|Ballet student Jasmine Wight, 9, dances to many styles including tap and hip hop at the Prescott Valley Ballet Arts and Dance Studio.|
Trib Photo/Briana Lonas
|Ballet instructor Helen Reynolds, 93, teaches in the tradition of the world-renowned Ballets Russes style. For those who would like to learn ballet or simply learn the exercise techniques for fitness, Reynolds also offers private lessons.|
Trib Photo/Briana Lonas
Helen Reynolds may be 93 years old, but her exuberance and impeccable eye keeps her ballet students on their toes at the Prescott Valley Ballet, Arts and Dance studio.
Reynolds' words flow like a well-executed plan, as she explained last week how she wants the studio to continue drawing in students of all ages and abilities.
"I'm still here... maybe to turn out another dancer," she said.
Reynolds lives to teach and is one of a handful of dancers left that has trained in the prestigious style of Sergei Diaghilev's Dances Russes, regarded as the most influential ballet company of the 20th century. Now, she continues that lineage of dance in Prescott Valley.
Even at six years of age, Reynolds knew she would be a dancer, but her father had other plans.
"He wanted me to play the violin," she said.
"Try it for a month and if you don't like it, I'll let you have dance lessons," she recalled her father saying.
"Boy, did I ruin that violin!" she said.
Whenever the young Reynolds would hear her father come in the house, she would let the bow scream across the strings. At the end of that long month, she traded the instrument for ballet shoes.
Reynolds moved to California after the war broke out and became involved in the Starlight Opera, performing in what was then an outdoor theatre at Balboa. She then became the company's choreographer for 14 years.
She then married a commander in the Navy who years later accepted a position at Embry Riddle, "and that's what brought us here," Reynolds said.
At the request of friends who owned the Hotel St. Michael at the time, Reynolds helped at the hotel and, "for six months a ballet teacher managed the hotel!" she said.
Soon thereafter, she got involved with the Prescott Fine Arts Association and also became an integral part in bringing the Nutcracker to Prescott.
"I love the teaching and the progression of watching kids become dancers, that's such a thrill," she said.
"We're trying to get more students," she said. "A good, technical ballet background builds for any kind of dance," she said.
When young kids begin ballet, or any kind of dance, they carry those principles of discipline with them for the rest of their lives, she explained. Dancing helps with posture, confidence, breathing, agility and can help prevent osteoporosis, she said.
You don't have to be young and limber to visit the studio! All ages and abilities are welcome. The studio is not all about performing.
Individuals may stop in and try a dance class to see if they like it and take advantage of the other classes available.
Natasha Wight runs the studio and teaches the Zumba classes.
"You're never too old to move," Wight said. "Come and try it, you don't need to be coordinated." She also said that dancing helps young people stay focused, especially in schoolwork.
Mary Heller also teaches at the studio with her BeMoved dance fitness classes, offering programs for people of all movement abilities. Heller is a strong advocate for the arts and along with the other teachers at the studio, encourages anyone to visit the studio and see what they like.
Classes take place Monday through Saturday at various times depending on the class. Classes offered include Ballet, Tap, BeMoved, Zumba, Modern Dance, Martial Arts, Jazz, Dancersize, Yoga and private lessons also are available.
For more information on classes and costs, call 928-775-2248. The studio is located at 7762 E. Florentine Road, Suite A.