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.'"

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