One of my most fond memories as a dancer growing up is going to conventions and taking classes with the one and only Janice Barringer. Now, as an adult, I get to share those experiences with my dancers. We always love the honesty in Janice’s words and her clear passion for the art. Her way of explaining ballet technique is unparalleled, inspirational and always leaves you wanting more.
Ballet is hard, tough, and unforgiving and sometimes as a dancer, giving up feels easier than pushing forward but I promise that after an hour and a half with Janice, your love for Ballet will be renewed over and over again. She is my inspiration when I teach my dancers in the studio, and they look forward to the times when they are able to take her classes as well. In fact, my dancers have helped come up with questions to ask Janice for this interview!
If you haven’t had the pleasure of being in class with Janice, please do yourself and your dancers a favor and reach out to her. She has a great deal of teaching tools available through MusicWorks, an in depth and knowledgeable book about Pointe, and also teaches master classes around the country. You won’t be disappointed!
For now, check out what questions my dancers (Age7-18) had for Janice. Thank you, Janice for taking the time to answer them and we can’t wait to work with you again!
Lindy, Age 10:
When did you first begin dancing?
I started taking ballet when I was 6 years old. I loved it immediately! It wasn’t long before I decided I wanted to be a dancer when I grew up. When I was in 4th grade, I decided that I needed to take other forms of dance, too, so I signed up for tap. I didn’t begin jazz until about 8th grade. Much later, I realized if I wanted to be a ballet dancer, I had to take more ballet classes and really focus on it.
Trinity, Age 12:
Do you think ballet is easy?
No, I think it is very difficult, but that difficulty is what attracts a lot of people to it. Since the ballet exercises develop our bodies to always be on balance, to turn and jump well, it’s exciting to know that while I am working very hard, the out-come will be wonderful.
Kennedy, Age 11:
Do you still have your first pair of ballet shoes?
No, I do not, but I still have my daughter’s first pair, and she’s a grownup now. In fact, many mother’s “bronze” their children’s baby shoes. I bronzed her first ballet shoes.
Victoria, Age 7:
How many pirouettes can you do?
Doing a proper ballet pirouette is much more difficult than just doing turns in parallel position. Luckily for me, girls are not expected to do as many pirouettes as boys and men. Because I do not perform professionally any longer, I am not as good technically as I used to be. Now I am a teacher and a writer, so I am pleased to do two or three good pirouettes.
Olivia, Age 18:
How often a week do you dance or teach?
Right now I teach four days a week If I travel to teach master classes or teach at a convention, I teach 2 or 3 more days. Sometimes I have time to take class as a student. That is really my favorite thing to do—–to dance myself.
Wyatt, Age 18:
Who is your inspiration?
That is very difficult to answer because I can’t think of just one person; there are many people who have inspired me. Let’s see—-I loved the dancers in movie musicals from the 1930’s, 1940’s and 1950’s. Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly and their partners really inspired me. My first dance teacher, Edith Royal was a very big inspiration. Everyone I knew looked up to her because she had a knack of making us all love dance, and at the same time, learn to be disciplined and responsible.
Morghan, Age 16:
What is your favorite ballet and why?
Here, again, I have a few answers. I love Romeo and Juliet, Manon and Serenade. The first two I love because of the passion and feeling in the gorgeous choreography. Serenade is special because, again, for it’s beautiful choreography, and also it’s intricate patterns. All three elicit great emotion.
Lilli, Age 16:
What is your favorite thing about teaching ballet?
It is when I know the student or students completely understand what I’m teaching, work very hard with great focus, resulting in their improvement which brings them great joy.
Andie, Age 18:
What is your best advice for a new teen who has just begun ballet training?
First, never get discouraged. Even though you may have started later than many others, you are now more mature, smarter and stronger in general. Because of that, if you totally focus your mind and are willing to go through the pain of stretching and strengthening, you should be able to progress much faster than those who start as young children. Also, be aware that the ballet exercises will benefit you in many ways beside becoming a nice dancer. Your posture will be excellent which makes you look more attractive and is just good for you in general. the training will help you in any form of dance or sport. Ballet training takes a while so just don’t get discouraged and give up. Don’t compare yourself with other people. Just try to keep getting better than you were last week and last month. It doesn’t matter who is better than you. Enjoy every minute because it is very worthwhile.