Exhale, Let the Dance Journey Begin
Local studio offers instruction to students ages 18 months to adult
Exhale A School of Dance started in Norfolk in 2015 and now has two locations in Norfolk: 18 Union St., Suite 103, next to Town Hall and across from the library; and 65 Holbrook St. Suite 170, in the Rivers Edge Plaza next to Anne’s Market and Elevate Salon.
Exhale offers instruction to students of all ages, from 18 months to adults.
“We like them to start with us and stay so they understand our culture and become part of our dance family, but we also specialize in adult programming including Ballet, Tap/Jazz and Dance Cardio which is a fun way for adults to exercise in a judgment-free zone,” says Exhale’s founder and CEO Jen Cote.
Cote says another popular class is Boys Dance 2. “It’s a fun upbeat class with hip-hop, tap and jazz just for boys.”
When do you know if your child is ready for dance? “If they can walk, love to move and can follow simple directions they can begin in our Dance with Me class at 18 months,” says Cote, recognizing that all children are different.
“I would suggest giving it a try and not having any expectations. Dance with Me classes can be difficult the first few lessons when both the students (and parents) are learning new skills. Don’t give up, and by the end of the session your child will likely be following directions, dancing and having fun! If the first few lessons are too stressful, wait until they are big enough to do an independent class.”
“Most of our teen students are in our Exhale Dance Youth Intensive Program, most have been with us for seven years and loved dance so much they wanted to make it a bigger part of their lives,” says Cote, adding teen classes include Tap, Hip-Hop and Lyrical (THL).
“Our Youth Intensive students perform in several Exhale-produced shows, just started competing (for the educational experience) last season, and also perform in community and fundraising events.”
To adults she says, “Once you attend you will love it. Don’t expect to get everything right on the day and just enjoy the movement. We create a judgment-free, fun zone. You will come in for the dance and stay because of the friendships and laughs. Some students in our Tap/Jazz adult class choose to perform while others do not. Either way, simply learning the dance is fun!” Adult classes typically have between 10 to 15 dancers at the most.
Trial sessions are available for those hesitant to enroll.
Cote, also known as “Mrs. Jen” to her students, graduated from Dean College with a Bachelor of Arts in Dance, and taught for many years in the Greater Boston Area. Cote lives in Norfolk and grew up in Norwood.
“For over a decade I managed the youth performance program of the Dance Inn, also known as the ‘Legacy Dance Company’ in Lexington. My mentor and boss, Thelma Goldberg, has owned the Dance Inn for 42 years and she taught me everything she knows about business and dance and I absolutely loved working there,” says Cote. But after her first child was born, her family moved to Norfolk and the commute to Lexington became too challenging with a little one at home.
“I wanted to enjoy her childhood and not spend so much time simply commuting back and forth. I noticed that none of the studios in the Norfolk area were similar to the ones I had taught at previously, and I wanted to create a pre-professional program with a family feel, place where young dancers could receive a stellar dance education in a non-competitive environment while learning to be ‘their best’ not necessarily ‘the best.’
“One day I sat in Rte 95 traffic for over two hours, and the next day I found the courage to make a phone call that changed my life: I called the Norfolk Grange Hall to inquire about renting space, and the rest is history - Exhale was born in the spring of 2015.”
The Exhale instructors have extensive teaching experience and all have degrees in education, dance or theater or are in the process of receiving one.
Each year, in addition to a spring recital in mid-May, Exhale offers special performances including:
• “Clara’s Sleepover” which will take place in Dec., and will feature Ella Paralta and Lyla Graham who have been cast as Clara. The story is a spin on The Nutcracker with a similar storyline and includes jazz, tap, ballet, modern and hip-hop performances. In this story, Clara has invited all her friends to a birthday sleepover at her house on Christmas Eve, and magic ensues.
• “The Extravaganza” which will take place on Feb. 10 at the Orpheum Theater in Foxboro, and will feature guest teacher Christina Belinski who has performed on Broadway, with ballet companies and has been on faculty/judging panels of several well-known dance competitions and conventions.
For detailed information about all Exhale programs, including registration information (note, classes are filling up fast), visit www.exhaledance.com