Broccolini with Garlic


  • 1.5 pounds broccolini
  • Sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped



  1. Trim broccolini of ends.
  2. Place stalks into a skillet and cover with cold water. Cover and bring to a boil. Add salt and reduce heat.
  3. Simmer broccolini 6 to 7 minutes, until tender and bright green. Drain the broccolini.
  4. Return empty skillet to stove over medium heat.  Add extra virgin olive oil to pan, then garlic. Cook garlic 2 to 3 minutes. Add broccolini to the pan and coat in garlic and oil then serve.


Buffalo Chicken Salad


  • 1/2 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta plus 1/4 cup, divided (can be made with blue cheese as well, but I prefer feta)
  • 6 tablespoons buttermilk (shake well)
  • 4 teaspoons red-wine vinegar, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons Frank’s Red Hot sauce (add more if you like spicy)
  • 8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
  • 3 large carrots, chopped
  • 3 large stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped


  1. Combine 1/2 cup feta cheese in a small bowl with buttermilk, 2 teaspoons vinegar and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; mix well, mashing slightly with a fork. Set aside.
  2. Place chicken in another bowl; sprinkle with flour and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon pepper and toss until coated.
  3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until very hot. Add the chicken and cook, turning occasionally, until just cooked through, 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in hot sauce and the remaining 2 teaspoons vinegar and cook, stirring often, until the chicken is coated, about 1 minute.
  4. Combine lettuce, carrots, celery and cucumber in a large bowl; add the reserved dressing and toss to coat. Divide the salad among 4 plates and top each with an equal portion of chicken and 1 tablespoon each of the reserved feta cheese.

Regional Dance America: Its Importance, History and Inspiration


I always get asked if my dancers participate in competitions.  My answer is always no, they participate in something much more life-altering.  Last weekend I took my dancers to the Regional Dance America Festival for the Northeast which was held in Harrisburg, PA.  It is the highlight of their year and what they work towards.  In fact, for the past two years, all of our seniors have opted to miss their own high school graduations in order to attend this event which I think alone speaks to the significance of this event in their young lives.  So what makes this experience and organization so important?

What is RDA?  Regional Dance America is a non-profit organization consisting of 86 pre-professional companies from across the United States.  You must audition to become a part of the organization which is what helps it maintain its high standards.  There are 5 regions that have their own rules and regulations including: Northeast, Southeast, Mid-States, Southwest and Pacific.    Each year, each region picks an adjudicator.  That adjudicator visits each member company, watches a ballet class and the performance of several works.  The adjudicator then gives each company a report with invaluable feedback and chooses the best works from each company to be performed at the Festival for their region.  Sometime in the spring, each region hosts a festival that lasts three days.  The dancers take classes from world-renowned master teachers during the day and take turns performing for each other in the evenings.

The History.  Regional dance was a movement that began in the 1950’s when great dance could only be seen in big cities like New York and San Francisco.  The movement was supported by George Balanchine himself and other greats like him who believed every American city deserved first-rate dance training.  Many professional dance companies around the country began as part of this organization and then made the leap into the professional arena including: Boston Ballet, Sacramento Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Dayton Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Washington Ballet and Philadanco, to name just a few.

The Affiliations: RDA does not just support dancers.  From very early on, it saw the importance of supporting young choreographers as well when Josephine Schwartz of Dayton Ballet began a showcase for young choreographers that eventually became the National Choreographic Intensive.  Each year, at the end of each Festival, awards are given to the best works of choreography presented at the Festival.  There is an Emerging award for young choreographers and Project Tier award for older choreographers. Both come with a full scholarship to attend the National Choreographic Intensive where these choreographers create new works on budding young dancers and are critiqued on their efforts by masters in the field of choreography, helping them to be inspired, supported and pushed to the next level in their career, as well as giving them national exposure.

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Inside the Mind of Dance Teacher: How I Make Casting Decisions

Dancer : Maggie Carey
Photo by : Geek With a Lens

I have heard from so many parents and students, ‘I wish I could read your mind.’  Well, here you go.  Here are some of the things I look at when making casting decisions.

Challenge but Not Overwhelm   When looking at casting, I always try to challenge my students with their roles, but not to overwhelm them with a part that is too difficult for them to perform.  I know every parent wants their child to have the leading role, but when you stop to think about it, you probably don’t want me putting your child on stage in a role they have no chance of performing successfully. This is the reason why I cringe when I hear a parent ask me, ‘When will it be my daughter’s turn to get the lead.’  There is no turn taking when it comes to lead roles and the sad truth of the matter is that your child might never get the leading role in a ballet if their technique and artistry never reaches a certain level.

Technique   For every role, there is a set of skills that a dancer needs to have in order to make that role a success.  Sometimes this means being able to execute certain steps, like being able to do so many fouette turns.  Sometimes it’s simple technical skills like use of their feet or high extension. I am always looking for the most technically proficient dancer to dance the lead roles and so is everyone else.  It is not a coincidence that guest choreographers choose the same dancers to work with and feature in choreography as I do and, no, I don’t talk to them and influence their decisions.  They simply see what I see.

Stage Presence   There are students that light up the stage and there are ones that don’t.  Whatever you want to call it: charisma, stage presence, star quality; to be successful as a dancer, the audience has to enjoy watching you.  Some dancers have the best technique in the world, but without this quality, the audience will not care to watch them.  Unfortunately, after years of teaching, I’m beginning to believe you either have this quality or you do not.  I can bring out some passion in students and I can improve their performance quality a bit with coaching, but whatever you choose to call it, either you were born with it, or it will elude you.

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Encouraging Open Communication Between Dancers, Parents and Dance Instructors

Dancer : Maddie Welsh
Photo by : Geek With a Lens

Over my years of teaching for a variety of different studios and now co-owning my own, I have learned a lot of things. One of the most important things I have found is that good communication benefits everyone.  If there is a problem, how can it be addressed if it’s not communicated?  Ugly gossip, rumors and misinformation can occur when a parent or student asks a peer instead of coming directly to the teacher for answers.  As a teacher, one of my many jobs is to try to make myself approachable and to disseminate as much information as I can to my students and their parents about the dance world.  Here are some tools I use and things I encourage to make it easier for a dancer or parent to know where they stand as far as their progress goes and what they need to work on in order for them to be successful.

Check Lists.  At the beginning of every school year, I give each student a check list for their level that states clearly and concisely what they need to accomplish to be considered for advancement to the next level.  The check list also includes all ballet vocabulary and each term’s definitions that students need to know in order to advance.   Some of the things on the list are behavioral and some are technique based, but they are all important.  For Creative Movement, some of those things include: being able to separate from their parents, knowing not to hang on the barre, keeping their hands to themselves, demonstrating first and second position and skipping.   For advanced classes, some of those things include: being self-motivated, working on corrections without prompting, demonstrating coordination of upper and lower body including head movements, understanding that every step is important, the ability to reverse petite allegro quickly and performing well on the stage as well as in the classroom.  Every so often, a student will come to me with their check list and tell me they think they have accomplished everything on their list.  Most of the time, this is not the case, but it opens the conversation and gives us something concrete with which to discuss their progress and what they still need to achieve.

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