With our new Fall/Winter Schedule in full swing, you've probably noticed new faces, new class times and more opportunities to take your favorite classes. So you've probably also seen that we've added more of one of our favorite classes, CandyBarre. But did you know we have some tried and true ballerinas in the bunch? Keep reading for our interviews with WiO's three beautiful ballerinas -- Cassie, Taylor and Caitlin!
What age did you start dancing? I actually ran out screaming and crying from my first ever dance class. Sorry mom for being that crazy child! A few years later, at age six my parents enrolled me in dance and gymnastics. I actually was really into gymnastics until an instructor told me I was "too tall for gymnastics - go take ballet." A blessing in disguise perhaps, although not such kind words for such a young kid! I started taking ballet, tap, and jazz at age six. It wasn't until I was about thirteen that I got very serious about ballet and attended summer ballet programs and started intensifying my training and turning much of my focus to classical ballet.
Where did you train? I trained at a studio in New Jersey. I competed regionally and nationally with them, and won titles at the national level. I also did supplemental ballet training at the New Jersey School of Ballet. It wasn't until college that I expanded my training to include modern dance and received a BFA in Dance Performance from Arizona State University. I also began training in contemporary ballet while I was at ASU. I still continue to take dance classes in New York City to maintain my technique.
How has dance/ballet led you to where you are now? Dance has always been a part of my life. After college I auditioned and was dancing a bit, but I also landed a full time job teaching dance at a high school, which I have been doing ever since. I initially thought that I'd do it for one year, save some money, and make my parents pleased that I had health insurance! I wound up falling in love with the job and my students, and after three years I went back to school to get my Masters in Dance Education. I still dance and perform to remain fulfilled and well rounded as an artist. My own dance training has certainly helped with my career as a teacher and choreographer. Aside from the physical dancing, dance, especially ballet, teaches students to be disciplined in their lives. The structure of ballet is quite rigid, especially with the Russian teachers like I had growing up, but I really am grateful for that because the self-discipline has allowed me to accomplish things that I probably never thought I could. I have always been great at managing my time from spending hours dancing each night then having to do my school work and maintain good grades. Dancers also work collaboratively a lot, which is a skill that can be used in any field. I can always be found seeing shows, whether they are full length classical ballets or small downtown dance companies, because dance has taught me how to be a supporter of the arts and a good audience member.
What's your favorite ballet? Ah, this is always such an unfair question to ask a ballet lover! I can watch Don Quixote, Giselle, and anything Balanchine over and over again. Surely if anyone ever needs a buddy to go see a ballet with, I'm your girl! I love it all.
What age did you start dancing? I started dancing when I was 5 years old at Ms. Madelyn's in Bayonne, NJ.
Where did you train? At 10 years old, after attending my first dance convention, I realized I wanted dance to be my life. I moved to a new studio in Bayonne, Ms. Huguette's Dance and Theatrical Studio, (every small town studio always seems to start with a Ms!) where I was able to intensify my jazz and ballet training. Ballet was always my strong suit and once I entered high school I decided to take my practice to the next level and start attending class in NYC at The Joffrey Ballet School. It was a hike and a scramble two-three days a week to run from school to make it to the city for a 4:30pm class, but I adored my teacher and felt my dancing improving tremendously.
Junior year came in the blink of an eye and it was without a doubt in my mind that I would be pursuing dance in college. I started my college career at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA; however after a year I realized I wanted to be able to pursue not only a dance degree but a degree in another field. In August of 2008, I transferred to Towson University in Towson, MD, where I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts in Dance Performance and a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication with a Public Relations track.
How has dance/ballet led you to where you are now? Dance has driven every element of my post-grad career. Even before I graduated college I was commuting back to NJ from MD and attending open calls in NYC. I knew I didn't want to join corporate America, but I did not know just how tough it would be to find the happy balance for myself. It was essential that dance be in my daily life! After years of working retail, hostessing and finding any little side gig to pay those student loans, afford voice lessons, metro cards, etc. it was in February of 2013 that I found Work it Out. I instantly became inspired by these empowering women (Noël, Lisa, Monica, Heather) to become certified in barre and bring my love of ballet into fitness.
When I am not kicking your booty at the barre or on the bike at WiO, I am teaching dance atSt. Dominic Academy in Jersey City, NJ, co-directing and choreographing for Bayonne High School Drama Society Jr, and dancing for a ballet company in NYC. Some days it is hectic but I couldn't be happier. And whenever I feel I need to get away from the chaos that is life, you will find me in my happy place -- at the ballet barre.
What's your favorite ballet? It is so hard to pick a favorite! I absolutely love the music of The Nutcracker, but am in love with the choreography and elegance of Swan Lake. The movement is so delicate and controlled and leaves me mesmerized.
What age did you start dancing? I started with ballet and tap when I was in kindergarden at a local dance studio in NJ.
Where did you train? In 2nd grade, I switched studios -- Going to Dance Plus in Little Silver, NJ, where I trained and competed all the way through high school in ballet, tap, jazz, modern and lyrical (they call it contemporary now). Although not the most popular technique amongst my peers, I was always drawn to ballet -- Which led me to further my ballet training during the summertime at the Pittsburgh Youth Ballet and Vassar College, as well as perform The Nutcracker with local companies. After high school, I attended the University of Richmond, in Richmond, VA, where I was a member of the University Dancers and received a Minor in Dance, in addition to a double major in Communications and Sociology.
How has dance/ballet led you to where you are now? Ballet has always been in my blood -- and it's funny how life can take you back to your roots. After doing the NYC city-girl thing in the corporate world, I'm now right back where I began, in the studio. I couldn't be happier to have discovered the now more-than-a-trend, barre classes. In the past year, I was certified in The Booty Barre technique, per Taylor's recommendation -- A technique I completely adore and love teaching our clients. I never thought I would be teaching -- I always loved performing and knew those days were behind me. But I proved myself wrong, and found my happy place teaching barre at WiO!
What's your favorite ballet? I know it's cliché, but it always has been and always will be The Nutcracker. The music alone brings me to tears. Add that to the memories it evokes and the fact that I love Christmas -- What can I say, I'm a total sap.