How long have you been teaching dance to kids?
Around 14 years. My oldest daughter was going into first grade at North Beach Elementary, and I was asked to teach one class. I had hung up my dancing shoes and become a real estate agent but decided to keep my first love alive and teach a few classes, which I still do. I’ve been teaching at State of Kid since it opened almost two years ago.
How long have you been in Miami Beach and where are you from originally?
I’ve lived in Miami now for almost 24 years, but I was born and raised in England. I was dancing on a cruise ship and met my husband. He’s American, and he was working on cruise ships, too. The ship we were on used to dock in Miami twice a week, and we decided to try it out. We rented a place on Lincoln Road and that was it.
What are the different types of dance styles you teach?
Ballet, tap and jazz. Tap was my favorite as a child, but I do enjoy teaching the little ones everything.
It’s amazing how quickly you capture the girls’ attention. What is your secret to keeping younger kids so engaged?
I love kids—especially the little ones as they are so innocent and eager to learn. I play music they like and make it fun. I’m a little bit stricter than other teachers. I set guidelines from the beginning but let them play through dance and high energy music. Honestly, some of them crave rules, as long as they are having fun. They grow each week, and it’s exciting and rewarding to watch.
Aside from learning ballet, what are the benefits of dance for kids?
It teaches them musicality, focus and, of course, it’s good exercise. The stretching is important for them, too. It also improves their memory. I teach them dance combinations that they have to remember. They go home, practice and come back ready to learn more.
Any favorite moments from State of Kid?
Meeting the new little ones at the beginning of a semester is always fun. I am doing a Mini Camp the first week in August, which I’m excited for. The Mini Camp is two hours long for a full week. It will combine dance with musical games and arts and crafts, for when they get tired of jumping around. The kids will learn a combination to show the parents at the end of the week. For those who can’t make the Mini Camp, or want more dance, in the fall I will also be teaching Parent & Me Ballet, Tiny Tots Ballet, Beginner’s Ballet and Funky Beats.
What can parents do to encourage a love of dancing for their little ones?
I recommend not pushing it. Most kids want to come to dance, but if they don’t, don’t force them. Parents often try to create mini ballerinas, but not all kids like ballet. Remember, tap was my favorite as a kid, not ballet. Also, play music at home and encourage them to put on shows.
You’re a mom to two girls. Do they dance too?
My oldest one, 19, danced in Elementary school but was more sporty. My youngest one, 17, attends New World School of Arts for dance.
Prior to this, you traveled the world dancing on cruise ships. Do you have a favorite port of call?
I loved visiting Cozumel and St. Thomas. I highly recommend vacationing there to those who haven’t been.