Jennifer Dell doesn't try to sugarcoat the future many of her students may face should they chose to pursue a career in dance. "I remember trying to get to the city and not even having a subway token," she says, but as an instructor and proprietor of "The Pulse," she hopes the Bedford Hills, New York dance studio leaves its students with a path of least resistance to the bright light of Broadway.
"I want to give them a positive professional place to study," she says and prepare them for the education of the 21st century dancer. No longer can dancersleave home as teenagers for a shot at a chorus line like Ms. Dell did in the late 80's. Young men and women now major in dance and being prepared for modern and ballet based college curriculum's takes precedence over any bright eyed plans of stardom.
Of course, not all students at the Pulse, who's name Ms. Dell derived hoping to inspire the pulse of the city, look to dance professionally. Classes start for preschoolers and run through high school graduation. By a certain age children are either take their training as a recreational experience or are moved to see it on through as a way of life.
The majority spend five days a week at the studio by participating in the various dance companies in the hope of getting as much performance experience as possible. The Nova Jazz ensemble, which consists of girls ages 11-18, performs monthly at community events in such locations as nursing homes and malls.
Their destinations have also extended beyond the area to performances in Disney World, Six Flags America and Stamford's Thanksgiving Spectacular, but Nova Jazz wasn't the only ensemble to take the road above the clouds to set down their dance shoes. The Isadora Duncan class, which is a technical form of modern dance instituted by its namesake in the 1920's, has performed at festivals in among places - the Czech Republic.
The dance ensembles also require its students to take on leadership roles, as they become big sisters to the younger dancers in need of mentoring. That is unless they happen to be big or little brothers. The dance studio takes a unique approach to the instruction of its male dancers.
Boys between the ages of seven and 13, for the most part, don't want to dance with girls, regardless of their developing feelings towards the opposite sex. Girls generally move with greater ease at this age, according to Ms. Dell, so segregating the boys allows them to progress at their own pace until they feel comfortable enough to join the mix.
It can also be hard for boys because sometimes they can be subjected to the judgements of their classmates during a period in their lives that Ms. Dell refers to as
Obviously, though, everyone who sets out to dance doesn't realize that goal, but this doesn't diminish all the work put in by this staff or its students. "Any time you study anything from music to science, you learn discipline and you learn responsibility," she says, and those traits are easily measured when it comes to landing feet first in the future.
When a stage comes to stand beneath one's future, it's usually accompanied with a mindset that's willing to go at it at 250%, says Ms. Dell, "because you have to be ready to be beaten up, walked on, kicked around and still love it so much that there's nothing else."
Ms. Dell took that attitude to New York City with her from Michigan as a 17 year old out of high school. She did summer stock between pounding the pavement for professional experience and the various starving artist gigs of waiting on tables and banging computer keyboards.
Eventually, she got a degree in theatre performance from the University of Michigan and has accumulated many dancing and choreography credits over the years. Five years ago she settled into a teaching position at the Northern Westchester Center of the Arts and decided to go into business for herself by opening The Pulse last winter.
Settling in at the Pulse as an instructor doesn't mean she subscribes to the notion about those "who can't do." So as she now sees two of her own students aspiring to the same fulfillment, she realizes she's definitely doing something right. But through it all she still views dance as her life and likes where it has left her. "There's nothing better than having a dream and then being able to have your dream come true," she says, "and then watch people enjoy it and share that dream."
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