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Adult Ballet class keeps women on toes


Last updated 6/13/2017 at Noon

Photo: Instructor Pam Boehme Simon leads a class of Lamar State-Orange Leisure Learning students through their paces in her Adult Ballet class at Orange’s Ingram School of Dance.

For The Record

Thanks to Lamar State-Orange, some local women are learning a shocking truth this summer.

Ballet is hard.

“It looks easy,” Kimmy Mazzagate said, “but it’s hard.”

Mazzagate is one of 18 women enrolled in Adult Ballet, a Leisure Learning class organized by LSCO.

Pam Boehme Simon instructs the class for an hour two nights a week in June at the Ingram School of Dance, which she has operated for 31 years out of a second-floor studio at her house near downtown Orange.

Simon isn’t looking for magic from her students, many of whom are mothers, some grandmothers, with no ballet experience.

“I want them to get up and move,” the dance teacher said.

“Most people, if nobody makes them [move], they don’t.”

As mothers of teenagers, Rebecca Johns and Mazzagate are no strangers to moving -- or the drop-off and pick-up lanes at their kids’ school.

Their rounds have included bringing their daughters to Simon’s ballet classes and watching them perform through the windows of the waiting room.

“I’ve watched them stand up straighter. I could see the good things it teaches,” said Johns, whose daughter Elizabeth is 15.

“I always wanted to take ballet but I never did,” said Mazzagate, who did take tap dancing and twirling lessons at the Ingram School.

Her daughter, Emily, 14, is a ballet student there.

“When I saw this available,” Mazzagate said, “my husband said, ‘You need to take it.’”

Beverly Robinson works as a teacher for the West Orange-Cove school district and as an adjunct teacher at LSCO.

“This is my first time ever taking a dance class,” she said. “I’m just out here having fun.”

Robinson’s granddaughter, 9-year-old Laniya Marks, had her end of year ballet recital last weekend, Robinson said.

“She was helping me out with some moves,” Robinson said.

As the women warmed up at the barre with some muscle-stretching plies, then worked with Simon to learn the five basic positions and the five basic arm positions, it was clear they were all happy to be there.

And eager to learn.

“You have to be able to concentrate to get your footwork going and then hold your arms the right way,” Mazzagate said.

Johns agreed.

“It’s easier to stand outside the windows and watch,” she said. “I feel a lot more respect for the girls.”

Simon studied at Ingram School of Dance when she was a child, learning from Mary Alice Callahan, who established the business in the community in 1933.

After graduating with a college degree in dance, Simon purchased the studio.

She and her two-person staff have 75 years of experience teaching dance and they offer classes in ballet and pointe, tap, jazz/hiphop and acro-gymnastics, among others.

Most of her students are school-aged and take classes during the school year that keep her studio booked solid.

Summer is a good time for adult classes.

“I’ve taught adult ballet for 30 years, but we don’t always have adult ballet, because adults are busy,” Simon said.

“This is perfect with Lamar State-Orange, eight classes, then we’re done and they just cost $40.”

Simon says she’s thinking about next offering an adult tap or jazz class through the Leisure Learning department.

“Or I may just do ballet again,” she said.

She knows the ballet score.

“Some people think ballet is boring,” she said. “Ballet is anything but boring.

“The art is to make it look easy.”


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