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Feature Blogista … Nichelle

Nichelle from Dance Advantage tells her story of how she has come to be a professional dancer and teacher. For all of you who dreamed of being a ballerina one day, here’s a chance to live vicariously. Her blog offers an insight into the dancing community and is very helpful for parents of dancers (both boys and girls) as well as for professionals.


closeupnichelleWell, let’s see. I got married a couple of years after high school. I was in college at the time but Mark, my hubby, was already working in broadcasting. (He’s eight years older… cradle-robber!) You know, he’s really a great guy, (not without those little things that drive me crazy, of course, but…) always incredibly supportive, AND he’s a great dad. That more than makes up for those little annoyances… most of the time.

Anyway, we’ve been married for 11 years now… yikes! I do have one child so far- a boy. And we’ll probably have another – two sounds like a nice even number. After moving around a lot for Mark’s work, we finally settled in Houston. Of course, I was eight months pregnant by the time we “settled.” We are now loving being parents to a toddler. They grow up so fast!!

trio

My son is extremely entertaining, especially now that he’s a toddler. He loves to dance and listen to music, and it’s been fun to watch his sense of humor develop (along with his new-found independence). He’ll be 17 months old this month. We’re very proud that he is already able to recognize the entire alphabet. He can point out capital letters when asked and even makes some of the appropriate letter sounds. It seemed a surprising and sudden development, it wasn’t as though we had been drilling the letters. It started with discovering that he had the ability to remember the names for a few of his foam bathtub letters. He seemed to enjoy showing us the “X” when asked, and around the same time he got a little toy laptop that prompts him to press letters. I wasn’t sure at first if he would recognize the letters out of context but he can point them out on t-shirts and signs and stuff. Pretty wild!

blackandwhitenichelle

I went off to college in Virginia for my first year and a half. I was studying dance there. I liked going out of state, but the tuition put a serious dent in my wallet. I may never pay off those loans! So, I transferred back home to Pennsylvania (I stayed a dance major, though), got married, graduated, and partied like it was 1999- oh wait it was. (Can you believe now all the commotion of Y2K?) It doesn’t seem possible that was nearly 10 years ago. Oh no, I’m talking in terms of decades – now I do feel old!

Dance has always been the constant in my life. I guess I was aiming for my career starting at age 5. But, my career as a dancer certainly hasn’t been without transmutation. I’ve been teaching dance since high school, so that’s always been a passion and a source of income. But, we’ve moved around a good bit, so I’ve taught at a LOT of different places. Plus, I’ve done performing, that is when we’ve lived in places that recognized dance could be something other than what cheerleaders do at half-time. My performing focus is contemporary dance which generally has to be explained to people. “Is that like ballet?” “You mean like, interpretive dance?” That’s my favorite.

induction3 Anyway, I’ve choreographed for community theater, was adjunct faculty at PSU, I’ve worked in a theater box office, I’ve worked in classified advertising at a newspaper… whatever pays the bills. And now, I’m staying home with my son and blogging about dance! Writing has been a bit of a surprise, actually, but I’m enjoying it. I’ve even got some paying projects coming up- dance reviews and such! And, I’m heading into rehearsal soon with a company in Houston. It’s a part-time gig in the evenings, which works with the family schedule. I’m really looking forward to it, although, pregnancy and mommyhood definitely take a toll on the body and fitness regimen! Regular classes and rehearsals will help whip me into shape… or they’ll just whip me.

I’ve been blogging since April and I’m about to do my 100th post. I had been thinking about the idea of creating an online resource for dance students and teachers for quite some time, I think because I realized that there weren’t many online dance resources for students to get quality info and because I had a lot of things I would have loved to talk about with my students if there was ever time to fit it all into a one-hour class. The whole idea of dance education, as opposed to just recreation, is an interest to me. I’ve always tried to provide critical thinking opportunities and incorporate information about the body, dance history, dancers and choreographers into my dance classes, even if students were just there for recreation or fitness. It is important to me to educate dancers in more than just the act of dancing because it is not a subject that’s taught anywhere else. Unfortunately, there’s just not a lot of time in a typical dance class. So, when I discovered blogging and how it could be used to create community and interaction among readers, I figured it was the perfect platform to sprinkle all those things I wanted to say about dance and dancing.

induction2
My brain rarely seems to shut off, which can be a hazard. I’ve been thinking a lot about balance now that I am going to be juggling performing, blogging, writing, and full-time mom-ing. I’ve been trying to focus on finding tools that simplify things and leave behind time-wasters. My perfectionism often interferes with my self-organization in that I nitpick and spend too much time fiddling around with aspects of my work and life. I am very organized but I let things consume me. My goal is to let go of some of my perfectionist tendencies and learn to stop mid-project when it is time (even if it’s not finished), or let it go (even if it’s not perfect), and stick to my top priorities. I guess that is one of my New Year’s resolutions. In fact, I’ve been reflecting on the past year a lot, and the result is that I just feel very thankful. My family is happy and healthy. There have been disappointments, frustrations, annoyances but I am so incredibly blessed. It’s wonderful to be able to contentedly close the 2008 chapter.

This past year has been a great year because I have managed to spend most of my time doing what I enjoy! The only “for fun” thing that my hubby and I have had to cut out since the birth of my son was our participation in local theatre. Although Mark’s a meteorologist, he’s no stranger to the stage. It’s how we met, as a matter of fact! We hope to be able to do that again in the future, although it will probably be a while before we can both be in the same show! But, other than acting, I get to do all the things I enjoy – reading (I’m in a book club, you know), writing, putzing on the computer, learning, dancing, playing! See, blessed, I tell ya!

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5 Responses

  1. Nichelle, it’s great to meet you! What a fantastic idea to create a blog with all that educational information you always want to impart in dance class but rarely have the time.

    So…what *is* contemporary dance, exactly? ;-) Definition in 50 words or less?

  2. After reading your blog for so long it’s nice to learn more about you from a personal angle Nichelle!

  3. I used to take ballet, tap and jazz as a kid. Can adults take amateur classes these days? Where would I go to do something like that? Lovely pictures BTW!

  4. What a great story, Nichell! Like Maria, I feel like I know you so much better now too. I love all the pictures. And what a sweet family!

  5. I was revisiting some older posts today and I could have sworn I answered these comments at the time… but apparently not!! Better late than never I suppose. First, I wanted to thank you, Cindy, for the feature and for all those that took the time to read or visit DA as a result.

    Bethany (if you’re still out there), contemporary dance is a very broad term. It’s not ballet but it is often performed on the concert stage like ballet. I’ve tried to write a concise history of the modern dance movement which is a tremendous part of contemporary dance today (here). There is a quote there that gives an indication of why this dance form is hard to define: “There are no general rules. Each work of art creates it’s own code.”

    Dianne, yes, adults can definitely take amateur classes. Keep an eye on DA for a post on this. Some dance studios specialize in adult classes though these are usually found in larger cities. Some dance schools/studios offer a handful of classes for adults. You might also check community colleges or universities. Or even try fitness classes like Zumba or Nia to get your dance fix!

    It was fun re-reading this post! Hard to believe we’re halfway through 2009 already! –Nichelle :)

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