Archive for the ‘For Dance/Fitness Instructors’ Category

In the Back Row of Balletone Class

November 29, 2011

Instead of teaching Balletone yesterday, I got to take a class from Kathleen Riley. Kathleen was the Balletone Master Trainer for the Balletone Instructor Training workshop that I took in 2006. She no longer teaches the instructor workshops, but offers several Balletone classes at Benefitness located outside of Boston, MA.

I try to take Kathleen’s Balletone class whenever we take our son back to college in Cambridge, MA. It’s so much fun to take a class for a change! As an instructor I sometimes feel like I get stuck in a rut and offer the same sequences over and over in class.

I want to keep my students interested in class by keeping them challenged. Kathleen’s class has given me some new ideas and new material. Her choreography is always interesting and she pulls in movement that I would never  think of. The steps are tough, but fun.

I can’t wait to teach Balletone tonight so that I can share some new choreography!

Be prepared, students!

Balletone logo


A Chance to See Ballet Performances at Movie Theatres

November 20, 2011

Tickets are now on sale for New York City Ballet’s acclaimed production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ in 530 movie theaters in the United States for one night only on Tuesday, December 13. The production will be shown live at 6 p.m. in the Capital District Region at Crossgates Stadium 18. Tickets are $20 for adults and $16 for children.

This is a special live broadcast from Lincoln Center and will be shown in High Definition (HD) format. This is the first time that a New York City Ballet performance will be broadcast live in theatres. It gives families across the United States a chance to see the New York City Ballet perform this classic holiday tradition.

For more information about this performance go to

As I write this entry another live broadcast of is being shown at  Crossgates Stadium 18 and also Proctor’s in Schenectady, NY.  (I would have attended this if I had known sooner.)  It’s the Bolshoi Ballet’s production of Sleeping Beauty and will be shown again this week.

As I was researching the live NYCB broadcast, I learned that there are several other ballet performances scheduled at both Crossgates Stadium 18 and Proctors. Here is a link to information about upcoming movie theatre ballet performance broadcasts in Albany and the surrounding area:

Amazing Dance Teacher, Pianist, and Seamstress

November 13, 2011

After reading J’acques D’Amboise’s latest book, I Was a Dancer, I started thinking more and more about one of my childhood ballet teachers, Madame Seda.  Jacques dedicates a whole chapter about Seda. She was the one to get him to try ballet. And then when Seda saw how talented Jacques and his sister were, she sent them off to The School of American Ballet so that they could get the training that they needed. Most teachers would have kept the students for themselves, but not Seda. She loved teaching ballet and was dedicated to her students and to the art of ballet.

We all loved her even though she was very strict. I was poked with her stick many times because my body was not in proper alignment. And boy would she yell if a student came to class with gum in their mouth! She always had a twinkle in her eye, though. And we would all rush up to hug her after class.

She didn’t miss a thing. Sometimes she would play the piano while teaching class. Somehow she still managed to see what we were doing and would yell out directions and corrections.

I also had the opportunity to take character dance classes from Seda. This is the type of dance that one sees in the peasant dance scenes in the full-length classical ballets such as Giselle and Swan Lake. We often performed the character dances at nursing homes or festivals. We wore beautiful costumes that were hand-sewn by Madame Seda.

I can still picture her teaching class;her stick pounding on the floor with the beat of the music and Seda calling out directions and corrections. How I would love to take class from her now. Or better yet, I’d love to have my students experience her class.


Photo of ballet class

Madame Seda teaching class in 1983.


Listen to an NPR interview of Jacques D’Amboise and Jennifer Homans, author of Apollo’s Angels: A History of Ballet. Jacques talks about Madame Seda in the interview.

Book of Foot Strengthening Exercises

October 18, 2011

The Perfect Pointe Book , by Lisa Howell, has many excellent foot strengthening exercises. Included with the book are video clips of students who demonstrate the exercises.

As you can guess by the title, it is geared towards dancers who are preparing to go on pointe for the first time. However, the exercises are great for any dancer or athlete. We don’t always think of strengthening the feet, but it is important.

All my younger dancers that are preparing for pointe work or who are already studying pointe do these strengthening exercises. I also incorporate them into my Balletone classes, which is a barefoot workout.

Do you exercise your feet?

Listen to Your Body

August 29, 2011

I was going to take a Pi Yo class last Thursday, but every muscle and joint in my body ached. I listened and rested instead. Little did I know that I wouldn’t get to work out for many more days.  Irene forced us to change our plans so I didn’t teach on Friday or on Sunday.

I hated not dancing for so many days in a row! However I feel refreshed (although a little stiff). This article that I read last week has some merit:

Do you rest your body when fatigued or do you keep pushing?

Easy to Follow Dance Injury Prevention Book

August 22, 2011

Cover of Dance Medicine BookI just started reading Dance Medicine: Head to Toe: A Dancer’s Guide to Health by Judith R. Peterson.  I’ve read many books on this topic, but this book is easy to read and the illustrations help to explain the material.

I’m not looking to be a doctor nor am I trying to diagnose ailments that my students have. But I believe that it is important to understand the body when teaching dance and fitness classes.  I don’t want students to do anything in class that will hurt them. This is true for all of my students – young and old alike.

In addition to the pictures of the body, this book also has beautiful photos of dancers from the Pennsylvania Ballet Company. It’s a nice to view those while trying to digest the technical information.

I recommend this book for dancers, fitness professional, dance teachers and welcome suggestions of other dance medicine/injury prevention books.

Follow Your Dream!

August 15, 2011

I can’t believe that I opened a dance studio! It’s been a dream since I was in high school. Of course I took the long road there (teaching at many studios part-time while working for New York State for 30+years).

We’ve been open for two weeks and I love it. What a joy to teach classes in my own place!

I didn’t do this on my own, though. First I must thank my parents for providing for all the dance lessons, driving me to the dance lessons and rehearsals, for assisting with dance performances, and for being there for support.

I also have many students over the years that have followed me from studio to studio. Some of them encouraged me to open my own place. Without that support, I’m not sure if I would have had the courage to open a studio.

But the person who really made this dream come true was my husband.  He didn’t push me one way or the other, but let me make my own decision. Once I decided to go for it, he was there every step of the way. He spent many vacation days painting, putting up barres, installing speakers, replacing light fixtures and light bulbs, hanging photos, and painting (I know I already listed painting, but that went on forever!). And to top it off, he worked very hard at the opening event and bought me a bouquet of flowers.

Thank you everyone!

And my advice to all is to follow your dream no matter how long it takes. It is definitely worth it!

Ballet is Great Exercise!

July 26, 2011

A fellow instructor posted a link to a ballet article on , a website supported and promoted by Lance Armstrong.  The article gave some ballet barre exercises that you can do at home.

What amazed me the most was that this was not the only ballet article on the site. There are at least 20 entries about ballet! And there are also videos that demonstrate ballet moves, although I had trouble viewing them.

All of the ballet-related information is under the fitness section of the website. I know from experience that Ballet and Balletone (a cardio fitness class that incorporates ballet movement and pilates based strengthening exercises) are great forms of exercise. Looks like more people are catching on!

Vocal Exercises for Dance & Fitness Instructors?

February 2, 2011

I never pictured a dance/fitness instructor doing vocal exercises. That’s for singers isn’t it? Well, in a fun, interactive workshop led by Cameron Chinatti, I learned how important it is for dance/fitness instructors to take care of their vocal health.

Dance/fitness instructors are using their voices throughout class. And to top it off, music is blasting and the instructors are exerting energy to do the movement combinations. Instructors are giving their vocal chords a work-out at the same time as they exercise the body! So, it makes sense that the vocal chords should be warmed up. It’s funny that we never think twice about warming up the body in every dance or fitness class, but seldom look at the vocal chords as a part of the body that needs to be warmed up.

Cameron provided us with some vocal exercises. I’ll be honest, it was fun doing the vocal exercises with the group, but it’s hard to get myself motivated to do them on my own (kind of like group exercise classes vs. working out at home on your own).

The one thing that I am going to follow up on is purchasing a portable microphone to use when teaching classes. That will help prevent the strain of trying to communicate over loud music. I will also try to do the vocal warm-ups at least on the days that I teach Ballet and Balletone.

 If anyone has suggestions for a good, inexpensive portable microphone, let me know.