Tiny Dancers

Published 7:00 pm Friday, August 2, 2013

     Five pretty little princesses pointed, stepped and followed the teacher’s demonstration Wednesday at the Brookhaven Recreation Department’s Ballet Camp.

     “When we talk with our bodies, we show our expressions with our hands and our faces,” teacher Leah Rowlen said as she gracefully gestured with her hands.

     Kathy Swalm of Brookhaven Ballet held the camp to expose kids to various classical ballets and introduce the new teacher for her ballet school.

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     Although Swalm didn’t have a camp last year, she said this year was a good chance to introduce Rowlen.

     “She will be teaching classical ballet classes,” Swalm said, “And she will also be teaching a point class on Tuesdays.”

     Rowlen is passionate about dance. She moved here recently from Jackson where she taught in several Jackson area ballet schools and was a member of the Front Porch Dance Company, a collective of Mississippi artists who collaborate to bring innovation into choreography.

     “I always wanted to be a fairy when I was a little girl,” Rowlen said, “So, I grew up to be a ballet dancer.”

     “That magic is something we are missing in our everyday lives and its another thing that dancing fulfills,” she continued.

     Rowlen explained that learning to dance is beneficial to a child’s development.

     “One of the most rewarding things is helping kids learn how to express themselves in dance,” she said. “Ballet especially teaches poise and grace, but being able to carry themselves confidently goes well beyond the classroom.”

     Rowlen said Wednesday’s camp introduced some classic ballets such as Swan Lake, Cinderella and Coppelia.

     “We tell the story of the dance while listening to the classical music so they learn something beyond the Disney telling of the story or the Barbie movie,” Rowlen said.

     Swalm said the one-day camp is also a good time to see if a child is ready to take lessons.

     “We introduce them to a few basic ballet positions and steps,” Swalm said. “And during lunch we show videos of past performances and talk about what we’ve learned.”

     Regular classes begin Aug. 8 and new students should register now for the upcoming season, which runs from August through April.

     Swalm said she will be holding the camp annually as she has done in the past, but encourages those that are interested in taking lessons this year to register at the Brookhaven Recreation Department at 689 Old Highway 51, or call (601) 833-3791.

            Classes are $35 a month for 45 minute sessions once a week and $50 for the hour and a half sessions