Sometimes when teaching ballet I am flooded by the inner oceans of all the dancers: all the experiences of their days, fear, doubt, anger, joy, steely determination, hopeful anticipation, wild abandon – it’s all there churning around us. It’s my role to channel us all, to clear the stream, to move us all toward shared harmony, strength, acceptance, satisfaction, and more joy.
The chatter of many minds is overcome by beautiful music. The frustrations of the day are washed away by the attempts to accomplish challenging steps and phrases. Little mistakes happen, and are gone, acknowledged with knowing smiles.
This dancer is newly pregnant. That one just lost a baby. They do not know this about one another, they are just dancing together.
This dancer has been living with cancer on and off for six years; today her breaths are short, the lining of her lungs full. That dancer is astonished that the music for the grande allegro was the march she used for her entrance in her own wedding. They do not know this about one another, they are just dancing together, but their eyes meet with a snap and sparkle.
I am aware of much of what these dancers feel; I’m also aware that there is much, much more that I am not aware of. It is my intention to take as much as they can give me. I take their glory and hurl it back to them, magnified. I take their fatigue, and together we infuse it with energy that shoots up high, and floats down safe, rested. I take their pain, but will not give it back.
I took two extraordinary classes with Jennifer, and they were two of the best, most creative ballet classes I have ever experienced in a long life of dance classes. Jennifer made a scaffold of artistry out of the music and plot line of Swan Lake on Saturday, which was a masterpiece of phrasing and creative use of ballet history and heart in its own right. Sunday, she crafted her class truly teaching from the inside out.
I learn so much about choreography from you, and about not just the steps, but really trying to dance them. And how gracefully you manage to kick our heinies and send us home sore, with better technique for next time. Every class that my leg shakes in developpe, I think about weakness leaving my body. Thank you for being a wonderful teacher.
Class was fabulous today. It was the first time this week I felt like I could breathe and be in my body. Much nicer than having panic attacks :) You are magical.
Thank you for creating a place for me to dance in such a supportive and instructive and challenging environment. I so enjoy your classes and watching your other students dance as well.
Thank you for teaching such a lovely class. I did the math on my way home, & realized, I had not danced in twelve years! Not one class:( It has been an intention of mine, for many many years, to take classes again. Thank you for teaching with such patience & kindness. I am dyslexic & I think the fear of not remembering what words pertained to what movement is a large part of what kept me away. I really didn't know if I would be able to mentally keep up, following instructions not to mention, the physicality of taking class again. I truly appreciate that you often spoke & demonstrated your lessons & that you were so accommodating in allowing us to mark as often as we could find the opportunity to do so, as well as reminding us to enjoy & take inspiration in watching our fellow dancers. Thank you for keeping things light hearted instead of critical. You gave me such a gift, in providing an inviting environment that allowed my mind, heart & body to remember what it has been missing.
I want to let you know that I love your class and there is something about you and the music you choose that has made me feel different than I have ever felt before… I can’t really explain it in words…. You inspire me and make me want to work harder and dance with my heart…Thank you for that, I have never felt this way in over 15 years of dancing as an adult.. thank you for being in my life.
I was reflecting recently on the traditional "thank you" at the end of a ballet class. It's a phrase we say a lot during the day, but the ones after class always feel like they're saying more - that they have to encompass all the things we can't say during class because we're focused on the work of the class. Thank you for creating a space that is challenging and joyful, and for helping myself and your other students feel a little bigger than ourselves for an hour and a half. The fact that so many of us travel from other areas of the city just for your classes is testament to the quality of your teaching and also that personal connection we feel with you.
I feel fortunate to have found you and a class that is so accepting while still providing a chance to learn and grow. It's a very rare teacher who can motivate by noticing and encouraging tiny steps of progress while giving a helping hand toward the next step. I learn so much from you as a dancer, as a teacher, and as a human being. It's like you're a mother/big sister to over 50 women, while making each of us feel unique and special.
This past year I came out as trans. It has and continues to be a scary but ultimately gratifying, illuminating, and exciting process. I also recently started taking ballet classes with a queer/trans ballet company in NYC (first time seriously taking classes since high school!) and it's been an amazing experience and community to come into. So many of the people in my class are new to ballet, or are in the process of rediscovering dance following negative experiences earlier in life w/ regard to how they had experienced their bodies or gender in dance spaces. However, in reflecting on my own time in ballet class as a kid/teen I feel so grateful for the space you helped to create which was so affirming and free of unnecessary restrictions (on bodies, gender, etc). Thanks to you, being back in ballet class feels like a process of homecoming rather than unlearning.
Pacific Northwest Ballet; Pilobolus; Mark Morris; Corvino, Margaret Craske; Louis-Nikolais; Joffrey; American Ballet Theater; New York School of Ballet; University of Washington
Performance Experience: In addition to performing in my own concerts I have also performed with: Seattle Early Dance (Baroque dance company) Thistle Theatre (puppet theater) Interlochen Dance Faculty concerts Dance Theater Seattle; Mark Morris; Ballet Folk of Moscow; “Brigadoon,” “Blood Wedding, “ and “ A Christmas Musicale” in New York; Pacific Northwest Dance; Seattle Festival Ballet; Repertory Dancers Northwest. Teaching Experience: eXit Space Studios, Seattle, 2005-present The Ballet Studio ( Group Health Cooperative, Seattle, 2000; dance for at-risk geriatric patients American Ballet conservatory, 1997-99; ballet and choreography Sunnyside Montessori, 1990-1995; creative movement Vashon Schools Artist in Residence, 1989-94; dance for special education and regular classes Pacific Northwest Ballet, 1982-87; creative movement, pre-ballet and ballet, ages 5-adult
In addition to performing in my own concerts I have also performed with:
Seattle Early Dance (Baroque dance company)
Thistle Theatre (puppet theater)
Interlochen Dance Faculty concerts
Dance Theater Seattle; Mark Morris; Ballet Folk of Moscow; “Brigadoon,” “Blood Wedding, “ and “ A Christmas Musicale” in New York; Pacific Northwest Dance; Seattle Festival Ballet; Repertory Dancers Northwest.
eXit Space Studios, Seattle, 2005-present
The Ballet Studio (
Group Health Cooperative, Seattle, 2000; dance for at-risk geriatric patients
American Ballet conservatory, 1997-99; ballet and choreography
Sunnyside Montessori, 1990-1995; creative movement
Vashon Schools Artist in Residence, 1989-94; dance for special education and regular classes
Pacific Northwest Ballet, 1982-87; creative movement, pre-ballet and ballet, ages 5-adult