Rachel asks Valerie from Petite Pas Ballet School in downtown Delafield some questions to get to know her better and find out more about how she got started and what is new at Petite Pas this year!
How did you come up with the idea of storybook ballet?
Well, I have been in the “dance world” since I was about 3 years old (that is a VERY long time ago). I loved dance but really fell “in-love” with dance when I started to explore the Spanish style of dancing known as Flamenco. I had an amazing teacher who pushed me hard and lit a fire within my belly. Flamenco, for me, was a perfect fit as it had sharp edges and it was loud but perfectly delicate when it needed it to be. I felt it was one dance medium that allowed the dancer to truly express their deepest emotions through a series of hand movements, intricate footwork and turns.
I took a break from the dance world after retiring my “menkes” (Flamenco shoes) and castanets. I worked in politics and then marketing and development (fundraising) for non-profit organizations. My passion and love for the arts never went away. As an adult I continue to take Flamenco classes whenever I can find them. At this point it is just aa hobby. While working the non-profit sector I was approached about an opportunity to be an Executive Director for Madison Ballet in Wisconsin. I loved the prospect of bringing my deep-rooted passion for dance and the business acumen that I picked up with my professional life and marrying them into one beautiful opportunity. I never looked back. After leaving Madison Ballet due to a move to California for my husband’s work, I was able to find myself back in the trenches of this beautiful industry with a professional ballet company called Company C Contemporary Ballet. I worked as their Marketing/Development Director and I loved every second of it. I enjoyed making the public aware the arts are worth supporting through ticket sales and donations. I enjoyed watching the dancers work so hard to prepare for a beautiful show. I enjoyed watching audiences react to what they were witnessing on stage. My passion runs deep.
Our family was moved back to the metro-Milwaukee area and I continued to work for Company C in California remotely. I was traveling quite a bit back to the Bay Area and it was starting to be a challenge for my little ones. They wanted Mommy home and I wanted to stay home too.
When we moved back I was seeking a ballet school for my own kids. I couldn’t find anything that, in my opinion, truly remained committed to the core of classical ballet training. So many schools were focused on combination classes (ballet/tap, ballet/jazz) and/or dance competitions. For some people, that is ideal. For me and for my family, it wasn’t. I wanted to find a school that focused on age-appropriate classical ballet technique and terminology and that truly helped little dancers discover their love for this art form and cultivate that love that will last beyond their youthful years. I also wanted to do this in a manner that would keep little kids engaged (their attention spans aren’t quite developed yet) and in a way that makes them a well-rounded artist (not just a dancer but a true lover of all that encompasses ballet: composers, stories, and more)! That is how the “storybook” element of what we do was born. We take classical ballet stories that have been produced and performed on some of the most famous stages around the world and for 6-8 weeks in class we expose our dancers to these stories, the composers, the choreographers and truly give them a lesson to appreciate the full picture (not just dance steps and terminology). We use props in dance to bring the story to life and use only the music that was scored for those ballets in the studio. We are so proud of this approach and it works! Even our youngest dancers (Petite Tot Division) absorb every ounce of it. Simply put, it is magical and how our tagline was born: where fairytales and ballet live happily ever after ™.
What you are currently offering?
Our current Academic Year (that runs from September – June) ends in just a short week. Eeek! I can’t believe we are just wrapping up our 2nd Academic Year! Our students will be performing numbers from the various stories we covered this year in class (stories like Swan Lake, La Boutique Fantasque, The Nutcracker, Midsummer Night’s Dream to name a few) and perform for their families at our End-Of-Year Showcase on June 11th. If you follow us on Facebook you can see some of our costumes we created for our little dancers to help the themes come alive on stage! So cute!
Our next series of classes are part of our Summer offerings. Those include:
Six-Week Dance Education Program: designed much like our regular Academic Year (weekly classes for 6-weeks) the children will learn about the Tales of Beatrix Potter for our summer “storybook” theme. We have classes offered in the afternoons/evenings and Saturday mornings. Many of our classes have already sold out for our 6-Week Dance Education program. It is a wonderful way to keep your little dancer moving during the summer without any major commitments. It is also a perfect way to prepare them for the next Academic Year’s program.
To register for our Six-Week Dance Education Program click HERE!
We also have super duper exciting Summer Camps for children ages 3-6 (must be potty trained)! In fact, two of our camps have already sold out but we still have some spots in our other two camps. Our Summer Camps are Monday-Friday from 9:00am – 11:30am. Each camp week has a theme and everything we do during the camp is wrapped around that theme! We do tons of dancing, a truly magnificent daily craft and then more dancing! At the end of the camp week, the dancers perform a short number for their families to showcase all they learned that week. Our camps were totally sold out last year and that is why we added two additional weeks. They are simply magical.
To register for our Summer Camps click HERE!
Your most favorite part of doing what you do?
This isn’t as easy to answer without listing about a gazillion things. I love everything about what I do as it relates to Petite Pas Ballet. This was a dream of mine to open a school that remains true to the core of classical ballet training but doing it in a most whimsical manner so that we create lovers of this art form, not just a dancer. I know that not every child that comes through our studio will become a professional dancer one day. Our goal is to have our kids walk away with a deep understanding, respect, and admiration for all that is “classical ballet.” We want them to go see a show and to understand the story and the music that accompanies the movements on a stage. We want them to have healthy bodies and minds and to explore one of the most precious gifts a child possesses: their imagination! And that is what I love most. We accomplish all of this with our unique approach to ballet training, with the love our teachers bring to each and every class and our amazing curriculum that builds strong healthy bodies all the while leaping like fairies or super heroes and twirling to their heart’s content. It is so rewarding and I love every aspect of it.
We take our jobs seriously at Petite Pas Ballet – and it is hard work to ensure that children are properly placed, learning a solid foundation so they can build on it while ensuring they remain engaged in what can be a very repetitive environment. But this is the most magical hard work I could have ever wished for!
Registration is NOW open for our 2016|2017 Academic Year. We have added several classes to accommodate our growth but don’t wait too long to secure your spot – nearly all our divisions sold out last year! We offer classes for little ones (parent/caregiver participation classes) as young as 24 months and complete our program with our Ballet 1 Division which is designed for young dancers ages 8 – 11 years of age! We have something for everyone and we can’t wait to dive into a beautiful year of amazing storybook themes and of course – twirling, twirling and more twirling! At Petite Pas Ballet, Fairytales and Ballet Live Happily Ever After! ™
To register for our 2016|2017 Academic Year click HERE!
To see our 2016|2017 Academic Year Calendar Snapshot, click HERE!
To watch our promotional video click HERE!
Petite Pas is located in the heart of downtown Delafield: 524 Milwaukee St., Suite 204, Delafield WI 53018 | 262-303-4421
Stay up to date by liking them on Facebook HERE!