Our goal is to introduce each student to the joy of dance in a wholesome, supportive atmosphere while presenting it in the purest form of classical ballet lessons we can provide.

mugshot-elizabeth-saathoffThe ballet journey for Elizabeth Saathoff has taken her from a student to owner of The Performing Arts School of Classical Ballet with many twists and turns along the way.

Elizabeth has been dancing since the age of 9 and has trained with Jackie Aguirre, Billie Fielden, Carol Boice, Sandra Bravo and Nancy Smith.

She has taught our Ballet IV and Teen/Adult Classes for the past 7 years and has had  several students accepted into the America Ballet Theater Summer Training Program. Her repertoire includes Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, La Bayadere, Paquita, La Sylphide, Giselle, Le Corsaire, and Pas de Quatre.

Let’s take some time to meet Elizabeth.

What is your ballet background?

I have been dancing for over 20 years. I started grudgingly as a child when one of my younger sisters expressed an interested in Ballet. My mother decided that all of us (there being 5 girls in all) should participate in dance. Eventually I grew to love it and looked forward to it each week.

Do you have a favorite ballet? i.e. Swan Lake, Nutcracker

I do not have a favorite Ballet. To me each ballet has something special and unique to impart. I enjoy seeing each chorographer’s interpretation on the different ballets. Even if you see a dozen Swan Lakes or Nutcrackers they can all be completely different.

Why did you decide to become a ballet instructor?

Dancing has been a passion throughout my life. I spent most of my teen years at the dance studio, sun up to sun down. I would go straight from school to classes early in the afternoon, do homework and then take more classes in the evenings. That many classes I am sure you can imagine did not come cheap. I went to my teacher to ask if I could help in the younger classes to offset the cost of my lesions.  As I watched I became fascinated by the science and knowledge of teaching ballet. I began taking notes and would have pages of questions for my teacher at the end of each day. She would patiently answer all my questions and in time asked if I was interested in teaching. To which my reply was absolutely not! That, obviously, was short-lived. 

What do you expect of your students?

I expect my students to take away an appreciation of their body and art, because in my mind that is what ballet is- an art form. It is something beautiful that each one of them can learn. It also shows what one can accomplish through focus and dedication.

Do you think is important in teaching first-time classes to young ballerinas?

One of the most important things to teaching ballet to a first timer in my mind is encouragement and enjoyment. Ballet asks a lot of our bodies, it demands impossible poses and soft movements to be performed with strength and precision. Many times I have seen an inexperienced teacher lose a student either from discouragement or by being too stern. Yes, Ballet requires strict focus however it should still be enjoyable.

Why do you think children should dance?

To me dancing is a journey. Whether it lasts 3 years or a lifetime it’s a journey everyone should take. It teaches you focus, dedication, and perseverance. Those are character traits that you take with you throughout life.

What age group is the most challenging to work with? Which is the most rewarding?

Hmmm, I would say each age group has its own challenges! Though in my mind the hardest classes for me would be the youngest ones because of the sheer amount of energy one must impart for the classes. To me the most rewarding is any class that I have that genuinely appreciates ballet. I love teaching students who eagerly try to execute each new step and can’t wait to come to class brimming with questions.

If you could describe your ballet classes to others, what would you say?

I emphatically teach terminology. I want each student to know what the step’s name is, why it is called that and all the in-betweens. I also focus on strength building; the stronger you are and the more you know what muscles should be working the better dancer you will be.

What or who inspires you in your teaching?

Oh my! There are so many! I strive to emulate the teachers I’ve had throughout my life. Each one holds a special place in my teaching methods. Miss Nancy for her precision, Miss Billie for her no nonsense, Miss Carol for her encouragement and Miss Cristina for her energy…

What has been one of the most memorable moments in your ballet/instructor career?

There is no possible way I could name them all. The first time a student lands a pirouette, or to see their eyes light up after a successful performance or landing the college of their choice… I am so proud of each and every one of them.

What are some of your strengths as a ballet instructor?

Since I have been teaching for several years now I am able to teach a class to a large group while still offering individual attention to each student. I also take pride in handling various levels during one class and yet keep the class controlled and moving.

What is your favorite part about being a ballet instructor?

My favorite aspect of being a ballet instructor is the opportunity to meet so many students and have an impact on their lives. There is no way I can explain the joy of having students come back and visit years after they’ve moved on. I feel like I am part of a huge family all over the world!