How Heather Brouillard Keeps Her Pre-teens Engaged in Class

Brouillard combines ballet with lyrical to give her competition dancers a strong foundation. Photo courtesy of Brouillard

When Heather Brouillard returned to her hometown of Rutland, Vermont, after completing her law degree three years ago, she became the owner of Miss Lorraine's School of Dance, a studio her grandmother opened in 1968. “I was pretty much born into it," she says. “I grew up here and learned how to teach from my grandmother and my mother who owned the studio before me."


On top of running the studio, Brouillard teaches most of the classes offered, including a combined ballet and lyrical class for fifth- to sixth-grade girls. “I combined these two styles, because I found that the girls who really wanted to do lyrical in competition but didn't have as strong a ballet background weren't doing as well," she says. She incorporates pointe work into the class for the students who are interested and ready for the challenge. “They're fairly new to pointe, so we do a lot of foot strengthening and stretching, exercises at the barre like relevés and sautés and strengthening the legs."

After an opening stretch, a ballet barre and some across-the-floor exercises, Brouillard switches to lyrical combinations, focusing on the girls' favorite movements: leaps and turns. “If they could have a whole hour of turning, they would be happy girls," she says. However, she sometimes has to remind them why the building blocks, like barre work, are so important. “A lot of them want to do the things they see on television right now. I try to teach them, 'You want to do those amazing dance moves you see on TV, but you can't just come into the studio one day and start doing them. You have to build up to that.'"

Teachers Trending
Alwin Courcy, courtesy Ballet des Amériques

Carole Alexis has been enduring the life-altering after-effects of COVID-19 since April 2020. For months on end, the Ballet des Amériques director struggled with fevers, tingling, dizziness and fatigue. Strange bruising showed up on her skin, along with the return of her (long dormant) asthma, plus word loss and stuttering.

"For three days I would experience relief from the fever—then, boom—it would come back worse than before," Alexis says. "I would go into a room and not know why I was there." Despite the remission of some symptoms, the fatigue and other debilitating side effects have endured to this day. Alexis is part of a tens-of-thousands-member club nobody wants to be part of—she is a COVID-19 long-hauler.

Keep reading... Show less
Teachers Trending
Annika Abel Photography, courtesy Griffith

When the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May catalyzed nationwide protests against systemic racism, the tap community resumed longstanding conversations about teaching a Black art form in the era of Black Lives Matter. As these dialogues unfolded on social media, veteran Dorrance Dance member Karida Griffith commented infrequently, finding it difficult to participate in a meaningful way.

"I had a hard time watching people have these conversations without historical context and knowledge," says Griffith, who now resides in her hometown of Portland, Oregon, after many years in New York City. "It was clear that there was so much information missing."

For example, she observed people discussing tap while demonstrating ignorance about Black culture. Or, posts that tried to impose upon tap the history or aesthetics of European dance forms.

Keep reading... Show less
Studio Owners
Courtesy Tonawanda Dance Arts

If you're considering starting a summer program this year, you're likely not alone. Summer camp and class options are a tried-and-true method for paying your overhead costs past June—and, done well, could be a vehicle for making up for lost 2020 profits.

Plus, they might take on extra appeal for your studio families this year. Those struggling financially due to the pandemic will be in search of an affordable local programming option rather than an expensive, out-of-town intensive. And with summer travel still likely in question this spring as July and August plans are being made, your studio's local summer training option remains a safe bet.

The keys to profitable summer programming? Figuring out what type of structure will appeal most to your studio clientele, keeping start-up costs low—and, ideally, converting new summer students into new year-round students.

Keep reading... Show less

Get Dance Business Weekly in your inbox

Sign Up Used in accordance with our Privacy Policy.