miranda Botto
3 min read | March 1, 2023

Today we are sharing some staffing news with our community. Our beloved Dance School Principal, Joanne Baker, is stepping down from her role. Joanne has been in her Principal role for 22 years and before that she was a company dancer and a teacher at DJD. We have created many memories and many laughs with Jo and none of us could ask for a more kind, thoughtful and passionate colleague. We are grateful that we will continue working with Joanne, just in a different role and from a different province!

Also, we are happy to announce Ingrid Díaz Céspedes as DJD’s new Dance School Principal. Ingrid has been a student in the Professional Training Program, a DJD teacher, and more recently has become the Professional Training Program Director. Outside of DJD, Ingrid is currently a faculty member in the Dance Department at the University of Calgary. Welcome Ingrid!

Thank you, Joanne, for your contribution to the world of DJD, and congratulations Ingrid on this new and wonderful opportunity.

Joanne and Ingrid have both written some words of their own about this change below.

Remarks from Joanne:

Question: How long is an era? Although technically, an era is made up of hundreds of years, an era can also be considered any time frame where a memorable or important date or event takes place; one that begins a new period in the history of a person or thing.

Next Question: Is it better to acknowledge the end of an era or the beginning of a new one? Now that my family and I have relocated to Ontario and DJD has emerged from the past 3 years in a place of rejuvenating our relationship with our students, the time has come for me to step aside and serve as a mentor and supporter of a role that I took over from DJD co-founder Michele Moss 22 years ago. I have held the role of Dance School Principal since February of 2001 and for me, it seems fitting that we celebrate the beginning of a new era at DJD as I pass my torch to the wonderful Ingrid Díaz Céspedes.

It is hard to believe it has been 22 years. The relationships I have built with students, staff, and instructors have filled me with such joy, and I know that Ingrid will feel the same as she establishes herself within the organization in this new role. I am grateful for the opportunity that I was afforded by then Artistic Director, Vicki Adams Willis. I have learned so much from my experiences and know that these lessons will stay with me forever. I’ll be back in Calgary from time to time as my newly adjusted title of Artistic Outreach Associate means that I will stay connected to DJD and will work hard to continue the learning opportunities for students within Calgary and will establish new pathways in Ontario.

Welcome, Ingrid!

Remarks from Ingrid:

I remember taking my first jazz class; Joanne Baker was teaching and all I could think was that I wanted to be as large, as cool, as grounded, as free, and as confident as this superhuman leading me through a new and very exciting path. I had to learn more, I had to dig deeper, I had to jazz!

Today, as I follow in her footsteps and begin a new chapter in my career, I thank Joanne and all my mentors at DJD for the inspiration, for all the wisdom and knowledge shared over the years, and for the continued guidance and support.

I am deeply humbled and extremely grateful to be part of the artistic team of Decidedly Jazz Danceworks. I am passionately committed to the education and promotion of jazz dance and jazz music, honouring its Black American roots, and preserving the integrity and spirit of the form while contributing to the development of an enlightened, diverse, and inclusive dance community.

I look at the future with excitement, confident that our school community will continue to thrive with vibrancy and joy.

Let’s keep dancing in the spirit of jazz!