These Married, Former Professional Ballet Dancers Fell in Love at a Summer Intensive

Simon Ball and Frances Perez-Ball while at Boston Ballet (photo by Lisa Spinella, courtesy of the photographer)

To celebrate Valentine's Day in the most dance-centric way possible, we sat down with five powerhouse dance-teaching couples to talk about their love stories. What do they admire about each other? What are their couple goals and their teaching philosophies, and how do they make their relationships work, especially when they work together? Get ready to swoon!


M

ove over, high school sweethearts. We've found something far more darling—summer intensive sweethearts! Simon Ball and Frances Perez-Ball have been together since they were 15, when they met at the Point Park University summer dance program in Pittsburgh. For their first date, they watched fireworks together. Little did they know that it was the beginning of the rest of their lives.

After the summer intensive, Frances moved back home to Puerto Rico. The two dated long-distance for four years until they both landed jobs with Boston Ballet. They danced together with the company for the next eight years and got married. Then in 2003, they joined Houston Ballet. In 2005, Frances retired and had the couple's first baby. After Simon retired in 2015, they moved with their two daughters to Pennsylvania to teach at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet.

Photo by Joel Thomas (courtesy of CPYB)

Frances: I was lucky enough to see Simon at all of the different seasons of his career. Each time he performed, he would bring an element of honesty to his performance that was captivating. He becomes the character he is portraying every time he dances. The older he got, the more depth and maturity filled his movement. I was able to separate myself from our personal connection when I watched him dance, and let me tell you, he really was amazing.

Simon: As a man in ballet, I always looked to my male teachers as role models. From 14 years old and on, it was tough for me to feel accepted as a ballet dancer. It was confusing to know whether or not what I was pursuing was an appropriate thing for a young man to do. My teachers are what got me through that time, and I've always wanted to give back because of it. I know that I, too, can teach young men to follow their passion, no matter what the stereotypes are. We have an opportunity to make a difference in their lives.

Frances: We follow a syllabus set up by Marcia Dale Weary. It is very physical and involves the teacher working hard to help the child create the proper shapes. Then, once we have the syllabus in place, we focus on the words we use to accompany various techniques. For example, Marcia has taught us that saying "stiff knee," rather than "straight knee," will change the way a student takes a correction. We have also found that saying "knees back" is much more useful in plié than saying "knees over the toes." When we use the correct language, and follow the syllabus, our students grow in amazing ways.

Simon: I think my philosophy would be to create an atmosphere that is challenging yet allows the students to make mistakes. It's hard to find a balance, but I'm always striving for it. I just remember that I am working with human beings and not robots, and that their emotional well-being is just as important as their technique.

Meet the four other couples including Kirven and Antonio Bouthit-Boyd, Allison DeBona and Rex Tilton, Randi Kemper and Hefa Tuita and Allison Holker and Stephen "tWitch" Boss.

Show Comments ()
Dance Teacher Tips
Photo by Kyle Froman

The back is an essential focus of Cynthia Harvey's ballet classes, especially as a part of port de bras. Here, she offers "plain," en face port de bras, followed by the same position with épaulement, to show the difference the back (and head and neck) can add to any position. Aspirational imagery helps students find their best épaulement: "Feel as if you have a tiara on," says Harvey. "Don't look like a student—look like a ballerina."

Keep reading... Show less

So you've achieved your dream of owning a studio. Congratulations! Once that initial excitement wears off, we're betting that you'll discover just how overwhelming the day-to-day operation of such an endeavor really is. When you choose to run your own business, you're bound to encounter challenges, but with a unique business model at the center of it all, studio management certainly comes with its own hurdles, creating a perpetual learning curve that keeps both new studio owners and veterans on their toes.

Although a certain amount of this difficulty is to be expected for any studio, there's no longer any reason for you to suffer needlessly through each step of the way. All you have to do is reach out for a tool you can use to take your studio to the next level, namely studio management software.

Tools like our very own acclaimed Studio Director software can make a world of difference in virtually every aspect of your business. Let's run through some key ways in which this tool can revolutionize your studio.

Keep reading... Show less
Just for fun

The World Cup captivates soccer fans this time of year. But if football (as most outside of the U.S. refer to it) isn't your jam, this hybrid of disco dancing, ballet and soccer just might be more intriguing.

Keep reading... Show less

A popular and highly sought-after dancer and choreographer, Geo Hubela has worked with stars and productions all over the world from French pop star "Lorie" to the MTV show BeComing. Geo isn't just a choreography sensation. He has also danced on film, onstage, and on TV. He was worked with everyone from *NSYNC to JLo. On top of his incredible professional career, Geo owns a dance studio called Icon Dance Complex.

Owning and running a successful dance studio is not an easy task. Showstopper got together with Geo for his advice on going from a professional dancer to studio owner.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teacher Tips
Students at Steps Consevatory in NYC.

Dancers who dare to sing increase their marketability, according to voice teacher Jan Horvath.

It's one thing to master a triple pirouette, she says. It's another to be a well-rounded performer who can tackle any challenge without being discouraged.

Horvath teaches voice at Steps Conservatory, a two-year professional dance program in New York City. Once a week, she leads two groups of 10 students in a 90-minute vocal course.

"It's like a ballet barre," she explains. "We focus on one little thing of the day and perfect it and move on."

Keep reading... Show less
Kerollis and students in his 8-week Absolute Beginner Workshop at Broadway Dance Center.

When most people think of dance students, they imagine lithe children and teenagers waltzing around classrooms with their legs lifted to their ears. It doesn't often cross our minds that dance training can involve an older woman trying to build strength in her body to ward off balance issues, or a middle-aged man who didn't have the confidence to take a dance class as a boy for fear of bullying.

Anybody can begin to learn dance at any age. But it takes a particular type of teacher to share our art form with dancers who have few prospects beyond fun and fitness a few nights a week.

Keep reading... Show less
Dance Teachers Trending
Photo by Rachel Neville, courtesy of Irwin

Shanna Irwin vividly remembers her introduction to Complexions Contemporary Ballet. She was dancing Clara in the New Jersey Dance Theatre Ensemble's production of The Nutcracker. Guest artists from Complexions performed as the Sugar Plum Fairy and Cavalier, and from the moment Irwin saw them dance, she was hooked. Years later, as a senior at Marymount Manhattan College, Complexions co-artistic director Desmond Richardson invited Irwin to fill in for one of his injured dancers for the end of the spring 2014 season, and her long-held dream of performing with the company became a reality. She's been dazzling Complexions' audiences with her undeniable strength, full-bodied performances and eternally lengthened lines ever since.

See her perform June 17 with Complexions at the Music Hall Center for the Performing Arts in Detroit.

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Videos

Sponsored

mailbox

Get DanceTeacher in your inbox

Win It!

Sponsored