My mother likes to tell the story that I was born dancing - delivered feet first and kicking. I have danced throughout my life as a ballerina in training, a musical theater performer and then a studio owner of 17 years. Somewhere in there I dabbled in real estate, insurance, personal growth, baking, special needs advocacy and lots of other little sidelines that keep "free time" an evasive concept in my life. Mom of four, doggy mom of two and loving wife to my husband and partner, Paul. I am never one to let an opportunity pass, and these dance novels just needed someone to "do them" rather than "think about doing them".
How old are your children? Boys? Girls?
I have 4 children. The oldest is a 17 year old girl who is severely autistic. She takes special needs dance classes .The next is a 14 year old girl who is an aspiring ballet dancer. She is currently boarding at a ballet school. Then I have a 9 year old son and a 6 year old son. Both have great feet and extension but no desire to dance...YET!
How did you come to own your own studio?
After a career that included dance, theatre, film and television I moved back to my small hometown. I started a small performance troupe that eventually became a full time studio.
How did you balance running a studio and motherhood? Especially when your children were little?
The balance was challenging. I never took a maternity leave- just brought the babies to the studio. But I was free in the daytime and I had a creative outlet so it worked well. As the studio grew, I was able to work less nights a week so that also helped. Basically it was kind of like being a stay at home mom with a full time job.
You mentioned you daughter is a dancer. Have you ever been her official teacher? Does she accept your feedback and advice?
My daughter started dance at 5 and she was in my class for 3 years. At that time she got more serious and I wanted to ensure she loved dance as opposed to dancing because her mom did. I put her into another faculty member's class and she still loved it. I eventually taught her again when she was about 11 and I continued to have her in at least a class each season until she went to ballet school. She is very driven so she always took correction well and worked hard for me.
What do you want your dancers to take from The Dance Series?
I hope to reinforce some of the positive lessons that a dancer can learn through dance using dance teachers and dance friends as role models. I also want to encourage reading in pre-teens. If they can read about something they already love, it is a win-win situation!
I read Tutu Much, and admired the way the author, Airin Emery, portrayed some of the dysfunction in the dance world without glamorizing it. What do you want your young audience to take away from the dance novels in the Dance Series?
I hope to portray realistic challenges that dancers face like weight issues, not being the teacher's favorite and losing in competition when in your heart you know you should have won in a way that our readers can identify without being overly dramatic. I hope the books inspire dancers to persevere through the challenges and enjoy the fun of dance.
With shows like Bunheads, Breaking Pointe and SYTYCD, and movies like Black Swan, it is evident that Americans are fascinated by the dance world. As far as dance is concerned, what would you like to see more of in popular media?
My favorite is Breaking Pointe because it is true reality. Unscripted dance drama. The other shows are great because they introduce dance to so many viewers and I love that they show men in dance. If I could create a show it would be "So You Think You Can Choreograph" and it would put young choreographers competing in setting routines on everyone from professional dancers to small children or people with physical challenges.
What are the main differences you see between today's dancers and when you were performing?
Young dancers today are often taught "tricks" before they learn technique. My belief is that these young superstars who are doing switch splits and triple turns at 6 will do irreparable damage to their bodies.
Any mom bloopers to share? How about dance bloopers, in class or on stage?
My favorite was a number where the 5 year olds were dressed as lambs complete with tails with a pom pom on the end. After a little twirl, 2 lambs had their tails tangles together which meant they were attached together by the bum. They completed the whole piece dragging one another around the stage by the backside. Very cute!
Advice for young moms?
Dance should be fun. I don't recommend that children begin formal dance until they are 4. Gymnastics is a better for the gross motor development of toddlers. In addition to looking at the studio's credentials I always suggest you see if the teachers are people you would see as life mentors for your child. If not, keep looking! If your child loves dance they will spend a lot of time at the studio you choose so choose wisely.