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Book Your Princess Ballerina Birthday with Ms. Sara & Ms. Ellen

Princess BallerinasBirthday Parties

Winter Camp Dates are Here!

Winter Camp 2015

Lots of fun headed our way this December with our brand new Visit to the North Pole Dance Camp, our always popular Frozen Musical Theatre Camp, and the classic Nutcracker Ballet Camp!  We are so happy to spend a few days before Christmas seeing the magic of the season through a child’s eyes!

Meet Ms. Terra

Ms. Terra

Ms. Terra

Terra Heraly starting dancing at the age of four in Omaha, Nebraska. After graduating from Oklahoma City University with a Bachelors in Performing Arts she went to perform in various theaters in Branson, Missouri and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee and on many cruise ships traveling the world.  After three contracts she decided to spend some time in Chicago to take classes. Those classes lead her to Las Vegas. After a year and half in Vegas she moved to Houston and performed with The Moonlight Dolls. Ms. Terra enjoys working out, cooking, and spending time with her husband and two fur babies (their two dogs – Bill and Bella). She is excited to begin her teaching career in Houston with River Oaks Dance.

An Afternoon at the Ballet!


No matter how many times I see The Nutcracker, it’s still a magical ballet.  I used to go to sleep at night as a little girl dreaming I was Clara in the Land of Sweets.  We would like to invite your dancers to join us and their friends to be a part of this magic at Houston Ballet’s The Nutcracker on Tuesday, December 22 at 2:00 p.m.  Ms. Ellen and I thought it would be fun to let the girls get dressed up and take them to the ballet.  We will get a group of tickets so we can all sit together.  Parents may join us, or just meet us in the valet at the Wortham Center 1:15 and we will be happy to take them for a few hours.  We will show them around the theatre, let them see the orchestra warm up, talk about theatre etiquette and watch real ballerinas on the big stage.  During intermission the girls will have refreshments with the mice and soldiers in the lobby and receive a small gift from us. We will go to the meet and greet in the Green Room after the show where they will meet some of the dancers.  We will bring them back out to the valet area at 4:45 for pick up.

Space is limited and we would like the girls to be at least 4 years old, unless they are accompanied by an adult or an older sibling.  Please reply by this Wednesday, October 15 so I can reserve our tickets.  The cost will be $135.  We hope you can join us!

First Ever “Bring a Friend” Day!

Bring a Friend Day!

Bring a Friend Day!

We are hosting our first ever “Bring a Friend to Class” day for our Monday 3:45 Musical Theatre and Thursday 3:45 Ballet classes! Here are the details:

Who: Your daughter may invite one friend close in age to her class
When: The week before Halloween: 10/26 (theatre) & 10/29 (ballet)
Where: St. John the Divine
What to Bring: Wear your favorite dress up costume
Why: We will have a fun class centered around the characters/costumes the girls choose to wear, play dance/theatre games and make a craft! If anyone wants to volunteer to bring a snack for the class we will make a party out of it!

We will have a flyer for the girls in class this week and it is also attached so you can forward an invite. Please RSVP by 10/15 if you are bringing a friend so we can plan! If we pick up your daughter from SJS and they invite a school friend, we will also pick them up with permission.

Please let us know if you have any questions!
Sara & Ellen

Little thoughts for big brains

dancerBetween the ages of 0-7 children are developing all major neural networks. Cognitive, language, social and emotional functions are all being vastly developed – not to mention fine and gross motor skills.

Dance classes can engage all of these functions! Investing in your young dancer is time and money well spent!

Our 2015 Recitals

Next year we must get a photographer! It’s hard work putting on costumes, doing hair, makeup (and glitter:)), making the girls feel like princesses, dancing on the stage AND taking pictures! Every year I think “there will be plenty of time to take pictures.” That never happens. There were a few moments we had an extra set of hands to capture some photos.

Dance as Occupational Theapy

Photo: C. Simek (

Photo: C. Simek (

Whether you are a parent or a teacher (or both!), it’s inevitable that as you get older you gain more experience in raising your children and teaching your students.  I know I am a much better parent today than I was 18 years ago and I am a much more knowledgeable teacher than I was when I first started teaching 11 years ago.  I think this knowledge – at least for me – was gained not only through time (and being around thousands of children between the ages of 3-6), but though observing other teachers and parents, by continuing to take class myself, by attending workshops and seminars designed specifically for childhood dance education and by reading articles and books written by child developmental psychologists on the way children learn through movement.

I have gained a passion for the way children learn though Dance Movement Therapy (DMT); not just learning to dance (which I think is pretty awesome!), but all of the long lasting life skills they learn in a dance class.  And I’m not alone.  Doctors and therapists all over the world recognize the benefits of dance education in preschool and elementary age children.

Every year I talk to parents with children in occupational or other types of therapy.  I have even had a chance to talk to some therapists about their movement work with children.  It’s just natural that these things make sense together.  And it’s refreshing to know that therapists, parents and teachers are all starting to recognize the benefits of dance and movement therapy for children.   There is so much information out there, but if you want to read more, one website I came across is here.  It’s not too scientific, but has lots of great information.  One of my favorite posts is about the benefits dance for children with, ashma, ASD, ADHD and Cancer, below.  Happy reading!

Children with asthma that participate in dance therapy benefit from communicative lessons and stress-reduction techniques. Dance therapy addresses the emotions of the individual, breathing patterns, body image, family communication and obedience to asthma management.

Children with ASD experience life through physical sensations rather than non ASD individuals who experience life through all of the senses. ASD children commonly have self-stimulating movement qualities and commonly take on abnormal motor behaviors. The abnormal motor behaviors can include toe-walking, rocking or flapping motions. In dance therapy, therapists view patients’ movements as a language and consider the movements to be expressions of hidden thoughts and emotions that the child is conveying. Occupational therapists can provide an ASD client with interventions, dance, to help the child appropriately respond to information coming in through the child’s senses. A therapist could include dancing to assist in play therapy that aids the child in interacting with others.

Dance therapy is a resource to facilitate coping with illness, especially for individuals who are dealing with disease processes associated to cancer. Children with cancer have greater psychological adjustment problems than healthy peers. In early childhood, a key issue in accepting the psychological modification of cancer is to determine the extent of disturbance caused by the condition. Therapeutic goals focus on helping the child with cancer adjust and adapt to the anxiety of the condition. The capability to generate and execute different fundamental movement patterns is essential to the therapeutic process for more advanced and integrated motor activities.
Practitioners introduce specific body movement structures that address starting and stopping, adjusting the shape of the body within a designated space, and exploring opposite qualities. Children with cancer experience dance by becoming more incorporated and familiar on a body level, with various situations and slight gradations.
In school-aged children, peer relationships become increasingly complex and become central to socio-emotional development. The noticeable physical changes connected with cancer, and its treatment, becomes a challenge as it relates to eased interactions with peers and cancer patients. Rejection by peers who do not have cancer can lead to feelings of self-consciousness, fear, and removal to individuals with cancer. Dance can provide a way by which abstract concepts are addressed and allow the individual to explore the nonverbal expression of growing emotions.
Chronic illness and cancer have major implications for adolescents. Loss of normal contact with peers may lead to isolation. Falling behind in schoolwork can incite feelings of shortage and being overwhelmed. Delayed physical development, disability, or defacement related with cancer make the adolescent even more sensitive to concerns about body image. Dance therapy interventions for children with cancer focus on mobilization, gross motor skills, and self-expression aimed to merge cancer-related changes in the body. Group formats are ideal because each individual comes to the group with a unique set of needs. Overall, DMT offers elements of development, coping, and adaptation by using an approach to therapy that goes beyond vocal ideas, adding an extensive dimension to the holistic care of patients with cancer.

Children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) lack the ability to pay attention, control their activity, and restrain impulsive behavior. These problems may interfere with a child’s ability to hear or read instructions, complete assignments and tasks, and participate in games. Dance therapy allows children with ADHD the ability to release energy productively instead of through aggressive, impulsive means. Dance therapy provides children with structure and a calm environment resulting in the ability to focus during treatment. Individuals who are troubled with uncoordinated movement and body tension profit from dance therapy to address these issues, allowing individuals to place superfluous energy into the dance and allowing deep emotions to be brought to the surface.
Cohen, S. O., &Walco, G. A. (1999). Dance/movement therapy for children and adolescents with cancer. Cancer Practice, 7, 34-43.
Zlius, M. N. (2010). Dance/movement therapy in pediatrics. Alternative and Complementary Therapies, 7, 87-91. doi: 10.1089/act.2010.16202


DLTCI just returned last night from five days in beautiful (but hot) Scottsdale, AZ at the Phoenician Resort for the Dance Life Teachers Conference. Even as I write this post I am getting choked up thinking about all the people I met and stories I heard. If you are a dance teacher and have not been to this event – GO. Sign up now! They are doing it at the same place next summer. I came back with so many great ideas to put into effect for our dance program – no only to make my business a better business, but to be a better teacher to the children whose lives I am a part of every week.

This conference was started by Rhee Gold – the Oprah of the dance world.  He has brought together a group of leaders in dance community that impart their business and education expertise and experience on 800+ dance educators during a five day conference.  I got to hear presentations and participate in classes lead by instructors that specialize in teaching children with special needs, preschool children, tweens, teens in all genres of dance and performing arts.  I got ideas on marketing, customer service, social media, implementing charity work into our program and classes and camps I never thought about offering.

I also met a young teacher, Theresa, whose story touched my heart.  After attending the workshop last year she began her drive home.  She was involved in a collision with a semi and she is now in a wheelchair.  She has been in physical therapy since last October and is still learning how to walk again.  When I met her she was in the pool for the first time since her accident.  Despite this heartbreaking story, she was smiling and laughing.  So much so that I didn’t even know she had an injury.  It wasn’t until I saw her getting out of the pool with crutches and her chair nearby that I asked her what happened.  She told me she was so happy because today she realized she could swim.  And she is not giving up.  She is still going to conferences and taking steps to be the best teacher to these little kids that she can be.

There is no excuse.  Everyday I want my students to leave class and get in the car and say, “Mommy, I love dancing.”  I want to continue to learn from these inspirational people.  I am so grateful there is an environment where we can come together with people with a common goal.  We have to enjoy the journey.  What a gift we have been given!


Summer Inspiration

The summer months are a weird time for a dance teacher. We are generally people that like routine, schedule and being in control, but in the summer everything is just a little off. There are fewer classes and more free time. There are long periods of not seeing any students, except in the grocery store, and it makes you wonder: is there more I should be doing? We have completed four ballet and theatre camps and have one left starting in two weeks. We have had more students register for camps this summer than we ever have in the past. We have our largest group of students ever registered for this fall. I know it’s going to be a busy and exciting time starting in September. I will try to take these next few weeks and not worry about not being productive enough but instead relax, recharge and appreciate this time. And in October I will try to remember how it felt to not be teaching over 100 three to six year olds a week:)

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